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Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

GRAND REOPENING: Who needs Canoe when you’ve got CANO?

Now, one place that hasn’t been able to reopen at all during the pandemic is Canoe, the fancy-smancy, fine-dining restaurant at the top of the TD Tower. I mean, you can’t really put a patio up on the 54th floor…although I would totally check it out if they did. But in the meantime, the similarly named, yet totally different CANO Restaurant on St. Clair West is packing ’em in on their front and back patios, bro! The only time we could even get a table was at 6 o’clock, making this place almost as hard to book as Canoe during Winterlicious…

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So, we’re starting off with the Cozze al Bianco — I would sooo vada a bordo for these, bro! The mussels from PEI-ussels are cooked in a white wine and garlic sauce, with shallots, chili flake and cherry tomatoes. Plus, you’ve got these thin slices of Focaccia on the side to soak up the sauce… Dude, you could put that on a flip-flop, and it would still taste good!!!!

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Up next, we’ve got Vitello alla Griglia, a grilled veal chop with smashed potatoes, wild mushrooms and broccolini. This dish tastes almost as good as it looks, son! The only problem was the piece of meat was too thin for them to cook it medium rare, and I thought it was a little overdone. I mean, I’ve definitely had a better veal chop at Blu Ristorante, pre-pandemic… but man, this was some of the best broccolini I’ve ever tasted (by default, almost, but still…)

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Now here’s a beer I’ve never seen ’round here before. This Birrificio Otus Pilsner is coming straight outta Italia, where it won a bronze medal for German and Bohemian pilsners at the 2019 Birra Dell’anno Awards. And I gotta say, it’s got everything you want in a pils — a nice crispness, not too malty, pairs well with Italian food. It’s also 12 bucks a bottle, but hey, it’s not like you can get it at the LCBO, so, y’know, when in Rome, bro!!!!

 

 

 

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: BBQ ribs combo to go, bro!!!

Although patios are open in Toronto, it’s really hard to get a table right now. I mean, that’s great for the restaurants in this city, but not so good when you’re rolling out, looking for the greatest burgers, bacon and beer. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still be going out to eat as much as we can…but let’s just say the takeout reviews aren’t going away, either. 😉

Now, I haven’t actually been to The Carbon Bar since that one time, in 2016, when their Pit Master Platter failed to satisfy my hunger. But I’ve heard a few good things about them in the meantime, and when I saw they were part of the Toronto Premium Restaurants deal on DoorDash, where you save 7 dollars when you spend 30 or more, I figured I’d give ’em another shot. As it turns out, their pork ribs combo with two sides was $28, and when you add a side of gravy, it’s an even 30, so there you go…

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These ribs are served St. Louis style, which means you gotta bite through the gristly bits at the end. But they are still nicely seasoned, with a good, smokey flavour, and taste great with the side of sweet ‘n spicy sauce, which does what it says on the label. Plus, the metal catering tray kept ’em nice and warm on the way over, which is definitely a plus.

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This mac ‘n cheese is TheBomb.ca, bro! Creamy, crunchy, with a mix of mozza-cheddar and some breadcrumbs on top — again, the catering tray kept it nice and hot till it’s headed down my piehole!!!!

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Now, the thick ‘n lumpy gravy was probably meant for fried chicken, but it still tasted fine on these fries. And hey, if I’m spending two dollars to save seven, you can pour some gravy on me in the name of lard anytime, bro!!!!

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Now, because The Carbon Bar’s beer selection is basically just Budweiser, I reached into my fridge for a Clutch American Pale Ale from Redline Brewhouse. The light, hoppy flavour goes nicely with some smokey BBQ, I gotta say. And no, this brew has nothing to do with the heavy rock band from Maryland — but that does kinda look like their logo, though…

 

 

 

 

GRAND REOPENING: Green eggs & steak @ STK

Man, I don’t even know how long it’s been since I’ve been to brunch, bro! I mean, I ordered it for delivery a couple times during the pandemic — including a massive Mother’s Day smorgasbord-board — but actually eating brunch in person, at a restaurant??? Sheeeeet, I think I gotta go all the way back to September on that one! So obviously, once I heard that restaurants would be reopening last weekend, you KNOW I had to break outta this brunch slump, son!!!

We’ve been to STK a couple times before, and it’s on the second floor, so where do they even put a patio? Turns out, they’ve taken over the courtyard in front of Yorkville Plaza, which is pretty much right across the street. And it’s a pretty nice spot, out of the sun and the rain, with enough seating for probably about 50 people — not all of them got up early to crush some brunch as soon as they opened on Sunday, though…

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Now, their $17 Caesar was a little spicy, a little pricey, and just plain little. But I’m so happy to have brunch back that I even ordered more than one!!!

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I dunno if it’s because of grand reopening weekend, or if maybe they just scaled down their menu due to the pandemic, but some of their previous brunch classics, like chicken ‘n waffles or a big stack of flapjacks, were nowhere to be found. I didn’t even see steak ‘n eggs on the menu…but I did get them to whip me up a little sumthin’ sumthin’.

Since they were serving eggs in a couple of dishes, I ordered a 6 oz. filet with two eggs on the side — only catch was I could only get them poached. Also, all their steaks come with a sauce, which is probably against one of the rules of Flavourtown, but I used this opportunity to get some chimichurri, and create this beefed up benny in Flavourtown… Green eggs ‘n steak, son!!!!

Technically, it’s still not on the menu, but you know what they say — if you build it, they will come. Check out this messy field of dreams in Flavourtown:

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GRAND REOPENING: This eggplant schnitzel shook me all night long!!!

Finally… in-person dining has come back to Toronto!!! Now, we missed the two-week window when patios were allowed to open back in March (it wasn’t really patio weather, anyways), so this is the first time we’re actually eating at a restaurant since November 2020. Reunited and it feels so good, Peaches & Bro!!!

First night out on a patio in over six months, so you know we want something real-deal, something super-legit — like Middle Eastern vegetarian food. Say what now??? While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind (and trust me, I AM going for a steak and/or burger tomorrow), I gotta say that Shook, this funky little joint on Portland, just south of King Street, really knocks it outta the park!

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First, we’re starting off with the ultimate Middle Eastern vegan dish, falafel. These goodness gracious great balls of flavour are surprisingly spicy — I think there’s some zhug sauce on there or something. But the creamy tahini and pickled onions balance things out quite nicely. Dude, I could slam, like, 17 of these, bro!!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event, so let’s get ready to rumble! On the menu, they call this eggplant schnitzel, but it’s almost more like eggplant parmesan, topped with tomatoes, basil and buffalo sold-jah mozzarella. And dude, that breading is fantastic! Nice and crispy, soaks up the cheese and the sauce. I almost forgot I was eating veggies! Like seriously, I would put this right up there with the bone-in veal parm from Piano Piano — and that was really, really good!!!

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But the hits keep coming, and they don’t stop coming, Smash Mouth lookalike bro!!! For dessert, we’ve got this tasty gianduja chocolate mousse, with hits of hazelnut and passionfruit, served underneath a deconstructed bakalava crust. I dunno whose job it was to scrape all the crust offa those baklavas, but that man is a hero in my book!!!

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And now, the question you’ve all been waiting for, “What’s your first patio beer of the year, bro???” Well, Shook only has six beers to choose from, and two of them are Coors or Miller. So instead, I opted for this Boundless IPA from Creemore. Not too bitter, not too hoppy, but just right. I think I’ll have another (two or three)…

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Richmond Station Burger to go, bro!!!!!!

I KNOW we are just two days away from restaurants reopening for patio dining, and we are definitely gonna hit up a couple funky joints this weekend, but the latest deal in the delivery world is DoorDash’s Toronto Premium Restaurants, a buncha classy joints where they take $7 off orders of $30 or more until June 30. Now, at a few of these places, it’s pretty easy to drop like $90, which doesn’t make it such a big deal… but if you only spend 30 bucks, you end up saving almost 25%.

Now, you KNOW I loves me a good deal bro, and I’ve found a few of these classy establishments where you can spend no more than 32 dollars on a decent lunch or dinner — which is music to my ears, cuz I’m probably gonna drop much more than that on patio beers this weekend. And of course, we’re starting off with one of the most legendary, famous, iconic burgers in Toronto from Richmond Station, where you can get the Station Burger, fries AND a local craft beer for an even $30…which means that, after the DoorDash discount, the fries are basically free. 😉

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Dude, this burger tastes even better than I remembered! Patty is nice ‘n thick, cooked to your liking (although they don’t go below medium), topped with aged cheddar, lettuce, onions and donkey sauce. But the beet chutney is what makes it — that’s not blood on the bun, it’s beet juice, son!!!

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Now, you could pay a couple bucks more for polenta fries, but if you wanna stick to the 30-dollar limit, then these rosemary fries are the ticket. Nice and crunchy, served with some more donkey sauce — dude, that’s like a donkey sauce double down in Flavourtown!!!!

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Now, there are a couple $6 beers that will get you where you need to be, but why settle for Creemore when you can have this delicious amber from GoodLot, a farm-to-can brewery that actually grows its own hops!? It might not have been ice cold by the time I got it home — dude, did you see how hot it is today!? — but it definitely still hits the spot!!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Angry Shrimp Poke ain’t no joke!!!

When it’s a million degrees outside, the last thing I wanna do is turn on my oven. And if I can find a takeout dish that’s best served cold, all the better! So we’re checking out Poke Guys, this funky little poke place just offa Dundas, where they’re serving up seven different kinds of poke bowls, bro! You can get ’em with salmon, tuna or even tofu, but I knew I had to go with the Angry Shrimp. Dude, Angry Shrimp was the name of my Glenn Danzig cover band, bro!!!!

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The food may be cold, but it’s definitely bringing the heat, son! These sweet and spicy shrimp get an extra kick from the kimchi, with some corn, cucumber and avocado to cool it down (the avocado costs extra though — dude, this is body by avocado!). And did I mention the pineapple???

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While I don’t have a problem with putting pineapple on pizza, it definitely hits different when you pair it with shrimp. You’ve got the sweet with the heat, the acid with the sour and the juice with the succulent seafood… Now, I’m not saying you should put shrimp and pineapple on pizza, but if somebody did, I would probably at least try it.

r/fakehistoryporn - An Italian-American being forced to watch pineapple added to pizza for the first time ever. (1914 Brooklyn, USA)

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: We be jammin’ this Jamaican patty double down!!!

Patois has gotta be one of the funkiest joints in the city, serving up Jamaican/Chinese fusion since 2014. I already ordered their jerk chicken and oxtail dinner kit in the early days of the pandemic, but this time, I’m going back for something I only had once, waaaay back in the day — their Jamaican take on a KFC Double Down, with cheese and bacon between two Jamaican meat patties. Is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feelin’, bro???

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OK, now this is slightly different than the original version, which came in a bun — but it’s still pretty funkalicious. The first few bites are pretty much just patty, but when you get to the cheese and bacon in the middle, that’s what makes it, right there. I kinda wished they doubled down on the bacon, though, bro…

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But you KNOW I’m not just crushing one sando, son!!! This Dirty Fried Rice is packed with peas, Chinese sausage and scrambled eggs, and it’s just 10 bucks with Skip The Dishes — that’s a lot more rice than it looks, bro! Everything was nice ‘n hot, and I won’t say I was full after finishing this…but I maybe only had room for a small dessert.

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Since I’m pretty good at drinking beer, I washed this down with a Bear Runner Blonde Ale, brewed in North Bay by New Ontario Brewing Co. This nice, lighter beer tastes pretty good when it’s 200,000 degrees out and you want to drink something that’ll cool you off, but not overpower you, or when you’re eating a lotta food, and don’t wanna feel too bloated afterwards. Both of those sound like pretty good reasons to me, bro!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Beefy double cheeseburger and cheese fries from The Bullger

Now, when I heard that The Bullger, this funky burger joint at Queen and Parliament, was serving up an eight-dollar double burger with a fried egg on top for the Eggs Anytime deal with Skip the Dishes, I was all over that like beef on a bun, son! They call this the Bull’s Eye, and it totally hits the target!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. We’ve got two beefy six-ounce patties, topped with mozza cheese, lettuce, onions, mushrooms, and just oozing with donkey sauce…and then they put an egg on top!? Shut the front, back and side doors, bro! Now, this burger was really messy — I definitely needed all the napkins that they gave me! But the patties were on point, and when you get a nice bite of egg, and maybe a couple shrooms, that right there is the golden ticket!!!

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And now we’re kicking it up another notch with some cheese fries, bro! These french-fried potaters are topped with real cheese, and then they put some cheese sauce and donkey sauce on top! The only downside is that, while the top layer is nice ‘n cheesy, the fries underneath are pretty much plain. Ya gotta layer on the cheese sauce, son!!!!!!!!!

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Now, they don’t serve beer at The Bullger, so I pulled this bad boy outta the fridge. Hustle Over Hype is a crushable pale wheat ale that doesn’t really have the citrusy kick of a wheat beer or the hoppiness of an IPA. But it does have an old-timey boxing dude fighting a hop monster on the can, bro!!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Hail to The Hummussiah!!!

You KNOW I’m all about that Middle Eastern food — this is body by shawarma, bro! So, when I heard about The Hummussiah, this funky little joint right smack dab in the middle of Ryerson University, serving up nine different kinds of warm hummus bowls, I was all over that like peace in the Middle East!!!

It’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great hummuses, but I had to go with the Chuck Stew Hummus Bowl, with slow cooked beef, potatoes and chickpeas, served with house pickles, pita bread, a mango amba sauce and some spicy green schug — I’d put that on a flip-flop, bro…

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…or at least a big piece’a pita bread. The pitas here are nice ‘n thick, so you can really load ’em up good. I really couldda used a third pita, though — that’s how much stuff was in the bowl! And I’m not sure you’re supposed to fold it up like a taco, but it seemed like the best way to get this all straight down my piehole.

Oh, and I definitely went and scraped up everything off the side of the bowl — no hummus left behind, bro!!!

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TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Bacon and egg and cheese…and beer!!!

The George Street Diner, this funky little joint in Corktown, is the kinda place that puts the Diner in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. OK, so Guy Fieri has never been here — but as a matter of fact, Harry Potter actually has. We also hit this place up a couple years back for an Irish take on an English breakfast, so when I found out they were doing the Eggs Anytime deal on Skip the Dishes, you KNOW I had to check it out!!!!

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This Egg in a Hole sandwich has just about everything I want for breakfast. We’re talkin’ grilled cheese on challah bread, with Irish rashers (British style-bacon) and an egg in the middle! Now, you can eat this sandwich with your hands, although it gets a bit messy once you break the yoke…

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Served with your choice of seasonal salad or homemade coleslaw. Me, I couldda gone for some hash browns or potato wedges, but I guess I’ll settle for coleslaw…

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This slaw is a little stringier and more peppery than what you’d get in a container, which gives it a little more flavour, and a not-unpleasant aftertaste. Man, this would go really good with some fried chicken, or some BBQ, bro!!!

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And, because it’s Beer O’Clock somewhere, we’re washing this down with a Blueberry Blonde from Ottawa’s Broadhead Brewery. Now, some of the other blueberry beer I’ve had was pretty much purple, but this one has a nice blueberry aroma while still looking like an ordinary beer. And its nice, smooth taste goes good in the morning when we could all use a little Hair of the Dog after that Leafs loss in OT last night, am I right????

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