Musa

 

 

Until recently, the Dundas West strip between Bathurst and Dufferin has desperately clung to its traditional past. This area known affectionately as “Little Portugal” between Bathurst and Ossington and further east by the more hardcore “Rua Acoras” has been under going a transformation of late. Over the past year, new trendy establishments such as the Chelsea Room, Cocktail Molotov and Eat Cafï have sprung up amidst the old school hair salons, hardware stores, and pharmacies. Heck, even Cafï Brasiliano, known as much for its great coffee as its anti trendy ways has taken on new digs; albeit still maintaining much of its original modest charm. An original in this respect is the oft overlooked Dundas West fixture that is Musa.

Musa embodies both aspects of the Dundas West charm with a mixture of traditional Mediterranean cuisine and decor with a smattering of nouveau martinis and up to date musical selections. The menu contains much of the regular Mediterranean fare one would expect to find. We are pleasantly surprised to receive a basket full of fresh bread and hummus before we place our order. Our waitress is jovial and patient with my carnivorously challenged companion while ringing off the day’s specials. I opt for the grilled swordfish special served in a tomato sauce with stewed vegetables and a fresh side salad. The swordfish is tender and succulent while the vegetables are stewed correctly without being overly mushy. My decision, seconded by the waitress to avoid an appetizer is wise as I end up barely being able to finish the fully loaded plate. Although Mark finds the prices �retarded�, the portion size and taste more than makes up the $18.95 tag line to my meal.

As the burgeoning Dundas West strip becomes more gentrified it is nice to know that Musa will continue to dole out good traditional food while still keeping up with the evolving neighbourhood.

Sneaky Dees

When I first received an email suggesting going to Sneaky Dees for half priced fajita night, my initial reaction was? that shithole?!?!? My only previous experiences at this bar cum music venue cum restaurant were relegated to very distantly separate but excellent concerts and some sporadic binge drinking nights. With the dark atmosphere and graffiti covering everything from the walls to the tables, this place defines the term ?watering hole?. I had heard that the brunch was decent here but it never occurred to me that any other meal would be near palatable. However, after conferring with a few Sneaky Dee fanatics I realized I had potentially been missing out on a rarely publicized Toronto tradition.

Tex Mex cuisine is constantly looked down in haute cuisine circles and can regularly end up the butt of many a Hooters reference. The fajitas at Sneaky Dees however are no joke. As servers rush out of the kitchen holding a plate of steaming food the restaurant packed with a downtown crowd who have obviously taken part in this ritual before heaves in anticipation. The decibel level is certainly high causing one to strain to carry on a conversation. When the food arrives all attention is diverted to eating. Choices of chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetable or any combination thereof are available for consumption. The steaming hot plate comes complete with refried beans, a variety of vegetables, fried rice, and topped with the main meat or veggie filling. Bowls of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and tomatoes are available for toppings to add to the white flour wraps which come in a heat encompassing container. The only regular fajita topping that appears to be missing is the cheese. Is Sneaky Dees subject to the same bylaw not allowing Toronto hot dog vendors to serve cheese in their somewhat crusty environment? Disregarding this minor aberration, the chicken and steak fajita is fantastic and a large order satiates my party of three. At $14.95 on the Tuesday half price night, I come away with a deliciously refreshed perspective on an old establishment and a newly ordained ritual to further integrate myself into the downtown west culture.

Sorento Café and Bakery

900 Don Mills Rd.
416-447-3590

 

You can really determine your worth to a company depending on where they take you for lunch. Friends of mine regale me with stories of being taken to Jump and drinking all afternoon with management while others are lucky if their boss buys them a coffee once in blue moon. After eating at Sorento, I now know where I stand on the corporate ladder. And it’s not that high up.
Of course, I am somewhat kidding about this as location plays a certain factor in this decision. At Don Mills and Eglinton, the breadth of choice is rather limited so I won’t complain too loudly. Especially if said management stumbles upon this review!

Sorento sounds like an Italian restaurant but actually covers the entire Mediterranean coast with a focus on the Italian side. The décor matches this concept with chiseled stone walls adorned with paintings of various Doric, ionic, and Corinthian columns leading to majestic gardens and palatial establishments. The food is typical, serving a variety of pizzas and pastas and a “Light Lunch” menu that includes dishes of Greek salad, kebabs, chicken parmesan, and I even saw a curried chicken dish.

My choice was one of the pizzas that came topped with grilled eggplant, feta, and artichoke hearts. I don’t know why I chose this since I am not a huge artichoke fan and I ended up taking most of them off. Regardless, I was unfulfilled by the slight size of the meal and from what I saw on other dishes, the toppings did not seem to be appropriately cooked in with the pizza. Prices are reasonable at $8.95 for my small pizza.

It’s nice to be treated to a meal by your company once in awhile but I miss the variety of the downtown lunch circuit.