LIVE [Mark Aaron]

264 Dupont, at Spadina
416-515-2002

 

LIVE is a raw, organic vegan restaurant and is located at Spadina and Dupont in the “upper” Annex. About two months ago, Aaron and I heard about LIVE from a review in Now

magazine (see )and we thought it would be great to have brunch there.

href=”http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005-08-11/goods_foodfeature.php”>review

Unfortunately, this review was a teaser (and inaccurate) since LIVE does not serve brunch at all (or as

of yet). In addition, they are closed Sundays so when we went there to enjoy our first experience at

LIVE, we were disappointed to find that LIVE was closed.

With much anticipation, I decided to plan a get together with Aaron, Wendy, her boyfriend Brandon, and two other friends to have dinner at LIVE. I like LIVE’s philosophy. I think the ideology of LIVE is that

food should be eaten in the most natural form- raw and unprocessed.

LIVE’s review claims

Reservations are recommended so I called to make reservations but to my disappointment, LIVE does not

accept reservations. Either the journalist who wrote the article was on crack or LIVE really

misrepresented themselves. LIVE is closed on Sundays but the NOW review claims it is opended for Sunday

brunch. There is no Sunday brunch at LIVE.

We planned for a Friday evening dinner at 7:00pm. The staff at LIVE could not make a reservation but

they did “take note” that they would be expecting 6 people for dinner. I prepared to leave at 4pm to be

in Kitchener for 5pm to meet my lift who would take me close to downtown. To my dismay, she had a flat

tire and we had to stop by several places in Kitchener to fix the tire. We finally found Wal-Mart

(since all small auto-shops were closed) so Wal-Mart saved the day!

I finally got into Toronto at

8:30pm instead of my 7:00pm time frame. Having known that LIVE closes at 10pm, I knew that calling each

of my friends on their cells phones and notifying them of my delay would allow them some more time to

relax at home before venturing off into the cold December air on that Friday night.

When I finally arrived, I was greeted by my possee. LIVE’s colour scheme is lime green and bright

orange with green grass “peel and stick” floor tiles and the whole decor looks lively and bright like a

children’s playroom in neon colours. There are only about 10 tables and they are not packed in tightly

like most Toronto restaurants. Decor does not have any wood or metal but a lot of bright plastic and

thin tables and chairs, patio style. Decor is very funky and hip, different than Fressen which emulates

a tropical rain forest in an ultra modern hip and cool yuppie setting. LIVE looks less slick and

polished and more like Juice for Life.

I started with a tall smoothie (raw cacao, dates, figs, walnuts or pecans, almond milk) for $5.25 and a warm borscht (beet and carrot soup) ($6.25) with an order of raw multigrain manna bread with a sunflower seed pate ($1.00)

which tasted like a cream cheese dip. LIVE mostly serves raw food and some items are “gently

cooked”. It is important to remove all of your visual interpretations of items like pizza, pasta, cream cheese, and eggs because LIVE re-defines the possibilities of what pasta can be if made “raw” and “vegan”. Quite creative on the part of the cook. I had to remove my traditional image of what a pizza should look like, what

cheese or eggs or lasagna or any pasta dish resembles since I know that LIVE serves very little “cooked” items.

We all decided to order the combo plate ($13.50) since we would be able to get a taste of

everything. The combo plate include canneloni (thinly sliced zucchini) with ricotta cheese (cashew puree), raw pizza crust (multigrain manna) with a medley of toppings, including fresh cilantro, tostitas (Mexican pizza type dish) with many veggie toppings, a nice cheesy dip (sunflower
seed pate), and a large salads of organic greens in a ginger viniagrette.

The meal was very colourful,

full of amazing aromas, texture, and flavour. I felt light and healthy and i knew i was eating high

quality food. Bread was bursting with many grains and I could not believe it was not baked. I felt so much energy after finishing my meal. I felt full in a healthy way, not “gut

rot” like at an Indian buffet or a Chinese buffet. I had a pleasant feeling of satisfaction since the food I ate was extremely tasty, healthy, low in fat and grease, and because it was organic, it did not contain hormones, pesticides, anti-biotics, or any other toxins. Of course

organic food is not as attractive as “mainstream” food. Portions are always smaller and prices are higher but taste is always 100 times better. The food’s flavour was heightened due to how “raw” it was. Cooked food loses some taste and nutrients, thus its nutritional value becomes depleted. When I used to make stir fries for myself, my friend Wendy used to tell me how I cooked “the shit” out of my vegetables. Dishes were flavourful, aromatic, and had texture.

For dessert i ordered the raw chocolate fudge banana coconut

cream pie. It was composed of a dollop of raw cacao chocolate fudge (dairy free) and the pie was

comprised of a flourless banana coconut puree that was shaped like a cake. I love banana and coconut

and chocolate and the dish was sweet but not sickening sweet. The cake was heavy on the banana flavour

and i did taste the coconut “meat” part very much. ($6.00)

On my second visit to LIVE, i ordered a nice vegan minestrone soup with raw manna bread. In addition i ordered the linguini (made of shredded zucchini) topped with a cold marinara and pesto sauce. It was accompanied with a delicious salad of spring greens. Don’t get me wrong, the food at LIVE was delicious but after my second visit i was getting frustrated with having my mains served with 90% salad and 10% actual meal. I felt ripped off. I was told to always choose the combo meal but even if I opted for that option, most of my meal would still be salad.

In general, my experience at LIVE was very good. With good friends enjoying a high quality healthy meal. The only

drawback was I felt it was too expensive for my budget and the portions were too small. I know that organic food is not as large or attractive but i left LIVE hungry on both visits. I would definitely not go back, unless it was for special occasions. Menu changes every 2 weeks. LIVE also features a full range of vegan and

raw cookies, pies, and cakes, and other squares change daily. Smoothies are a bit watery but are very flavourful and fresh. You can select any kind of “milk” for the smoothies (soy, rice, almond). An interesting observation from my dinner companions was that there was very little soy products.

Our complete meal including tax and tip for soup, smoothie, our main dish, and dessert was $37 per

person (a bit ridiculous for vegan fare). Does not serve brunch to date (Dec

2005). Average main is $10-$12. Open Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Closed Sunday and

Monday. Does not take reservations. Cool washrooms in the basement with slogans like Supercucumbers,

Monster Tomatoes, Mega Grapes. How can I eat this food? Maybe this food will eat us ( some type of

slogan written on the walls!). Very pro-environment, with natural products and all organic ingredients. Very cosy

and calm atmosphere. Very enthusiastic and energetic staff. Accepts
all cards except American Express.

Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst Street
(416) 534-9056

Following the renovation completed at Grapefruit Moon by Food TV’s Restaurant Makeover in 2003/2004 a media battle erupted between the owner and the show. The owner, Sandy , was upset how the once cozy, familiar space was transformed into a trendy, cold room that lacked the charm of the previous incarnation. Her requests to keep the aura of the original place were ignored as the show painted over the exposed brick wall with a metallic silver and the new equipment was not ready by the completion date. Changes to the menu were disregarded, even though the airing of the show pointed to a lack of competency and vision from the young “chef”. While the controversy may have been played up in the local rags and on the Internet; Grapefruit Moon made the most of the situation and continued to pull in the hordes for their famous brunch as well as dinner.

Since the renovation, I have been back for both dinner and brunch. My dinner experience there definitely exposed the changes in a negative light as I found the environment chilly and the food bland. This may have been due to the wintry, sludgy weather but my recent brunch return was a vast improvement. The metallic sheen of the walls was covered by an array of lovely framed art while the sun streamed through the front to keep the place bright and warm. An eclectic mix of old and new music germinated from a computer behind the counter to keep the place cozy and lively. We took a seat on some stools and were immediately greeted with a warm reception from our waiter behind the counter while being presented with our coffees.

Apparently, the hip thing to do at Grapefruit Moon is to substitute sugar for honey when sweetening coffee. I tried this and was deliciously surprised by the results. Scanning the menu, I decided on what was probably the least healthy item I could find. The rarebit breakfast consisted of poached eggs heaped on two pieces of multigrain toast with peameal bacon and topped with a gooey layer of cheddar cheese sauce. I couldn’t tell if the cheddar cheese sauce consisted of melted Kraft singles but whatever it was oozed well with the rest. Unfortunately, the side of home fries was missing that crunchy element of superior variations but mixing it with the cheese and some hot sauce souped it up enough.

Grapefruit Moon has always struck me as a place that tends to distinguish itself apart from the rest of Toronto’s brunch spots. Not quite downtown, yet still vibing with the laid back attitudes of a “Saving Grace”, Grapefruit Moon’s presence is a fixture in the Annex. TV screwups or not, the changes at Grapefruit Moon may have temporarily strained the casual feel of the restaurant but has certainly not had a negative impact on business.

Over Easy

208 Bloor Street W.
416-922-2345
Hours: M-F 6-4;
Weekends 7-4

 

Located on busy Bloor street, right in the heart of the U. of T. campus, across from Philosopher’s Walk, Over Easy is a great place that specializes in all day breakfast and brunch dishes. In a butter yellow and light blue colour scheme, walking into the spacious restaurant, I found Over Easy to be brightly lit, airy, relaxing, and comfortable. With colourful art on the walls, this place really feels inviting and comfortable. Justine and I were greeted by friendly staff and we were seated to our booth immediately.

The restaurant is divided into 3 sections, a front end with 3-5 tables, a middle region with about 3 booths, and the back area with about 10 tables. We were seated in the middle region but we immediately moved because we were behind the entrance to the kitchen where we could hear the sounds of smashing dishes, and other disturbing kitchen sounds. We were also behind the cash so we heard the constant noise of wait staff and bills being printed, etc.

Justine and I then changed places to the back of the restaurant to a nice spacious table. The menu is quite large and most items are different type of egg dishes. All prices are reasonable ($6.95-$9.95) but drinks (juice, soda) are expensive (freshly squeezed juice are $3.50 and fresh smoothies are $5.00 and beyond and come in 3 exciting flavours). Justine ordered her typical coffee and was served it in a funky coloured coffee carafe in baby blue (other coffee carafes colours include orange, and cream colour).

I opted for an egg white omelete with asiago cheese, sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomato, and basil. YUM!!! The menu tells you upfront in their “rules of the roast” section that egg white omeletes are an extra $1.00, and any sidedish is an extra $3.00 or $3.50. I was not able to make a substituion but my egg white omelete came with toasted, home fries or salad (I chose salad) and i asked to remove the toast. The only pathetic part was my salad portion was too small and they did not give me MORE salad since i had asked for NO toast. Most places do substitute but Over Easy does not. They are upfront with charging extra for “additions”, though. Justine ordered 4 buttermilk pancakes, light, fluffy, big, and not greasy. They came with maple syrup.

Our food was served fast and service was excellent. Our waitress was warm and super friendly and she tried to be as accomodating as possible. Justine was happy to report that lemon was served with the water and she did find peanut butter for her pancakes. Does not accept Interac, only cash. I was not impressed. I will definitely go back as my food was excellent.

Over Easy also serves a variety of pancakes, waffles, omeletes, eggs benny, eggs florentine, scrambles, cereals, and other breakfast staples. Some light breakfast items include homemade granola and fruit, deluxe granola, cereal, fresh fruit salad. Lunch fare includes fancy sandwiches, fruit salad, hearty MEAL salads ($10.75), crepes, quiches, and a number of homestyle “comfort foods like Macaroni and cheese. They also make freshly squeezed juices and prepare home made fruit smoothies with yogourt right before your eyes. Seats are very comfortable and all wait staff are very friendly. Waiting time was normal and we will definitely go back! Prices around the $6.95-$9.95 range. Takeout available, just call ahead of time.

Thai Basil

467 Bloor Street W
416-840-9988
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

Thai Basil is located in the Annex at Bloor near Brunswick, in the former space vacated by 350 Fahrenheit. There are some friendly touches at this airy, Pan Asian restaurant. Prices are ridiculously low and I am certain they will go up in due time. At the time of this review (March 26, 2005), Thai Basil was only one month old.

This place is a no bullshit kind of restaurant. I ordered a Thai Green Curry, and i asked for them to remove the fish stock and all other animal products and they said “no problem”. I asked if i could add tofu to my dish, they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. I also asked if they could add cashews and they said no problem and they would not charge me extra. So, my Thai green curry with tofu and cashews was a decent portion and only cost me $6.95. A no bullshit place i must admit. I will definitely go back for sure. The decor is identical to 350 Fahrenheit (see review). It’s like they moved in and just kept all of the original decor and just changed their name.
Thai Basil offers a six-page menu with dishes from across Southeast Asia, but it seems that Thai dishes were the focus. The curries were good, homemade, but alittle salty claims Daniel. He ordered the Thai green chicken curry and he thought it was quite good and spicier than the curries at most other Thai restaurants. He enjoyed the unusual addition of the oriental eggplant (they look like small green tomatoes) and peas (plump like grapes) which added a nice texture and subtle flavour to the dish. Daniel, like I, thinks that they could have used a little less salt, but otherwise, he felt it was a very good (but not the best) green curry. For our side dish, we shared an appetizer of deep fried tofu in a light batter of red pepper, garlic, and dried onion. I have never had such delicious tofu before. It was SO GOOD!.

For my drink , i ordered a lycee smoothie called the “Thai Basil Lycee smoothie” a thick lycee slushy drink, not to sweet, and quite thick and delicsious. It came with Vodka ($5.50) and I ordered a virgin ($3.50) so i was disappointed to find out the price. I complained and they lowered the price immediately. I did not even notice that i may have become intoxicated. I think there was very little vodka. Daniel had a King Fisher beer and he really enjoyed it. The music played was great. Throughout our visit, we listened to the entire album of Sarah McLachlan’s “Afterglow” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits”–one of my two favourite musicians/bands.

The only 2 issues we had with the restaurant were “temperature” and “menu orgazaniation”. Since Daniel and I sat by the window, we felt very cold, as Thai Basil’s exterior wall is only glass. We felt that insulation was a problem. In the future, if we go again, we will sit closer to the centre of the restaurant where all of the body heat is retained.

The other issue is really from the perspective of 2 Librarians. I felt, in particular that all of the vegetarian dishes were “hidden” in the menu when in fact there should have been a distinct section entitled “Vegetarian dishes”. While there was a list of dishes called “Vegetables” this list was not vegetarian as it listed some fish and seafood entrees. Most of the dishes listed on the menu gave options, like the Pad Thai. The regular pad thai was described and had a price, then below was the shrimp version, chicken version and veggie version, all with different prices. In other words, it seems all dishes seemed to have a veggie version but they were all listed within the main heading of the dish, rather than compile a list of all of the veggie dishes and list them under the heading “Vegetarian Dishes”. It seems every industry needs a Librarian to organize their life.

Accepts all cards. Prices are surprisingly affordable, but the whole decor and ambiance is misleading since it looks like overpriced Serra or Sassafraz. Food was excellent but slightly too salty. Liquor license.

Crepes A GoGo

 

I happened to be around St. George & Bloor looking for lunch. I could see many standard spots like Tim Horton’s, Harvey’s Swiss Chalet, etc, & then it caught my eye Crepes A GoGo – I knew I had to go. This restaurant is on Bedford, just a few steps south of Bloor on the East side of the street. The French music played outside lures you in and sets the tone of your upcoming adventure in food.

This same music is played inside & which contributes to the décor & the warm, friendly & inviting French café atmosphere, complete with postcards & photographs of Paris adorning the walls. Patrons are greeted by Véronique, the owner of the establishment who also helps the indecisive like myself place their order. Most people ordered in French! Ha! This place is a true oasis of French culture in the heart of Toronto.

There are both sweet desert crepes and savory meal crepes, both in set combinations or you can customize your order. 98% of the menu is vegetarian, they do offer tuna or lox on a couple of the crepes. The crepe prices range from $3.75-$5.95, and they also serve sandwiches on French bread for $4.95. There was no need for plates, as the crepes are served in a paper bag, ideal for take out. It works fine too if you want to eat in. The beverage selection includes coffee, cappuccino, limonata, orangina, V8, etc. This is not a licensed establishment.

Talk about "fast food" – my crepe was ready before I sat down! I ordered La Popeye baby spinach, mozzarella, & your choice of egg or mushrooms  I took mushrooms. It arrived piping hot & delicious. It was quite filling at a reasonable $5.95. I chose the very best bevvie on the menu – apple cider from Normandy. This was $2.75/ glass or $8.50/bottle (the size of a wine bottle!) This was sooooooo delicious; I could easily sit there & drink it all day! This drink had no sugar or preservatives & just apples & it tasted very fresh & bubbly, well worth the visit on its own!

The restaurant is currently fairly small, 4 tables, but evidently they will be expanding due to its increasing popularity – and for good reason. The food was excellent; the service was speedy, warm & inviting, friendly which somehow is reflected in the patrons who frequent the establishment. People were relaxed & comfortable chatting with other patrons, one even offered to help someone pay for their bill when they were a few cents short & definitely not your everyday café.

My trip to Crepes A GoGo left me feeling refreshed & relaxed, as if I had been transported on a mini-break to Europe. This place is well worth frequent repeated trips! Definitely check it out.

 

350 Fahrenheit-closed Jan 2005

First off, though I liked the food I ordered, I completely disagree with the concept of this restaurant which caters and dare I say fosters eating disorders. Whatever happened to eating for pleasure? Food should be an enjoyable experience, not dictated by caloric and carb counts on every item. The diet focus really turned me off. Eat balanced & be happy & love what you eat is what I say.

So now I’ll get off my soapbox & review.

Mark & I walked into this place at about 9:45 pm. The employee wasn’t sure if we would be able to stay as it closed at 10:30 despite at least 5 tables being full of dining patrons. After consultation, they let us stay. The menu, despite the dieter’s commentary was relatively varied for a place that caters to the Atkins’s diet, Dr. Bernstein & the Canada Food Guide to name a few. The pricing was not cheap, but not expensive. Most main courses started at $11.95 & went up from there. Wine could only be ordered by the bottle, not by the glass. Every table was dressed with a bottle of water & a bottle of wine, but you’d pay quite a bit if you dared open them. They provided hummus & pita chipy things instead of the usual bread & butter. Of course.

We started each with a smoothie type drink a la Fresh/Juice for Life, which came in an extremely generous portion. I had the Triple A – Carrot, celery, apple, beets with greens, wheat grass & parsley at $4.95 If you care, there were 189 calories, 4 grams of protein, 41 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fat & 30 of fibre. I believe the fibre count, it was a rather pulpy drink, but tasty & pretty.

After consulting with our waitress over the portion sizes, (it appears many of the meals are small portions, which should have meant smaller prices, but alas I digress). I told her my concerns; I did not want to leave feeling ripped off, so after we vetoed my first meal choice, I decided on a fish dish instead.

I had Lime Grilled whitefish with spicy sweet potato & Kale. $15.95 If you care, Calories: 385 Protein: 29, Carbs: 38 Fat 13 Canada Food Guide:2 fruit & veg counts, 2 meat & alternatives, South Beach Diet, phase 2, Atkins Diet ok, Suzanne Somers diet ok, blood types B AB & O ok – BUT Atkins, Somers & blood type folk should eliminate the sweet potato.

I’m glad I don’t belong to those groups, because the sweet potato was great, very yummy with plump raisins macerated in spices scattered throughout! My fish was very tasty & I got a very nice sized piece. I guess the waitress warned them not to be stingy with me & so they weren’t. I liked the Kale & roasted peppers which were prepared straight up. My portion was so big I had to take a doggie bag back with me. Too bad Mark didn’t get more food.

The weird surprise came when the bill came & not all items matched what was listed in the menu, nor were we warned about the increase, so thankfully our waitress agreed with us that charging the unpublished price was unethical, so she lowered the bill. It pays to look it over… She then told us how the menu posted on the lcd that passers-by see is not current as the menu had recently changed, so some people order food that isn’t available. Poor way to begin customer relations in such a competitive field… If you are going to change your menu, then make sure the patrons are only presented with the accurate one. While you’re at it, run it through the spell checker.

So, for me, the concept is horrific, the service was ok, and the food I had was awesome. They spared no expense in the decor, it was really nice. They are a newer establishment, so they are probably working out the kinks – I hope.

 

Samraat

388 Bloor Street East
(416) 323- 9409

Located right in the Annex near another Indian restaurant (Natraraj) this North Indian buffet did not stike me as being a fabulous Indian buffet. Sure, the food was good and reasonably fresh for a buffet. Prices were a bit high ($12.95 for a dinner buffet, $7.95 for a lunch buffet) and it includes many meat and veggie dishes with Naan bread, pappadum, but no dessert. A friend told me “When you’ve been to one Indian buffet, you’ve been to them all.” For the most part I would agree. This one was good but nothing special.

I always have the same Indian dishes. You can be sure that aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken, Channa (curried chick peas), Daal (curried lentils), and a vegetable curry made with peas and carrots will always be there. This time I had the channa, daal, aloo gobi, vegetable curry, and one of my favourites, Matter Paneer (Spinach with Indian cheese). Indian cheese tastes like tofu squares, chewy, and mild in flavour.

My dining companion said that his lamb curry was good, soft, and the gravy was tasty. He also enjoyed the rice too. Food was fresh and they do have a regular menu with many traditional Indian favourites (Mulligatawny Soup, Pappadum, Raita, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Bharta, Vegetable Curry, Channa, Aloo Gobi, Paneer Makani, various seafood curries (Goan Fish, Shrimp Curries), Tandoori breads, Lamb, Goat, and Beef Curries (Goat Curry, Lamb Curry, Rojan Josh, Beef Vindaloo, Karahi Lamb), and Rice Dishes. Serves many Indian desserts and traditional Indian-spiced tea. Free delivery within Annex and South Annex neighbourhoods. Accepts all cards.

New Generation Sushi

493 Bloor St. W.
(416) 963-8861

New Generation Sushi is like a second home to my roomate and his girlfriend. The very reasonable prices, large variety and mostly tasty dishes are very attractive to the student population who flock in droves here most nights. Located right on Bloor St., between Bathurst and Spadina near the University of Toronto situates it perfectly to accomodate this market. New Gen (as it is endearingly referred to) , operates like a manufacturing plant by pumping out sushi in record time in the way a Ford plant produces cars. While this may suit their customers, they may want to spend a little more time cleaning the floor as it does leave an impression of “fast food” service.

Regardless of the atmosphere, when I am looking for a quick, cheap, and decent meal I come here and more often than not I am quite satisfied. New Gen was also the first place I learned how to use chopsticks, a must for any sushi eater. My most recent visit to New Gen had me trying a large bowl of rice and teriyaki chicken with shrimp and vegetable tempura. In addition to that, I also had an order of spicy tuna rolls. Someone else at the table ordered the same rolls but we were not particularly impressed when both of our orders came on one plate. Most single orders comprise six rolls of sushi which is not filling enough for an entire meal. I always find it difficult to choose from the vast amount of options available and usually like a combination of tempura and sushi rolls. The teriyaki chicken was too much food and was not very good save for the accompanying teriyaki sauce. I am no sushi connoisseur, but from what I hear the spicy tuna rolls are one of the best things going. These were definitely the most enjoyable part of my meal. The tempura, especially the shrimp was fine but then again when does anything fried taste bad?

I may not come to New Generation for a romantic dinner, and it may not be my second home. But I will continue to return to New Gen as long as the prices are cheap and the sushi still enjoyable.

Ghazale

504 Bloor St. W.
416-537-4417

661 College Street
(416) 534-7441

Ghazale is BY FAR, my favourite Middle Eastern restaurant in the city.  The food is “to die for”. Only contains six seats, no tables, but the food is so good, so cheap, and such fast service. Specializing in Middle Eastern dishes, this place is known in Toronto as the place to go for fast, tasty Middle Eastern take out food. They only accept cash (no Interac or VISA/Mastercard) since there are so many customers. It makes things more efficient when cash is the only thing accepted.

Located right in the heart of the Annex near Bloor and Bathurst, this Middle Eastern dive has the best Mediterranean food in Toronto, I swear! The display of food is gorgeous, colourful, always fresh and inviting. Staff are very knowledgable of its contents and vegetarian and non-vegetarian food are separated in two different sections. I always order the same two items: one extra-large vine leaf stuffed with chick peas and rice, quite nutty and flavourful and the vegetarian mousaka, a scrumptious medley of sautéed eggplant, chick peas, onions, peppers, zucchini, stewed tomatoes and spices. Meals are less than $5.00 and there is a wide selection canned soft drinks ($1.00). There are lineups throughout the day. Second location opened recently at College near Grace in Little Italy.

The Annex location is open everyday from 10:00am-4:00am

By The Way Cafe

400 Bloor St. W.
(416) 967-4295

Located right at the corner of Bloor and Brunswick, right spack dab in the Annex, this quaint little cafe is quiet, dimly lit, intimate, and serves vegetarian friendly fare.

It also has a beautiful wall mural and has the ambiance of a romantic cafe. There is an identical lunch and dinner menu (prices are slightly higher for dinner) and there are daily dinner specials. Dinner specials range from $12-$16.

The place is small and the prices are a bit high for me, but there’s something special about this cafe. SIMPLICITY!

There is a large summer terrace (patio) that is available all year around (it’s heated during the winter.) They also have a marketing technique where you can join a mailing list and you get a coupon for a free entre on your birthday. Offer is only available the month of your birthday from Sunday through Wednesday.

Soft drink prices are retarded ($3.00 for a small) and the menu is mostly Mediterranean. I usually have the Mediterranean combination platter with hummus, baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and Israeli salads. The platter comes with pita and it $9.00.

The last time I went, I had the honey carrot ginger soup (all soups are vegetarian, unless specified) and the veggie burger. The veggie burger ($10.00) came with fries but I substituted it for grilled zucchini and peppers for an additional $3.00.

I also had the option to order the veggie burger with a bun or pita (I chose pita.) Wendy had the chicken breast stuffed with chevre, and pesto. The dish was served with aromatic rice. Wendy also ordered the African lentil soup and when I tasted I thought it was one of the best soups I’ve had in a long time. Wendy’s chicken dish was $16 and our soups were $4.

Presentation is beautiful at By The Way Cafe.

By The Way Cafe also serves weekend brunch with a variety of dishes including eggs, omeletes, waffles, sandwiches, soups, and French toast. Unofrtunately they charge extra for egg white omeletes (+$1.50) and substituting salads for their standard fries and toast (which comes with every egg dish) (+$2.50). Nonetheless, the food is outstanding and service is stellar, BUT it’s TOO expensive. Accepts all cards and Interac. Beautiful heated outdoor terrace open most of the year.