Jodhpore Club Indian cuisine

33 Baldwin
416 598 2502

 

Daniel and I met for lunch at OCAD and instead of dining in the Village by The Grange food court, we decided to walk to Baldwin village where we would either go to an Indian or Thai restaurant (our favourite types of food). We walked to Baldwin street, just a hop and skip away and we passed by a medley of ethnic delights: Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Vegetarian, and Indian. We went to the Gateways of India last time for lunch and enjoyed a crazy buffet full of food. We decided to try Jodhpore Club Corp. Indian cuisine for a change.

Upon entering, we immediately knew from its cosy, homey feel that this place was definitely more quaint than Gateways of India. Jodhpore was much smaller with only about 5-7 small tables made of teak and had many traditional Indian elements, yet the decor looked like an old Ontario cottage with stucco, exposed dark-wood stained beams, and high ceilings. I’d call the place quaint since it was small and unassuming and that is also how i would call the buffet.

The buffet was nice in terms of presentation but it did not have much variety at all. There were 4 veggie dishes (kofta, daal, matar panneer, and aloo). I did not see the typical channa masala, aloo gobi, or bengan. I was so much disappointed but surprised and in a way happy to see some change in your typical Indian lunch buffet. Daniel noted the presence of lamb, tandoor chicken, butter chicken, and potato wedges. We did see the typical helpings of pappadum as well as tamarind and coriander sauce, but we did not see any salad or dessert or the cliche dessert of mango, chocolate, or vanilla ice cream, often stale with freezer burn.

I started my dish with the curried potatoes (aloo) but I was disappointed to see that there was no cauliflower. I also enjoyed the kofta (soft lentil dumplings in a rich creamy mild curry sauce). In addition I had the daal (lentil puree), fresh naan, pappadum, and mattar paneer (peas and Indian cheese) which was delicious. The buffet was humbling since it was no exploding with variety and there were fewer high quality dishes than most other Indian buffets. Unfortunately, there was no channa masala, or dessert.

Daniel thought the food was good but he admits that for the meat dishes, he prefers
the other Baldwin Indian restaurant. He felt that the butter and tandoori chicken
were somewhat bland and the mutton in the korma dish was rather in-edible. Daniel thought that the vegetarian selections were really quite worthwhile, however, especially that lentil ball dish thingy (kofta)

Daniel described the decor as the left-over from a previous owner. There
were lots of British Raj (British colonial administration in India) with type prints on the wall were a little disturbing, especially given the name “Club”. He thought it made one feel as if one were at a “seem-better-days”. The idea of a British colonial club (in the dying days of the British Raj) tried to keep up the appearance of order and control.

Overall, he thought it was okay. He would go back, but really would opt for the other
Baldwin Indian place if given the choice. I would definitely go back to Jodhpore, despite the lack of variety. Service was fast and friendly. The server always refreshed our water and food was refreshed all the time. The glazed over “expired” look of the food was not present so we were happy. Next time we will probably order from the main menu since the buffet did not offer enough variety. Accepts all cards. Wheelchair accessible at the entrance, but bathrooms are downstairs.

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Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst Street
(416) 534-9056

After a nightmare makeover in 2004 the once comfortable, homey atmosphere (think Tango Palace at Queen/Jones), exposed brick, ecclectic decor, and activist posters on the wall became ultra modern hip and cool, with a complete bleached effect as the designer of Restaurant Makeover painted the whole restaurant white, even though the owner Sandy Moon specifically requested not to paint the exposed brick. As most of us, painting exposed brick is sacrilegious. I had last visited Grapefruit Moon on my 27th birthday (Sept 2001) for a nice quiet dinner. A great place to bring a date. Intimate, non pretentious, not expensive, and most importantly, many veggie options.

Grapefruit Moon went glam but actually looked like a hospital with that “bleached” effect. What on earth was the designer thinking. What crack were they smoking. I loved the old look and feel of Grapefruit Moon and I was sad to see that the old decor was gone, but I knew that they were still owned by the same people and the menu and food and service was still excellent so I decided to go there on 2 separate occasions for my favourite meal- Sunday brunch.

When I stepped inside, I noticed that the owners definitely put much effort into changing it back to the way it was and it looks like they’re almost there. Mostly, they added colour back into the decor. The painted brick wall is now adorned with colourful paintings and knickknacks that really tone down the “hospital” look and feel of their catastrophic makeover. According to an article in Eye Magazine, Grapefruit Moon’s new theme is citrus (white walls accented with orange, green and yellow). There is one spot that the designer of Restaurant Makeover did not touch, the bathroom. It still has silver stars painted on the cobalt-blue walls and purple ceiling, a reminder of Grapefruit Moon before its disasterous makeover.

Small, quaint, cosy, cafe, veggie friendly, with typical brunch and dinner fare, Grapefruit Moon thankfully offers veggie alternatives (veggie bacon or TLT tempeh lettuce tomato sandwich instead of BLT -bacon lettuce tomato sandwich).

Expect lineups for Sunday brunch but with quick turnover and a vast outdoor patio opened for spring and summer. Some brunch items include grilled cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich, granola, fruit ,and yogourt, grilled hummus wrap, grilled black bean wrap with home fries (salad can be replaced for an additional $2), omeletes, breakfast burritos with the works, excellent espresso drinks, fresh orange juice, and free refills of coffee. Lunch items are light and healthy. I’ve ordered the vegan wrap (black bean dip with hummus and veggies) with a side salad and the hummus wrap is also excellent too. Portion size is decent. Simple one page menu with non pretentious, earthy, friendly folks. Very neighbourhood friendly atmosphere, like stepping into your living room. Same homey feel like Mitzi’s or Three’s Company or The Only Cafe. Complete meals for $10-$12 including coffee. Accepts all cards.

Ginger

 695 Yonge Street – (416) 966-2424
403 Yonge Street – (416) 263-9999
546 Church Street- 416 324 8724
252 Carlton Street 416-923-7979
521 Bloor Street West (416)536-3131

When you think of Ginger, think casual, fast food, and excellent prices. You will not be ripped off or disappointed. It’s like a giant food court, noisy, but the food quality is definitely better than your typical food court with tasteless, bland, and expired dishes, claiming to be Italian or Chinese but really it’s the North American rendition. Food court food is a quick and cheap and lousy interpretation of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai food should be.

I went there with some friends after checking out a rockin’ good underwear sale. We were really hungry and we did not want to spend too much money so we checked out the newly opened Ginger on Church street near Wellesley.

Scott had the green curry with silken tofu and vegetables. He wasn’t too impressed. There wasn’t much tofu really, and the rice wasn’t that soft either. Overall, he wouldn’t eat it again. He didn’t like the atmosphere, it was too loud to hear more than one table away.

I had the eggplant and tofu green curry dish with steamed vegetables and white rice. I omitted the green curried tofu and replaced it with more steamed vegetables but unfortunately, due to poor communication skills, they did not add any more steamed vegetables so I was a bit unhappy.

Bob ordered the rice, veggies, 3 shrimp, chicken, beef price ($8.50). He felt that it was not too spicy, it was flavourful, with a fast food ambiance, yet it felt like being in a restaurant. He liked that he did not have to leave a tip. He liked the comfy chairs, and the “in between” nature of fast food and fine dining. Lastly, he liked that they brought the food to you

Paulo had the same dish as Bob but without the clump of white rice (shrimp, chicken, and beef) with veggies

Lailah ordered a thick udon noodle soup with tofu and vegetables (known as Pho). The soup bowl was big and hearty and came with a generous serving of noodles and vegetables (also known as Pho).

On other visits I have had veggie salad rolls (cold rice paper rolls in a sweet peanut sauce, not peanut butter sauce but a sweet teriyaki sauce with crushed peanuts on top. As well, I have enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese dish called Pho, a soup with tons of veggies, rice noodles, and tofu, in a clear veggie broth and covered in basil leaves. The soup is very hot (in terms of temperature and it’s also spicy). Most Phos have beef or chicken but mine was 100% veggie. I had to inform the server when taking orders since most Thai, Vietnamese, or Korean food always has fish, oyster, or chicken broth added to most dishes so it’s best to be the paranoid vegetarian and emphasize having an “animal-free dish”. The new Church Street location has a fresh fruit martini bar which makes it look less look “fast food” but overall it’s still fast food and excellent prices. Accepts all cards

Izakaya

69 Front Street East
416-703 8658

Aaron planned a dinner with a large group of friends and he decided to dine at Izakaya in Saint Lawrence Market at Church and Front across from Hot House Cafe. Walking into Izakaya was like walking into a funky loft. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls spread across three dining areas separated by Japanese blinds, this open concept place is spacious and comfortable. With huge square tables there is a lot of breathing place and it is the perfect place to dine with large groups. The dining area at the front of the restaurant has smaller tables for couples of smaller groups.

The menu does not have many vegetarian options but the waiter said that they were flexible. I insisted on no fish stock and the waiter was very knowledgable in terms of what “veggie” dishes contain secret chicken, beef, or fish stock. I was thankful he was honest and blunt with my options. I started with the organic salad ($6.95) in a zesty ginger dressing. Yummy and light and definitely wonderful. For my main I ordered the noodle soup ($11.95) in a mushroom-based broth with udon noodles with 4 types of mushrooms. My meal was hearty, slightly sweet, and very filling.

To start, Aaron ordered an appetizer of Shrimp Dumplings which were ok.. He enjoyed the hot mustard sauce served with it. He also had a fried egglant dish which was very sweet and tasty. Overall he felt the food was not oustanding but good value for the money. He shared those dishes with his friend Gavin.

For his main, Aaron had the Chicken Katsu Curry which was boneless chicken crused in panko with a mild japanese curry sauce. He felt was like a chicken shnitzel and he felt the curry sauce was too mild. He also had the Tokyo Beef Ramen which was soy sauce flavoured soup and noodles topped with char grilled top sirloin and garnished with shiso leaf, bean sprouts, scallion, mema and toasted black and white sesame seeds. He enjoyed this dish. He felt the broth was very flavourful and the meat was tasty if not completely tender.

Aaron’s friend Jonathan ordered the lightly battered chicken and vegetables, shrimp dumplings, and an organic salad. He arrived a bit late and was really hungry and ordered it quickly.

Aaron’s friends Brad and Steven shared two mains and two sides. The mains were Cha Han (fried rice with chicken, shrimp, etc) and Izakaya Beef. The sides they ordered were Pork Gyoza and Sesame Spinach Salad. They were really impressed by everything. The fried rice was a big portion, with quite a few good juicy pieces of shrimp. The beef was tender, and not overdone. Brad knows that Steven really liked the spinach (especially the sesame dressing). Both thought that the best part of the night was the price! For a dinner out with a bottle of sake, it was a very cheap night!

Brad and Steven could see how some people wouldn’t like sitting at a large table with someone they didn’t know. In this case it was fine since they knew everyone around the table, and it made for a unique evening. However, they felt that if it had there only five people, it may have been awkward carrying on a conversation with another group sharing the table.

Decor comprised large expansive walls in a loft style space with big square tables that can fit 10 people. The restaurant contained two main dining areas, exposed brick walls, minimalist decor, sectioned off dividers, super high ceilings, spacious, open concept.

 

Aaron’s friend Alen had the Yasai Katsu Curry – one of their vegetarian dishes (the curry sauce had a chicken and fish based broth, though.). The food was good, but he was more impressed with the atmosphere and the d�cor, than he was with his meal. The service was really slow and we had to chase the waiter down to pay our bill. The bathrooms were nice and the prices were reasonable, but he thought that he would probably order something different next time. He felt his meal was very starchy.

All in all, I like Izakaya for its open concept dining areas. It felt very airy with high ceilings, exposed brick wall, and extra large tables. The main concern is that this place is great for dining in big groups since the tables are so large. If you choose to dine alone or with a date, I wonder where the smaller tables are. I wondered if you had to share a table with a complete group of strangers. My extra large bowl of soup and noodles was kind of expensive but it was damn good. Wait staff are knowledgable, attentive, friendly, and accomodating. The only problem was that it took forever to get our bill. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.

Sugar [Mark Aaron]- [closed Fall 2007]

942 Queen Street West
(416) 532-5088

Aaron and I met for brunch last Sunday after my crazy-ass 35 km run. I had a crappy headache, was starving and Aaron was a bit annoyed since I was late in timing my run (I thought 2 hrs but it turned in 3.5 hrs) so we met for brunch at 2pm (quite late) and Sugar was definitely less busy.

Sugar is a small hip and trendy cafe on Queen and Shaw in the West Queen West district. It looks hip and cool and modern like Salad King but the furniture does not match the decor. Think Salad King with antique furniture and old woodsy church benches and oversized beautiful hardwood tables. Ecclectic and cosy and modern and trendy all in one.

In any case, we were served a one page brunch menu with many egg options but not many vegetarian or fruity alternatives. I did see a muesli (granola) and fruit and oatmeal and fruit but most mains were $9 (kind of weird) and they were out of muesli and oatmeal by the time we arrived (similar to Aunties and Uncles). Definitely not a good sign. They were apologetic, unlike Aunties and Uncles who were more arrogant about it (tough luck on you that you came too late).

I started with an overpriced mochachino (a hot chocolate with a shot of espresso) for $9 (shi shi poo poo hot chocolate and a shot of espressor equals $9, don’t ask) in a big bowl. It was quite delicious. Aaron has a normal coffee but they did not have drip or perculated, only an Americano would do, and no free refills. Aaron was less than impressed.

I ordered an egg white omelete of the day with spinach, roasted red peppers, onions, (omited the cheese) and replaced my home fries with a side of salad. The dish was very yummy and not too small or big on portion size. Aaron had the same dish but he ordered a real omelete. Decor was clean and slick and minimalist like most artsy upscale brunch places on Queen West. I have passed Sugar many times and I was always curious to try their brunch. I must say I liked it but it did not have the character or hominess that Mitzi’s, Ten Feet Tall, or Three’s Company has. I found it similar to Swan, a place to be seen, with really good food, excellent service (Sugar did have very friendly, accomodating, and helpful servers), but there was nothing special about it.

Prices are a bit high for what you get. Expect typical brunch fare. Accepts all cards. Does serve funky mimosas for brunch (orange juice and champagne). Weekend brunch 11am-4:30pm.

Kissan (now Sidartha Pure Vegetarian Cuisine)

Kissan (changed Feb 07 to Sidartha Pure Vegetarian Cuisine)

1411 Gerrard Street East
(416) 466-9777

Wendy and I heard about a new vegetarian Indian restaurant called Kissan that opened about one month ago on Gerrard street (aka Little India). We thought it was time to check it out. As i no longer live on the Danforth, i am somewhat out of touch with life in the east end so I try to go back to the Danforth or Little India to see what is going on. You will notice that on Gerrard, there is a definite revitalization going on there so it’s best to buy a house or townhouse there ASAP as prices will go up as the place will “trendify” and become shi shi poo poo like the Beaches, then we’re all screwed over since house prices will go super high ($500,000) for a tiny 2000 sq. foot house. The arrogant city of Toronto has some nerve to make house prices so unaffordable that only the rich or a dual income family can purchase it.

Now back to my review. Kissan is a very pleasant, clean, and non kitschy, non-dated restaurant that serves North Indian vegetarian cuisine in a pleasant non-kitchy ambiance. Set in one small dining area with about 10 tables, we were thoroughly impressed by the constantly refreshed buffet table (at the back), glistening with freshness and not glazed with grease like many Indian buffets (think Dhaba on King and John or any other Indian restaurant on Gerrard street). Maybe it’s because Kissan is new and they are still “young” and “fresh with ideas” and maybe it will all go downhill in the next few months, but we thought we’d give our impressions on this place one month after its opening.

Kissan’s small but high quality buffet included favourite veggie delights like curried cabbage, vegetable curry, chana masala, aloo gobi with fresh chunks of cauliflower, not a mashed up mess mostly comprised of potato. We saw mostly cauliflower and that is a good indication of a good aloo gobi when there is a visible gobi (cauliflower) and there are nice potato wedges. It means there was time and thought involved. Most aloo gobis are mashed up messes and are served in clumps, trust me. I’ve had my share of Toronto’s aloo gobi’s. Another excellent feature is an eggplant curry (Bengan) that was simply delicious. Kissan also served a nice daal (lentil curry) as well as a yummy curried yogourt stew with dumplings. It was a yellow colour and mild in flavour and the dumplings tasted like wet pakoras. The pakoras’ were typical balls of onion and mashed up vegetables wrapped up in a chick pea flour batter. Wendy and I both brought the coriander and tamarind dipping sauce for them and they were excellent. I had to admit that I usually have no faith in Indian buffets but we were pleasantly surprised. The saag paneer was also good but had too much spinach and I had trouble finding the cubes of cheese. Naan was kept away from the buffet table to avoid become soggy and cold so we were impressed when our server told us that he had fresh naan waiting for us.

Both Wendy and I agree that our Mango Lassis were thick, flavourful, not too sweet, and not watery like most Mango Lassis. We both agreed that our Mango Lassi was the best we’ve ever had in Toronto. It tasted so fresh and not pre-made. It was incredibly thick. We asked the secret, and he said thick homemade yogourt, filtered to get rid of excess water, and mango pulp (rock on!). We loved it. For $8.99 for lunch buffet and $10.99 for the dinner buffet, we had no complaints about our experience at all except the yucky phony tasting mango ice cream (I had the vanilla ice cream instead). Wendy also enjoyed a carrot pudding made with delicately cooked carrot slices in a thick sweet milky pudding. It tasted just like rice pudding but with thinly cut carrot slices instead. Kissan also serves a cool milk beverage with fresh cold milk, vermicelli noodles, rosewater and cumin and other spices that gives it a sweet and fragrant dessert. The rice pudding they serve also sounds delicious with fennel (or anise) and cardamom, a delicious spice often used in Indian tea (chai masala). In sum, we were pleasantly stuffed and felt that we really ate very well in terms of quality, flavour, freshness, and service was extra friendly and the server was very knowledgable and pleasant, which is always nice. Open 11:30am-10:30pm 7 days per week. Accepts all cards.

Jaipur Grille

 2066 Yonge Street
416 322 5678

Aaron and I and 2 other friends went to Jaipur Grille because we wanted to try an Indian restaurant in a different neighbourhood and somewhere fairly new. Jaipur Grille is not located downtown or in Little India but at Yonge and Davisville south of the trendy Yonge and Eglinton strip.

Inside, with dim lighting, pale walls and minimal design, the large one-room dining hall was very tasteful, clean, and had a slick decor but too slick like Salad King. Classy and upscale was the feel I got. Not like most dated, kitschy dives in Little India, Jaipur Grille did serve most of the same dishes as most North Indian restaurants.

We all started with drinks (Diet Coke and Mango Juice for us 4). The waiter was friendly and knowledgable and kept on filling up our glasses with water and he was able to accomodate Aaron’s desire for lemon in his water.

We all started with pappadums which came to our table free. We ordered 2 appetizers for the four of us, a platter called Paneer Methi Tikka ($10.95), a cheese platter marinated and seared in a tandoor oven, served with mint chutney. To die for! We also order a different type of vegetable pakoras ($5.95), deep fried and battered up eggplant, and other veggies in a chick pea batter. Superb and delicious in a coriander sauce. Pakoras are also yummy with a sweet tamarind sauce as well. They were not too greasy and different since most pakoras are “balls” of onion and other mashed up veggies in a chick pea flour batter. This was different because we had actual vegetables in addition to those “balls”.

For my main dish I ordered the Sabzi Hara Masala, which was a green (coriander) based curry with mixed vegetables roasted in a spice mix with some paneer and cashews. Delicious! My other friends ordered the Channa Masala ($8.95)(chick pea curry) and it was thick, dark ,and delicious. It was very fresh and was more red than brown since it was made in an onion and tomato gravy. They also ordered one of my favourite Indian dishes Palak Paneer (also known as Saag Paneer($10.95))- simply spinach and cheese. With chunks (not pureed) of spinach sauteed and braised with tomatoes and homemade cheese, this dish had a kick and was fresh, very hot, and delicious. Aaron had the Lamb Korma (Lamb roasted with spices, finished with almonds & raisins in a light cream sauce with Rice Pullao ($4.50). Aaron thought that the Lamb Korma was delicious… tender… and seasoned well… however he felt it could have used a touch more spice. Overall, he found it delicious.

 

We all ordered Naan bread for the table ($1.95) (fluffy bread cooked in a tandoor oven) and my other dining friends ordered Rice Pullao (Basmati rice cooked with saffron and tomatoes, with fragrant spices.) ($4.50). For dessert, we had the luxurious scoop of mango sorbet surrounded by banana ice cream and coasted in coconut. You will never find that kind of dessert (heavenly) on Gerrard street. You may find Kulfi or Barfi or various squares, but not this delicate, decadent dessert. After our meal was finished, we all agree that this place was definitely on the top five in terms of the best Indian restaurants in Toronto. I would go back for sure. Prices are not too expensive. Definitely high quality and excellent service. Liquor License. Accepts all cards.