PATIO LIT EATS: Funky Japanese tapas & beers in Little Portland

Just when you thought patio season was over, they pull you back in with a mini heatwave sending temperatures up to 24 degrees at the start of October, son! So, we’re hanging out in Little Portland, around Dundas and Ossington, where some of the most popular patios are already packed — but they still had several tables available at Bar Shozan, this funky little Japanese joint. You can get sushi and ramen here, but for 10 bucks a pop, they’ve also got some real-deal izakaya-style bar food…dude, this is body by izakaya-style bar food!!!!

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These shrimp ‘n corn skewers are coming in hot, bro! These seafood lollipops in Flavourtown pop with nice bites of shrimp and little kernels of corn. Pretty sure I could slam, like, 10 of these…I just need to wait for them to cool down first!!!!

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Speaking of skewers, this pork belly yakiton is too legit to quit! Pork is fork-tender, with a nice, tangy miso sauce and one green onion for that serving of veggies. This was probably my favourite dish, right here…

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Now, when I saw they had wings on the menu, I couldn’t NOT order them, bro! These Tebasaki wings were nice ‘n crispy, a little sweet, with just a bit of a kick at the end. Oh, and there was enough green onions on this plate to feed Booker T and the MGs!!!!

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Now, this place is serving up all three main Japanese beers — Sapporo, Asahi AND Kirin — as well as five different beers from Far Yeast Brewing, including a couple I’ve never even seen before. But I stayed in Toronto with an Otsukaresama from our local Japanese-influences craft brewers at Godspeed. Despite its name, which apparently means something like “good job” (I speak the third most Japanese in the Triple B Posse, bro!), this is actually a German-style lager, with hops and malt straight outta Dortmund. And it goes great with some wings and pork skewers… Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!!!!

I’m gonna crush these beers like Bo crushes Yankees pitchers, bro!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Rogers Centre, where the Jays are locked into an epic series against the New York Yankees. Last night, my homeboy Bo Bichette went off, with three hits and two homers, including the game-winning blast in the bottom of the eighth. And now we’re back at the ballpark for some footlong franks and victory beers, bro!!!

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What could be better than meat in tube form? How about 12 inches of meat, son!!! This footlong hotdog is so big, it doesn’t even fit into the bun! However, they got rid of the self-service condiment station, and only gave out packets of ketchup, relish and mustard (which I couldn’t open, for some reason)…but that doesn’t make this dugout dog any less delicious!

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Fries were warm and crunchy at the bottom, but the ones up top were cold and soggy. That’s not to say I didn’t eat every last one, son!!!!

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And when it comes to beer, the only options here were Budweiser, Bud Light or Stella Artois. Part of me wasn’t sure it was worth paying two dollars more for Stella…but I don’t think any part of me thinks it’s worth paying anything for Bud Light, so the choice was obvious. 😛

This bar’s alright, if you like IPAs…

Now, unlike my brother from another mother Guy Fieri, we don’t have Dives in our name on Triple B. But that doesn’t mean we only frequent the most upstanding drinking establishments — sometimes, we just want a good, cheap beer in a funky joint with punk rock on the stereo, like Bryden’s on Bloor St or Squirly’s on Queen West. So when I heard about this place called Wasted Youth Bar, just a drunken stumble from Ossington Station, it seemed like my kinda place. And with 6-dollar beers on “Fucked Up Fridays,” well, I just might have a couple… 😉

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We’re starting off with Canuck, a Canadian classic and one of my favourite IPAs. I know they’ve got other beers — more on that in a minute — but when I think of Great Lakes Brewery, this is the first one that comes to mind.

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But now we’re about to funk it up a notch with a Miami Weiss white pale ale from Great Lakes. Dunno the IBUs on this one, but it’s definitely hoppier than its Canuck counterpart. And I’d kinda like to see what it looks like in a glass…but this joint ain’t classy enough for glasses, bro!!!!!

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Speaking of funky, this Burst New England Pale Ale fits the bill. It’s a lot lighter at 4.5% and less hoppy, making it highly crushable. I could probably pound at least seven of these…

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Now, they’ve only got two things on the food menu at Wasted Youth: hot dogs and nacho chips. (No, not nachos, just the chips.) And while those are a few of my favourite things, I just needed something more substantial after slaying seven IPAs. Good thing they let you order takeout from other places. In my drunken stupor, I Ubered up this chicken souvlaki from a nearby joint called East Coast Donair & Grill. Was it the best souvlaki I’ve ever had? No, not really. But I was drunk and hungry, and it got the job done…

Oh, and I paired it with one of the three beers currently on tap — People’s Pint Italian Pilsner. I guess you could say I needed a break from IPAs. 😛

These deep-fried lamb balls are magically delicious!!!

Back at the beginning of First Lockdown, I ordered a whole Pekin duck from R&D…and ate it all myself. Dude, that duck was delicious! So now that they’re open for indoor dining again, we decided to stop by for another funky dish — how bout some deep-fried lamb balls, bro???

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Now, I know what you’re thinking…but we’re NOT nibbling on nutsacks here. These lamb croquettes are stuffed with braised lamb shank, potatoes and onions, served in a sea of lamb curry with some donkey sauce on the side. Dude, you KNOW I love lamb bro, and these tender little flavour nuggets just melt in my mouth!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event: chicken fried karaage style with a seaweed donkey sauce and a some lemon on the side. Man, this chicken was juicy, crispy…and coming in so hot I burned the back of my mouth, bro! And for 22 dollars, you get more than enough to share — unless you’re the type of person who eats a whole Pekin duck to themself. 😉

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And since the name of this blog isn’t Chicken, Croquettes & Coca-Cola, we’re washing this down with a Fountain Green IPA from Furnace Room Brewery in downtown Georgetown. First time I’ve ever heard of this beer, or even this brewery, but it checks all the boxes than an IPA should, so it’s all good in the Flavourhood!!!!

Seven Spanish Mushrooms @ Bar Isabel

Now, we’re not really big on tapas here on Triple B — gimme large plates over small plates any day, bro! But a couple years back, we checked out this funky little Spanish joint on College St called Bar Isabel, where I had a Spanish beer that was made with sea water. Oh, and some of those small plates weren’t too bad, either.

Anyhoo, this place is still in business, with a righteous craft beer list, and while most of the food I ordered last time isn’t even on the menu anymore, you still can’t go wrong with some brave potatoes, bros!

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These patatas bravas are coming straight outta Barcelona, all smothered in donkey sauce! I think these were meant for sharing, but the last time I shared food, the other guy went hungry, so, y’know…

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We’re doubling down in Flavourtown with some grilled mushrooms, bro! These kinda remind me of the shrooms we scarfed down at Beach Club… only these bad boys were ever tastier!!!

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What, after eating gluten-free last time, you didn’t think we would go vegan on ya, brah? This meat & cheese plate comes complete with Mountain Oak & Manchego cheese, alongside several slices of chorizo and salchichon. You could put that on a flip-flop — or some sourdough bread — and it would still taste good!!!

Oh, and that beer (served in a wine glass cuz they fancy) is an Orange Whisper from Small Pony Barrelworks. It’s sour ‘n tangy, but don’t let the name fool ya — no oranges were harmed in the making of this brewski…

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Now, you KNOW we’re always down for dinner and a show — like this Basque cake with hot sherry cream that they pour at the table. Dude, Hot Sherry Cream was the name of my Foreigner cover band, bro!!!!

This bacon, egg & cheese burger is gluten-free…so that means it’s healthy, right?

Now that football season has started, you can guarantee that I ain’t going for Sunday brunch until at least February…but a couple weeks ago, we headed out to Almond Butterfly Bistro, this funky little joint on Dundas West that’s pretty much right next to Old School (and across the street from the Collective Arts Toronto Brewery). These folks are serving up all-day brunch every day, along with burgers, tacos and fish ‘n chips…oh, and it’s all gluten-free. So that means I’m not gonna gain any weight after I destroy this great big burger, right???

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Their signature A.B. Burger is topped with nice, crispy bacon, two kinds of cheese — white cheddar AND smoked gouda — along with tomatoes, pickles and onions, swimming in a sea of donkey sauce. I also paid two bucks to add a fried egg, cuz hey, it is brunch after all.

Let’s just say it’s about to get messy. And I actually didn’t notice this, but the bun is gluten-free. Many moons ago, I had a gluten-free bun that tasted like cardboard, but this one wasn’t that bad…

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Of course, these fresh-cut fries are gluten-free anyways, so there’s nothing wrong with that. I actually asked for onion rings…but it turns out they only serve ’em as an appetizer, not a side dish. Although they did tease me by leaving one single onion ring on my plate — and it was the best ring I’ve tasted since that one time, at onion-ring camp!

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Dude, this place is so committed to the cause that they only serve gluten-free beer, bro! Now, I’ve never had a gluten-free “pilsner-style” beer before, or even heard of Lakefront Brewery… but it’s from Milwaukee, so I figured it had to be at least as good as Glutenberg. I gotta say, something did taste a little different — I mean, it’s brewed without wheat OR barley — but I still pounded like 3-4 of these, cuz it’s not like I can have just one beer, Mark Bro-ssier!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: XXL pork chop? Don’t mind if I do…

Now, it’s probably safe to say that patio season in Toronto is pretty much over, with rain in the forecast for the next few days and the temperature dropping below 20 by the end of the week. (Hey, at least we’re allowed to eat inside now!) But before it gets too cold to eat out in the street, we’re hitting up one last patio at Domaine MaMo on Mount Pleasant, where half the menu is French food, and the other half Italian — it’s all written in English, though. And while they’ve got six kinds of pasta and eight different pizzas to choose from, I think I’m gonna stick to the French side of the menu…

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They call this dish panisse, and what we’ve got are some thick-cut chickpea fries, crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, with a little olive tapenade and some harissa hot sauce for dipping. Now, you’re probably supposed to eat these with a fork and knife, but the only time I use a fork to eat fries is when I’m chowing down on some poutine, son!!!

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And now it’s time for the main event. I gotta say, this Porc XXL is really just a Medium compared to this pork chop I had a few years ago or even this one. But what it might be slightly lacking in size, it more than makes up for in flavour. Nice, tender meat with a crispy breading and just a touch of lemon. There’s even more olive tapenade on the side, bro! But we’re also kicking it up a notch with some meli melo, a mix of seasonal mushrooms with garlic, herbs and cheese. You could put that on a sandale de plage, and it would still taste good!!!

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Now, for dessert, I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed that they don’t do tiramisu or creme brulee — or even some funky combination of them both. Instead, we’ve got profiteroles…but these are not your typical profiteroles, with chocolate sauce on top and vanilla gelato on the inside instead of cream. I would still crush, like, 16 of these — but they only come 3 to an order, bro…

Super-thick crab cakes & wicked awesome chowdah @ Rodney’s

Now, back in January, right in the middle of Second Lockdown, I ordered a real-deal lobster dinner delivered from Rodney’s Oyster House on King Street. And I gotta say, they really knocked it outta the park. So, now that they’re reopen for indoor dining, we’re heading out to check out some of the other seafood on the menu — starting with this classic in a cup, New England clam chowder:

Now this is super-legit, right here. You’ve got PEI clams in a creamy broth with potatoes, leeks and celery, plus a couple crackers broken overtop. The crackers are what makes it, bro!!!!

But now it’s time for the main event… Dude, these crab cakes are so thick, you gotta cut ’em with a steak knife! Nice combo of Newfoundland and New Brunswick crab meat, with just enough bread crumbs to give it a nice crunch, served with a chipotle donkey sauce, and some sides of coleslaw and broccolini. Now, I kinda wish I couldda paid two bucks less to get this in a bun like I did in Maryland, cuz the sides weren’t really working for me. But you could serve these crab cakes with a side of flip-flops, and I’d still order it again — they were that good, bro!!!!

Not only is Rodney’s serving up a solid selection of seafood, but the beer list ain’t bad here, either. I went with a Clean Cut Kolsh, a nice crispy boi from Beyond the Pale in Ottawa. I had never even heard of this brewery before, but next time I’m in The City That Sleeps at 7:30, I might hafta check ’em out… cuz they nailed it with this German-style brew, bro!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!!!