In 2008, I lived in Toronto for a month and then again in 2010 to do some research for my master’s thesis. I adore Toronto’s food scene. There is so much diversity and options. The restaurants can from extremely expensive to dirt cheap. While Vancouver has an abundance of Asian cuisines, Toronto also has excellent Caribbean, Ethiopian, Korean and Thai restaurants. On my most recent visit, I planned to try Pai Northern; Japango; Black Hoof; Okonomi House; Rasta Pasta; Gandhi’s Roti; and Banh Mi Boys. Unfortunately, the first day didn’t go as well as planned, food-wise.
On our first day, L and I headed over to watch the Blue Jays. We didn’t have time for a sit-down meal at a restaurant, so we picked up beef hot dogs ($4.00) at a vendor with the longest line-up. I loaded my dog with mustard, ketchup, raw onions, pickles, sauerkraut and hot peppers and let it drip down on the ground as we listened to a good drummer/performer who entertained the crowd milling around the Dome.
Since we had some time before the game started, I took L over to the Steam Whistle for free samples and a couple of pints ($8.00). I ordered a blisteringly hot, buttery pretzel ($4.99) to go with my beer. The whole grain mustard had a nice pop to it.
I’ve never been to a baseball game before. Though our seats were sky high, I could still see all the home runs the Blue Jays repeatedly hit. I was also impressed with the beer selection at the Dome. Unlike Calgary, the beers vary beyond Budweiser and Bud Lite. Hallelujah.
We met our friend Thomas at 1602, a bar on Dundas W. We were the only people in there the entire hour. With an absence of food and ambience, we left to check out a nearby restaurant, Wallflower.
Ah, the Wildflower was more my scene. The patio was cute and clean, the selection of drinks was better and cheaper. Most wines by glass went for around $10.00 and beers were about $6.00.
We ordered Gnocchi ($14.00), Jerk Devilled Eggs ($4.50) and Potato Wedges with Garlic Aioli ($5.00). The creamy filling in the devilled eggs ($4.50) had a nice kick to it. I liked how they sliced the bottom of the egg off so that the egg sat up on the plate. I need to remember to do this when I make my own devilled eggs. For $1.50 per egg, this was a tasty and cheap snack.
The dumplings were light and fluffy and came soaked in a heavy, rich creamy sauce. While the menu said there was chicken sausage, pancetta, and bolognese, I could only taste the sauce and salty meats. Not that this was a bad thing. The gnocchi was a hot delicious mess and the favourite thing we ate.
The potato wedges remind me of the Naam‘s famous miso fries. The potatoes tasted like they were baked, crispy on the outside with an almost powdery soft consistency inside. I enjoyed the heavy use garlic in the aioli.
The food was so good, we should have stayed and eaten more. However, we left to see Thomas’s place and to meet his friends. By the time we left for our hotel, we were starving. The only place open and literally next door to our hotel was Fran’s.
L ordered the Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich with fries ($11.99) and I ordered a Beef Burger with home Fries ($9.99). On the positive side, the food was cheap. However, the patty was dry and the bread in both the sandwich and the bun were too hard and chewy to eat. The home fries were hot and crispy, so another point there. I vowed that the next day, we would fare better and hit some of the places recommended to me by locals.