Happy Buddha [closed august 2007]

2366 Yonge Street
416 544 0330

 

Happy Buddha is one of the only vegetarian restaurants in mid town. Located only about one block north of the Yonge and Eglinton intersection, this place is conveniently located in a nice central spot across from the 24 hour Shoppers Drugmart and near the Paramount movie theatre. Opened only 6 months ago (approx March 2006), Happy Buddha serves exclusively Chinese and Vietanemese vegetarian fare.

Small and cosy with about 10-15 tables, the place is tasteful, not cheesy and has classy details that focus on the minimalism, not kitsch. Specializing in mock meats such as beef, chicken, shark, pork, shrimp, Happy Buddha’s menu offers many mock meat options for those vegetarians missing the taste of meat.

On my last visit to Happy Buddha, I ordered # 303 (cashew, mock shrimp, tofu (extra $1), and veggie stir fry). Pam (the friend I reunited with after not seeing her since my University and CEGEP days) ordered #607 – Ham and stir fried veggies over a bed of steamed rice.

The menu is divided into various sections like the appetizer section (#100-110) with some dishes including fresh salad rolls (2 pieces for $3), Soy Drumsticks (5 for $5.95), and Buddha Salad ($6.95), soups (#200-206) like Shark fin with crab meat, Hot and Sour soup with 3 different sizes ($2.95, $9.95, $13.95) Wonton, and Sea Weed and Bean Curd (all $2.95, $9.95, and $13.95) , specialty dishes (#300-319) like Kung Po Chicken ($9.95), Stir Fried Veggie dishes with either bean curd or other veggie combos ($9.95-$12.95), Hot Pot (Beef, Chicken, or Fish Hot Pots between $10.95-$12.95)and sizzling plates (#400-409) , seafood sizzling plate ($12.95), and choose either beef/pork, spicy eggplant, or mixed mushroom sizzling plate all $10.95, fried rice dishes (#500-511) shrimp, crab, or chicken fried rice $9.95-$11.95, steamed rice dishes (#600-609) in a varieties such as beef, chicken, chicken curry, pork, ham, pineapple chicken all $7.95-$8.95, noodle soups(#800-805) between $7.95-$9.95 like ham and noodle, wonton and mushroom noodle, spicy rice noodle, and fried noodle dishes(#700-707) like singapore rice noodle ($9.95) and different types of mushroom dishes all on crispy noodles ($10.95-$11.95) . Milk shakes, soft drinks, and bubble tea are also available

Open Sunday to Thurs from 11am-11pm, Fri, Sat, and holidays from 11am-11pm. Delivery hours are 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-9pm. 10% discount for delivery pickup orders. Free delivery with orders more than $25.

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Jaipur Grille

 2066 Yonge Street
416 322 5678

Aaron and I and 2 other friends went to Jaipur Grille because we wanted to try an Indian restaurant in a different neighbourhood and somewhere fairly new. Jaipur Grille is not located downtown or in Little India but at Yonge and Davisville south of the trendy Yonge and Eglinton strip.

Inside, with dim lighting, pale walls and minimal design, the large one-room dining hall was very tasteful, clean, and had a slick decor but too slick like Salad King. Classy and upscale was the feel I got. Not like most dated, kitschy dives in Little India, Jaipur Grille did serve most of the same dishes as most North Indian restaurants.

We all started with drinks (Diet Coke and Mango Juice for us 4). The waiter was friendly and knowledgable and kept on filling up our glasses with water and he was able to accomodate Aaron’s desire for lemon in his water.

We all started with pappadums which came to our table free. We ordered 2 appetizers for the four of us, a platter called Paneer Methi Tikka ($10.95), a cheese platter marinated and seared in a tandoor oven, served with mint chutney. To die for! We also order a different type of vegetable pakoras ($5.95), deep fried and battered up eggplant, and other veggies in a chick pea batter. Superb and delicious in a coriander sauce. Pakoras are also yummy with a sweet tamarind sauce as well. They were not too greasy and different since most pakoras are “balls” of onion and other mashed up veggies in a chick pea flour batter. This was different because we had actual vegetables in addition to those “balls”.

For my main dish I ordered the Sabzi Hara Masala, which was a green (coriander) based curry with mixed vegetables roasted in a spice mix with some paneer and cashews. Delicious! My other friends ordered the Channa Masala ($8.95)(chick pea curry) and it was thick, dark ,and delicious. It was very fresh and was more red than brown since it was made in an onion and tomato gravy. They also ordered one of my favourite Indian dishes Palak Paneer (also known as Saag Paneer($10.95))- simply spinach and cheese. With chunks (not pureed) of spinach sauteed and braised with tomatoes and homemade cheese, this dish had a kick and was fresh, very hot, and delicious. Aaron had the Lamb Korma (Lamb roasted with spices, finished with almonds & raisins in a light cream sauce with Rice Pullao ($4.50). Aaron thought that the Lamb Korma was delicious… tender… and seasoned well… however he felt it could have used a touch more spice. Overall, he found it delicious.

 

We all ordered Naan bread for the table ($1.95) (fluffy bread cooked in a tandoor oven) and my other dining friends ordered Rice Pullao (Basmati rice cooked with saffron and tomatoes, with fragrant spices.) ($4.50). For dessert, we had the luxurious scoop of mango sorbet surrounded by banana ice cream and coasted in coconut. You will never find that kind of dessert (heavenly) on Gerrard street. You may find Kulfi or Barfi or various squares, but not this delicate, decadent dessert. After our meal was finished, we all agree that this place was definitely on the top five in terms of the best Indian restaurants in Toronto. I would go back for sure. Prices are not too expensive. Definitely high quality and excellent service. Liquor License. Accepts all cards.

Amore Trattoria

 2425 Yonge St. 
Tel: (416) 322-6184

Amore Trattoria is a traditional Italian eatery located in the heart of the Yonge and Eglinton yuppie ghetto. Located on 2 levels in an open concept dining space, Amore is decorated with a minimalist design with a Mediterranean colour scheme, with very few paintings on the wall, with small tables huddled close together. Ambiance is calm, romantic, and dim lighting. This is the perfect place to bring a date.

Amore’s simple one page menu offers mouth watering salads (insalata), pastas, thin crust gourmet pizza, zuppa (soups), mains, and decadent desserts. Mains are priced from $12.95-$16.95.

Amore serves traditional pasta dishes like Penne Pollo, Presto Pesto, pastas with cream-based sauces, Prima Veras, Arrabiatas, and Bolognese. Amore serves dishes “tapas” style so patrons are encouraged to order an appetizer, salad, main, and dessert. This gets to be expensive, though.

Also serves ultra thin gourmet pizzas and you can even build your own pizza (Il Fornello style) . Also offers a spelt flour option for the crust.

For our dishes, I started with a homemade vegetarian minestrone soup with red kidney beans, potato pieces, carrots, zucchini, and other veggies, in a rich tomato broth. For my main, I ordered an ultra thin spelt flour pizza with grilled eggplant, zucchini, sundried tomatoes with mozzarella oozing with a pesto and tomato sauce mix. Justine had the fettucine with a cream sauce with mushrooms that resembled Alfredo sauce.

Amore appears almost identical to Il Fornello where it tries very hard to be authentic in a trendy way. They serve thin crust pizza but also offer “healthy” options like whole wheat and spelt. Price range is similar to Il Fornello and expect that your pizza will cost more if you add extra veggies, sauce, or any other gourmet type additions like roasted red peppers, pesto, garlic,and other yuppified ingrediants. Pasta dishes come fresh and piping hot. Portions are decent and wine is served the traditional way, in cups! Waitress was very accomodating as Justine and I together can be a nightmare for any waiter or waitress in Toronto. Dim lighting and minimalist decor makes this place a perfect setting for a date. I must admit that I was not full and I was worried since I had the Toronto International Marathon the next day and I think my pizza did not have enough carbs to sustain me, but it was DAMN GOOD! I would definitely go back and try other pizza combinations.

Amore is opened Mon-Thu 11:30am-10:30pm, Fri 11:30am-11:00pm, Sat 10:30am-11:00pm, Sun 10:30am-10:00pm. Accepts all cards. Serves Sunday brunch. Liquor license.

La Vecchia

2405A Yonge Street
416 489-0630

 

Justine and I, both picky eaters needed a nice, calm place to have dinner one night. We wanted to stay in her area (Yonge and Eglinton) since she was not feeling well. While walking up Yonge and browsing the restaurants, we decided it was safe to eat Italian. I knew that my favourite cuisine (Thai and Indian) would not agree with Justine’s stomach so I settled for Italian. Justine and I chose to dine at the fine restaurant she had heard rave reviews about : La Vecchia.

Inside, the restaurant was very busy and very dark, but not noisy like Seven Numbers. The ambiance is very similar to Seven Numbers but much more expensive. The decor is gorgeous, dimly lit like Seven Numbers, with stone interior, with a traditional Mediterranean feel, with a classic trendy touch: Black and White photographs of famous people spread throughout the restaurant. Tables had real tablecloths and linen napkins and extremely comfortable seats.

With a large selection of wines and menu items divided into appetizers (antipasto), insalatas (salads), secondi (meat and fish), contorni (pasta), and pizzas. La Vecchia comprises one large dining room divided into three sections- the front facing Yonge street, the middle facing the bar, and the back- more quiet, dark, and cosy

Justine complained that there was only one single stall washroom which she thought was not very practical. La Vecchia also has three separate menus for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
The brunch menu includes a variety of traditional favourities like crepes, waffles, and French toast. As well, light fruit plates are served as well as traditional egg dishes but with an Italian twist . Some crepes include crepes filled with kiwis and smothered in strawberry sauce and French toast with Blueberry preserve and maple syrup, as well as light crepes filled with berries and smothered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Traditional favourites include: eggs benedict, eggs florentine, and eggs with grilled steak, and over 10 types of frittatas with a combination of cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Some frittatas include frittata vegetariana, frittata gamberi, frittata al salmon, frittata carina, frittata di capra, frittata la vecchia, all are served with house salad and toasted calabrese.Sandwiches (on foccacia bread) include rustico, montanaro, americano, and genovese.

Lunch items include a bruschetta on calabrese bread, minestrone soup, antipasto, Insalata Caprese (Italian salad) , Insalata Caesare (Caesar Salad), Casanuova, Insalata Di Mare (seafood salad), Insalata Verde (spinach, wild mushrooms, greens, and goat cheese), Insalata Mediterrneano (Mediterranean), Insalata Di Pollo (Salad with marinated grilled vegetables), grilled calamari, and sandwiches served on foccaccia bread. Also served for lunch are mini pastas: capellini ciociara, rigatoni romani, linguine primavera, penne arrabiata, penne alla vodka, fusili saraceno, orecchiette picante. Homemade pasta includes tagliatelle biancaneve, tortellini ortolana, agnolotti di monte, ravioli r. benigni, gnocchi pomodoro, risotto primavera, risotto po, and risotto del giorno

Secondi (meat and fish) dishes include: scallopine mastroianni, scallopine piemonte,pollo savoia, gamberi marina, salmon dell’ atlantico, pesce del giorno, mini pizza with salad, mini margherita, mini calabrese, mini quatro stagioni, mini potente, mini vegetariana. Whole pizzas include armani, and contadina.

The dinner menu is almost identical to lunch menu but prices are more expensive and portions are much bigger. The dinner menu offers more varities of Calamari and Bruschetta and more pizza combinations. (pizza margherita, pizza vegetariana, pizza contadina, pizza la vecchia, pizza castello, pizza capricciosa, pizza san siro, pizza bianca, pizza diavola, and pizza caruso. Pizzas are traditionally made with an ultra thin crust and there is a generous serving of tomato sauce and pesto.

For our dinner, I ordered the pizza vegetariana, with an authentic “ultra-thin” crust, with grilled peppers, zucchini, goat cheese, pesto, and zesty tomato sauce. It was fresh and served very hot with a generous serving of sauce and pesto. Justine ordered the pizza margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes

The waiter appeared snooty because we did not choose to have sparkling or still water. We opted for “tap” water. I felt that we looked down upon. I certainly do not think it’s necessary to order overpriced water just because we’re in a fancy restaurant. Liquor license. Accepts all cards.

Sidhartha, The

The Sidhartha – Fine Indian Cuisine
1450 Gerrard St. E
416-465-4095

30 Eglinton East
416-485-5552

See also East Indian, Little India, Yonge/Eglinton

My general impression of Sidartha was that is was significantly nicer in atmosphere than one would expect from a dinner buffet at $9.99! The lunch buffet runs at $7.99 and I’m sure it is just as nice. You can dine in or take out, which I think is fantastic for a buffet. Of course, itf you take out, it’s just the 1 plate, but still, how much can you eat, really? If buffets are not your thing, there is an extensive menu to order from.

My friend & I went for the buffet & it was really good, we kept finding more & more things to eat that we practically stuffed ourselves silly. There were both meat & vegetarian options, pakoras, chicken tikka, vegetable curry & much more. My friend Shane really loved this restaurant – he hadn’t even finished his dessert & he said how much he was looking forward to his next visit. Now that’s the sign of an excellent dining experience!

The really nice & unusual thing about this place is that despite the buffets & great prices, the atmosphere was warm & inviting, they decorated each table with real flowers, instead of fakes, & the big surprise – it was QUIET! What a relaxing way to eat!

All in all with taxes & tip the meal came to $26. Sidartha also caters & has banquet facilities for 100 people. They also do free delivery on orders over $30.

Sidhartha,The

1450 Gerrard Street East,
Phone 416 – 406 – 2538

When I introduced my parents to Indian food in the mid 1990’s I took them to Buffet Maharaja in Montreal and they were mortified. The food was oily, clammy, cold, and flavourless. I should have known better to take my parents to an “non-buffet” restaurant for their first exposure to Indian food. I have visited many Indian restaurants in Toronto and I must say Indian rice factory and Sher-E-Pun-Jab are by far my favourite so far. I still hope that there is an Indian restaurant in Little India that would win me over Indian Rice Factory and Sher-E-Pun-Jab.

Last week I went for takeout with Paulo and we roamed through Little India and we found Sidhartha, a north Indian restaurant, right at the corner of Craven and Gerrard. We peaked inside and it actually had ambiance (unlike Udupi Palace which has excellent food but looks like a hospital waiting room)

When we entered the restaurant, we immediately saw that this place is different. It’s clean, tasteful, with a kitsch-free, classy ambiance. It’s small and cosy , with colourful fabric ribbons, canapes with tables underneath, dim lighting, with a lot of deep reds and other rich colours on the walls.

The lunch and dinner buffets are $7.99 and $9.95 respectively and they offer many vegetarian items (aloo gobi, channa, bhartha, saag paneer) as well as non vegetarian dishes like tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and other traditional curries. Buffet desserts include barfi, deep fried honey cheese balls, and ice cream (mango + vanilla)

There is also an à la carte menu with a large variety of dishes. It seems I have finally found a nice, affordable, non-trendy, Indian restaurant to take my parents to the next time they visit me in Toronto. I am confident that they will enjoy themselves. The decor and ambiance is romantic, cosy (15-20 tables in one dining room), laid back, non pretentious, and comforting. They accept all cards.

Five Doors North (see Five Multi-Coloured Doors at 2088 Yonge st.)

2088 Yonge st.
phone: (416) 480-6234

 

Conveniently located on Yonge, 3 blocks south of Eglinton on the west side. This place is really hidden, maybe on purpose, as it attracts an exclusive group of people. Signage sucks in this respect. As there is no sign for “Five Doors North” (Oct 2004- Look for Five Multi-coloured doors)we were told to look for a sign called “Future Furniture”.

There are three huge dining rooms, dim lighting, and paper menus with main courses that change daily. The first impression I got was that this place was definitely trendy, but relaxing and not pretentious.

Menu is broken down several sections: antipasti (appetizer), primi (pasta) , secondi (meat dish) , secondi vegetarian dishes, pesce (fish), and contorni (salads). We were told the convention was to choose one dish from each section. Each dish was considered a course and a whole meal consisted of selecting a combination of dishes from each section.

Before anything was served we got a large plate of fresh foccacia (with rosemary). I was told by Daniel to dip my bread into the olive oil and balsamic vinegar [there were bottles of Olive Oil and Balsamic at each table].

For the antipasti, I ordered the polenta with goat cheese, sundried tomato, and pesto ($5.95).
For the main vegetarian dish, I ordered two thick slices of Sicilian eggplant with roasted red pepper and basil for $7.95 (they charged me $11.95 by accident). In addition, I ordered a small green salad for $2.95 (consisted of organic greens). To wash it all down I ordered a diet coke for my beverage.

My dinner mates (Daniel and Rob) ordered a Merlot (red wine) while Aaron ordered two Cosmo Martinis (cranberry?). Rob ordered the roasted beet salad with a red wine vinegar, crispy leeks, and scallions aioli. For the “primi” dish, Rob and Aaron shared a Risotto with sausage and gorgonzolla. For their main dish, Aaron and Rob each ordered grilled lamb chops with carmelized onions and mint horseradish mayonnaise. Aaron liked it as he ordered medium-rare but Rob’s was too tough (he ordered well done, I suspect). Daniel ordered the spicy seafood stew with calamari, mussels, shrimp, and stripe bass. Daniel also ordered a salad of brussel sprouts and double smoked bacon.

All portions were small and the waitress said they were similar to “tapas.” Food was amazing, flavourful, fresh, tasty, and they are very accomodating and aware of vegetarians’ needs. Although very few vegetarian main courses, the waitress informed me that most dishes can be made vegetarian.

Some dishes worth noting were: a spicy chick pea stew with smoked paprika and garlic crostini, pan fried salmon with mango salsa, beef carpaccio with pecorino cheese and roasted onions, seared scallops with asian coleslaw and shitake mushrooms, and prosciutto rolls with arugula, goat cheese, and figs. Some pasta dishes worth noting are linguini with mussels, calamari, and cilantro pesto, tortellini with tomato sauce with fresh orengano.

Decor is funky with hanging lamps (with funky lampshades), multicoloured rooms of red and orange and blue, retro 1970’s chandaliers, and funky Magazine covers for tablecoverings.
Staff were very friendly. Owner offered us a free shot of this digestif which tasted like Yaegermeister. The bill for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes for four people came to $140.00.
They accept VISA, cash, and Interac