Toba [Mark Aaron]

243 King East
416-367-8622

URL: www.toba.ca

To summarize Toba would be simply “lovely”. Set in the St. Lawrence market area on King and Sherbourne,

Toba is a cute and unassuming place that serves an elegant brunch with a small and diverse menu. Quality

is high, presentation is beautiful and artistic and decor is minimalistic with funky art on the walls,

representations of working women in the 1970’s- Andy Warhol style. Brunch prices are between $10-$15 per

person. Drink prices are kind of steep but service, food, and whole brunch experience is just so

lovely.

Some stars and funky fixtures hang on the walls, almost looks like a kid’s bedroom surround the place.

Toba has a clean, slick look, very similar to Verveine.

For our brunch, we were served by a very friendly waiter and we started with plain lattes, extra hot,

and served in tall glasses ($5). Toba serves up some daily baked good (scones, muffins, pastries)-

$2.75 as well as mimosas and other “brunch” alcoholic beverages. Aaron started with the vegetarian

poached eggs with 2 eggs over chipotle brioche with grilled tomato, spinach, old cheddar with a

Hollandaise sauce ($11). The dish came out looking gorgeous, colourful, with texture, freshness, and

everything looked attractive to the eye. I ordered the French toast (4 triangular wedges) in a pecan

maple sauce with caramelized pears topped with maple syrup ($10.50). The dish was spectacular. Other

dishes include typical brunch fare: granola + fruit + yogourt ($5), Blueberry pancakes with fresh fruit

and whipped cream ($9.75), Hang over helper (scrambled eggs chorizo, green pepper, old cheddar, served

with organic greens, home fries, and toast ($11), the “traditional” breakfast (2 eggs any style with

choice of bacon, sausage or peameal bacon with home fries, organic greens, and toast) $10, poached eggs

with peameal bacon, Hollandaise sauce, and organic greens ($11), Duck Crepes (Wendy friendly)- with

Peking duck, carrot, apple, cabbage, hoisin sauce, and gruyere ($12), a crab melt (crab salad with gruyere and bacon on a baked angel biscuit($11), Corned beef hash (corned beef with shredded potato, caramelized onion, red peppers, with 2 baked eggs, Holandaise sauce, chipotle puree, organic greens, and toast ($13), and finally Steak and eggs with Hollandaise sauce, home fries and organic greens ($15). Toba serves a different “tart of the day” with organic greens and home fries for $10 and the omelete of the day is served with organic greens, home fries and toast is $11.

Toba is not hip and cool like Auntie’s and Uncles but it’s chiche and classy. I would definitely recommend this place for brunch-goers. Extra friendly service with high quality food, beautiful decor, and great ambiance. Great to bring a date. Seats about 15 tables. Serves Italian fare at night for dinner. Accepts all cards. Liquor license

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Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst Street
(416) 534-9056

Following the renovation completed at Grapefruit Moon by Food TV’s Restaurant Makeover in 2003/2004 a media battle erupted between the owner and the show. The owner, Sandy , was upset how the once cozy, familiar space was transformed into a trendy, cold room that lacked the charm of the previous incarnation. Her requests to keep the aura of the original place were ignored as the show painted over the exposed brick wall with a metallic silver and the new equipment was not ready by the completion date. Changes to the menu were disregarded, even though the airing of the show pointed to a lack of competency and vision from the young “chef”. While the controversy may have been played up in the local rags and on the Internet; Grapefruit Moon made the most of the situation and continued to pull in the hordes for their famous brunch as well as dinner.

Since the renovation, I have been back for both dinner and brunch. My dinner experience there definitely exposed the changes in a negative light as I found the environment chilly and the food bland. This may have been due to the wintry, sludgy weather but my recent brunch return was a vast improvement. The metallic sheen of the walls was covered by an array of lovely framed art while the sun streamed through the front to keep the place bright and warm. An eclectic mix of old and new music germinated from a computer behind the counter to keep the place cozy and lively. We took a seat on some stools and were immediately greeted with a warm reception from our waiter behind the counter while being presented with our coffees.

Apparently, the hip thing to do at Grapefruit Moon is to substitute sugar for honey when sweetening coffee. I tried this and was deliciously surprised by the results. Scanning the menu, I decided on what was probably the least healthy item I could find. The rarebit breakfast consisted of poached eggs heaped on two pieces of multigrain toast with peameal bacon and topped with a gooey layer of cheddar cheese sauce. I couldn’t tell if the cheddar cheese sauce consisted of melted Kraft singles but whatever it was oozed well with the rest. Unfortunately, the side of home fries was missing that crunchy element of superior variations but mixing it with the cheese and some hot sauce souped it up enough.

Grapefruit Moon has always struck me as a place that tends to distinguish itself apart from the rest of Toronto’s brunch spots. Not quite downtown, yet still vibing with the laid back attitudes of a “Saving Grace”, Grapefruit Moon’s presence is a fixture in the Annex. TV screwups or not, the changes at Grapefruit Moon may have temporarily strained the casual feel of the restaurant but has certainly not had a negative impact on business.

Ruchi Indian Cuisine

649 Yonge St.
(416) 926-0953

 

Wendy and I decided to try another Indian restaurant in the downtown core right before our 9:10pm show of Everything Is Illuminated, the movie adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel of the same name. I had only partially read Foer’s novel so i thought i would cheat and see the movie. We had decided to go to a nice Indian meal somewhere on Yonge street and we knew that there were many options. We chose Ruchi, partially because of the glowing reviews posted on the wall (from EYE or NOW magazine) and it was closeby.

When we walked in we noticed it was brightly coloured in rich royal blue and copper reds. There is an elevation at the doorway so be careful not to trip while walking in. This narrow restaurant has less than 10 tables but the restaurant goes far back with 3 tables alongside one wall at the front and a few tables on the other side separated by brown coloured transparent curtains. There is a nice bar at back where they serve a variety of beers but I did not see a wine selection. Wendy and I started with veggie pekoras (deep fried onions in a chickpea batter- YUMM). It was served with a mint coriander sauce and a liquidy tamarind sauce ($3.95). For our mains, Wendy ordered the butter chicken ($7.95) and it came to us in a rich red colour. Wendy found the dish to be too sweet and did not have very much chicken and she said it reminded her of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup mix. She was not that happy with her choice. I did notice the sweet aroma and i found it odd that it was so red. I chose the saag paneer (spinach and cottage cheese curry) which i found to be super yummy and it has a certain zing to it. We ordered both our dishes medium but we chould choose mild, medium, hot, or the cliche Indian hot. We both ordered Naan bread. I ordered aloo naan and Wendy ordered the regular Naan. For our beverages Wendy ordered sweet Lassi which was a plain yogourt but heavily sweetened (YUM) and i ordered the typical Mango Lassi which was even sweeter ($3.75). They came in tall glasses and unfortunately were not thick enough for my liking but i was somewhat satisfied.

I noticed the menu to have your typical North Indian dishes (chicken, beef, fish curries, aloo gobi, chana masala, butter chicken, tandoori chicken, samosa, pekoras, lassis, the typical dishes you’d expect in an Indian restaurant.).

Service was fairly fast and our waitress was nice, attentive, calm, and friendly. Wendy and I would definitely try this place again, despite her obvious disappointment. She did not expect her butter chicken to taste like Campbell’s Tomato soup mix and she did not expect there to be as much as sauce. She only found 4 pieces of chicken (breast, thank goodness!).

Open 7 days per week. Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 10:30 pm, Sat 3:00 pm – 10:30 pm, and Sun 4:00 pm -10:30 pm . Accepts all cards. Liquor license. Very narrow inside with not many seats but very cosy and comfortable. Lighting is quite bright. Beautiful colour scheme or rich royal blue ceilings and walls and reddish/copper walls. Non-kitschy Indian decor.