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I am planning my annual Stratford, Ontario theater experience and this summer it has gotten out of hand with the addition of a side trip to Toronto to see Lord of the Rings: The Musical plus a trip to the Shaw Festival and Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake.

I'm pretty confident in the Stratford part of the program after seven years and eight trips -- just point me toward Boomers and the Church and I'm happy.

I haven't been to Toronto since 1999 and I don't recall any amazing food then. I think we'll be there for 1 dinner and 1 brunch. We might have an early dinner after the theater so possibly 2 dinners. I would think dinner would be better in town than on the QEW heading back to Niagara.

Niagara Falls and/or Niagara on the Lake: Looks likes we'll be there for 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch and one dinner. The theater is in NOTL but we will be staying at the Falls (Canadian side).

For Toronto, I was toying with the idea of Canoe for lunch or dinner but the prices are frightfully high. I don't mind paying a lot for a terrific meal though and can budget the rest of the trip around it if I plan far enough in advance.

Goldfish Cuisine looks interesting for brunch or dinner.

For the Niagara area, I'm wide open. I've had a decent lunch somewhere in NOTL that wasn't memorable. There is a nice ice cream place that I routinely get lost looking for and lots and lots of chains.

Any wisdom?



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We haven't been to Canoe in two years, but my recollection is that, while pricey, it was an excellent meal, with top-flight ingredients creatively prepared and served in comfortable surroundings, and we considered it worth the tab. Great view if you luck out on the weather, too!

Although not extraordinarily creative, we have always had good meals in Niagara on the Lake at the conveniently located Prince of Wales Hotel. In the past few years, several of the NOTL wineries have added restaurants to their properties, but we haven't tried them yet.

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I've stayed at the Prince of Wales and had several dinners at Canoe which is a very good Italian in Toronto. For Niagara on the Lake your first choice for a hotel really should be the Prince of Wales. While totally different this is to Niagara on the Lake as the Williamsburg Inn is to Williamsburg: i.e., THE place to stay.

Toronto: In my opinion the best restaurant in Toronto and one of the three or four best restaurants in Canada (along with Eiginsinn Farm (!!!!), Susur Lee and Lumiere in Vancouver) is North 44. I've been there at least ten times over the past 15 years and absolutely love this restaurant. The closest local comparison would be Citronelle and I would suggest this is its equal. I've written at length about this (and several of the others) on Chowhound but most importantly, if you go to North 44, his signature dish is his filet mignon of tuna. I had this there and at the French Laundry within 24 hours about five or six years ago. North 44's was better. The Inn at Little Washington also does this; North 44 is still better. Susur Lee is a fantastic chef; his restaurant continues as one of the "hottest" and most difficult reservations in Toronto. You should go. Also, Toronto's Chinatown may be equal to San Francisco's or even Vancouver's. Don't overlook this.

There is a fish and chips place in Welland, Ontario whose name I forget. But Toronto Life, the Toronoto Globe and all of the Buffalo publications rave about it. Its' fish and chips are the equal of England's best (in Blackpool). I haven't been in about five or six years but on my last visit it was extraordinary. Well worth going many miles out of your way for. There's nothing like this within seven hundred miles of D. C. or this side of the Atlantic. They even wrap their "to go" orders in newspapers which few places still do in the U. K.

Edited by Joe H
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I skipped Canada in 2007 because of a wee small person who was distracting me quite a bit then...

Fast forward and the whole family is going in August, plus we have two honorary aunts meeting us there.


We want to visit a winery in Niagara on the Lake--Inniskillin seems logical since we like ice wines but are open to suggestions. We only have time for one winery.

Ideas for a picnic-type lunch in or around NOTL--could also be the winery. Veg friendly is good, toddler friendly better.

Any other Stratford junkies out there? We are feeling the constraints of the exchange rate this year so ideas for dining on less would be good. There won't be 4 trips to the Church this year!



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I had dinner at the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar Monday night, in Toronto for one evening for a business meeting the next morning. With the exception of the wine (very interesting list by the glass) and dessert I can't say I really got this place. My peameal bacon sandwich with sheep's milk cheddar sounded intriguing, but it turned out to be basically a Cuban sandwich/panini if you will -- roasted pork loin and a sheep's milk cheese whose flavor didn't really come through, pressed between two pieces of grilled bread. It was all somewhat overwhelmed by a strong horseradish mustard. My crispy skinned pickerel with toasted bread salad was just a mess - the skin wasn't crisp in the slightest, and the toasted bread salad turned out to be a handful of oily croutons. I was really disappointed with this.

Most bizarre was a dish I didn't even have. Every once in a while throughout the meal I noticed a strong, unpleasant burning smell around me. My neighbor at the bar remarked the same thing. It turned out that an appetizer of some dips and bread was served with a burning rosemary sprig. I mean really burning. The couple to my left ordered it and I saw their plate, with this rosemary sprig on fire. I don't know who ever got the idea that this smelled good.

On the plus side, you'd probably pay a lot more for this in the States (three dishes, one full and one half glass of wine, for US$50 including tip) and the apple crumble tart with caramel sauce I ended the meal with was delicious.

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Any recent recommendations for a moderately priced dinner with a coworker in Toronto? I've heard raves about Chinatown, but looking for some specifics. Am staying at the Sheraton Centre but can jump a cab if necessary for somewhere worth the trip.

Central Toronto is a rather amazing collection of neighborhoods, each with distinct identities, but I'd have a hard time NOT running out to the northeastern inner suburb of Markham to pig out on xiao long bao. Highly recommended: Ding Tai Fung (3235 Hwy 7, Markham), a high-quality knockoff of the Taiwan-based Din Tai Fung chain. But don't let that put you off; the xlb are superb here. A review here.

I have to point out that Toronto traffic is really awful. Don't plan on getting anywhere in a hurry.

If you're on a splurge in town, the tasting menu at Lai Wah Heen, located in the Metropolitan Hotel (108 Chestnut St., Toronto) is arguably one of the fanciest Chinese meals to be had in North America, and certainly one of the most visually pleasing. But don't expect "contemporary Chinese" to push the envelope much.

When I get around to transplanting hard drives back, I'll try to post some photos.

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Some pics from Ding Tai Fung:


Front door

You can see some of the dumpling-makers at work in the window at the rear of the room.



Several versions of xiao long bao (#13) available...we really liked the seafood varieties. Don't worry, there's an English menu that parallels this order sheet.


Bean curd skin and beef tendon

Unlike most of the versions I've tried, they cube the tendon here instead of slicing it.


Three kinds of xiao long bao

The main event...

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Niagara-on-the-Lake has a pretty obvious tourist district in the historic town center. Of foodie interest, there's a gourmet cheese shop about a block off the main strip, but Ontario prices on cheese were staggering (we noticed this across the province) with most pushing the $25-30/lb range, so we punted.

However, it's worth stopping in at Greaves Jams & Marmalades (55 Queen St.), a local producer of English-style preserves which had their production facility directly above the shop from 1927 until two decades ago. They're still made in town, albeit at a new facility away from the historic district.

We didn't get a lot of recommendations for places to eat from the folks working at the wineries on Niagara-on-the-Lake, but a couple of them recommended The Pie Plate (1516 Niagara Stone Rd., Virgil ON), located on the road between NotL and the highway, for fresh-baked savories and fruit pies. The other common recc was the local watering-hole-and-grill on the other side of the intersection, which we dismissed out of hand. But thank goodness for The Pie Plate. We took seats outside on the patio, next to the very bushy cherry tomato plants, and were encouraged that periodically a cook would emerge from the kitchen to harvest a handful or two off the vine.

Individual savory pies were in short supply - they were out of my first choice, and Gubeen scored the last beef-and-Guinness - but you could get by with a nice salad and move directly to the main event, the fresh fruit pies. The Pie Plate uses only local fruit and we were there at the peak of the season in August, so the peaches were to die for. The photos on their website don't do the flaky-and-tender crusts justice, so here are my own shots:


Roadside sign

located on your right as your leave town, just prior to the Virgil traffic light

and across the street from a chapel-turned-antiques store

post-710-125925808797_thumb.jpg post-710-125925809577_thumb.jpg

Fresh peach pie

(right) detail of crust edge

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Any recs for actually eating in the Niagara Falls area (we're staying at the Fallsview Marriott). Will need probably 2 lunches and 1 dinner and are willing to try stuff on the NY or the ON sides.

I can't remember having anything decent in the Falls area. Ever. The drive over to NOTL isn't bad and the food is better there. Zee's Grill was very nice.

Avoid the Happy Wanderer and East Side Mario's no matter what you do. (And I love ESM at every other location I've tried. The one at the Fall's is dreadful.)

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We did a family trip there last summer.

It's chain city on the CA side, and the NY side is the Park, so it's Park food. (though the actual restaurant in the Park side is decent as far as park restaurants go).

On the CA side, once you get off the main drag, there are a few family-owned places, but I didn't find anything specific worth mentioning.

Not too far from the NY side is Buffalo, and a trip to the historic Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wing, is definitely worth it.

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Anchor Bar is about a 30 minute ride from the Falls.

For something closer, if you want good pizza try Vincenzo's (in shape/style it reminds me of a much better tasting Ledo's) which is in Lewiston (a few miles down the road from the Falls). Also, DiCamillo's is a bakery (I ate at the Lewiston one, but I believe there is one right in Niagara Falls) that is worth stopping in. Their "pizza bread" and pizza are excellent.

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Thanks! We're actually staying in Buffalo on Saturday night (WAY cheaper) and then spending two nights at the actual falls, so we're planning to hit up Anchor for sure. One night we're eating at the hotel's fallsview restaurant, but might have to head up to NOTL for the second night.

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Central Toronto is a rather amazing collection of neighborhoods, each with distinct identities, but I'd have a hard time NOT running out to the northeastern inner suburb of Markham to pig out on xiao long bao. Highly recommended: Ding Tai Fung (3235 Hwy 7, Markham), a high-quality knockoff of the Taiwan-based Din Tai Fung chain. But don't let that put you off; the xlb are superb here. A review here.

We ate here early last Sunday. The xiao long bao were pretty good -- almost certainly better than anything I've had in the D.C. area -- but still a step below the ones at Din Tai Fung. The beef tendon appetizer was cut into cubes as opposed to thin slices. My only criticism is that the xiao long tang bao (the one that's 6.99 on the menu) did not come with a bowl of broth/soup like Din Tai Fung serves in Beijing. I should have spoken up, but we were in a hurry to make the Blue Jays/Red Sox game.

Our best meal of the weekend was at Black Hoof in the Portugal Village neighborhood. Top-notch charcuterie plate for $25, with the foie gras parfait and duck proscuitto as the highlights. Great smoky sweetbreads with chanterelles and fresh peas too. Loved the 80s iPod mix that was playing in the background. The kitchen is tiny, with only one apartment-sized stove right next to the bar. Quite impressive, really.

Props to Dufflet Pastries as well. Their devil's food cupcake with strawberry frosting was better than anything at Georgetown Cupcake (our favorite in this area).

With all the meat consumed in T.O., we passed on wings/sandwiches while driving through Buffalo and had healthy prepared foods from Wegman's instead.

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If you're in the King St area, Beer Bistro is perfectly serviceable. I had the steak frites tonight along with a couple of local beers (Durham Hop Addict and Junction Craft Conductors Ale). The steak was served with tarragon butter, sauteed mushrooms, fried onions and fries cooked in beef and duck fat. The steak was cooked as I asked (medium rare) and had a nice flavor and texture, the frites were nice and meaty (I'm really not a fan of shoestring fries) and cooked so they were just crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The mushrooms gave a nice accent. Overall the beer selection was pretty decent, focusing on local beers and belgians (at least on top) with a large bottle selection as well.

Overall, not something I'd go (far) out of my way for but quite serviceable. I wouldn't hesitate to come back if I were in downtown Toronto again.

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Bellwoods Brewery

124 Ossington, Toronto Ontario


The Bias

It strikes me that most of the brewpubs I’ve been to are either serious about their beer, serious about their food program, or neither. Rare is the brew-bird that does both well.

Take even the venerable Russian River Brewery: the beers are legendary, but the food – mostly doughy pizzas – is an afterthought. This is the reason I was skeptical about Bellwoods Brewery, a skepticism that proved completely unfounded.

The Back-story

Bellwoods, which likely derives its name from nearby Trinity-Bellwoods Park, is on a strip of Ossington between Queen and Dundas that is currently getting a lot of press for its impressive density of quality restaurants. The source of this abundance appears to have its roots in local regulatory law-making. In particular, a moratorium on liquor licenses (welcome to Canada), allowed for new regulations that effectively drove out any potential nightclubs, but preserved the restaurants and smaller pubs and bars.

The beers here are serious. Eschewing conventional wisdom, the owners and brewmasters cast a wide net, tackling a range of styles (with a focus on Belgium) tied together primarily by the simple fact that they were simply interested in them.

Chef Guy Rawlings (who they will lose in June) is in charge of the menu, which dwells on beer-friendly small bites. It is quite successful.


The space is fantastic. A former garage with one side completely open to the outside, the space practically beckons thirsty passers-by in. The lower level is occupied by a smart-looking bar and the brewing area supplied with several fermenters and old pinot barrels (for a forthcoming barrel aged creation), while the upstairs contains a few tables and a counter that overlooks the bar and brewery.

The Experience

My girlfriend and I stopped by on a warm Wednesday night in May. It took a while to be greeted because there seemed to only be two front-of-house staffers working a nearly-packed house. But the fellow who did greet us was pleasant, giving us a choice of a table upstairs or a seat at the aforementioned upstairs counter overlooking the brewery. Although there was no one working the equipment at that time, I have an interest in beer-making and convinced my girlfriend that we wanted those seats.

I started with their Farmhouse Saison, which I found spicy and yeasty, but eminently drinkable. I could have put back several of these if I did not want to try others. We also tried their Toil and Trouble Dubbel, another of the Beligan style but not as much of an easy-sipper. Working backwards through the beer list, I ended with the Common Pale Ale, which I only wish was indicative of a common pale ale. It was the lightest of the beers I had that night, but not without its intricacies, notably a grainy finish. Overall, the beer here is of an extremely high quality and I expect they will be raking in the awards soon.

(Of course this should be taken with the note that they have a slight leg up in that the beer is extremely fresh and they can closely monitor the cleanliness of the tap and lines.)

Rawlings’ menu is meant to compliment the beers. It’s divided into snacks, sticks and plates, of which I believe the sticks represent the best value and quality. While several of the snacks sounded terrific (pork rinds with house-made malt vinegar, $3 for a small portion, $6 for a large), we were a bit underwhelmed by the quantity. The small portion of pork rinds was just that, maybe five or six diminutive rinds. Lima beans ($4) were also exceedingly sparse, and the quick fry in paprika and oil seemed like something anyone could do at home.


On the other hand, I was extremely impressed by the stick of duck hearts served with charred jalapeno oil ($4), the smokiness of the oil helping to accent the meatiness of the hearts (much in the tradition of a great barbeque). We also enjoyed a stick of sunchokes with a barely-there horseradish cream. Finally, we had a plate of crispy pork, pea shoots, peanuts soaked in vinegar, and grainy mustard sauce ($9). I wasn’t floored by this dish, but the peanuts are a terrific idea, providing much needed blasts of vinegar throughout a relatively fatty dish.

Despite being short handed, I have to note that the service was excellent. Our server was around when we needed him and was happy to describe the intricacies of the menu, a matter on which he was clearly and expert. After things cooled down, we shared beer stories, and I got the impression it was more than a job for him and that he was clearly a beer geek.

In short, Bellwoods in an exceedingly well thought-out brewpub in a town that could really use one. If you are in Toronto, I would seek this out as a unique experience in a not-very-touristy part of town.

The Caveat

This write-up is a product of a single experience during the brewpub’s first month. I wouldn’t treat it as a review as much as a description of a single data point.

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I'm very sad to report that Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co (Picton, ON) halted production last month, supposedly temporarily, due to cashflow problems. The retail store continues to operate with the inventory in their cave, but the production staff have been laid off and the operation is struggling. The divorce of the co-owners, founding cheesemaker Petra Kassun-Mutch and her husband Shawn Cooper, precipitated Petra's departure last fall as president of the operation. She remains a force in the Canadian artisanal cheese scene, as a founding member of the Ontario Cheese Society, and interim chair of the new Canadian Cheese Society.

Shame on me for never getting around to posting a proper write-up of this place, the most extraordinary cheesemaking operation in North America. Noted for their award-winning goat and sheep cheeses, Fifth Town operated out of a purpose-built facility in which spent whey was run through a series of constructed biomarshes in order to minimize its environmental impact. The buildings were constructed out of advanced recycled building materials, and were super-efficient. It was/is the only LEED Platinum-certified dairy in the world, and the only LEED Platinum factory of any type in Canada. In addition, their business model was designed to keep the vast majority (93%) of the company's spending in the local community.

I've attached a couple of photos from when I toured their facility in 2009. It really is a showplace; they went to the extraordinary measure of obtaining laminated polymer panels, normally found as bullet-resistant applications, for all the windows (including the huge viewing windows) in the cheesemaking room where glass is prohibited by food safety regulations. If you're in Toronto this summer, consider stopping by this little gem in the cottage region of PEC an hour or two to the east.


view from the road; semi-buried aging cave at right, marshes in front


cheesemaking room


retail shop

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Caplanksy's Deli

356 College St, Toronto Ontario


Standard Deviation

If you believe the internet, Caplanksy’s isn’t a story about quality; it’s all about variance. It’s not the tale I expected when I moved to Toronto. In fact, when I found out I was moving to Toronto, Caplansky’s was the restaurant I was most excited about trying. A couple of years ago I got obsessed with making my own pastrami, daydreams of opening my own deli dancing through my head. And when it comes to smoking and curing meat, Caplanksy is at the head of the class.

Zane Caplansky gained a great deal of notoriety a while back for being on the vanguard of a deli movement: quality-conscious, artisanally-minded young deli men bringing the art form back from the brink. I read about him and Nick Zukin of Portland’s (of course) Kenny and Zuke’s in a Gourmet article by David Sax, and later in Sax’s novel, Save the Deli.

Trepidations about opening up a small business, and really, fear of the unknown got in the way of my cured meat dreams. The story seems to have changed at Caplansky’s as well. Chowhound currently holds pages and pages of complaints about Mr. Caplansky’s deli. But it isn’t that it’s not good – it’s that it’s not consistent. Apparently, what you get at Capalansky’s varies wildly night to night, to the point that some of sworn off it completely. Some even say you should go in and ask for a sample prior to ordering, and if it’s not up to snuff get a tongue sandwich instead..

What is indisputable about Caplansky is that he knows deli. The smoked meat is his own recipe, aggressively spiced, and when it’s good, it’s a rival to Schwartz’s in Montreal.

I went on a Friday night in May, and came away very satisfied. Like I said, there is a good chance it was just luck, but I can’t argue with my own experience. My date and I both ordered the sandwich combo (a sandwich, coleslaw, pickle and fries/soup/salad for $13 – a decent deal for this town) with smoked meat, hers medium, mine fatty. Turns out, fatty was the way to go.


Unlike Schwartz’s (and again, this may have just been the (bad) luck of the draw), where the fatty smoked meat is more-or-less pure fat, the fatty here was the perfect balance of fatty and lean, more what I would call a medium. My date’s medium was actually lean, and a bit try to tell the truth. But the rye was fresh, and the house-made mustard hot (we bought some to take home, $5 and worth it), and we both left satisfied. The combo comes with a side, my date’s order of fries being plentiful, if not burnt in parts, and my matzoh ball soup clean tasting with a fluffy dumpling.

I have no reason to doubt the various cautionary tales out there. But even if the average visit deviates a great deal from my experience, this is an accessible deli serving most of the traditional fare in a time when such a restaurant is hard to find.

(the photograph is my own)

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Noka (Website)

513 Bloor West, Toronto Ontario

Noka is a Japanese restaurant on Bloor, in the Annex, home to no shortage of Japanese restaurants. One can classify the Japanese fare on Bloor into three categories:

I. Cheap, decent sushi:

Japan Sushi (terrible name award winner, 2012)

Big Sushi (runner up, terrible name award, 2012)

Sushi on Bloor (long lines no longer justified/sensible)

II. Good Izakaya:


III. Inventive + Better than average Sushi:

Sushi Couture

Noka presents itself as a newcomer in the third category, but from my one experience, it seems closer to a more expensive version of the first.


From the “Signature Appetizer” section (the part of the menu that drives my hypothesis that Noka is trying to be something more), we tried the Chili Tuna ($8.95). This dish is described as “tuna, diakon, cucumber, fresh mint, beet, chili sauce.” At the end of the day, this is just a misconceived dish. It’s more or less a salad of those ingredients, the beets actually being beet chips. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the combination of these ingredients, but more that not one was heightened by that particular combination. It didn’t help that the fish was past its prime, with a fishy taste and mushy texture.

Rounding out the meal, we opted for maki combo B ($13.95), which is a roll each of spicy salmon, tuna and escolar along with miso soup and salad. This was a bit of a you get what you asked for situation, but the fish was sauced to hell and for the life of me I couldn’t tell the difference between the tuna and escolar. We also ordered an eggplant tempura and a sweet potato tempura, the two stars of the show and the sign of a kitchen that knows its way around a deep fryer. Maybe it’s not a good omen that a restaurant’s fry work was its best effort, but perhaps worth knowing.


Overall, Noka seems to want to join the likes of Sushi Couture on Bloor’s sushi scene, but based on my experience, it simply doesn’t weigh up.

Perpend: Noka’s website links to two food blogs (TO Bites & Food Junkie Chronicles) that had considerably better experiences, the latter of which did a much better job at sampling the menu.

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So what is the most "Toronto" thing to do/eat? I know it's a very metropolitan and cultural city with lots of ethnic food offerings. I also know a bunch of NY places have just opened outposts- I don't really feel like eating momofuku in Canada when it's just a few hours up the road. Soo.. poutine and kids in the hall marathon?

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Sure, here are some ideas:

Check out Edulis. Their Sunday dinner is an especially good deal.

Check out Chinatown, where Americanized Chinese food has been perfected. I like Swatow.

The Ossington strip is especially popular right now and is home to several interesting places: Bellwood's Brewery (I wrote about it upthread) continues to impress and many consider it Ontario's finest producer of craft beer, Hawker Bar, and Yours Truly.

Wallflower, mentioned on my blog.

Black Hoof

The suburbs for authentic Sichuan, Cantonese and various Northern cuisines.

Toronto is a lot like Brooklyn-lite right now. Lots of small independent chef-driven restaurants that pop up every week. Except since it's Canada it's a lot more expensive than Brooklyn. For instance:


Also, in the Eglington West area (little Jamaica) features numerous restaurants with guys cooking jerk chicken outside their shops on makeshift grills.

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Are there restaurants you'd recommend near the harbourfront / Rogers Centre area? We'll be there this summer and one of our party may not be up to walking far, so we might need to stick close, or go within a reasonable cab or transit ride - probably can't do subway, too much walking. I know traffic/parking is supposed to be very difficult in general so we probably will not drive places.

My sense from reading a little about it is that the Harbourfront area may be primarily fast food / chains, and the same may be true right near the ballpark, but that the "Entertainment District" is nearby and may have good places. (I would've taken a streetcar to go somewhere, but the streetcar from Queen's Quay apparently has been replaced with bus service during construction until the end of the year - there's bus service instead but I haven't figured out yet how often that runs or if it goes close to where we'll be and where we'd want to go.)

If there are only a few good places in the area, I'd love to know what they are. If there are lots of places, would love to hear the ones you think are best (which does not have to mean fanciest/most upscale). We like good food from super casual to somewhat fancy. Can't do MSG, but I don't know if that's a common ingredient in Chinese food in Canada as it is in much of the U.S.

Thank you!

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Sure, I'll work on this. I will say that you should avoid the restaurants in the entertainment district at all costs. It's chain or just high priced, low value restaurants that are designed to extract money from tourists. That's sort of the nature of the area unfortunately. It neighbors the financial district (where I work), and that's just a business lunch area that shuts down after 6.

But there is some stuff. I'll start a list.

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Oh, thank you so much, Jason! I can't say how much I appreciate it. It's my first time visiting Canada and I'm looking forward to it very much, but we only have a couple days in Toronto and I'd like them to be good. (Probably eating lunch at the ballpark one day, but the rest of the time would be eating in the neighborhood or a short cab ride away, depending on how easy/hard it is to get cabs.)

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Hi Genevieve,

Here are some thoughts I had. I may come up with more later. They should all be reasonably close to where you are staying, some moreso than others.

  • Biff's Bistro - they have $1 oysters after 5:30 in the whole restaurant.
  • Banh Mi Boys
  • White Squirel Snack Shop
  • Canteen
  • Bannock
  • Cibo has half priced wine on Thursday, but I wouldn't go otherwise.

There is a restaurant in the four seasons pretty close to where you are staying that I would NOT go to. I wasn't paying but it was one of the most poorly executed over-priced meals I've had in a long time.

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Thank you so much, Jason!! I will be sure to have this list on hand. None of us are wine-drinkers or oyster-eaters, so we'll skip Cibo and I'll see what else is on Biff's menu (am guessing they will have other good seafood).

How hard is it to get cabs? If there's somewhere wonderful worth cabbing to, and we could get a cab back to the hotel from the restaurant without too much difficulty, we'd do that one night.

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Biff's is actually more French - other than the oysters I'm not sure seafood is a highlight.

Outside of about 4:30-6:30 or so, cabs are easy to find and pretty affordable here. I've been happy with the cabs.

I spoke to a colleague who lives just east of the Rogers Centre and she listed Real Sports as her restaurant of choice that's in walking distance. That's kind of just a crappy sports bar, so I think that's an indicator of the choices in that general area.

Edulis is a chowhound favorite and a reasonable cab ride from the Rogers Centre. Less than $10 one way.

You could also get to Leslieville for about $10 and that's a very trendy area at the moment. I've never been but friends rave about the brunch at Lady Marmalade.

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I cannot contribute to the restaurant discussion because I've never left Pearson International Airport (in my experience, expect mediocrity if you're looking for food) but if you are a Bank of America account holder you can withdraw money from Scotiabank ATMs across Canada without surcharges or access fees (if I recall from the days when I took advantage of this, Scotiabank charges you an exchange fee).

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Bero, in the Leslieville neighborhood of Toronto (yeah, I have no idea where that is)

Modern technique with Spanish/Basque influences.

Full disclosure alert:  Matt Kantor, the chef is my former college roommate.  Physics degree, computer programing background, ditched it all to go to the Culinary Institute of America.  After several years of wanderings around the country, Matt ended up in Toronto.  He ran a noted series of pop-up dinners called Secret Pickle and has finally partnered and opened up his first restaurant.

Back in college, Matt and I, and a third roommate, use to whip up huge batches of chicken curry to feed us for the week and experimented with all sorts of homebrew gear.  Our Blacker Than Black Chocolate Stout was particularly delicious.

I'm hoping to get up to Toronto this Fall...but in the mean time here is some gratuitous food porn from a blog review of his restaurant:

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Getting excited for our Toronto trip!  We're going to be a little more mobile than I'd thought, so we can look at places to eat outside the harbourfront area, though we'll have a meal or two there from Jason's recommendations, so glad to have those. We should be able to walk a little more than I thought (though probably not more than three or four blocks at a time) and/or take buses/streetcars as well as cabs.  And since Toronto is the main highlight of our trip, we could definitely take cabs a bit further and splurge a bit more.  So if you have any great places that are a bit further from where we're staying but are worth the cab ride or couple blocks' walk from the bus/streetcar, I'd love to have their names.

I do need to make sure the restaurants have something for one in our party who is not eating pork or seafood and is sometimes adventurous but sometimes not.  Edulis will depend on what they have on the daily menu, since it's a short one, but if it works for the whole party I would love to go there; Bero sounds amazing but we should go somewhere with more than 3 choices per course, especially when it's a 4-course prix fixe.  Most places look like they have plenty of other options, though - pleased to see that Banh Mi boys has steamed bao with braised beef cheek or fried chicken as well as pork.

So is North 44 still highly recommended?  The post above has me very intrigued, but it's from 2006.

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Jason, thanks to you, we ate very very well in Toronto.  I'm indebted!

We started at Lai Wah Heen and had some of the best dim sum I've had.  A menu full of creative dumplings, things I haven't seen before, as well as top-notch har gow and shu mai and steamed pork buns.  The turnip cake came as a rough pyramid of little cubes instead of the thick rectangles we're used to, and that just meant more surface area to be crisped - terrific.  A crab dumpling was designed like a crab, with legs drawn in sauce and black sesame seed eyes.  Good service, too, very friendly and helpful.

Other places we ate at your recommendation were Canteen (looks like a little sandwich joint, had great creative casual food) and White Squirrel Snack Shop (terrific! loved my brown rice/great mushrooms/tofu/kimchee/steamed greens).  Hoped to get to Banh Mi Boys but that didn't work out.  We also enjoyed Daisho very much, though a little pricey for the amount of food you get (not that we weren't happy not to be stuffed, and everything was delectable and different from what I've had in DC - I recommend the dessert that was like a baked or fried snack pie with warm peaches inside).  Had a very nice though not out-of-the-ordinary lunch at By the Way Cafe in the Annex when we were over there (the daily soup special was unusual, carrot/ginger/coconut, and that was just lovely). 

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I'm really glad they mostly worked out!

I realize now I should have probably recommended more Chinese food as that's a local specialty.  Although, a great deal of it is outside of the city proper, so it might not have worked out anyway.

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Source: Grub Street New York


Just remember, it's cash-only and only one burger per-person.

There are lots and lots of people outside the "stately farm-to-table Italian restaurant" Osteria dei Ganzi this morning in Toronto, where the venerated California-based In-N-Out Burger has set up shop temporarily to sell three kinds of burgers at $4 to $6 a pop. The city's mad blitz of double-doubles lasts from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., or until inventory runs out, of course, and, well, the odds are clearly stacked against most of these folks: Some 600 people showed up for a chance to get 300 burgers in Singapore at a ...

Read full article >>

I have raved about In-n-Out Burger on several Chowhound posts.  This looks dry, completely devoid of any juice.  The photo is actually a good argument for In-n-Out not expanding outside of the area where they can control their quality.

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Above is a photo of a California In-n-Out double double with grilled onions.  The Toronto double double has a slice of raw onion.  Nobody, nobody orders a double double with raw onion  Grilled onions!  Note on the right hand side of the burger that the juice is oozing into the cheese and bun.  You won't see this in the Toronto wannabe.  I will also note that the Canadian bun doesn't even look like an In-n-Out bun.

Having said all this the best Canadian burger-and perhaps the equal of In-n-out-is in Vancouver at a drive-in White Spot, several of which still have teletray service and car hops.

Sincere thanks to Estufarian for posting my original "the 5,000 mile hamburger" post from 2003 on Chowhound's Toronto board.

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Any updates? I am taking my mom to Toronto over Thanksgiving holiday. I really don't want to rent a car, so transportation advice is also appreciated. We will be staying downtown, near Union Station.

A visit to Chinatown is a must, but where to go for good eats these days in or around Union Station?

Has anyone done a day-trip to Niagara? Do you recommend a tour ticket or GO or VIA Rail?


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I think the greater Toronto area, in terms of Chinese food, is probably third in North America behind Vancouver and the San Gabriel Valley.  Maybe behind the Bay Area 'burbs as well.  The annoyance is that these restaurants simply don't lie in Downtown Vancouver, and Toronto's public transit doesn't make it easy to get out there (unlike say in Vancouver where Richmond - the place where the world class Cantonese and Sichuan can be found - is easily accessible by Skytrain).  Consider making the trek anyway.

Some cool new places of note:

Pai (indeed, many of the staff are actually from Pai or have lived there for a long period of time)

Little Sister

http://www.buca.ca/bar/ (haven't been but have heard good things)

http://www.thechasetoronto.com/ (haven't been but have heard good things)

Portland Variety

Also, most of the lists here are solid, maybe use them as idea fodder:


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I think the greater Toronto area, in terms of Chinese food, is probably third in North America behind Vancouver and the San Gabriel Valley.  Maybe behind the Bay Area 'burbs as well.  The annoyance is that these restaurants simply don't lie in Downtown Vancouver, and Toronto's public transit doesn't make it easy to get out there (unlike say in Vancouver where Richmond - the place where the world class Cantonese and Sichuan can be found - is easily accessible by Skytrain).  Consider making the trek anyway.  

Of course, this should read:

I think the greater Toronto area, in terms of Chinese food, is probably third in North America behind Vancouver and the San Gabriel Valley.  Maybe behind the Bay Area 'burbs as well.  The annoyance is that these restaurants simply don't lie in Downtown Toronto, and Toronto's public transit doesn't make it easy to get out there (unlike say in Vancouver where Richmond - the place where the world class Cantonese and Sichuan can be found - is easily accessible by Skytrain).  Consider making the trek anyway.

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^ It's okay Jason--that's what our autocorrect function in the brain does--glossed right over that (although I see where your bias lay... ^_~ )

So after polling GEgrandma, who promptly said, "anything is fine, but not too..." (I'm not sure what the "not too" part is, so doing my best here), I have the following ideas. Also, apologies, jasonc, my mom's not very adventurous food-wise for some things, so I had to gloss over some of your ideas... -_-;

1. Booked: 360 at the CN Tower (she wanted to do touristy) and Yasu (after pouring through that Chowhound thread--thanks!).

2. Touristy other places involving food:  Kensington & St. Lawrence Markets (what to taste and see?), Distillery District (Toronto Christmas Market?), walking around Chinatown? Advice would be greatly appreciated.

3. Touristy other places not involving food:  Bata Shoe Museum & Niagara Falls (taking the GO Transit over--any "walkable" places appreciated).

GEgrandma is taking the approach of "it's Toronto; we can eat at any dim sum place and it'll be great!" But I am the cautious one; are there okay places within the Chinatown area?

Itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive and check in early afternoon. Walk around until 6-ish dinner reservation at CN Tower. (This is where I was thinking Distillery & St. Lawrence Markets?)

Day 2: Breakfast at Kensington Market, then Bata Shoe Museum or Chinatown until 5-ish seating at Yasu.

Day 3: Take transit to Niagara Falls. Do touristy stuff and walk around going "ooh and ahh" and "I'm freezing" around the Falls.

Editing and such advice appreciated. Don't want to wear out my mom either. Thanks all!

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