Avenue Cafe and Bistro

 480 University Ave
416.979-0500

I am hardly ever in the downtown core for lunch during the week since i work in the west end near Jane and Lawrence (in Weston). Sometimes we have workshops at U of T (since my hospital library is part of the U of T network of hospital libraries). One of our workshops on Oct 31 dealt with finding the leader in yourself. They do serve lunch at these workshops but the food is not very good and there is nothing vegetarian for me, or the non-veggies choose the vegetarian items before i can get to them. I decided to pop out before my lunch break and meet Wendy and Zam to have lunch at Avenue Cafe and Bistro, a high end sandwich bistro at Dundas and University.

This bistro belongs in a Sex and the City episode. I could see myself running into Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte here meeting for lunch. I also find it would fit perfectly in Yorkville too. Located at Dundas and University in the downtown hospital district where all the “suits” dine for lunch.

Avenue Cafe and Bistro looks like a fashion runway where men and women in the finest attire dine on gourmet panini sandwiches and wraps (grilled to perfection), lattes, Illy coffee, and a small assortment of dufflet pastries, tarts, squares, as well as wholesome breads.

Zam, Wendy, and myself went in the very well-behaved line (unlike most TTC lineups or food court lines). Bathrooms were one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in my restaurant adventures in Toronto. Bathrooms looked like a fancy downtown condo, sleek in design with grey ceramic floor ands and a gorgeous ultra modern sink and toilet. I am not a fan of greys and stainless steel but I want my future condo to have a bathroom like Avenue Cafe and Bistro. Simple and elegant, i could have moved in!

Decor is white with fancy huge marble tables and smaller silver tables, slim and sleek in design. Decor is minimalist with white walls, clean lines, and a cool flat screen TV with Black and white movies shown for lunch. The place is busy with mostly business folk all dressed up. Zam, Wendy, and I went there at 12pm and it was packed with a wonderful display of beautiful people, sandwiches, plump, fresh, juicy, and full of texture and colour. rush of wonderful . The chicken mango salad sandwich ($7.50) looked fresh, delightful, and plump. I nearly dropped dead from the look at the huge panini with marinated mushrooms spilling out with seasoned goat cheese (which i ordered).

Wendy ordered the same sandwich as myself. Both our orders were $7.50 and came with an anorexic portion of a side salad which was fine since the actual sandwich was HUGE.

I ordered the spring greens and Wendy ordered the Caesar. Both our dishes came grilled with a side of aioli (garlic mayo). Zam had the had the mushroom sandwich with goat cheese, and both were present in the sandwich in plentifulf amounts. No misery with their fillings. Same experience with their salmon, tuna and roasted vegetarian sandwich.

He felt the ambiance was very urban chic with minimalist white New York Style decor. The crowd was corporate yuppie (very suave looking). He thought the service was quick during th lunch rush. We all agreed that you get a good meal in a short time and prices were good for the quality of the sandwich, salad, and drink combo (under $10).

At this point, i am convinced that this place is a wonderful casual dining spot for lunch, i cannot believe i’ve missed it (Thanks Zam). Other veggie sandwiches includes the avocado sandwich with avocados, tomatoes, havarti cheese, alfalfa sprouts, and side salad ($7.50). Avenue Cafe and Bistro even sells simple sandwiches like Egg Salad, Tuna Salad, Smoked Salmon and Cream cheese ($7.90), Salmon salad sandwich, Tuna Cheddar Melt ($6.90), Chicken Caesar ($6.90). Also serves breakfast omeletes ($6.90), as well as Western sandwiches ($5.90-$6.90). Baked good include fresh muffins, croissants, bagels or baguettes ($1.40-$1.90). Lunch pita pizzas (thin crust) include chicken pesto, vegetarian, and margarita ($6.90).

Avenue Cafe and Bistro also offers a medley of salads including caesar, greek, roasted salmon green bean, avenue salad (seared beef and mixed greens, chick peas and feta) ($5.90-$6.90), and chicken pesto pasta salad with chicken, multi coloured fusili, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts ($6.50). Quesadilas include beef, crab and shrimp, and chicken ($7.90-$8.90).

All dishes served with a side salad. Daily soups are creative and different every day and served with fresh bread ($3.50). Beverages include smoothies, perrier, bottled water, soft drinks, freshly squeezed juices ($1.40-$1.90 small, $2.90 for large) , Illy coffee, and an assortment of Espresso beverages ($1.90-$4.00 depending on size and type of drink) and even lunchtime coolers and beers, and red and white wine (by the glass). Accepts all cards. Liquor license. Opened Mon-Fri 7am-5:30pm.

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Avenue Diner

 222 Davenport Road 
(416) 924-5191

Having biked passed Avenue Diner many times, I have always been curious to know what the food and ambiance is like. Centrally located at Davenport and Avenue Road on the cusp of Yorkville and the edge of the Annex, this place has been in operation since 1944 and still going strong. Similar to Beauties, Bagels Etc, Cosmo’s in Montreal, Avenue Diner serves up a small menu of burgers, fries, old fashioned chicken sandwiches flooded with gravy, weekend breakfast (mostly egg dishes) with classy home fries and old fashioned milkshakes in an authentic diner setting.

Avenue Diner feels very homey with only 2-3 wait staff and a team of about 4 cooks. One middle aged woman calls out the dishes to the cooks who whip up the dishes in a matter of minutes before your eyes. There are about 6 stools and expect to sit there if the tables are occupied. The grill is right in front of you so you can see them create dishes in front of your eyes.

Like Yasi’s place (Lansdowne near Bloor) , the decor looks like an old 1950’s diner or soda shop with old Coca Cola paraphernalia and other nostalgic things like old fashioned milkshakes, napkin holders, and little details that give this place charm.

Since it’s in the Yorkville district, there are a slew of photographs of celebrities who frequent the neighbourhood. It reminds me of “Bruce’s Restaurant and Bakery”, a Long Island “Jewish style” diner on 34 Middle Neck Road (in Great Neck, NY) with many celebrity photographs. Christina’s on the Danforth also attracts a celebrity clientele.

When we went for breakfast that Sunday morning, we noticed that service is very quick and efficient (high turnover). I ordered the cheddar egg white omelete ($6.95 + $1.50 extra for egg whites) with home fries. The dish came with toast but instead, i ordered a side of sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Zam ordered the veggie omelete with home fries (we ordered an extra side order of fries for $4) and whole wheat toast (you can choose white, whole wheat, or rye). They emphasize that they serve eggs any way you like them. They also serve high protein cereals, oatmeal, and pancakes. For lunch expect diner-dishes like hot sandwiches with gravy, burgers and fries.

Avenue diner also sells merchandise like T shirts that are displayed above the grill (must smell of eggs and cooking oil. All deep fried items are cooked in 100% vegetable oil.

Lineups occur after 12pm noon, but high turnover of customers, very fast service, people do not stay a long time. Small, kind of cramped, only 10 stools and 6 tables.

Sunrise Grill and Crepe

417 Roncesvalles Ave
416.516.5766

Only opened since October 2005, this place has become a hit with local folk. At 11:30am, we walked in to a completely packed place. Among all of the other trendier brunch spots in Ronscy Village, all others were empty while this one was clearly the packed place. Within 20 minutes of sitting down and getting comfy, there was a lineup of 6 people.

Roncesvalles village is becoming trendy these past few years with cafes, 2 new loft complexes (High Park lofts and Roncesvalles lofts), and the additions of high end restaurants and shops, this traditional Polish neighbourhood is becoming the next Bloor West village.

Sunrise Grill and Crepe was packed with locals, completely non-pretentious, unlike some places in Roncesvalles Village. Specializes in all day breakfast from 7am onwards. Close to Dundas West subway and in the heart of Roncesvalles village.

Only crappy thing was the surprise price increases not advertised on the menu. My fruit crepe which came with strawberries and custard was replaced with yogourt and they hiked the replacement of custard with healthier yogourt $2. The owner informed the waitress to tell me that the yogourt was organic (who gives a shit!) and that they will hike up the price an additional $4. The owner, clearly on organic crack needs to understand that indicating this price increase on the menu is essential. This happens rarely (invisible price increases on the bill when wait staff faily to warn you in advance) but when it does, it pisses me off.

Decor is cheerful in yellows and gold tones, comfortable non trendy tables and chairs and there will be a back dining hall (in development). I would definitely go back to this place, considering it serves breakfast all day without the trendy bullshit prices. All meals are cheap (under $8) and portions are large. I was quite pleased with my dish even though crepes are not something you eat if you are truly hungry. Wendy was quite happy with her dish (german apple cinnamon pancakes) and we will definitely come back when they are more settled in their pricing. Big portions, very cheap prices, and nice presentation (non trendy but very cosy “neighbourhood” ambiance. A definite place to come back. Accepts all cards.

Dr. Generosity

2197 Bloor St. W.
416.604.0704 

Aaron and I ran 10km and we decided to brunch in the west end for a change. Aaron has heard from Chowhound about Dr. Generosity and he had mentioned it for months but we did not get a chance to schlep to the west end. I nagged him and finally made an outing of running then driving to Bloor West Village to see what this place has to offer.

Located right in the heart of Bloorwest village, Dr. Generosity is a laid back establishment, similar to Brass Taps where they serve pub food (pub food has gotten healthier over the years, so don’t expect typical bar fare of nachos and cheese and fish and chips and burgers and fries) and a weekend brunch. Even pubs have jumped on the Brunch bandwagon in Toronto.

As it was Thanksgiving weekend, Aaron and I checked out the Thanksgiving themed menu with some Thanksgiving inspired items. We started with coffee and Diet cokes and for our meals, I ordered the stuffed French Toast with a berry puree with huge chunks of bananas topped with a raspberry sauce and sugared pecans. I also ordered additional maple syrup to soak my meal. We only ran 10 km but we had to carb load for our marathon the next week.

My dish contained four slices of challah bread stuffed with fruit but due to the soaking of egg and pan frying, the four slices stuck together to form one huge tower. It looked like too much; like a piece of art – colourful, with the texture of the fruit and the drizzling sauce, but it tasted spectacular.

Aaron ordered the turkey and cheese omelete with a side order of home fries (which he liked a lot) and he enjoyed the dish. He found it to be quite good and portions were large! The service was good and friendly but he felt the place lacked ambiance. He thought it felt more “pubby” then a cozy brunch place. He also found it quite far away from the downtown core so he would probably not visit it very often.

Other items on the menu include penne alla vodka ($16), chicken tetrazaini fettucine ($16), lamb and black jack stew ($16), provimi calves liver ($18), grilled fresh salmon ($19), baby back ribs ($22), new york strip steak ($25), chicken breast supreme with spinach, goat cheese, and garlic. ($19), buffalo wings (1 lb is $9, 2 lbs are $17), pan- fried calamari ($10), and mussels in a choice of either a spicy tomato broth, white wine broth, or garlic and parsley broth ($10) .

Some veggie items to note are the popular veggie lasagna ($13), and portobello mushroom melt ($10). Some appetizers worth noting include Dr. G. Grilled vegetable nachos ($12), spinach and artichoke dip (served with sesame flatbread) ($9), hummus and tzattiki platter with sesame flatbread ($9), sweet potato fries ($6), dr. G. home fries ($4).

Also serves an assortment of light fare, including soups and salads (house salad, caesar (both $8), my favourite – grilled vegetable and goat cheese salad -$9), sesame chicken salad- $12, and Dr. G. “chopped” salad (with your choice of tuna salad with walnuts or diced turkey breast) with loads of chopped veggies and hard-boiled egg ($11), and the chopped beef salad with grilled beef slices and roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes and roasted corn on a bed of spinach- $14.

Open Monday-Tuesday 11:30am-9:30pm, Wednesday-Thursday 11:30-10:30pm, Friday 11:30am-10:30pm, Saturday and Sunday Brunch 10:00am-3:00pm, Saturday Dinner 3:00pm-10:30pm, and Sunday Dinner 3:00pm-9:00pm. Accepts all cards. Dinner prices kind of steep but Bloor West Village folk can afford it. Brunch prices are appropriate.

Offers a party room located on the 2nd floor and can accommodate up to 24 people for a sit-down meal and up to 40 people for a cocktail or hors d’oeuvres reception.