Peter Pan [Mark Aaron]

373 Queen St. W
416/593-0917

On Sunday September 25, 2005 it was my 31st birthday and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I had arranged for a birthday brunch get together after I successfully finished the marathon (I did it in 3:55:30). After finishing naturally i was sore so our plan was to “brunch it up” on King west or Queen West. We made our way to Queen West hoping to “brunch” at Fressen but it was too far. I had seen Peter Pan many times but never went in. Boy i was missing something very special.

Peter Pan is one of the oldest “restored” restaurants on the Queen west strip between University and Spadina. Think of it as a classy “old fashioned” romantic restaurant. Once inside you have stepped back into the past–I do not mean a 1950’s diner, but a 1920’s or 1930’s classy restaurant, a more “high end” take on the classy diner, something more special.

This place has a great dela of charm. There is a lot of art on the walls (some for sale), wooden booths and a high, pressed-tin ceiling. As well, there are high ornate ceilings, an old-style bar (with built-in stools) and comfortable wooden booths throughout the restaurant. The place is named Peter Pan because it’s at the corner of Peter and Queen I suspect.

The menu offers many appetizers under $10, plus pasta, pizza, and burgers priced between $12-$15. Mains are between $14-$20. The whole place looks like it was never remodeled or re-done, almost completely restored, as if stepping into the past. What nostalgia! We went especially for brunch and we sat at the back terrace that seats about 6 tables and is surrounded by glorious trees and green space. Justine ordered the potato rosti with smoked salmon ($9)which she thought was simply amazing. She was glad to be served water with lemon. I ordered the French toast with maple syrup and fruit ($9). Daniel, Lizzie, and Paulo ordered the omelete with ricotta cheese that was accompanied with salad and pancetta on top ($9) . Wendy ordered the personal size chorizo sausage pizza with olives & artichoke hearts($9). She thought it was very good. All thought that the food was wonderful but the service stank. The young man who served us was frustrated by our size (we were 6 people) and he made nasty facial expression when we asked questions or asked for more water or coffee. When i asked for a mocha (espresso with steamed milk and chocolate) he said it was the girl’s first day on the Espresso bar and she could not make the drink. What a load of crap. A mocha is a single or double espresso with some chocolate syrup or cocoa. Give me a break. When Justine asked for fresh coffee, he gave a nasty facial expression.

Some items of interest include warm beet salad in a dijon vinaigrette with goat cheese, walnuts and a sweet poached pears with star anise ($9). As well, lamb shank ($17) with lentils and kale. Other items include whole wheat fusilli with goat cheese and grilled chicken, mushrooms, and spinach in a light cream sauce, goat cheese and spinach stuffed chicken breast over mashed potatoes and vegetables ($14 and $16 respectively).

Peter Pan also serves a vast array of desserts (cakes, pies, dessert crepes) and obscure types of wine. After finishing our brunch, Lizzie and Justine ordered the fruit dessert crepe but they ran out. To be blunt, service had attitude and was beyond crap. The guy just could not deal with six people. Come on! The women “greeters” were pleasant but this young man was a major grouch!

Serves weekend brunch. Art rotates regularly at Peter Pan.
Accepts all cards. Backyard terrace. Open Mon-Wed noon-midnight; Thurs-Sat noon-1am; Sun noon-11pm.

Trapezzi Wine and Dine [Mark Aaron]

505 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON
M4K 1P5
(416) 465-8778

 

Wendy and I decided to check out Trapezzi because it was one of the newer restaurants on the Danforth that had opened up some months ago. We knew that it was slightly shi shi poo poo so we thought that the Summerlicious food festival would give us an opportunity to try out a complete meal at a fixed price.

Trapezzi looks like a bar and bistro with dark hues of navy blue, chocolate brown, and black. The walls are furry and padded, perhaps an aid in sound absorption, or, perhaps it gives it a luscious, soft comfortable feeling. I would love to have soft padded walls throughout my house! Trapezzi is comfortable and clean, with clean lines and a contemporary hip look that is stylish and trendy. The menu comprises mostly Mediterranean fare (meaning Italian and Greek) and mains are around $15-$20 (OUCH!). For our summerlicious $20 dinner adventure, I started with a salad of baby spinach, red onion, orange segments, goat cheese, walnuts, citrus dijon vinaigrette. Oh my gosh, was it damn good. It was sweet and the vinaigrette made the salad light and refreshing, perfect for a hot summer day. Wendy had the mushroom & leek soup, in a big heaping bowl, very filling and hearty. She also ordered a bottle of sparkling water called Aoli. For my main, I ordered the gnocchi with roasted red peppers, baby spinach, shaved parmesan, saffron cream. I did not like the cream sauce as I am not a creamy sort of person. It tasted like a rose sauce but I really enjoyed the delicate flavour the gnocchi with the roasted red peppers and the baby spinach and parmesan. I am not a fan of cheese at all, but this cheesy dish was an exception. Portion size was laughable. The plate was flat and trendy but I think I only got ten gnocchi pieces. What a joke! I still think that nouveau cuisine does not mean I have to starve. I swear that I only ate ten individual pieces of gnocchi so I was very dissatsified since I know that this main would have been $14.

I ate slowly and really enjoyed my meal, but I doubt I would go back for dinner here. I would probably go to Trapezzi for brunch, but not dinner. Wendy got lucky with her main dish. She ordered the Fruit de mare with Pan seared garlic and herb crusted Atlantic Salmon, sautéed spinach, roasted mini red potatoes, and grilled lemon. Her portion was much bigger and she seemed very satisfied. For our dessert, we ordered two desserts and we shared. Wendy ordered the Tiramisu, with lady fingers, marscapone cheese, and espresso, in a rich cream cheesy icing. WOW- YUMMY! Excellent. I ordered the thick and dense Dark Chocolate and Caramel Torte, a dense chocolate moussy cake with a caramel crusted bottom layer, similar to Skor Bar. My dessert was superb.

Other items on the menu include a variety of salads ($8-$10), mussels ($10), a variety of pasta dishes like smoked chicken penne, rigatoni, fettucini, linguini, ($14-$16) and risotto dishes like pancetta risotto and mushroom risotto. ($16 and $17) , as well as a variety of pizzas ($14-$15)(some include caprese, carne, bourbon chicken, and trapezzi), as well as beef, chicken, lamb, duck, and sea food mains ($23-$30). The beef, lamb, duck, seafood, and poultry dishes all come with a variety of sauteed or roasted vegetables so it’s probably worth the inflate prices. Desserts include a variety of Gelatos ($5), Strudels, ($8), cakes ($8), as well as lattes ($3.50), and capuccino ($3.50), and alcoholic coffees (all $7). Trapezzi is also a full service bar and serves over 50 types of wine (red, white, rose, sparkly), as well as liquors. Trapezzi also serves a variety of funky flavoured Martinis ($10) , creative, sweet, and delicious cocktails ($8-$14), and apperitifs ($8-$9).

In sum, our experience at Trapezzi was great. Staff were friendly and accomodating and they did not treat us differently just because we ordered from the Summerlicious menu. The place is small but the decor and colour scheme is very hip and cool, comfortable, and relaxing. Fully Licensed Restaurant and Bar. Catering available. Seats 45 people as a restaurant. Seats 100 people as a bar. Accepts all cards. Open 7 Days – Monday thru Sunday 11am – 11pm
Bar opened until 2am. DJ plays music after 11pm on weekends. Serves a weekend egg-themed brunch. If you want a shi shi poo poo experience to the max with a good vibe, good food, and friendly staff, then come to Trapezzi. Just make sure you eat before because portions seem to be small.

Santorini

288 John St
Thornhill, ON
905-731-4400

I was visiting with some life long family friends from Ottawa – Susan and Mathew as Phil, who is Susan’s husband and Mathew’s father, was in the hospital for an operation. Our previous evening of dining had been disastrous (see the review for Smiling Jack’s) so Susan wanted to make things right & eat a really good meal, memorable for all the right reasons. Mission accomplished. The nurses at hospital recommended that we try Santorini, a Greek restaurant across the street from the hospital. So try it we did.

We arrived early in the evening for dinner, and were all impressed by the inviting and beautiful atmosphere that we found ourselves in. There was a sky light, seating was arranged on different levels, there were plants everywhere, and a gorgeous waterfall right in the middle of the restaurant.

We were seated quickly and greeted by a very friendly waiter who told us of the daily specials. Instead of the usual bread and butter, we were treated to a fresh loaf of bread (yes the whole thing!), pickles, beans, taramosalata. YUMMY! This was definitely not Mr. Greek; there is a minimum seat charge of $13.95.

I was impressed with how fast the service was. Mathew & Susan ordered a vegetarian pasta dinner – Yfestio Pasta $15.95, and I ordered the OIA – a seafood platter including shrimps, scallops, potatoes and vegetables – $18.95.

The first words out of Mathew’s mouth were “This is amazing!” Susan also loved her meal which was basically a medley of vegetables that included carrots, sun dried tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. They are both committed carnivores, but they said this dish was really flavourful

My food was also exceptional. My vegetables were really good, and though they were present, my plate was not overloaded with rice and potatoes, as frequently happens in many a Greek restaurant. Hell, my rice was even wild! I got plenty of scallops and shrimps, making this a fantastic meal all around.

The desserts are not baked on the premises, but the staff were extremely helpful in determining the contents of an item to check for allergies. They went so far as to call the bakery!

In addition to this lush dining hall, they also have private rooms available that can hold 15-40 people. Good to know.

Alas we had to leave for our appointment at 7:00 pm, but we left very happy and very full. This was a fantastic dining experience!

Pan on the Danforth

516 Danforth Ave.
Phone: (416) 466-8158

 

I’d always wanted to try Pan on the Danforth, and Winterlicious provided an excellent opportunity to check it out. This restaurant specializes in Greek & Mediterranean cuisine, which is reflected in the menu. The atmosphere is very nice, cozy & relaxed, I think this would be an excellent date spot, and judging by the crowd there that night, is also good for small gatherings (6-10 ppl). The look of the place is really inviting, the dining area is long and narrow, the back of it is raised a few steps, and there’s a fireplace at the end, there are candles everywhere, nice decorative accents, beaded chandelier type fixtures, real paintings and music that is at a very reasonable volume and I was sitting right under the speaker, so that’s saying something!

I went by myself for dinner – I really wanted to go & it was a last minute decision. My server checked in on me frequently, asked if I liked the table he chose for me, if I needed the music lowered, helped me choose my wine. I was very happy with the attention I received, which is something I think can get forgotten when a lone diner is out.

For my appetizer, I selected the Mezedakia, (mixed dip platter) which included hummus, taramosalata, (cod roe dip) and tirokafteri, (feta & spicy banana pepper dip) which also included a bit of cous cous in the middle. The dips were accompanied by 2 perfectly warmed pitas seasoned just right. These dips were all yummy, but my fave was the taramosalata. Yummy!

My main dish was the Kakavia – a traditional seafood dish of shrimp, mussels, seabass, calamari, scallops, salmon and onions, served in a homemade tomato white wine sauce. I can honestly say this was the best calamari I’ve ever eaten! It was fresh & meaty, cooked to perfection, not remotely rubbery or stringy. This was a divine dish. The sea bass was definitely up my alley. The portion was so generous as well, I struggled to finish, but I ate the bowl clean.

I asked my server about vegetarian options which were not evident on the menu, other than in the appetizers & salads, and he assured me that there are options like veggie moussaka, pasta dishes or they can customize a dish for you, so vegetarians are not to worry, you are welcome here. Now this is a nice place, so I would not categorize it in a cheap eats guide – entrees range from $14.95 – $24.95, but it was definitely well worth it.

I finished my meal with an extraordinary fig and port ice cream, caramelized in red wine and cinnamon reduction. YUUUUUUMMMMMM!!!!! Hats off to the chef, this was fantastic & homemade even!

Pan on the Danforth was truly a wonderful dining experience! The service was attentive, knowledgeable & friendly. The food will bring me back for many more visits as well – Pan is an awesome find!

Omonia

426 Danforth Ave
416-465 2129

 

Located right on the Danforth at Danforth at Arundel near Chester subway station, next door to another famous Greek establishment Kalyvia. Known to the community as a traditional Greek dining establishment since 1978, this place holds over 200 seats spread across 2 dining rooms, looks old, rustic, and woody, looks kind of dark, need brightening up, [maybe a renovation?], looks kind of 70’s or 80’s, comfortable cosy ambiance, with wood chairs and comfortable tables

The kitchen is open and exposed to patrons. Pedestrians can see what’s cooking from the street. Omonia offers catering and delivery. Place can be rented for special events. In the summer, there is a 140 seat outdoor terrace, open during the summer

There are some vegetarian items, in a vegetarian section of the menu (Vegetarian mousaka, Vegetarian pita, Spanakopita (4 for $7.95), Hummus (excellent but slightly oily for $5.95), and Green/Greek Salad

Accepts all cards, friendly service, casual, and very unpretentious crowd

Arax Restaurant

1966 Queen E Toronto
(416) 693-5707

Last night Justine and I went out for dinner at the 16th annual Beaches Jazz Festival in the Beaches. We found this cute, charming Mediterranean bar/restaurant in the heart of the Beaches with about 15-20 tables.

The decor of Arax is “homey”, looks like its family run, (we peaked inside the kitchen and it looked like the owner’s mother was the cook that night.) with dim lighting, in an intimate bar-like setting. The place was surrounded by very happy customer, photos of people kissing, depicting a “home-style” neighbourhood restaurant, richly surrounded by an arrays of large mirrors (giving the illusion that it’s larger) and strung with a cheesy floral design resembling trashy curtains from the 1980’s.

Staff are very friendly and the customers looked so comfortable, like family. They were very lively and looked as though they were enjoying themselves immensely. The only drawback is the very small and limited menu. From this simple one page menu of about 15 items, we only found 2 vegetarian options.

Some dishes on the menu include Fried zucchini slices ($5.95) (Lightly battered) , and sweet tomato chutney with mushrooms and peppers ($5.95) , and Lahmajoun ($13.95) grilled flatbread with a layer of seasoned ground beef. ($13.95).

Justine ordered the large Falafel plate, with 4 Falafels, salad, topped with Tahini sauce and a plate of thinly sliced pita (unfortunately white pita) for $13.95. I ordered the vegetarian shawarma plate with spicy red beans and medley of vegetables and salad for $13.95 topped with tahini sauce. I loved the mix of the flavourful beans in a lemony viniagrette, topped with the strong aroma of the tahini. Prices are as follows. Appetizers and salads are $5.95-$9.95 and entrees are $9.95-$13.95

Our food was fresh, tasty, and although there was a lot of tahini on our plate, we still thought the food was excellent. Falafel was not too greasy but fresh, nutty, and flavourful.At first glance, it resembles a bar with a large display of drinks.

They accept all cards. Service was excellent and staff are enthusiastic and seem to love working there. Food was excellent and water was always refreshed with a lime 🙂

Soda

425 Danforth Avenue
ph: 416-466-5227

 

Located right on the Danforth, SODA is an acronym for South on Danforth Avenue

It is the fusion of Greek and Italian cuisine, offering traditional Greek and Italian fare

They have all traditional Greek dishes as well as Italian dishes like various pastas (Fettucini Alfredo, Penne Prima vera) as well as thin crusted pizza (Mediterranean pizza has feta, olives, tomatoes, etc) and more traditional pizzas like sausage, pepperoni, and seafood

We went on a warm summer evening on Friday. To our surprise every restaurant on the Danforth was packed except this one. We did not know why. The atmosphere is inviting, the service was excellent, and the food was superb.

Wendy ordered the risotto of the day ($14.95) , a risotto with chicken breast, mushrooms, in a creamy pesto sauce. She loved it. The portions were huge and she only finished about 70% of it. I ordered two appetizers, the spanakopita, which comprised four small spinach pies topped with sesame seeds, and a little platter of salad in the middle of my plate with dollop of tzatiki. I also ordered the Imam (grilled eggplant with roasted red and green peppers). It came with four slices of Italian-style pita. Both appetizers were $5.95 each.

Portions were huge and food was fresh and flavourful.

The whole place is very classy. The restaurant is composed of a large, open concept dining hall, very minimal in design. Staff are extra friendly, informative, and accomodating. The only strange thing that Friday evening was that Soda was the only place that was empty. Maybe it was because it was not a true Greek restaurant (it was fusion) and that people visiting the Danforth on a Friday night want an authentic Greek meal and Soda offers both Greek and Italian.

They also have a small brunch menu, mostly comprised of egg dishes but also has two fruit dishes (fruit and granola with yogourt) and fruit salad. They accept all cards.