Ginger

 695 Yonge Street – (416) 966-2424
403 Yonge Street – (416) 263-9999
546 Church Street- 416 324 8724
252 Carlton Street 416-923-7979
521 Bloor Street West (416)536-3131

When you think of Ginger, think casual, fast food, and excellent prices. You will not be ripped off or disappointed. It’s like a giant food court, noisy, but the food quality is definitely better than your typical food court with tasteless, bland, and expired dishes, claiming to be Italian or Chinese but really it’s the North American rendition. Food court food is a quick and cheap and lousy interpretation of Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai food should be.

I went there with some friends after checking out a rockin’ good underwear sale. We were really hungry and we did not want to spend too much money so we checked out the newly opened Ginger on Church street near Wellesley.

Scott had the green curry with silken tofu and vegetables. He wasn’t too impressed. There wasn’t much tofu really, and the rice wasn’t that soft either. Overall, he wouldn’t eat it again. He didn’t like the atmosphere, it was too loud to hear more than one table away.

I had the eggplant and tofu green curry dish with steamed vegetables and white rice. I omitted the green curried tofu and replaced it with more steamed vegetables but unfortunately, due to poor communication skills, they did not add any more steamed vegetables so I was a bit unhappy.

Bob ordered the rice, veggies, 3 shrimp, chicken, beef price ($8.50). He felt that it was not too spicy, it was flavourful, with a fast food ambiance, yet it felt like being in a restaurant. He liked that he did not have to leave a tip. He liked the comfy chairs, and the “in between” nature of fast food and fine dining. Lastly, he liked that they brought the food to you

Paulo had the same dish as Bob but without the clump of white rice (shrimp, chicken, and beef) with veggies

Lailah ordered a thick udon noodle soup with tofu and vegetables (known as Pho). The soup bowl was big and hearty and came with a generous serving of noodles and vegetables (also known as Pho).

On other visits I have had veggie salad rolls (cold rice paper rolls in a sweet peanut sauce, not peanut butter sauce but a sweet teriyaki sauce with crushed peanuts on top. As well, I have enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese dish called Pho, a soup with tons of veggies, rice noodles, and tofu, in a clear veggie broth and covered in basil leaves. The soup is very hot (in terms of temperature and it’s also spicy). Most Phos have beef or chicken but mine was 100% veggie. I had to inform the server when taking orders since most Thai, Vietnamese, or Korean food always has fish, oyster, or chicken broth added to most dishes so it’s best to be the paranoid vegetarian and emphasize having an “animal-free dish”. The new Church Street location has a fresh fruit martini bar which makes it look less look “fast food” but overall it’s still fast food and excellent prices. Accepts all cards

Queen Mother Cafe [Mark Aaron]

208 Queen St. W.
Tel: (416) 598-4719
Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am
Sun 12:00pm-12:00am

 

web site: www.queenmothercafe.ca

Located right at Queen near McCaul in the Queen West neighbourhood, I have always been curious to try this place out. With old wood furniture, high pressed tin ceilings, and beautifully restored, the Queen Mother Cafe serves Pan Asian (mostly Thai and Laosian cuisine) as well as some Mediterranean dishes and decadent desserts since 1978.

With a large, beautiful back terrace, and with three large dining areas, in a very dimlight romantic setting, the Queen Mother Cafe offers decadent desserts (locally made by Dufflet), and an array of Thai-Lao inspired dishes. For our dinner, we started with vegetarian cold rolls appetizers (fresh spring rolls filled with tofu, bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrots, bell peppers, fresh mint and coriander, served with a hot and sweet peanut sauce) a bit liquidy in terms of the sauce, but a highly delicious start to our meal.

For our mains, Wendy ordered the seafood hot pot with a scallop, shrimp and calamari with green beans, cauliflower, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and fresh basil in a spicy Indian curry coconut sauce, served with steamed jasmine rice. Wendy found it very saucy, spicy, and wonderful.

I ordered the spicy vegetarian roti with fresh market vegetables, chickpeas and tofu in a spicy curry sauce, wrapped in a warm Indian Dahl roti, served with cucumber and cherry tomato salad, topped with raita dressing. I did not find it very saucy (more dry) but it was one of the best rotis i have had in a long time. Wendy ordered a sparkling water that was similar to San Pellegrino and I ordered the typical Diet Coke.

Service was exquisite and food presentation and taste was divine. There were not many vegetarian options but the waitress assured me that they were flexible and that they could make anything vegetarian. She also assured me that the peanut sauce was truly vegetarian. Mains are in the price range of $12-$15 and appetizers are $6-$9. Some appetizers include sticky rice steamed in a straw basket with a peanut sauce, edamame (steamed Japanese soybean snaps in a chili soy dipping sauce), nam jeun (three crispy spring rolls filled with a special vegetable mixture, served with hot and sweet peanut sauce ), dim sum quartet (wonton wrapped dim sum filled with chicken and shrimp and served in a soy sauce and garlic chili dipping sauce ), golden triangles (chicken, cumin, ginger, coriander, scallions and curry wrapped in a “samosa” like fashion with a curry and lemon yogourt sauce), and artichoke hummus. Salads includes an arugula walnut salad (YUMM), a mediterranean salad, and your typical plain “house” salad. Entrees include a smoked turkey chili, spinach and ricotta canneloni (super yummy), New Zealand lamb tenderloin, teriyaki salmon, and ping gai (grilled marinated boneless chicken with garlic, coriander, black peppercorns, served with a spicy lime coriander sauce and steamed rice ).

Noodle dishes include pad thai, bah me hang (fresh thin egg noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts, onions, celery, chopped peanuts, sauteed shrimp and golden sliced chicken in a spicy lime coriander sauce, topped with green onions and fresh coriander), and khao soy gai (a Laotian dish of chicken simmered with ginger, fresh Thai herbs, turmeric, curry and coconut milk, served on a bed of fresh bean sprouts, watercress and soft thin egg noodles, garnished with shallots, marinated bok choy and fresh coriander
).

Also serves a Sunday brunch. Some brunch items include a Montreal bagel (St. Viateur) with served plain or with cream cheese, hamburgers served with fries, crêpes with a savoury filling, served with home fries and salad, two eggs, served any way you like it, with home fries, double smoked side bacon and toasted authentic St Viateur Bagel from Montreal, served piping hot, omelete of the day served with home fries and side salad, quiche of the day (served with salad), and a St. Viateur bagel served with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onions, lemon, and fresh dill (a taste of “Jewish and Montreal”)

Accepts all cards. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am- 1:00am and Sun 12:00pm-12:00am. Serves some brunch items (in addition to regular menu) on Sunday. A wonderful place to bring a date. Liquor License.

Indochine Pan-Asian Restaurant

175 Dundas Street West
(416) 581-8668

 

Located right on Dundas between Bay and University at the cusp of the downtown core between Eaton Centre and the bus station, this small and intimate restaurant serves up a variety of Thai, Chinese, or Malaysian dishes.

On this Thursday night at 7pm, I met up with two Librarian friends and having not seen them for one year, we opted for Asian fare but decided to dine in the area. We had always dined in Baldwin Village, but we were getting tired of that neighbourhood. Upon entering, we noticed that the 2 dining areas in this restaurant were completely empty. We opted to sit right by the window for optimal people watching. We started with an order of Tom Yam soup- a vegetable based broth with zing and kick, with lemongrass, bean sprouts, baby corn, carrot, brocoli, and baby bok choi, ($2.75). Other appetizers include Thai spring rolls and various Thai soups.

Helen and Melanie both ordered the Malaysian curried chicken with a roti ($6.95). Their curry was yellow and aromatic and was served in small bowl and contained chicken and shrimp. Both enjoyed it very much but commented that it was very filling and very thick with coconut milk. Both enjoyed the roti which looked like a thick and small pancake. I ordered a typical Malaysian dish, the tofu satay ($7.95) with 4 skewers of tofu smothered in a rich peanut curry sauce with stir fried vegetables. The stir fried vegetables were overcooked and it came with a heaping mound of white rice. The dish was way too salty and there was not enough substantial vegetables (only alittle brocoli and bean sprouts), and the tofu was greasy. I was very hungry so i finished it anyway. I ordered a Mango juice for my drink ($2.95). Decor and food was not memorable. The waiter assured me that the soup broth and the peanut sauce was truly vegetarian but the soup did have that fishy aftertaste. I will most likely try Indochine again as there were many vegetarian options (spicy Thai eggplant, spicy Thai tofu, as well as a coconut curry vegetable stir fry, green curry, and various tofu dishes). Decor is nothing to cry home about, very dark in earth and almost burgundy tones, making it look somber and almost forgettable. I will have to try this place another time. Accepts all cards. Open late. Very affordable prices. 3 people can eat for under $30.00 including drinks. Serves a variety of liquors, spirits, and beer.

Kubo Radio [brunch]

894 Queen St E
416-406-KUBO (5826)

web site: www.kubo.com

Set in Leslieville at Queen and Logan, this hip and trendy Pan Asian eatery certainly did not
appear to be serving brunch. It looked too much like a bar. However, when Aaron asked me to brunch last week, he told me “let’s go to Kubo Radio”. I checked out the web site and i remembered from my last visit that they also serve brunch.

It also helps that there is graffiti on the glass windows advertising their brunch. Luckily, the messy writing on the glass windows are done with washable marker. I think the advertise their dinner and brunch and the writings change daily.

As indicated above, Kubo Radio serves Thai dishes as well as other Pan Asian meals for the urban and funky modern hipster in Leslieville. I did not know what to expect to be served so it was an adventure. I did notice that Kubo Radio does serve traditional favourites like eggs, wraps, sandwiches, cereal, dim sum, and a variety of exotic juices and herbal teas.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a super friendly and laid back waitress. We were served shot glasses of mango juice (YUMM) and free appetizers of little “smurf size” blueberry muffins with a raspberry confit. I found those dishes to be quite cute and creative. I enjoyed my dining experience last time, but I was already enjoying my brunch experience as well.

I also noticed a yummy dish which comprised thick French cut toast with chocolate spread and bananas. They also serve a variety of veggie and non-veggie wraps and, like any brunch place, they serve organic granola with smashed fruit, mint, and yogourt. Trying to be on the somewhat creative side, i opted for the huge portion of steel cut oatmeal ($6.95) with raisins, grated ginger, brown sugar, and slivered blanched almonds. What a hearty plate. After running 32 km that morning, i was starving and that dish was perfect. Aaron ordered the Eggs Foreign-Tee- poached eggs on an English muffin w/spinach/ham/kubodaise ($9.95). He thought that it was OK but missing some spice. They offered some spicy sauce but he regretfully did not take it.

Decor and design is ultra modern and slick. Restaurant has clean lines and is minimal in design. Only accepts cash and VISA but no Interac. Dim Sum is not veggie friendly and there are only 3 veggie dishes but the oatmeal rocked. I understand that Kubo Radio also identifies itself as a pub but i must admit the whole ambiance is really stained with the 2 cheesy TV screens above the tables.

Milestones

Unit A13-095 Yonge Street
(Empress Walk Mall at Yonge/Sheppard)
(416)-225-2552
For a complete list of locations

Milestones is a classy chain of restaurants, similar to Kelsey’s or East Side Marios, but slightly more upscale and less of “horse stables” ambiance. In other words, Milestones seems less noisy crowed with huge tables, spread far apart, with dim lighting, and an overall ambiance that is more calm and inviting. Located in most suburbs malls or in the middle of big box stores, I went to this particular Milestones at Yonge and Sheppard with Steve and Debbie in the fall.

The first floor was a bar/pub and the second floor was an intimate dining hall, with a cosy ambiance

Due to the limited vegetarian items on the menu, I ordered the Vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad- large and colourful with avocado, tomato, letture, cucumber, Thai rice noodles, mushrooms, artichokes, in a spicy Thai dressing ($9.99). Debbie had steak with garlic potatoes. Steve had grilled salmon with rice

All dishes came in large plates and super large portions. Decor is trendy with large spacious tables and booths. Rich in wood and comfort, yet provides an atmosphere of energy and fun. Very crowded with people but not congested

Friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable staff. Decor is super modern and classy, in an elegant design
Milestones is a chain across Canada, all over Greater Toronto, Greater Vancouver, all of Ontario, B.C., and Alberta. Milestones claims to be the proud creator of Bellini, a frozen cocktail, a blend of Lamb’s white rum, peach liqueur and champagne, topped with sangria.
This restaurant also serves an extensive list of wines, house wines, beers, cockails, margarita’s, dacquiris, and other drinks

The men is very diverse, as it includes steak, chicken and ribs, soups and salads, stir fry’s (not vegetarian) , seafood, pasta, but unfortunately very few vegetarian options. The only vegetarian options I found were the veggie burger platter, tomato basil capellini (tomatoes, basil, sundried tomatoes, calamata olives, and feta), Miso Dragon Bowl (Asian vegetables, brown rice, and Thai peanut sauce), the California spring greens salad (spring greens, glazed pecans, red onions, goat cheese, and strawberries), the typical garden salad, a roasted garlic caesar salad, and the Vegetarian Thai Noodle Salad.

In addition, they also serve an extensive brunch and low carb menu. They also serve low calorie meals, as well as items with little or no trans-fats.Brunch is served 7 days a week until 4:00pm. Typical brunch items includes a variety of omeletes, egg benedicts, French toast, poached eggs, and mimosas. The lunch menu is very similar to the dinner menu but there are more sandwiches burgers and wraps (known as rollups)–mostly in chicken and beef varieties

Some vegetarian appetizers include hot tortilla chips with fresh salsa, baked goat cheese and roasted garlic dip on flat bread, and the toasted onion and herb focaccia triangles. Liquor license. Accepts Interac, and VISA. I was quite pleased that they had a low carb menu and there were some vegetarian appetizers but not enough vegetarian entrees.

Kalendar

546 College Street West
(416) 923-4138

Located right in the heart of Little Italy, at College near Grace, this wonderful cafe and bistro can be described as very “Toulouse-Lautrec”. Kalendar resembles a scene from the movie Moulin Rouge or the setting of some of Annie Lennox music videos. When you enter this place, you go back in time to an old 1880’s cafe.

The place is gorgeous with lots of varnished mahogney or oak furniture, an old bar with a large assortment of wines, liquors, and mixed drinks. There are two disinct dining halls separated by this central bar, which acts as the hub of the restaurant. One dining hall is quite small. It contains about 7 tables and the bar resides on this side. The other dining hall looks like an old fashioned restaurant with many more tables. The kitchen is in the basement so you never see them cooking. The menu is very limited and I would describe the cuisine of funky Indian or Fusion or Italian. They mostly have Indian cuisine but they also serve some Italian dishes like pizza and pasta and Belgium fare like mussels.
On this two page menu, I ordered a scroll number two. This scroll was essentially a wrap made of Roti (like Chapati or Poori or Nan bread) with hummus, grilled peppers, grilled artichokes, grilled eggplant, and herbed mayonnaise (hold the Mayonnaise- yuck!)

My friend ordered Scroll one which was a chicken variety with some vegetables. Both our scrolls came in two sizes ($8.95 small and $12.95 large) and we ordered the larges sizes with a vegetable salad with a balsamic viniagrette.

I ordered a Diet Coke for a drink and he ordered some dark beer that looked like Coke. Tables are small and people are kind of squashed together in the smaller dining room. I did take a look at the large dining room and it was beautiful. With art on the walls, dim lighting, mahogney or cherry wood furniture and wood panelling, this place was definitely the place to be on a Saturday night.

The only problem was that the menu was so little. It seems that they only have trendy funky Indian cuisine with a couple of Italian dishes (well, this place is in Little Italy, right?)

7 West

7 Charles
416.928.9041

7 West is located on 7 Charles street, on three floors of an old converted Victorian home, with hardwood floors, exposed brick, and a fireplace. It’s just one block south of the Yonge/Bloor intersection. They serve many vegetarian meals and the prices are really affordable for what you get. The drinks are expensive, though. Never go on a Saturday night because this calm, cool, funky, hip cafe becomes a busy, crowded cheesy bar with macho guys with way too much cologne and women who look like whores socialize and drink and the whole ambiance becomes all loud and resembles a bar- YUCK!

Go during a weeknight or during the day on the weekend. I usually order the vegetarian chili or the grilled vegetable sandwich with a lot of chick pea green salad. It’s colourful, fresh, and portions are decent. 🙂 My veggie chili was a bit liquidy, but it’s quite tasty and not expensive.

They also serve excellent salads, and light meals, desserts, and full course dinners. You get good quality food and good service. Just avoid going Friday and Saturday night.

7-West also serves brunch on the weekend. There is small one-pager, in addition to the menu, with traditional brunch fare with affordable prices. Drinks are bit high (Diet Coke for $3.00) but I had the granola with fruit and yogourt for $6.00 and my brunch date had eggs, peameal bacon, with a chick pea green salad and service, presentation, and quality of food was good.