Wednesday, December 28, 2011


After a brief jaunt to London resulted in an exhausted wallet and an extended waistline, I’m happy to report that I am back in full effect.

You didn’t think I quit did you?
I ended my sabbatical with a trip to Cheesewerks, 56 Bathurst Street. I have been having a pretty serious love affair with cheese for many years so naturally I figured myself and this newly opened spot would be a natural fit.

Cheesewerks promises artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches made from local ingredients and it’s true. The cheeses are from various farms in Ontario such as Fifth Town in Prince Edward County and the bread is baked at St. John’s Bakery in Toronto. Add some local craft beer, some VQA wines and this place is the perfect picture of Ontario. I’m surprised they are not handing out trilliums as you exit.

With such a tight vision and focused concept, I have to say I went in with high expectations. I came out smelling like smoke. Perhaps the hood fan hasn’t arrived yet because the room quickly fills with smoke once a sandwich hits the press. It stinks and I’m coughing. I’m kind of happy though. The room is airy with tall ceilings and its’ large store front windows let in a lot of light. The walls are orange and yellow (no brainer there) and it’s cheery and pleasant.  Although the music is a bit of a downer; who the f listens to Paul Simon?

I’m crushed when the counter girl breaks it to me that they do not have their liquor licence yet. I end up with one of their “artisanal” sodas. I’m getting really sick of this word but their house made blueberry soda is good. It’s lightly carbonated, has the right amount of sweetness and I like the whole blueberries that float around at the bottom of the glass.

You order at the counter, they take your name, you pay and grab a seat. Sounds easy enough but something doesn’t seem right. It’s seems too casual, too thoughtless. I sit and wait about six minutes to hear someone yell my name. I get up but it’s clumsy because the guy meets me half way yet serves me my food anyway. Maybe being given a number on a one of those stands that you can then perch on your chosen table would be smoother. Maybe a mic or megaphone would at least have some humour to it. I can barely hear “Rita!” over Paul belting out his adult contemporary.

Cheesewerks needs to rethink their serving strategy.

My New York grilled cheese ($9.50) and side of cream of tomato soup ($5.00) arrive on a baking sheet – originally cute. One napkin is chintz but the parchment paper beneath the greasy sandwich works well to sop up the butter and oil. Where’s the ketchup? Oh you gotta pay 85 cents for it. They make a roasted garlic and red pepper or spicy sriracha ketchup. No one charges for ketchup. I don’t care if it’s “artisanal”, that’s just tight.

The New York is thinly shaved, spiced pastrami with Swiss, pickled purple cabbage and grainy mustard on whole grain rye. I’m doubting the amount of meat on this thing justifies its’ steep price tag. The cabbage is more braised than pickled which sadly almost ruins the whole thing. It lacks crunch or the bite of pickling that would have nicely complimented the pastrami and mustard. The bread is a little too dark and dense and as I leave it sits in my stomach like a piece of lead.

The music changes and it’s now some sort of spa meets Buddha on the beach in Ibiza – it’s awful. This is cheese not seaweed. Play some god dam rock.

Now what about the cheese? The star of the show? The name sake of this whole production? It was stringy and melty and yes, ooey gooey but it was bland. A stronger Swiss would
have fared better. The biggest issue however was its positioning. Everyone knows that you must place the cheese on both sides of a grilled cheese when you want to stuff other things into the middle of the sandwich. The cheese has to act like a glue and hold the whole thing together.

Well, this cheese was one sided so as you work your way through it, the sandwich begins to loosen and shift. Sigh.

And what’s about the grill? The ying to this yang? They use a Panini press which is fine but for
me it makes Cheesewerks more of a sandwich place rather than a grilled cheese emporium. There was no grill on my cheese.

The cream of tomato soup is perfect. The consistency is just right. It is pureed with a hint of cream and the crunchy herbed croutons are nicely spiked with sage. For a lack of ketchup, I dip my sandwich into the soup.

Cheesewerks is new and of course will need time to fine tune their details. I just hope with such creative concoctions such as gruyere and kimchi or jalapeno jack and braised beef brisket, that they don’t let operational or logistical oversights bring them down.

And for the love of god, can someone change the music?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Keriwa Cafe

If you've been following, you know my disdain for uninformed, colourless, hasty service. I make no bones about it; there is a lot of bad service happening in Toronto restaurants. Last week at Saving Grace I asked the server to explain what kind of sausage a debreceni was and the answer was "I don't know".

We cracked up but it really is sad.

Keriwa Cafe, 1690 Queen Street West, knows the meaning of hospitality.

Our experience went something like this:

A reservation was made and when confirmed we ask that it be changed from a deuce to a three. "We are booked but no problem, we will make it work".

The day before I was sick as a dog and tweeted, "Stayed in tonight w soup, tea and some NeoCitron. Gotta get better for tomorrow's dinner ."

The next morning I got "@Ritaboutit hope you're feeling better and we see you tonight at ."

We start with a few creatively crafted cocktails and as soon as we sat at our table, glasses of sparkling make an appearance. Why? Because our table wasn't ready when we walked through the door.

We had waited all of ten minutes.

The charming bartender came over to see how we liked the libations, the host was a doll and the server was attentive and knowledgeable. Executive Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe is also hella hot but I guess that's neither here nor there.

Keriwa's menu is Canadian. It's inspired by both the aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures of this country. The server knew what pemmican and red fife bread was because we didn't.

They know that care and attention to their cuisine is just as important as it is to their guests' experience and it's a breath of fresh air.

The card changes monthly and if you hurry it's not too late to try October's smooth as silk butternut squash soup, the comforting bison short ribs with sunchoke Thunder Oak Gouda puree or the best chocolate tart Annette has ever had.

With the checque, a brown paper bag stapled shut with a business card. Inside, a cinnamon bun. Something so insignificant but so tasty with my morning espresso.

Post espresso I receive a "Thanks for tagging us at we're glad you came in and enjoyed yourself! "

I wished my duck breast wasn't cooked to medium but more than this I wish more restaurants would get what Keriwa Cafe already knows.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One day, two meals.

Lunch: The County General, 936 Queen Street West

A medium rare, six ounce burger includes pickles and mayo. For what it lacks in toppings (I kind of really need some L and T) it makes up for in taste. This is one beefy, juicy little bugger. The fries are a cup of amazingly crispy, cooked right potatoes with a smoky, housemade ketchup.

The already famous chicken thigh sandwich is soaked in buttermilk and fried to perfection. Succulent on the inside and extra crispy on the outside. Avocado chutney, coriander and green onion top the thigh.

I'm happy to report that a side salad is not mixed greens! Thank god for Bibb and cucumber. A refreshing scarcity of greenery.

I wasn't so happy with their version of a Reuben. Dry brisket and the stinkiest of gruyeres made for a dry sandwich and smelly fingers. That cheese is way too strong for that sandwich.

Cool cocktails, decent beers and a little rock and roll round out the experience.

They are open for brunch, lunch, dinner and late night (til 3 am) so plenty of opportunity for a great little meal.

Dinner: Acadia, 50C Clinton Street at College

This restaurant talks a big game of creaky porches, lazy ceiling fans, southern food and warm hospitality.

I'm talking about an over priced, hodge podge of unusual but underwhelming ingredients - imagine mirlitons, benne seed brittle, red eye sauce, nasturtiam, Anson Mills Gold Rice. It's about as impressive as people that use big words but don't know what they mean.

These dishes need less presentation and more seasoning.

Now you might be thinking that I'm off my southern rocker here because of the acclaim that Acadia has received thus far but trust me, don't believe the hype.

The menu is small and so the four of us basically ordered its' entirety.

The best; Northumberland Strait scallops that were expertly seared into a golden brown crust with a smooth medium rare center. There could have been nothing else on the plate.

Everyone is loving the shrimp grits. A little bowl of comfort with its' smooth and creamy grits and chunks of sweet shrimp. A ham hock consomme added a nice depth of flavour.

The worst; everything else.

A too mealy corn bread lacked salt and its' accompanying sweet potato butter did not taste like sweet potato - at all, in the least, zip. Over cooked and tasteless halibut cheeks with buttermilk dust (two ingredients that don't even belong in the same sentence), a Vidalia onion tart that tasted like it came from Whole Foods, fatty short ribs and strange desserts.

Most dishes were extremely pretty and well presented but I'd rather taste my $100 than look at it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Local Kitchen

As a professional server, my shtick is to provide smart and hospitable service. The smart is knowing your product, where it comes from, its’ history, what it tastes like. The hospitable is being charming, friendly and gracious. I’m even a little cute (if I like you). But most importantly, I treat my guests as if they were dining in my home; I want them, you, to have a great dining experience.

Last night I had dinner at Local Kitchen, 1710 Queen Street West, in Parkdale. I didn’t have smart and hospitable service. The smart wasn’t really the issue although I did wonder when my espresso macchiato was nothing more than an espresso and a side of ice cold milk?!

The hospitable was the problem. No smiles, no warmth, no joy, no passion.

The food was satisfactory.

An outrageously over priced white anchovy crostini for $6 saw us coming a mile away. Two fillets of nicely cured anchovies on top of a deliciously buttery crostini were fantastic but more of an amuse bouche than an app.

It was actually humourless but in her defence, she did warn us that it was small.

Like the pocket raping anchovies, the pastas are also on the higher end of the pay scale. I don’t mind paying upwards of $25 for pasta but it has to be good and at the very least, el dente. The pasta was so soft that you didn’t need teeth to eat it.

My mitri were stuffed with smooth ricotta and fava beans. They sat in a thickish brodo that was infused with woodsy mushrooms. Crisp pieces of pancetta sat on top.
Ditto for the pasta special which was filled with braised short rib. Tasty but toothless.

A lamb sirloin was on the tough side but a beautiful shade of medium rare. The mascarpone was an interesting and complementing condiment but one potato and a sprinkling of undercooked mushrooms made this “main” an anti meal. Serving it on a side plate sized plate only highlighted its’ size.

Local Kitchen is a really small room. The kitchen is an ugly, brightly lit room at the back that is a bit off putting. You can see the kitchen fart around with the plating of your order. This might be a good thing if it was busy but the fact that it was deadsville and our four plated still didn’t come out together seemed a bit incapable.

A “Would anyone like dessert or coffee?” while I still have half a glass of wine and about two minutes after clearing our plates, is a question that raises my blood pressure.

It’s neither smart nor hospitable.

We left hungry and irritated which is too bad because these two Italian boys have the right concept, a great location and a cute space.

If only they could nail their shtick.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Check out...

The Bohemian Gastropub, 571 Queen Street West. They opened about a month ago and have a great selection of beers on tap and a German inspired menu. Picture a nice Weiss beer with a few pretzels and maybe a pork knuckle or schnitzel. I fell in love with Eastern European fare when I visited Germany and the Czech Republic a few years back and with the colder weather sadly upon us, this is what we need to be eating; warm and heavy comfort food.

Ask to be served by Nola, she is a bundle of joy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Trip to Miami Beach Featuring Myself and Nine Friends

A very recent trip to Miami had me researching restaurants for hours on end to insure that part of my vacation would be a success. See when I travel, I’m as excited about the food as I am the sights, the weather, the night life, the shopping, etc.

South Beach has hundreds, yes hundreds of places to nosh making the decision process downright discouraging. Restaurants range from take away Cuban counters and greasy late night pizza slices, to touristy Ocean Drive mediocrity to five star plus, star studded dining.

Here’s where we ended up and how it went down...

Our stay at The Congress Hotel, 1052 Ocean Drive, included a breakfast credit of $5.75 at Kitchen; the restaurant in front. Choices were the basic bacon and eggs, pancakes, French toast, etc. but the coffee was good and hey what do you expect for six bucks? I made the mistake of asking for a mimosa and got suckered into the “two for one” happy hour (at 10:00 am?!). This was two twenty ounce cocktails for $25.00

Toni’s Sushi Bar, 1208 Washington Avenue, was a pleasant surprise. A hamachi ($18) and a spicy tuna tartare ($12) were extremely fresh and finely chopped. The usual suspects of pickled white ginger and scallion made an appearance. The tuna playfully included a few tortilla chips.

I will admit that I can appreciate the beauty of sashimi but I am a sucker for the rolls. Now having said that, rolls are rolls and there is really only one thing to note; Toni’s hit the mark with their colourful and imaginative creations ($4.50 - $19.00). The rolls were perfectly assembled (no falling to pieces as you try not to shove the whole thing in your mouth), the rice was the right temperature (not too cold, not too warm) and curried mayo, lettuce and kimchi are all examples of ingredients you don’t often see in sushi in Toronto.

Sunken booths and a nice wine list rounded out our experience.

BLT Steak at The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Drive, was recommended to me as being the best steak in the state of Florida. This could be true.

The room is big and airy with cool light fixtures and palms. The attention is on high quality beef but with a bit of whimsy. The back of the menu is an Angus beef chart that explains where your meat comes from. Your steak comes with a little plastic flag in the shape of the cow that states how you ordered it – rare, med rare, etc.

To start, they bring over a chicken liver pate in a mason jar. It looks like sautéed Spam but tastes like fancy. Its’ wetness makes it luscious. I played around with the cute pickled veg and the grilled country style bread creating my own little appetizer.

Next massive gourgeres with gruyere cheese arrive. Gourgeres are mini popovers. These were twice the size of a Yorkshire pudding. They came with little recipe cards in case you’d like make them at home, big shakers of sea salt and whipped butter.

And that was just the complimentary part.

A too tiny crab cake is not worth the $17 dollar price tag. It was as pretty as a picture but lacked any sort of wow. The shrimp cocktail was also a steep $17 but was much more satisfying. Three huge shrimp were perfectly cooked. They had bite. Nothing is worse than mushy, soggy shrimp.

A 22 ounce Prime Cut Rib Eye ($49) could have been shared between three people but two of us attempted it and failed. Ok not a failure really as this steak could easily be the best piece of beef I have ever put in mouth. It was a two inch thick, bone in, piece of medium rare flesh that glistened with fat from its’ extensive marbling. They broiled it at 1700 degrees and brushed it with herb butter. As if all that wasn’t enough, they serve it with some bone marrow on the side.

Mmmm fat on fat.

We unnecessarily added a side of under seasoned mushrooms ($11) and over cooked asparagus ($10).

Towards the end, I literally started to sweat.

Eight out of ten of us went back to the hotel to succumb to meat comas.

I went for an hour walk.

Cafe Medi, 1052 Ocean Drive, was a drag you off the street tourist trap with a $10 lunch special that was worth about $5. This was typical of most places ``on the strip``. My nachos were nothing more than tri coloured chips with salsa, sour cream and pureed guacamole. I avoided the super size cocktails and went for a bucket o beer for $15 instead.

Cecconi`s Miami Beach is located in the private Soho Beach House hotel at 4385 Collins Avenue. It`s where the stars go so naturally we had to check it out. It`s upscale Venetian and an extremely romantic setting. The dining room is outside but party covered by a white shade that at night looks like a pale grey sky. The space is filled with trees and foliage that are decorated in thousands of tiny white lights. The ten of us were seated at a long rectangular table that looked like a huge cutting board.

The app special was veal Provimi carpaccio ($18) with a lemony tuna sauce and caper berries.

The meat was not raw but rather gently brought up to a med rare and sliced paper thin. The tuna and capers lend the burst of salt and tang that the delicate white meat needed. I have to say, choosing a glass of prosecco as a complementing beverage was genius.

Spaghetti with Maine lobster ($32) was simple done right. El dente spaghetti lightly tossed in an heirloom tomato sauce with a whole lobster claw and moist chunks of lobster meat throughout.

It was a big bowl of happiness and the perfect last supper.

*side notes, advice, tips and final statements:
Make reservations in advance for high end places, don`t expect great service as there are 18% auto grats on every bill at every restaurant, be prepared to go to dinner earlier than you would in other cities because most close at or around 11:00 (we basically kept getting kicked out before we could order dessert), don`t be afraid of the colossal cocktails – they will put the rest in a plastic cup and you can bring it to the beach, do be afraid of the huge portion sizes and don`t over order.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liberty Village

William's Landing, 120 Lynn Williams Street

This bar and grill is the village's newest addition. So new that last week's visit saw wet paint signs and a ton of construction still under way. The menu stresses local, fresh and organic which isn't a new concept and quite frankly should just be a given but nonetheless we are still seeing restaurants riding the coat tails of these buzz words. We skip lunch as the space just feels too incomplete.

Our server recommends the Bloody Caesar because it's "killer". It is not. It lacks spice despite the hot pepper that swims at the top. The addition of basil leaves makes it taste like tomato sauce. The beer list is respectable so we stick to that. A few pints in, we share the 'Liberty dip'. It's hummus with ancho chillies, feta, avocado crema and pico de gallo. The dip itself is underwhelming and the chips are over seasoned and the flat bread stale. The highlight is the patio. It's spacious and provides a great view of the historic buildings of Liberty Village. A great place for some sunshine and a cold beer.

The Liberty Belle Bistro, 133 Jefferson Avenue

This tiny bistro is tres cute. A small patio in front provides refuge from King Street and is a great spot to enjoy some wine and classic French food. A strong attention to detail is evident in everything from the 1920's postcard menus to the black and white tiled floor to the stalls in the washrooms. You have to see the washrooms. The women's has wooden stall doors with velvet curtains and complimentary fem products while the men's stall door is made from an antique refrigerator door. I hate to talk about toilets but it's not often that you are pleasantly surprised by them.

Like the space, the menu is also small. The french onion soup is cheesy with just the right amount of crouton and onions. The broth is rich and cloudy. A steak tartar is under seasoned but finely diced. It needs cornichons. The braised short rib is the opposite and is way over salted. The accompanying mushroom risotto is the correct consistency and full of the kind of woodsy'ness you expect from mushrooms.

Definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little Mexican in The Junction

The Junction is that stretch of Dundas Street West between Keele and Runneymede that is both seedy and shady and yuppy and artsy. It’s home to some cool home outfitting stores such as Cornerstone and Forever Interiors. There is also Margret, the most bizarre bar I have ever been to in Toronto and The Sweet Potato, an organic grocery store.
The dinner options are sparse with a little pho, some Thai, a place for Indian and a cafe that boasts an organic brunch.

Enter La Revolucion, 2848 Dundas Street West, a Mexican restaurant . Like everything else in The Junction, it feels a bit disconnected. The owner is Mexican, the kitchen is Mexican, the menu is authentic. The walls are white, Jazz FM 91 is on the radio and the space is cheaply lit with IKEA track lighting. There is a Mexican flag that hangs at the back of the room and Frida makes an appearance but I’m not feeling it. I’m not waiting for a Mariachi band to spring into action but perhaps a little colour, maybe some cool Latin pop music and a margarita that doesn’t rival a watered down glass of limeade would be the ticket.

Thank god the chips and guacamole take me south. The guac is the perfect consistency. It is as smooth as velvet but with the appropriate amount of opposing soft chunks of avocado. Finely diced tomato dot the little dish and lime and cilantro are holding their own. It’s spicy too. Really spicy. Like not for the faint of heart spicy. The chips are crunchy but unfortunately taste like they were deep fried yesterday.

A chorizo flauta; house made sausage mixed with potato and rolled in a flour tortilla with cheese, sour cream and chives is the waitress’ favourite thing on the menu. It’s mine too. The sausage is out of the casing and simmered in smoky spices until soft and tender. The potato is so fine and weightless you almost forget it’s there. After rolling, it gets baked until the tortilla is lightly browned and super crispy.

Shrimp tacos are too sauce laden and the shrimp are too small. Their shrimpiness is masked by the rich, pepper sauce. There’s talk of mayo but I don’t see it.

Grilled chicken tacos are a better bet. The meat is white and tender albeit a little dry but it doesn’t take away from the light and fresh of it. A few onions, some cilantro leaves and house made salsa verde bring the green that they need but I want a little red. Every taco needs some fresh salsa and some red hot sauce on the side.

I hope for Tacos Al Pastor but they are only available on Taco Tuesdays when you can get them for $2.

Today is Wednesday.

Our dinner for two is somewhat el cheapo with two apps, two orders of tacos, three drinks, tax and tip adding up to a reasonable $62.00 but hey, who am I to turn down toonie tacos?

La Revolucion may need a bit of tweeking but it is definitely a nice addition to a the strip.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Burger

It's summer in Toronto. It's hot, it's humid. We are wearing flip flops, drinking a ton of beer and doing a lot of bbq'ing. Ah sweet, dear summer; we wait eight months for this.

The 'Between The Buns' installment of Ritaboutit has been a monthly feature since January but a recent comment has opened my eyes to the somewhat anti climatic nature of my choice to talk burgers. I realized that you, may be tired of reading about burgers and I definitely have decided that I, am tired of writing about them.

We love them; for sure. But even a recent Now cover story had me sighing. Again? Ugh. Let's not beat a dead horse.

The fact is, burgers have been en vogue for the last two years; they no longer are the "it" thing. The other fact is that it's July and the chances are we are grilling our own. So in a very 'unlike my character' move, I have decided to abandon 'Between The Buns' as a monthly review. I am not a quitter but I will now only talk burger when it's news worthy; either awesome or horrible.

At this point, there is really only two things you need to know. If you don't own a bbq, go see Shant at The Burger's Priest and if you do, KISS (keep it simple stupid).

When making your own burger, avoid extra lean or lean ground beef. Fat equals flavour whether we are talking steak or ground beef. I favour medium ground beef, preferably ground chuck but sirloin will do fine as well. The only other points to note are A) only add salt and pepper and B) do not play with it too much. Pressing down on the patty while on the grill will only squeeze all those delicious juices out. Resist temptation! Don't press.

Add crisp iceburg, processed cheese, homemade dill pickles, tomatoes from the garden, a side salad and a cold beer.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Moe Pancer's Deli

Moe Pancer's Deli, 3856 Bathurst Street has been around since 1957. It's been remodelled (I'm sure a few times over) but the room maintains its' nostalgia. It's a dive but in the best sense of the word.

Tamara our waitress has been working there "forever". She won't divulge the time but she's an older gal. She is exactly who you want to be served by in a delicatessen; a Jewish belle with bleached blond hair, a face full of makeup and fingers adorned with gold rings.

She brings us a delicatessen platter ($15) of tongue, corned beef and pastrami. On the side, the rye bread, french fries and cole slaw. You make your own sandwiches this way which I like because there is no way I could get my mouth around the monstrosities that Tamara is serving up. It's a crazy amount of meat (you've been warned).

I prefer the pastrami over the corned beef. It's more moist; a little fattier. Thrashers of the freshly sliced, peppery meat with hot Keen's mustard and giant sour dill pickles are a combo of awesome.

The tongue on the other hand is a little too moist. It's too soft. I like a tongue with a little substance.

The fries are not fresh cut and are chubby and dry. Go for the potato salad instead. It's roughly mashed and creamy and has bits of sweet red and green pepper. If I had a Jewish grandmother, this would be her potato salad.

The slaw is also quite good. The cabbage is soft, well seasoned and dressed up in vinegar. I may have made it a sandwich condiment.

Meat aside, Moe stays true to its' roots with matzoh ball soup, knishes, kishkas and chopped liver.

Moe Pancer's is a bit of a trek into North Toronto but good food is always worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I realize that this is not a "burger joint" but I just started a new job in Yorkville and after working like a dog, I just wanted a patio, some sun, a Bud Light and a burger. If you ever feel the same, then Hemingways, 142 Cumberland Street, is where to go. Granted it's not my favourite patio in Yorkville (Remy's is but their food isn't worth a quarter) but it is one that isn't expensive or pretentious.

The burger is good. It's pubbish but it is fresh; they make 'em each morning and they are eight ounces of surprisingly juicy ground beef. Cheese is not necessary and I usually forego the bacon; not because I don't love it but because I try to watch my girlish figure. In this case, I'm down for both. There is nothing special about either accessory but somehow they both add a little "something".

The patty is thick and assembled correctly. My only issue is the absence of a pickle. You have to have a dill pickle. The Heinz squeeze bottle of relish doesn't man up - at all.

The girlish figure thing makes me have a salad in place of fries.

I should've done the fries as the salad is the dreaded mixed baby greens with a side of bottled balsamic dressing in a plastic ramekin.

I don't eat it.

How is it that you can make you're own burger but not you're own salad dressing?

I'm pretty sure the former is a little more difficult.

*Burger with side salad, 3 bottles of Bud Light (I was thirsty and maybe a tad stressed), tax and

a 20% tip for Sonia our awesome server, approximately $35.00

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

416 Snack Bar

I had been to 416 Snack Bar, 181 Bathurst Street, twice before but never to eat, just to drink. Food aside, it’s a cool spot for some libation but just in case you skipped dinner, you can do some preventative hangover protection by indulging in the “snacks”.

Their micro meals are an homage to all things Torontonia; our ethnicity, our culture, our neighbourhoods and our people.

It’s genius really but more importantly it’s f’ing delicious.

We clumsily employed “the lady-and-the-tramp-like manoeuvre” as they do not provide cutlery and we really wanted to taste everything.

A sushi pizza ($5) is a real darling with a perfectly crunchy rice crust and hot smoked BC salmon. It is not doused in pink mayo. We shared then I ordered my own.

The bone marrow toasts ($4) are pretty self-explanatory; dollops of luscious, silken marrow on top of toasted bread rounds. Steve’s scared of marrow so more for Sandy and I. He went for the plain old oysters (3 for $7) instead and we doubled up on another marrow order. Yessss.

A mini mac ($4) is a recent addition and is exactly what you think it is; the cutest sesame seed bun you’ve ever seen, teeny, finely sliced pickles, shredded lettuce, processed cheese and pink sauce. There are only two differences between the 416 version and ‘The Golden Arches’ and that is the absence of the middle bun and that this patty is solo, thick, juicy and cooked to medium.

We order three more.

The octo taco ($5) is another newbie. A flawlessly braised octopus leg is smoky and charred. The tomatillo salsa and corn tortilla don’t disrupt the octopus but make for the best the vehicle and the ideal accessory.

I don’t have a sweet tooth but Sandy wanted the s’more s’plosion ($4) for two. It is literally a ball of chocolate and cookie and marshmallow. It’s a mess and even more than not liking chocolate, I don’t like chocolate all over my fingers. Unfortunately this is not a cutlery free dish.

There is really only one problem with 416 Snack Bar; I will never be able to just drink there ever again.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A touch of Paris in Toronto at La Societe

Won't be jet setting to Paris this year? No money to back pack through France? Not to worry as La Societe, 131 Bloor Street West, sets to bring a little Paris to Toronto in an unapologetic, stylish and comfortable bistro that is the newest brain child of hospitality giant, Charles Khabouth.

Doors open on June 15 for dinner. Lunch will be served daily and brunch on weekends.

I'm excited by the hyped up design; think aged mahogany, leather, light fixtures from Paris and a jaw dropping thirty foot stained glass ceiling mural.

It's going to be stunning.

It's also going to have the only patio on this stretch of Bloor, a raw seafood bar, glasses of wine at every price point and inexpensive burgers that will go great with pints of Kronenbourg.

A modern take on classic French food means you will certainly see a Nicoise salad, cassoulet and steak frites on the local where possible menu.

Don't believe me? Check out what others are saying at and . Or get the scoop direct on facebook at or on twitter at!/La_Societe .

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gourmet Burger Co.

If you like thick and juicy hamburgers do not go to Gourmet Burger Company. If you like pineapple, roasted peppers, avocado, goat cheese or balsamic marinated caramelized onions on a thin, cooked through patty then maybe it’s the place for you.

Their shtick is local, 100% Canadian farm raised beef that’s aged for thirty days and never frozen. That’s all fine and dandy but Canada is not local and when you cook a skinny patty to well done, you can’t tell what you’re eating.

Needless to say this burger was dry. It had nice grilled flavour that you almost couldn’t taste because of the huge Kaiser like bun that the patty sits between. I immediately tear off as much of the bun as possible. I’m here to eat a burger, not a prosciutto sandwich.

I’m also super sad to see leaf lettuce on the bottom and skimpy toppings. The tomato is sliced too thin as is the red onion and the pickles. The GBC sauce (a mixture of ketchup, hot sauce, mayo and mustard) is void of any flavour. I should’ve stuck with mayo.

Gourmet Burger Company isn’t a total bust. Their beer battered onion rings are giant, crunchy rings of soft onion that doesn't slide out when you bite into them.

The fries are what I call dirty fries; they are darkish in colour as if the oil in the deep fryer hasn’t been changed this week. They are crispy and not too thick.

And Rachel, the cute counter girl personally brings us our order. The presentation is nice; the 100% biodegradable packaging is eco chic and your meal comes on a silver tray.

Gourmet Burger Co.
Four locations across Toronto
Takeout or Dine In
Open daily
Cash or debit
Not licensed
One 6 oz. beef burger with rings and a Jones Soda $11.81 including taxes

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

June Harlowe Foods, 1627 Dupont Street

This cottagy resto cafe has a casual vibe that makes it a no brainer for an easy weekend brunch. Live music and $5 Caesars sweeten the deal. Blueberry buttermilk pancakes are big, fluffy disks of love. Someone in the kitchen is a master whisker. The eggs Benedict is comprised of large eggs, grilled (nice touch) pea meal and Challah toast which in my not so humble opinion is the best choice. I like the hollandaise even more than the bread. June has the lightest, lemony hollandaise on the face of this city.

Watusi, 110 Ossington Avenue

My friend Jen and I were stumped this year as to where to hold our birthday festivities. It was cute at first but now I am exhausted by the no reservation policy. How the f are twenty five people supposed to go for dinner without a reservation? Jen called place after place on our list of "hot spots" and they either wouldn't or couldn't accommodate our numbers or wanted to force us into a prix fixe. One place on the Ossington strip couldn't even seat us all at one table because they "are a small place". We dined at Watusi. It was a no brainer choice after the guy on the phone was not only accommodating but pleasant, professional and helpful; he even offered to order us a cake.

Customer service is not dead.

My favourites were the luscious pulled pork with wonton chips, the crispy chick pea fries with a jalapeno dip and the crispy mixed mushroom and asiago flat bread pizza.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Buffalo Burger Co.

I go cross border shopping about two or three times a year and when I go to Buffalo, I always, and I mean always, have lunch at The Olive Garden. Yes, I know the pasta is gross; don't worry I don't ever order that. They have some $5 or $6.99 'All you can eat soup, salad and bread sticks' thing that rocks. The white, doughy bread sticks and bottomless salad bowl with those light green hot peppers and canned sliced black olives. I love it. And the soups are good too.

Anyhow, enough about that. The point to this story is that for once, I had lunch somewhere else (it took some convincing). The Buffalo Burger Co. is right across the street from The Walden Galleria and right behind The Olive Garden.

Holy hamburgers! This place was awesome.

There was beef, Kobe beef, buffalo (otherwise known as bison here in Canada), elk, ostrich and wild boar. They say that "wild meats make delicious eats". I completely agree.

The Kobe beef was 8 ounces of tender, meaty, greasy, tastiness. The patty was thick. The bun had a shiny top, a grilled middle and was glistening with butter. The toppings were correct and in the right order: red onion, dill pickle, lettuce (romaine not some BS green) and a slice of tomato. There was a gazillion cheeses to choose from but I added American cheese because, well I was in America, and because it is my favourite burger cheese. I was not disappointed; it was a bubbly, oozy sheet of orange loveliness.

The buffalo patty was dry but buffalo is like that. It is a lean animal with barely any fat. A lack of fat means it's much healthier than a cow but it also means it's not as juicy or flavourful. I'm cool with it. I'm just pleased to see the farm of animal patties that is being offered.

I guess to compete with The Olive Garden, they have made their shoe string fries bottomless. After eight ounces of meat, I can't even finish the first round let alone request another basket but I like the idea.

Great burgers and skinny, crispy fries only get that much better with the 'Happy Hour' special: from 3pm til 5pm all domestic draft is $1 and domestic bottles $1.50. My eyes grow so wide and my grin so big and he asks if I'm Canadian.

I chuckle.

"Did my excitement over cheap beer give it away?"

"No, your accent did."

The Buffalo Burger Company
2013 Walden Avenue, Cheektowaga, NY
Takeout or Dine In
Open Daily
Cash, Debit or Credit
One Kobe, one bison, two orders of fries, one draft and one bottle with taxes approximately $28.00 US

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spoon and Fork

At Spoon and Fork, 1233 The Queensway, you can dine one of two ways: order a la carte off their regular menu or do the ‘all you can eat’ version from their special menu ($24.95). The latter should be entered into with caution as there are rules that must be followed...or else.

Rule Number One: You have to eat everything you order or you will be charged at regular price

Rule Number Two: There is a two hour dining limit.

Rule Number Three: Please do not order excessive food.

We decide to feast because we are starving and capable. We divide ourselves into two teams of two and decide to go page by page in the ordering process. It becomes a sort of game, a kind of challenge between what we want to eat and what we can eat.

Spoon and Fork is not the first of its’ kind; there is plenty of 'all you can eat sushi' in Toronto but none have the look of this restaurant. The dining room has that resto lounge feel. The ceiling is tall, the light fixtures are cool, and there is lots of black, a little bit of purple and a few candles. It’s Buddha and Zen and Vegas and Club all rolled into one. It is the fanciest ‘all you can eat’ that you are going to eat.

At Spoon and Fork, the focus is not just Japanese, it is equal parts Thai with a dash of Chinese. The dishes are small and shareable. They are also chipped, not properly expedited; splashes of sauce make them look dirty and they are literally dumped at your table like some sort of feeding frenzy.

To recall every dish would take this piece into another dot com so I will just give you the high and low lights.

Be sure to sample any of the tempuras as the batter is properly light and crispy. The peppery fried calamari with sweet chilli dipping sauce is another ‘do’ as is the curry pumpkin soup. Things get a little too Americanized with a scallop Rockefeller that takes an overdone scallop and smothers it in potato and cheddar cheese. Another downer is the agedashi tofu; lightly fried but also light on taste. The Thai dumplings are mushy and a smoked duck salad shows the meat more as a corned beef than a smoked duck.

Page two is dedicated to sushi. This is good because there is a lot of choice. This is bad because its’ quality is a small step up from Bento Nouveau.

A Thai green curry is surprisingly spicy. The chicken is tender and juicy and I like the chunks of fresh vegetables and the firm steamed rice. I get out the spoon for this one.

The beef teriyaki is nicely grilled, medium rare and tender. A jarred sauce is the only component holding the dish back. A Bangkok Street Style Pad Thai is overly salted and overly cooked but I’m just happy that it is dry. I do not like a ketchupy, saucy Pad Thai.

Desserts are not included and we are honestly way too full to proceed.

The last thing I need are some deep fried bananas.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Magoo's Gourmet Hamburgers and Ice Cream

There are two things associated with The Kingsway: wealth and Magoo’s Gourmet Hamburgers. I guess they threw in the “gourmet” to appeal to the masses of money bags that live in my neighbourhood or maybe the gourmet is that they are made fresh on the premises using lean ground beef or that you can have alfalfa sprouts on your burger. Whatever the reason, this is not gourmet. This is ice cream, milkshakes, salads and char grilled hamburgers.

My first visit almost kyboshed the idea of paying for a second one. The burger was dry, the bun too grilled and why in the world would anyone put leaf lettuce on the bottom of the burger? The heat of the patty almost disintegrated the lettuce. The lettuce has to go on top of the tomato and it should always be iceberg because the other greens are not crisp enough.

The second time around yields better results (with a little direction) because the burger is cooked med well. It is not dry, it is nicely charred and the sesame seed bun is lightly grilled.

The onion rings are skinny and crispy and need no ketchup as the mayo/ketchup/mustard drippings from the burger create a sauce on the foil paper.

The fries are not skinny enough but are a pass.

The condiment lady has attitude and is totally stunned when I say that I want my lettuce on top of the patty but she complies. I still hate the leaf lettuce.

Magoo’s has things a little backwards (again). They offer a choice of three cheeses: cheddar, Monterey Jack or a mix of the two. Don’t get excited because it is grated cheese. Grated cheese on hamburgers is worse than alfalfa on hamburgers. And to make matters even worse, it joins the lettuce on the bottom. They tell me it’s so that the heat of the patty melts the cheese. I want to tell them that that may be true but it turns your cheeseburger into a cheese bun. These are two different things.

Condiment lady is going to really hate me next time when I tell her where to put her cheese.

Magoo’s has things mostly right; they just need a little guidance.

Magoo's Gourmet Hamburgers and Ice Cream
4242 Dundas Street West
Takeout or dine in
Open daily
Cash only
No licence
4 oz hamburger with rings and small drink including tax $10.45

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Woodlot, 293 Palmerston Avenue at College

I go to Woodlot to get my proverbial rocks off; my cool new(ish) Toronto restaurant rocks off. Unfortunately, I leave unsatisfied.

Woodlot is a bakery from 7:30 am til 3:30 pm.

It is a restaurant from 5:00 pm til midnight.

Their shtick is food cooked in the massive wood burning oven.

They have a small menu with a separate veggie head card.

The focus is fragmented and I’m left confused.

I quickly shun the vegetarian menu as tempeh, soy and vegetables have less to do with a wood burning oven than Lady Gaga does with modesty.

The carnivore in me is excited by the cabbage rolls and they do not disappoint. Braised duck, prunes and wild rice get stuffed into big balls of savoy cabbage and the result is ‘stick to your ribs’ goodness. I don’t taste the wood but I get over it with a side of mashed potato with bone marrow. With its' wonderfully smooth consistency and glistening marrow, this is heaven.

Everything else needs work.

Ok, not everything. The space is great. It’s industrial but intimate. It’s warm and inviting. We score a table on the second floor overlooking all the fiery action.

And the complimentary Listerine with pill cup shooters is a nice touch.

The service is friendly.

Now, everything else needs work.

An oxtail and tongue terrine is too chunky. It has a slightly gross meat taste. When done right, tails and tongues make you feel giddy but when done wrong you are full of regret. The pistachios add a cool crunch but the side of currents taste like Christmas and it’s March.

I wonder how Woodlot will tackle the change in seasons because their food is winter.

It’s comforting and warming and not what we want to eat the other six months of the year.

The haddock had a nice crust but is severely under seasoned and totally overcooked. Ditto for the fregola. Ditto for the saffron sauce. Ditto for the cauliflower. Why is there no salt on the table?

I could do dessert but I know when to stop spending money on a meal that is only half worth it.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Over the last few years, Toronto has been obsessed with burgers, charcuterie boards and home style comfort food. ‘Mom and Pop’ joints are fun and holes in the wall have become dinner destinations. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing but after dining at Malena, 120 Avenue Road, I have to admit that a little fancy felt really nice.

This modern seafood estiatorio (Greek for restaurant) is the second child of Sam Kalogiros and David Minicucci. Malena is L’Unita’s little sister. Like any interracial relationship that decides to procreate, Sam and Dave’s Malena is the perfect blend of Italian and Greek cuisine.

The room is softly lit and intimate. It’s dressed with strong wood tables, shiny ceiling tile, copper pots, bar stools that are strangely covered in pony hair and silver studded leather chairs. The luggage tags that hug the napkins are uniquely cute.

The journey through the Mediterranean Sea begins with a glug of good Greek olive oil, some crusty country style bread, a small dish of warm, herbed, lemony olives ($6) and a glass of Greek sparkling wine.

This is what I like about Malena; it is an Ionian cuisine that is way more refined than the ubiquity of the Danforth.

The grilled octopus ($16) is sensibly charred; its’ flesh delicately rubbery. A stroke of rich Greek yogurt lines the dish while a super fun fregola, pancetta and root vegetable salad bank the octopus. The bacon and fregola is the boot in the dish. Fregola are little balls of semolina flour indigenous to the island of Sardinia that are similar to Israeli couscous only much larger.

A skinny slab of marinated sheep’s feta ($14) is sharp and creamy. The pretty shredded pear and radicchio salad adds the sweet and the bitter that balance the sharpness of the cheese. Sultana raisins dot the salad.

Executive Chef Doug Neigel makes the lamb sausage ($15) in house. It is plump, juicy and medium rare. Add a perfectly poached egg, some stewed gigantes (giant baked beans), a little tomato and a crostino. This is Greek wieners and beans.

The gnudi ($25) is made with sheep’s milk ricotta and tossed with braised rabbit and spinach. Crispy ribbons of parsnip garnish the dish. The gnudi themselves are incredibly weightless and delightfully cheesy. Unfortunately the accompaniments do nothing to elevate the dish. The parsnips are beautiful but I want to eat them as a snack. If you don’t get to them first, they become soft from the sauce. Braising meat should make it tender, juicy, almost stringy. This rabbit was a little too dry and had a little too much chunk. The gnudi would be better showcased with an ‘off the charts’ tomato sauce.

A Berkshire pork chop ($28) with celery root mash, Swiss chard and sweet apple caponata is greatness. Apple and pigs have been best friends for a long time and this dish proves that it is a relationship that is built to last. The chop is big, almost Flinstone(ish) but succulent and the delicateness of the mash brings it down in size. A potato would be too much.

L’Unita is known for their diversely flavoured cannoli ($8/3) and so it makes sense that Sam and Dave would bring the little buggers over to Malena. Tonight they are filled with a date mascarpone and sprinkled with crunchy, candied walnuts.

I know, I know, you’re probably wondering what’s with all the animal talk in a so called seafood restaurant? Well, Sam and David may call it seafood because sixty percent of the card says so but with such competence beyond fish, I just call it a good place for dinner.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hero Certified Burgers

I realize that The Burger’s Priest is going to be a tough act to follow but a recent visit to a Hero Certified Burgers counter only put them further in the lead.

It’s easy to find a Hero; there are twenty two locations.

It’s hard for me to come up with something good to say.

This is going to be a short one...

Their burgers are certified Canadian Angus beef. Even Harvey's has an Angus burger; it's not a sign of greatness.

Hero brags that their burgers are 100% range free, hormone free, antibiotic free and gluten free. That all sounds wonderful but unfortunately none of that freedom amounts to a tastier burger. These patties are 100% flavourless, 100% dry and 100% over cooked.

The sign says your burger will be cooked med well. The sign meant to say well done. In fact, this burger was so dry I was thankful for the otherwise useless “Hero Sauce” (glorified ranch dressing) that smothered it.

The Signature Hero Burger ($5.49/4 oz.) comes with the “sauce”, Canadian Cheddar and tomato. I add lettuce because you have to but instead of iceberg, it was spring mix. I hate spring mix in a salad let alone on my burger. You also have to put the cheese on top of the patty not on the bottom of it but Hero has that backwards too.

The fries were too thick. Skinny equals crispy. These fries are soggy.

Ditto for the onion rings.

Basically the only good that came out of this experience was the option for a whole wheat bun.

Hero Certified Burgers
Locations across the GTA
Open daily
Cash and debit
No license

Friday, February 11, 2011

Earls Restaurant and Bar Finally Arrives in Toronto

On Saturday February 12, 2011 Earls Restaurant and Bar will finally grace Toronto with its’ presence. The doors open at 150 King Street at York and although most 416ers have never heard of the award winning resto giant, they have been serving their ‘West Coast Casual’ fare for the past thirty years.

Leroy ‘Bus’ Earl Fuller and his son Stanley Earl Fuller gave birth to Earls as a laid back burger and beer joint out west but the company now boasts over fifty restaurants across Canada and the U.S. They believe Toronto is the place to be right now and you know we love the compliment.

Like everything I share, I give it to you straight up, no bull and I promised myself that this would be no different. Here’s the deal, I have created three rules for myself when writing about restaurants: I will not review a restaurant during Winter or Summerlicious, I cannot write about a place that I currently work and I will not review corporate restaurants.

Earls is a corporate restaurant.

I hate to eat my words (although I really hope that you will) but I have to bend the rules a little for the sake of guiding you towards a good meal.

The bottom line is that I am impressed with Earls the way I am impressed with the independent little guys.

The dining room is dim and cozy, romantic and sexy, fun and inviting. It is the perfect juxtaposition of masculine and feminine. Rock and dark hardwood mingle with pretty white lights and supple leather seating. The bar area is large. There are TVs for sports and lots of seating for conversation.

The food is surprisingly “uncorporate” (yes I just made up a word). Their commitment to fresh and seasonal ingredients mimics the sentiment of some of Toronto’s best kitchens. Earls is baking their own bread, their sauces, soups and dressings are made in house from scratch and they change the menu regularly to reflect not just what is in season but what is hot as well.

It wouldn’t be BC without a clam chowder and Earls’ version is a recipe that has not changed since its’ inception. The clams are meaty and have the right amount of rubber. The broth is not heavy. It is slightly smoked by bacon. Bits of red pepper add colour. You could eat six bowls, no problem.

A rocket, beet and pear salad shows how goat cheese can be made into a coulis. The cheese is the creamiest and most velvety I have seen it to be and the sweet crunchy beets along with the softness of sugary pear all play together amicably. Villa Maria, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with its’ gooseberry and passion fruit notes makes the salad’s flavours and textures pop.

Earls provides their diners with wine pairing suggestions for all menu items making ordering a total no brainer.

The Bronx Burger is super fun. It has a crispy, skinny beer battered onion ring, aioli, greens, aged cheddar and a tangy pepper relish. The fries resemble those of one of the huge fast food chains of which I can’t mention here but you will know who I’m talking about the minute the fry hits your tongue. This is a good thing.

Earls surprises with a Jeera chicken curry that authentically spicy and a seafood linguine that is perfectly el dente and lightly tossed with a San Marzano tomato sauce.

The filet mignon is crusted with porcini mushrooms and dressed up with truffle butter. It’s tender and earthy. The butter adds the flavour that the tenderloin lacks. Earls does steaks well without being a “steakhouse” but I would like to see a ribeye in the mix. No ones’ favourite cut is a top sirloin.

A chocolate sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean gelato and a glass of bubbles is the perfect finale. The ice cream comes in a toffee frico cup and I love it so much I eat it with my hands. The pudding is rich and decadent.

They believe in mixology and right now are showcasing margaritas made with Herradura’s El Jimador 100% agave tequila. The juices are made in house: blueberry, passion fruit and lime.

The wine list is extremely affordable with a lot of wines hovering at $7 - $9 a glass (7 oz) and a lot of great choices in the $30-$40 range. Some wines are made exclusively for Earls while others have been handpicked by their team of connoisseurs. One wine guy, Anthony Gismondi of Gismondi Wine and Wine Access Canada says that, “This is where Toronto will be drinking for the next few weeks.”

Sound like a corporate restaurant?

Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ritaboutit: 2010 Best Restaurant Review Blog in Canada

It's been three days since The Canadian Food Blog Awards announced the winners in their nation wide search for the best food blogs this country has to offer. I am still riding the high since taking it in the 'Best Restaurant Review Blog' category.

Ritaboutit was born almost two years ago. She came to be because my friends pushed me to write (they think I'm funny) and because I had the fortune of meeting an insanely creative guy whom I owe big time for getting me started.

I've said it a bunch of times but I will say it again; I love this city and I love this country. I'm eating Toronto and want to one day eat cross Canada. We are lucky to live in a place with such diversity, a place where food isn't taken too seriously, a place with its' own food culture.

I want to thank the judges, my supporters and all the great restaurants and chefs that continue to surprise and inspire me to share my story so that you, my readers, can make good stories of your own.

I will keep writing as long as you keep reading.

Thank you

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Burger's Priest

Now I’m not religious in the least but if these burgers are some kind of religion then bless me Father and sign me up. Shant Mardirosian, a former seminary grad is trying to redeem the burger. He believes in simple and pure ingredients and is deadly against the sins of over processed, overly spiced, frozen burgers. He claims to be a classic American cheeseburger joint and he is succeeding.

Toronto Life gives The Burger’s Priest the thumbs up and blogTo readers are getting nasty as they argue over whether or not their burgers are the best in town Check out the hilarious whining over the fact that their veggie burger is not vegan friendly. What the hell is a vegan doing at a burger joint in the first place? There are veggie places, they are called Fresh and that’s where they should go. Leave the burger joints to us red meat fiends.

Food is so subjective that there really cannot be any clear or definitive answer as to who has “the best” but if you have any faith in what I say, trust me when I tell you that these little angels are the real deal. The Burger’s Priest is a greasy taste of Americana that is obviously hard to find “up here”.

Fresh beef gets ground throughout the day. The meat is seasoned only with salt and rolled into little balls that get pressed down onto a flat top grill when ordered. This technique results in patties with uneven edges which in turn results in crumbly bites of moist, slightly pink meat. No fillers mean that the flavour of the beef is free to shine in all its’ Godly glory.

A small, simple, white bun is the patty’s vehicle while honest ingredients dress it up: cheese, ketchup, mustard, onion, tomato, pickles and lettuce. I’m happy as I do not believe in junking up my burger with guac, salsa, alfalfa, peanut butter, olives or sautéed mushrooms.

The fanciest topping is “secret sauce”. It’s pink and tangy and goes on the ‘Low Priest’ (another secret item selection). Like any confessional session, Shant is sworn to secrecy. He will not reveal what kind of beef he uses, where it comes from, what kind of cheese he uses or what goes into his sauce.

‘The Option’ ($7.99) is a veggie burger but a veggie burger because it is made with a vegetable; the portabello mushroom, not with ground up mystery bits that taste like peas and saw dust. Cheese gets stuffed between two mushrooms, rolled in panko and deep fried. It is crispy and crunchy and oozing with hot cheesiness. It’s a little under seasoned but oh so overly creative.

I get crazy and go for ‘The Priest' ($9.99): ‘The Option’ plus a cheeseburger. This is a big one, I feel so stuffed and my arteries are pissed but it is worth every bite. There is nothing like this in Toronto. I love the dichotomy: the crunchy mushrooms against the soft beef. I love the comedy of it; only a person who needs some guidance would put a veggie burger and a beef patty in the same bun.

The fries are perfection. They are skinny and crispy and salty.

You don’t have to be a believer to enjoy The Burger’s Priest, you just have to have an affection for unprocessed, fresh, American style cheeseburgers. Lucky for Shant, a good portion of Toronto is following his gospel.

The Burger's Priest
1636 Queen Street East
Closed Sundays
Cash only
No liscence
No washrooms

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Here's to a New Year!

2011 is already shaping up to be pretty good with the announcement of the nominees for The Canadian Food Blog Awards. Ritaboutit has been nominated for Best Restaurant Review Blog and I cannot be more happy or appreciative of the recognition. Read more at

I want to thank all of you for your continued support and for always giving a little click and reading what I have to say about the Toronto food scene. I love this city and hope you continue to follow me as I navigate through the good and the bad that Toronto has to offer.

The Brunchcapades are over and although I will continue to brunch, I now am turning to burgers as my focus for 2011. We are obsessed with burgers, I love cows, am a red meat junky and it is a trend has been going strong since last year. So get ready to get greasy with 'Between the Buns'. Please feel free to share any recommendations of your fave burger joints.

Stay tuned and stay hungry.