Delux

 92 Ossington Ave.
416-537-0134.

Aaron, Brandon,  and I went to Delux for Brunch sometime ago after one of our runs. Delux is a French-Cuban restaurent and replaced The Sparrow. Inside, it’s funky like a loft-style condo, with high ceilings, ultra modern with exposed brick,funky art (think Andy Warhol).

Marble tables with dark wood surround the place. Located in funky hipster Ossington and Queen area, very up and coming neighbourhood for foodies and art farts and hipsters. The only problem was that it lacked signage and the restaurant has that “we’ve just opened” feel to it. The plus-side is the food came promptly so we didn’t have to have to whip out our laptops and play party poker to kill time or even start nibbling.

The brunch and dinner menu but a bit pricey. For my brunch i had the buttermilk French toast (without the challah-scandal) and the apple compote mixture was small (I would have liked more of the apple portion). It was accompanied with maple syrup. I was disappointed that they did not serve lattes, just the old original espresso drinks.
 Aaron and Brandon started with the breakfast doughnuts (fresh and homemade, dusted with cinnamon sugar. The menu claimed the doughnuts were filled with cocoa cream but it was actually on the side as a dipping sauce.
They both opted for the cidar-brined pork and potato and caramelized onion frittata with smoked bacon and green salad 2 eggs “en cocotte” with fine herbs and buttered breadcrumbs and grilled toast.

Other items at Delux include granola and yogourt with fresh seasonal fruit, typical and expected at every brunch establishment.  They also served caramelized banann and nutella crepes with maple syrup and chantilly cream (yummy but too rich for me).  Other offerings include soft boiled eggs with grilled bread and smoked bacon.

I ordered the buttermilk French toast with apple compote (too little, not enough for me) with maple brown butter (not really butter), a really thick maple syrup. Other items for those not into eggs was the croque monsieur with grilled ham, gruyere cheese with potatoes and greens (perfect for Wendy as she does not eat eggs).

Lastly, the Cubano sandwich, a slow roasted pork with gruyere cheese, pickles, red onion, grainy mustard, and chipotle mayonnaise and a side of greens.

Delux serves a variety of beverages, including mimosa, organic fair trade coffee, espresso drinks (unfortunately no flavoured lattes), organic tea, and fresh juices)
Service was friendly but kind of slow.  They took a long time to bring us the menu when we requested a dinner menu. However, they were friendly, pleasant and the ambiance was worth a second visit for sure.

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.

Juliette et Chocolate

 

Yumma! When my sister asked me if I wanted to go to the chocolate place I had no idea what was in store for me. I had about an hour & a half before my train back to Toronto, & this was definitely the best way to spend that time, relaxing with my sister & our friend Nancy, eating & drinking heaven from a cognac glass. The exposed stone walls & back patio, combined with the charming decor contributed to the joy of the experience.

Although chocolate is the star attraction, there are also other items to choose from; salads, crepes, fondue, ice cream, smoothies and more. The top price I noticed in the menu (they had English ones too!) was about $10.95. The place is licensed as well, so good times are abound at this warm & inviting cafe

As soon as we walked in we were greeted with complete friendliness from the staff, & smartly, they brought us all ice water to start.

For my hot chocolate I chose something called Manjari ? it was a dark chocolate 64% cocoa, and was composed of a combination of Criolla & Trinitario cocoa beans from Madagascar. Chantico this aint! This was the real thing, a thick liquid explosion of goodness. All that & I got a home made chocolate on the side. The drink was so big, it took me forever to finish.

I was also mighty hungry & uninterested in the prospect of eating train food, so I went for a buckwheat crepe with ham, cheese & asparagus. My sister had the spinach crepe & Nancy had a fruit crepe covered in chocolate & icing sugar. All of our crepes scored high on presentation as well as taste. Nancy?s was like a work of art. The portion sizes were decent as well.

It?s real easy to spend a $25 here; I had my crepe, my drink & I bought 2 pieces of chocolate containing cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon & honey that was beyond fantastic. With my taxes & tip I spent just shy of $25 but it was worth it for a treat for sure. They also serve as an internet cafe …Good to know.

If I was in Montreal more, I would be there more. This was a completely fabulous experience worth repeating.

 

Bistro 990 Restaurant

 

Bistro 990 is known as the place to go for a fancy dinner, especially during the film festival when all of the stars descend upon the place. My firs visit to Bistro 990 was with a group of people, the Toronto Chapter Executive of the Concordia Alumni Association. This place is great for group gatherings. If you go, hopefully someone else is taking care of the bill, otherwise bring a credit card, because it isn?t cheap.

The appetizers range from $8.00 – $24.50, with main entrees in the range of $21 – $42 and, are largely meat focused. They offer a wide range of meats including steak, veal, game, lamb, etc.

For my meal, I started with the house salad $8, and had the Noix de St. Jacques au feu-vif ($28) This dish included 4 seared scallops, with a butternut squash & walnut risotto. We drank shiraz, which is referred to as ?the new chardonnay?.

My meal rocked the house, it was fantastic. Around me, people who had the steak frites were determined to be a real winner. The kids who had this finished their plates in a flash. Anoter from my group had the ostrich, which he said was very good, as was the chicken dish his girlfriend had. Every dish went back to the kitchen licked clean!

Pavlova is my new favourite dessert. This meringue & marshmallowy dessert topped with a berry compote was out of this world amazing. It went down real well with the cappuccino I had. One of my dinner companions had a dessert what had a flourless chocolate cake & grand marnier, which she really enjoyed.

The service we had was excellent, our server was really attentive, friendly & helpful. One thing I noticed was that the restaurant was not too noisy, which is great for having either an intimate conversation or a business meeting.

I had a great experience, I’d definitely go again.

 

 

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.

 

Herbs [Wendy]

3187 Yonge Street
416-322-0487

Mark and I went to Herbs as part of Summerlicious. I chose the restaurant as there were both meat & veggie friendly options.

The restaurant opens at 5:30 for dinner which is good if you have to be elsewhere at 7, however, I should have warned them about my time constraints.

The décor was beautiful, lush & full of soft textures everywhere, including the faux-suede bench with fluffy pillows we were seated at. There was even fabric hanging from the ceiling.

Things started off well, with the one exception of the bread offering. This guy comes over to us with a basket of bread, offering us some, & I optimistically thought we’d get the basket or at least a few pieces * my mistake! We got one sliver of baguette each & a little tub of herbed butter. I guess there’s something to be said for not filling up on bread, but come on!

For my appetizer I opted for chilled sweet pea soup with goat’s cheese croute. Basically, that’s fancy for cold pea soup with a cute little toast smothered with goat cheese floating on it. It was ok, but I would probably choose something else next time. It needed some zip to it!. I also ordered a pricey glass of rose to complement my meal. It was good.

For my entrée, I selected the Atlantic salmon on sauteed gnocchi, French green beans, cherry tomatoes & spinach with a warm caper olive & lemon sauce. Oh my! This was an awesome dish, very fantastically yummy & totally filling. I was so stuffed after this, but happy. I’d re-order this dish any day. The portion size was decidedly sufficient.

We got an order of each of the desserts on the menu & shared them. I focused on the strawberry pudding/mousse-like creation with crème fraiche & a raspberry sauce which was great & Mark focused on a key lime mousse cake with a crust he adored.

Herbs would be a good place to bring someone if you wanted an upscale dining experience & want to impress someone. I could not afford to dine there nightly, but I’m sure that’s the point * it’s someplace special.

Herbs Restaurant

3187 Yonge Street
416-322-0487

 

This summer, Wendy and I decided to try out a different restaurant for Summerlicious 2004. Both employed, we opted for the $30 dinner option. We chose Herbs because of they served REAL vegetarian food (note: fish is not vegetarian) and the vegetarian options were thankfully not pasta or pizza. The table d’hote options at Summerlicious includes a salad, entree, and a dessert. Drinks are charged separately.

Located right at Yonge and Lawrence in a very trendy part of the city known as North Toronto.
Decor is gorgeous inside, elegant dark brown suede couch-type seats surround the restaurant with gorgeous art surroundin the walls. Colour scheme seems mediterranean in cakki greens and deep browns and other earth tones.

One awkward moment came before our meal after we ordered. Our water guy brought over the basket full of fresh baked bread, it was kind of strange he only gave us one piece of bread each with a cute little bowl of basil butter. At least we expected a larger piece or we expected him to surrender his basket to us. We felt like tackling him down and taking the basket out of his hands.

Menu is only one page. Wine list is almost 15 pages. Appetizers range in price from $7-$10. Entrees range from $14.95-$32.00. They serve mostly meat, chicken, and fish dishes, but there is one vegetarian dish for $24 (called the Vegetarian Daily Chef Creation.)

I ordered the starter salad of field mushrooms, asparagus, sweet peppers,
and baby mixed Lettuce in a walnut vinaigrette. Although the salad was served in a large plate, the actual salad was ridiculously small but the taste was orgasmic. I loved the medley of mushrooms, peppers, and asparagus in this light nutty vinaigrette.

My main entree dish was the summer vegetable strudel. This consisted of philo pastry (looked like spanakopita) filled with zucchini, eggplant, squash, served with a mixed bean salad and charred tomato and saffron vinaigrette. This portion was normal and contained two vegetable pastries surrounded by bean salad and drizzled in this yummy vinaigrette that tasted like sun-dried tomatoes.

For dessert, I enjoyed the lime & marscapone tarte (pie) with a mango salsa.
The crust was light, and not greasy. It tasted like a brown sugar, granola , very yummy, and lime tarte was light and fluffy. Mango salsa was sweet and yummy. I think it was the best part of the dessert, so healthy and fresh.

Wendy ordered the chilled sweet pea soup with a little piece of toast with goat’s cheese, very cute. For her main entree, she ordered a huge portion of the atlantic salmon, charred on one side, with sauteed gnocchi, french green beans, cherry tomatoes and spinach topped with warm caper olive and lemon sauce. She loved her dish and she said she was pleasantly stuffed.
For desset, she has the Ontario strawberry bavarois with a sauce of mushed up Champagne berries. We shared our desserts so I enjoyed some of hers while she tasted some of my dessert. Her dessert was very moussy and sweet with tarte raspberry mushy sauce.

To conclude, this elegant French restaurant serves fabulous fresh food, tiny portions but VERY high quality. The wait time is bit long considering the place was empty (we arrived at 5:40pm)
but the service was exceptional. Presentation was artistic and minimalist. They accept all cards.