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.

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.

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.

Classico Pizza & Pasta (Wendy)

 

 2457 Bloor St W
416-763-1313

Classico’s is a little hole in the wall restaurant at the Western tip of Bloor West Village, just outside the Jane subway station on the South side of the street. The atmosphere is very casual, and they serve up decent Italian fare, essentially Classico is a decent neighbourhood spot.

There is an extensive selection of pizzas & pasta dishes, including one curry dish. Most of the mains are meat or seafood based, but my veggie friend Mark ate here successfully.

All meals start out with nice warm bread rolls. They are simple but good. My first visit here, I shared the calamari appetizer with my boyfriend (who has been going here with his family for years). The calamari was very well cooked ; no elasticity in sight. The grilled veggie sandwich is definitely to be counted among the best menu items here ; very flavourful, decent portion size & comes with a side salad for a mere $6.95. The old standby chicken parmesan is ok, and for $11.95 you are provided with a portion big enough for two meals, so I have to take half of it home.

This is a place to go if you are looking for a nice casual dinner at a very reasonable price. No pretension, just a decent meal.

Tequila Bookworm

490 Queen W. 
504-7335.

As of Dec 26, 2006 cafe moved to 512 Queen St. W (10 doors west)- smaller, cleaner, more trendy

I first went here many years ago, as someone said it had a very �Montreal vibe� & decent bagels. Right on both counts! Located in the super trendy Queen St. West, this is an artsy, funky little hole in the wall, furnished with old couches, old bookshelves filled with older books, & a collection of new magazines. How could you not love the exposed brick wall & comfortable casualness? The service is relaxed� Perhaps a little too relaxed if you are planning to do anything at all later in the day � oh, like see a play, do groceries, go home�. It is very mellow, which is great if you have the time to spare, or are in the mood for it.

The food is absolutely delicious & completely affordable. On my last visit I had a very tasty sandwich & salad. The realness of the food is appreciated � my focaccia sandwich was made with a real chicken breast � not processed � yum! I found it a little odd that there were so many sandwiches with avocado, yet they had none on site � they had to go to a local corner store to pick some up. Maybe a little too relaxed, but I guess good things come to those who wait. One of T.O.�s best kept secrets.

Grapefruit Moon

968 Bathurst Street
(416) 534-9056

After a nightmare makeover in 2004 the once comfortable, homey atmosphere (think Tango Palace at Queen/Jones), exposed brick, ecclectic decor, and activist posters on the wall became ultra modern hip and cool, with a complete bleached effect as the designer of Restaurant Makeover painted the whole restaurant white, even though the owner Sandy Moon specifically requested not to paint the exposed brick. As most of us, painting exposed brick is sacrilegious. I had last visited Grapefruit Moon on my 27th birthday (Sept 2001) for a nice quiet dinner. A great place to bring a date. Intimate, non pretentious, not expensive, and most importantly, many veggie options.

Grapefruit Moon went glam but actually looked like a hospital with that “bleached” effect. What on earth was the designer thinking. What crack were they smoking. I loved the old look and feel of Grapefruit Moon and I was sad to see that the old decor was gone, but I knew that they were still owned by the same people and the menu and food and service was still excellent so I decided to go there on 2 separate occasions for my favourite meal- Sunday brunch.

When I stepped inside, I noticed that the owners definitely put much effort into changing it back to the way it was and it looks like they’re almost there. Mostly, they added colour back into the decor. The painted brick wall is now adorned with colourful paintings and knickknacks that really tone down the “hospital” look and feel of their catastrophic makeover. According to an article in Eye Magazine, Grapefruit Moon’s new theme is citrus (white walls accented with orange, green and yellow). There is one spot that the designer of Restaurant Makeover did not touch, the bathroom. It still has silver stars painted on the cobalt-blue walls and purple ceiling, a reminder of Grapefruit Moon before its disasterous makeover.

Small, quaint, cosy, cafe, veggie friendly, with typical brunch and dinner fare, Grapefruit Moon thankfully offers veggie alternatives (veggie bacon or TLT tempeh lettuce tomato sandwich instead of BLT -bacon lettuce tomato sandwich).

Expect lineups for Sunday brunch but with quick turnover and a vast outdoor patio opened for spring and summer. Some brunch items include grilled cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich, granola, fruit ,and yogourt, grilled hummus wrap, grilled black bean wrap with home fries (salad can be replaced for an additional $2), omeletes, breakfast burritos with the works, excellent espresso drinks, fresh orange juice, and free refills of coffee. Lunch items are light and healthy. I’ve ordered the vegan wrap (black bean dip with hummus and veggies) with a side salad and the hummus wrap is also excellent too. Portion size is decent. Simple one page menu with non pretentious, earthy, friendly folks. Very neighbourhood friendly atmosphere, like stepping into your living room. Same homey feel like Mitzi’s or Three’s Company or The Only Cafe. Complete meals for $10-$12 including coffee. Accepts all cards.

Izakaya

69 Front Street East
416-703 8658

Aaron planned a dinner with a large group of friends and he decided to dine at Izakaya in Saint Lawrence Market at Church and Front across from Hot House Cafe. Walking into Izakaya was like walking into a funky loft. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls spread across three dining areas separated by Japanese blinds, this open concept place is spacious and comfortable. With huge square tables there is a lot of breathing place and it is the perfect place to dine with large groups. The dining area at the front of the restaurant has smaller tables for couples of smaller groups.

The menu does not have many vegetarian options but the waiter said that they were flexible. I insisted on no fish stock and the waiter was very knowledgable in terms of what “veggie” dishes contain secret chicken, beef, or fish stock. I was thankful he was honest and blunt with my options. I started with the organic salad ($6.95) in a zesty ginger dressing. Yummy and light and definitely wonderful. For my main I ordered the noodle soup ($11.95) in a mushroom-based broth with udon noodles with 4 types of mushrooms. My meal was hearty, slightly sweet, and very filling.

To start, Aaron ordered an appetizer of Shrimp Dumplings which were ok.. He enjoyed the hot mustard sauce served with it. He also had a fried egglant dish which was very sweet and tasty. Overall he felt the food was not oustanding but good value for the money. He shared those dishes with his friend Gavin.

For his main, Aaron had the Chicken Katsu Curry which was boneless chicken crused in panko with a mild japanese curry sauce. He felt was like a chicken shnitzel and he felt the curry sauce was too mild. He also had the Tokyo Beef Ramen which was soy sauce flavoured soup and noodles topped with char grilled top sirloin and garnished with shiso leaf, bean sprouts, scallion, mema and toasted black and white sesame seeds. He enjoyed this dish. He felt the broth was very flavourful and the meat was tasty if not completely tender.

Aaron’s friend Jonathan ordered the lightly battered chicken and vegetables, shrimp dumplings, and an organic salad. He arrived a bit late and was really hungry and ordered it quickly.

Aaron’s friends Brad and Steven shared two mains and two sides. The mains were Cha Han (fried rice with chicken, shrimp, etc) and Izakaya Beef. The sides they ordered were Pork Gyoza and Sesame Spinach Salad. They were really impressed by everything. The fried rice was a big portion, with quite a few good juicy pieces of shrimp. The beef was tender, and not overdone. Brad knows that Steven really liked the spinach (especially the sesame dressing). Both thought that the best part of the night was the price! For a dinner out with a bottle of sake, it was a very cheap night!

Brad and Steven could see how some people wouldn’t like sitting at a large table with someone they didn’t know. In this case it was fine since they knew everyone around the table, and it made for a unique evening. However, they felt that if it had there only five people, it may have been awkward carrying on a conversation with another group sharing the table.

Decor comprised large expansive walls in a loft style space with big square tables that can fit 10 people. The restaurant contained two main dining areas, exposed brick walls, minimalist decor, sectioned off dividers, super high ceilings, spacious, open concept.

 

Aaron’s friend Alen had the Yasai Katsu Curry – one of their vegetarian dishes (the curry sauce had a chicken and fish based broth, though.). The food was good, but he was more impressed with the atmosphere and the d�cor, than he was with his meal. The service was really slow and we had to chase the waiter down to pay our bill. The bathrooms were nice and the prices were reasonable, but he thought that he would probably order something different next time. He felt his meal was very starchy.

All in all, I like Izakaya for its open concept dining areas. It felt very airy with high ceilings, exposed brick wall, and extra large tables. The main concern is that this place is great for dining in big groups since the tables are so large. If you choose to dine alone or with a date, I wonder where the smaller tables are. I wondered if you had to share a table with a complete group of strangers. My extra large bowl of soup and noodles was kind of expensive but it was damn good. Wait staff are knowledgable, attentive, friendly, and accomodating. The only problem was that it took forever to get our bill. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.

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

Jaipur Grille

 2066 Yonge Street
416 322 5678

Aaron and I and 2 other friends went to Jaipur Grille because we wanted to try an Indian restaurant in a different neighbourhood and somewhere fairly new. Jaipur Grille is not located downtown or in Little India but at Yonge and Davisville south of the trendy Yonge and Eglinton strip.

Inside, with dim lighting, pale walls and minimal design, the large one-room dining hall was very tasteful, clean, and had a slick decor but too slick like Salad King. Classy and upscale was the feel I got. Not like most dated, kitschy dives in Little India, Jaipur Grille did serve most of the same dishes as most North Indian restaurants.

We all started with drinks (Diet Coke and Mango Juice for us 4). The waiter was friendly and knowledgable and kept on filling up our glasses with water and he was able to accomodate Aaron’s desire for lemon in his water.

We all started with pappadums which came to our table free. We ordered 2 appetizers for the four of us, a platter called Paneer Methi Tikka ($10.95), a cheese platter marinated and seared in a tandoor oven, served with mint chutney. To die for! We also order a different type of vegetable pakoras ($5.95), deep fried and battered up eggplant, and other veggies in a chick pea batter. Superb and delicious in a coriander sauce. Pakoras are also yummy with a sweet tamarind sauce as well. They were not too greasy and different since most pakoras are “balls” of onion and other mashed up veggies in a chick pea flour batter. This was different because we had actual vegetables in addition to those “balls”.

For my main dish I ordered the Sabzi Hara Masala, which was a green (coriander) based curry with mixed vegetables roasted in a spice mix with some paneer and cashews. Delicious! My other friends ordered the Channa Masala ($8.95)(chick pea curry) and it was thick, dark ,and delicious. It was very fresh and was more red than brown since it was made in an onion and tomato gravy. They also ordered one of my favourite Indian dishes Palak Paneer (also known as Saag Paneer($10.95))- simply spinach and cheese. With chunks (not pureed) of spinach sauteed and braised with tomatoes and homemade cheese, this dish had a kick and was fresh, very hot, and delicious. Aaron had the Lamb Korma (Lamb roasted with spices, finished with almonds & raisins in a light cream sauce with Rice Pullao ($4.50). Aaron thought that the Lamb Korma was delicious… tender… and seasoned well… however he felt it could have used a touch more spice. Overall, he found it delicious.

 

We all ordered Naan bread for the table ($1.95) (fluffy bread cooked in a tandoor oven) and my other dining friends ordered Rice Pullao (Basmati rice cooked with saffron and tomatoes, with fragrant spices.) ($4.50). For dessert, we had the luxurious scoop of mango sorbet surrounded by banana ice cream and coasted in coconut. You will never find that kind of dessert (heavenly) on Gerrard street. You may find Kulfi or Barfi or various squares, but not this delicate, decadent dessert. After our meal was finished, we all agree that this place was definitely on the top five in terms of the best Indian restaurants in Toronto. I would go back for sure. Prices are not too expensive. Definitely high quality and excellent service. Liquor License. Accepts all cards.