A New Record!

We did it, we finally did it. Four best of places in one day! The day started out at UFO restaurant, voted best cheap breakfast. We did not wake up early for this, I was allowed to sleep to my heart’s content. As soon as we walked in I could see why we did not have to be there for open and why it was so cheap. It was part convenience store, part cheap crappy diner. No fancy menus, everything was written on a white board above the kitchen behind the counter, a TV was playing CP24. The service was great and fast. The food was cheap, so cheap, and so delicious. I had ordered the french toast and I received a plate of the most-home-made-tasting french toast I have ever had. It was great, it hit the spot and was just what I needed. It tasted exactly like the french toast I used to make back when I was less lazy in the kitchen. We were out of there in under 20 minutes.

Up next was Plentea, voted best tea cafe in the city. So far this day was totally my jam: I love french toast and I love love love, LOVE, tea. A cafe that makes its own tea blends? Sign me up! We ended up paying as much for two tea lattes as we had for breakfast but it was incredible. I had the matcha green tea latte and it was the best I have ever had. I had a sip of Brent’s, which had of all things coconut milk in it, also delicious. I was just sad that they did not sell tea in bags or canisters for home consumption, I still have a bit of room in my tea cabinet (yes, I have an entire cabinet dedicated to tea, I told you, I LOVE tea). As we sat and sipped, we talked about our next destination: Birerria Volo, sister to our beloved (now dead) Bar Volo. During this hope-filled discussion Brent checked how far a walk it was and what time they open. So it was a 35 minute walk and we had an hour and a half before they opened? Crap.

Thankfully best local butcher, Rowe Farms, had a second location on Roncesvalles. We were already west of Dufferin and it was a gorgeous warm fall day. Why not go to that location, rather than the original plan of going on the way home to the one at Spadina and Bloor. Plus, I now had a chance to go back to Glory Hole Donuts. In my rankings they fell far behind Von Doughnuts and I was curious to see if this was still so. The sour cream donut with a vanilla glaze was ok, the glaze was better than the donut. The lime coconut cake-based donut was also just OK. The best of the three was the ricotta lemon donut hole. But none of them held a candle to Von Doughnuts.

We wandered around Rowe Farms, browsing the selection. In the end we settled on chicken sausages- we could have them for dinner that evening.The sausages were way better than the ones we got from Cumbrae’s, it was not even a contest it was so uneven.

Our final stop was Birerria Volo, voted best beer selection. I am not really a fan of beer, but I do have a soft spot for a good sour beer, the bar’s specialty! We happened to go there during an event, Trou Du Diable had done a tap takeover, all 26 taps were from that brewer. Even still I found two that I liked. The barrel aged sour saison with cherries was delicious, but the German gose with raspberries was the clear winner. Can’t go wrong with a gose. As we sipped and talked, I mentioned that we would be passing Her Father’s Kitchen, a new cider bar I had been wanting to check out, on our way home. Rather than stay and have more sour beers, we decided to head there after two beers each. This was mostly because my third beer was supposed to be a Cantillon, but they were all sold out. We had been so close, so close to yet again enjoying Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinu </3

Her Father’s Kitchen was amazing. We had arrived between the brunch and dinner hours, when it was just a bar. They had the option for a tasting flight, three of the nine ciders on tap, 5 ounces each all for a whole $12- it was a great deal. Between the two of us we got to try six drastically different ciders ranging from regular apple ones, to wacky ones with ginger, pinot noir grapes, or hops. I finished it off with a small glass of ice cider to cover the range. They have been added to our rotation if ever we are out past Harbord.


Halloween Brunch Tradition

It has somehow become a tradition that Halloween weekend we head out early for brunch. Normally I would hate the idea of waking up at the ungodly hour of 7:30am, but for brunch maybe. A brunch from the people at Rose & Sons. Heck yes, sign me up! I was psyched for brunch at Swan, voted best new brunch 2015 (which is odd given the Swan has been on Queen West forever).

On the way we cut through Trinity Bellwoods Park and I finally saw the white squirrel, not that I cared, but it was a nice touch. I was worried, we were showing up half an hour after open. My worries were for nothing, the place was mostly empty. Somehow I did not take that as a sign. All I could think was: coffee.

I considered going with my default order: pancakes, but for some reason I went with the patty melt. I am still on my cheese kick I suppose. My clues not to get that dish were all around. A dinner menu on the wall listed Polish cheesecake, and one side option for brunch was kabanos. There was some Polish influence here… and Polish people do not make good burgers. By the second bite the bottom slice of bread had disintegrated from the grease and I took to hacking at the sandwich with my knife and fork. It was a messy affair. The best part was the cheese, then the bacon then the bread. The patty itself was bland. I gave up halfway through and just ate fries and the delicious pickle. The winner by far was the kabanos.

After brunch we went to Nadege, voted best cafe bakery. I was still hungry after brunch and in desperate need of more coffee. We split a “donut” which was really just rich cream covered in a caramel coating in the shape of a donut. The pumpkin spice macaron was maybe the best pumpkin thing I had ever tasted. The chocolate croissant made me swear out loud it was so good. Definitely the best chocolate croissant in the city, even if it was lacking in actually chocolate in the middle, it was so buttery and delicious.


Can’t Say No To That

Best Japanese restaurant had recently been updated. It was the same restaurant, Guu, but now under a new name: Kinka Izakaya. We had no idea if the menu was still the same or if that had also been changed. If it meant putting off having to walk all the way out to Victoria Park I was all for it. Plus the food at Guu had been amazing.

There was a couple in front of us who had the longest debate about whether to sit at the bar or on the patio. Once they decided on the bar, the server told us we had the same choice. Luckily for her, we did not debate. Patio! Turns out only the name had changed, the menu was the same. No complaints here, I love their jellyfish dish. Love. Even if it is the toughest thing ever to eat with chopsticks. My other choice was the beef carpaccio which later on I realized we had ordered before. Again, no complaints here, it was awesome. Brent had chosen the kimchi udon, the fried chicken and the deep-fried squid. The squid was delicious, the udon noodles were ok and the fried chicken was subpar. I was actually quite surprised as most of the dishes we have had over the years had been amazing. At least we had eaten the chicken last, that way it did not sully our overall experience. We were also too full to order any more food.


Now We’re Talking: Cheese

I had recently been bemoaning the paltry grilled cheese experience I had at what was supposed to be the best grilled cheese place in the city. I went back to the list and noticed that Maha’s Egyptian restaurant was listed as number three, offering an interesting take on the grilled cheese. It just so happened that Maha’s had recently been voted best shakshuka, thus we were heading there anyways. Brent would be having the shakshuka, I wanted no part in it. Eggs? Meh. Tomato? Gross. Combine the two? Pass.

We made the same rookie mistake as last time, showing up around 12:30 on a Saturday at a popular brunch place. We put our name on the list and were told it would be 30-60 minutes. We set off to nearby Left Field Brewery, alas it was closed, they were away at Oktoberfest. We walked back to the restaurant via the side streets in an attempt to make some progress in Pokemon Go with the little bit of battery I had left on my phone. The wait wasn’t too bad and in no time we were seated, but on the patio, with no outlet in sight. I was cursing myself for not having bought the portable battery pack for my phone earlier in the week.

I was so psyched for the grilled cheese that nothing could bother me, not the slow service, not the loud annoying child, nothing. My cheese cravings had reached a peak earlier in the week when I had been on a roll making cheese puns. Thankfully our app arrived relatively quickly. I was getting hangry, a new normal for me now as Invisalign has ruined all-day snacking for me. The dokka dish, which was pita bread, sesame seeds and spices and olive oil, was a knock-out. It totally hit the spot. The pita bread was warmed up which made it that much better. I had the honey cardamom latte last time, so this time I went with the black mint tea. It was served in a small teapot with the tiniest little teacup.

This is only a selection

This is only a selection

The sandwich had: gouda, havarti and swiss cheese, butter-fried dates, the bread was drizzled with honey before being grilled. One bite and I was in heaven- as a long string of cheese formed between me and the sandwich as I placed it down. With every cheesey bite I was happier. The cumin home fries were OK, but I waited to eat those until I had finished the sandwich. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish everything and I would rather have more grilled cheese than more cumin home fries.

Even just thinking about that grilled cheese now has made me crave cheese all over again.

Oh right, the shakshuka. I was not expecting it to be eggs and tomato finely minced, eaten with a pita bread. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was.

And as is tradition, we stopped at Von Doughnut’s on the way home. They only had three donuts left and the choice was obvious: butter tart. The donut was cut in half and filled with butter tart filling and it had a candied nut  and a buttery caramely icing on top. It was easily one of the best donuts I have ever had.


I’m Surprised That Didn’t Make Me Sick…

Well I guess the title gives it away: our most recent fooding adventure was less than successful. Best Philly cheesesteak had recently been posted, I was 50-50 on it to begin with. The first time I had a Philly cheesesteak I was somewhere in North Carolina or Tennessee with Molly. We had stopped in at a restaurant and I had a fancy sandwich. I’m talking french baguette, actual sliced steak, provolone cheese and mushrooms- it was amazing. Little did I know at the time that it was a fraud. I learned this when we visited Philadelphia and went to the source. Cheez Whiz was involved, but even still it was not that bad. Not as good as the gourmet, but still edible.

I knew what I was in for. Even still I did not expect a sandwich THIS terrible. Honest to food-god, it was not steak. It tasted (and sort of looked like) ground beef. And I cannot believe I am saying this: there was not enough “cheese.” The Cheez Whiz had been poured on after the meat, but that meant that every other bite was just bun and meat, as the Cheez Whiz had not fully sunk throughout the sandwich. Why didn’t they pour it, add meat, pour more? Thankfully it was not that large, even still towards the end I was very grateful that Brent had noticed that they sell beer and had abandoned his soda and given it to me.

Would the second half of our evening prove as unsatisfactory? Northwood had been voted best cocktail. Those were some big shoes to fill after Bar Chef wowed us and Cocktail Bar inadvertently got us drunk as we kept having to try “just one more” because they were amazing. My phone had died playing Pokemon Go, I was desperate for juice. We sat inside, despite how hot it was- worth it! The service was very slow. This may have been because of a dopey heart-broken guy who would not shut up and kept talking to the bar tenders. Even when he grabbed his bag, ready to leave, he stayed for another 15 minutes still talking.

The first cocktail I had was good, but nowhere near what I had been expecting. I downed it pretty fast in the hopes of ordering another one as the server brought Brent’s beer (which he had ordered when his Manhattan arrived, like i said the service was slow). The second cocktail (La Commune) was amazing, way better. I was trying to order one of each: a muddle, a sour and an original. I finally got to try Chinese 6-spice. The third drink (Black Walnut), made with their own in-house tea-infused vodka was far and away the best cocktail of the night.

In the end I would still rather go to Cocktail Bar, even though it is more expensive. Or Bar Raval, or Cold Tea.


More Like Best Name

I was thrilled to see that best grilled cheese had been revoted. Partly I was amused by the name, Cut The Cheese. Any place with a good name already goes up a notch in my books. Plus the opportunity to go out for grilled cheese?! I love grilled cheese. So simple, yet so delicious. My weekend was made. It was a hell of a walk, but we made a lot of progress in Pokemon Go, so the time flew by.

I had high hopes for this place, they had both wacky grilled cheese and regular standard. I decided to get the regular standard but with some bacon thrown in. The best way to judge a grilled cheese place is to have the regular and the wacky. Brent had the one with pork belly, coleslaw and hickory sticks- and he won by far. I was shocked that mine was so subpar. What can go wrong with double-smoked bacon (did not taste smokey), old aged cheddar (not enough of it) and sour dough bread? Easy. The bread to cheese ratio was waaaaaay off. Thicker slices of bread, especially well-buttered sour dough are ok. But then you have to add more cheese! Also some cheese variety would have been nice.

So far the best grilled cheese was still at George St. Diner.

Given we were in the Junction, we headed across the street to Indie Ale House for a pint and to check out the bottle shop. The raspberry sour was delicious and the perfect afternoon drink.


More Like Blech-st Of

I am not a fan of Caesar’s. Tomato juice, gross. Clamato, even grosser. Celery stick, super gross. Last time we went out for best Caesar to Rock Lobster I could not even bring myself to have a sip of Brent’s drink. I just stared at it in reviled terror. I watched his face as he drank it and I felt empathy for him. Sadly the list got re-voted and rather than relegate best Caesar to the other best’s in the city that we ignore (namely non-food stuff, which I think a Caesar qualifies as) Brent was staring down a monster of a Caesar at Dundas  And Carlaw cafe. It really was a monster, it was garnished with a huge skewer: two olives, a pickled green bean, a full size pickle and a pepperette, and a lime on the rim. I silently sipped my Brickworks cider, achieving peak hipsterdom as it was in a glass mason jar and I was thinking about my cross-stitch project which I had abandoned to go out. I could not do it, I could not make myself take a sip of it. I ate half a pickle and had a bite of the pepperette which was also not that good.

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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Adventures of Pinka!, Fooding

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