Sunday, November 30, 2008

51. Australia & New Zealand: Hemingway's

142 Cumberland Street
(Bay and Bloor)
416 968-2828

We met up at this multi-levelled restaurant pub in the trendy Yorkville neighbourhood. We chose a table on the main floor but explore the roof-top patio, which is open year round, before leaving.
Our starters from the brunch menu consist of : Boston clam chowder, a creamy and chunky house specialty, $5.49; Soup of the day - a tasty blend of sweet potato and carrot, $ 4.29. For main dishes we choose: Farmer's Breakfast - eggs, sausage, mushroom, home fries and toast, $9.39; Kiwi lamb burger - New Zealand ground spring lamb, grilled and served on a lightly toasted bun with goat cheese and mint sauce, garnished with a slice of onion, tomato and lettuce, $9.99 extra mushrooms, add $0.69; Pear and blue cheese salad -warm sliced pears, spiced pecans and spring mix salad, tossed in a house balsamic dressing and sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles, $10.49 (an interesting taste combination, unfortunately the greens were over dressed and wilted); Portobello - grilled mushroom cap with asparagus, roasted red pepper and melted brie [seen here], $9.89; Breakfast fajita - scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, spicy Italian sausage, tomato, onion and barbecue sauce wrapped up in a lightly grilled tortilla and served with home fries, $9.59. Coffee $1.99 with free refills.
Separate bills were no problem and we paid $40.60 plus tip for two.
Downstairs, the decor is more about Hemingway than Australia and New Zealand. Behind us is a surprising photo of author Ernest Hemingway with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. On the upper levels we spot large, autographed sailing posters and wooden direction signs with stronger antipodean connections. They offer free wireless Internet but we didn't avail ourselves of it.

Rating: Ambiance (3)
Service (3)
Food Presentation (3)
Food Quality (3)
Value for Money (3)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

50.Guyana: Bacchus Roti Shop

Bacchus Roti Shop
1376 Queen Street West
(Between Lansdowne and Dufferin)
416 532 8191

Bacchus has long been considered THE roti shop in Toronto. When my sister visits from Seattle, she always puts a Bacchus roti on her itinerary. I sheepishly admit that this was my first time and I must say that I came away impressed.
From the spotless interior to the fast, friendly service you get the feeling that this is a well run shop. When I got there, shortly after opening time, there were stacks of cases of bottled drinks near the counter. A man, I took to be the owner , said to a younger staff member, " I'd like these put away as soon as you get the chance." Between taking orders at the counter, delivering meals to customers and clearing off tables the cases of drinks were soon dealt with.
I order a Veggie Roti filled with squash and curried chickpeas (channa), $6.24, a side of crisp, peppery coleslaw, $1.59 and a can of mango nectar, $2.29. The roti is non-greasy, very tasty and generous but not overwhelming in size. Total for one, including tax, $11.44.The green leafy pattered wall paper, wicker chairs and gleaming wooden tables give the place a tropical feel. But unlike other roti shops, there's no blaring music, boisterous clientele, or clutter to cope with at Bacchus.
Rating: Ambiance (3)
Service (3)
Food Presentation (2)
Food Quality (4)
Value for Money (4)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

49. Phillipines: Mayette's

3331A Danforth Ave
(east of Victoria Park)
416 463 0338

Mayette's is a unique establishment for several reasons. It's the oldest Filipino restaurant in Canada. It's survived in the highly competitive Toronto restaurant market since 1987 without a liquor licence. But what really makes Mayette's a unique place is Mayette herself. This charming and gracious lady makes you feel truly welcome and appreciated.
As a starter we share an order of Lumpia - Vegetable Egg Rolls, 3 pieces $3.95. We follow this with a huge bowl of Veggie Soup to share which is custom made to order , $6.95. For our main course we order: Pinakbet - a dish of mixed vegetables including squash, eggplant and bitter melon which is beautifully prepared [pictured below], $6.95; Adabo - chicken and pork slow simmered to perfection in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns, $6.95; and steamed rice $1.50. We enjoy two pots of green tea, $2.00 and share cassava cake and banana fritters for dessert. The latter are lengthwise slices of plantain wrapped in spring roll wrappers. Total for three, an unbelievable $31.70 plus tip.
We have a interesting, lengthy chat with our hostess about the history of the restaurant, cultural differences and how Toronto has changed over the years.
Although the decor is not much to write about, Mayette's has a homey kind of charm. There are many framed photo's of Mayette with various celebrities and potted tropical plants.
There's free parking after 6 pm out front and it's a short walk to Victoria Park subway station however, our only regret is that Mayette's isn't closer to home.

Rating: Ambiance (2)
Service (4)
Food Presentation (2)
Food Quality (4)
Value for Money (4)

Friday, November 7, 2008

48. India: Curry Twist

Curry Twist
3034 Dundas Street West
(at High Park Avenue)
416 769 5460

The delicious aromas and friendly greeting immediately gave us the impression that we were in for a real treat - and Curry Twist did not let us down.
Glasses of water and poppadoms were brought to the table as our server explained the day's specials. We choose the Veggie Samosa special to split as a starter, $5.45. The pastry is crisp, not greasy with a tasty filling, served with a tangy tamarind dip. We opt to share: two veggie entrees -Veggie Paneer Twist , $9.95 and the daily vegetable special - Okra & Eggplant, $9.95 each and both beautifully prepared, plain Naan $1.95, and Plain Basmati Rice $2.95. All of the dishes were freshly made from high quality ingredients and not greasy.
We were seated in the front window, and the open kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant, so we did not get a full view of the dining area. What we could see, we liked. The colour scheme is that of exotic spices and the art work and light fixtures have an eastern flair. It was a busy night and the layout doesn't provide much space to maneuver in however service was prompt and friendly. Definitely worth a repeat visit.
Rating: Ambiance (3)
Service (3)
Food Presentation (3)
Food Quality (4)
Value for Money (4)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

47. Scotland: McNie's Fish and Chips

McNie's Fish and Chips
315 Burnhamthorpe Road
(At Martin Grove)
416 231 6916

We hadn't been to this fish and chip shop for several years and were disappointed to find that it just wasn't the same. It was, at one time, a bustling place that served up the best in Scottish grub and where you heard lilting highland accents. There are still a number of traditional dishes on the menu including mushy peas, black pudding and the inevitable haggis. The Scots meat pie and steak and kidney pie had tasty fillings but the pastry was rubbery - as if the pies had been heated in a microwave oven, $4.99 pie only, $5.99 with chips. [pictured here] They were out of coleslaw - "our delivery is not coming today" - and the garden salads, $3.49 were fresh but unimaginative. Two bottles of Kraft salad dressings were plunked on the table. The lunch special haddock and chips, $5.95 from 11 am to 3 pm daily, is great value for money and a reasonably sized portion. We ordered tea and got a large pot of hot water and teabags in our cups. The food and service were OK but there's nothing much to recommend coming here. Unless you live nearby or have a taste for haggis, you might be better off trying one of Etobicoke's other traditional fish and chip shops - Kingsway, at 3060 Bloor West or Viking, at 826 the Queensway.

Rating: Ambiance (2)
Service (2)
Food Presentation (2)
Food Quality (2)
Value for Money (3)