Toronto Restaurant Tour: Round 1

Aaaaand I’m back.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!! Mine was action-packed, which would have been fabulous if I wasn’t coughing up a lung. After two months of living out of suitcases, sleeping in strange beds, and literally traveling across a continent, my body is finally saying “enough.” Okay body, you win. Instead of exercising, I’ve been feeding it. There seems to be no better way to celebrate moving to Canada’s biggest city than a weekend of testing out all the wonderful food it has to offer.

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There’s a lovely place down the street that serves cheap big salads. I don’t use the term “big salad” loosely, it is definitely Susan-sized.

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They also have a wood-fired stove and have really good pizza. Lots of toppings, amazing crust. Good price. I can see myself coming here a lot :)

Also close by is this quaint little coffee shop, where I currently sit, filled with comfy chairs and a welcoming staff.

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Pictured is a chocolate cinnamon pastry of sorts. It tasted much better than it looks. Their pastries are all dense, but super flaky, which in my opinion is the best way to have them. Apparently they come from a popular bakery in Toronto called Miss Cora’s Kitchen.

Remember that giant enchilada from our first day here?? Well Sara and I got two more meals out of it.

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For breakfast on Saturday, we cut the leftovers in half and topped each with a fried egg. Voila! A Mexican breakfast! This was SO filling. Eggs + beans + cheese = no hunger signals for five hours.

Once again, the sustenance was required, for we had another long day ahead of us.

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Shopping!! Sara and I had big plans of starting on Queen West and making our way to the second-hand shops in Kensington. But we never made it off the first street!! I picked up some very cute items which I’m sure you will see over the course of the summer. My wardrobe was reduced to one suitcase before I left New Brunswick, so my circulation these days is pretty small :P

We eventually started to get the hunger tickle around 2pm. Sara mentioned there was a great place called Fresh around the corner and I jumped. I’ve heard all about this place from Angela!

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It’s a pretty popular vegan restaurant in Toronto that also offers up great juices. I highly suggest you peruse their menu. It was so hard deciding on something!!

I started with a juice.

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I’m not a huge juice person, but I thought it couldn’t hurt with my wicked cold. Went with the Immune Boost: carrot, beet, apple, ginger, vitamin C, echinacea.

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It was actually really good! Only complaint is that it was warm, could have used a few ice cubes.

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Sara started with a carrot coriander soup.

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Which I had many bites of, for the sake of “the sickess.” The toasted coconut on top was a nice touch.

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Sara also ordered a big salad, but I can’t for the life of me remember what kind it was. The crispy tofu on top was really good though!

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Fresh is famous for their “bowls” so I knew it’s what I had to go for. I settled with the Jerusalem: hummus, grilled spinach, tomato, cucumber, parsely, red onion, sunflower sprouts, olive oil, tamari, mixed herbs, lemon & chili powder.

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I asked for it on soba noodles, but they brought it rice. I also asked for marinated tofu cubes for extra protein. It was a huge bowl!! I couldn’t finish it. Which is saying a lot.

The waitress asked me if I wanted hot sauce and I thought why not…

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I have no idea what this hot sauce was, but it was good!! Fresh will definitely be a re-visit for me :)

The eating didn’t end there though, ohno. By 6:30 we’d made our way to Lemongrass too meet up with our Aunt Heather. Apparently it was the first Thai restaurant to open in the city!

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We all started with a spring roll appetizer, I went for the “non-crispy” kind with chicken.

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That peanut dipping sauce was to die for. Omg. It took everything I had not to stick my finger in it and just eat it that way.

The three of us then split three dishes:

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Holy Basil Crab. Delicious, but super messy to get into. The crab wasn’t shelled but covered in sauce. Tricky!!

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Bok choy. The token green.

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Pad thai. With chicken and shrimp. I’m not a huge noodle person, but really enjoyed this!

My plate:

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My plate, times two. 

Dessert was honey ginger tea, again, for the sake of “the sickness.”

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This tea was SO good!!! Not my usual kind of flavour, but I would get it again and again. I have a feeling they made it themselves with real honey and ginger, and not from a tea bag.

Me and Heather!

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Thank you for everything Heather!! I’ve already promised to take her out to “Toronto’s #1 gelato place” when I get my first pay check :)

The family bonding didn’t stop there. We then rushed off to meet up with my two cousins, one of which was my bestie growing up.

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Some of my best childhood and teenage memories were shared with Ellen! I’m super excited to be in the same city as her again. We’re amidst cooking up a stellar fitness plan, so I foresee more fun times in our future :) I may be leaving some family behind, but it’s pretty nice to be close to other family now!

In all, Sara and I were out and about for 12 hours yesterday, leaving at noon and returning at midnight. Thanks to a newly bought eye mask, I conked out for a solid 8. I could have slept longer, but alas, we had more eating engagements to attend.

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Sara was super excited about brunch today at the Free Times Cafe. As soon as we arrived, I understood why.

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The owner started chatting with us and said she started the Sunday brunch years ago as a nod to a huge brunch your Jewish grandmother may have made. Everything is made at the cafe, including the breads and smoked fish. Yesplease.

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First trip included pita, hummus, beet salad, a pickle, some crab cake thingy.

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Challah french toast and smoked salmon scrambled eggs. The french toast was my favourite of this plate. I’ve been told that challah is the best bread for french toast and I am now a believer!!

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Potato latke topped with an apple sauce and a cheese blintz topped with a berry sauce. The latke was amazing because it was deep-fried. And let’s face it, deep frying things makes them delicious. The blintz I could have gone without. The texture was weird and I didn’t like ricotta. Not for me I guess!

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Did I mention there was live Klezmer music?? There was live Klezmer music.

Second plate!

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I missed some of the breads the first time around, so I grabbed two pieces. One topped with a homemade smoked salmon cream cheese the other with havarti and smoked herring. In the back was my second favourite thing from the buffet – a beet and smoked herring salad. Sounds strange but it was dreamy!! I think the base for it was cream cheese or sour cream or something. Awesome.

The desserts!

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Not entirely sure what all of these are. The thing in the back is an apple streudel of sorts. The pinwheel in the front had a date puree. The chocolate square was like a chocolate mousse cake (excellent). That brown clump was pretty interesting. My first thought was that it was a butterscotch fudge thinky, but it had little sugary pieces in it reminiscent of cotton candy!! Sara said it could have been halvah, but I’m not sure if it fits the bill. Anyone out there know??

 

Well, that just about wraps up my first weekend of eating in the city!! I’ve already been exposed to so much new food, and it’s only just a small microscopic dent in what Toronto has to offer. However, once I hit publish, I’m walking down to the closest store to pick up a giant bunch of kale to make a green salad the size of my head. I am then going to lay in bed reading a book for the rest of the night. It would be nice if I no longer sound like I smoked a pack of cigarettes and downed a pint of Jack Daniels before my job interview tomorrow!! Operation: Get a Job is now in full swing. Wish me luck – I might need it!

 

EDIT: Don’t forget! There’s a Toronto meet-up happening next Sunday. E-mail me at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com for details!

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Posted on July 4, 2010, in Restaurants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. WHOOO Yay for being in Toronto!

    I am going to meet you on Sunday (!!) BUT we need to meet up soon :D

    I LOVE Queen West, and, well, we all know Fresh is god’s gift to Toronto ;) SO good!

    Good luck with the job search!

    xo
    Kris

    • Kristin! I’m pretty free all week between dropping off resumes, let me know if you’re free and we can get together even before Sunday :)

  2. greensandjeans

    So many good job vibes coming your way!

  3. Ooooh I’ve always wanted to try Fresh, but I don’t really live close to any and it seems a long way to go for a salad or bowl :( Hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to try it because it looks awesome!

  4. Oooh, good luck with the interview!!! I’m sure you’ll do well!

  5. Katherine: What About Summer?

    You have been having some great food adventures! the eats all look great- how do you choose where to go?

    • I’ve been going out with people who all know the city, so they already have a few favourite places chosen. Otherwise I’d be lost!! :P

  6. Good luck with the job interview! I am sure you will do well.

    I am glad I live in a smaller town now. We ate out so much when we lived outside of Chicago! Hard on the wallet and the waistline.

  7. oh wow hello i would like one of EVERYTHING ON HERE!!
    good luck on the interview girly!

  8. Eeek!!! Job interview!!! I’m pulling for you Susan – I’m sure you’ll do great.

    And on the challah front …. drool…….  Now you kniw why I love it so! Now remember, in a pinch brioche is also a good substitute.

  9. I doubt anyone’s “Jewish grandmother” would have been making crab anything! ;)

    That doesn’t look like any halvah I’ve ever seen, but I suppose it COULD be… :/

    Good luck tomorrow!

    <3 <3

  10. Fresh is so, so, so good! I remember the late nights at work and ordering from there *sigh* sometimes I miss the city! :-)
    Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! :-)

  11. ooh i LOVE fresh!! i’ve eaten there twice and both times it was great. looks like a delicious weekend of eats. good luck with the job hunt – i’m in the same boat at the moment! :)

  12. You and the food look fabulous as always :)

    Good luck with the interview!!!

  13. the bok choy and peanut sauce, that’s all i would have needed. nice

    the juice was warm b/c raw foodies would say that room temp is better assimilated by the body thereby fresh juice, fresh enzymes and trace nutrients, all are going to be at peak at room temp

    sorry bout your cold!

    the jewish food…scott would be in freakin heaven since his grandma’s died ages ago and i can’t cook that kind of jewish soul food!

  14. Sounds like you could go broke with all the good eats there. Good luck with Operation Get a Job you’ll need it :-)

  15. holy sheet, i’m starving now my love!

  16. That’s some good meals you’ve had there! You know, we joke that all Jewish holidays can be summed up by, “We won the war…let’s EAT!” Latkes and challah are both kinda amazing. I’ve been known to polish off half a loaf in one sitting…or heck, one 10-minute car ride. I can’t buy it because I do not understand moderation when challah is involved. It doesn’t last long enough to make French toast…whoops!

  17. Best of luck, dear Susan!!! And god you’ve been chowing down some freaking good food! Wow!

  18. My word your eats look amazing! Thanks for the link to the Fresh menu, I have loads of ideas from it that I’m going to try and recreate for myself at home x

  19. Good luck on the job front! Wow your eats look pretty amazing, jealous! x x

  20. Good luck on your job interview!! If you get the opportunity, I suggest Pizzaiolo for some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in Toronto. They have lots of locations across the city!

  21. Fresh is my favourite restaurant here in Toronto! Back in our single days my best friend and I would go every Friday night and it was also the setting for one of my first dates with my current boyfriend!

  22. That all looks amazing! I especially am intrigued by Fresh. I love places like that and wish there were more like it where I live. Sounds like it was a wonderful day.

  23. My mom loves smoked herring, but it always freaked me out. I guess I need to be a little fearless and give it a try!

  24. GOOD LUCK AT YOUR INTERVIEW DEAR SUSAN!!!! CAN’T WAIT TO CATCH UP!!!!

  25. haha your “big salad” reference made me think of that one episode of seinfeld. do you watch it? if not, disregard this part of the comment.. anyway! enchilada eggs? that is a leftover transformation i fully support! all the eats in toronto look awesome. that brunch has it all! best of luck on your job hunt.. fingers crossed for you! xoxoxo

  26. Fresh is my favorite restaurant! I’m vegetarian and love being able to eat anything on the menu. Even my meat loving boyfriend likes it there. You should try the cupcakes, they’re super yum!

  27. keep the restaurant reviews coming susan! LOVE them. :)

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