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Critic’s Notebook: Restaurant Views and Reviews


Hopgood's Foodliner, on Toronto's Roncesvalles St.

I’ve been out and about at a number of Toronto restaurants and wanted to report on the best of my experiences.

Had a terrific dinner at Frank’s Kitchen, at College and Clinton, in Little Italy. Loved the rich, roasted kobe bone marrow, served with creamy torchon of foie gras; tender lobster ravioli in tomato/basil broth; the rosy rack of lamb; and the apricot tarte Tatin. Service was attentive and gracious, but never overbearing, and the space manages to be casual and elegant all at once. A must-try.

Also had great success at Hopgood’s Foodliner, on Roncesvalles (the new Ossington!). Former Black Hoof chef Geoff Hopgood launched his restaurant earlier this year, to great acclaim. But don’t let the ultra-casual space and laid-back vibe fool you; this is a serious kitchen. The food’s been called New Maritime, which seems about right. Witness buttery smoked mackerel and pickled shallots on homemade oatmeal cakes (more cookie-like, really); and superior grilled scallops with the best, freshest peas I’ve ever eaten, served with a sweet/sour gastrique sauce; and for dessert, the signature chocolate-coated rice-crisp bar, made in house. Can’t wait to return.

Visited Keriwa Café, the city’s only aboriginal Indian restaurant. Way out on Queen West, in Parkdale, it’s a convivial spot, and very popular, thanks to positive reviews. Wild mushroom broth is intensely flavoured and deeply satisfying, but the addition of raw, tough-as-nails sorrel detracts slightly from its pleasures. Bison tongue pemmican, served with wild mushrooms, bannock and elderberry, is an earthy, meaty treat. Bison tenderloin was a tich dry, bit the finishing trio of sorbets (apple, pear, pomegranate) was icy and refreshing.

My new fave cheap-and-cheerful spot is Banh Mi Boys, at Queen and Spadina, where the specialty is Vietnamese subs (banh mi), Korean tacos and Chinese bao sandwiches. Loved the five-spice pork-belly banh mi (and the beef cheek version, too), stuffed with house mayo, pickled carrots, cucumber and coriander; and the grilled-chicken Korean tacos (kalbi beef a tad chewy, but tasty) filled with purple cabbage slaw, kimchi, pickled carrots and cilantro. Ask for the subs and tacos ‘hot and spicy,’ and the sandwich maker will load ’em up with hot sauce and thai red chiles – the ‘icing on the cake.’

Most interesting tacos in town!

 



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