Noon

1088 Bathurst Street, Toronto
Phone: 647 436-0666

Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm

Noon is in the process of re-vamping their menu with new items. They used to have smoothies, not as good as “Easy” but were well known for them.  They are also known to have one of the best pancakes (chocolate chip or banana, or blueberry) but on my last visit, they ran out of pancake batter.

I guess they are in the midsts of “reorganizing”.  They ran out of home fries and their espresso machine was not working the last time i went there for brunch.  Seems like a disorganized business, but the food was wonderful.

For my meal, i ordered a grilled vegetable with goat cheese grilled panini sandwich) with a side of greens.
With friendly service and great food, it’s worth going.

Some tips to follow: don’t go to Noon at noon, it’s too busy.  We waited in line for 30 minutes and our food took a long time, since there are only 2 waiting staff and 2 cooks. The art on the walls was missing, due to the artist taking his/her art for a show.  The place definitely looked like it was in a state of transition.

Aaron and Wendy’s dishes were not hot like mine, but cold (Wendy complained of her toasted sandwich that was cold) . I loved my dish, could not complain. They do not do egg white omeletes so i was not happy.

Service was friendly and they were able to get us quickly to a 3 person table. In sum, i would try Noon again, i am still hopeful, it is a kick-ass place. In addition to breakfast, they also serve lunch, soups, salads and sandwiches,

They have a liquor license and a patio (weather permitting). They serve red and white wine, beer and cocktails.
Smoked salmo served is Applegirth and they serve Beretta Organic Farm meats. Pastries are from Madeleine’s patisserie across the street.
 
Noon Restaurant is known as the home of Build Your Own Breakfast located at 1088 Bathurst Street in Toronto’s Annex district. Interac and Cash are accepted. In my view, it’s also known as a place that cannot manage its inventory.  Noon offers pick-up, catering, and week-day reservations. At the time of our visit, they had a conditional pass

Ginger (2007)

Ginger/Ginger 2
695 Yonge St.
(416) 966-2424

521 Bloor Street West
(416) 536-3131

252 Carlton Street
(416) 923-7979

546 Church Street
(416) 413 1053

403 Yonge
416-263-9999

The two original Ginger’s I know of are the one at Yonge and Bloor and the one at Yonge and Gerrard (called Ginger 2). quick and cheap with large portions, damn good prices, and a variety of good food, from stir frys, pho (Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, thinly slices beef, and veggies–the broth actually cooks the beef), as well as Vietnamese subs for less than $3, fruit salad, thick and delicious smoothies, vegetarian pho (vegetarian broth with deep fried or steamed tofu, veggies (snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, carrot, green and red pepper, bean sprouts) in a heaping bowl of healthy goodness. Other fare includes cold salad rolls (veggie, shrimp, or meat varieties), or the spring rolls (deep fried), come with a sweet dipping sauce or a fishy tasting brown sauce with sprinkled peanuts.

Service is very fast and efficient. Customers line up and order and they take a clear plastic block with a number and staff serve the food. Food is served hot and fresh and staff are pleasant (not extremely pleasant-it’s very fast paced at the Yonge/Bloor location).

The Church and Wellesley location (re-branded as Ginger – Taste of Health) has an actual bar where they serve up fancy fruity martinis. Ginger on Church and Wellesley is more upscale in terms of the decor, but the prices are still as low as Ginger on Yonge/Bloor and Ginger 2 on Yonge/Gerrard. The Church location is fairly new, so there is more seating, bathrooms are nicer, and the placer is cleaner. At the time of my Church street visit (March 2006), they did not offer vegetarian pho as they claim that they cannot make their Pho vegetarian.

The other Ginger locations on Bloor (the Annex) and on Calrton (in Cabbagetown) offer a more trendy and chic look (similar to the Church street location). All of the “newer” locations (Church, Carlton, and Bloor) market themselves as healthy and offer vegetarian options.

The Yonge/Bloor street location and the Church/Wellesley location accept all cards, while the newer Annex location only accepted cash at the time. The Annex location also had a slightly different menu. At that location i ordered the vegetarian hot and sour pho which was equally delicious but had less vegetables than the Yonge/Bloor location. The broth was tastier and the whole decor/ambiance more trendy (even the veggie salad rolls w/ peanut sauce came in trendy shapes and in a more trendy plate). I prefer the veggie salad rolls (more variety) which came with slices of mango and carrot and there was more vegetarian options whereas the Ginger at Yonge/Bloor offered veggie, shrimp, beef salad rolls in an oyster sauce topped with peanuts. Ginger in the Annex offered a delicious REAL peanut sauce (veggie with no fish stock). If only they could improve their portion size on the Pho.

Overall the new branding of Ginger Taste of Health focuses on serving the vegetarian community, when it claims vegetarian options available, whereas the Church/Wellesley could not give a rat’s ass about us veggies and The Ginger at Yonge/Bloor could very well be lying since their English communication skills suck–staff hardly talk…who knows if they even understand the word “vegetarian”. Bathrooms are Ginger at Yonge/Bloor look like a murder scene, don’t bother going to the washroom there, hold it in. Both Ginger at Yonge/Bloor and Yonge/Gerrard need makeovers but food and service is excellent, fast, efficient, friendly, and quick. It’s definitely worth moving to a neighbourhood where there is a Ginger. You get a fast, hearty, healthy, and cheap “no bullshit” meal.

Also offers cheap Vietnamese submarines for under $5 and cheap stir fries (veggie, seafood and meat varieties). My friend Wendy (fellow reviewer) often stops by Ginger at Yonge/Bloor for a large Vietnamese Sub for $2.95 (sure beats Subway or Mr. Sub). She is very happy with her selection as the sandwich is large, fresh, and best of all cheap. Can’t complain.

New Generation Sushi [review -Lynnette]

 493 Bloor Street West
Tel: 416-963-8861

After being gutted by fire in the December 2005,  much to the shock and dismay of its many loyal customers  the much-loved, cheap-eats sushi restaurant, New Generation, re-opened its doors in May 2006, to reveal a new and greatly improved version of its former self.

Passer bys who happen upon this little Bloor West mainstay, located between Spadina and Bathurst, will initially be lured by its contemporary, yet unpretentious, pale gold, interior, and the sight of generous portions of Japanese fare being served up by friendly and attentive staff, who will have your order delivered to your table before you can say??Onaka ga sukimashita!?

Though be forewarned: NG is not the type of establishment where you can engage in protracted conversations with your dinner companions over a nice cup green tea, long after you?ve finished your meal. (Well, you could, but you?d have to endure the gnashing of teeth emanating from the famished people waiting to occupy your table.)

No, you?ll need to visit Future Bakery, or the Green Room for that, because NG is where you get your sushi fix met, and then move out for the next lot of hungry customers all jonesing for delicious menu items such as the spicy salmon rolls (salmon, green onion, spicy mayonnaise, tempura bits, $5.50); dynamite rolls (giant tiger shrimp, tempura bits, avocado, cucumber, green onion and spicy kewpie, $6.50); or the very filling temaki or handroll set (tuna, salmon, california, spicy ebi handroll and salmon skin handroll, $10.95). If you?ve never had a handroll before, picture it as such: sheets of dried seaweed rolled into ice-cream cone like formations and stuffed with a combination of sushi rice, fish and sometimes vegetables. And speaking of ice-cream, don?t hurry off before you?ve been offered the green tea ice-cream, gratis with your dinner.

With a note on the quality of the food, I find NG to be fairly consistent. I appreciate the texture of the rice, and the way it?s seasoned, though I prefer my sushi rice a little warmer than how it?s served at NG; the nori/seaweed could be a little crisper too. But for the speed of service, the price and the quantity of food, I can?t really complain.

Also of note, since the renovation, business has increased significantly, so it?s best to call ahead and make dinner reservations to avoid line-ups. Another tip: If you do happen to find yourself in one of those line-ups that spills out the door and snakes down the sidewalk, be sure to have your name added to a waiting list. I?ve observed a number of New Gen neophytes waiting in such line-ups, who are mystified (not to mention tremendously irked ? and who can blame them) when people farther down the queue end up being seated ahead of them.

Oh, and the bathrooms. I can only comment on the women’s bathroom, which is modest, yet clean, and is almost always fully stocked with the things bathrooms should be stocked with. And I?ve never had to wait in a line-up to use it. Go figure.

– Lynnette Torok

Fresh by Juice for Life (2007)-Brunch

 326 Bloor Street West /corner Spadina 
Phone: 416-531-2635 

894 Queen Street West/ corner Crawford 
Phone: 416-913-2720 

147 Spadina Avenue, corner Richmond 
Phone: 416-599-4442

Fresh by Juice for Life, in operation since 1996, recently offered a new brunch menu with a small variety of vegan offerings. If you like tofu scramble all wrapped up in a warm tortilla, or fluffy spelt flour vegan pancakes, then this brunch is for you.

Offered on the weekend from 9am-3pm, Fresh offers creative and healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes without compromising on taste, texture, flavour, and colour. For our Sunday brunch, Zam and myself both ordered the veggie tofu scramble with many sauteed veggies, wrapped up in a warm tortilla. In addition, we also shared the almond and walnut vegan banana flax seed pancakes with organic raw maple syrup. We both thought that the portion sizes were reasonable and were healthy and satisfying. Flavours are delicately blended so that they can be recognised on the pallette.

Bathrooms at the new Fresh (at Spadina and Bloor) are larger, cleaner, and esthetically pleasing. Careful not to clog (easy to do with too much toilet roll down the pot). Ambiance is pretty casual, good people watch, always seems busy can be loud at times. He loved the choice of drinks and meal suppliments. The new fresh is more spacious, can accomodate more people, looks slick and trendy, and definitely attracts more than the U. of T clientele. Times have changed and it looks like Fresh is following in Fressen footsteps. Brunch prices are under $15 if you have a beverage. Accepts all cards.

Mt. Everest Restaurant

 469 Bloor St. West
Tel: 416-964-8849

630 Church St.
Evanston, IL
Tel: (847) 491-1069

Mt. Everest is conveniently located in the heart of the Annex at Brunswick and Bloor. Originally from Chicago, Mt. Everest is proud to open up a branch in downtown Toronto. Labeled as combining the tastes of cuisine from India and Nepal, Mt. Everest is unique in the city of Toronto. For our meals, Kinga and I ordered the vegetarian table d’hote for $27. Comes with daal (lentil curry), saag paneer (spinach and cheese), pilao (rice), a huge skewer of marinated Indian-spiced vegetables (chunks of brocoli, cauliflower, paneer, onions, and other veggies) Our meal included a dessert of warm rice pudding (with cloves, ginger, and cardamom) for dessert. Peter ordered butter chicken, melt in your mouth chicken breast in a creamy butter mild curry.

For drinks we all ordered Diet Coke. Service was fast and efficient. Food was fresh and hot. Portions were small, but that is why you need to order rice, to “beef” up the portions. Open late. Non kitschy decor, very clean and cosy and inviting ambiance. Mains are about $13-$15. Does offer table d’hote which is a relief in the city with a lack of Table D’Hote options. Liquor license. Accepts all cards.

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.

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.