Verveine [review by Mark Aaron] closed 2006/07

1097 Queen St. E.,


Hours: Monday to Saturday at 6:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. for Dinner. Brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Verveine is now closed , as of summer 2008, it is now known as FARE.

Located in Leslieville on Queen east 2 blocks east of Pape, almost hidden in between many retro cheesy furniture stores and squeezed in between some mom and pop convenience stores and near a Smoked Salmon specialty store, Verveine does not stand out as being a restaurant that is “in your face”. We decided to go there for brunch because we have heard so many good things about this place. Inside the place looks very chi chi poo poo and we knew it was a French bistro/restaurant, but we wanted to try out their brunch.

Wendy and I arrived at 12:45pm. When we entered the restaurant, we were frustrated because 1) we were late and Joel and Walter were waiting for us, and 2) the place was jam packed with people. Verveine only accepts reservations for dinner, not brunch, unless you are more than 8 people. Even so, they may not accept brunch reservations. I was hungry and I had to run 30 kilometres that day so I had to make sure that I ate early enough. Joel and Walter were already sitting on the lovely fluffy mint green Victorian couch right by the entrance of the restaurant. There were many tables in the front and about 4 nice booths and 4 tables at the back of the restaurant. I hoped we would get a booth since they’re more comfortable.

Restaurant tables are spaced apart appropriately, except in the middle where the three small “2 person” tables are slightly squashed. Verveine seems to be a place divided into 3 zones: 5 tables in the front zone of the restaurant, 1 large booth right at the entrance zone (6 people), 3 “2 person” tables in the middle zone, 4 booths at the back of the restaurant with 4 tables at the back adjacent to the bar. When we were seated, we lucked out by being able to sit at a booth at the back of the restaurant.

I ordered the fruity flapjacks with Chantilly cream (vanilla whipped cream) and maple syrup. Pancakes (3) were thick and not too heavy or greasy. I was definitely full and the price was a little high ($9) but well worth it. Service was prompt and exceptional. Staff are more than friendly and knowledgeable and attentive. Wendy had the same item but she added a big thick sausage ($3). She commented that it is great to add extra to your meal. Joel and Walter both ordered the croissant with 2 poached eggs, creamed spinach, and hollandaise sauce. The dish came with salad or herbed home fries. Joel chose a side order of green salad and Walter chose a side order of homemade spicy potatoes (they ended up sharing the salad and herbed home fries). In addition, Joel ordered a side order of smoke salmon for an additional $3.

Popular brunch items include truffled scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on baby spinach with a buttermilk biscuit – $11, a basket of baked goods with fruit preserves – $4.95, “The Big A”- a choice of 2 meats (steak, sausage, peameal bacon), 3 eggs, saut�ed onions and peppers, and green salad – $15, “Toad in the Hole”- two eggs in hollowed out corn break with mild salsa and guacamole- $9, omelette of the moment with green salad and bagel – $9 (egg white omelettes- $10), a decadent French Toast dish (French Toast with caramelized bananas and chocolate with peanut butter whipped cream- $9, fresh fruit compote with oat cakes and honey yogourt- $7.50, Green Plate Special � Canadian AAA steak with scrambled or poached eggs, herbed home fries, a buttermilk biscuit, tomato pepper relish and natural juice -$12, poached eggs on croissant with hollandaise sauce, salad or herbed home fries -Blackstone with pancetta and tomato -$10.50, or Florentine with saut�ed spinach – $9.50, the brunch burrito with sausage, peppers, cheese, scrambled eggs, with mixed bean salad, sour cream, and spicy sauce- $10, a “samwich”- grilled chicken breast, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, Chipotle mayonnaise, on a Panini roll with herbed home fries and salad – $9.50, crab cakes with wilted spinach, herbed home fries and caper mayonnaise – $11. You can add any items to any of the meals like Farmer’s sausage – $3, herbed home fries – $1.50, tomatoes, $1.50, and cornbread – $2, grilled peameal bacon – $2.50, buttermilk biscuits – $1.50, or bagel/croissant – $1.25

Dinner appetizers are creative and fuse North American dishes inspired with flavours from India. Some dishes include a Romaine salad (Romaine lettuce with creamy roasted garlic dressing, pine nuts, and asiago tuile – $8), a home-made Samosa with pear, pea, and smoked duck, in a honey-mustard dipping sauce- $12, a Thai wrap- a folded chive crepe with glass noodle salad with a sweet and sour dipping sauce- $8, Italian Chef Salad- $9, Hummus and Feta Dumplings in a Gazpacho Dipping Sauce – $10, Crab and Corn “Panna Cotta” with Foccacia and a small green salad – $12, an asparagus and cherry tomato salad with parmesan and sherry dressing- $9, and Pappadum-crusted Tiger Shrimp with lemon raita and mango chutney- $13 Some dinner items include Duck Breast with basmati rice, rapini, in a mahogany glaze – $22, Baked Tilapia Filet with beet risotto, wilted spinach, in an herbed dressing- $18, a three-cheese baked macaroni with broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers – $15, roasted chicken breast with crab claws, with asparagus, in a pommery b�arnaise sauce – $21, rabbit in a red wine sauce with mushrooms, herbs, and pearl onions, and roasted vegetables- $19, vegetarian polenta lasagne in a mushroom and b�chamel sauce – $16, pan-seared halibut with green beans, cherry tomatoes, and caper butter sauce- $20, and a 10 ounce serving of grilled ribeye with roasted vegetable, spinach, and radish salad with corn relish- $25. Although the prices for entrees are not cheap, they are not a rip-off from hell like at Cafe Sassafraz.

Verveine’s decor is sleek, simplistic, and minimalism is the key to its design. Wall and fabric covering are pale green with a minimalist design of no art of knickknacks. Imagine Pottery Barn without the fluff or curves. There are some nice fabric wall hangings that add some warmth to the place and there are 2 large mirrors that give the impression of depth and space since the restaurant is not that big. I do think that the simple design adds a clean, sleek, polished look to the place, but, unlike Hello Toast, Verveine is not charming and does not have “character”. I do like the calm, non-clutter of the pale green walls and pale green fabric on the chairs and white linen tablecloths. All I thought was “clean and crisp in design.” There is a lovely Victorian couch right at the entrance of the restaurant for patrons to sit while they wait for their table or booth. While waiting, I never sat on the couch but Joel, Walter, and Wendy commented that the lumpy couch should be replaced, seeing that they know they have a lumpy couch and often people will have to wait for a table for brunch.

Verveine’s cosy and friendly ambiance does have a touch of pretentiousness but it’s no over the top like other brunch places. Our experience was made even more enjoyable by the calm background soundtrack from the movies “Amelie” and “The Piano”. During the latter part of our meal, we heard Norah Jones so Verveine knows how to set a mood. The look and feel of this place is definitely “cool, chic, and laid back.” Portion sizes are decent and prices are a little high, but quality and service and flexibility in terms of veggie options are impressive. Wendy, Joel, and Walter especially liked how at the bottom of the menu, you have the option to add things to your meal for a slight price increase. Egg white omelettes are only $1 extra.

Accepts every card. Warm, friendly, and attentive service. Accepts dinner reservations but not brunch reservations. Brunch can be very busy. Expect a 15-20 minute wait.

Fressen [brunch by Mark Aaron]

478 Queen St. W.
(416) 504-5127
64 Oxford Street
(416) 927-1231

Set in funky Queen West between Spadina and Bathurst, Fressen has always been a place that I have avoided for 2 reasons: the price and the price. I was pleasantly surprised when I took a look at the brunch menu. Dishes were under $10 and the portion size were not pathetic. Unlike my visit in 2002 for my 28th b-day, the dinner menu was wonderful but prices were too high and I left hungry and dissatisfied. Aaron and I decided to try Fressen again last Sunday with an open mind, hoping for the best.

I was happy to see that the menu was not too complicated. Serving traditional items, I opted for something different. I was disappointed to learn that Fressen does not serve diet coke/regular coke since they make their own drinks. Maybe they think they’re too good for serving soda pop or maybe it’s a philosophical or ideological issue. Maybe they’re too hip and cool for soda pop.

With a laid back ambiance, Fressen’s decor can be described as earthy. Spread across a
two-level dining space, Fressen’s colour scheme contains warm tones of copper, tan, light browns, and the restaurant is surrounded by branches of trees. It looks like a calm retreat, a rain forest of sorts, or a tropical jungle- very earthy and organic. Wait time for brunch was much quicker than dinner. The staff at Fressen are friendly, attentive, and patient. Fressen offers a full menu of espresso drinks (w/ organic soy milk). They offered latte, capuccino, macchiato, espresso, all for semi-normal prices ($3.50-$4.50).

I ordered the latte (w/ soy milk). It was slightly sweet and was served in a glass tied with a napkin, how decorative and cute. Aaron ordered Sugar Mountain ($4.00) – a homemade fresh juice of Beets, Carrot, Ginger and Lemon (Fressen makes fresh squeezed juices!). For our mains, I ordered the BBQ tofu scramble ($9.00) -beautifully served with a tomato cilantro salsa, a mango dollop, guacamole, grilled tempeh, a stuffed tomato with sweet potato puree, and a medley of fresh fruit. The serving of the tofu scramble was generous and it had a sweet and sour flavour and was very flavourful and fresh. Aaron ordered the Sweet Corn and Vegetable Fritters ($9.00) – griddle-seared patties filled with corn, zucchini, and sweet potato mixed with spinach and fresh herbs. The dish came with toast, orated potatoes, tomato cilantro salsa, guacamole, grilled tempeh, and a roasted squash stuffed tomato. He enjoyed his meal a lot.

Apart from the screaming baby, who was actually smiling with joy (I wonder what he/she was actually trying to say-he/she kept on looking back to smile). We wanted to yell at the parents for ignoring their satanic child and not even acknowledging/apologizing for his/her behaviour. Despite our disturbance, we thought it was a delicious brunch despite the fact that we sat next to nervy parents who were just enjoying their brunch while their loud, wailing baby was disturbing the whole restaurant on a nice Sunday morning on Mother’s Day.

Cafe California

 538 Church
Toronto, ON M4Y2E1
Phone: (416) 960-6161

Located right at Church and Wellesley, this small cafe sits about 15-20 tables tightly and has an ambiance of cosy, homey, and casual. With a Mediterranean decor (blues, greens, and deep reds as the backdrop), Cafe California stands out as a being a casual dining spot in the village. With a gorgeous mural of buildings and a skyline in colours of blues, light green, and greys, with gorgeous wood tables, wrought iron accents, nice flower arrangements, and large pieces of fabric draped along the ceilings, Cafe California is pleasing to the eye. With subdued Mediterranean colours, the cafe is not campy (like its next door neighbour Zelda’s) but very homey and cosy.

I went last Sunday morning for brunch with Paulo and I was happy to see that there was a separate brunch, dinner, and lunch menu. For our brunch we saw many items worth mentioning. Cafe California offers some vegetarian selections, a variety of healthy salads, and other light dishes. As well, their brunch menu offers a variety of sandwiches, beef or chicken fajitas, grilled chicken sandwiches, stir fries, and pastas. For brunch, I ordered a French crepe ($8.95) with poached pears, with a side of cream cheese, sprinkled with powder sugar with a side of apple butter and manjar sauce (i.e. caramel sauce). The crepe was light and not greasy and I was very happy with the portion size. Paulo ordered the Italian Frittata, an open-faced omelette with prosciutto ham, white asparagus, diced tomatoes, spring onions and potatoes topped with Monterrey Jack cheese that came with a side order of garden salad. Portion size was very generous. Service was fast and friendly. Waiter made an extra effort to go the extra distance, to be helpful, friendly, and informative.

Other brunch items worth mentioning include the Eggs Benedict/Eggs Pacifica – 2 poached eggs and spinach on a toasted English muffin w/ peameal bacon or smoked salmon, topped with Hollandaise sauce and served with a potato latke, Huevos Completos – 2 eggs any style w/ sausage, peameal or strip bacon, pancakes, toast and potato pancakes, the Italian Frittata, Omelette – Choice of Western or Spanish, soups, bruschetta, Spinach Salad w/ roasted pecans, mushrooms, orange segments and goat cheese in a honey mustard vinaigrette. Cafe California also serves an assortment of salads, including Caesar Salad, Greek Salad, and their signature dish “Chicken Santa Barbara”- a large garden salad with roasted pine nuts, rasins, with grilled marinated chicken breast and a sundried tomato and pesto vinaigrette, spinach fettuccini with cajun chicken, mushrooms, sweet peppers and onions in a creole sauce, grilled Atlantic Salmon in a raspberry white sauce w/ rice and vegetables. They also serve one “healthy” pizza- a thin crust pizza w/ chorizo sausage, mushrooms, sweet peppers and Bermuda onions. In addition, some sandwiches include the Mediterranean Club Sandwich w/ grilled chicken breast, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato on Italian panini w/ salad or fries, the Vegetarian Plate w/ grilled vegetables, goat cheese, and focaccia bread, a Hamburger Served with mixed greens or home-cut fries, and finally a Veggie burger w/ mixed greens or home fries.

Beverages include a variety of coffees, espresso beverages (lattes, capuccino, etc), liquor based coffees, brunch cocktails, Sangria, Mimosa, and a variety of wines and spirits.

Cafe California also offers an extensive and creative variety of martinis. Offers a great selection of desserts, including unique cheesecakes. Great front and side summer terrace. Many vegetarian and healthy options. Accepts all cards.

Kubo Radio [brunch]

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

web site:

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.

Sassafraz-fire Dec 2006, closed

100 Cumberland Street

We always talked about going, so I bought Mark a gift certificate to Sassafraz. We checked out the online menu & noticed that it was largely meat based, but when we called with our concerns, they offered to create a custom design a vegan meal for him, problem solved. So, we booked the reservation & went.

We dressed up fancy to go there, it is in Yorkville after all. It was a Sunday night, so the restaurant was mostly empty, but it was fine. We were surprised to be seated at a couch side by side, practically facing the window. I guess in the summer it could be nice for people watching.

As I am not a vegetarian, I had lots of possibilities to choose from. As the prices are fairly high, I opted to forgo an appetizer. They brought by a small basket of interesting breads & an amuse bouche, mine being duck with a berry coulis on a cracker that looked very similar to a triscuit. I also had a glass of white wine ($15) to accompany my main dish, which was extremely delicious, though not cheap ($38).

I had a dish composed of shrimp (2 of them, maybe), seared ahi tuna – ok portion & lobster – practically more lobster than shrimp, how odd, on a bed of Israeli couscous. This dish scored really high on the flavour factor, very low on the portion side of things.

Sassafraz is a good place to go if you want the ability to be able to eat an appetizer, an amuse bouche, bread, main course, dessert & wine, as the portions are such that even smaller people like me will have no problem packing them in, but someone else better be paying. My portion for these two items, and half a bottle of water (yes the fizzy italian stuff, I like my San Pellegrino) ran me about $75. Mark’s vegan surprise (a scoop of herbed potato wrapped in thinly sliced carrot in a vegetable broth with white asparagus), equally small, with no protein (quite the shaft) was $24 & he was starving afterwards. With my tuna & lobster, I was fine.

Our waiter was nice enough in the beginning, but when he discovered that we weren’t high rollers, our service level definetely experienced a noticeable drop, compared to the table next to us. Not good. What ticked me off in a significant way was that we ordered a bottle of San Pellegrino ($7) to share. I’m a slower drinker than Mark, so the bottle was going down quick, but instead of asking us if we would like more water, or pouring part into Mark’s glass, part into mine, as I think would have been the right thing to do, the host-like guy grabbed the bottle & poured the entire contents into Mark’s glass leaving me parched! Hello – whatever happened to ladies first? Why not attempt to accommodate us both? Not a way to impress me for sure. I knw the tactic was to get us to purchase another bottle, but they didn’t even ask, so that left a sour taste in my mouth.

It is most unlikely that I would become a regular there, I don’t have money to burn at this point in my life. Though my food was delicious, I wouldn’t say it was good value for the money, but then again, that’s not why people go to Sassafraz. I guess I’m just not a hip, rich Yorkvillian. Oh well. I think I’ll live.

Podium (closed in 2006/07)

5th floor- Olympic Spirit Toronto
35 Dundas St. East @ Victoria
416 775 3200


Podium is a 200 seat, full service restaurant and bar which is open for lunch and dinner. Sleek and elegant, it’s set in the heart of the Yonge/Dundas

concrete jungle on the 5th floor of newly constructed Olympic Spirit building. The building, located at the corner of Victoria and Dundas is yet another

supplement to the Yonge/Dundas Concrete park that tries to emulate New York’s Time Square with flashy lights, T-O Tickets (like New York’s TKTS), and situated in what is known as
the country’s busiest intersection- whoop dee do! I still do not see the need to build an Olympic Spirit building- Canada does not invest huge sums of money

into the Olympics and its athletes. Further, since when did we get so patriotic when it comes to the Olympics. I thought it was odd to have an Olympic

Spirit building since we just lost the 2008 bid for the World Olympics. This new place is a 5 storey complex with a museum, gift shop, and Podium sits

atop on the 5th floor with a huge outdoor summer terrace that gives a panoramic view of the yucky Yonge/Dundas Concrete landscape.

The entrance to this place is confusing since you must enter the building on the ground level at Victoria and go up to the 5th floor. Signage is crappy,

(there is one small paper sign that says “Podium 5th floor outside the elevator) . Although coined as a tourist spot, it’s difficult to find this
restaurant with such poor signage.

Upon entering, we were mesmorized with how beautiful it was. The entrance had shiny new pieces of mosaic tiles in warm earth tones. The colour scheme comprised bright red walls with cheesy images of athletes. There were 4 circular booths in red leather which

could fit about 4-6 people. Most of the restaurant had clean lines with small pale wood tables in minimalist, modern, simple lines. There is an exposed wood

burning oven where pizza is made before our eyes and a large circular bar where many drinks are prepared. The staff were extremely friendly, warm, and


The menu itself is quite limiting for vegetarians as the only items that are veggie friendly are pizza and pasta. However, the wonderful thing was that

staff were so flexible, that they could basically create things from scratch that did not exist. For our appetizer, we ordered a salad of mixed greens, arugula, a mozarella-like cheese (?), apples, caramelized walnuts, in a maple dressing ($12). For our mains, I ordered a veggie pizza with pesto, shrimp, and some goat cheese. I asked

the server to have the shrimp removed and instead, he added more pesto (YUM), some goat cheese, bonconncini cheese, grilled peppers, snow peas, and grilled

mushrooms. The pizza was thin crust and whole wheat and only $14. It was fresh, hand made, and very tasty. I was very happy.

Wendy ordered the seafood pasta dish with mussels, shrimp, and scallops, in a wide spinach pasta for $18. She loved her dish very much but she thought that

they mixed up the pasta dish. I think she ordered pappadelle pasta and her pasta was something different. Our portions were of decent size and service was

stellar. In addition to pasta and pizza, Podium offers a wide variety of dishes featuring soups, salads, stir fries, gourmet sandwiches, chicken, fish,

and steak. They offer gourmet sandwiches for lunch like the grilled Portobello mushroom and vegetable sandwich, topped with goat cheese. This sandwich was

accompanied by a house salad or French fries.

As well, other popular dishes include the Asian beef stir-fry served with julienne vegetables, snow peas, in a ginger sesame hoisin sauce. Another dish includes a rack of lamb glazed with Russian mustard accompanied by a potato latke and a Shiraz reduction. The menu also includes a vegetarian favourite from my pasta days: a penne arrabiata (with or without the sausage) in a spicy tomato sauce topped with grana padano. Podium also has an extensive wine list to accompany any dish you order.

I have mixed feelings about the decor. On one end, it’s hip and cool and chic. With dim lighting, clean lines, the vibrant red walls, and bright red leather circular “futuristic” booths, Podium really has an ultra hip style, but then there is an element of “kitsch” and “cheese” when you see the print and art on the walls are all athletes in various poses (winning, losing, running, swimming) and when you look at the floor and there are references to famous Olympics events on the floor, I must admit that it ruins the elegance and chic-ness of it all, but that’s just my opinion. I know the theme but there are more subtle ways you can play with decor so it’s not “in your face”

The view from Podium’s patio overlooks Yonge/Dundas Square, which, i guess for tourists is spectacular. Trust me, there are nicer spots in Toronto than Yonge/Dundas square. I think Podium is a great place for tourists and theatre goers because you are so close to the Canon Theatre (former Pantages Theatre), Massey Hall, EATON Centre, and not far from the Bluma Appel theatre (part of CanStage), and the Hummingbird centre.

Staff were extremely friendly, accomodating, warm, and flexible. Service was prompt, fast, and food was fresh and full of flavour. Accepts all cards. Full liquor license. Spectacular bar with a large outdoor summer terrace with great views of the city (north western view–you can see the U. of T. campus very well!). I would definitely go back because staff were so accomodating to my neurotic vegetarian needs, but I was disappointed that the only vegetarian items were pizza or pasta.

Sassafraz fire Dec 2006, closed (Mark)

100 Cumberland St.

Located right in the heart of Yorkville in an old house that was gutted and transformed into an open concept, hip,

chic, and trendy fine dining establishment. Known as “THE” celebrity hotspot of Toronto, Sassafraz is a mainstay

for celebs during the Toronto International Film Festival and throughout the year. Sassafraz offers intimate fine

dining, a shi shi poo poo brunch, an extensive wine and martini list that ranges from $50- $500 per bottle.

Spread across one dining areas and a smoking lounge/ bar, Sassafraz offers high-end cuisine in an intimate setting,

with dim lighting, surrounded by candles, blond wood paneling, extra-large plants, and ultra modern colourful vases.

There is a 24 hour reservation line so it is proper etiquette to make reservations ahead of time.

The decor is very linear with clean lines, dark oak hardwood floors, blond wood panelling, and high ceilings. The

overall ambiance is casual but upscale that seems to the right balance for Yorkville folk. In addition, there is a

revolving collection of fine art from neighbouring galleries that make the lasting touch to the room to a tee.

Patrons can ponder the lengthy wine list—with plenty to offer for those who do not have a budget (as Wendy puts it).

Appetizers range from $9-$23 in general. Some appetizers are typical favourites like

Organic Baby Greens w/roasted pecans ($14), Imperial Mushroom Salad w/Baby spinach and miso cream ($16), Baked Fig

and Goat Cheese Phyllo pastry ($18), Scallops Sassafraz ($22), Grilled Tiger Shrimp ($22), Quebec Foie Gras ($23)

Grilled Quail, marinated in cinnamon and thyme, with a vanilla-port reduction; Poached Pear and Bok Choy ($19) , and

Carpaccio of Bison Filet ($19).

There is a selection of French and Italian inspired mains that include mostly seafood, duck, bass, beef tenderloin,

lamb, venison, and bison. Some popular dishes include the Duck breast ($34), Roasted Guinea Fowl ($34), Roasted

Striped Bass ($32), Grilled Venison and Bison ($43), Lamb Shank ($39), Sterling Silver Beef Tenderloin ($39), and

the Seafood Creation/Daily Surprise ($38)

Vegetarian dishes include the wild mushroom risotto ($24) or the angel hair pasta with sautted veggies ($24). Not

many options for the veggie and portions are super small.

For my meal, I called before and requested a vegan dish. The chef made me “Vegan surprise” ($24)- a potato and herb

mish mash, made into a burger, and wrapped with thinly sliced sauteed carrot, surrounded by sauteed beansprouts and

white asparagus, and covered in a light vegetable broth. The portion was tiny so i made sure to eat SLOWLY.


ordered the Seafood Creation/Daily Surprise ($38) with a medley of a piece of lobster, shrimp, and almost raw tuna.

Her portion, although full of protein was tiny (but the plate was big). As Wendy puts it, we go for the experience,

not to be full. Service was friendly and accomodating.

Before our meal, we were brought out a mini appetizer

called “Amus de Bouche”. Wendy got a Triscuit type cracker with a piece of pate (I think) covered in a raspberry confit

(looked like jam to me!). I got a mushroom and shallot chunky pate molded into a clump and covered with balsalmic

vinegar. Although yummy, i could have eaten 10 more of these molded pate clumps. They were so good.

For her beverage, Wendy
ordered sparkling water (San Pellegrino) and they brought out with a bottle. We were worried it would cost $50 but

luckily it only cost $7. Wendy ordered a glass of wine and they brought out the whole bottle. We got scared. Were they going to charge us for the whole bottle? From our wine list,

the prices range from $50-$500 so we hoped that her wine was not priced at the $500 range. Although Wendy did only

drink one glass, she had no clue as to the cost of it. Her recommendation was made by the waiter and he did not

indicate the price. Wendy was ticked off because the waiter always refreshed my San Pelegrino water but her was not


We were ecstatic when our bill came to $95 in total. Not bad for 2 mains, wine, and a bottle of

sparkling water.

I must admit I was alittle uncomfortable the whole evening because I did not know how much things will cost and i

did not know proper etiquette at fine dining establishments. I was also worried since my Vegan Surprise did not

have a price attached. They could have charged me $50.

All teas are $5.50 (drink slowly and savour it!) and all desserts (decadent cakes, pies, fruit sorbets) are $11.

Dessert cheese are $7.00 for 40 grams (minimum of 3 cheeses to order). Wendy and I opted to skip dessert and go to

Second Cup for a Caramel Latte and a date square.

Extensive Wine and Dessert Liquor list. Plates are really large but portions are ridiculously small and be prepared

to have an open budget. Open 7 days per week. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am until 5pm, Dinner Mon-Sun 5:00pm until 11pm,

Late Night Dining Mon-Sun 5pm until 2:00am, Brunch Sat/Sun 11:00am until 4pm, and the Seasonal Patio Mon-Sun 11:30am

until 2:00am. Accepts all cards.

Morning Glory

457 King East
416 703 4728


Morning Glory is a hidden little gem located in Corktown, a downtown neighbourhood on King Street E. near Cherry St. With a bright orange sign it stands apart as one of the only restaurants along the King east strip between Parliament and Cherry St. is a cute little neighbourhood has huge potential but is in dire need of a makeover. Morning Glory is a 3 person


operation in one small room about the size of your living room on King Street East near Cherry street. With a small menu focusing on breakfast items and

baked good, this place is not really veggie friendly but prices are really good and portions are large. With only 3 veggie items for breakfast, (granola and

fruit with yogourt), Pancakes (changes daily: Apple, Banana, etc.), French toast with syrup, and Rosti, a shredded potato and onion mixture. With a hip and

cool crowd and an “organic” “grass roots” decor, I was disappointed with the lack of veggie items.

Morning Glory is opened 6 days per week 8a-3pm Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri and brunch is served Sat/Sun 9am-3pm. Baked muffins are available during the week and baked cakes/squares are

available on the weekend. For my meal, i ordered the granola, fruit, and yogourt, which claimed to be “hearty” but was not. It had diced apples, mango, and

granola, with yogourt, and a tiny cup of maple syrup on the side. My brunch companion ordered the omelete in a roasted red pepper and goat cheese sauce with

a side order of rosti, which was replaced by a side order of greens. You can substitute salad for rosti but they will not make egg white omeletes because

they do not have the resources/equipment and they are simply too busy.

Breakfast includes BLT with homemade aoili & ketchup – $5.00, the dubstyle (cream cheese, crispy bacon and tomato on a baguette) – $5.00
omelette of the day – $8.00, eggs, toast and rosti – $5.50, eggs, cottage cheese and greens – $6.50, french toast and fruit – $7.50, and granola with yogurt

and fruit – $6.00

Sandwiches include the morning glory tuna salad, mennonite ham & cheese, and 3 cheese grilled cheese. All sandwiches are $7.50 and come with a cup of soup

or side salad. Soups change daily and come in cup ($2.50) or bowl varieties ($4.00) and are served with fresh baked bread. All soups are vegan and they

change daily. Some soups include spring veggie, tomato and corn, and potato and leek, and Lentil. They have a full service espresso bar ($1.50-$2.75).

There are daily specials like curries or stews and the omeletes change every few days. Some omeletes include arugula and brie omelette, sauteed leek and

havarti, roasted red pepper and goat cheese, pear and brie omelete.

The decor is simple with plain white walls, one long church bench spanning the entire length of the restaurant and holds about 7 small tables. Along the

other side, there are about 3 more tables. The minimalist design, funky artwork on the walls, and several old antique mirrors give the overall appearance of

the place “homey”, “quaint”, and “cosy”. They have a daily blog on their web site that is up to date with daily menu specials and commentary. Service is

friendly and fast. Bathrooms are downstairs and are satisfactory and clean. Accepts cash only. Open Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 8am-3pm, Sat/Sun brunch 9am-3pm. Closed Wed.

Kubo Radio

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

web site:
Kubo has existed in a few different locations since inception in 1999, and have recently settled in at Queen & Logan. This place is extremely hip and cool, would not be out of place along the College Street West strip of Little Italy.

Kubo has an ultra-modern minimalist environment, clean lines, Asian inspired. The tables are fairly small, so it is good for intimate or solo dining, but I went with a crowd of 18 people, which they accommodated by bringing many tables close together. If only ordering had been that easy.

As the concept of the place is Asian-inspired, they have over 11 Asian beers to choose from, sake martinis, and of course the food is all Asian as well.

I was the first to arrive. It’s a little daunting to sit alone at a table of 18, and though most of the waiters greeted me, not one of them brought me water, or asked me what I’d like to drink. Finally, when others arrive to join me, they begin to take drink orders. I ordered a Thai beer called Singha, based on my waiter’s recommendation. It was a very good choice, crisp & light tasting. I do wish I had been offered a drink menu, because then I would have known about the sake martinis that I only found out about after my beer arrived. I thought it best not to mix.

There was much drama with the process of ordering. I can completely understand that it would be frustrating & difficult to manage a table of our size, but I don’t think you should let the customers see your frustrations. They prefer to do “family style” meals for groups over 8, where you would get something like 2 types of appetizers & two types of mains on large platters for sharing, and those meals start at $25. The drama begins because 5 from our group do not want to partake in the communal meal, preferring to select whatever they want, as is their right. This did not sit well with our waiter, you could see the agitation grow, and after consultation with management, we were told to all order a la carte. I’m sure this didn’t please Kubo, however, shouldn’t the customer always be right?

I ordered the Kubo Vegetable Salad, $6.95 which was a generous portion of shredded carrots, cabbage, sprouts and stuff in a lemongrass soy dressing. It was very fresh & crunchy, tasted very healthful, but was a little underdressed. This salad definitely benefited from my addition of soy and garlic oil, some of the condiments on the table.

One thing that I found odd was that most people’s hot foods, (in fact the person next to me had 2 hot appetizers) served to them before my salad arrived. I know there’s something called timing that can be difficult to juggle, but still, I’m surprised that my raw food took longer.

My main dish was from the special’s board, the Kubo Noodle – chicken, tofu, broccoli, red pepper, onions, peanuts, herbs, garlic, lime, ginger & shanghai noodles. There were eggs in it originally, but as I do not eat eggs, so they omitted them from my meal.

My friend Shaista and I both had this dish and found it to be a little on the bland side. It only rated a 4/10 on the Shaistameter. Other people seemed to really enjoy whatever they ordered, so it must just have been this dish that was mediocre. My judgement was not as harsh as Shaista’s, but then I did add extra soy and garlic oil to make it taste better. The portion size was more than sufficient, I was full.

I wish I had ordered a dessert like Shaista did. She got the Kubo Flakey Filo Pastry, which has marscapone, whipped cream, passion fruit & icing sugar. Ok, so it came with raspberries instead of the passion fruit, but this dessert was so fantastic we didn’t care! She thought it was the best thing in the restaurant, rating 9.7/10 on the Shaistameter!

In the end, our waiter relaxed, got friendlier, and became more jovial. After dinner, this place turns into a bar, much like those on College West and remained filled until I left. I would probably go back, maybe in a smaller group, to compare and contrast the service level. I had visited Kubo in a previous location under the Merchandise building, and had very positive experiences there. I definitely want to have a sake martini and dessert next time.

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.