Tinto Coffee House

 89 Roncesvalles
416-530-5885

At first glance, Tinto looks like a lovely place, with 2 levels, many vegetarian items, and an overall great atmosphere. 

Unfortunately, our experience was most disappointing.  Although the actual food was excellent, our service was slow and horrible. With very few egg dishes, with mostly vegetarian options, organic fair trade coffee, in a short and long format menu. 

 The long form looks like a scholarly, peer reviewed journal article with bibliographic references, footnotes (very tongue and cheek).  It was rather entertaining.

Food is Latin American inspired, incredible, great portions. Tinto has a lofty space on 2 levels. It has a comfortable decor of hues of red and earth tones. It is very spacious with hardwood tables and chairs.  The overall “look and feel” won me over.  Tinto works with local suppliers to offer local food.  They offer free magazines to read, all-day breakfast and brunch, soups,  amazing funky salads, grilled wraps, sandwiches, pastries, and hot and cold beverages.

For my meal, I  ordered the black bean with goat cheese, grilled pepper and eggplant, with a side salad of greens.

To conclude, if you live a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, Tinto is the place for you!  Tinto also hosts the occasional documentary film screening or spoken word night on its upper level. They hold many workshops in activism, poetry, storytelling, songs, and prose.

Euro Crepe Cafe

582 Danforth Ave
(416) 462-2500

Euro Crepe Cafe is a relatively new place on the Danforth that serves both sweet and savoury crepes and other brunch fare. Given the fact that many places on the Danforth do not survive a year, Wendy and I thought we should stop and critique the crepe selection. Wendy loves savoury, while I love sweet so I think we could give our perspectives on this place from both the sweet and savoury point of view.

Upon entering Euro Crepe, we noticed that it was packed with people, amongst an airy “open concept” narrow dining area. With an open kitchen with a huge array of teas and coffees and a fresh fruit and veggie bar where crepes are made before your eyes, Euro Crepe already stood out. We were getting hungry as the host brought us to our table. The aroma of fresh coffee, tea, fresh fruit, grilled veggies and the sizzling of crepes being made before our eyes got us excited.

We sat at the back of the restaurant. Overall decor looks European, like a French cafe.

I ordered a strawberry and banana crepe with caramel sauce. Although the portion was small, it was delicious, fresh, and strawberries were sweet and juicy.

Wendy had the grilled veggie crepe with hummus & swiss cheese. It was extremely well portioned (big) & very tasty. The servers are not professional, ours forgot our requests for buckwheat crepes, so if you are ok with casual, sometimes forgetful service, then give it a go.

Euro Crepe serves both sweet and savoury crepes and European sandwhiches, salads and waffles. Some popular crepes include a breakfast crepe with bacon and eggs, and includes toppings like veggies, a variety of sauces. Another popular crepe is the grilled chicken breast crepe and Wendy’s choice (grilled vegetable crepe).

Euro Crepe also serves dessert crepes with ice cream, fresh fruits, caramel , marshmallows, cookie crumbs. They also serve a variety of espresso drinks (espresso, capuccino, latte, mocha, fresh juice, and a large variety of loose tea (I ordered vanilla black tea).

Service is kind of slow. Slightly kitschy (but nice) French art of cafes and other European cultural symbols on the wall. I must admit it is endearing to have cute and innocent servers who have been hired just because they are eye candy. They have a certain naievity that is cute and innocent, but at the same time, sometimes not very competent. It is odd when servers are not knowledgable about the fare they serve. There is no web site or take home menu at present but hopefully something will turn up on the World Wide Web soon. Accepts all cards.

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.

Crepes a Go Go (new location) (Mark)

 18 Yorkville Ave
416.922.6765

Aaron and I met up last Sunday to see “The History Boys” and we did not have a ton of time to have brunch. At first we opted to go to Flow’s Diner since i had heard wonderful things about it. Unfortunately there was a huge lineup. We headed to the new Eggstacy at Bay and Bloor but from a distance we saw another lineup. At 12:30pm our stomachs were grumbling and we needed to find a place fast. Aaron had suggested CrepesaGoGo since it has recently moved to its new location at Yonge and Yorkville and it was small, quaint, and luckily, there was no lineup.

Opened at its new location since Sept 2006, Crepes a GoGo is an authentic French crepe “takeout” and dine in establishment with a small menu of sweet and savoury crepes. First you select your syrup which they bake right into the crepe, and then you choose the filling. The serve it to you in a “pocket” that you can hold like a sandwich: convenient and perfect for those “on the go”.

Situated at Yonge/Yorkville, easily accessible from the Yonge/Bloor intersection, conveniently located right next to the Toronto Reference Library on the edge of Yorkville on the ground floor of a new high rise glass condo (built about 1-2 years ago).

Some of the drawbacks of Crepes a Go Go. First: small number of seating (4-5 tables). Second: they had 2 price options; takeout and dine-in. We obviously chose to “dine in” but our portions looked like we chose “take out” but we were priced as if we “dined in”. In sum, our portions were tiny. I know it’s traditionally French but neither Aaron and I are not (m)anorexic.

We liked how the staff and owner gave the place an authentic French “look and feel”, because, afterall, the owner is from France. I could not help but sense the slight essence of pretentiousness (we don’t do flavoured lattes here!). Come on, cut the crap.

The owner claimed she made the best espresso in the city, and that they did not carry “filter coffee G-d forbid. Definitely exhibiting an anti-Starbucks attitude (I sympathize having worked at Starbucks for 7 months and being treated like shit). Altogether staff and the owner were warm and friendly

Crepes are paper thin and served/ placed in a paper bag pouch.

I ordered the anorexic fruit crepe with blueberry, banana, strawberry. i understood that Europeans eat smaller portions than North Americans but i was more hungry leaving the joint than entering.

Aaron liked the “Parisian ambience” at Crepes a GoGo from the serene quaintness of the space to the French speaking owner and servers. He ordered a “Quebecoise” crepe which was under the sweet/savoury section. It contained scrambled eggs, mozarella cheese and maple syrup. Although the portion wasn’t very large it was definitely tasty. He agreed with me that if they are having a dine in v.s. take out price that they should gussy it up a bit more for the dine in folks: fork, knife and no paper bag… perhaps with some side dishes.

The cafe au lait was very nice, smooth and delicious, but contrary to the owner, it DID need sugar. In sum, I was not full, meal was NOT satisfying but it was my mistake, i need to order and eat more. Decor was lovely, ultra high ceilings, open concept, small with 4 tables, 2 “bar type” areas to eat on stools. Service is ultra fast, friendly and effiicent and wait staff serve with ease, grace, and with a smile

Accepts all cards, liquor license, winter hours are Monday/Tuesday 12:30pm-7:00pm and Wed-Sun 10:30am-7:00pm. Bottom line; If you are really hungry go to Flow’s diner just down the road. Ambiance is cosy and calm, so go there for a light bite or a nice espresso or cafe au lait.

Avenue Cafe and Bistro

 480 University Ave
416.979-0500

I am hardly ever in the downtown core for lunch during the week since i work in the west end near Jane and Lawrence (in Weston). Sometimes we have workshops at U of T (since my hospital library is part of the U of T network of hospital libraries). One of our workshops on Oct 31 dealt with finding the leader in yourself. They do serve lunch at these workshops but the food is not very good and there is nothing vegetarian for me, or the non-veggies choose the vegetarian items before i can get to them. I decided to pop out before my lunch break and meet Wendy and Zam to have lunch at Avenue Cafe and Bistro, a high end sandwich bistro at Dundas and University.

This bistro belongs in a Sex and the City episode. I could see myself running into Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte here meeting for lunch. I also find it would fit perfectly in Yorkville too. Located at Dundas and University in the downtown hospital district where all the “suits” dine for lunch.

Avenue Cafe and Bistro looks like a fashion runway where men and women in the finest attire dine on gourmet panini sandwiches and wraps (grilled to perfection), lattes, Illy coffee, and a small assortment of dufflet pastries, tarts, squares, as well as wholesome breads.

Zam, Wendy, and myself went in the very well-behaved line (unlike most TTC lineups or food court lines). Bathrooms were one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in my restaurant adventures in Toronto. Bathrooms looked like a fancy downtown condo, sleek in design with grey ceramic floor ands and a gorgeous ultra modern sink and toilet. I am not a fan of greys and stainless steel but I want my future condo to have a bathroom like Avenue Cafe and Bistro. Simple and elegant, i could have moved in!

Decor is white with fancy huge marble tables and smaller silver tables, slim and sleek in design. Decor is minimalist with white walls, clean lines, and a cool flat screen TV with Black and white movies shown for lunch. The place is busy with mostly business folk all dressed up. Zam, Wendy, and I went there at 12pm and it was packed with a wonderful display of beautiful people, sandwiches, plump, fresh, juicy, and full of texture and colour. rush of wonderful . The chicken mango salad sandwich ($7.50) looked fresh, delightful, and plump. I nearly dropped dead from the look at the huge panini with marinated mushrooms spilling out with seasoned goat cheese (which i ordered).

Wendy ordered the same sandwich as myself. Both our orders were $7.50 and came with an anorexic portion of a side salad which was fine since the actual sandwich was HUGE.

I ordered the spring greens and Wendy ordered the Caesar. Both our dishes came grilled with a side of aioli (garlic mayo). Zam had the had the mushroom sandwich with goat cheese, and both were present in the sandwich in plentifulf amounts. No misery with their fillings. Same experience with their salmon, tuna and roasted vegetarian sandwich.

He felt the ambiance was very urban chic with minimalist white New York Style decor. The crowd was corporate yuppie (very suave looking). He thought the service was quick during th lunch rush. We all agreed that you get a good meal in a short time and prices were good for the quality of the sandwich, salad, and drink combo (under $10).

At this point, i am convinced that this place is a wonderful casual dining spot for lunch, i cannot believe i’ve missed it (Thanks Zam). Other veggie sandwiches includes the avocado sandwich with avocados, tomatoes, havarti cheese, alfalfa sprouts, and side salad ($7.50). Avenue Cafe and Bistro even sells simple sandwiches like Egg Salad, Tuna Salad, Smoked Salmon and Cream cheese ($7.90), Salmon salad sandwich, Tuna Cheddar Melt ($6.90), Chicken Caesar ($6.90). Also serves breakfast omeletes ($6.90), as well as Western sandwiches ($5.90-$6.90). Baked good include fresh muffins, croissants, bagels or baguettes ($1.40-$1.90). Lunch pita pizzas (thin crust) include chicken pesto, vegetarian, and margarita ($6.90).

Avenue Cafe and Bistro also offers a medley of salads including caesar, greek, roasted salmon green bean, avenue salad (seared beef and mixed greens, chick peas and feta) ($5.90-$6.90), and chicken pesto pasta salad with chicken, multi coloured fusili, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts ($6.50). Quesadilas include beef, crab and shrimp, and chicken ($7.90-$8.90).

All dishes served with a side salad. Daily soups are creative and different every day and served with fresh bread ($3.50). Beverages include smoothies, perrier, bottled water, soft drinks, freshly squeezed juices ($1.40-$1.90 small, $2.90 for large) , Illy coffee, and an assortment of Espresso beverages ($1.90-$4.00 depending on size and type of drink) and even lunchtime coolers and beers, and red and white wine (by the glass). Accepts all cards. Liquor license. Opened Mon-Fri 7am-5:30pm.

Avenue Diner

 222 Davenport Road 
(416) 924-5191

Having biked passed Avenue Diner many times, I have always been curious to know what the food and ambiance is like. Centrally located at Davenport and Avenue Road on the cusp of Yorkville and the edge of the Annex, this place has been in operation since 1944 and still going strong. Similar to Beauties, Bagels Etc, Cosmo’s in Montreal, Avenue Diner serves up a small menu of burgers, fries, old fashioned chicken sandwiches flooded with gravy, weekend breakfast (mostly egg dishes) with classy home fries and old fashioned milkshakes in an authentic diner setting.

Avenue Diner feels very homey with only 2-3 wait staff and a team of about 4 cooks. One middle aged woman calls out the dishes to the cooks who whip up the dishes in a matter of minutes before your eyes. There are about 6 stools and expect to sit there if the tables are occupied. The grill is right in front of you so you can see them create dishes in front of your eyes.

Like Yasi’s place (Lansdowne near Bloor) , the decor looks like an old 1950’s diner or soda shop with old Coca Cola paraphernalia and other nostalgic things like old fashioned milkshakes, napkin holders, and little details that give this place charm.

Since it’s in the Yorkville district, there are a slew of photographs of celebrities who frequent the neighbourhood. It reminds me of “Bruce’s Restaurant and Bakery”, a Long Island “Jewish style” diner on 34 Middle Neck Road (in Great Neck, NY) with many celebrity photographs. Christina’s on the Danforth also attracts a celebrity clientele.

When we went for breakfast that Sunday morning, we noticed that service is very quick and efficient (high turnover). I ordered the cheddar egg white omelete ($6.95 + $1.50 extra for egg whites) with home fries. The dish came with toast but instead, i ordered a side of sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Zam ordered the veggie omelete with home fries (we ordered an extra side order of fries for $4) and whole wheat toast (you can choose white, whole wheat, or rye). They emphasize that they serve eggs any way you like them. They also serve high protein cereals, oatmeal, and pancakes. For lunch expect diner-dishes like hot sandwiches with gravy, burgers and fries.

Avenue diner also sells merchandise like T shirts that are displayed above the grill (must smell of eggs and cooking oil. All deep fried items are cooked in 100% vegetable oil.

Lineups occur after 12pm noon, but high turnover of customers, very fast service, people do not stay a long time. Small, kind of cramped, only 10 stools and 6 tables.

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.