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.

World Class Bakers

690 St Clair Ave W
Phone: 416-654-0606

This spacious and elegant Italian Cafe and bakery is located at St. Clair and Christie in Wychwood Park, across from the famous Mediterranean restaurant Mezzetta

Offers freshly baked croissants, bagels, specialty breads, cookies and a large variety of cakes (all home made). You can also try the amazing buffet of traditional Italian dishes like veggie Lasagna, Roasted Vegetables, Roasted potatoes, Green beans in a tomato stew (YUMM), and Roasted Chicken. ($8.99 veggie, $9.99 non veggie buffet). A definite excellent deal. Food is fresh, delicious, and constantly refreshed. I must admit, it does not have the look of a buffet where people are desperate going back to stuff themselves on seconds and thirds. There is a laid back casual ambiance that I love in World Class Bakers. I went here quite often for food and beverages in January when I was dating a local. We quiote enjoyed the food and healthy veggie selections and super affordable prices. World Class Bakers resembles a cafe where locals hang out, read, and relax.

World Class Bakers offers free wireless internet access so locals are encouraged to drop by, have a coffee, read, and surf the Internet for as long as they want.

With a full espresso bar you can order a latte, cappucino, and just regular coffees. Don’t forget to try the samples at the cash. Exceptionally friendly service.

Also offers programs like Spoken Word Series (monthly on Wednesday evenings from 7:30pm-9:00pm) and a Discussion Group that meets every second Wednesday evening (8:00pm). A real community hangout for locals of the Wychwood Park neighbourhood. Also offers home cooked hearty breakfasts. Hours are Mon-Sun 7am-11pm. Cafe sits 36 seats. Only accepts cash but has an ATM in the cafe.

Madras Dosa Hut

1123 Albion Road
1-877-DOSAHUT(367-2488)

 

The Library team (our department in the hospital is quite small, with only 5 of us and one volunteer) went for a yummy lunch buffet to Madras Dosa Hut at Albion and Islington for a great deal- a $7.99 South Indian lunch buffet feast

With ample parking, we entered the clean and spacious Madras Dosa Hut, whivh is kid-friendly (it has a McDonalds-like park in the front for kids) and we sat at the large 8 seater circular table.

I had eaten South Indian food before but one volunteer had never eaten Indian food in general. We introduced her to the many delights of Indian cuisine like sambar (spicy lentil soup), rasam (spicy tomato-based soup with tamarind), payasam (sweet tapioca dessert), uthapam (similar to Naan bread but it contains rice flour with onions).

The great part of this buffet is that it includes one free Dosa (a thin crepe with a yummy potato curry filling inside). There were many vegetarian items for me to choose from. I chose the channa masala (chick pea curry), as well as veggie curry with peas and potatoes, while my colleagues chose other curries like goat and chicken.
Madras Dosa Hut was large, spacious, clean, and bright with traditional kitschy South Indian flare. Food was good, constantly refreshed, and water was cold and wait staff were friendly, cheerful, and helpful.

I was impressed with the free Dosa offer. Clearly, this was the best value for a lunch buffet and I was happy to report that Madras Dosa Hut offered no free cockroaches. Accepts all cards. Licensed.

Rajdhani Sweets and Restaurant

2658 Islington
416 748-7108

Apart from the cockroach that was scurrying down the long hallway, Aaron and I thoroughly enjoyed Rajdhani Sweets and Restaurant. This place was almost identical to its neighbour a few doors down Brar Sweets and Pure Vegetarian restaurant.

Literally 3 doors away from Brar, Rajdhani offers South Indian vegetarian fare and ridiculously low prices. Complete meals are $8 or less and contain a Thali plate full of small portioned snack size morsels of south indian dishes. Aaron and I went for lunch and we ordered the spinach and cheese curry (Saag Paneer), the chick pea curry (channa masala) and 2 types of kofta (looks like dumplings or vegetarian meatballs) in a sweet and creamy yogourt sauce, as well as curried eggplan (bhartha began), and lentil curry (daal). All dishes are wonderful, but i think my favourite from Brar and Rajdhani are the kofta, saag paneer, and bhartha began. Choose 5 items for $7.99 or less and it comes with pilao (rice), naan (fluffy pita-like bread from the tandoor oven) or roti (flat whole wheat tortilla). Comprised about 7-10 tables and decor was plain and not trendy or kitschy. I think Brar recently had a makeover since it looked more cleaned up but i like the minimalist approach to decor. Some places are Gerrard street have dated furniture, kitschy Indian art that is not even genuine or traditional. Sometimes the barren minimalist looks work. Both Rajdhani and Brar seem similar because they are small and they focus on desserts but do offer meals at the back. Food is served fast, fresh, and piping hot. Dishes are already prepared in advance like a buffet but Naan and Roti are made to order. Accepts all cards. Offers many colourful desserts, mostly made of chick pea flour and decadent sweet and thick condensed milk and cream.

Champion Wok Seafood Restaurant

1635 Lawrence Av W
(416) 246-1771

My manager and her friend/co-worker from purchasing decided that I should be exposed to the world of Dim Sum. Even though most Dim Sum was not vegetarian I was curious as to what food would be brought out. My manager told me that waiters constantly bring out hot fresh Chinese Hor D’oeuvres on carts and you just pick and choose and you are charged $1.25-$3.00 (?) per item. Sounds cheap, but it’s not. It does add up and it can be expensive. For me, there was nothing i could eat so i just watched as my two lunchmates got ready for the excitement of Dim Sum.

We opted for a place that was close to work (Jane and Lawrence) so we went to Champsion Wok Seafood Restaurant. Champion serves Dim Sun all day and specialized in seafood dishes relating to Dim Sum. Dim Sum are like small appetizers ($1.25 each) on a cart, from pork dumplings, ox tail, pigs feet, shrimp and tofu dumplings and rice paper wraps filled with beef, seafood, and tofu, as well as Chinese brocoli. Also serves an assortment of desserts like delicious and filling sweet red bean filled balls and an assortment of Chinese tarts.

Unfortunately for me there were few vegetarian dishes so I ordered a tofu stir fry with broccoli and Chinese mushrooms. Most soups and dishes that say vegetarian have chicken or fish stock. It seems they do not understand the true essence of what vegetarian food really is.

The ambiance was cute; with one main dining hall fitting about 20 large circular tables, this place could get crammed for Saturday night dinner but this was Fri lunch so there were only three occupied tables. The bill came out to $50.00 for 3 people but my dish was only $7.95. Decor was nice, casual, busy and conveniently located at Black Creek Drive and Lawrence. All dishes come with unlimited hot tea. Accepts all cards.

Dosa Darbar

1150 ALBION RD,
Phone: 416-740-9009

 

Dosa Darbar is a south indian vegetarian restaurant in Etobicoke’s Little India at Albion and Islington. Conveniently located right near the 401 and Islington, this small cosy restaurant sits about 10 tables and is quite dark and unassuming inside.

Decor is dark with brown textured wallpaper and old tables and chairs. Dosa Darbar does not look dumpy like most restaurants on Gerrard street but definitely looked a bit shabby and dated. Definitely needs a severe makeover. With mininal decor and design it does less busy, thus not as kitschy as other places.

The food and excellent friendly service makes up for the ambiance. Dosa Darbar specializes in Dosa’s which are thin paper like crepes with a potato curry filling inside. For lunch, Aaron and I ordered the crazy Dosa, filled with potato curry. Our Dosa was lined with cheddar cheese and shredded onion and it came with Sambar (thick vegetarian pea soup–similar to Daal) and a coriander and coconut cream sauce to dip the pieces of Dosa into

The Dosa was huge. It was fresh, piping hot, and delicious. In addition to our meal, we also shared an appetizer of Veggie pekoras with chunks of onion and cashew which was a new food experience for us. They did not have Tamarind sauce but it came with ketchup (not very Indian) and a yummy Coriander sauce that was to die for.
For our drinks I ordered an extra large glass of Mango Lassi, thick and rich and only $2.95 for the massive glass. I did NOT feel ripped off. I was truly happy with the food, extra friendly service, and the quality of the food

Accepts all cards

Jolly II Italian Restaurant

2625 Weston Road
(416) 242-6666

 

Centrally located at Weston and the 401 right near the Weston GO station and close to downtown Weston Village, Jolly 2 is a traditional Italian restaurant that has been serving patrons since 1988.

Jolly is authentic looking with comfortable seating in an open-concept dining hall

Jolly offers an assortment of salads, fresh pasta, pizza, lasagna, veal or chicken parmigiana, and other authentically Italian dishes all served cafeteria style (no worrying about a tip!)

Jolly serves typical Italian sandwiches like veal or chicken on an Italian bun, BBQ chicken sandwiches, steak sandwiches, Prosciutto and Cheese , sausage sandwich, and meatball sandwich.

Jolly also offers gourmet pizza and panzerottos and serves traditional Italian soups like Minestrone, Stracciatella, and Tortellini. They also serves pasta (Penne or Rigatoni) in Tomato sauce with meatballs or sausage as well as pasta in other shapes (spaghetti,rigatoni, penne or fettucine). Some sauces include pomodoro (tomato), meat sauce, meat sauce with meatballs, arrabiata (spicy tomato), pink (tomato and cream), and tomato sauce with sausage. Cream sauces include vodka sauce, al fredo, and a penne primavera in a choice of sauce (tomato, garlic and olive oil, cream, or pink).

Stuffed pasta includes gnocchi (YUMM), manicotti, lasagna, ravioli, Agnolotti, and Tortellini , stuffed either with ricotta cheese or meat. Pasta with seafood is priced from $10.95-$15.95

Jolly also serves a variety of salads (Caesar, Seafood, Spinach, Tomato, Tuna, and Greek)

For my first experience at this exciting new place I ordered a side order of roasted vegetables and the daily special of eggplant parmigiana; thinly sliced panfried eggplant (not breaded thank God) topped with tomato sauce and cheese. It was so delicious and not too greasy, I could taste the delicious olive oil flavour in the sauce and cheese.

The roasted vegetables were excellent. Roasted veggies were composed of roasted peppers (multi-coloured), zucchini, and onions

. Since they serve food “cafeteria style” it’s fast, fresh, and casual, and definitely NOT like crappy food courts or crappy cafeterias.

Jolly seats 120 people indoors and offers a large outdoor terrace that seats 80 people. Food is constantly refreshed. Prices for lunch can be under $10. Lunch portions are kind of small, but taste makes up for it. I would recommend ordering many small dishes. Also offers a famous hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, and all of the fixings at low prices.

Many vegetarian options. Accepts all cards. Wheelchair accessible. Liquor license. Jolly II also offers catering services and take out.

Brar Sweets and Vegetarian Restaurant

 199 Advance Boulevard Unit 12
905-799-1625

2646 Islington Ave
416 745 4449

755 Dundas Street West #A4
905-848- 3933

Located in the “other” Little India at Albion and Islington, Brar Sweets and Vegetarian Restaurant serves exclusively Indian and vegetarian fare. Eighty percent of the restaurant showcases traditional Indian squares (i.e sweets) which are colourful, dense, decadent squares made with condensed milk, tons of sugar, sometimes chick pea flour, and cream. These colourful treats are excellent but drink a lot of water after since they are very sweet and rich I’ve tried many before). The decorative tin foil covering these treats is edible so don’t worry.

Brar Sweets contains about 10-15 tables and decor is minimalist and cosy in classic beige with many mirrors. No kitschy artwork or photos. They specialize in sweets and thali dishes (thalis are one large plate with a sampling of many dishes), as well as takeout.

Some of the dishes they offer includes 3 types of cheese curries: Saag Paneer (cheese), a cheese curry with red/green peppers, and mattar paneer (curried peas and cheese) in a sweet tomato gravy. Other popular dishes include bengan bhartha (eggplant), daal (lentils), aloo gobi (cauliflower, potato, and onions), channa masala (chickpea curry), YUMMY kofta balls (dumplings in a thick and creamy yogourt curry). If you opt for the Thali dish, you may choose any salad and pick the pickled lemons and carrots, they’re excellent. You may also want to pick fresh Naan, Roti, or Pilau (rice) or all three. Food is to “die for” delicious, fresh, piping hot, and exploding with flavour, texture, and colour.

The sweets are colourful and decorative, that you do not want to eat them, just look in amazement.

Vegetarian samosas or Vegetarian pakoras are an excellent starter and are best hot (with tamarind or coriander sauce). Complete meals under $10 including all taxes. No need to tip, but highly recommended since service is always fast and courteous.

Soma Chocolatemaker

55 Mill Street.
(1 block South of Front St., 1 block east of Parliament St.)
Located in Building 48 beside Bergo and Soulpepper Theatre.
( 2 buildings East of out old location.)

416 815-7662

Soma Chocolatemaker has a small selection of delicious homemade ice-cream. They always have Chocolate and vanilla, and 4 other flavours revolve (sometimes they’ll have rhubarb ice cream!).

-Erin Toole