Tag Archives: Toronto patios

GRAND REOPENING: Duck eggs & bacon @ Farmhouse Tavern

Now, we first moseyed on down to Farmhouse Tavern last September, back when we were still allowed to eat inside. It may be a little out of the way — we’re talking Dundas West and Dupont — but I really, really liked this place. So when I found out their patio had reopened AND they were serving Sunday brunch, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!!!!!

Their whole deal is farm-to-table, so you can expect a small menu, that changes regularly, with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Well, I guess this must be duck huntin’ season, cuz they’re serving up duck two ways in this funky brunch dish called the Quack and Scram:

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Now, what we’ve got here is duck confit, served inside a tortilla, with fresh mushrooms…and then they put a duck egg on top. It’s like Tex-Mex meets French in Flavourtown, bro! Dude, every part of this dish tastes good — even the tortilla is nice ‘n crispy. But the bacon was definitely the best part!!!!!!

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Here’s where I should probably mention that the bacon doesn’t actually come with this dish — I paid six bucks for a side of bacon, and lemme tell ya, that was the best six dollars I’ve spent all year. This lil’ piggy is sooo outta bounds, it ended up in the chicken coop, son! You’ve got thickly sliced pork belly with this amazing smokey flavour…it’s like the beef brisket of bacon, bro!!!

I mean, the last time I had bacon this good wasn’t even in Canada. Can I get, like, seven pounds to go???

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Now, since we’ve entered Year 2 of the pandemic, it doesn’t even hafta be 5 o’clock — as long as it’s, like, 2 p.m. somewhere, this guy could use a beer. So this Square Wheels, a hazy, sneaky strong IPA from Town Brewery in Whitby, definitely hits the spot. There’s a tear in my beer as I type this, Bro-cephus!!!

GRAND REOPENING: Patio pizza in Little Italy!

Dude, Little Italy was lit last night, bro! After the Azzurri beat Belgium in the Euro Cup, people were out dancing and celebrating in the streets — the cops actually blocked off College until 8 o’clock, three hours after the game ended! OK, so there might not have been as many people as we wouldda seen pre-pandemic, but I’m pretty sure they still exceeded the limits of an “outdoor social gathering” under Phase 2. And we were right in the middle of all the action at Trattoria Taverniti, this cozy, family-run Italian joint that’s been at the corner of College and Clinton for the past 10 years!

Man, this place has almost an entire page of pizzas to choose from — 24 in all — so you KNOW I’m gonna crush a pie, paisano! But first, here’s a take on bruschetta thatta I’ve never even seen before, bro…

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Now, who needs tomatoes when you can have spicy sausage and cheese, though? At Tavernitis, they top this toasted bread with n’duja sausage spread and some creamy stacciatella, and then finish it with a drizzle of honey. I dunno what they put in that salsiccie, but it was pretty, pretty spicy! And yet, the sweetness from the honey really cuts through the mix. Man, I don’t think I can go back to regular bruschetta after this…

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Now, it’s hard to pick a favourite among so many great pies, but when in doubt, I go with the one that has the most meat. (That’s probably, like the fifth rule of Flavourtown, or something.) In this case, that would be the Carne, a combination of pepperoni, Italian sausage, and no, that’s not bacon — it’s guanciale, bro! Crust was nice ‘n crispy, and 18 bucks gets you a pie that’s probably enough food for two people…but you KNOW I ate it all and still had room for dessert!!!!!!!

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And when it comes to il dolce, I gotta go with an Italian classic — we’re talkin’ tiramisu! Nice ‘n creamy, with a hit of cocoa and not too, too much espresso…pretty sure I could slam at least three of these, bro!!!!

GRAND REOPENING: Nachos and draught beer @ Madison Avenue Pub

Now, some food just doesn’t work well for takeout or delivery. Case in point: nachos. If you don’t eat ’em right away, the chips get thin and soggy, and they don’t hold up well in a takeout container. Even the amazing nachos at Sneaky Dee’s aren’t as great when you get them delivered. And yes, this is something you could make at home, although my make-at-home nachos tend to be made in a microwave. So you’re definitely not getting the full restaurant experience.

All of this is to say that I haven’t actually had nachos since like November. So now that restaurant patios are open again, we’re hanging out at The Madison, this funky little joint just east of Spadina, where they’ve got a three-level patio serving up pub classics like burgers, wings…and these Buffalo chicken nachos:

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Now, let’s be honest, these nachos weren’t really that great. They only put cheese on maybe 10% of the chips, the chicken was tough, and not spicy, and there weren’t many other toppings to speak of. But man, I’m just happy to be having nachos again, bros!!!

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Dude, I can’t even remember the last time I ordered a pitcher of draught beer. I mean, even a lot of restaurants that reopened are only serving it in cans or bottles right now. So, never mind that The Maddy only had three beers on tap — two Amsterdams and a Stella — I’m about to get my drink on, son!!!!!!!

 

 

GRAND REOPENING: Tacos with a view @ Lavelle

There ain’t no patio like a rooftop patio, bro! Last night, we’re hanging out at Lavelle, this funky rooftop joint 16 storeys up on King West. This place is so popular you can barely get a table, and while you can’t go in the pool — on on the dance floor — just yet, they are serving up dinner and drinks until late at night. Dude, can you say short rib tacos???

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These little flavour nuggets of braised beef are served in wonton shells with avocado crema, pico de gallo and micro cilantro. They come three to an order, but let’s just say I could eat about 30, and still have room for dessert…

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And no, my hands aren’t THAT big — these babies are only 2-3 bites each, which explains why they’re on the small plates section of the menu.

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Of course, you KNOW I didn’t just eat three tacos, bro! This Mac Dog (which is more like two hot dogs) has got me turning Japanese with togarashi, yuzu pickles, and both kinds of onions — diced AND crispy — for a double down in Flavourtown! And believe it or not, but these two more or less regular-sized hot dogs are almost half of price of three tiny tacos…

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Now, if you’re one of them boys ’round here, drinkin’ that ice cold beer, then this ain’t the place to be, Bro-ke Shelton! The only two beers they serve here are Sol and Heineken, which are two things I have never ordered at a bar in my life. Instead, why not go for their Signature Savoury Baesar, a caesar made with Ketel One vodka…where the secret ingredient happens to be Heineken? It’s kinda like a Michelada Gone Wild, bro!!!

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!!!!

 

 

 

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)…

HEATED PATIO EATS: Last Supper of 2020 @ Positano

When they opened all the heated patios across Toronto, there was always the question of how long this was gonna last. Well, now we have our answer — with the city heading back into lockdown at midnight tonight, there will be no more dining out, inside or outdoors, anytime soon… and my guess is this will be at least until the end of 2020.

So that’s why we treated our meal at Positano Restaurant, this real-deal Italian joint on Mount Pleasant, like it would be our last restaurant visit of the year. We talking a three-course Italian feast, right on the sidewalk with just one heater, scarfing down pizza, cheese, Birra Moretti…and of course, I’ve still got room for dessert, bro!

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We’re starting off with a great big ball of buffalo mozzarella, served on a bed of cherry tomatoes and arugula. This Buffalo Soldier in Flavourtown is creamy, dreamy, to the extremey!!!

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Now, I’ve housed a whole lotta pizzas in my day, but this is one flavour combo I’ve never seen before. They’re packing shrimp, squid and olives on top of their pizza pescatore, with some nice foldable slices and a real crunchy crust. It’s not delivery, it’s delicious!!!!

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Now, dessert was reasonably priced at $8.95, but you don’t get a lotta bang for yer lira — this was a pretty small piece of cake, son! Their torta caprese is a flourless almond cake with a hard chocolate bottom and a whole buncha powdered sugar on top. It was a less than amazing ending to an otherwise almost perfect meal…but hey, it’s probably still gonna be the best dessert I have for the rest of 2020. I mean, you can’t really order dessert for delivery, bro. 😦 😦 😦

HEATED PATIO EATS: Portuguese-style surf ‘n turf!

Now, last weekend when we went to Bindia, it wasn’t very warm. But last night was even colder — it was probably my first subzero patio experience, not counting that time I tailgated at a Buffalo Bills game. And now we’re hanging out at Flor de Sal Restaurant, a cozy little Portuguese joint that’s just steps away from the steps that take you up to Casa Loma, at Davenport and Spadina.

They’ve got a little four-table front patio with a heater in the middle and curtains all around — and they even bring you blankets to help keep you out of the cold. But since it was still pretty chilly, I had to warm up with a classic Portuguese/Brazilian comfort dish, feijoada:

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Dude, this is like pork ‘n beans to the extreme, bro! This hearty white bean stew is packed with hunks of pork, potatoes and a couple sprigs of cilantro, for that extra kick. I would eat that off a snow boot!

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But now it’s time for the main event, son! This is not the first time I’ve had Portuguese bitoque steak, but they did give me a much nicer piece of meat than that other place. As you can see, this is pretty much the perfect medium rare, served up with Maitake mushrooms, cassava fries — thicker and crunchier than potatoes — and of course, the fried egg on top. For a few dollars more, they also throw in a jumbo shrimp, for that surf element…

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Surf’s up, bro! I’ve sucked down several shrimp in my day, but very few were as tasty as this!!!

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Of course, you KNOW I’ve still got room for dessert, and when I saw the Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake, it was a match made in Flavourtown Heaven! This triple-layer, quadruple-decker beauty comes with with raspberries, chocolate sauce and caramel, and there’s even a chocolate-covered fig on the side, on top of shaved almonds…so it’s almost like you’re getting two desserts in one, son!!!!

HEATED PATIO EATS: Tandoori Chicken of the Sea @ Bindia

Now, I’ve chowed down on some real-deal Indian food all over this city, from chicken vindaloo to butter lamb, but one dish I’ve never seen is tandoori lobster. I mean, if you can kill it and grill it, you can probably tandoori it, but I don’t think any place has ever thought of doing it before.

But now we’re hanging out at Bindia Indian Bistro, this funky joint right across from St. Lawrence Market, where they’ve got 10 different tandoori dishes on the menu, so you KNOW I’m about to dive in, bro!!!

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So basically, you get two lobster tails to an order, marinated in tandoori masala spices, with a some yogurt on the side. I don’t always eat grilled lobster, but this was cooked nice ‘n tender, without being too chewy. I was expecting this dish to be spicy, but it really wasn’t… Although I still dipped it in that cucumber yogurt sauce — dude, I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!!

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Of course, you can’t really have tandoori chicken of the sea without some tandoori-fried bread, bro! This butter naan came out nice and chewy, with a little crunch from the charred bits. I could probably pound, like, 22 pieces of these…but you don’t wanna fill up on bread, bro!

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Speaking of things I’ve never seen before, this was the first time I’ve come across Sura Panam, an India red ale from Cool India Brewing Company, based in London, Ontario. Normally, I find most Indian beer to be light and watery, meant to cool down the spice of the food, but this one had a bit more flavour to it…plus, they actually pour it on tap!