Crepes a Go Go (new location) (Mark)

 18 Yorkville Ave
416.922.6765

Aaron and I met up last Sunday to see “The History Boys” and we did not have a ton of time to have brunch. At first we opted to go to Flow’s Diner since i had heard wonderful things about it. Unfortunately there was a huge lineup. We headed to the new Eggstacy at Bay and Bloor but from a distance we saw another lineup. At 12:30pm our stomachs were grumbling and we needed to find a place fast. Aaron had suggested CrepesaGoGo since it has recently moved to its new location at Yonge and Yorkville and it was small, quaint, and luckily, there was no lineup.

Opened at its new location since Sept 2006, Crepes a GoGo is an authentic French crepe “takeout” and dine in establishment with a small menu of sweet and savoury crepes. First you select your syrup which they bake right into the crepe, and then you choose the filling. The serve it to you in a “pocket” that you can hold like a sandwich: convenient and perfect for those “on the go”.

Situated at Yonge/Yorkville, easily accessible from the Yonge/Bloor intersection, conveniently located right next to the Toronto Reference Library on the edge of Yorkville on the ground floor of a new high rise glass condo (built about 1-2 years ago).

Some of the drawbacks of Crepes a Go Go. First: small number of seating (4-5 tables). Second: they had 2 price options; takeout and dine-in. We obviously chose to “dine in” but our portions looked like we chose “take out” but we were priced as if we “dined in”. In sum, our portions were tiny. I know it’s traditionally French but neither Aaron and I are not (m)anorexic.

We liked how the staff and owner gave the place an authentic French “look and feel”, because, afterall, the owner is from France. I could not help but sense the slight essence of pretentiousness (we don’t do flavoured lattes here!). Come on, cut the crap.

The owner claimed she made the best espresso in the city, and that they did not carry “filter coffee G-d forbid. Definitely exhibiting an anti-Starbucks attitude (I sympathize having worked at Starbucks for 7 months and being treated like shit). Altogether staff and the owner were warm and friendly

Crepes are paper thin and served/ placed in a paper bag pouch.

I ordered the anorexic fruit crepe with blueberry, banana, strawberry. i understood that Europeans eat smaller portions than North Americans but i was more hungry leaving the joint than entering.

Aaron liked the “Parisian ambience” at Crepes a GoGo from the serene quaintness of the space to the French speaking owner and servers. He ordered a “Quebecoise” crepe which was under the sweet/savoury section. It contained scrambled eggs, mozarella cheese and maple syrup. Although the portion wasn’t very large it was definitely tasty. He agreed with me that if they are having a dine in v.s. take out price that they should gussy it up a bit more for the dine in folks: fork, knife and no paper bag… perhaps with some side dishes.

The cafe au lait was very nice, smooth and delicious, but contrary to the owner, it DID need sugar. In sum, I was not full, meal was NOT satisfying but it was my mistake, i need to order and eat more. Decor was lovely, ultra high ceilings, open concept, small with 4 tables, 2 “bar type” areas to eat on stools. Service is ultra fast, friendly and effiicent and wait staff serve with ease, grace, and with a smile

Accepts all cards, liquor license, winter hours are Monday/Tuesday 12:30pm-7:00pm and Wed-Sun 10:30am-7:00pm. Bottom line; If you are really hungry go to Flow’s diner just down the road. Ambiance is cosy and calm, so go there for a light bite or a nice espresso or cafe au lait.

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Avenue Diner

 222 Davenport Road 
(416) 924-5191

Having biked passed Avenue Diner many times, I have always been curious to know what the food and ambiance is like. Centrally located at Davenport and Avenue Road on the cusp of Yorkville and the edge of the Annex, this place has been in operation since 1944 and still going strong. Similar to Beauties, Bagels Etc, Cosmo’s in Montreal, Avenue Diner serves up a small menu of burgers, fries, old fashioned chicken sandwiches flooded with gravy, weekend breakfast (mostly egg dishes) with classy home fries and old fashioned milkshakes in an authentic diner setting.

Avenue Diner feels very homey with only 2-3 wait staff and a team of about 4 cooks. One middle aged woman calls out the dishes to the cooks who whip up the dishes in a matter of minutes before your eyes. There are about 6 stools and expect to sit there if the tables are occupied. The grill is right in front of you so you can see them create dishes in front of your eyes.

Like Yasi’s place (Lansdowne near Bloor) , the decor looks like an old 1950’s diner or soda shop with old Coca Cola paraphernalia and other nostalgic things like old fashioned milkshakes, napkin holders, and little details that give this place charm.

Since it’s in the Yorkville district, there are a slew of photographs of celebrities who frequent the neighbourhood. It reminds me of “Bruce’s Restaurant and Bakery”, a Long Island “Jewish style” diner on 34 Middle Neck Road (in Great Neck, NY) with many celebrity photographs. Christina’s on the Danforth also attracts a celebrity clientele.

When we went for breakfast that Sunday morning, we noticed that service is very quick and efficient (high turnover). I ordered the cheddar egg white omelete ($6.95 + $1.50 extra for egg whites) with home fries. The dish came with toast but instead, i ordered a side of sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Zam ordered the veggie omelete with home fries (we ordered an extra side order of fries for $4) and whole wheat toast (you can choose white, whole wheat, or rye). They emphasize that they serve eggs any way you like them. They also serve high protein cereals, oatmeal, and pancakes. For lunch expect diner-dishes like hot sandwiches with gravy, burgers and fries.

Avenue diner also sells merchandise like T shirts that are displayed above the grill (must smell of eggs and cooking oil. All deep fried items are cooked in 100% vegetable oil.

Lineups occur after 12pm noon, but high turnover of customers, very fast service, people do not stay a long time. Small, kind of cramped, only 10 stools and 6 tables.

Sassafraz-fire Dec 2006, closed

416-964-2222
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.

Over Easy

208 Bloor Street W.
416-922-2345
Hours: M-F 6-4;
Weekends 7-4

 

Located on busy Bloor street, right in the heart of the U. of T. campus, across from Philosopher’s Walk, Over Easy is a great place that specializes in all day breakfast and brunch dishes. In a butter yellow and light blue colour scheme, walking into the spacious restaurant, I found Over Easy to be brightly lit, airy, relaxing, and comfortable. With colourful art on the walls, this place really feels inviting and comfortable. Justine and I were greeted by friendly staff and we were seated to our booth immediately.

The restaurant is divided into 3 sections, a front end with 3-5 tables, a middle region with about 3 booths, and the back area with about 10 tables. We were seated in the middle region but we immediately moved because we were behind the entrance to the kitchen where we could hear the sounds of smashing dishes, and other disturbing kitchen sounds. We were also behind the cash so we heard the constant noise of wait staff and bills being printed, etc.

Justine and I then changed places to the back of the restaurant to a nice spacious table. The menu is quite large and most items are different type of egg dishes. All prices are reasonable ($6.95-$9.95) but drinks (juice, soda) are expensive (freshly squeezed juice are $3.50 and fresh smoothies are $5.00 and beyond and come in 3 exciting flavours). Justine ordered her typical coffee and was served it in a funky coloured coffee carafe in baby blue (other coffee carafes colours include orange, and cream colour).

I opted for an egg white omelete with asiago cheese, sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomato, and basil. YUM!!! The menu tells you upfront in their “rules of the roast” section that egg white omeletes are an extra $1.00, and any sidedish is an extra $3.00 or $3.50. I was not able to make a substituion but my egg white omelete came with toasted, home fries or salad (I chose salad) and i asked to remove the toast. The only pathetic part was my salad portion was too small and they did not give me MORE salad since i had asked for NO toast. Most places do substitute but Over Easy does not. They are upfront with charging extra for “additions”, though. Justine ordered 4 buttermilk pancakes, light, fluffy, big, and not greasy. They came with maple syrup.

Our food was served fast and service was excellent. Our waitress was warm and super friendly and she tried to be as accomodating as possible. Justine was happy to report that lemon was served with the water and she did find peanut butter for her pancakes. Does not accept Interac, only cash. I was not impressed. I will definitely go back as my food was excellent.

Over Easy also serves a variety of pancakes, waffles, omeletes, eggs benny, eggs florentine, scrambles, cereals, and other breakfast staples. Some light breakfast items include homemade granola and fruit, deluxe granola, cereal, fresh fruit salad. Lunch fare includes fancy sandwiches, fruit salad, hearty MEAL salads ($10.75), crepes, quiches, and a number of homestyle “comfort foods like Macaroni and cheese. They also make freshly squeezed juices and prepare home made fruit smoothies with yogourt right before your eyes. Seats are very comfortable and all wait staff are very friendly. Waiting time was normal and we will definitely go back! Prices around the $6.95-$9.95 range. Takeout available, just call ahead of time.

Sassafraz fire Dec 2006, closed (Mark)

100 Cumberland St.
416-964-2222

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.

Wendy

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

refilled.

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.

Dynasty [Winterlicious Lunch 2004]

131 Bloor Street West, Second Floor

416-923-3323

 

For the Winterlicious Food Festival, my friend and I visited Dynasty Chinese Cuisine. The place was described as having authentic Chinese cuisine in a casual setting. It is true that Dynasty seemed casual, but it was also noisy, and at the same time, slightly too upscale for me.

Dynasty is conveniently located right on the edge of Yorkville on the north side of Bloor, between Bay and Queen’s Park, across from the Chapters on Bloor. The menu is over 15 pages and there are many vegetarian selections as well as an assortment of fish, chicken, pork, and meat dishes.

Some menu highlights include a daily dim sum and many specialties including Peking Duck, General Tao’s Chicken, Shark Fin Soup, and live fresh seafood.

Service is friendly. Reservations are recommended. Average cost per person including tip is roughly $40 not including drinks of appetizer. [OUCH]

Entrees range from $13.95-$68.00 per person. Portions are small but decor, ambiance, and food presentation are stellar.

For our meals my friend ordered an order of pork ribs in a plum dipping sauce. For his entree, he ordered cashew chicken which was aromatic and colourful. I ordered the vegetarian dumplings that came without any sauce so I used the dijon mustard that was already on the table. For my entree, I ordered braised tofu with vegetables. I skipped the white rice that came with the meal. What is braised anyway? The dish looked like plain tofu stir-fry that lacked any flavour. The sauce was a plain soya sauce. Although it was tasty and not greasy, I was disappointed that my stir-fry lacked any flavour.

Live lobsters and crab can be observed from the dining hall and will always intrigue young children to stray away from their parents and sit by the table and stare at the fish with great curiosity. We happened to be sitting at the place where children started hovering around us watching the mysterious creatures as they swim about in complete and utter congestion. Cash, Interac, and all major credit cards accepted

Shogun

154 Cumberland
(416) 964-8665

Believe me, I try to like Sushi places but there is absolutely nothing for a complete vegetarian who is on a low carb diet . I found myself trapped with nothing to eat. My friend, who is vegetarian, but eats rice, had a medley of vegetarian sushi platters like
vegetable tempura (deep fried, battered vegetables) , deep fried tofu, and various vegetarian sushi dishes. I found myself trying out the six pieces of vegetarian sushi with tofu or carrot in the middle of the piece of sushi. I enjoyed the typical pickled ginger or green horseradish garnish but I was more hungry after my meal than before. The complimentary tea is a good element to this dinner. Food is fresh and service is pleasant, and prompt. Platters are $18.95 and portions are large. Entrees are between $6.95 and $8.95 and those portions are small. Be prepared to spend a lot of money if you want to be full.