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Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

LE BURGER WEEK: Vegan jicama fish burger. Whaa???

Now, as I mentioned off the top, there were only five restaurants near me serving up Le Burger Week deals on DoorDash — and one of them only does dessert. Now, since this other place didn’t confirm my order after like 10 minutes, I was left with just one other option… the vegan jicama fish filet from Parka Food Co.

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Now, I don’t always eat vegan, but when I do, it’s usually something that’s meant to taste like meat — like the pulled jackfruit tacos at Planta. But man, while they’ve put together a pretty decent sandwich here, with tartar sauce, dill pickles, coleslaw and guacamole on a whole wheat bun… this jicama tastes about as much like fish as Guy Fieri looks like Emily Dickinson. OK, so I don’t know who Emily Dickinson is, or even what kinda plant a jicama comes from, but it’s super-duper crunchy, and not even remotely fishy. I mean, you really don’t even need the slaw cuz the jicama is pretty slaw-some on its own, son!!!

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Ain’t nothing wrong with these vegan fries though, bro. They’re pretty similar to Mickey D’s, cept with less salt and more herbs. Oh, and apparently they’re gluten-free…

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We’re washing this all down with a Bleep Bloop, which also happens to be the censored version of what I said when I took a big bite of that jicama burger. This NEIPA, coming straight outta Calabogie, is hoppy and heavy enough to help the vegan food go down, bro!!!!

 

 

LE BURGER WEEK: Is this a burger or a hot dog? It’s both, bro!!!

Now, Fancy Franks is probably known more for hot dogs — I mean, it’s right there in the name, bro. But they’ve also got burgers on the menu, so when it comes to Le Burger Week, they’re serving up something that’s more like a hot dog…but is also a burger. They call it the Guilt Burger:

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OK, so what we’ve got here is a smashed burger patty along with a kosher hot dog, served on a hot dog bun with cheese, pickles, scallions and a whole lotta special sauce, which is kind of a cross between relish and Thousand Islands. Dude, I dunno how many times I wished I could have a burger and a hot dog at the same time, so this is like a dream come true in Flavourtown!!!

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Now, the Guilt Burger was only $11.50, so to get the six-dollar discount, I had to add fries. But why settle for regular fries when you can have curly fries, son? You KNOW I’d pay an extra 50 cent for those — it’s a party in da piehole, bro!!!

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Now, we’re washing down that crazy culinary creation with a Hazy Days IPA from Cowbell Brewing Co. This beer is nice ‘n hazy and juicy — just like it says on the can. I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is more beer!!!!!!!

LE BURGER WEEK: I’m soooo hot for Priestley, bro!!!

Back when Toronto had its very own Burger Week, from 2012 to 2014, it was pretty awesome. You had all these funky joints all over the city dishing out one-off burgers for charity, and then they all got together on the last day for a Burger Day where they were serving up sliders in an outdoor space — one year it was even AYCE!

But that died in 2015, along with the short-lived alt-weekly that sponsored it, just as Le Poutine Week/Le Burger Week was first picking up steam…in Montreal, anyways. While it has supposedly expanded to every province across Canada, Le Burger Week has never really caught on in Toronto. The last time I tried writing about it, there were so few places participating that I ended up eating at two different Hero Burgers. And not much has changed in the 5 years since.

But last week I got an email from DoorDash offering 6 bucks off 15-dollar orders at participating Le Burger Week restaurants. So I went into the app, only to find there were only five places within delivery distance — plus, one was vegan  and another one only does dessert (cheesecake is NOT a burger, bro!) But hey, six bucks off is six bucks off… so I guess I might as well try the other three burgers, eh?

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We’re starting off with Rudy, this funky little joint on Duncan that’s got some of the best poutine in the city. This Le Burger Week Special is a tribute to the second-biggest Beverly Hills hottie (RIP Luke Perry!) — they’re calling it Hot For Priestley. You’ve got a griddled double cheeseburger topped with pickles and deep-fried jalapenos, plus I paid $2.49 to add bacon — you KNOW the first rule of Flavourtown is always add bacon, bro!!!

Now this burger will already set you back $13.95, so after adding the bacon I saved about 36%. And that would be even less if I ordered a poutine, a milkshake, or any other side dish. So instead I busted out a bag of Hickory Sticks, and reached into the fridge for some Low Hanging Fruit:

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Since this sour beer is brewed with pomegranate and black currants, I was expecting it to be purple or lavender or something. But while it actually looks like a regular beer, you definitely get the tart pucker of pomegranate — I think I remember what pomegranate tastes like? — and there’s probably some black currant in there too; just don’t ask me the last time I had black currant. In any case, it was a highly crushable summer beer that helped cool off the spice of the jalapenos, bro!

 

This crème brûlée is an appetizer, NOT a dessert. Whoa…

Now, when it comes to French food, crème brûlée is one of the things I judge a restaurant on. I mean, if you can’t get that right, do you even know français, bro? But of course, it always comes at the end of the meal…until now. We’re hanging out at Peter Pan Bistro, this funky joint on Queen Street West, where they are serving up this truffle crème brûlée — as an appetizer. Fermez toutes les portes!!!!

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While this is a (mostly) savoury dish, I swear the first thing you taste is that caramelized sugar on top. You do get some of the truffle aftertaste, though, along with a hit of pickled mushrooms — and it goes great on the toast that comes on the side. The crème-to-toast ratio is almost 2-to-1 though, so it looks like I’m gonna hafta lick the knife…

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But like the title says, that was just an appetizer — now it’s time for the main course. These mussels are NOT from Brussels, but rather the Salt Spring Islands, in B.C. They’re served in a bouillabaisse broth with potatoes and chunks of corn on the cob. Oh, and a side of fries, with both ketchup and mayo. Nothing wrong with that at all — except that 5-6 of my mussels didn’t even open, bro. 😦

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Now, when a funky joint is serving up crème brûlée as a starter, I dunno how they can even do dessert, bro. It turns out their dessert menu is only two things, so I decided to have a couple beers instead — starting with this Burdock Vermont Blonde, which they actually had on tap. Easily crushable at 4.5% and not too hoppy, it sure beats having Molson Canadian on tap, bro!!!

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And now we’re bringing on another NEIPA, with this Jutsu from Bellwoods. It’s definitely heavier and hazier, but still not too, too hoppy. I could probably crush another 10 of these… and still have room for dessert?

PATIO LIT EATS: Labour Day burgers & beers @ C’est What Beer Garden

Labour Day means the end of summer is coming soon, and we’ve probably got just another week or two of patio weather left. So we’re celebrating the long weekend at C’est What Beer Garden, this outdoor drinking space down a back alley from the C’est What brewpub. Last time we were at C’est What, we pretty much had the place to ourselves (this was right after indoor dining had just reopened after First Lockdown), and the beer garden was also pretty private on a Saturday evening. But you know what I say — Saturday night’s alright for drinking, Bro-ton John!!!!!

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We’re getting this party started with a Haberdasher Hefeweizen from the renegades of funk at Muddy York. Now, I do enjoy a good German wheat beer, and this one’s got the flavour down in Flavourtown. Basically, this beer tastes like bananas — and bananas are good, bro!!!!!

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Speaking of renegades of wheat, this next one is another funky wheat beer coming direct from the C’est What brewery. C’est What Ginger Wheat is sorta like drinking an Arizona ice tea — if Arizona ice tea had 4.5% alcohol…

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This High Grade IPA is coming straight outta Hamilton with just enough hops that you know you’re getting the good stuff!

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Up next, we’re got Al’s Cask Ale, a nitro-brewed pale ale that tastes a bit like an English bitter, or even a stout. Nothing wrong with that at all!

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As you can see, it’s getting pretty dark out, but we’ve still got time to kick out the j… erm, jam up the mash, muthafucka!!!! (Last call at the beer garden is 10 pm.)

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Of course, we can’t slam all those beers on an empty stomach, so I ordered a Lamburger with a side of poutine. This playful, mysterious little dish is served on a naan flatbread with Emmental cheese, lettuce, cucumber and a side of tzatziki — I put that shit on everything, son!

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Poutine was a bit of a bummer, though. Sure, it had the GFC — gravy, fries and curds — but the fries were too thin and the gravy was too lumpy for this ever to set foot in the Poutine Hall of Fame.

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Oh, and I still had room for some late-night tostidos. These Mexican-style spring rolls are stuffed with black beans and cheddar, and served with a spicy chipotle donkey sauce. ¡Cierra la puerta trasera!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funky feast from the Middle East @ Darna

Now, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of Middle Eastern food — shawarma is my spirt sandwich, son! So when I heard of this funky joint up on Bayview serving up home-cooked food from across the Middle East, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!

Now sure, they’ve got classics like hummus, shakshuka and kabab, but I wanted to try a few dishes that I’ve never even heard of before — starting with these shish barak beef dumplings:

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Now, shish barak definitely sounds like something Joey Biden wouldda said back when he was VP, but these dumplings are soooo next level. They may look like meatballs, but there’s actually a decent layer of dough there, with some ground beef inside. Served up with this yogurt mint sauce that’s so baller, I’d put it on a flip-flop — or at least a piece of pita bread, anyways…

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But now it’s time for the main event: Ontario lamb fukhara, a braised stew cooked in a clay pot, and served over rice or bulgur at your table. Lamb was super-tender, with some nice pieces of potato, carrot and eggplant, and even a couple zucchinis, meaning I ate at least one green thing today…

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! They call this kunafah, and it’s sorta like a cross between baklava and saganaki. Basically, you’ve got cheese-stuffed pastry topped with pistachios and rose water syrup. Nothing wrong with that at all!!!!

 

 

PATIO LIT EATS: Smoked salmon on a pizza? Don’t mind if I do…

Well, the big heatwave we were having is over, and it looks like patio season will be winding down pretty soon — so it’s time to make the most of it while we still can. We’re hanging out on the rooftop patio at Terroni on Price (not to be confused with the one downtown), which is definitely one of the nicest patios in the area north of Rosedale, but not quite Midtown.

Now, when you’re here, you’re probably getting pizza — they’ve got over 20 pies to choose from. Last time we were here, we chowed down on a coupla real-deal pizzas in the dark, and it may be a bit brighter outside this time, but we’re about to funk it up a notch with this pizza al salmone:

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Now, I like smoked salmon, and I like pizza, so when you put ’em together, it’s gotta be good, right? This pie came flying outta the kitchen in like five minutes — I hadn’t even finished my bread — but it still wasn’t super warm… which is OK, considering that smoked salmon is usually served cold. But the crust was still crispy and the cheese was still melted, which made for a nice vessel for the salmon, onions, capers and tomatoes.

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Menabrea Bionda, we meet-a again-a. I’ve had this Italian beer with pizza before, and while it’s nothing too fancy or hoppy, it gets the job done.

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Now, speaking of deja vu all over again, I have ordered the flourless chocolate cake — torta calda al cioccolato — at least three times at two different Terronis, so it’s definitely my go-to dessert. I mean, warm chocolate cake with an oozy, chocolately centre… you can’t go wrong with that at all!!!!

GRAND OPENING: Beertown is my kinda town, bro!!!

Now, I didn’t get out very much during Second Lockdown, but when I happened to be downtown, I saw they were building this new joint called Beertown, and I knew I had to go there right when it opened. OK, so we weren’t there on opening day, but we hit it up a couple weeks later…and lemme tell ya, their craft beer selection is off the hook, son!!!

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We’re starting off with a Couch Full of Dads, a hazy IPA from Town Brewery in Whitby, where there are couches and couches full of dads. This was not too hoppy and not too heavy, at 6.3%, but you know that’s only Chapter One in Beertown, son!!!!

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This Tropical Apocalypse farmhouse ale is pretty fruity — I mean, it tastes like eating fresh pineapples, and I’m surprised I even remember what pineapple tastes like, cuz I only eat it when it’s on a pizza

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Don’t look now, but we just funked it up another notch with this Bianca Mango Lassi Gose from those slippery Scandinavians at Omnipollo. Now, I don’t really remember what mango tastes like, but this wasn’t quite as fruity as I thought it would be.

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And we’re keeping it sour with a Soleil Sorbet Kettle Sour from Storm Stayed Brewing Company in London, ON. You might have noticed by now that they have branded glasses AND branded coasters for every beer on tap — cuz that’s how they roll in Beertown, bro!!!!!

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So we’re heading across the pond with a Duchesse de Bourgogne, this Flanders red ale from a Belgian brewery that I can’t even spell or say out loud. It’s almost got the richness or a Belgian dubbel or tripel, but at just 6.2%, it won’t leave you dubbel’ed over…

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We should probably start slowing down at this point, so it’s time to switch to lemonade… Make that a ZAP! Pink Lemonade sour IPA from Nickel Brook, son! Look at THIS photograph, Chad Bro-ger!!!!!

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We started off with an East Coast IPA, so now we’re ending this magical mystery tour of Beertown with a Lone Pine West Coast IPA from Sawdust City Brewing. Man, everything about this beer sounds so country, you’d be surprised to learn it’s brewed in the Muskokas!!!

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Of course, you KNOW we’re not drinking seven beers without eating anything, bro! These are the Public House Nachos, topped with beef brisket, diced tomatoes, peppers, cheddar, mozzarella, pickled jalapeños and handfuls of cilantro. Man, I dunno that I’ve ever seen so much cilantro on top of nachos, bro…

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Luckily, there’s only a little bit of cilantro with their guac + chips, along with some pico de gallo and a small container of salsa. I even double-dipped the chip, cuz these chips are all mine, George Bro-stanza!!!!

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Now, it turns out that for $1.99 you can get two soft-baked pretzel sticks, which are warm, salty ‘n delicious, with a side of some spicy mustard. I think next time I would probably pay the $10.99 for a full-sized pretzel though, especially since it comes with cheese + beer dip, which covers at least three of the five food groups in Flavourtown!!!!!

GRAND REOPENING: Whole lotta lobster @ Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Now, I don’t always go to Scarborough, so when I do, you KNOW it’s gotta be big, bro! We’re talking a nine-course Chinese seafood extravaganza, with 15 pounds of lobster, 4.5 pounds of crab, plus beef, fish, fried oysters, sweet & sour pork…and we might even have room for dessert. This is Fishman Lobster Clubhouse!!!

This funky Finch Ave. joint is the place to be on Fridays, with tanks stacked with fresh seafood and plates piled high with lobster. They even let you take a selfie with your crab before they cook it (crabfie?) — but I didn’t wanna get crab juice on my tank top, so instead we’re diving right in with the soup of the day:

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Chicken corn chowder is a Chinese food classic…although it seems like they forgot the chicken with this one. But hey, it’s not like we don’t have about 27 pounds of meat coming right up!!!!

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We’re starting with another Chinese staple, sweet & sour pork. Dude, this is body by sweet & sour pork! The first of many deep-fried dishes, these tangy little flavour nuggets got things started off right. Oh, and the little baby gherkins really kicked things up a notch!!!

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Now, here’s a dish I never dun seen before — fried oysters in honey pepper sauce. Oysters aren’t my favourite sea creature, but man, if you batter and fry ’em, I’d even chow down prairie oysters, son!!!!

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Now, here’s a dish where I don’t hafta think twice — diced beef tenderloin with garlic, backed with some fried rice! Man, I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, bro!!!!

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But now we’re getting into some of the stars of the show…like this steamed double bass in soy sauce. Dude, this dish is like a Nikki Sixx bass solo in Flavourtown!!!

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Not gonna lie, they pile this crab with ginger and green onion pretty high…but b-b-b-b-baby, you ain’t seen n-n-nothing yet!!!!

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In case you’re wondering what 15 pounds of deep-fried lobster looks like…whoomp, there it is! This dish was very similar to the Typhoon Crispy Lobster Mountain I scaled from Dine & Dim — except it’s like 15 times taller! They cut the lobster up into little pieces, and you pretty much had to use your hands to tear it apart (at least they gave you plastic gloves, cuz there weren’t extra napkins). But if you got a nice piece of warm, tender claw meat, that’s the ticket, right there!

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Now, we obviously didn’t have much room for dessert after such a massive smorgasbord-board of flavour…but a coupla little macarons oughtta do’er.

PATIO LIT EATS: Real-deal Italian food on Mount Pleasant Road

Now, Mount Pleasant might not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re thinking Italian food in Toronto. But just before Second Lockdown, we had a righteous last supper at Positano. And now we’ve found another old-school, red sauce, checkered tablecloth joint just down the street… This is Florentia!

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So, we’re starting off with salsiccia cacciatore aka sausage and peppers. Dude, this is body by sausage and peppers! Nice, meaty chunks of sausage with a bit of a kick, some sweetness from the peppers, and a real-deal tomato and basil sauce… I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event — real-deal veal scaloppini. And they’re giving you a choice of not one, not two, not three, not four, but five different sauces, son! I went with the gorgonzola, which was nice ‘n creamy, but not too cheesy. And I went with pasta over veggies. As you can see, they didn’t cook the pasta in the gorgonzola…

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Now, when it comes to beer here, you’ve got three choices — Peroni, Moretti and, uh, Creemore. So I went with Birra Moretti. I gotta say, though, it tastes an awful lot like Peroni, bro…

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