Lee Restaurant [Melanie]

 603 King St. W.
Phone: (416) 504-7867

I decided to go to Lee this Saturday essentially because I really couldn’t afford to go to Susur but was really intrigued to try out Susur Lee’s eclectic style fusion cuisine. Susur Lee is a celebrated chef based in Toronto and owns Susur, and Lee, located side-by-side at 601 and 603 King St. West. Susur opened its doors in 2000, and has been on various international Top 50 lists, including Restaurant’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

Going into Lee I was overwhelmed by the amazing decor – very stylish, very chic. Even though we didn’t have any reservations we were quickly seated at the bar. This ended up being a great spot for an entire evening out. It is a very busy restaurant and by 8pm there as an actual line outside. The staff are exceedingly friendly and warm. The background music fits with the decor- it was mainly house, dance and electronic. The evening is more casual, the menu full of small, fascinating dishes.

The wine list was fairly extensive. They are also part of the BYOW program so for a $30 corkage, you can just about bring whatever you like. I ordered 2 glasses of the Chilean house wine. It was an excellent choice.

Their “signature dish” is a Singapore salad. It serves two and it is just amazing. I was told it had like over 10 ingredients’ in it including wild flowers. The servings are fairly small “appetizer-sized”. So it is normally recommended that everyone order about 2 to 3 dishes each. The waitress usually recommends what to order and which dishes are larger than others.

The dishes also arrive in random order. The intention is clearly to create an atmosphere where a group is really sharing a meal together and discussing the food. It works very well and makes for an interesting and unique dining experience. I ordered way more than I really needed too. Some of the things I ordered included the Coconut with lime, chilli and shrimp soup which was more sour tasting; Four satay (chicken, shrimp, pork and beef) with mint chutney, peanut and tamarind sauce; boneless chicken wings. My favourite was definitely the Singapore salad. Each dish is typically between $10-17. Reservations are a must if you want something around the dinner hour. It was emptying out by 9:30pm (on Saturday) so you might be able to just walk-in if you go after the dinner hours.

The bathroom is small with only two stalls and not the cleanest. They were certainly not the nicest. However I was there for the food and I was truly impressed. Would I go back? Most definitely, in fact I consider it one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. This is a chic, trendy, elegant restaurant where you can spend a hip Friday/Saturday evening with friends.

-Melanie Browne

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Monsoon (Winterlicious)

100 Simcoe St.
Toronto, ON M5H3G2

Phone: (416) 979-7172

 

No matter how many times I beat the Licious (Winter or Summer) horse I never leave satisfied. My Winterlicious experience at Monsoon was no exception. Arriving precisely at our reservation time of 8 p.m. sharp we were directed to the bar to wait for our table to be prepared. We were initially told that this would be “just a couple of minutes”. One martini at $10 a pop and thirty minutes later we were eventually seated in the restaurant. We noticed a few other customers were experiencing the same delays, some reacting with more venom than necessary towards the poor, overwhelmed hostess.

Monsoon has a pleasant atmosphere. Not too loud, nor too bright, and the tables are spaced well enough apart so you don’t feel intruded upon but can also casually check out what buddy to the right is chowing on. Our orders were taken promptly though anytime we needed our waiter after that became a game of who can you flag down first.

Prior to our appetizers we were served a basket of what I believe were baked vegetable chips. These were similar to regular fried chips but with a stronger and less flaky quality. They were a welcome precursor to the uneven meal that followed. My appetizer consisted of a bowl of mussels in a jalapeno and coconut broth. The broth was rich with a good amount of spice which complimented the mussels nicely. The girls ordered the butternut squash soup which to both my taste and theirs was completely bland. Our mains arrived shortly after we finished our appetizers, but before we finally received the waters our mouths were hankering for. I ordered the “asian braised” osso bucco on garlic chive mash, edamame and kohlrabi. The asian braise was sweet almost overly at times though something I overall enjoyed. The addition of the edammame was welcome as I’m a big fan of this vegetable soybean and thought it was an interesting addition to this traditionally non asian dish. Desert was termed “chocolate heaven” consisting of a warm chocolate cake on a fresh berry compote and chocolate sauce. Though this dish is overdone and not very interesting, I can’t deny for a second I didn’t enjoy the tart taste of the berry sauce intermingled with the hot, dark and soft chocolate cake.

I am sure the horrid (though pleasant) service we received at Monsoon is not indicative of the restaurant on a normal day; however Winterlicious is supposed to be a celebration of the city. My experience at Monsoon became more an exercise in patience than any celebratory event.

Chez Cora

Chez Cora/Cora’s 6250 blvd. Cousineau St-Hubert, QC 450-443-5624

Several locations across Quebec & Ontario, including:

Locations in Quebec

http://www.chezcora.com/Main-en/Trouver-en.htm#Quebec

Locations in the GTA

4120 Dixie Road,
Mississauga
(905) 624-1297

Unit 13, 16655 Yonge St.,
Newmarket
(905) 954-1317

277 Wellington St., West (at Blue Jays Way)
Toronto
(416) 598-2672

My dad & I went for brunch on Boxing Day 2004, and he actually chose the spot. I was quite impressed; I would not expect him to choose a restaurant like this. I�ve been to Chez Cora in a few other spots in Montr�al before, like on Peel St. and in Old Montreal, and have always enjoyed my experiences.

In Montreal, you have a choice of smoking vs. non-smoking, & as my father’s a smoker, he was happy that such a choice exists.

We walked in at the right time; within seconds there was a lineup out the door behind us. We were seated and got our coffees quickly. This place was mighty busy, as reflected in the volume coming from conversations throughout the restaurant. The dining area is open concept (what is the point then of differentiating smoking vs. non I don�t know), and is family friendly. Although the menus are in French, our friendly waitress Mado was bilingual, and able to answer our questions when my French failed me.

The restaurant is fully licensed (beer with your bagel anyone?), and specializes in breakfast and brunch. They serve all the standards like eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes & things like that, and after 11 they start to serve more savoury items like burgers alongside the breakfasts. They are most known for the massive portions of nicely presented fresh fruit that accompany most meals here, my meal having been one of them, (my father’s was not), as well as the always generous portions.

My father is not a frequent brunch goer, so he wanted a standard breakfast style meal. He ordered Eggs Maurice, $6.95 which is as close as one will get to a traditional breakfast here. His meal included 2 eggs, which he asked for over easy, sausages, potatoes, toast & baked beans. He initially said his eggs were perfect, and later changed his verdict to underdone. I�ll have to take his word for that as I do not eat eggs. We were both somewhat surprised by the fact that his �sausages� were actually hot dogs!?! How weird is that? The menu said �saucisse fume� which technically is the direct translation of a hot dog, but still it seemed odd. At least it was a jumbo. We asked the waitress to explain & oddly enough, Eggs Maurice happened to be the only meal on the menu that had hot dogs instead of a regular breakfast sausage. Oh well, it tasted fine. It was odd, but live & learn.

My meal on the other hand more closely resembled a typical Cora breakfast. My meal was called Sarrasin de Galette $8.95. This meal included 3 sausages (standard breakfast ones this time) wrapped in buckwheat crepes, topped with melted cheddar both inside & outside the crepe with mixed fruit on the side. My mountain of fresh fruit included watermelon, grapes, pears, apples, oranges pineapple, & kiwi all decoratively carved & was quite the impressive display. I was able to get them to omit the bananas � no problem 

My food was quite good, and the portion was so big I needed to take some of it to go. My dad gave a mixed review to the potatoes, but was very impressed with the baked beans, said they tasted homemade. I tried some they really were good! He said the beans were the best thing on the plate & his plate was so big, he couldn�t finish his meal either. His one comment was �everything is very good, but I didn�t expect hot dogs�. I�d have to agree with him on that.

All in all, this was a positive dining experience & I�ve been here before & will definitely be going back many more times. I’ve not yet been to any Toronto locations, however I�m interested to try them out soon.

Il Fornello (Beaches Jazz Festival)

Il Fornello- The Danforth
576 Danforth Ave.
Tel. (416) 466-2931
Major intersection: Danforth & Carlaw

Il Fornello- Yonge and St. Clair
1560 Yonge Street
Tel. (416) 920-7347
Major intersection: Yonge & St. Clair

Il Fornello- Bayviw Village
2901 Bayview Ave
Tel. (416) 227-1271
Major intersection: Bayview & Sheppard

Il Fornello- Theatre District
214 King St. West
Tel. (416) 977-2855
Major intersection: King & Simcoe

Il Fornello – Beaches
1968 Queen St. E
Tel. (416) 691-8377
Major Intersection: Queen & Woodbine

Il Fornello- Queen’s Quay Terminal
207 Queen’s Quay West
Tel. (416) 861-1028
Major intersection: Queen’s Quay & York

Il Fornello Bloor West Village
2277 Bloor St. W.
Tel. (416) 761-9222
Major intersection: Bloor & Runnymede

IL FORNELLO *newest location-opening July 2005*
491 Church St

Located right in the heart of the Beaches, this cool, hip and trendy eatery is surrounded by art, exposed brick, dim lightings, and a funky menu that incorporates traditional Italian fare with health conscious and trendified food. On my last visit to the chain in the Beaches, I had the large Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette). My friend Justine had the artichoke and pesto pizza, Daniel had the hearty Beef Manicotti which he thought Insalata Roma … (mixed greens, chèvre, roasted peppers, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette)was fine. He found that there was a heavy use of sage I think, which made the meat taste a little heavy/hars; maybe better use of oregano or other Italian spice would have been in order. My sister had the squid was a little on the rubbery side. Both Daniel and my sister thoroughly enjoyed the 1 litre of Sangria. There are some vegetarian pizza items, some made with spelt crust, and many offering soy cheese. The salads are funky (Tossed Salad , Caesar Salad … Grilled Chicken and Baby Spinach with mango and endive, Strawberry, Pear, Spinach Salad, Wild Mushroom and Arugula Salad, Crispy Prosciutto, Arugula and Spinach salad

Pastas include Linguini di Mare (tiger shrimp, scallops, mussels and calamari, light olive oil, tomato sauce), Penne Capri , with roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, spinach, in a lemon, garlic olive oil sauce, Spaghettini Primavera … (spaghetti with sauteed vegetables), Truffled Wild Mushroom Cannelloni (Cannelloni with Wild mushroom and ricotta), Tortelloni Fornello … (cheese tortelloni in a spicy tomato cream sauce), Manicotti (ricotta and spinach filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), and Daniel’s dish Cannelloni (meat filled pasta baked in tomato sauce), Spaghettini Misto … (Spaghettini with grilled chicken, tiger shrimp sautéed with caramelized onions, rapini, cherry tomatoes, in a lemon garlic olive oil),
Fettuccine Salmone … (Fettuccine with smoked salmon, and veggies in a dill vodka cream sauce ), the classic Penne Arrabbiate … (Penne in a spicy tomato sauce), and lastly Linguini Sorrentina … (Linguini with fresh basil, bocconcini cheese, and tomato sauce)

Pizzas ($9.00-$13.50) are served on multigrain crust, spelt crust (add $2), Quejos crust (add $3) and even carb-reduced crust (only available at Il Fornello at 1560 Yonge St. and Bayview Village)

Some pizzas include Prosciutto Pizza,Pizza Santo (w/soy cheese) ,Italian Sausage Pizza,
Pizza Affumicato (tomato sauce, carmelized onion, smoked chicken, spinach, and pine nuts),
Pizza Pollo (tomato sauce, roasted garlic, grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and provolone),
Pesto Pizza (gaisli, grilled chicken, fire roasted eggplant, pesto), Pizza Gorgonzola (red wine caramel pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onions, walnuts, lemon dressed arugula), Fig Pizza ( prosciutto, honey figs, mascarpone, and shaved grano padano), Pizza Salmone (pizza with smoked salmon) , Pizza Tre Colori (very colourful pizza with Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, prosciutto, oven cured roma tomatoes), Wild Mushroom Pizza ( 3 kinds of mushrooms with brie and basil oil), Pizza di bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes), Pancetta pizza … (regular cheese pizza with pancetta), Mediterranean Pizza … (Mediterranean vegetables, asiago cheese), Traditional Pizza (tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms), Pizza Nove (basic vegetarian pizza), Escargot Pizza (Escargot, garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella), Pizza di Bufala (Buffalo mozzarella, basil oil, oven cured roma tomatoes
Anchovy Pizza (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, and black olives), Pizza Semplice (Tomato sauce, fresh herbs, and mozzarella), Tri Coloured Pepper Pizza … (green, red, yellow grilled peppers, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and chèvre), and Hawaiian Pizza (prosciutto, pineapple, tomato sauce, and mozzarella)

You can build your own pizzas too. Choose your crust (multigrain crust $1.25, spelt crust $3.25, gluten-free quejos $5.00, carb reduced crust), then add your ingrediants to make your own unique and personal pizza. Select from various cheeses: buffalo mozarella ($5.00), brie, chevre, gorgonzola, gaisli, asiago, mascarpone, camboloza, ($4.00)

Choose your meat and gourmet vegetables: grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, grilled chicken, pancetta, shrimp, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, escargot, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, feta, provolone, pine nuts, bocconcini, smoked chicken, prosciutto, smoked salmon, spicy Italian sausage, pesto, fire roasted wild mushrooms, soy cheese ($3.00)

Other herbs and vegetables to choose include: fresh basil, caramelized onions, fresh rosemary, fresh dill, mixed fresh herbs, roasted garlic, ham, anchovies, snow peas, pepperoni, roasted eggplant, parmesan cheese, oven-cured roma tomatoes, red peppers, fire roasted field mushrooms ($2.00)

Other smaller vegetables and condiments include: hot peppers, pineapple, tomato sauce, broccoli, onions, green peppers, black olives, green olives, red onions, capers, spinach, freshly chopped garlic ($1.00)

Il Fornello also has a small “alternative menu”. Alternative items include spelt pizzas, pastas, and Gluten free pastas . You can design your own pizza or pasta dish. For gluten free items, add an additional $1.25 for Rice pasta instead for menu items marked with a +.

Some “alternative” menu items include the Pizza Santo (Tomato sauce, herbs, spinach, red onion, roasted red pepper, ‘non-dairy’ cheese ), Gluten-Free Pasta, $13.25 (wheat and gluten-free pasta with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, and veggies)
Quejos Pizza Crust $5.00 (gluten free Quejos pizza crust and design your own pizza)

Accepts every card. Expect lineups on the weekend and for brunch.

Innocenti [changed to KiWe Kitchen ]

03/2007-Changed to KiWe Kitchen

587 King Street West
416-203-0551

Wendy and I went for the Summerlicious festival to Innocenti, located right on King between Spadina and Bathurst, in the Fashion district.We had the prix fixe menu for dinner. Our dinner includes a salad, entree, and dessert, all for $20. This does not include taxes, tip, or drinks.
With a lovely ambiance, white sheer curtains divide large spacious dining hall into three sections. With Mediterranean design, light earth tones, yellows, with one wall of deep red
Walls were adorned with copies of Monet paintings surround restaurant and some are for sale. Restaurant is lined with tan coloured velour seating and exterior seats are wicker chairs.
Has a beautiful outdoor terrace with approximately 15 tables. With a calm, peaceful ambiance with colour scheme of earth tones.

Menu is one page full of traditional Italian dishes. Divided into antipasto (appetizers), sandwiches, entrees (salads/steaks), primos (pasta), secundi (meat/chicken), and desserts

Some appetizers and salads include the classic romaine salad ($8.95), caprese salad ($8.95), insalata mista ($7.95), seafood tapas (a medley of seafood with grilled calamari) ($17.95), antipasto ($13.95), sauteed shrimp with mixed greens ($13.95), grilled calamari ($7.95), bruschetta and crostini ( $5.95 and $9.95)
Some pasta dishes include various pastas (penne pomodoro ($11.95 ), fusilli with free range chicken and rapini ($17.95), linguini with scallops and shrimp($19.95), canelloni with spinach and five cheeses ($16.95). Some entrees include the chicken piccata($17.95), osso buco milanese (slow braised veal shank in a creamy Risotto) ($20.95), Grilled Atlantic Salmon with salad ($19.95)
The lunch menu is identical but for lunch, they serve a variety of sandwiches (grilled portobello, grilled chicken, tuna nicoise, and tony’s sausage- all from $9.95-$12.95. Menu claims to be flexible if customers have dietary concerns or personal preferences

For the Summerlicious menu, i ordered the Caprese Salad (vine ripened tomatoes with boconcini cheese, Vidalia onion and fresh basil, with mixed greens in balsamic vinaigrette).
Although small and only consisting of two slices of tomato, the salad was wonderful. My entree was whole wheat rotini pasta with caponata sauce (big chunks of eggplant, zucchini, capers and baby spinach in tomato sauce)

As I hardly eat pasta at all, once per year, and this was my annual treat. For dessert, i ordered the berry tarte with whipped cream and some fruit with this sour yucky raspberry sauce. I should have ordered Wendy’s dessert (the pecan chocolate tarte)

Wendy had the Romaine Salad (classic Caesar with Parmesan and housemade croutons).
For the entree she had the Grilled 8oz Rib Eye Steak, with chunky fries dressed in pepper and onion, served with horseradish

For dessert she enjoyed the Chocolate Pecan Tart with Cream & Fruit. She also ordered a sweet white wine ($6.50) and a capuccino ($3.00). Our server Julia was super nice, friendly, accomodating, and the ambiance, food, decor, and space between tables was not too congested.

Another good thing about Innocenti was that they will still offer their Summerlicious menu until July 24th, 2004. Summerlicious was from July 2- July 15. They accept all cards.

Il Fornello on The Danforth [Brunch]

Il Fornello- The Danforth
576 Danforth Ave.
Tel. (416) 466-2931
Major intersection: Danforth & Carlaw

Il Fornello- Yonge and St. Clair
1560 Yonge Street
Tel. (416) 920-7347
Major intersection: Yonge & St. Clair

Il Fornello- Bayviw Village
2901 Bayview Ave
Tel. (416) 227-1271
Major intersection: Bayview & Sheppard

Il Fornello- Theatre District
214 King St. West
Tel. (416) 977-2855
Major intersection: King & Simcoe

Il Fornello – Beaches
1968 Queen St. E
Tel. (416) 691-8377
Major Intersection: Queen & Woodbine

Il Fornello- Queen’s Quay Terminal
207 Queen’s Quay West
Tel. (416) 861-1028
Major intersection: Queen’s Quay & York

Il Fornello Bloor West Village
2277 Bloor St. W.
Tel. (416) 761-9222
Major intersection: Bloor & Runnymede

IL FORNELLO *newest location-opening July 2005*
491 Church St

 

Although this restaurant is a “chain,” it truly does not feel like one. Each one is quite different in its decor, charm, and appearance. We went to the Il Fornello located right on the Danforth at Danforth near Pape. This place is usually crowded with swarms of people dining on traditional Italian dishes like pasta, pizza, bruschettam, as well as universal favourites such as grilled fish, sirloin steak, and chicken asiago. Famous for serving pizza, I was surpised to learn that they also serve a spelt crust pizza with soy cheese.

The restaurant’s theme is “traditional Italian fare with a twist of trend.” Main courses are from $12.95-$16.95, salads are from $6.95-$9.95, pizzas from $9.00-$13.50, and appetizers are between $6.95-$9.95

Known for being trendy and bordering on pretentiousness this place actually serves up a really “non-trendy” brunch.

That Sunday morning at 11:00am, the place was surprisingly not packed, but had a more laid back ambiance. The waiters were extra friendly and the one serving us had a permanent smile on his face. He always was there to pour us continuous amounts of water. Service was exceptional.

I went with four friends and was surprised to see a separate and simple brunch menu containing about ten classic “brunch” items. Most of the items were not vegetarian as most consisted the omelete of the day (add $1 for an egg white version), baked eggs with pea meal bacon, eggs salmone (smoked salmon with baked eggs), and other fancy egg dishes, all presented with artistic beauty, colour, and flare.

I enjoyed strawberries, bananas with Jenny’s famous granola [who the heck is Jenny anyway?], served in an extra large plate with a generous serving of strawberries, bananas, and granola. On my second visit I had the egg white omelete with broccoli and cheese and it was amazing. It was not greasy and the portions were decent. All omeletes of the day come with three different kinds of salad.

Brunch items include an assortment of cocktails- Bellini and Mimosa ($5.95), as well as fresh fruit Smoothies ($4.95). Il Fornello serves up an assortment of egg dishes (scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon ($8.95), Eggs Italiano ($8.95), Baked Eggs ($8.25), Vegetarian Baked Eggs ($8.25), Eggs Benedict ($7.95), Eggs Salmone ($8.95), Omelette of the Day ($8.95). For people opting for the egg white version, add $1.00

Other traditional brunch items include the French Toast with table syrup ($8.95), Belgian Waffles with fresh fruit, table syrup and fresh cream ($7.95), add a caramelized banana for $1.95 extra,
the Breakfast Pizza ($9.25- tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, red pepper, bacon and two baked eggs on a wood oven fired thin crust.), the traditional Breakfast ($8.95 -bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, fruit salad and buttered multigrain toast ), and Crab Cakes ($11.00)

Side orders include multi-grain Toast ($2.00), Toasted English muffin, ($1.70)
Pan-fried potatoes($1.70), Bacon ($2.50), and Fresh fruit ($3.50)

We sat in the spacious outdoor terrace by the front of the restaurant. Inside the restaurant the place is gorgeous with an open concept wood oven where you can see the chefs prepare your food before your eyes. There are little romantic corner tables, all secluded from the rest of the restaurant, large glass windows separating the restaurant from the outside, and a gorgeous country-kitchen bar with a vast selection of wines and beers. Service is prompt and exceptional. we were happy overall with our meal, the ambiance, and the presentation of the meal. Accepts all cards. 10 Locations across Toronto

Rain

Rain
19 Mercer Street
416-599-7246

Rain’s food is more of an art form than a means to sustain oneself. Each bite should be savoured as it is the last. Not just because it tastes good, but also because it costs so damn much!

You can call me cheap, but it takes a very special occasion for me to spend more than $50 on a meal. I could eat almost as well at home for a quarter of the price. Nevertheless, it is nice to be treated once in a while!

Rain serves a la carte and was not nearly as pretentious as I expected. My dinner consisted of several excellentally prepared dishes consisting of ahi tuna, black cod, lamb tenderloin, bok choy, jasmine rice in a banana lead, noodles and tempura.

That quick description cannot do Rain justice and if I had taken notes I’m sure I could dedicate a paragraph to every part of each dish. However, I am not that type of critic and if you are looking for that I suggest you visit the Toronto Life website for that sort of review.

My only criticism of Rain (besides the price if I had been paying) was that each dish came a little too quickly. We hadn’t stopped fawning over the previous dish before the next one came!