Thai Basil

467 Bloor Street W
416-840-9988
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

Thai Basil is located in the Annex at Bloor near Brunswick, in the former space vacated by 350 Fahrenheit. There are some friendly touches at this airy, Pan Asian restaurant. Prices are ridiculously low and I am certain they will go up in due time. At the time of this review (March 26, 2005), Thai Basil was only one month old.

This place is a no bullshit kind of restaurant. I ordered a Thai Green Curry, and i asked for them to remove the fish stock and all other animal products and they said “no problem”. I asked if i could add tofu to my dish, they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. I also asked if they could add cashews and they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. So, my Thai green curry with tofu and cashews was a decent portion and only cost me $6.95. A no bullshit place i must admit. I will definitely go back for sure. The decor is identical to 350 Fahrenheit (see review). It’s like they moved in and just kept all of the original decor and just changed their name.
Thai Basil offers a six-page menu with dishes from across Southeast Asia, but it seems that Thai dishes were the focus. The curries were good, homemade, but alittle salty claims Daniel. He ordered the Thai green chicken curry and he thought it was quite good and spicier than the curries at most other Thai restaurants. He enjoyed the unusual addition of the oriental eggplant (they look like small green tomatoes) and peas (plump like grapes) which added a nice texture and subtle flavour to the dish. Daniel, like I, thinks that they could have used a little less salt, but otherwise, he felt it was a very good (but not the best) green curry. For our side dish, we shared an appetizer of deep fried tofu in a light batter of red pepper, garlic, and dried onion. I have never had such delicious tofu before. It was SO GOOD!.

For my drink , i ordered a lycee smoothie called the “Thai Basil Lycee smoothie” a thick lycee slushy drink, not to sweet, and quite thick and delicsious. It came with Vodka ($5.50) and I ordered a virgin ($3.50) so i was disappointed to find out the price. I complained and they lowered the price immediately. I did not even notice that i may have become intoxicated. I think there was very little vodka. Daniel had a King Fisher beer and he really enjoyed it. The music played was great. Throughout our visit, we listened to the entire album of Sarah McLachlan’s “Afterglow” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits”–one of my two favourite musicians/bands.

The only 2 issues we had with the restaurant were “temperature” and “menu orgazaniation”. Since Daniel and I sat by the window, we felt very cold, as Thai Basil’s exterior wall is only glass. We felt that insulation was a problem. In the future, if we go again, we will sit closer to the centre of the restaurant where all of the body heat is retained.

The other issue is really from the perspective of 2 Librarians. I felt, in particular that all of the vegetarian dishes were “hidden” in the menu when in fact there should have been a distinct section entitled “Vegetarian dishes”. While there was a list of dishes called “Vegetables” this list was not vegetarian as it listed some fish and seafood entrees. Most of the dishes listed on the menu gave options, like the Pad Thai. The regular pad thai was described and had a price, then below was the shrimp version, chicken version and veggie version, all with different prices. In other words, it seems all dishes seemed to have a veggie version but they were all listed within the main heading of the dish, rather than compile a list of all of the veggie dishes and list them under the heading “Vegetarian Dishes”. It seems every industry needs a Librarian to organize their life.

Accepts all cards. Prices are surprisingly affordable, but the whole decor and ambiance is misleading since it looks like overpriced Serra or Sassafraz. Food was excellent but slightly too salty. Liquor license.

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Over Easy

208 Bloor Street W.
416-922-2345
Hours: M-F 6-4;
Weekends 7-4

 

Located on busy Bloor street, right in the heart of the U. of T. campus, across from Philosopher’s Walk, Over Easy is a great place that specializes in all day breakfast and brunch dishes. In a butter yellow and light blue colour scheme, walking into the spacious restaurant, I found Over Easy to be brightly lit, airy, relaxing, and comfortable. With colourful art on the walls, this place really feels inviting and comfortable. Justine and I were greeted by friendly staff and we were seated to our booth immediately.

The restaurant is divided into 3 sections, a front end with 3-5 tables, a middle region with about 3 booths, and the back area with about 10 tables. We were seated in the middle region but we immediately moved because we were behind the entrance to the kitchen where we could hear the sounds of smashing dishes, and other disturbing kitchen sounds. We were also behind the cash so we heard the constant noise of wait staff and bills being printed, etc.

Justine and I then changed places to the back of the restaurant to a nice spacious table. The menu is quite large and most items are different type of egg dishes. All prices are reasonable ($6.95-$9.95) but drinks (juice, soda) are expensive (freshly squeezed juice are $3.50 and fresh smoothies are $5.00 and beyond and come in 3 exciting flavours). Justine ordered her typical coffee and was served it in a funky coloured coffee carafe in baby blue (other coffee carafes colours include orange, and cream colour).

I opted for an egg white omelete with asiago cheese, sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomato, and basil. YUM!!! The menu tells you upfront in their “rules of the roast” section that egg white omeletes are an extra $1.00, and any sidedish is an extra $3.00 or $3.50. I was not able to make a substituion but my egg white omelete came with toasted, home fries or salad (I chose salad) and i asked to remove the toast. The only pathetic part was my salad portion was too small and they did not give me MORE salad since i had asked for NO toast. Most places do substitute but Over Easy does not. They are upfront with charging extra for “additions”, though. Justine ordered 4 buttermilk pancakes, light, fluffy, big, and not greasy. They came with maple syrup.

Our food was served fast and service was excellent. Our waitress was warm and super friendly and she tried to be as accomodating as possible. Justine was happy to report that lemon was served with the water and she did find peanut butter for her pancakes. Does not accept Interac, only cash. I was not impressed. I will definitely go back as my food was excellent.

Over Easy also serves a variety of pancakes, waffles, omeletes, eggs benny, eggs florentine, scrambles, cereals, and other breakfast staples. Some light breakfast items include homemade granola and fruit, deluxe granola, cereal, fresh fruit salad. Lunch fare includes fancy sandwiches, fruit salad, hearty MEAL salads ($10.75), crepes, quiches, and a number of homestyle “comfort foods like Macaroni and cheese. They also make freshly squeezed juices and prepare home made fruit smoothies with yogourt right before your eyes. Seats are very comfortable and all wait staff are very friendly. Waiting time was normal and we will definitely go back! Prices around the $6.95-$9.95 range. Takeout available, just call ahead of time.

Sassafraz fire Dec 2006, closed (Mark)

100 Cumberland St.
416-964-2222

Located right in the heart of Yorkville in an old house that was gutted and transformed into an open concept, hip,

chic, and trendy fine dining establishment. Known as “THE” celebrity hotspot of Toronto, Sassafraz is a mainstay

for celebs during the Toronto International Film Festival and throughout the year. Sassafraz offers intimate fine

dining, a shi shi poo poo brunch, an extensive wine and martini list that ranges from $50- $500 per bottle.

Spread across one dining areas and a smoking lounge/ bar, Sassafraz offers high-end cuisine in an intimate setting,

with dim lighting, surrounded by candles, blond wood paneling, extra-large plants, and ultra modern colourful vases.

There is a 24 hour reservation line so it is proper etiquette to make reservations ahead of time.

The decor is very linear with clean lines, dark oak hardwood floors, blond wood panelling, and high ceilings. The

overall ambiance is casual but upscale that seems to the right balance for Yorkville folk. In addition, there is a

revolving collection of fine art from neighbouring galleries that make the lasting touch to the room to a tee.

Patrons can ponder the lengthy wine list—with plenty to offer for those who do not have a budget (as Wendy puts it).

Appetizers range from $9-$23 in general. Some appetizers are typical favourites like

Organic Baby Greens w/roasted pecans ($14), Imperial Mushroom Salad w/Baby spinach and miso cream ($16), Baked Fig

and Goat Cheese Phyllo pastry ($18), Scallops Sassafraz ($22), Grilled Tiger Shrimp ($22), Quebec Foie Gras ($23)

Grilled Quail, marinated in cinnamon and thyme, with a vanilla-port reduction; Poached Pear and Bok Choy ($19) , and

Carpaccio of Bison Filet ($19).

There is a selection of French and Italian inspired mains that include mostly seafood, duck, bass, beef tenderloin,

lamb, venison, and bison. Some popular dishes include the Duck breast ($34), Roasted Guinea Fowl ($34), Roasted

Striped Bass ($32), Grilled Venison and Bison ($43), Lamb Shank ($39), Sterling Silver Beef Tenderloin ($39), and

the Seafood Creation/Daily Surprise ($38)

Vegetarian dishes include the wild mushroom risotto ($24) or the angel hair pasta with sautted veggies ($24). Not

many options for the veggie and portions are super small.

For my meal, I called before and requested a vegan dish. The chef made me “Vegan surprise” ($24)- a potato and herb

mish mash, made into a burger, and wrapped with thinly sliced sauteed carrot, surrounded by sauteed beansprouts and

white asparagus, and covered in a light vegetable broth. The portion was tiny so i made sure to eat SLOWLY.

Wendy

ordered the Seafood Creation/Daily Surprise ($38) with a medley of a piece of lobster, shrimp, and almost raw tuna.

Her portion, although full of protein was tiny (but the plate was big). As Wendy puts it, we go for the experience,

not to be full. Service was friendly and accomodating.

Before our meal, we were brought out a mini appetizer

called “Amus de Bouche”. Wendy got a Triscuit type cracker with a piece of pate (I think) covered in a raspberry confit

(looked like jam to me!). I got a mushroom and shallot chunky pate molded into a clump and covered with balsalmic

vinegar. Although yummy, i could have eaten 10 more of these molded pate clumps. They were so good.

For her beverage, Wendy
ordered sparkling water (San Pellegrino) and they brought out with a bottle. We were worried it would cost $50 but

luckily it only cost $7. Wendy ordered a glass of wine and they brought out the whole bottle. We got scared. Were they going to charge us for the whole bottle? From our wine list,

the prices range from $50-$500 so we hoped that her wine was not priced at the $500 range. Although Wendy did only

drink one glass, she had no clue as to the cost of it. Her recommendation was made by the waiter and he did not

indicate the price. Wendy was ticked off because the waiter always refreshed my San Pelegrino water but her was not

refilled.

We were ecstatic when our bill came to $95 in total. Not bad for 2 mains, wine, and a bottle of

sparkling water.

I must admit I was alittle uncomfortable the whole evening because I did not know how much things will cost and i

did not know proper etiquette at fine dining establishments. I was also worried since my Vegan Surprise did not

have a price attached. They could have charged me $50.

All teas are $5.50 (drink slowly and savour it!) and all desserts (decadent cakes, pies, fruit sorbets) are $11.

Dessert cheese are $7.00 for 40 grams (minimum of 3 cheeses to order). Wendy and I opted to skip dessert and go to

Second Cup for a Caramel Latte and a date square.

Extensive Wine and Dessert Liquor list. Plates are really large but portions are ridiculously small and be prepared

to have an open budget. Open 7 days per week. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am until 5pm, Dinner Mon-Sun 5:00pm until 11pm,

Late Night Dining Mon-Sun 5pm until 2:00am, Brunch Sat/Sun 11:00am until 4pm, and the Seasonal Patio Mon-Sun 11:30am

until 2:00am. Accepts all cards.

Morning Glory

457 King East
416 703 4728

www.morningglory.ca

 

Morning Glory is a hidden little gem located in Corktown, a downtown neighbourhood on King Street E. near Cherry St. With a bright orange sign it stands apart as one of the only restaurants along the King east strip between Parliament and Cherry St. is a cute little neighbourhood has huge potential but is in dire need of a makeover. Morning Glory is a 3 person

href=”http://www.corktown.ca”>Corktown

operation in one small room about the size of your living room on King Street East near Cherry street. With a small menu focusing on breakfast items and

baked good, this place is not really veggie friendly but prices are really good and portions are large. With only 3 veggie items for breakfast, (granola and

fruit with yogourt), Pancakes (changes daily: Apple, Banana, etc.), French toast with syrup, and Rosti, a shredded potato and onion mixture. With a hip and

cool crowd and an “organic” “grass roots” decor, I was disappointed with the lack of veggie items.

Morning Glory is opened 6 days per week 8a-3pm Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri and brunch is served Sat/Sun 9am-3pm. Baked muffins are available during the week and baked cakes/squares are

available on the weekend. For my meal, i ordered the granola, fruit, and yogourt, which claimed to be “hearty” but was not. It had diced apples, mango, and

granola, with yogourt, and a tiny cup of maple syrup on the side. My brunch companion ordered the omelete in a roasted red pepper and goat cheese sauce with

a side order of rosti, which was replaced by a side order of greens. You can substitute salad for rosti but they will not make egg white omeletes because

they do not have the resources/equipment and they are simply too busy.

Breakfast includes BLT with homemade aoili & ketchup – $5.00, the dubstyle (cream cheese, crispy bacon and tomato on a baguette) – $5.00
omelette of the day – $8.00, eggs, toast and rosti – $5.50, eggs, cottage cheese and greens – $6.50, french toast and fruit – $7.50, and granola with yogurt

and fruit – $6.00

Sandwiches include the morning glory tuna salad, mennonite ham & cheese, and 3 cheese grilled cheese. All sandwiches are $7.50 and come with a cup of soup

or side salad. Soups change daily and come in cup ($2.50) or bowl varieties ($4.00) and are served with fresh baked bread. All soups are vegan and they

change daily. Some soups include spring veggie, tomato and corn, and potato and leek, and Lentil. They have a full service espresso bar ($1.50-$2.75).

There are daily specials like curries or stews and the omeletes change every few days. Some omeletes include arugula and brie omelette, sauteed leek and

havarti, roasted red pepper and goat cheese, pear and brie omelete.

The decor is simple with plain white walls, one long church bench spanning the entire length of the restaurant and holds about 7 small tables. Along the

other side, there are about 3 more tables. The minimalist design, funky artwork on the walls, and several old antique mirrors give the overall appearance of

the place “homey”, “quaint”, and “cosy”. They have a daily blog on their web site that is up to date with daily menu specials and commentary. Service is

friendly and fast. Bathrooms are downstairs and are satisfactory and clean. Accepts cash only. Open Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8am-3pm, Sat/Sun brunch 9am-3pm. Closed Wed.

Kubo Radio

Kubo
894 Queen St E
416-406-KUBO (5826)

web site: www.kubo.com
Kubo has existed in a few different locations since inception in 1999, and have recently settled in at Queen & Logan. This place is extremely hip and cool, would not be out of place along the College Street West strip of Little Italy.

Kubo has an ultra-modern minimalist environment, clean lines, Asian inspired. The tables are fairly small, so it is good for intimate or solo dining, but I went with a crowd of 18 people, which they accommodated by bringing many tables close together. If only ordering had been that easy.

As the concept of the place is Asian-inspired, they have over 11 Asian beers to choose from, sake martinis, and of course the food is all Asian as well.

I was the first to arrive. It’s a little daunting to sit alone at a table of 18, and though most of the waiters greeted me, not one of them brought me water, or asked me what I’d like to drink. Finally, when others arrive to join me, they begin to take drink orders. I ordered a Thai beer called Singha, based on my waiter’s recommendation. It was a very good choice, crisp & light tasting. I do wish I had been offered a drink menu, because then I would have known about the sake martinis that I only found out about after my beer arrived. I thought it best not to mix.

There was much drama with the process of ordering. I can completely understand that it would be frustrating & difficult to manage a table of our size, but I don’t think you should let the customers see your frustrations. They prefer to do “family style” meals for groups over 8, where you would get something like 2 types of appetizers & two types of mains on large platters for sharing, and those meals start at $25. The drama begins because 5 from our group do not want to partake in the communal meal, preferring to select whatever they want, as is their right. This did not sit well with our waiter, you could see the agitation grow, and after consultation with management, we were told to all order a la carte. I’m sure this didn’t please Kubo, however, shouldn’t the customer always be right?

I ordered the Kubo Vegetable Salad, $6.95 which was a generous portion of shredded carrots, cabbage, sprouts and stuff in a lemongrass soy dressing. It was very fresh & crunchy, tasted very healthful, but was a little underdressed. This salad definitely benefited from my addition of soy and garlic oil, some of the condiments on the table.

One thing that I found odd was that most people’s hot foods, (in fact the person next to me had 2 hot appetizers) served to them before my salad arrived. I know there’s something called timing that can be difficult to juggle, but still, I’m surprised that my raw food took longer.

My main dish was from the special’s board, the Kubo Noodle – chicken, tofu, broccoli, red pepper, onions, peanuts, herbs, garlic, lime, ginger & shanghai noodles. There were eggs in it originally, but as I do not eat eggs, so they omitted them from my meal.

My friend Shaista and I both had this dish and found it to be a little on the bland side. It only rated a 4/10 on the Shaistameter. Other people seemed to really enjoy whatever they ordered, so it must just have been this dish that was mediocre. My judgement was not as harsh as Shaista’s, but then I did add extra soy and garlic oil to make it taste better. The portion size was more than sufficient, I was full.

I wish I had ordered a dessert like Shaista did. She got the Kubo Flakey Filo Pastry, which has marscapone, whipped cream, passion fruit & icing sugar. Ok, so it came with raspberries instead of the passion fruit, but this dessert was so fantastic we didn’t care! She thought it was the best thing in the restaurant, rating 9.7/10 on the Shaistameter!

In the end, our waiter relaxed, got friendlier, and became more jovial. After dinner, this place turns into a bar, much like those on College West and remained filled until I left. I would probably go back, maybe in a smaller group, to compare and contrast the service level. I had visited Kubo in a previous location under the Merchandise building, and had very positive experiences there. I definitely want to have a sake martini and dessert next time.

Santorini

288 John St
Thornhill, ON
905-731-4400

I was visiting with some life long family friends from Ottawa – Susan and Mathew as Phil, who is Susan’s husband and Mathew’s father, was in the hospital for an operation. Our previous evening of dining had been disastrous (see the review for Smiling Jack’s) so Susan wanted to make things right & eat a really good meal, memorable for all the right reasons. Mission accomplished. The nurses at hospital recommended that we try Santorini, a Greek restaurant across the street from the hospital. So try it we did.

We arrived early in the evening for dinner, and were all impressed by the inviting and beautiful atmosphere that we found ourselves in. There was a sky light, seating was arranged on different levels, there were plants everywhere, and a gorgeous waterfall right in the middle of the restaurant.

We were seated quickly and greeted by a very friendly waiter who told us of the daily specials. Instead of the usual bread and butter, we were treated to a fresh loaf of bread (yes the whole thing!), pickles, beans, taramosalata. YUMMY! This was definitely not Mr. Greek; there is a minimum seat charge of $13.95.

I was impressed with how fast the service was. Mathew & Susan ordered a vegetarian pasta dinner – Yfestio Pasta $15.95, and I ordered the OIA – a seafood platter including shrimps, scallops, potatoes and vegetables – $18.95.

The first words out of Mathew’s mouth were “This is amazing!” Susan also loved her meal which was basically a medley of vegetables that included carrots, sun dried tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. They are both committed carnivores, but they said this dish was really flavourful

My food was also exceptional. My vegetables were really good, and though they were present, my plate was not overloaded with rice and potatoes, as frequently happens in many a Greek restaurant. Hell, my rice was even wild! I got plenty of scallops and shrimps, making this a fantastic meal all around.

The desserts are not baked on the premises, but the staff were extremely helpful in determining the contents of an item to check for allergies. They went so far as to call the bakery!

In addition to this lush dining hall, they also have private rooms available that can hold 15-40 people. Good to know.

Alas we had to leave for our appointment at 7:00 pm, but we left very happy and very full. This was a fantastic dining experience!