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.

Kensington Kitchen [Mark]

124 Harbord St.
(416) 961-3404 

Closed Dec 2007

Located right at Harbord and Spadina, Kensington Kitchen is a cosy and warm restaurant that resembles a comfortable country kitchen. Small with less than ten tables, KK serves up Lebanese fare in a setting that I would categorize as casual fine dining. At first the name seems misleading since it’s not in Kensington market and not on Kensington Avenue (in the market).

I assumed it would be a bohemian cafe with artsy-fartsy hipsters who think they’re too cool to serve you (think Aunties and Uncles or Tequlla Bookworm) . I was surprised when I entered the restaurant since it looked so “adult” in the midsts of the U of T southern annex ghetto.

Kensington Kitchen has much character, with walls draped in Oriental rugs and cotton swatches, hand-beaded purses, old knick knacks, and traditional Middle Eastern art and photos of Lebanon. Food is full of intense flavour, big portions, $10-$15 price range. Offers many vegetarian meals.

Appetizers include such Lebanese favourites like stuffed vine leaves, fried eggplant and cauliflower, baba ghanouj, hummus, olives, pureed garlic potatoes, as well as warm whole wheat pita.

For our meals, Jerome and I both ordered the spicy sauteed eggplant with chunks of stewed tomatoes and tons of onions and chunks of garlic, very Jewish in style and texture and quite oily, but delicious and generous portions.

Beth had the scallops – she thought they were delicious and she liked that they came with a good serving of eggplant and sauteed spinach. No skimpy veggie servings! She though the prices were mid-range, not cheap, but worth it for what you get. She concluded that she would go back.

Daniel had the Lamb shank dish (with figs, raisins, eggplant); same as Aaron and Wendy. Very tasty, but could have had a little more punch to it?I expected the figs & raisins to flavour the dish a little more than it did. Seems as if it may have been cooked a little too long. It was, despite this, very good and I would order it again. The appetizer plate was spectacular, though and everything was ultra-flavourful.

Aaron has the Turkish-style braised lamb stuffed with raisins, eggplant, apricots, and figs. He thought it tasted a bit bland to be honest. The service was friendly though. Zam had the seafood Paella. He thought it was okay. He thought it was a little low on the flavour. He found the appetizer to be a prize winner amongst everyone. (a huge Mediterranean vegetarian plate) . It came with fried cauliflower, hummus, whole wheat pita, falafel, and other vegetarian dips was excellent! The platter was to die for. On a separate occasion he had their risotto, lamb burger, and braised lamb which he found very nice. He commented that he enjoyed their dishes and claimed at the time the lamb was halal but he was not sure about now.

Zam would definitely go there again. We all found the price range is okay .. not really expensive .. reasonable, but not cheap either. Wendy ordered the lamb with raisin and figs and she liked her dish, but she found the meat to be slightly dry. The flavours & brown rice & mint yogurt were really nice.

Average mains are $12-$14. The menu is very vegetarian-friendly like morroccan veggie stew with couscous (pure comfort) as well as some pasta dishes (angel hair pasta hold the seafood), and many other Lebanese vegetarian delights. Of the many places I’ve dined in Toronto, KK thankfully does not rip you off. Portions are big and worth the price.

Very student friendly yet can be the perfect place for a serious romantic date. This was a definitely a great place to celebrate my 32nd surprise birthday dinner . Rumour is that they have trouble handling large groups since it’s not a large space (we were 9 people and we were treated very well) . Hours are Mon-Thurs 11:30am-11pm and Fri – Sun 11:30am-11:30pm.

Garlic Pepper

578 Yonge Street
416 323 9819

 

Garlic Pepper is a famous downtown eatery centrally located at Yonge and Wellesley in downtown Toronto.

Vegetarian section of the menu is one page and contains many vegetarian options but they are not truly vegetarian since I asked and soups contain chicken stock and most dishes contain oyster sauce (ignorant idiots do not know what vegetarian means). Garlic Pepper has to die for Chinese brocoli with diced garlic, piping hot and fresh. The lo mein and chow mein dishes come fresh and delicious with a colourful assortment of veggies and large portions. I also indulged in the tofu with veggies in black bean sauce and the food was flavourful, alittle greasy, fresh crunchy stir fried veggies, and spicy in flavour. Amongst the four of us, Zam and I ordered the Chinese broccoli with minced garlic and the braised tofu with veggies as well as vegetable fried rice (hold the egg). Vivek ordered the beef cantonese chowmein (a huge portion of noodles, vegetables, chicken, beef, and shrimp) and Antony ordered the General Taos chicken.
Food came out fresh, colourful, piping hot, not too salty or greasy, and very good portions. I cannot complain about the food at all. This place definitely know how to serve good food, good prices, and non-anorexic portions. So many restaurants cover their food with rice or bean sprouts (hence i will never go to the Japanese restaurant).

Menu is divided into various sections (fried rice dishes, noodle dishes, hot pot section, sizzling wok section, dim sum, shrimp dishes, fish dishes, chicken dishes, pork dishes, veggies and tofu dishes (warning: not necessarily vegetarian), beef dishes, and last but not least desserts).

Most items are between $8.99-$12.99. An unusual section is devoted to pork ribs and chicken wings, which i did not know was Chinese. However, when i look back at my childhood, i guess i remember eating something called “spare ribs”…little did i know what it was.

Only accepts cash and credit card (no interac). Open 7 days per week from 10:30am-10pm and open later (until 11pm) on Fri and Saturdays. Offers catering service (call for details at 416 323 9874). Free delivery for orders over $20 (after 5pm). There is a discount for take out (10% if you pay in cash, 5% if you pay with cards). Take out discount does not apply to business lunch menu, dim-sum, lunch, and specials. Delivers from Waterfront to St. Clair (north-south) and Don Valley Parkway to Bathurst (east-west).

Vegetarian menu a joke since no items are truly vegetarian unless you specify. Hot and sour veggie soup is made with chicken broth so be warned.

Bathrooms are upstairs and are the most scary sight I’ve ever seen in my 32 years here on earth. Forget any crackhouse you’ve ever seen (or visited) in Toronto. If you need to go to the bathroom hold it in or visit McDonalds or Tim Hortons. Bathrooms look like an ideal movie scene for the next horror flick where someone gets chopped up or slashed. Don’t enter the bathrooms. They are dirty, gross, and if Toronto Health inspects, I am sure they will be fined or shut down.

Happy Buddha [closed august 2007]

2366 Yonge Street
416 544 0330

 

Happy Buddha is one of the only vegetarian restaurants in mid town. Located only about one block north of the Yonge and Eglinton intersection, this place is conveniently located in a nice central spot across from the 24 hour Shoppers Drugmart and near the Paramount movie theatre. Opened only 6 months ago (approx March 2006), Happy Buddha serves exclusively Chinese and Vietanemese vegetarian fare.

Small and cosy with about 10-15 tables, the place is tasteful, not cheesy and has classy details that focus on the minimalism, not kitsch. Specializing in mock meats such as beef, chicken, shark, pork, shrimp, Happy Buddha’s menu offers many mock meat options for those vegetarians missing the taste of meat.

On my last visit to Happy Buddha, I ordered # 303 (cashew, mock shrimp, tofu (extra $1), and veggie stir fry). Pam (the friend I reunited with after not seeing her since my University and CEGEP days) ordered #607 – Ham and stir fried veggies over a bed of steamed rice.

The menu is divided into various sections like the appetizer section (#100-110) with some dishes including fresh salad rolls (2 pieces for $3), Soy Drumsticks (5 for $5.95), and Buddha Salad ($6.95), soups (#200-206) like Shark fin with crab meat, Hot and Sour soup with 3 different sizes ($2.95, $9.95, $13.95) Wonton, and Sea Weed and Bean Curd (all $2.95, $9.95, and $13.95) , specialty dishes (#300-319) like Kung Po Chicken ($9.95), Stir Fried Veggie dishes with either bean curd or other veggie combos ($9.95-$12.95), Hot Pot (Beef, Chicken, or Fish Hot Pots between $10.95-$12.95)and sizzling plates (#400-409) , seafood sizzling plate ($12.95), and choose either beef/pork, spicy eggplant, or mixed mushroom sizzling plate all $10.95, fried rice dishes (#500-511) shrimp, crab, or chicken fried rice $9.95-$11.95, steamed rice dishes (#600-609) in a varieties such as beef, chicken, chicken curry, pork, ham, pineapple chicken all $7.95-$8.95, noodle soups(#800-805) between $7.95-$9.95 like ham and noodle, wonton and mushroom noodle, spicy rice noodle, and fried noodle dishes(#700-707) like singapore rice noodle ($9.95) and different types of mushroom dishes all on crispy noodles ($10.95-$11.95) . Milk shakes, soft drinks, and bubble tea are also available

Open Sunday to Thurs from 11am-11pm, Fri, Sat, and holidays from 11am-11pm. Delivery hours are 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 10% discount for delivery pickup orders. Free delivery with orders more than $25.

Mahar Restaurant and Sweets (post reno)

 1410 Gerrard Street
416-466-6241

Last winter I went on a blind date to Mahar and I thought the place was worse than McDonalds. What kind of person (but an idiot) would take someone to a fast food Indian place that specialized in desserts and offered dinner as a sidenote and most dishes were luke warm, and under $5. I am no snob but a dinner date should be in a somewhat nice place in a “non takeout” setting and where your date does not ditch you to serve other customers (they were a friend of the family and decided to serve other customers instead of hanging out with me).

CREEP.

Mahar used to be ugly and disgusting but this past 5-6 months, after a drastic renovation, it has undergone a rebirth, like many places in the Gerrard street neighbourhood. Mahar is now a real “sit down” North and South Indian restaurant with sweets but dinner is their main venture and sweets are now secondary. Decor is absolutely lovely. Totally tasteful and updated, the dirt and kitsch has disappeared, even the bathrooms are lovely!

Offers both North and South Indian favourites like veggie pakoras and samosa with yummy tamarind or coriander sauces, aloo gobi with thick chunks of cauliflower, “reddish” chana masala (as opposed to yellow-ish), malaki kofta (orgasmic), butter chicken, tandoori chicken, kabobs, chicken currys, chicken tikkas, mateer paneer, palak paneer, naan, and South Indian favourites like dosas, idly, sambaar (lentil soup), uthapam (fancy rice naan with onions), and delicious desserts like barfi, faluda and ras malai (milk balls in a sweet rosewater sugar milky syrup)

On my most recent visit to the newly renovated place, i went with three friends and we started the yummy buffet with some sambaar (thick lentil soup) with salad, then came the curried okra and potato (Aloo Bhindi), aloo gobi, palak paneer, mattar paneer, piping hot naan bread (hard to come by), chana masala with chunks of cardamom. For dessert, we had faluda (warm milk with rice noodles, tapioca and ice cream on top), ras malai , and barfi (condensed milk with lentil flour and tons of sugar), and freshly made warm rice pudding with raisins and cardamom.

Mahar is opened 7 days per week from 11:30am-10pm. Offers catering for all occasions, with a newly renovated banquet hall. Lunch buffet is $8.99 and dinner buffet is $10.99. Accepts all cards.

Bo De Duyen (closed Dec 2007)

254 Spadina Avenue (2nd floor)
416 703-1247

Closed Dec 2007

Conveniently located on the second floor on Spadina just south of Dundas, Bo De Duyen has been serving patrons over 160 veggie items (mostly vegan) for the past 16 years. Offering mostly mock meats, chicken, fish, and seafood, Bo De Duyen offers dishes that can cater to Buddhists (mildly spiced and vegetarian) and some dishes are highly spicy (denoted on the menu). The restaurant contains two large dining rooms and can accomodate large groups (some of the circular tables are so large, they can sit more than ten people). Bo De Duyen is very affordable. Most main dishes are under $8. Offers dinner special for 2, 4, 8, and 10 people.

Family run since 1990, the wait staff are the children of the owners. They are friendly, knowledgeable, and make excellent recommendations for the popular and not so popular appetizers, main dishes, smoothies/shakes, and desserts.

Offers 162 vegan items, divided into mock meats, mock chicken, mock fish, tofu dishes, noodle and rice dishes, hot and cold drinks, and desserts. The mock meat and chicken dishes taste shockingly like the real thing. Dishes are prepared "in house" with their special secret mushroom sauce, but all soy-based products are imported from Hong Kong. Luckily there are few nut dishes (for those who are allergic to nuts) and food is based on a Buddhist way of life

For our meals, Zam and I ordered the thick and creamy coffee (excellent!) with condensed milk at the bottom (sweet, thick, and delicious). Jaya and Sanjay both ordered a Mango Shake (fresh mango puree, silken soy, and sugar). I had previously ordered a Mango Shake and it was "to die for" delicious.

For our mains, we opted to share a medley of dishes. I ordered the sauteed veggies with tofu and cashew, and my other dinner companions ordered the chinese broccoli with tofu, thick curried soup of veggie chicken and tofu with vermacelli noodles, beef stir fry with veggies, and the veggie duck in teriyaki sauce, and last but not least pineapple-fried rice.

For 4 people including drinks, appetizer, and meals, the bill came to $56 and change. Quite an excellent deal. Only accepts cash. Open 6 days a week (closed Wed) from 11am-10pm. Decor is a bit outdated but it’s basically clean (for Chinatown at least) and atmosphere is not stuffy, pretentious, or clausterphobic. I’d defintiely recommend this to place to anyone who is not afraid to try mock meats.

 

 

Urban Herbivore

64 Oxford St.
416.927.1231

 

The much younger sister restaurant to Fressen, Urban Herbivore is similar in concept to Fressen but take away the high prices, formal sit down decor, Queen Street pretentiousness, and shi shi poo poo ambiance and you get Urban Herbivore. Located in Kensington Market, Urban Herbivore is a casual “open concept” woodsy kitchen-like cafe with only 3-4 tables.

With a beautiful display of salads and sandwiches, bursting with colour, freshness, and texture, you can tell the veggies are market fresh. Urban Herbivore also sells prepared home made soups. Since there are only about 3-4 tables (only one large table sits about 5) this place is mostly for takeout and quick eating/snacks. There is a large bench outside for great summer brunching or snacking (warning, outdoor bench is just a long bench, no tables or chairs present).

For our meals, I ordered an organic tempeh sandwich with organic multigrain flat bread (was yellow like corn) with a ton of veggies (lettuce, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, and many other fresh veggies) , a chili corn chowder, and freshly squeezed ginger lemonade. My two friends both ordered the “freshly made before your eyes” avocado sandwich with an assortment of veggies, fresh avocado, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, and all of the fixings.

It seems most of the food here is raw (uncooked) so you will mostly find sandwiches and salads, unlike Hey Good Cooking where everything may be vegetarian or vegan, but it’s all cooked (or should I say overcooked or microwaved). Lunch items cost under $10 but with drinks and salad, the bill came close to $50.00 for three people. Definitely worth the money, no question about it. Very small menu but many sandwich varietys, all healthy and fresh. When you have a meal at Urban Herbivore, you feel healthy, light, and fresh, not bloated or crampy. Accepts all cards

Queen of Sheba

1051 Bloor St. W.,
536-4162.

 

Queen of Sheba is on Bloor between Gladstone and Dovercourt, often gets missed since it looks so unassuming and does not catch your eye (poor signage perhaps?). Opened in 1985 or 1986, it’s the oldest Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto (and the oldest in Canada). The restaurant inside is divided into a front dining hall with 5-6 tables and a back dining hall with more than 10 large circular tables. Lots of space for big group meetings.

The one page menu is very much the same for every Ethiopian restaurant. As vegetarians, we really had only one option, the veggie platter. Zam and I ordered the veggie platter for two ($14.95) which was very filling. Portions were very large. Our veggie dish came with two types of lentil “curries” –one red and one brown, with salad in the middle and cholard greens, cabbage, and potato curries. With Ethiopian spiced tea, our meal came to $21 with tax and tip which was an excellent deal.

Food temperature was luke warm which is normal considering it was Ethiopian food. The food was very tasty, comparable to Nazareth. The food was better than Ethiopian House on Irwin. Service was okay. Waiting staff were shy and slightly reserved.

Décor was minimalist in design with champagne (orange-pink) coloured walls and very little art. Need a serious makeover. The decor and ambiance is tacky and dated (trapped in the 1980’s), needed a makeover (like Mahar or Salad King did over the past few years).

Queen of Sheba accepts all cards but at the time of our visit, their debit machine had not been working for months so they only accepted cash.Open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-midnight. Sunday, noon-midnight.

Reviewed by Mark

Hey Good Cooking (closed)

38 Dupont St 
Phone: 416-929-9140

Closed Fall of 2007

Hey Good Cooking has been around since 1987. It’s a very casual cafe located on the Northern cusp of the Annex at Dupont and Spadina. The cafe itself is funky with multi-coloured rectangular shapes on the walls and one huge mural on another wall. The colourful mural actually looks like a scene where people are enjoying their food and beverages at Hey Good Cooking.

The cafe is spacious with plenty of room. With only about 10 tables (i.e. 30 seats), Hey Good Cooking offers exclusively vegan and vegetarian meals for takeout or to dine in. The menu is written on a black chalkboard in front and Meals are not prepared fresh but pre-made so expect them to be warm as opposed to piping hot (all food is served microwaved).

Offers healthy tofu dishes as well as vegan desserts and many roti dishes. Wendy and I went there for dinner and we started with appetizers of 2 hot rotis (Indian chick pea curry and a adzuki sesame roti for $10). They also have a yummy lentil and spinach roti which is excellent.

For our main meal, I ordered the multi bean baked enchiladas with salad. The portion size was hearty and I felt that I got my money’s worth ($7.50). Wendy ordered a veggie Shepperd’s Pie with corn, beans, and other veggies with salad. She also found her dish to be quite filling. Prices are under $10 and include tax. Food is the opposite to LIVE which is raw, vegan, and organic. Hey Good Cooking is definitely cooked, feel good, and hearty. Menu includes southern spiced tofu, veggie burger, shepherd’s pie, squash and spinach pie, mushroom nut loaf, sweet potato and spinach pie, aussie veggie loaf, baked enchiladas, spanakopita. Rotis include adzuki sesame, lentil and spinach, caribbean, mexican, east indian, and lentil chili. Special offer of 6 pack of rotis for $9.90 no tax.

Also offers an assortment of healthy natural sodas and juices (while quantities last).

Bathrooms are funky, artsy, but unfortunately not that clean. Hey Good Cooking only accepts cash but at least there is an ATM in the store. Since I now live in the neighbourhood, I’ll definitely be making some appearances at Hey Good Cooking. Open Mon-Sat 11:00am-9:00pm and Sun 11:00am-4:00pm. All prices include tax. Limited quantities on food and drink so don’t go there for dinner one hour before closing.