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Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: At-home Irish pub experience

Now, since the second shutdown started, I haven’t been able to tie on six or seven at an Irish pub. But when I found out that the Lucky Clover Sports Pub on Lower Simcoe was offering delivery, I figured that might be the next best thing… Can you say Irish-style potato skins, bro?

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These deep-fried potaters are topped with corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, along with an Irish whiskey cream sauce. It’s like pretty much everything you’d want from an Irish-themed sports bar in one dish, son!!!

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Up next, we’ve got a Guinness Burger, topped with cheddar cheese, onion, lettuce, pickle, tomatoes, mushrooms and red peppers. I am not sure why they call it a Guinness Burger, as there doesn’t seem to be any Guinness anywhere in this dish…

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And speaking of Guinness, well, you can’t really drink a Guinness unless it’s poured properly — so takeout or delivery is pretty much a no-go. Instead, I poured myself a Pitchfork Porter, this traditional English pub-style beer from Niagara Oast House Brewers. I gotta say, it goes pretty good with the Guinness Burger, bro!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Schnitzel and salad(!) from a German-style pub

Lately, it’s gotten harder to find some real-deal schnitzel in this city. Schnitzel Queen shut down a few months back, and so did Schnitzel Hub in Midtown. But when I heard that the Town Crier Pub on John St. was serving up all kinds of German and Belgian food, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!!!

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This here’s the Jagermeister Peppercorn Pork Schnitzel, which is pretty much what the name says, topped with a Jagermeister peppercorn sauce, and served with fries and coleslaw. Now, this dish did get a little soggy in delivery, but the pork was still pretty tasty…and with the fries and slaw on the side, it’s a pretty decent-sized meal.

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But that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat a whole ‘nother meal, at exactly the same time. When I saw the Munich sausage salad on the menu, I thought I’d just be getting a couple sausages with some onions and pickles, which would make for a nice side dish. But instead, it’s pretty much a meal-sized Cobb salad, complete with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and hard-boiled eggs. I really didn’t need to eat this at the same time as the schnitzel… but you KNOW I still did, bro!!!

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Now, you can’t wash down German food with like a Canada Dry — I’m pretty sure that goes against the Bavarian Purity Laws, or something. So instead, we’re chugging this local craft beer that pairs pretty much perfectly:

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Divercity is a German-style Helles Lager brewed in Toronto by Lost Craft, with a nice crisp finish that almost makes me forget I’m eating salad. Apparently, you can’t find it in stores anymore, but I was able to order it from Fresh, a vegan joint that’s selling four packs of local craft beer for 15 bucks via DoorDash….which makes it the best thing I’ve ever ordered from a vegan restaurant, son!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Take me out to the ballgame with some Korean rice hotdogs!

Nobody could go out to the ballpark this year, as just about every game was played without fans in the stands. But now it’s the World Series, and I’m craving some ballpark food, like corndogs, pretzels and stadium nachos. Well, nachos maybe aren’t so great for delivery (more on that later), but when I heard that Chung Chun Rice Dog, this funky joint serving up Korean-style rice dogs, had just opened up a new location on Yonge Street, now I know what I’m gonna chow down on when watching the game, bro!

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Now, these ain’t your typical corn dogs, son! While they might be deep-fried just the same, they’re coated in a rice-flour batter, which gives it that extra chewy inside. Plus, they’ve got all kinds of funky flavours like squid ink, ramen, and my new personal favourite, the potato dog:

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Now, this dish is some next-level thinking in Flavourtown. Instead of just a hotdog on a stick, you’ve got a hot dog AND fries on a stick, with these crispy little pieces of potato baked right in! The dog itself is super-tasty, maybe one of my top five meat-on-a-sticks, but the potatoes really take it up a notch!!!

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But you KNOW I can’t eat just one, bro! This double cheese dog doubles down with all sortsa mozza oozing out the top, and then a more subtle cheddar blending in with the hotdog on the bottom. And yes, there is a hotdog in here — you just gotta take about three cheesy bites to get to it!

Dude, Cheesy Bites was the name of my 80’s only Judas Priest cover band, bro!!!

HEATED PATIO EATS: Rooftop pizza @ Gusto 501

A couple years back, we hit up Gusto 101 for a real-deal steak dinner on their rooftop patio. So when I heard that they opened up a new joint in the east end called Gusto 501, I was hoping it would be five times better, bro! This place also has a rooftop patio, although it’s a lot smaller, with heated panels on the walls behind every table. I wasn’t quite as warm as last week at George, but at least I was able to unzip my jacket, so that’s not too bad…

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We’re starting off with arancini, two not-so-big balls of deep-fried rice goodness, sitting atop a whole pile of pepper and cheese. You only get a couple of bites here, but I would put these balls in my mouth any day, bro!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. We’ve got pizza carbonara, with flor di latte, guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and an egg yolk on a nice, crispy crust. Now, I was expecting there to be an egg in the middle of the pizza, but instead it’s sorta smeared all over the place, which takes away half the fun. Anyways, the crust and cheese was on point, but I couldda used some more guanciale, which is basically Italian for bacon.

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Now, I know the name of this blog is NOT Burgers, Bacon and Pinot Grigio, but the only beer they’ve got here is Peroni, which is Italian for “meh.” On the other hand, they’re serving up house wine on tap for just a dollar an ounce, so I told ’em to fill ‘er up to the top, bro!!!

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And yes, we still had room for dessert, son! Now, this tiramisu looks more like tirami-soup, but the flavours were still pretty on point. And hey, at least it’s not served in a mason jar!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Hasta la vista, patties!!!

Now, you KNOW that I have destroyed some pretty massive burgers on this blog, whether it’s the triple-double cheeseburger at Holy Chuck or the multiple layers of flavour in The Burger Priest’s 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I even took down a double fried-chicken, double beef burger a couple months back… this is definitely not my first rodeo, bro!

So when I heard that The Burgernator, this funky little joint in Kensington Market, was serving up its signature, namesake triple cheeseburger, with mushrooms and onions, between two grilled cheese buns, I was like, bring it on, son!!!

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This burger was like a Fistful of Dynamite in Flavourtown! You’ve got not one, not two, but three patties, oozy American cheese, mushrooms, onions and special sauce — plus I paid an extra $2.50 to add beef bacon, the only kind of bacon they have, cuz the Number One Rule of Flavourtown is Always Add Bacon, bro!!!

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As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I topped off my order with a side of Burgernator Fries, with chili, cheddar cheese and sour cream. These fries could be a meal on their own for most people, but let’s just say that between the Burgernator Fries and The Burgernator burger, I didn’t have room for dessert!!!

(Their deep-fried Mars bar explosion does look pretty legit, though!)

HEATED PATIO EATS: Fancy land, sea & air trio @ George

Since the province has ordered all indoor seating at restaurants in Toronto to stay closed until November, a lot of places have started popping up with heated patios. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be out on a patio when it was only, like, 10 degrees outside, but last night, I was sitting outside in a t-shirt, right next to a heater, chowing down on three tasty courses at George, this really nice restaurant on a not-so-nice stretch of Queen Street East…

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So, we’re starting off with lobster, a dish served cold with lentils, lemongrass and a random piece of lavash bread for some reason. I don’t always eat cold lobster, but the nice, meaty chunks went well with the lentils…and hey, if you give me bread, it’s not like I’m not gonna eat it.

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From there we’ve moving on to what was probably the best dish of the night, roasted duck breast with chanterelle mushrooms and a Danish-style pastry stuffed with mushrooms and herbs — it’s like Yorkshire pudding gone hygge, bro! The duck was nicely roasted, and you got a pretty decent amount of food for a “second course,” which was enough to tide me over until the main event.

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Now, this is something you definitely don’t see every day. We’re talking wild boar, medium rare, with some cheese-stuffed pasta, beans ‘n greens. And also a tostada, for some reason. I am not sure what’s up with the random breads at this place…but again, I’m not really complaining.

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Of course, you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! I wasn’t really feeling the desserts on the menu, so I asked if they had anything chocolate, and they were like, “Why yes, we do!” This here’s a flourless chocolate cake, which they call a “bergote,” and it’s topped with strawberry ganache and caramel butter cream. It might not be my favourite flourless chocolate cake in the city…but with all the crazy flavours going on here, I think it’s my second-favourite.

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Thai-style chicken wings & poutine!

Bangkok Garden is one of the OG Thai joints in this city, serving up authentic Thai dishes downtown since the early 80’s. When we ate here in person, a couple years back, I scarfed down some succulent seafood skewers — but this time, for takeout, we’re going with their take on a couple Canadian classics… poutine AND chicken wings!

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Now, I think you actually can get chicken wings in Thailand — or at least at other Thai restaurants in town. But I always thought that Thai wings were a little too sweet. These ones definitely weren’t though, nice ‘n crispy with a little bit of Sriracha heat, and then some fish sauce for dipping. For 10 bucks, I definitely can’t complain!

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But the Thai poutine is where they really take it to another level! First of all, the fresh-cut fries were fricken delicious — definitely the best fries I’ve ever had from any Asian joint! But what kicks it up another notch is the red curry sauce. I mean, you wouldn’t think that fries, cheese and curry would go together, but the end result is magically delicious. I would totally order this the next time I dine in at Bangkok Garden!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: This stacked deli sammy is a delight-mare on Elm St!

That’s right, with restaurants shut down for indoor dining again, it’s back to takeout and delivery. And this gives me an opportunity to check out this funky little sandwich shop, serving up all kinds of Italian classics, the Elm Street Deli.

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Now, with sandwiches that eat like a meal such as the Sergio Leone, Il Capo, Paulie Porco and Double WOP Burger, it’s hard to pick just one. But I had to go with The Godfather of Italian sanguiches… this is the Don of Elm Street:

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OK, now let’s break it down. This sandwich is fully loaded with mortadella, pepperoni, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions & peppers, along with a basil aioli and some muffaletta spread, served on a crusty, fresh bread. Now, I gotta say, this sammy was a mess and a half — I took one bite, and everything slid out the back! But 27 napkins later, I kinda got the hang of things — you gotta hold it from behind, bro!

elm_street_home_fries (6)Of course, the name of this blog isn’t Burgers, Bacon & Small Green Salad, so instead I went with a side of home fries, these crispy, twice-fried potatoes, nicely seasoned with some donkey sauce for dipping. Cuz why settle for salad when you can have some great big potatoes, capiche?

 

PATIO LIT EATS: Detroit style pizza and burgers in Parkdale

Now, with some unseasonably warn weather yesterday, we got to enjoy the last day of (unheated) patio season 10 days into October. We’re hanging out in Parkdale, at this funky joint called Gianna’s Patties and Pies, that opened up during the (first) lockdown over where the Tennessee Tavern used to be. Not gonna lie, I’m gonna miss their AYCE pierogis, but when I heard that this new place was serving up Detroit-style pizza, along with a cheese skirt burger,  then you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!!!

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Up first is the Frico Cheeseburger, with its massive fried cheese skirt. You’ve also got tomato, pickles, a couple hot peppers, and then I paid extra to add bacon, cuz the first rule of Flavourtown is Always Add Bacon! This burger was so messy I couldda used more than one napkin, but when you get a bite of that deep-fried cheese, along with the beef, that’s TheBomb.ca, bro!!!

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But you KNOW that burger was just a light snack in Flavourtown, son! Up next, we’ve got a 10″ by 14″ Hawaiian pizza, topped with braised ham, fresh pineapple, basil and this wicked awesome sauce imported from Ono Grinds in San Diego. Now, I definitely don’t mind pineapple on pizza, and this was one of, if not, the best ham & pineapple pizzas I’ve ever had. You’ve got nice chunks of meat, the sweetness of the fresh pineapple, plus, since it’s Detroit-style, that ring of burnt cheese around the edges… The cheese is what makes it, bro!!!

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Of course, we’re not washing this down this ham and pineapple with a pina colada or nothing like that..

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Instead, we’ve got a couple cans of Kizuna, this hazy, Vermont-style IPA from Godspeed. This dry-hopped brew has enough citrusy, hoppy flavour to go good with Hawaiian pizza — or probably any pizza, dude! And at 5.8%, I could definitely crush a few of these before the sun goes down…

The most interesting ham in the world…

Now, right before all restaurants in Toronto shut down for indoor dining again, we headed out to Madrina Bar y Tapas, this funky Spanish joint in the Distillery District. I don’t always eat tapas, but I heard that this place was serving up some high-end ham, like Joselito Gran Reserva, which even comes with its own identity card, so you know it’s gotta be legit…

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Suffice to say, it also comes with a hefty price tag — 42 bucks a plate — but dude, I am trying to keep Toronto restaurants in business, even if I gotta do it all by myself…and I was pretty intrigued to try it, anyways.

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Now, to call this ham would be like calling Pliny the Elder beer. It’s more like a fine-aged, cured Italian meat — like a nice prosciutto, or something. Man, this would be amazeballs on a thin-crust pizza, bro! But it’s still pretty excellent on its own, although I couldda used some bread, or some cheese to go with it. Bread and cheese sold separately…

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Of course, you KNOW I can’t go to a tapas joint and only order one thing, bro! And since one good ham deserves another, I’m about to go ham on these Iberian ham croquettes. These bad boys are super hot and crispy, straight outta the deep-fryer, with a nice creamy centre and some little bits of meat. I don’t think they’re stuffed with Joselito Gran Reserva, though…

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Now, I’ve had patatas bravas before, but these aren’t your ordinary brave potatoes, bro! They serve ’em up millefeuille style, topped with great big globs of sriracha brava and wasabi donkey sauce — shut the front, back and side doors!

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And because two good potatoes deserve more potatoes, I ordered up a Spanish potato omelette, topped with even more donkey sauce, onions, and a chili oil caviar. Dude, this dish is potatoes…and potatoes is good!!!

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But we’re saving the most funkalicious for last, with this pair of crispy calamari sammies with pickled peppers, all covered in squid ink. Dude, I got so much squid ink on my face eating these that you couldn’t even see the bleach in my soul patch, son! But this was definitely one of the top five squid ink calamari dishes I’ve ever had!!!

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, and we’re funking it up another notch with this Manchego cheesecake, topped with raspberry sorbet. This dish is more cheese than cake, with a sugary coating that’s like Babybel Gone Wild, bro! Definitely one of the most outta bounds desserts I’ve had this year…

…I just hope they can find a way to stay open after this month, though. 😦

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