Hogtown Eats

If this place ain’t country, I’ll kiss your ass…

So, we’re hanging out at Farmhouse Tavern, this funky joint in The Junction that’s a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n roll. They’ve got pictures of animals on the walls, Waylon, Merle and Loretta on the stereo, and a farm-to-table menu that’s written on a chalkboard, with a bull horn on top. Man, I didn’t even know you could find a place like this in Toronto, bro!!!!

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We’re starting off with the Ploughman’s Platter, a country-style charcuterie board with bread, cheese, mustard, pickles, not one but two kinds of eggs — pickled AND Scotch — the only thing that’s kinda missing here is the meat, as they’ve only got a few thin slices of sausage.

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But they’re more than making up for it with this bad boy, the Barnyard Burger. You’ve got thick ‘n juicy beef, homemade pork belly bacon, topped with a creamy duck egg — shut the barn door, bro!!!

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And of course, you can’t just go here and order some city-slicker beer, hoss! Country Vibes, this amber lagered ale from the tractor rappers at Beau’s, is equal parts lager and amber, with roast caramel malts and a clean, crisp finish. Unlike Kim Mitchell, you don’t hafta decide between lager and ale here…cuz you can get them both, bro!!!!

Slamming legit lamb…and one of the funkiest desserts ever @ Mira

Now, I’m no stranger to Peruvian food, whether it’s lomo saltado, funky fusion ceviche or a small plates combo of lamb, sea and air. So when I heard that Mira, this Peruvian joint down a back alley near the Shopify office, was serving up Peruvian plates that are big enough to share, I was all over that like lime on raw fish, son!

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We’re starting off with some crispy pork belly bites, served up with a sizable side of chicharron. This dish isn’t even on their regular menu, but dude, Pork Belly was my nickname in gym class, bro! Flavours were on point, but it barely tided me over until the main event…

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Dude, this dish was lamb-tastic! You’ve got a fork-tender braised lamb shoulder in a smokey ají panca sauce, with amaranth grains and chili peppers, plus I ordered a side of yucca fries, cuz I’m all about that meat and potatoes, bro! This dish was meant to share, but I ate it all myself…and still had room for dessert!!!

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Now, this had to be the funkiest dessert I’ve seen all year! It’s called El Huevo Malo, and it comes to the table inside a giant chocolate egg, which you smash with a spoon. On the inside, you’ve got coffee ice cream, chocolate bread pudding, honeycomb, yuzu marmalade and raspberries! And you KNOW I left no crumb behind, bro!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Breezy Sunday brunch @ the Brick Works

As we start heading into fall, you gotta ask yourself, how cold is too cold to eat out on a patio? I saw a couple places that busted out the heaters last weekend, but if you go out in the daytime, you probably don’t need em…yet. We’re hanging out at Cafe Belong, this funky little joint in the Evergreen Brick Works, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. At 15 degrees, the weather was pretty decent — as long as the wind wasn’t blowing. But with the wind, you definitely needed a jacket.

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This place is serving up the same dishes for lunch and dinner on its all-day menu, and while they did have a couple of Sunday specials that checked all the boxes for brunch, I ended up with the duck confit, served with cherry tomatoes, green beans and creamed corn — the most veggies I’ve had all week. The bird had a nice, crispy skin, and the meat was pretty tender, but man, that corn-to-duck ratio was maybe a bit too high…

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We’re washing it down with a Muskoka Mad Tom IPA, cuz hey, it’s 12 o’clock somewhere. This beer had enough hoppy IPA taste, without being too in-your-face. And I had to hold on to the empty can cuz the wind kept blowing it over!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Slammin’ some short ribs on the sidewalk, son!

So, we’re hanging out at Sorrel, this funky French/Italian joint across the street from the train station LCBO at Yonge and Summerhill. Now, some places might have a backyard patio, and a few others have set up seating on the street, but this is the first restaurant I’ve been to that had outdoor seating on the sidewalk. And hey, it was pretty, pretty nice.

Now, when it comes to food, they’re pairing French classics like duck confit and bouillabaise with pasta dishes like seafood linguine and lobster ravioli. And with all sorts of seafood on the menu, I couldn’t just eat beef…so we’re starting off with some clams, fam!

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These ocean pearls were nice ‘n tender, with a white wine and garlic sauce, and some cherry tomatoes and parsley. They even gave you crusty toasts on the side to soak up the sauce, son!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. These ribs were meaty, beaty, nice ‘n chewy, with a side of potato gratin that I didn’t hafta order separately, and no veggies whatsoever, except for a few stray carrots. It’s all about the meat ‘n potatoes here, which is totally how I roll, bro!

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Now, it would probably be fine to order wine at this place…but this isn’t Burgers, Bacon & Pinot Grigio, bro! Instead, we’re chugging down a coupla Loirettes, this funky farmhouse ale that’s imported from France!!!

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Of course, you KNOW we still had room for dessert! This French/Italian joint was serving up both creme brulee and tiramisu, but instead, I went with the flourless chocolate torte…and it was torte-ally worth it! It was  more moist like a mousse than your typical cake, but super-rich, with a little scoop of ice cream on the side. This might be one of the top five desserts I’ve had all year, and I definitely don’t back down from ordering dessert!!!!

This maple bacon waffle is the breakfast of champions!

Now, I don’t always get up in time for breakfast, but when I do, there’s probably gonna be bacon involved. We’re hanging out at Sunny Morning, this cozy little diner on Yonge St, just south of St. Clair, where they only do two meals: breakfast and lunch. So don’t even bother coming in after 3 pm, bro!

Now, this place has got all the classics — waffles, pancakes, omelettes, eggs benny, and even a few different burgers to choose from. But when I saw the Bacon & Maple Waffle, I knew what I was having… Dude, Bacon & Maple was the name of my doo wop duo in junior high, bro!!!

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Now, on the menu it says there’s bacon baked right in, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. You’ve still got a hot, fluffy waffle completely covered in bacon, and with a small jar of PYOS (pour your own syrup) overtop, so I definitely can’t complain! Man, I could slam at least four of these…but then I wouldn’t have room for home fries:

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Dude, there’s so many potatoes on this plate, it’s almost enough for first AND second breakfast, Bil-bro Baggins! These spuds have got a nice chew, not too crispy, and are nicely seasoned — there’s actually quite a bit of a kick here, which I was not expecting. Man, I would come back to this place just for the home fries alone… There’s no fries like home, bro!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Kolsches and sours and stouts, oh my!

Now, patio season might be almost over, but we’re taking advantage of any sunny days we’ve got left to chug some more patio beers — even if ya gotta wear a jacket. We’re hanging out at Mascot Brewery, this funky joint with a backyard beer garden right on King St. Well OK, it’s actually more like a back alley beer garden, but they do have beer, and that’s what matters, bro!

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Starting things off with a Sun Sipper, this clean, crispy kolsch that according to their beer menu is perfect for long sessions on a patio. I’m not gonna argue with the menu, bro!!!

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Next up, we’ve got the Passionfruit Peach Sour. This fruity, summery beer is maybe more tangy than sour — but that’s not a bad thing, in my books.

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Now, before we get into the heavier stuff, first I gotta eat something. So I ordered up a trio of smoked brisket sliders, nice ‘n simple, with grainy mustard on some potato buns. I mean, all you really need is meat, mustard and bread, right?

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I gotta say, their poutine game was a little weak — especially when compared to the poutine spring rolls at Betty’s. Fries were decent, but the gravy was soupy and the cheese brought no squeak to the table. But hey, time for another beer!!!!

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This Frosthammer DIPA is so grim, it was probably on its way to kill Euronymous. Super-citrusy, hazy and heavy, at 8.2%, this is not the beer for poseurs!

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Of course, even after all that commotion back there, we’ve still got room for dessert…and by dessert, I mean another beer. This Chocolate Daddy is brewed with barley, oats and chocolate malt — but it wasn’t quite as rich and chocolately as I expected. At 6.6%, it’s sorta like a Guinness on steroids, though!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Putting poutine inside spring rolls, bro!

Now, Labour Day is just about the end of summer around here, so that means it might be one of our last chances to hit up a patio in Toronto, bro! We’re hanging out at Betty’s, this funky little dive at King and Sherbourne, where they’ve got social-distancing blow-up dolls inside and a pretty spacious backyard patio, hidden away from all the condos.

Now, this place has got a lot of your typical pub food — burgers, pizza, chicken fingers, along with some more unusual items like pad thai and pot pie. But when I saw they had poutine spring rolls, I was all over that like Kid Rock on a Coors Light, bro!!!

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Ever wish that poutine could be even more deep-fried and delicious? Well, your wish is about to come true, son! Basically, they take fries and cheese curds, wrap ’em in spring roll batter, and fry ’em to perfection, then serve ’em up with gravy for dipping…cuz you probably can’t deep-fry the gravy, eh? And while you don’t get the squeaky texture from the cheese here, that spring roll casing definitely adds an extra crunch! Dude, I could pound about 17 of these, bro…but then I wouldn’t have room for dumplings!

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These kimchi pork dumplings are also deep-fried, because one fried thing deserves another, bro! Served with some Chinese red vinegar and a red hot chili sauce, which definitely adds a strong kick… Man, I’m gonna need at least a couple beers to wash this down!!!

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We’re starting off with a Nordic Lager, this collaboration between Canada and Denmark, brewed by Henderson. It’s definitely pretty malty, but you’ve got a bit of hops, and a smooth finish, with yeast from the Carlsberg Research Lab. It might be more of a winter beer, though…

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On the other hand, Lazy Days of Summer, this hazy passionfruit IPA from Whitewater, is definitely made to be crushed before Labour Day! Equal parts piney and fruity, it will have you pining for the days where you didn’t hafta wear a jacket on the patio, bro!!!

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But now we’re going back, way back to the Summer of ’69 with this 8-Track IPA from Radical Road Brewing. This one’s not as hoppy, but packs a pretty good kick at 6.5%.

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And we’re ending the summer with the fruitiest of fruit beers, a 12 Minutes to Destiny Raspberry Hibiscus Lager from Flying Monkeys. This basically tastes like fruit punch — and at just 4.1%, you can pretty much drink it like fruit punch, too!

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Now, even after pounding poutine rolls, dunking some dumplings and crushing all those craft beers, I still had room for dessert. But the only thing on the menu with fruit in it was this Deep Six bean dip. You’ve got layers of refried beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheddar cheese, served at face-melting temperature, with a whole buncha chips for dipping. Unlike most places that never give you enough chips for the dip, I actually had lotsa nachos left over after scraping off every last bite of bean dip… And I didn’t even double dip the chip!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Cheesy baked oysters @ Pure Spirits

Now, I don’t always eat oysters, but when I do, they’ve gotta have cheese, and maybe some hot sauce. So when I heard that Pure Spirits, this funky oyster house in the Distillery District, was doing up oysters “cacio e pepe” style, you KNOW I had to come check it out, bro!

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Like the Italian pasta dish, you pretty much just add cheese and pepper… but there’s also some chopped herbs, and some lemon, which I squeezed overtop. OK, so I probably didn’t need the lemon — you definitely taste the cheese more than the oyster, but in my book, that’s not such a bad thing!

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Of course, those oysters were just a light snack in Flavourtown, son! We’re following it up with a seared steak sandwich, with mushrooms, onions and Gruyere, served on a panini with sides of fries and salad…and there was a lot more salad than fries, for some reason? Between all that salad and the arugula on top, I must have had at least 2-3 servings of veggies this month!!!

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Now, Pure Spirits is right across from the Mill St Brew Pub, so you know the beer is nice ‘n fresh! This here’s their West Coast IPA, which is a lot less hoppy than some of the IPAs I’ve had on the West Coast, so it’s got that added crushability factor. Plus, all the beers here are served in a 23 oz glass. Dude, all beer everywhere should come in a 23 oz glass, bro!!!

 

PATIO LIT EATS: Burger with a view @ Kost

Now, we’ve hit up some pretty nice patios these past couple months. Whether it was in the garden at Casa Loma or down on the waterfront at Cabana, some of these places give you amazing views of the city. But it doesn’t get any better than this — we’re hanging out at Kost, this funky joint on the 44th floor of the Bisha Hotel, where the only thing preventing me from getting a perfect shot of the CN Tower is this freakin’ patio umbrella, bro!!!

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Now, I don’t always take selfies, but when I do, there’s usually alcohol involved. This here’s The Selfie, a refreshing summer cocktail with Tanqueray gin, lychee, elderflower and lemon. You know those drinks that are so fruity that you can’t taste the booze? Yeah, that’s what you’ve got here. All that’s missing is a little pink umbrella, or something…

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But I didn’t come up here for a selfie — I came to crush some beef, bro! This Kost burger comes with lettuce, tomato, lemon donkey sauce, a whole lotta smoked cheddar and some black pepper bacon. Dude, this is body by black pepper bacon! Patty was thick ‘n juicy, you had a nice soft bun… even the fries were on point. This might be the best burger I’ve had all summer, and let’s just say I’ve had a few. 😉

PATIO LIT EATS: Kickin’ it Old School with fried chicken bacon mac ‘n cheese!

Now, there’s only like a couple weeks left of patio weather in this city, and I’m definitely gonna make the most of it — even if it means getting up before 11 on a weekend, bro! So we’re hanging out at Old School, this funky brunch joint on Dundas West that starts serving it up at 10 am (9 am on weekends).

Last time we were here, I had some waffles fit for The King, and I know their blueberry pancakes are legendary, but when I saw the Return of the Mac and Cheese on the menu, I knew it was about to go down in Flavourtown!!!

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Noodles are nice and cheesy, with a bechamel sauce and some aged cheddar. But the fried chicken was waaaay overcooked, and the bacon a little underdone. I gotta give ’em credit for using actual bacon strips instead of some fake bacon bits though…

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Good thing I was able to drown my disappointment with a Hot Mess. What’s a Hot Mess? Well, you’ve got tequila, grapefruit and raspberry-hibiscus juice, along with some agave nectar, poured into a wheat beer. It’s like a Breakfast of Champions in Flavourtown, bro!!!!

 

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