Oh my god, Icelandic cod… at a Lebanese restaurant???

Now, I don’t always eat fish…but when I do, it’s gotta be something funky. So when I heard that Amal, this fancy new Lebanese joint on Bloor, was serving up Icelandic cod, I knew it had to be outta bounds, bro! I mean, Iceland is a long, long way from Lebanon, right?

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We are starting off with a couple dishes that are a little closer to home…and by home, I mean Lebanon. On the left, you’ve got Bastrema Rakakat, which is kind of a cross between a samosa and a Greek tiropita… basically it’s a flaky pastry stuffed with cheese, and then a bit of beef. I could pound at least five of these — oh wait, I just did!

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And then we’ve also got Amal’s Hummus, served warm with chunks of beef tenderloin, pomegranate and pine nuts. Dude, you could put that on a flip-flop and it would still taste good…but on top of a warm pita, it tastes even better!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. This broiled fish filet is smothered in a cilantro tahini and topped with pine nuts, and then you’ve got some more pomegranate seeds on the side, along with these deep-fried pita chips that you won’t believe it’s not nachos, bro! Fish was flaky and fork tender, and the squeeze of lime added a nice little kick. Man, this has gotta be in the top five Icelandic cod dishes we’ve ever had on Triple B!!!

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Speaking of Triple B, the only beer they serve here is Stella Artois…which I didn’t know was Lebanese, either. So instead I went with a cocktail called Beirut Forever that tastes so much like a Negroni that I think they might have brought me the wrong drink. They’ve both got Campari, Arak and bitters, but instead of gin, this one mixes in cognac, chartreuse and Martini Fiero instead.

Or at least that’s what it says on the cocktail menu. The only mixed drinks I usually drink are a mixture of hops, barley and water, bro!!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Celebrating the end of summer @ Belgian Moon Brewery

Just when it looked like summer was over, we get hit with a heatwave, driving temperatures up to the mid 20’s this weekend. So we’re celebrating the last (non-heated?) patio adventure of the summer at the Belgian Moon Brewery at stackt, this funky outdoor market made of shipping containers at Front and Bathurst.

Now, if you think that Belgian Moon is only about Belgian White beer, think again, cuz we’re trying four different brews that don’t even need no orange slice, bro!!!!

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This Mango Wheat beer captures both the smell and taste of mangoes, making it the perfect beverage for the end-of-summertime blues!

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On the other hand, their Iced Coffee Blonde was maybe just a touch too much. I mean, if you blindfolded me for a taste test, I would swear I was drinking coffee, not beer. But hey, at least I don’t hafta worry about the caffeine crash afterwards?

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Unlike the other two beers, this Lemondrop Pilsner didn’t live up to its name so much. I mean, it doesn’t really taste like lemons, but it’s still a nice, crushable pilsner…so I guess I can’t complain!

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We’re saving the heaviest for last with this West Coast IPA, checking in at 6.1%. Another solid beer that lives up to its name, it’s got a decent amount of hops, without being too puckery. Now, this totally goes against what you think when you think Belgian Moon…but that’s what makes it awesome, son!

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Of course, you can’t drink all those beers on an empty stomach, so we’re ordering up some bruschetta fries, topped with basil oil, tomatoes and a whole lotta parmesan — tie yer nonna down, fratello!!!

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And since I couldn’t decide between a cheeseburger and a chicken burger, I went ahead and got both. They call this the JoyDoubleUp, and it’s a double down in Flavourtown, with a smashed beef patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles and slaw…and then a crunchy, saucy piece of fried chicken on top. Man, all that’s missing is some fish to make it a Land, Sea and Air trio, bro!!!!

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!!!

4 Popeyes Fried Chicken Sandwiches…and a Coke!

The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich is finally available in Canada, bro! And you know I like my chicken fried, so I’m all over that like a top hat on Zack Brown! Now, I’m not someone who eats just one taco, one cheeseburger or one Waffle Double Down, so I just walked into Popeyes and dropped this epic order:

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OK, I dunno why they put that down as a Barqs, but I swear to John Belushi that was four fried chickens and a Coke, Blues Bro! And hey, at just $5.99, I can probably finish four of these, right?

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Now, it’s time for the six-dollar question: Does the Popeyes chicken sandwich live up to all the hype? Well, I’d be lying if I said it was the best fried chicken sandwich I ever had. I mean, it’s pretty basic — just chicken, a couple pickles, and some mayo on a bun. And it’s really not that big; I mean, it’s definitely no Double Down, or even a Big Crunch. But the weirdest thing was how inconsistent they were from one sammy to the next — the one you see here was the thickest, while a couple were super-crispy, and I randomly managed to save the juiciest one for last:

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Did I really need to eat four of these babies? Well, without any sides, I could easily crush two, no problem…maybe three if I’m hungry. If I wasn’t channeling my inner Joliet Jake, I probably wouldn’t have four. But what can I say, I was on a mission from god, son!!!

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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!!!