CCAE 2012 Restaurants

RESTAURANT SUGGESTIONS

Salad King

340 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor

Tel: 416-593-0333

Type: Thai

Website: http://saladking.com

Price Range: $30 Gourmet

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

The return of Salad King, just under a year after the restaurant was forced to abandon its crumbling original premises, has been an exciting event for lovers of cheap and cheerful Thai food. The brightly coloured interior has a happy, caffeinated energy that’s even louder and more enjoyable than the original joint ever was. The food is the same: cheap, competently made, relatively fast and reliably filling. And yes, you can still get your spicing on a scale from mild (none, essentially) to 20 (best you wear an adult diaper). While the deep-fried spring rolls don’t quite cut it—there’s not enough filling and too many layers of wrapper—the spicy squid, with kefir lime leaves, sweet basil, bamboo shoots and bell peppers, is perfectly balanced: a bit of sweet, a bit of sour, some salty, earthy depth from fish sauce and plenty of chili spice. Tom yum soup is a bit too salty, and the shrimp, though not offensive, taste like they’ve been in the freezer a bit too long.

Adega

33 Elm Street

Tel: 416-977-4338

Type: Portuguese

Website: http://www.adegarestaurante.ca/

Rating: Good, 1 star

Price Range: Mains $18-36

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

In the moody calm of this dimly-lit room, couples connect over linen-covered tables, and Bay Street suits throw down over pricey bottles of wine. On a dual-identity menu, the traditional seafood dishes are more successful than the contemporary, Asian-tinged experiments. An amuse-bouche of raw tuna drizzled with sesame oil doesn’t have much flavour. A special of whole sea bass comes to the table with its spine in, its salty, grilled skin on and its moist white flesh simply accessorized with a sprinkling of capers. A good portion of squid is pleasantly charred, but the grilled pineapple alongside is mushy and superfluous. The sweet, caramelized fennel topping slices of house chorizo is a nice touch. The heavy dessert offerings are unthinkable after such big portions. A respectable selection of heady ports rounds out a massive, Mediterranean-focused wine list. Mains $18–$36.

Oro

45 Elm Street

Tel: 416-597-0155

Type: Continental

Website: http://www.ororestaurant.com/

Rating: Very Good, 2.5 stars

Price Range: Mains $20-40

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

Exposed yellow brick, starched white tablecloths and a candlelit hearth set the tone for the most polished option on Elm Street’s restaurant row. Tourists snuggle into the intimate banquettes for a romantic night; regulars hold court at the round tables, sipping cult cabs and broody barolos. The wine program goes well beyond the big-ticket reds: each dish is thoughtfully paired. Chef Stanley Yung’s sophisticated take on northern Italian cooking harkens back to the heyday of ’80s Cal-Ital cuisine. Grilled black cod falls into big, moist flakes at the touch of a fork; miso—an inescapable complement to this fish—amps up the umami of crisp roast fingerlings and lip-smacking butter sauce. Pistachio-crusted lamb, cooked perfectly medium, brings five melting ribs, pulled lamb in an intense tomato jus, light ricotta gnocchi, al dente green beans and asparagus. The plate, like the cod dish, is flavourful and beautifully executed. Service walks an unwavering tightrope between friendly and formal. Mains $20—$40.

Mercatto

220 Yonge Street

Tel: 647-352-3390

Type: Italian

Website: http://www.mercatto.ca/

Rating: Good, 1 star

Price Range: Mains $13–$26.

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

Mercatto has brought new life to the culinary dead zone of the Eaton Centre. Tourists seeking heavy spaghetti and meatballs will be thwarted by a more refined brand of artisanal Italian food. Mercatto exudes a casual and relaxed mood with a dark, industrial-chic space of exposed I-beams, filament lights and concrete floors. Although the menu largely consists of pizzas and pastas, the kitchen shows some ambition. The execution, however, needs fine tuning. A block of rosemary-infused pork belly has a beautifully crispy skin, but the meat is dry. Clumps of whole, fresh rosemary leaves are overkill on a pizza of smoked scamorza, spicy sausage and onion, though the crust delivers excellent chewy texture and good toasted flavour to complement the cheese. Toothsome tagliatelle is tossed in a tasty but overly oily almond-basil pesto. Desserts shine, especially a concoction of house-made caramel ice cream, caramel sauce, salted peanuts and whipped marshmallow served in a Mason jar. Mains $13–$26.

Matagali

69 Elm Street

Tel: 416-599-999

Type: Indian & Sri Lankan

Rating: Very Good, 2 stars

Price Range: Mains $10-15

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

There’s a ragged hominess to this basement room, with its ripped leather banquettes, but the food continues to sparkle. The chicken tikka kebab appetizer sets the bar high—huge pieces of white meat are deeply marinated, beyond tender and flavourful with a gentle smokiness from the tandoor. It’s worth a visit for this dish alone. The menu intersperses a few Thai dishes among the Indian ones, but the Thai spring rolls (with shrimp, crab and chicken) disappoint. Happily, Indian entrées are good: eggplant bharta is fragrant, smoky and creamy, with a touch of tomato. Lamb vindaloo, nicely spicy as requested, is a drier style of curry. Its sauce clings to chunks of lamb and potatoes. For sweets after the spice, gulab jamun, usually such a throwaway, is superb, dense and almost chewy. Mains $10–$15.

The Queen and Beaver

35 Elm St.

Tel: 647-347-2712

Type: Gastropub

Website: http://queenandbeaverpub.ca/

Rating: Very Good, 2 stars

Price Range: Mains $15–$23.

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

In a city dominated by foxy faux pubs, the Queen and Beaver stands out like a bright red telephone box. Manchester-born chef Andrew Carter puts to rest the tired notion that English food is a joke, delivering boldly flavoured, modern British fare. Fish and chips stars perfectly cooked haddock in a light, crispy coating with a herbaceous tartar sauce (unfortunately, the accompanying chips are soggy and over-salted). On one evening, a grilled pork chop is thick, pink and succulent, with sweet peas and verdant gnocchi-style dumplings soaking up the rich pan juices. The selection of subs is excellent, but the diverse wine list is better. Mains $15–$23.

Guu

398 Church Street

Tel: 416 977 0999

Type: Japanese tapas

Website: http://www.guu-izakaya.com/toronto/

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

Go early (by 5:30 pm or after 9:00 pm)

Terroni Adelaide

57 Ade­laide St. E.

Tel: 416-203-3093

Type: Italian

Website: http://www.terroni.ca/

Price Range: Mains $18–$25.

Closest to: Eaton Centre - South near Queen side

Mementos of the Bel Paese accent the grandeur of the dining room, a 19th-century courthouse, but after 10 minutes of admiring the slick design and hipster servers who zip by with nary a nod of attention, the grandeur begins to fade—it’s hard not to feel ignored. The thin-crust pizza is among the city’s best, but the food is as inconsistent as the service. A summer special of a mixed grill meat plate, requested medium-rare, features a tiny, limp medium-well lamb chop apparently butchered with a letter opener, and a knob of beef, cooked blue, masquerading as a pancetta-wrapped tenderloin. The wine list is absolutely brilliant, featuring interesting bottles from every region of the boot at bargain prices. Mains $18–$25.

Joey Restaurants

1 Dundas Street West, Eaton Centre, entrance on Dundas between Yonge & Bay

Type: Canadian/American

Website: http://www.joeyrestaurants.com/food

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Jack Astors Yonge-Dundas

10 Dundas Street East

Tel: 416.263.9800

Type: Canadian/American

Website: http://www.jackastors.com/locations/18/toronto-restaurants-yonge-dundas.html

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Milestones

10 Dundas Street E

Tel: 416-598-2800

Type: Canadian/American

Website: http://www.milestonesrestaurants.com/home.php

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Elephant & Castle

378 Yonge Street

Tel: 416-598-4003

Type: Pub

Website: http://www.elephantcastle.com/

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Mr. Green Jeans

220 Yonge St., Toronto Eaton Centre

Tel: 416-979-1212

Type: Various

Website: http://www.mrgreenjeans.ca

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Classic fish and chips, International starters, gourmet pizza, noodles, salads, signature sandwiches and burgers, fresh fish, grilled steaks, chicken and ribs, our extensive menu of over 200 items, will surely whet the most discriminating palette!

Baton Rouge

216 Yonge St., Toronto

Tel: 416-593-9667

Type: American

Website: http://www.batonrouge-restaurant.com/

Closest to: Yonge Dundas Square

Whether it’s a date, an office lunch, before the theatre or Sunday night with the folks. The service is always prompt and genuinely caring and the price is right, no question. Featured on our menu are premium-quality steaks selected from the Sterling Silver Program (the top 20% of AAA beef)."

Bannock

401 Bay St. ,

Tel: 416-861-6996

Type: Bistro

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Bannock.aspx

Price Range: Mains $12–$23.

Closest to: Eaton Centre – South near Queen St.

This casual Canadian comfort food place aims to update our idea of the nation’s cuisine. Are pickerel tacos wrapped in Chinese steamed buns and twanged with tamarind and chili sauce Canadian? Absolutely, if Bannock has anything to do with it. And so are fried bologna and eggs, grilled Alberta lamb rump and tofurkey scallopini. The menu is fun, with a great balance between light (chinook salmon served with watercress and lima beans) and colon crushing (the brilliant roast duck poutine pizza). Service is fast and friendly. Mains $12–$23. "

The Gabardine

372 Bay St.

Tel: 647-352-3211

Type: Gastropub

Website: http://www.thegabardine.com/

Price Range: Mains $13–$23.

Closest to: Eaton Centre – South near Queen St.

This friendly and inexpensive new gastropub feels more like an antidote to Bay Street than a part of it. The room is small, with just 50 seats, and the prices aren’t for masters of the universe: you can get a Stoli and tonic for $6 and a 600-millilitre bottle of Beau’s All Natural beer for $8. Even the wine list has plenty of interesting bottles under $50. But the cooking, by the young chef, Graham Pratt, is the clincher. On a good night, The Gabardine serves up some of the city’s best pub food. The umami bomb of a cheeseburger comes topped with intensely savoury oven-roasted tomatoes and old, stinky cheddar. The mac-and-cheese, baked with aged cheddar, provolone, chèvre and Parmesan, is creamy, salty perfection with a crumbly, heavenly top. Mains $13–$23.

Modus

145 King St. W.,

Tel: 416-861-9977

Type: Continental

Website: http://modusristorante.com/

Price Range: Mains $22–$38.

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

Owner Sam Genkov and executive chef Bruce Woods follow the Financial District restaurant blueprint impeccably: polished servers, a protein-heavy menu, a lengthy wine list that will push—but not burst—the expense account, and an elegant interior of inoffensive neutrals. Woods, who made his name at Centro, creates high Italian dishes with modern flair. The first dish, seared tuna ringed with sweet pepper caponata, is under-seasoned, but the food improves with each course. Homemade duck and truffle squash agnolotti mixes sweet with gamy. Crunchy roasted celery elevates fork-tender lamb shank to the sublime. To finish, warm banana cream–filled fritters are simple and wonderful. Several bottles of wine under $40. Mains $22–$38.

Queen Mother

208 Queen St. W

Tel: 416-598-4719

Type: Thai

Website: http://www.queenmothercafe.ca/

Price Range: Mains $13.95 - $19.95

Closest to: Queen West

The Queen Mum, as the restaurant is affectionately known by its many regulars, was established in October 1978. It is housed in an historic 150+ year old building in the heart of the Entertainment District. We are famous for our fresh and flavourful Lao-Thai and pan-global cuisine, and sinful desserts. They can be enjoyed in our cozy and timeless cafe, or on our beautiful back GARDEN PATIO

Pizza Rustica

270 Wellington St. West

Tel: 416-260-0200

Type: Italian

Website: http://pizzarustica.ca

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

Pizza Rustica hits the sweet spot between the Rogers Centre and clubland, offering an alternative to Dome grub and a solid foundation for a night of crantinis. The decor evokes a late-’90s suburban chain (jalapeño lights), and most of the menu follows suit. The portions are huge: mounds of pasta smothered in hearty sauces fill wide-lipped bowls, and loaf-sized panini ooze rivers of cheese. Calamari rings are beautifully fried and served with aïoli (decent) and Frank’s Red Hot (weird, but it works). The 20 pizzas on offer are reassuringly current. The thin crusts ably support thoughtfully combined, fresh ingredients. Rustica, the house special, is a highlight reel of a Mediterranean market in pie form: sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and slivers of salty prosciutto meld with goat cheese over a tangy, thick blanket of tomato sauce. Service is swift to ensure prompt attendance for the first pitch. Mains $11–$16.

Korean Grill House

214 Queen Street West

Tel: 416-263-9850

Type: Korean BBQ

Website: http://www.koreangrillhouse.com/

Closest to: Eaton Centre – South near Queen side by Yonge Dundas Square

It’s go big or go home at this carnivore’s paradise. The boisterous split-level dining room is filled with the aromas of browning meat and char. The traditional Korean DIY setup makes for a fun, low-key evening: diners are surrounded by plates of raw food for cooking over an open flame at the table. Assorted banchan—pickled, preserved side dishes including kimchee, sprouts, and brilliantly crisp pickled daikon radish—whet the appetite for the main event. Sweet soy-marinated beef short ribs and ox tongue are delightfully chewy and tender. Chicken and pork are equally flavourful and fare better on the grill than bland, waterlogged fish fillets. The seafood bi bim bap is served in a hot stone pot that’s crammed with scallops, shrimp and squid swimming in spicy paste stained rice. The fiery heat is quelled by a cool tumbler of fresh, thirst-quenching lime soda with ice.

Korean Grill House

369 Yonge Street

Tel: 416-596-9206

Type: Korean BBQ

Website: http://www.koreangrillhouse.com/

Closest to: Delta Chelsea

It’s go big or go home at this carnivore’s paradise. The boisterous split-level dining room is filled with the aromas of browning meat and char. The traditional Korean DIY setup makes for a fun, low-key evening: diners are surrounded by plates of raw food for cooking over an open flame at the table. Assorted banchan—pickled, preserved side dishes including kimchee, sprouts, and brilliantly crisp pickled daikon radish—whet the appetite for the main event. Sweet soy-marinated beef short ribs and ox tongue are delightfully chewy and tender. Chicken and pork are equally flavourful and fare better on the grill than bland, waterlogged fish fillets. The seafood bi bim bap is served in a hot stone pot that’s crammed with scallops, shrimp and squid swimming in spicy paste stained rice. The fiery heat is quelled by a cool tumbler of fresh, thirst-quenching lime soda with ice.

Real Sports Bar and Grill

15 York St.

Tel: 416-815-7325

Type: Best Bars

Website: http://www.realsports.ca/bar

Eaton Centre – South near Queen side by Yonge Dundas Square

A sports bar on steroids, Real Sports is a 25,000-square-foot amphitheatre of game-watching excess with 199 HD flat screens, including one that’s two and a half storeys tall. The beer menu is supersized, too. With more than 70 domestic and international options, everyone from the Steam Whistle ($6.50) devotee to the Belgian Früli Strawberry Wheat Ale ($5.75) enthusiast leaves happy. The adventurous can try the beer blends, like Darth Maple ($7.55), which mixes Canadian, Murphy’s Irish Stout and tears of defeat.

Bar Volo

587 Yonge St.,

Tel: 416-928-0008

Type: Best Bars

Website: http://blog.barvolo.com/

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

Father-and-son team Ralph and Tomas Morana run their 23-year-old Yonge Street bar with the zeal of new converts to the cult of brewing. A sort of town hall for Ontario’s earnest microbrew crowd, Bar Volo offers a rotating array of Ontario drafts and cask-conditioned ales, posted daily to Twitter. Denison’s Weissbier ($7), a hazy golden ale with spicy notes and citrusy freshness, is usually on tap, and a safe starting point for initiates. There’s also a staggering selection of international bottles, and something unusual is always emerging from the Moranas’ on-site nano brewery. They have two or three casks at a time; just ask for the house ale.

The Ballroom

145 John St.,

Tel: 416-597-2695

Type: Best Bars

Website: http://www.theballroom.ca/

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

A Saturday night in the neon-and-flat-screen-lit Ball Room brings a barrage of retro bowling paraphernalia, inappropriate dancing, nearly naked club girls and C-list star spotting (mostly character actors from Being Erica). Although the beer selection is uninspired (Canadian, Moosehead), it’s still novel to have it delivered right to the lane. The overall mood is somewhat hallucinatory—like that gutter ball dream sequence in The Big Lebowski—especially when the servers tell you how much it costs to rent a lane for an hour (up to $65, plus shoe rental).

Spin Toronto

461 King St. W.,

Tel: 416-599-7746

Type: Best Bars

Website: http://toronto.spingalactic.com/

King West-Entertainment District

Entering the lower-level space—through unmarked steel doors down a barely marked King Street alleyway—you feel like you’re infiltrating an illegal Ping Pong ring. Tables are hard to come by (members, who pay $50 a month, often book them), and drinking in a basement while half-heartedly batting the ball is eerily reminiscent of adolescent Saturday nights. But, as they say, it gets better. The bar snacks are remarkably good. Grilled cheese sandwiches are the perfect accompaniment to an Ontario craft brew list that reads like a children’s book: Lawn Chair, Mr. Huff and the Barking Squirrel (all $6.25). After a few of those, you get very good at Ping Pong.

The Thompson Rooftop

550 Wellington St. W.

Tel: 416-601-3595

Type: Best Bars

Website: http://www.thompsonhotels.com/hotels/toronto/thompson-toronto/drink/rooftop-lounge

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

Nowhere in Toronto can our world-class status be more easily confirmed than from a perch at the Thompson’s rooftop bar. Even in winter, the view is really that impressive, and it’s best enjoyed with a sophisticated drink. The Millionaire #3 ($15) —with Belvedere vodka, Cointreau, grenadine and raspberry syrup—is sweet but not cloying, thanks to whipped egg white. A pub grub–style menu (spring rolls, calamari) is adequate if uninspired, but, hey, that’s what the view is for.

Fionn MacCool's

181 University Avenue

Tel: 416-363-1944

Type: Irish Pub

Website: http://university.fionnmaccools.com/

Price Range: Mains $11-$19

Closest to: King West-Entertainment District

180 Panorama

51st Floor, 55 Bloor Street West

Type: Continental

Website: http://www.eatertainment.com/restaurants/panorama/

Closest to: Bloor & Yonge

Toronto's Best View and Highest Patios, Best cocktails, best view, most romantic ... the Toronto press rave about Panorama. Set atop the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor, 180 Panorama offers guests a stunning view of both uptown and downtown Toronto as well as two of the country's highest patios. Our award winning cocktail menu and tapas style menu, created by Executive Chef Zack Jacobs, are matched with unsurpassed service for a truly outstanding experience.

Richtree Market

220 Yonge Street,

Tel: 416-351-8783 () ‎

Type: Various

Website: http://www.richtree.ca/

Closest to: Eaton Centre – South near Queen side