181 Bathurst Street
phone number: 416-703-9360
Azul was my introduction to the Toronto brunch scene, so it must have some good qualities. A trendy little restaurant in the Queen West area, just north of Queen on the east side of Bathurst; Azul serves up a bevy of meals from brunch to dinner. They also have a wide juice selection which to my memory I have yet to sample. One thing I do like about Azul is their coffee. Besides being delicious, it is served in a large thermos-like container so you can re-fill yourself instead of waiting on the staff.
This time around, I had the Eggs La La, which were poached eggs on a crusty bread with avacado and tomatillo salsa. It came with a sparse amount of potatos and a tasty side salad. I like when brunch is served with salad, since it balances out the heaviness of the rest of the meal. The eggs were good, though nothing stood out as a great combination of taste that other brunches have provided. Lawrence had the Eggs Azul which were similar to the La La but was served on corn bread, an interesting and tasty choice. Definitely recommended, though hardly the best that Toronto has to offer.
478 Queen St. W.
64 Oxford Street
web site: www.toronto.com/profile/187540
A small restaurant, only opened for lunch 11:00am-3:00pm and then open again for dinner 5:00- late. I went here for my 28th birthday dinner and I really enjoyed my evening.
The restaurant is designed in an Asian and tropical rainforest motif. Very soothing and relaxing and the waitress describes all the entrees as “beautiful” The food is pricy. Entrees are from $15-$20 and the portions are not big. The presentation is tasteful and minimalist. The food is creative and flavourful but more on the blander side (not spicy).
They claim to be a “natural” restaurant thus you cannot order Coke or Pepsi or any soda product. First round of water is not free. The request for tap water is acceptable once a bottle of Evian is ordered at first. The seats are very comfortable and the ambiance is casual to dressy. The overall theme is a calm and soothing retreat from the bustling city. The dishes are uniquely vegetarian. None of the dishes even attempts to emulate a meat dish. For my birthday dinner I ordered the roasted vegetables with tofu and seitan. It was really good and did not taste like your typical tofu stir fry, like in most vegetarian restaurants. Food was fresh and presentation was key.
The only drawback is the wait and the tiny portions. The staff at Fressen believe in taking their time. They believe that their clients should enjoy their whole dining experience. The bread is healthy and freshly cut but the portions are quite skimpy. Nonetheless I would highly recommend this place for a special occasion once a year.
Harbord Fish and Chips v.s. Chippies:
Harbord Fish and Chips
147 Harbord Street
893 Queen St W,
Having been thoroughly unimpressed with Chippies, the new and trendy fish and chips restaurant on Queen West, I thought I would try this more unassuming joint on Harbord between Spadina and Bathurst.
I had heard many good things about Harbord Fish and Chips but then again the NOW Magazine gave Chippies a 5 star review and doesn’t shut up about it. The problem I find with Chippies, besides the cute guys behind the counter singing “Shook me all night long” by AC/DC, is that they just don’t serve enough fish. I’ve been there twice, and both times have come away with a mountain of fries but little in the way of main course. The side sauces are a nice touch, but the ones I tasted were nothing special.
Harbord is a small, un-trendy, mostly take out joint. Like Chippies, Harbord also serves up a mountain of french fries. I guess I shouldn’t complain, fries are delicious and the meal IS called fish AND chips. The difference with Chippies though, is that Harbord actually provides a decent portion of fish. I ordered haddock and I was happy to see a nice big rectangular piece of fish plumped down on top of my heap o’ fries before being wrapped up in the traditional newspaper (unfortunately it was the National Post).
If you have a craving for fish and chips go for the solid Harbord version over the fluffy, trendy, more expensive Chippies.