River

 413 Roncesvalles
416-535-3422

 

River is a classic French restaurant located in the heart of Roncesvalles Village. It offers an amazing menu with large portions and much selection. I had passed this place many times and i had heard they serve a wonderful brunch and they also hire street kids to work and gain responsibility. I thought it was wonderful to read about programs that help disadvantage youth jump-start their lives again and i was impressed River participated in this type of program.

Although River is known for its dinner, Aaron, Brandon, and myself went for a lazy Sunday brunch. River serves an assortment of pastas (smoked chicken linguini, pesto farfale, banana curry penne), and salads (caesar, baby spinach, and field greens). Sandwiches include a grilled burger, grilled portobello burger, and cajun chicken club. Mains include pan fried salmon fillet, grilled rib eye steak, chevre and basil stuffed chicken breast, grilled pork tenderloin, grilled portobello mushroom caps, and lamb.

The brunch menu is very small and mostly comprises egg dishes. It could definitely be expanded. However, the portions are large and food is amazing and very fresh. For my brunch, i ordered the egg white omelete with pesto, spinach, mushroom, and oka cheese. It came with yummy salad, delicately spiced home fries, but no toast (odd). Brandon ordered the eggs florentine (two poached eggs on a toasted English muffin with spinach, hollandaise sauce) and it came with a side of salad and delicious home fries. Aaron ordered the big breakfast (two eggs any style, bacon, peameal, sausage, served a side salad, toast, and home fries. Heart attack on a plate.

River’s brunch is offered Sat + Sun from 11am-3:30pm. This place also participates in the “All Aboard” Youth Venture program that offers employment opportunities for homeless youth so it allows them to re-build their lives and it allows them to re-integrate back into society. Other brunch items include salads, chicken wraps, French Toast, breakfast burrito, an 8 ounce hamburger, and different varieties of Eggs Benedict.

River offers many vegetarian selections. Also serves an extensive wine list, extensive alcoholic coffees, cocktails, mixed drinks, domestic and foreign beers, and organic fair trade coffee with free refills . Accepts all cards. Offers catering, corporate functions, and parties (weddings, birthdays, baby showers, social gatherings, and Christmas parties). Open Thursday through Sunday for dinner 5pm-10pm and Sat/Sun for brunch 11am-3:30pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Fully licensed and accepts all cards.

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B

 2210 Dundas
416-533-2987

Yes, this place is called “B”, simple and sweet. The “B” could mean anything, like breakfast, brunch, or beautiful, or it can simply be just that, the letter “B”.

Aaron had previously went to “B”, a simple cafe right where Ronscy Village starts just south of Bloor where Dundas splits and heads eastward. B is a small cafe, aka Mitzi’s style with only about 5 tables. It’s cosy and homey and has the menu written on a chalkboard (like Mitzis) but they do accept Interac and the prices are FAR less expensive than the crazy trendified Mitzis. As well, you won’t have to line up for an hour to get into Mitzis.

Many veggie options for me as I ordered the tofu scramble ($7) , accompanied with a side of delicately spiced home fries and a choice of toast (I chose rye). Aaron ordered the omelete with duck and apple sausage, home fries, and toast. With extra special and friendly service, unlimited coffee, a selection of espresso drinks that were actually affordable ($2.50 for lattes), and the funkyness of Queen West (minus the trend), i was very impressed with “B”.

Menu is small and simple. I noticed that they had the granola and fruit and yogourt options as well as oatmeal, omeletes, pancakes or waffles, and an assortment of breakfast squares. Reminds me of a very small Yasi’s Place since both are on the edge of trend, but without the trendy prices, maybe it’s because both are on the edge of gentrified neighbourhoods.

On my second visit with Wendy, i had the French Toast with berries and brie and portions were perfect (not too large and not too small). In sum, it was a nice brunch and I would definitely go back to try out more of their menu. Wendy was quite impressed with her meal (tofu eggs with duck and apple sausage and rye toast. My fruit was carved out in a very artistic fashion and presentation was beautiful. Wendy commented that these cooks were real culinary chefs. Both our dishes had the letter “B” carved out of a cucumber (or onion). Prices were very reasonable, included tax, service was fast and extra friendly. We really felt pampered and there were no complaints.

“B” accepts cash and interac but no credit cards. “B” is funky with white walls, great art for sale, and is located right at Dundas and Roncesvalles across from the Starbucks in the old bank building.

Nazareth Restaurant

 969 Bloor Street West
416-535-0797

Nazareth is a small narrow restaurant run and owned by one person, Nazareth. Conveniently located at Bloor near Ossington (near Queen of Sheba) this place is a hidden gem in the Bloor corridor between Christie and Lansdowne. The owner is friendly, enthusiastic, and warm. The capacity of the place is not all that large. There are five to six tables arranged in a columnar fashion against the west wall of the restaurant. Seating a group bigger than 5 ? 6 people can be a challenge. The dimly lit atmosphere, paintings and local art covered walls in addition to the visible clientele make it all a true Ethiopian dining experience.

The menu is small, with essentially three choices, beef, chicken or veggie. The platters are huge and can be pleasantly satisfying for two people. The prices are very reasonable. For the two of us (veggie platter + two teas) we paid $13 including tax and tip. Our veggie platter was only $7.50 and it was just enough for two people. It comprised saut饤 chollard greens, peas, two types of mashed lentil dishes, boiled spiced cabbage, and salad.

The Ethiopian spiced tea (black tea) was amazing. It was similar to Indian Chai this tea was essentially Darjeeling or Ceylon or Earl Grey with cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Unlike most Ethiopian restaurants, the food was served hot , as opposed to most places that serve their dishes warm. Another observation was that our injera (like thin sourdough spongy pita) was served warm. Most Ethiopian places serve their injera cold and clammy.

Pria and Martin ordered the tibs dish, which was essentially different types beef cubes with salad and other vegetable dishes. For their meal they had to order another dish but for us, it was just enough food.

The flavours at Nazareth are much better than any I have tasted so far. She cooks the meal right when you order it, as opposed to having it pre-cooked and heating it before serving. This adds an intangible aura of freshness and a distinct irresistible flavour that I have not found anywhere else. I have eaten there for the past year, while frequenting other Ethiopian places on the occasion and have always returned to Nazareth. It could also be the ambiance coupled with her food makes it all the more authentic. Only being served by one person makes it feel more authentic.

The last time i went to Nazareth it was $26 for 4 people (the big veggie platter for 4 people) with a side of salad and the ceremonial Ethiopian coffee. We did not feel ripped off (like other Ethiopian restaurants in the city) and portions were large and plentiful. On this particular visit, Nazareth went crazy on the salt and we found chunks in our food, but overall, the food was piping hot, not too spicy, and perfectly portioned.

Late night dining .. all the way to 1.00 am . As long as she has food in the kitchen she will serve you. On Thursdays and weekends, the place acquires a more bar type atmosphere after 11.00 pm. The music is turned up a notch, with the demographics composed of a casual, super friendly, gregarious and a non-pretentious crowd. Dinner is still served in this atmosphere. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.