Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Chefs’ House Restaurant (George Brown)


215 King Street East Toronto, ON M5A 3W8
(Jarvis & King)
T: (416) 415-2260
www.thechefshouse.com

Here’s a unique dining experience that combines the latest culinary skills with education. The Chefs’ House is part of George Brown College and is fully open to the public. This restaurant gives students in training an opportunity to practise – hosting, cooking, baking, and serving – in a real-world environment (while under supervision).

If you want a preview of what you’ll be in for, walk by and peek inside the restaurant to see the culinary students at the front prepare and cook in their large open kitchen. There are only two menus: lunch and dinner set menus (which changes often depending on their course program and what is in season).

Recommendations
• Dinner – more relaxing and enjoyable

Good to Know
• Best seats: I prefer seating near the back, away from the buzz and noise at the front kitchen. A private function room, which seats up to 16 people, is available and located on the lower floor of the restaurant.
• Service: Good overall (Students may be nervous but they are very attentive and work hard to provide professional service.)
• Atmosphere: 3,200 square foot heritage brownstone; contemporary
• Ideal for: Date, casual, those seeking a different culinary dining experience
• Attire: Casual, business, smart casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Hours of operation: Monday to Friday only

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The Chefs' House on Urbanspoon

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W Burger Bar


10 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1K2
(416) 961-2227
wburgerbar.com

I’m not a big burger fan but I do like W’s and all the choices they offer: beef, lamb, bison, salmon, Kobe, chicken, turkey, veggie or portobello burger; fresh baked regular or whole wheat bun; charcoal broiled or flat top style, and a long list of complimentary sauces and toppings!

Recommendations
• Spiked milkshakes (I haven’t tried this yet it but sure looks fun!)

Good to Know
• Best seats: Seats near the window (It’s entertaining to watch all the people who pass by the corner of College and Yonge)
• Service: Helpful (which I needed with all the selection available)
• Atmosphere: Simple; contemporary
• Ideal for: Casual, takeout
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes (they’re quite busy)
• Patio recommended: N/A

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W Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Grass Mountain Villa Seafood Restaurant


3555 Don Mills Road, Toronto, ON M2H 3N3
(Don Mills & Finch)
T: (416) 756-7773

Located in a plaza beside No Frills, this Chinese restaurant has a constant flow of traffic. Although busy, I never had to wait long.

The food is generally good. I enjoyed many of the dishes, except the Siu Long Bao (steamed soup-filled dumplings). Even though the skin was very thick, it was impossible to keep in tact when lifting from the bamboo containers. This spoiled the experience since the dumpling should be consumed in its entirety – meat and soup together in the same bite.

Recommendations
• Puffy milk tarts – the custard wasn’t too sweet and the pastry was light and flaky
• “Kwun Tong Gao” (steamed soup-filled dumpling served in a bowl) (see photo)

Good to Know
• Best seats: No particular preference
• Service: Friendly (for a Chinese Restaurant)
• Atmosphere: Traditional Chinese restaurant decor with burgundy carpets, a gold dragon on the wall, red lanterns; but quite noisy
• Ideal for: Casual gatherings, large parties, birthdays, etc
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Specials: 20% from 9am to 11am and 2pm to 4:30pm

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Grass Mountain Villa on Urbanspoon

Scarpetta


550 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON
(Bathurst & King)
T: (416) 601-3590
www.thompsonhotels.com

Located inside the Thompson Hotel, Scarpetta was not hard to find. The big lounge area in front of the restaurant made waiting for the rest of my party to arrive more comfortable and relaxing.

Although there are two other restaurants located in the hotel; Wabora (a Japanese restaurant) and Counter (a 24-hour diner), Scarpetta’s ratings are the highest.

Recommendations
• Stromboli bread – made with salami, mozzarella cheese, basil and cherry tomatoes
• Creamy Polenta with Fricasse of Truffled Mushrooms (Scarpetta’s signature dish)
• Wine (they have selections listed here that are not available elsewhere)
• Tiramisu

Good to Know
• Best seats: Preferably the booths (Wherever you sit, try not to face the windows. There is a parking lot located just across the street on Wellington and the headlights of cars coming and going could be harsh on the eyes since the restaurant is dimly lit.)
• Service: Excellent; attentive; replaced our cutlery after each use; cleaned the crumbs off the table with minimal disturbance;
• Atmosphere: Rustic; dark chocolate brown leather/upholstery and dark wood; high ceilings; acoustics wasn’t very good because it was difficult to hear my friend speak, who was just sitting on the other side of the table.
• Ideal for: Business, romantic date, celebrations
• Attire: Casual, business, trendy, smart casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A

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Scarpetta on Urbanspoon

Ame


19 Mercer Street, Toronto, ON  M5V 1H2
(Spadina & King)
T: (416) 599-7246
www.amecuisine.com

Ame, formerly Rain, recently (about half a year ago) redecorated the restaurant and is now more open and inviting. Although the food is okay, I come here mainly for their cocktails and concoctions, which may include wasabi, egg whites or edible flowers.

If you are looking for entertainment after dinner, no need to venture off. The tables in middle section of the dining area are cleared away on the weekends  to create a dance floor.

Recommendations
• Apple Cider Cocktail
• Bellini topped with an edible flower

Good to Know
• Best seats: Lounge area (for drinks)
• Service: Good
• Atmosphere: Open; beautiful wood pieces (e.g. the bar table is a vertical cross-section of a tree trunk); Japanese decoration/masks
• Ideal for: Night out, dinner & dancing, birthday celebrations, romance
• Attire: Casual, business, trendy, smart casual
• Reservations recommended: Yes (N/A – lounge area)
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Washrooms: Shared (luckily there a many rooms and lots of mirrors)

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Ame on Urbanspoon

Diamond Banquet Hall


3225 Hwy 7, Markham, ON  L3R 0J5
(Woodbine &  Hwy 7)
T: (905) 944-8288

This is a great dim sum restaurant to dine at if you are with a large group. The venue is so big I’ve never had to wait in line. The food is okay but I appreciate the space (lots of room between tables), which is uncommon for most Chinese restaurants. While you’re there, I recommend checking out the shops (Bowring Outlet, Roots Outlet, etc) and malls (First Markham Place) nearby.  

Recommendations
• Dim sum favourites including rice rolls (shrimp, beef or BBQ pork), egg tarts, fried calamari, chrysanthemum tea, leaf wrapped sticky rice

Good to Know
• Best seats: Anywhere in the main dining room
• Service: Good
• Atmosphere: Big venue; spacious; beautiful chandeliers, TV screens installed in several spots (mainly for ads)
• Ideal for: large parties, family gatherings, casual,
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: N/A
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Parking: Big parking lot in the plaza but even so, it is hard to find a spot on the weekends (you need to be very patient … or fast to react!)

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Diamond Banquet Hall on Urbanspoon

The Spoke Club Restaurant


600 King St. W., Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
(Bathurst & King)
T: (416) 368-8448

The Spoke Club is an exclusive private member club for people in media and arts. This is a great place to mix and mingle with creative and talented artsy folks.

The Club has three floors. The lower floor is usually used for events. Main floor is the main dining room and bar for meetings and gatherings. The rooftop patio is large and great place to hangout in the summer for drinks.

I recommend ordering drinks/cocktails at the main (level) bar. (I find they have a bigger selection than at the patio bar).

Recommendations
• Prix fixe menu – two course ($25) or three course ($35)
• Fresh Berry and Cocoa Martini

Good to Know
• Best seats: Anywhere in the main dining room
• Service: Good
• Atmosphere: Main floor is contemporary and trendy; Patio is spacious and great for holding events and private functions.
• Ideal for: Mix & mingling, events/functions, birthday celebrations, after work drinks
• Attire: Casual, business, trendy, smart casual
• Reservations recommended: Members only
• Patio recommended: Yes
• Getting there: When you get to 600 King St, get on the elevators and press 3. This will lead you to the club’s reception area.

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Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant


3838 Midland Avenue, Unit #121, Scarborough, ON
(Midland and Finch)
T: (416) 412-3140

My mom is vegetarian and this is one of her favourite restaurants. We have been frequenting here for over 10 years.

I enjoy the taste but more so, I admire the artistry in their culinary skills of simulating meat and seafood from tofu and other vegetarian ingredients.

An excellent choice for vegans or vegetarians.

Recommendations
• Double boiled soup
• Simulated chicken
• egg white mixed with tomato and broccoli

Good to Know
• Best seats: Anywhere in the main dining room
• Service: Good – very helpful with the menu
• Atmosphere: Basic, large restaurant, two levels (the basement dining room is usually closed now)
• Ideal for: Family, large parties, vegans/vegetarians
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: No
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Parking: huge parking lot out front
• Getting there: located behind a building (look for the Lotus Pond Restaurant sign on the west side of Midland Ave)

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Lotus Pond Vegetarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Red Rocket Coffee


1402 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON
(Greenwood & Queen)
T: (416) 406-0880
www.redrocketcoffee.com

A nice little hangout with delicious lattes, friendly patrons and outstanding service!

Recommendations
• Industrial muffin – no sugar, no butter, no oil; but has cranberries, blueberries, and oats … a scrumptious and healthy choice! (Only available at the Queen St E location)
• Chai Soy Latte
• Apple Cider (made with real juice, not powered). Spice it up by adding fresh nutmeg, pumpkin spice and cinnamon sprinkles!

Good to Know
• Best seats: the leather sofa at front of the bar (see photo)
• Service: Excellent – the last time I was there I order a cider. When they started making it, the realized the cider had not defrost. Not only did they refund our money but they gave me a large cup of latte (my choice) to make up for the inconvenience. Now that’s exceeding customer expectations!!
• Atmosphere: Casual, cozy
• Ideal for: Date, locals, casual meeting
• Attire: Casual
• Reservations recommended: N/A
• Patio recommended: Yes
• Free: Get a free drink if you bring your travel mug to get “rebranded”!

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Red Rocket Coffee on Urbanspoon

Solo Sushi Bekkan


3 Grosvenor St, Toronto, ON  M4Y1A9
(Yonge & Wellesley)
T: (416) 925-3388
www.solosushiya.com/solo_sushi_bekkan

I love this quaint little authentic Japanese restaurant. It brings back memories of being in Japan.

Recommendations
• Bluefin Tuna
• Grilled Mackerel
• If you feel like something different and are willing to splurge (about $60-$80 per person), try the omakase (chef’s choice).

Good to Know
• Best seats: Not much of a selection because the restaurant is very small
• Service: Friendly
• Atmosphere: Intimate, cozy
• Ideal for: Date, quiet dinner for a party of 4 or less, Japanese food lovers
• Attire: Casual, smart casual, trendy
• Reservations recommended: Yes
• Patio recommended: N/A
• Locations: They have another location (bigger venue) in Newmarket.

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Solo Sushi Bekkan on Urbanspoon