Croque Madame? Don’t mind if I do!!!

Finally… the brunch has come back to Toronto! With the city moving into Phase 3 this weekend, I now have a reason to get up before noon on Sundays again. So, we’re hanging out at Lapinou, this funky French bistro on King West, that’s serving up a three-course Sunday brunch special for 35 bucks a person — that’s like a five-finger discount in Flavourtown!!!

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We’re starting off with some bread for the table — but this ain’t just any day-old bread, bro! We’re talking warm ‘n crusty Focaccia rolls with some tomato vinegar and olive oil for dunking. Pretty sure I could slam, like, six of these…

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You’ve also got some veggies and dip — a killer bay-leaf aioli with some salsa verde on top. Dude, this is body by salsa verde!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. We’re talking French toast, smoked ham, dijon mustard, Mornay sauce…and a fried egg on top. Crip to the Croque, the hits don’t stop!!!

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And then, at the end, a little amuse-bouche of watermelon sorbet. OK, so I couldda slammed a triple scoop of this stuff, but it was still nice ‘n cold and refreshing!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Cod fish empanadas & truffle tater tots!

Dude, if there’s one thing I like more than comfort food, it’s comfort food that kicks it up a notch. So we’re hanging out on the patio at Canteen, this funky O&B joint at the bottom of the TIFF Lightbox. And they’re all about the comfort food — Caesar salad, tacos, burgers, sliders and pizzas…but when I saw the truffle tater tots, you KNOW I gotta have my tots, bro!!!

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OK, so what makes these truffle tater tots is the truffle aioli dipping sauce — there’s a reason why these are eight bucks, and not 800! But the taters were nice ‘n crispy, and the sauce adds a bit of a kick…I can’t complain at all!

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But you KNOW that order of tots wasn’t gonna tide me over, so we’re pairing it with a pair of Piri Piri cod empanadas, cabron! These fish pastries were super-flaky, coming in really hot out of the oven. The fish was pulled, and not very spicy — but still pretty tasty!!!

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But the party is just getting started, son! Up next we’ve got mac ‘n cheese, with mushrooms, cured tomatoes and herb bread crumbs. There was supposed to be kale here, too, but friends don’t let friends ruin mac ‘n cheese with kale, bro! You’ve got some nice, big noodles, a creamy cheese sauce, and the mushrooms add a nice bite. I couldda maybe used a little more cheese on top, though…

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And we’re washing it all down with a coupla Maison Selby Wit beers, brewed by Big Rock for another O&B joint…but they serve it on tap here, too. Nice, light and refreshing, but not too citrusy — I could slam at least 10 of these!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Fountains of Flavour @ Casa Loma Gardens

Now, last weekend at Cabana was probably the prettiest patio I’ve been to since this whole thing started. But this place has gotta be a close second. We’re hanging out at The Gardens at Casa Loma, this massive castle courtyard at a local tourist attraction. Now, I’ve eaten inside at BlueBlood Steakhouse before, but this was something totally different:

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What we’ve got here is a crab cake BLT with a side of jerk chicken lollipop wings. When I ordered ’em, I thought the wings would come out first, but hey, it’s not like I can’t eat two things at once. And for the record, I did NOT ask for a side salad — this dish couldda came with fries, but the server didn’t even ask what I wanted on the side, and just assumed I needed salad… Yo, don’t shame me, bro!!!

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It ain’t no thing but a chicken wing, though! These lollipops packed a punch from the jerk marinade, but the pineapple salsa helped cool things down…although I had to scoop it up with a fork cuz it didn’t stay on top of the chicken. I could probably pound, like, 17 of these, but then I wouldn’t have room for crab cakes:

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While this sandwich does have all the necessary ingredients — bacon, lettuce and tomato — there’s no question that the crab cake is the star of the show. Breaded and deep-fried, it’s coming in hot and crunchy, with some added crunch from the slaw, and a soft bun to bring it all together. Hey, it’s no Maryland crab cake, but I still can’t complain!

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When it comes to beer, you won’t find any craft here…unless you like Mill St Organic. (And there’s nothing wrong with that at all.) But I prefer the nice, summery taste of a Hoegaarden wheat beer from Belgium. They don’t have the massive pint glasses you’ll normally find this beer in, but a couple of these brewskis will still hit the spot, son!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Crushing a 14 oz pork chop @ Cabana Waterfront Patio

Now, because nobody is allowed to go clubbing anytime soon, Cabana Pool Bar on Polson St had to switch up its business model — bringing in food from O&B for its new venture, Cabana Waterfront Patio. Dude, you can’t get any closer to the lake than this place…unless you’re on a boat, bro!

And when it comes to food, they’re not just serving up burgers and fries. Instead they’ve got fresh summer eats like grilled octopus, Miami short ribs, and this hunka, hunka burning meat — the 14 oz BBQ pork chop:

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Now, this is not the biggest pork chop I’ve ever slammed, but it might be the second biggest. Meat is nice and tender, with some good grill marks. You’ve got a nice Napa cabbage slaw, some tangy pineapple salsa…but what makes it are the garlic buns, son!

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These little two-bite flavour nuggets are melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness. You KNOW I don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hun!!!!

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Now, the name of this blog isn’t Burgers, Bacon and Fruity Drinks, but I had to make an exception here. What we’ve got is a Frozen Jack Honey Lemonade, with ginger syrup, lemon juice and Jack Daniels if you please… The only downside to this drink is that it started melting before I could finish it!!!

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Of course, even after pulverizing that pork chop, you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert! We’re talking frozen key lime pie on a stick, dipped in chocolate, on a bed of whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Shut the port, aft AND starboard doors, Sailor Bro!!!

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TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Whole pile of Thai-style squid!!!

Now, to be honest, I’ve been ordering a lot more delivery than takeout… hey, I don’t wanna get the Camaro dirty, bro! But when Uber Eats gave me a code for $10 off an order — as long as I pick it up — that means I’m heading on over to Salad King, this funky local Thai joint that’s been serving it up since the early 80’s.

This place is known for super-spicy food, with its choose-your-own-chili level of heat. So when I saw that this squid dish called Sea Queen was “already a bit spicy,” well, I’m just glad they put the sauce on the side!!!

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Now, it might not look like much in those little containers, but this is actually quite a lot of food. Squid is nice and chewy, lightly breaded and seasoned, and it turns out the sauce isn’t too spicy. And then, for another six bucks, I got three super-sized spring rolls. You definitely get your money’s worth here, bro!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Coq au vin poutine? Say no more, mon amour!!!

Now, everybody knows I love poutine. Dude, this is body by poutine, bro!!! So when I found out that Cluny, this funky French bistro in the Distillery District, was serving up a coq au vin poutine, I was all over that like French on bread, mec! They say it’s meant to share, but this looks more like poutine for one in Flavourtown…

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OK, now let’s break it down. The fries are super-thin, and the cheese, if it was ever in curd form, was completely melted by the time it hit the table. But the chicken was nice ‘n tender, and you’ve got these little flavour nuggets of bacon and mushroom for an extra kick. This one might not go in the Poutine Hall of Fame, but it was still a pretty tasty dish. It wasn’t even enough food for me, though — you KNOW I still had room for dessert, bro!!!

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The only thing that’s bittersweet about this Bittersweet Truffle Bar was that it’s not a bit bigger! It’s kinda like a solid chocolate mousse, with a whole lotta raspberry sauce, a few pink marshmallows and these little caramel cocoa nibs. Pretty sure I could slam three of these, and still have room for… I dunno, maybe some frog legs or something?

PATIO LIT EATS: I’m living on Chinese broc, all my best things are in woks…

Now, you KNOW I don’t eat a whole lotta veggies bro, but if there’s one kind I don’t mind sometimes, it’s Chinese broccoli. Not only does it remind me of my second-favourite Ramones tune,  but there’s something about the way they cook it in the wok, with the teriyaki sauce, that makes it pretty darn tasty…

So, we’re hanging out at Dasha, this funky, upscale Chinese joint that’s down an alley off of King Street. Apparently, they’ve even got a karaoke bar on the second floor…but since they’re only open for outdoor dining, we’re gonna hafta stick to eating!

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What, you didn’t think this blog was only about broccoli, bro!? Nah, it’s just a side dish for their Mongolian-style steak! You’ve got a 16-oz prime rib, grilled to perfection, with some edible flowers and a black truffle sauce — I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Peruvian lamb, sea and air combo!!!

Now, I’m not drunk or anything, but this one time, after band camp, I went to McDonald’s and ordered a Land, Sea and Air Burger. It was not very good. But on the other hand, if you combine lamb, sea and air, that would probably be pretty tasty!

So, we’re hanging out at Chotto Matte, this funky Japanese/Peruvian fusion joint at Bay and Front. These guys are serving up all kinds of Peruvian style barbecue, and they’re all small plates, so I figured I could eat at least three of them…

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We’re starting off with lamb, which was probably the star of the show. These smoked lamb chops were marinated in a spicy BBQ sauce and grilled to perfection, son!

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From the sea, we’ve got grilled octopus on a bed of purple potatoes with splashes of yuzu/blueberry sauce, for that extra burst of purple. This was another well-cooked dish, with a texture more like steak or chicken than the rubbery chewiness you’d expect from octopus.

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And then from the air, there’s this pollo picante — some nice chunks of chicken served up skewer style with a little green onions on top. Nothing wrong with that at all!

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Now, since I’m eating octopus, I gotta go for an Octopus Wants to Fight, this hoppy, juicy IPA from Great Lakes Brewery. That’ll take some of the heat off those lamb chops, son!

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After all that eating back there, you’re probably wondering, “Did he still have room for dessert?” Well, I wasn’t gonna order it, but when they told me about the Peruvian chocolate crema, I had to check it out!!!

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Dude, this has got to be the best dessert I’ve had all month! It’s kinda like a chocolate mousse, but made with rum — and you can really taste the rum, bro! Then they top it with honeycomb, chocolate sauce and these crunchy little dulce de leche bites — man, I could slam, like, three of these!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: I think I’m turning Japanese for this chicken katsu with cheese!!!

Now, I gotta admit, I’m not a huge sushi fan. I mean, I’ll eat it — especially when it’s all-you-can-eat — but it’s not really my go-to. When it comes to Japanese food, I’m all about the breaded and fried, and if there’s cheese involved, that’s the icing on the cake. But we’re not eating cake, though — this is chicken katsu from Mr. Tonkatsu, bro!!!

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Now, you get a pretty decent-sized lunch here for 14 bucks. There’s actually more chicken than meets the eye — with a double layer at the end — and then you’ve got rice, slaw and some miso soup that stayed warm, cuz this delivery order only took about 30 minutes. Hey, it’s nice to get a little something on the side, but you KNOW it’s all about the chicken, bro!!!

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Dude, this chicken is cheesier than an 80’s power ballad! You’ve got a nice temperature, some crispy breading, and then all that cheesy goodness. While I like the katsu sauce, I think it actually tastes better without it. Every rose has its thorn, son!!!

 

PATIO LIT EATS: Patio beers & pizza @ King Taps

It seems like there’s two kinds of patios in Toronto right now — the ones that are all booked up for weeks, and others that are first-come, first-serve. That’s why King Taps, this funky craft beer joint in the Financial District, is smarter than your average joint.  Y’see, they’re only doing same-day resos — which means I was online right at midnight to snag a primo spot for the Triple B Krew last weekend, bro!!!!

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Dude, I’ve been to King Taps a couple times before, so I KNOW they’ve got good beer here. The selection wasn’t quite as good as I remembered, but their rotating tap list is still pretty solid. This here’s Solaris White Peach Ale, a hazy wheat beer from Phillips Brewing in Victoria, BC. Super-crushable at 4.3%, and it sure tastes peachy!!!

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Now, when it comes to food, if there’s one thing this joint is known for — besides the $30 double cheeseburger with beef short rib on top — it’s pizza. And when it comes to their pizza, this here’s The People’s Champion. The Stinging Bee rumbles in the jungle with soppressata salami, kalamata olives, a whole lotta mozza, and some honey on top, for just that little hit of sweetness. Who needs to float like a butterfly when you can shove this pizza down your piehole, son????

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