Monthly Archives: November 2016

Dirty duck… done dirt cheap!

So, we’re hanging out at Wvrst, this funky beer ‘n sausage house on King Street West. This place is pretty much serving up Noah’s Ark on a plate, son! You’ve got pheasant, you’ve got boar, you’ve got elk and lamb and rabbit and a kangaroo too, to say nothing of all their funky takes on pork and beef sausages, paired with one of the longest beer lists I’ve ever seen…oh, and some of the best fries in Toronto, three years running!


Now, these aren’t just any regular fries, son. These are Dirty Duck Fries! They take duck-fat fries and top ‘em with peppers, jalapenos and onions, along with a special sauce that’s part gravy, part spicy. And all this for just $6.50, bro! I’m pretty sure I paid more than that for poutine at the Grey Cup—sad, but true!

Now, what meat would go best with these dirty fries done dirt cheap? No, not the lamb merguez—unless you’re from New Zealand—we’re talkin’ the meaty, beaty, big ‘n bouncy chicken of the outback…tie me kangaroo down, sport!


Man, this sausage is a real live wire! You’ve got a nice, gamey flavour, a cross between bison and wild boar, with a nice, tangy mix of herbs and spices. Topped with some onions and sweet red peppers, and it’s got me ringing Hell’s bells, bro! We’re going in to Sin City and the prize is sausage! The only thing that would make this better is some big ol’ meatballs on the side…

This superbad shakshuka’s got souuuul, baby!

So, we’re hanging out at the Drake One Fifty, this funky downtown joint, for their Sunday Soul Brunch. From noon ‘till two, they’ve got a live band blasting out some groovy tunes, while they’re serving up some sweet and savoury eats in the kitchen, including this funky take on a Middle Eastern classic:


Shakshuka is a breakfast staple in North Africa, where you can find it all over the place in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt. It’s also pretty popular in Israel, and they’re even serving it up from a food truck in La-La Land! Now, I’m a big fan of Middle Eastern food—you know I loves me some shawarma, son!—but I had never had anything like this before. So, let’s break it down:


What we’ve got here are two sunny-side down eggs, baked in tomato sauce, on a bed of grains with some smoked ham and bacon thrown in for good measure. The Drake’s shakshuka comes with sourdough and a side of salsa verde, which is probably cultural misappropriation or something, but it actually adds some nice heat to the dish. Man, this is like a warm hug from across the pond—a perfect pick-me-up on a chilly morning. Now, I just gotta ask the band to play “Soul Man” by the Blues Brothers next time!!!

Jalapenos and cheese sauce and bacon, oh my!

So, we’re hanging out at The Gabardine, this funky neighbourhood joint that’s bringing all the flavours of Main Street right on down to Bay Street. This is not your typical financial district steakhouse, son! This cozy spot only seats about 30, and if you want a seat at lunchtime, you’d better get there early, cuz there’s no… reservations… till dinner! (Dinner!)

And man, you know they’re packing ‘em in for some real-deal, local, sustainable comfort foods, like these crispy fried grits:


Now, this is definitely one of the most funkalicious dishes I’ve had all year. You’ve got these tater-tot-terrific fried grits swimming in a pool of nacho cheese sauce, with some thinly sliced jalapenos and a whole buncha crispy bacon bits. Shut the back door and lock it, bro! And as you can see, they don’t give you three grits to an order, or a handful, but rather a whole plateful. Some people probably wouldn’t need to eat lunch after pounding back a plate of these, but you know I ain’t just some people, son!

Now, on a sad note, I’ve been mourning the loss of Let’s Be Frank, this funky College St dive next door to the El Mocambo. That place made a mean Nashville hot chicken sammy, and I figured they’d be cookin’ with bacon fat as soon as the renovated joint next door opened for business. But the ElMo is still closed, and now Let’s Be Frank is gone, bro! However, with that being said, I think I found my new Haus of Hot Chicken over at The Gabardine. Check out this unchained melody, righteous bros!


Man, this slammin’ sammy’s got all the right curves in all the right places. The breading is super-crispy, the chicken is juicerrific, the pickles and mayo are on point, and they put the hot sauce on the side, which is actually a pretty good idea. Pretty sure my PFF (Plaid Friend Forever) Johnny Catucci would respect that. Tenemos que comer aqui, papi!

You know what else I like here? They don’t overdo it with the fries. I mean, some places give you enough fries on the side to feed a family of four, but at The Gabardine, it’s just the right amount. Y’know, I probably would still have room for dessert, but they actually don’t do dessert here, so I guess I’ll just hafta head next door to South St. and slam a couple burgers, bro!!!

Do you even know Kamayan, bro?

Now, I dunno much about the Philippines—although I hear their president’s a badass—but I do know I like to eat, and there’s this funky new Filipino joint that just opened on Baldwin Street, where I stopped by last night for a special feast. Now, when you go to Kamayan, you leave all the cutlery at home. They lay down the banana leaves on the table, pile up the grub, and then it’s all hands on deck straight down my piehole!

And at Platito, that means build-your-own sigsig tacos, adobo fried chicken, and thick, meaty beef stew. Check it out now, the funk’s oh brother:




Now, that wasn’t all they had on the table. There was also a buncha veggies left over, so I made a “wish taco” – which is when you have all kinds of vegetables, and you wish you had some meat! Probably one of the top five vegan dishes I’ve ever had…I think I’m up to five vegan dishes by now.


And you know I still had room for dessert, son! So that means purple yam waffle with ice cream and coconut. I could probably slam seven of these…if I hadn’t loaded up on wish tacos, bro!


You call that hand-carved turkey, bro?

Now, a couple weeks back I said I’d never had Subway’s Hand-Carved Turkey Sandwich. But since then, I’ve only seen the ad on TV like 227 times, so I figured I might as well go for a soda and try it. And lemme just say, there’s no way that turkey’s hand-carved; those slices are so uniform and precise that I’m pretty sure a robot cut ‘em or something…


That being said, this sammy ain’t too shabby. The turkey isn’t fresh-off-the-bird, but it’s got a better chew and texture than deli meat. Warmed up some in the Subway bread oven, and now you’re cooking with cranberry mustard sauce, son!

Cuz hey, the sauce is what makes it. You’ve got a bit of sweet, a bit of tang, and a whole lotta love, right here, right now on fresh-baked bread. They said you can add bacon for 50 cents, but you’ll hafta make yer own stuffing. Y’know, I wouldn’t trust any breading that came from a plastic bag, bro!!!

My oh my, it’s Frito pie!!!!

Now, I’ve had a lot of BBQ all over this city. Texas-style BBQ, Carolina-style BBQ, whatever that crap at Casey’s Bar and Grill is supposed to be (never again, bro!), and I know you don’t mess with Texas. But there’s this new BBQ joint at Dundas and Dovercourt called Smoke Signals, and it’s the first place this side of Austin where you’re find this down-home, funky Texas dish. Say hello to my little friend Frito:


Now, they might not serve it up right in the chip bag, but this Frito pie is pretty legit. You’ve got a rich, smoked meaty chili on top of crunchy corn chips, with cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions and jalapenos. It’s like Friday Night Lights in a can, son! And you know we’re not done here…


They call this sandwich El Chapo, and it will murder your tastebuds, bro! You’ve got pulled pork piled on top of beef brisket, and then they thrown in a sausage link!? Shut the front, back, and side doors! This dish is so outta bounds, Blair Walsh almost hit it with a field goal attempt! And of course, you know they have their own, in-house beer, right?


Smoke Signals Lager doesn’t come in a fancy glass or anything, and it’s not a fancy beer, either. A crisp, light lager with just a touch of fruity aftertaste—probably the least-bitter Great Lakes Brewery beer I’ve ever had…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Little Sister ain’t livin’ life behind no shadow, bro!

Now, you know there are plenty of tapas joints all over this city. You’ve got Spanish tapas, Japanese tapas…I’ve ever heard of this new place that does Cuban tapas. OK, maybe that one was in Montreal, but have you ever had Indonesian tapas, bro? I didn’t even know that was a thing until I headed up Yonge St. to Little Sister Food Bar. My homie Josh Homme would be all over this place, son!

And I gotta say, they really find another way to serve up some funky takes on tacos, wontons and green beans. Most of these plates are meant for sharing, but some of them can be pretty pricey. Of course, you know when I go out, you betcha I can’t eat just one thing, so I got a couple snacks before diving into the main course. Can you say atjar tjampour?


Now, when I heard they had house pickles, I figured I’d get some baby dills, or maybe some gerkins…but there’s a whole vegetable garden in this jar, dude! You’ve got cucumbers, you’ve got celery, you’ve got cauliflower, carrots and onions marinated in a tangy brine with just a bit of a kick. I haven’t eaten this many veggies since that one time I got locked in a greenhouse and had to chew my way to freedom!


But you know I can’t have any veggies if I don’t eat my meat. These Sumatra spiced beef croquettes were like corn-dogs gone Bali. Super-crunchy texture with warm, chewy beef on the inside… Shut the back door!


And now it’s time for the main event. This babi panggang was like a gangbang in my mouth, bro! You’ve got rich, meaty slabs of roasted pork belly in a fresh chili sauce on a bed of sprouts and pickled beans. Pretty sure I could slam 17 of these—but at almost four bucks a belly ($15.75 per plate), I only got the one order…

I think I’m turning Japanese @ Nome Izakya

So, we’re hanging out at Nome Izakaya, this funky Japanese joint up at Yonge & Sheppard. Now, I used to think that Izakaya was the name of a Japanese heavy-metal band, but it turns out that Japanese bands have English names, like Loudness or Corrupted. Instead, this place serves up Sapporo, sushi and some funkalicious Japanese dishes, like these deep-fried octopus balls:


Now, the first time I tried takoyaki, it came on purple rice with a whole buncha funky stuff on top. But these guys do it up nice ‘n simple, serving up a sixer of octo-balls for just $5.50, son! The breading is light and crispy, not too heavy, and there’s a chewy piece of octopus inside. They don’t overdo it with the sauce, either, squirting on some mayo and teriyaki. Pretty sure I could slam 18 of these, but there are other dishes for me to try, so, y’know…


Now, this is like Popcorn Chicken Gone Wild, bro! These Japanese Chicken Poppers have a light, flaky breading, with warm, tender dark meat on the inside and a wasabi mayo on the side. The lemon adds a nice touch, too. You know I squeezed that lemon, son!


Now, I’ve had pizza at a sushi joint before, but I never thought I’d be eating Japanese sliders. These Japa-Burgers are made with sliced ribeye steak, and come with lettuce, tomato, onion and a whole buncha special sauce dripping off all over the place. The server asked me if I wanted three burgers or four…and I was like, how about eight or 10, bro!


Now, you probably don’t even hafta ask at this point, but after eating my Zodiac sign in Japa-burgers and octo-balls, you know I still had some room for dessert, son! And this dish is just as Japanese as apple pie, dude! You’ve got apples, you’ve got cinnamon, you’ve got raspberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side–although you could get taro, green tea, black sesame or extreme mango ice cream instead. I think I might go for the extreme mango next time, bro!

Beef brisket in burger form, bro!

So we’re hanging out at Aft Kitchen & Bar, this little hole-in-the-wall joint on Queen Street, about a block west of Broadview. This place is about the size of a small condo, but on weekends, they’re kicking out the old school jams—we’re talking the Ramones, The Sweet and Blue Oyster Cult, son! —and doing it up right with some real-deal BBQ. Man, this place has everything: ribs, chicken, brisket…oh yeah, and this super-duper Smokehouse Banquet Burger:


Now, what you’ve got here is an eight-ounce beef-brisket patty, topped with cheddar cheese, double smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, a couple jalapenos and some pickles on a nicely-toasted egg bun. Y’know, sometimes when you get a brisket burger, it’s like 50-50 brisket to ground beef, or maybe 80-20. But this was nuttin but the brisket, bro! Nice, tender, fall-apart-in-mouthy patty, with a good smoke ring-around-the-rosy. The bacon was super crispy, the bun was nice and fluffy, and the veggies were crispness and delicious. Now, if they could only put some pulled pork on top or something, then that would be the ultimate BBQ burger right there!

Now we’re cookin’ with hot sauce, son!

So, last night we’re hanging out at the Wychwood Barns for the Tabasco Thursdays Hawker Market, where they’ve got seven chefs serving up funkalicious street food—all of it with Tabasco as a main ingredient. Because everything tastes better with Tabasco, bro!


I started off this culinary adventure with some tasty tourtiere, a little slice of Quebec. Nice flaky pastry, with a zesty meat mixture on the inside. Also, this was the only station that actually had forks; a couple of the other ones only had chopsticks, and I don’t know how to use that shit cuz I grew up in Calgary.


Up next we had some Japanese curry, a nice crispy chicken with carrots, peas and potatoes. I’m not sure how you’d even eat this with chopsticks, but it was a delightful little dish.


Now this was right up my alley—BBQ quail, bro! I’ve had some Greek-style charcoal quail at Astoria on the Danforth, but this was completely different. Super-tangy, melt-in-your-mouth meat, dude! Plus, you’ve got some carrot slaw on the side, and a spicy shrimp chip. I seriously think they put all the Tabasco in that one.


Now DaiLo is putting Tabasco in their sambal sauce for this grilled B.C. skate. This fish is equal parts crunchy and crispy, and the sambal adds a nice kick.


Probably the most outta-bounds dish at the Tabasco market was from O&B, serving up this charred beef and oyster carpetbagger in a jalapeno roti prata. This dish was so tempting I had to take a bite before I took a picture…and that almost never happens, bro!


But this next bite could give it a run for its funkaliciousness. What we’ve got here is morcilla—a Spanish blood-sausage slider with a quail egg on top. Pretty sure I could pound 12 of these, son…but they only gave you enough food tickets for one item per station.


So we’re ending this culinary market adventure with some ssam, a Korean lettuce wrap with kim chi, bean sprouts and Tabasco pulled pork. Basically, you take the lettuce and roll it up like a taco, then shove it straight down the piehole. You don’t need a fork for this one, son!


Of course, you gotta have something to wash down all this spicy food, and in this case, we’re talking apple cider with just a bit of a kick. We’ve got whiskey, Tabasco green sauce, fresh lime and cider with a boozy apple slice for a little je ne sais quoi. One of these a day will definitely keep the doctor away, dude!!!