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The Miss Piggy and The Rhino Buster

4 Feb

Michelle from The Sweet Escape with our decadent donut-sandwich.

This afternoon we made a trip to The Sweet Escape in the Distillery to try something that could be featured on This Is Why You’re Fat. These two beautiful sandwiches are a marriage of The Sweet Escape’s maple bacon donut and Buster Rhino BBQ‘s pulled pork and beef brisket.

Pulled pork between two maple bacon donuts, from The Sweet Escape and Buster Rhino's.

This was the pulled pork sandwich, which we called “The Miss Piggy.” Our friend Mike ordered this one and he said that it was good but he couldn’t finish it on his own.

Smoked beef brisket between two maple bacon donuts from The Sweet Escape and Buster Rhino's.

Beef brisket with barbecue sauce between two maple bacon donuts from The Sweet Escape and Buster Rhino's.

And this was ours: Beef brisket and barbecue sauce between two maple bacon donuts. We called it “The Rhino Buster.” It was actually really good. I was expecting to be slightly disgusted by it, but it was just the right amount of sweet, balanced nicely with the saucy smokey brisket and crunchy bacon. We cleaned our plate.

The Sweet Escape made these two sandwiches exclusively for our curious stomachs, but they say that they’re thinking of putting it on the menu. If they did, would you try one?

The Sweet Escape
55 Mill Street Toronto, ON
(416) 214-2253


Photos and Words by Robin


Grand Electric

26 Nov

Colin Tooke's Grand Electric restaurant in Parkdale in Toronto Ontario

A perfect summary of the Toronto restaurant scene came via a Tweet that said, more or less, that if one wants to start a successful Toronto restaurant, one should get a job as a dishwasher at the Black Hoof, then quit and open a place of their own.  Its funny because, well, its true; just note the success of the (dearly departed) Hoof Cafe and the buzz behind Grant van Gameren taking over at Enoteca Sociale.  So the Twittersphere lit up with excitement after it was reported that former Hoof chef de cuisine Colin Tooke opened a new restaurant.  We were given a name (Grand Electric), we found a non-descriptive website and a Twitter account that gained almost 500 followers in 3 days without tweeting anything of substance. No soft opening, no real promotion, no real signeage on the restaurant: nothing but word of mouth (or in this case, finger) to lure people in.

I couldn’t help but buy into the buzz. Their website said that Grand Electric is about “Mexican food, craft beer, brown liquor and loud music.” Seriously, say no more. So with Robin otherwise engaged for the evening, I made plans to meet up for an early bird dinner (Europeans would scoff at our 6 PM meet-up time) with Stella (Food Junkie Chronicles) and Gizelle.  The decor is relatively bare bones, with a beautiful wooden bar to display the lovely libations-to-be to thirsty patrons. Being a lover of good beer, my eyes immediately scanned over the drink list.

The bar at Colin Tooke's new restaurant, Grand Electric

Drink List

Any Toronto restaurant or bar that has not one but two Dieu du Ciel offerings on taps is immediately in my good books. Bottle-wise, I was happy to see Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale and BC’s excellent Red Racer available alongside hipster-friendly Labatt 50.  Since I was dedicated to drinking beer with dinner, I didn’t read over the hard alcohol list, which apparently is chock full of delicious bourbons and other liver-blowing spirits. They also make two signature cocktails: The Michelada is a mix between a shandy and a Caesar featuring Tecate (a Mexican beer), and the Grand Electric Sour is similar to a traditional unblended margarita. Both are very refreshing and reminiscent of summer.

Stella and Giselle decided that we’d order the entire menu. Keep in mind that the combined weight of these two women equals one me.  We started off with the Guacamole and Chips.

Guacamole and chips.

The corn chips were made in house and were quite nice, with a fresh crispness to them.  In the middle of the guacamole was a light chicharron which had the consistency of a firm shrimp chip. The guacamole was very simple with a healthy amount of fresh cilantro; a nice way to start our meal.

Beef and Chicken Tacos

Pork and Chicken Tacos

Tacos at Colin Tooke's new restaurant Grand Electric

Next came our tacos. We started with the beef cheek tacos, which were well executed. The beef cheek was delicate and perfectly fatty and had great flavour.  Fresh cilantro and green onion were carefully sprinkled on top of the tacos. I put a few dabs of the moderately-spicy salsa verde in it to kick it up a few notches.  We then moved onto the spicy arbol chicken taco.  I think that they should have changed its name to “DAMN spicy arbol chicken taco.”  It was delicious, but there was some serious heat coming from those tacos. The spice took away from the savoury flavour of the chicken and I personally think that a little less heat would have allowed us to taste the flavour of the meat and not just spice.  The third taco was pork belly al pastor and this was the taco show stopper.  There was a nice citrus kick to it and its pairing with the peach salsa  made me want more.  The next time I return, I’d gladly order 3 pork belly tacos.

Ensalata Electrico

The ensalata electrico arrived next. The salad part was quite simple – it tasted like Ranch dressing with a bit of a kick to it.  The salad’s simplicity is what I’ve come to expect when I eat Mexican, so I can’t say I was overly disappointed.  The treat, though, was the meat croquette that was served with the salad. A crunchy exterior yielded a delicious meaty interior that coated a cheese core.  Crunch plus meat plus cheesy goo equals a happy me.

Pollo Frito

Keeping up with tradition, I passed on all things fishy (the fish tacos and the ceviche, which was served on a crispy taco). Our next arrival was the pollo frito, or fried chicken. It tasted like a hybrid between honey garlic chicken wings and Chinese-style crispy chicken. For $14, it was a nice dish to share. Flavour-wise, it was probably the least impressive of the dishes. It was good but it was missing something to make it memorable.

Pozole Rojo

Finally, we received our pozole rojo, which is a hearty soup traditionally make from pork shoulder. This was my show stopper.  It had tender bits of pork, slivers of fresh avocado and an accompanying bottle of hot sauce clearly stolen from Hades himself. I put a dab in my soup and it was more than enough to give it a tasty thermal heat. A squirt from one of the fresh lime wedges completed me and my deepest desires for a flavourful soup.  West-enders now have a legitimate alternative to Golden Turtle to beat the winter blahs.

Key Lime Pie

We somehow found room for dessert and, since churros weren’t available, we ordered key lime vasa to share.  Whipped cream, lime, lime zest and a graham cracker-esque crust.  Need I say more? A nice cool down to a spiced up evening.

We all thought it was a great place to come to for great drinks and great food.  Grand Electric isn’t a fine dining or hot date restaurant, but it’s exactly as advertised: good Mexican food, good booze and loud music.  Black Hoof, you should be proud of your offspring; Not only was the food great, but Grand Electric had Hoof-like waits (2 hours, we heard) on its first weekend of service!

Grand Electric
1330 Queen St. W
Toronto, Ontario

Grand Electric on Urbanspoon

Blog and photos by Richard.

Holy Chuck Burgers

26 Nov

Burgers are always a fun food. I remember how, as a kid, I’d root through my fridge and look for all sorts of fun toppings to put underneath the bun. Some toppings made sense (barbeque sauce), while others were a bit on the strange side (rippled potato chips, corn nibblets). While half of the fun was eating the tasty burger, the other bit of fun came from building a wobbling tower of deliciousness.

For those looking for their own edible tower of deliciousness, may I introduce to you: Holy Chuck.

Holy Chuck's Headless Cow Logo

The menu’s divided into a greasy spoon’s Holy Trinity: burgers, shakes and fries. When you read over the ample menu, you realize that its a delicious heart attack waiting to happen.  Its burgers are similar in principle to Toronto’s other Burger Renaissance restaurants. The meat’s ground by hand, griddled and served on neat metal mini trays.

No need to worry about a hidden menu here: all of their burger options are listed in detail. I eyeballed the menu and was excited about one extra that other Toronto burger joints don’t offer: chili on your burger (beer chocolate chili, to be exact). I decided on the Grind ‘n Shine (double bacon cheeseburger, caramelized onions, a fried egg & topped with crispy fries) and even though I should have tasted it “as is” first before making any executive decisions, I opted to have it topped with chili. Chili on burgers is common in Winnipeg where I grew up, but it’s hard to find it as an option in Toronto and I was just too excited to resist. Robin ordered the Big Bad Wolf (two beef patties fried in ball park mustard with caramelized onions), as it closely resembled the “Animal Style” burger from In n Out Burger. All of the best burger places in Toronto are doing their take on it and she likes to try each burger joint’s version.

We decided to splurge and ordered the Holy Chuck Fries. Out west, burger enthusiasts know about “Chili Cheese Fries.” Holy Chuck goes one step further and offers fresh hand cut fries with bacon, double cheese and beer chocolate chili. After reading their milkshake menu, Robin settles on Nutella and salted caramel shake and I chose the bacon, fudge and sea salt shake.

The Grind 'n Shine burger

The Grind 'n Shine burger

The Big Bad Wolf burger

Holy Chuck Fries at Holy Chuck Burgers at Yonge & St.Clair in Toronto, Ontario

My Grind ‘n Shine burger was a delicious mess, oozing with flavour (read: yummy fat) and rich in toppings. Robin’s Big Bad Wolf was just as good, with the strong mustard flavour giving the burger that “animal-style” flavour that we love. The patties were moist and flavourful.  As we ate the burgers, we picked away the Holy Chuck fries. The beer and chocolate flavour was present and accounted for and there was a healthy dose of it covering the nicely cooked fries.  Personally, I dig a small kick of vinegar to cut the dark richness of the chilli and fries, and I know some people will cringe when they read that, but its a tiny add-on ingredient that I wish I’d had to give the fries another dimension.

I left the milkshakes for last for a reason.   People can debate who make Toronto’s best burger or tastiest fries until they’re blue in the face, but no one can debate who makes the best milkshakes… Yet. Burgers Priest is adding them to their menu soon, but for now Holy Chuck wins, hands down. The milkshake’s consistency was perfect and both of us loved the perfect touch of salt in our shakes.  The little hint of bacon and the mouth blasts of sea salt mixed perfectly with the fudge. I could drink these bad boys all day. Robin thought the salted caramel and Nutella was craftily executed and was a must have if you visit the restaurant.

Both of us left completely stuffed (and unable to eat dinner later) for $40. It isn’t cheap, but for an occasional splurge and a hit of burger nostalgia, its certainly worth it. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can always order the Go Chuck Yourself: six patties, six slices of cheese, triple bacon, caramelized onions and stacked between three grilled cheese sandwiches. If you can finish that, fries and a shake in 6 minutes, you get your meal for free and your picture goes up on their wall. The best time right now is 3 minutes! Think you can do better?

Holy Chuck Burgers
1450 Yonge St
Toronto, ON M4T 1Y7

Holy Chuck on Urbanspoon
Blog Post by Richard, Photos by Robin Sharp.


1 Nov

Acadia restaurant

When we first arrived at Acadia on a cold night on October I was charmed by its warm atmosphere and the open kitchen which allows you to watch as your food is prepared and meticulously plated. The bar spotlighted a skilled bartender mixing up craft cocktails involving foreign-looking contraptions and even more foreign-sounding ingredients. We needed a lot of guidance from our waiter in order to decide which cocktail to order, but he was more than happy to oblige. Our friend Stella (Food Junkie Chronicles) ordered a drink that came in this adorable Tiki glass:

Stella drinking her cocktail from Acadia in a tiki glass

Between 3 of us we ordered more than half the menu so that we could get a good taste of everything. One of my favourite dishes was actually a side dish: The farro “succotash” with wild mushrooms and truffle oil. I would love to see them take this dish and expand on it to turn it into a main dish. Everything that we tried was creative, flavourful and exceptionally beautiful.

I feel that the best dishes in terms of both creativity and portion size were the fish and seafood, while the non-fish options that Richard ordered were less interesting and served in smaller portions. I felt relatively satisfied after the meal, but Richard left feeling hungry. I’m not the kind of person who lists “huge portion sizes” as an asset in a restaurant, and I don’t expect a dinner like the one that we had at Acadia to cost $20/person because I know that they use quality ingredients and the food is very special. But when it costs $75/person (without wine) and you leave feeling hungry, it’s hard to imagine going back again soon… regardless of how amazing the food is (and it is amazing).

Halibut at Acadia Restaurant

Cornish Hen at Acadia Restaurant

Farro "succotash" with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at Acadia Restaurant

Chef Matt Blondin working in the open kitchen at Acadia

Acadia Restaurant
50C Clinton St. Toronto, ON

Acadia on Urbanspoon

Goody’s Diner, Revisited.

21 Sep

We went back to Goody’s yesterday with our friend Joel (of Community Foodist) to try some more burgers from their “wall of fame”. To see a menu and some pictures from our first visit, check out this post.

Joel got the Highwayman burger, which you can see a description of in the post linked above. Richard and I decided to try something new:

The Macho Nacho burger at Goody's Diner in Toronto/Scarborough

My burger this time around was the Macho Nacho. It had cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, jalapenos, black olives, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. It was like eating a plate of nachos between two buns! I loved the crunchiness of the tortilla chips. I think that I enjoyed this one more than the last burger that I tried here! I had the sweet potato fries this time and I really liked them. They’re made in-house and come with a spicy chipotle mayo. Of course, after packing away that burger there wasn’t a lot of room left for the fries.

The Figgy Piggy burger at Goody's Diner in Toronto/Scarborough

Richard tried the daily special: The Figgy Piggy. It had cheese, pulled pork with a fig and apple sauce, onions and more cheese. I tried it and although the pork and fig sauce was wonderful, it was a bit sweeter than I tend to like my burger condiments to be. Richard loved it. We asked about the sauce afterwards and were impressed when they told us that it was made in-house by roasting fresh whole figs. Even though this is a special, the guys at Goody’s said that if you ask for it when it’s not on the menu they usually have the ingredients to make it for you anyway.

Huge burger at Goody's Diner in Toronto/Scarborough

These are huge burgers. How do you fit one of these in your mouth? Well, let me show you:

Huge burger at Goody's Diner in Toronto/Scarborough

The next time that we go, I’m going to try the Couch Potato: A burger that has potato chips and blue cheese on it, among other things. Based on Richard’s positive experience with the Figgy Piggy, I’d guess that he’s going to put his stock in the burger specials more often.

PS: When you go to Goody’s, check out the bulletin board to the left of the kitchen. You may see a familiar face!

Goody’s Diner
17-33 Manville Rd, Toronto ON M1L 4J7

Goody's Diner on Urbanspoon

Goody’s Diner

31 Aug

Up until a few years ago, Toronto’s nickname could have been Toronto the Good (But Our Burgers are Really, Really Awful).  We were a city that had Harveys voted in as one of our top burgers. Yikes.

But things changed with restaurants like Stockyards and Burgers Priest offering their homage to American griddled burgers, and suddenly, Toronto’s burger scene isn’t nearly as dreary as it used to be.  One style of burger that we were missing is a dirty, 6 napkin, crazy topping burger that you see on the Food Network that disgusts you and makes you salivate at the same time.  Enter: Goody’s Diner.

Goody’s opened up 9 months ago with little fanfare. Thanks to one Chowhound post and Toronto’s hunger for a great burger, Goody’s became the east end’s not-so-secret secret diner.  There’s no way you would stumble on the restaurant; its located 2 blocks southwest of Warden and Eglinton next to, of all places, one of Toronto’s jails. So who said location is everything?

The interior is quite bare bones, but its clean and simple and a non-cheesy throwback to the ’50’s style diner. But walk towards the far end of the kitchen counter and you’ll feast your eyes on burger nirvana:

THIS is their non-menu burger menu. Call your server over, ask them what’s in each behemoth burger, try not to drool all over the table as he describes each burger, and narrow down your choices to what you want.  I didn’t bother reading anything on the menu or considering their specials (although their bacon cheeseburger soup and fried chicken specials sounded artery-hardeningly awesome!). I was there for a burger and nothing else could distract me.  I ended up choosing the Highwayman and Robin picked the Rhinelander. “Can we get our burgers medium done?” I asked. “No problem,” was the reply. Sigh! True love awaited!

The Highwayman is composed of these ingredients, starting from the bottom of the burger: bun, zucchini corn relish, 8 ounce burger patty, cheddar cheese, onion rings stuffed with homemade pastrami, Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, a fried egg, Swiss AND Havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, garlic mayo and a bun. All in one burger.  Times like this I wish that I was born with a bigger mouth.

This burger was incredible. It was nowhere nearly as sloppy or greasy as what one would think. The burger, more or less, stayed together for the 7 minutes it took me to put this big boy away.  The patty itself was very juicy.  I was too enamoured to look for the tell-tale pinkness of a medium burger, but it did have the pleasant mouthfeel and flavour of a patty that wasn’t griddled past its prime. Each bite yielded juicy mouthfuls of tender burger.  The patty’s flavours were simple, showcasing the all-meat no-filler flavours.  The pastrami didn’t have the spicy heat that I like my pastrami to have, but it was a great home-made meat.  The ingredients worked well together and the burger was bloody brilliant.

The Rhinelander burger is made up of: pretzel bun, zucchini and corn relish, 8 ounce burger patty, peameal bacon, carmelized onions, pommery beer mustard, Jalapeno havarti cheese, lettuce, onion, chipotle mayo, bun and coarse salt and cracked black pepper on top of the bun.  The smaller pretzel bun is a great choice, since it’s flatter than other buns. It had a nice salt element to it and it supported the burger and condiments well.  I think the pictures and the ingredient list speaks for the deliciousness of the burger.  We ate the burgers 5 hours ago and the desire to have another one RIGHT NOW is fantastically overwhelming.

Burgers come with a side and a soft drink in a throwback glass bottle.  I chose the sweet potato fries and they were pretty good. After eating the burger, though, the fries were just an aside.

My two complaints about Goody’s: their hours are a pain (Monday to Friday, closed after 7 PM and closed on weekends) and it will take multiple visits for us to try all of their burgers. Fortunately, our will is strong, our cholesterol count is admirably low and Goody’s: your burgers are damn good.

Goody’s Diner
17-33 Manville Rd, Toronto ON M1L 4J7

Goody's Diner on Urbanspoon

Blog post by Richard, food photos by Robin, menuboard photo by Richard

All of the photos in this post were taken with the Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 VC, which I reviewed for PHOTONews. See my review on the PHOTONews blog here.

La Carnita’s Pop-Up Taco Party

27 Aug

One of the hottest new restaurants in Toronto isn’t even a restaurant. On Thursday I had a unique opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the purveyors of what is arguably Toronto’s best taco: La Carnita, headed up by Andrew Richmond who, when he’s not making tacos, is the creative director at OneMethod digital & design agency.

La Carnita Pop-Up Taco Shop at F-Stop in Toronto

In the beginning, La Carnita was nothing more than a concept test. The concept: A pop-up taco shop. Buy a piece of limited edition art, get a few free tacos. Matt Webb, one of the graphic designers at OneMethod, made the logo and the iconic “meat-head” artwork that was handed out on the first pop-up day. Andrew originally just wanted to see what the reaction would be. “I think that the concept has been proven successful,” he said. The first pop-up was at lunchtime in the OneMethod studio (where Andrew and the rest of the La Carnita crew work) and sold out in 45 minutes. The second pop-up (also in OneMethod’s studio) with guest chef Scott Vivian of Beast Restaurant sold out in just 18 minutes. Their 3rd pop-up and their stand at Food Truck Eats were just as successful.

Last night’s pop-up was different from previous pop-ups because it was at a bar where patrons were able to get a beer and eat their tacos at a table and it was the first pop-up so far to happen at after work hours, starting at 6pm. The guest chef for the evening was Top Chef Canada contestant Steve Gonzales, formerly the Chef de Cuisine at Origin.

Anyone who’s watched Top Chef Canada will remember Chef Steve Gonzales as the fun-loving Latino chef who liked to put a modern spin on classic Latino food. So it’s fitting that he would partner up with La Carnita, making a taco called “The Latino Five-Spice”. I got to follow Steve and Andrew and the rest of the La Carnita crew around for the afternoon to see what goes into preparing for a pop-up restaurant.

Steve Gonzales grilling some corn for the La Carnita Pop-Up Taco Shop at F-Stop in Toronto

When I got to F-Stop, Steve was outside on the patio grilling corn that was still in the husks for a tomatillo corn salsa while tinny Latino groves played from his iPod. He explained that by soaking the husks in water and making sure that they’re moist during the grilling process, you can get an amazing smoky flavour on the corn. Andrew said that he loves having guest chefs come in to cook with him because he learns a lot from them, and I can see why. I learned a lot about grilling just from watching Steve and asking questions.

Grilling corn for Steve Gonzales' La Carnita taco

Grilled spanish onions for Steve Gonzales of Top Chef Canada's taco for La Carnita's pop-up taco shop

Grilled corn for Steve Gonzales' La Carnita taco

For every pop-up, there’s a new location and therefore new challenges to overcome regarding the space. Deep fryers and tables were moved around, then moved back, then moved around again as Andrew and the crew tried to find the best possible set-up for the evening. I asked Andrew if he found the uncertainty to be frustrating, but he said that it’s one of his favourite things about the pop-up. This is clearly a man who likes a challenge.

Throughout the afternoon, everyone was going back and forth between F-Stop and OneMethod studios where the kitchen was located. Luckily, the two were only a few minutes’ walk from each other.

Interior of OneMethod, home of La Carnita

Illustrations at OneMethod, home of La Carnita

OneMethod, home of La Carnita

OneMethod’s studio is super cool, and it’s the kind of place that I’d hope to be lucky enough to work at if I were a graphic designer. I loved the quotes on the office doors. My favourite one was, “People ignore design that ignores people.” I also give kudos to everyone who continued to work hard all through the preparations for La Carnita, and to Andrew who was managing to do design approvals in between prep tasks.

Steve Gonzales prepping for La Carnita in OneMethod's kitchen

Steve Gonzales and Andrew Richmond prepping for La Carnita in OneMethod's kitchen

Steve Gonzales' charred tomatillo and corn salsa for La Carnita

The atmosphere in the kitchen was all business as Andrew and Steve finished their last bit of prep before heading back down to F-Stop to start cooking. Steve’s salsa was starting to take shape and the discarded corn husks were filling the whole studio with a warm smokey smell. I wonder if the graphic designers were getting hungry as I was?

Meathead arrives on the scene for La Carnita

The line-up outside La Carnita at 5pm, one hour before opening!

Matt carried “meat-head” down to F-Stop, a sign that things were really getting close. One hour before the doors opened there was already a line-up.

Prepping for the crowd at La Carnita

The Voltron fish taco from La Carnita

Steve Gonzales' Latino Five-Spice Taco for La Carnita

Look at these beautiful little things! The Voltron fish taco (which I raved about in my post from Food Truck Eats) was looking just as dashing and delicious as I remember it. Steve’s Latino Five-Spice taco was a beautiful grilled adobo pork loin, re-fried black beans and charred tomatillo and corn salsa. It was true to Steve’s “Latino with a twist” style of cooking. The pork loin was moist and tender, and the salsa took it to another level. It had a perfect balance of spice, acidity and sweetness with a touch of smokiness.

Dushan Milic, La Carnita's featured artist, holding one of his prints.

And let’s not forget about the art! Thursday’s artist was Dushan Milic. Go and take a look at his work! I was really impressed by both his illustrations and his client list. He’s done work for The Walrus, The Globe and Mail and the New York Times, to name a few.

Andrew Richmond making tacos for La Carnita

Andrew Richmond and Steve Gonzales making tacos for La Carnita

The La Carnita Crew

Andrew Richmond and Steve Gonzales making tacos for La Carnita

In about 90 minutes, 200 limited edition prints were sold and over 400 tacos were made. It was a thing of beauty to see how smoothly everything went. These guys are like a well-oiled machine. Considering that none of them has had professional training in the culinary arts (aside from Steve, of course), they worked like pros.

Andrew Richmond of La Carnita with Steve Gonzales

Andrew, Josh, Kurt and Steve - The La Carnita Crew

So what’s next for La Carnita? They want to keep doing pop-ups and have a few more ambitious ideas floating around (a whole-pig taco dinner with another well-known guest chef  might be in the works but you didn’t hear that from me). Although nothing is in the works yet, Andrew would love to open up a full-out taquería where he could serve his tacos along with craft beer and local wines in a laid-back atmosphere. He worries that there might be a negative reaction from people who want them to continue to do the underground pop-up thing, but suspects that most people will be pretty receptive to the idea. I think so too. I mean, can you really imagine someone saying, “I don’t like being able to get this Voltron fish taco whenever I want it. I liked it better when I could only get one every 2 weeks and I had to wait in a huge line first!” ….Yeah. Neither can I.

To find out when the next pop-up will be, follow @la_carnita on Twitter.

La Carnita will be at the Toronto Underground Market on September 24.

Beast 120

22 Jul

I know that I just wrote about having brunch at Beast, but I was there again last week for 120, which is their version of happy hour. During 120 you can get snacks and wine for $5 and beer for just $4. There’s a special menu just for 120 and it changes all the time. Here’s a little sample of what you can look forward to:

The "poutine" at Beast restaurant in Toronto

The "poutine" at Beast restaurant in Toronto

My first dish was the “poutine”. Yes, on the menu it’s in brackets. Why? Because, as you can see from the second photo, it’s not made with fries. Instead, it’s made with a moist, fluffy deep-friend gnocchi. Gnocchi + poutine? The minute that I saw this I knew that I needed to try it. The meat and gravy element comes in the form of a braised beef cheek, and the cheese curds were your classic squeaky cheese curds. I loved this and I hope that it stays on the menu because I’d order it again next time without thinking twice.

Shrimp po' boy at Beast restaurant in Toronto

I was dining with my friend Heather of Food, Travel and Fun with an Uptown Girl and her friends, and she ordered the spot prawn po’ boy. I’ve never had a po’ boy before and would have nothing to compare this to, but Heather liked it and said that the spread was very interesting. I just thought that it was so cute and pretty… I had to take a photo.

Fried zucchini blossoms at Beast restaurant in Toronto

My last snack of the evening was the fried zucchini blossoms. This was my first time trying zucchini blossoms and I thought that these were fantastic. The blossoms themselves were very buttery and the coating had a nice light crunch to it, and they had some pimento cheese in them to give them some bite and liven them up a bit.

Beast has a very heavy focus on local and seasonal ingredients (they proudly display a list of their suppliers on their website), which is why the menu changes so often. It’s one of the things that I love about eating there: You know that you’re always going to get something fresh and something new and exciting every time. The beer and wine list is all local as well, with some great Ontario craft beers like Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion and Neustadt 10w30 (which was what I had), and wines from Flatrock, Lailey and Rosehall Run.

Beast 120 runs from 5pm to 7pm Wednesday-Saturday.

96 Tecumseth St.
Toronto, ON

Enoteca Sociale

8 Jul

A mostly wordless post about a delicious dinner of house-made pasta at Enoteca Sociale:

Postcard at Enoteca Sociale

Rabbit Pasta at Enteca Sociale

Pasta at Enoteca Sociale

Pasta at Enoteca Sociale

Potatoes at Enoteca Sociale

Roasted cauliflower at Enoteca Sociale

Sfingi at Enoteca Sociale

Tiramisu at Enoteca Sociale

Enoteca Sociale
1288 Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 534-1200

Enoteca Sociale on Urbanspoon

Brunch @ Beast

15 Jun

The patio

On Sunday morning, Richard and I were in the mood for a leisurely brunch on a cozy patio, and Beast’s quiet patio fit the bill.

Maple Bacon Donut

We started by ordering the special that was advertised on the menu board in front of the restaurant: Maple bacon donuts! These donuts would send Homer Simpson into fits of ecstasy. The maple glaze was thick and sweet, the candied bacon was salty and crunchy, the donut was soft and moist. What else can I say? I want another one right now.

Sparkling wines

We were both in the mood for a sparkling wine, so Richard ordered the Prosecco and I tried the 2010 Hinterland “Ancestral”, a sparkling rosé from Prince Edward County. It was sweeter than most rosés that I’ve had, and I really enjoyed it.

Huevos Rancheros

I had the huevos rancheros. On the menu it described them as having chorizo and I was expecting to receive a dish that had some chorizo, but instead I was pleased to see that there was a whole sausage sitting between my eggs and that rich, spicy sauce. The eggs were fluffy and moist, the tortilla was crunchy, the chorizo was spicy and so was the sauce. It was very bold and flavourful.

Cardamom Pancakes

Richard’s dish was the complete opposite of mine! His cardamom pancakes were fluffy and sweet, and the pork belly added a slight saltiness. I didn’t taste a lot of his because I was too busy with my own, but I might order it for myself next time if I’m in the mood for something sweet.

Tater Tots

Ivy Knight heard that we were going for brunch at Beast and encouraged us to try the tater tots. They were so good! They came as adorable little popcorn-sized bits with sweet chili sauce and sour cream to dip them in. They were light and fluffy with just a little bit of crunch on the outside… I could have had the whole plate to myself.

The menu

There were lots of other things in the menu that I wanted to try, including a water buffalo poutine made with gnocchi instead of french fries! What is it with water buffalo these days, Toronto chefs? This is the second place in a week that I’ve visited where it’s been on the menu. Not that I’m complaining… I loved the water buffalo liver at Foxley and I can’t wait to try this poutine next time we visit! I’ve also heard that the sticky toffee pudding is to die for, and they have spot prawns and grits, which was one of my favourite things at the now closed Hoof Cafe.

The first/last time we had Beast’s brunch, it was in the winter and we chose it partially because of their cozy and tranquil space. I kind of wish that we hadn’t waited this long to make a return visit. This place definitely fills a void in the creative brunch scene in Toronto, and with their lovely patio on a quiet residential street it’s the perfect spot for a tranquil Sunday brunch.

96 Tecumseth St.
Toronto, ON

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