ES­SEN­TIAL EATER­IES

The best sum­mer spots in Toronto, by genre

NOW Magazine - Hot Summer Guide - - CONTENTS - By STEVEN DAVEY

When cal­cu­lat­ing the cost of a com­plete meal, we in­clude the av­er­age price of a starter, a main, a dessert, a glass of wine or beer, 15 per cent tax, plus 15 per cent tip. The prices listed for bev­er­ages are ap­prox­i­mate. When NOW la­bels a restau­rant “bar­rier-free,” it has at least one en­trance where there are no steps, its ta­bles are rea­son­ably spaced and its wash­rooms are lo­cated on the same floor, although they’re not nec­es­sar­ily equipped with as­sis­tance.

= pa­tio

Bar­be­cue

ñPHIL’S ORIG­I­NAL BBQ

838 Col­lege, at Oss­ing­ton, 416-532-8161. This is as close as Hog­town gets to real Kansas City bar­be­cue. De­spite a con­fus­ing name change a few years back, Phil Ny­man’s low-key bean­ery re­tains its non­de­script digs; dig the grub – su­per slow- cooked, melt-in-the­mouth stuff with first-rate sides. Af­ter pig­ging out, fol­low the smoke, have a peek in the backyard and check out a smoker so large it cooks 250 pounds of meat at a time. Bonus: Phil’s take-home merch line of hot sauces, T-shirts and base­ball caps. Best: su­perb slow­cooked South­ern US-style bar­be­cue un­like any found lo­cally; gor­geous pulled pork, meaty moist spicerubbed and/or sauced pork ribs, dis­in­te­grat­ing beef brisket and grill- charred chicken served as combo plat­ters or as sub­stan­tial sand­wiches sided with tremen­dous smoker-baked beans strewn with even more pork, cheesy Venezue­lan cacha­pas pancakes, hush puppy corn­meal dumplings, clas­sic slaw or potato salad kicked with horse­rad­ish. Com­plete meals for $30 per per­son ($20 lunch), in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a pre­mium beer. Av­er­age Main $12/$10. Open for lunch Mon­day to Satur­day noon to 3 pm, for din­ner Mon­day to Thurs­day 5 to 9 pm, Fri­day and Satur­day 5 to 10 pm. Closed Sun­day, hol­i­days. Li­censed. Ac­cess: one step at door, wash­rooms in base­ment. NNNN

Café

ñMORNING GLORY

457 King E, at Gilead Place, 416-703- 4728. The unof­fi­cial off­shoot of Aun­ties and Un­cles of­fers a sim­i­lar all- day break­fast slash soup ’n’ sand­wich lineup but fo­cuses more on the first meal of the day. Qual­ity in­gre­di­ents and first- class at­ten­tion to de­tail make this diminu­tive diner the big­gest thing to hit Cork­town since the Great Fire of 1904. Bonus: read all about MG’s daily spe­cials – as well as the off-thewall ru­mi­na­tions of its staff – at www.morn­ing­glory.ca/news.html. Best: on pre-proofed house­baked breads, regular sand­wiches like sweet tuna salad with tart green ap­ple on cia­batta, or Bavar­i­anstyle Men­non­ite ham and sharp ched­dar on chewy baguette, or one- offs such as cur­ried chicken breast on Ital­ian roll; Asian-in­spired soups like spicy squash purée with crushed Szechuan pep­per­corns, or com­plex lentil with lime; whop­ping omelettes wrapped around havarti ’n’ leak or Brie paired with pear; more than com­pe­tent cap­puc­cino and retro rasp­berry crum­ble. Com­plete meals for $12 per per­son, in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a fruit nec­tar. Av­er­age Main $6. Open Mon­day, Tues­day, Thurs­day and Fri­day 8 am to 3 pm, Satur­day and Sun­day 9 am to 3 pm. Closed Wed­nes­day. Un­li­censed. Ac­cess: two steps at door, wash­rooms in base­ment. NNNN THE REC­TORY

102 Lakeshore, Ward’s Is­land, 416-203-2152. Open very spo­rad­i­cally in the past, this lovely is­land get­away just off the south-shore board­walk now keeps regular hours year round. Although its morethan- com­pe­tent card of up­scale sand­wiches, designer sal­ads and straight­for­ward pas­tas might not be as well re­ceived on the main­land, the menu could con­sist of beans on toast and Spam frit­ters and most still would be wowed by the bu­colic sur­round­ings. Bonus: other than wind rustling through the tow­er­ing pines over­head, si­lence. Warn­ing: Reser­va­tions rec­om­mended in good weather. Best: to start, roasted zucchini and as­para­gus purée dol­loped with lemony crème fraîche; grilled chicken panini dressed with oven- dried tomato and sided with a roasted corn and dried berry rel­ish and mixed greens; grilled On­tario lamb chops with minty blue­berry chut­ney and cur­ried cous­cous; for dessert, is­land baker Louisa Mi­lan’s fa­mous choco­late cake. Com­plete meals for $45 per per­son ($30 at lunch or brunch), in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Av­er­age Main $15. Open daily 10 am to 10 pm. Closed Mon­day and Tues­day. Li­censed.

Ac­cess: bar­rier-free. NNNN VI­ENNA HOME BAK­ERY

626 Queen W, at Markham, 416-703-7278. Though not as well known as her su­per­star- chef sib­ling Greg, Gay Couil­lard has an equally stel­lar pedi­gree. A con­sum­mate baker and true Queen Street orig­i­nal, she’s been turn­ing out posh break­fasts and su­per south- of-France quiche-and-salad lunch com­bos from this retro spot for 20 years. But it’s her fruit-tas­tic pies and cas­sis-soaked cakes that cause the most fuss. Most morn­ings, and es­pe­cially for week­end brunch, you’ll find a group out front wait­ing for the au­then­tic 40s lun­cheonette to open. Best: Lip­tauer cheese sand­wich on house-baked whole wheat toast; sea­sonal egg dishes like smooth ri­cotta and caramelized onion quiche with beet ’n’ feta salad; ve­gan black bean bur­ri­tos; for dessert, old-fash­ioned sky-high ap­ple pie, sticky date pud­ding and cran­berry ap­ple crum­ble; week­end- only poached Eggs Bom­bay on house toast with cur­ried co­conut-milk hol­landaise and home fries. Com­plete meals for $10, in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a cof­fee. Av­er­age Main $6. Open Wed­nes­day to Satur­day 10 am to 7 pm, Sun­day 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Mon­day and Tues­day. Un­li­censed. Ac­cess: bar­rier-free but

nar­row room, wash­rooms in base­ment. NNNN

EASY

1645 Queen W, at Ron­ces­valles, 416-537-4893. Sur­rounded by junk shoppes, Peter Mor­ri­son’s funky lun­cheonette at the far end of Queen has been a hit with Park­dale artsy types since it launched five years ago. The rea­son: a crowded, ca­cophonous store­front of­fer­ing a rea­son­ably priced card of all- day brunch/break­fast along­side sub­stan­tial soup ’n’ sand­wich com­bos. Warn­ing: week­end line­ups! Best: Huevos Divor­ci­a­dos – two eggs topped with both red and green sal­sas, with cool re­fried black beans, chunky tomato-spiked gua­camole, rose­mary-tossed home fries and a toasted baguette with home­made an­cho chili jam; a pair of soft-boiled eggs sided with toast sol­diers ’n’ salad or fries; sig­na­ture sand­wiches like grilled chicken breast, av­o­cado, let­tuce and tomato on or­ganic, yeast-free spelt toast spread with chipo­tle mayo; retro Cobb salad with smoked turkey, hard-boiled egg, av­o­cado, ba­con and tomato in blue cheese dress­ing; to quaff, ba­nana latte smooth­ies, cheap pints, plonk by the tum­bler and jumbo Bloody Cae­sars. Com­plete meals for $17 per per­son, in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Av­er­age Main $9. Open daily 9 am to 5 pm. Li­censed. Ac­cess: bar­rier-free. NNN

MITZI’S

100 So­rau­ren, at Pear­son, 416-588-1234. So popular it’s opened a sib­ling spot – Mitzi’s Sis­ter on west Queen West – this quirky kid-friendly store­front lun­cheonette on a tree-lined street in Park­dale has been serv­ing for­mi­da­ble week­day lunches and week­end brunches for over a decade. Warn­ing: line­ups Satur­day and Sun­day. Best: at brunch, a con­stantly ro­tat­ing card of eggy things like thick chal­lah French toast dol­loped with ripe straw­ber­ries and whip­ping cream, sided with herbed home fries and brunch gar­nish; per­fectly poached eggs over wilted spinach chif­fon­ade; maple syruped lemon pop­py­seed pancakes tossed with pecans; plain scram­bled eggs for the rug rats; from the lunch card, apri­cot, date and pork meat loaf paired with warm potato salad and mesclun; pan­fried New­found­land cod cakes splashed with red-pep­per aïoli; lemon-basil-in­fused tuna salad sand­wich on sour­dough. Com­plete meals for $22 per per­son, in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a glass of plonk. Av­er­age Main $10. Open Mon­day to Fri­day 7:30 am to 4 pm; brunch Satur­day and Sun­day 9 am to 4 pm. Closed Mon­day. Li­censed. Ac­cess: one step at door, two steps

to wash­room on same floor. NNN

SAV­ING GRACE

907 Dun­das W, at Bell­woods, 416-703-7368. When owner/chef Mon­ica Miller’s de­cep­tively anony­mous space – white- on-white walls, min­i­mal­ist decor, 20 seats tops – opened five years ago, friends thought she was mad to open on this dreary in­ner- city strip. Now that Dun­das West is the snazz­i­est ad­dress around, they join the queue with the rest of us at her charm­ing café for straight­for­ward soups, sal­ads and sand­wiches priced to go easy on the pock­et­book. Bonus: On the hi-fi, a bril­liant mix tape fea­tur­ing the likes of the Tur­tles, Go-Be­tweens and Bacharach- era Dionne War­wick. Dou­ble bonus: copies of hip UK mu­sic bi­ble NME in the mag­a­zine rack (not for tak­ing home). Best: dev­il­ishly tex­tured corn cakes ac­com­pa­nied by chili-fired mango chut­ney and greens dressed with sun- dried tomato vinai­grette; week­day soups like Thai-style co­conut cream thick with bone­less breast, green beans, gar­lic chives, lemon­grass and bird chilies; such siz­able sand­wiches as grilled chicken, peameal, av­o­cado, tomato and let­tuce on raisin bread toast spread with rose­mary mayo; on the week­end, waf­fle du jour with real maple syrup, or very plain scram­bled eggs with pumper­nickle toast and oven­roasted home fries. Com­plete meals for $20 per per­son, in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Av­er­age Main $7. Open Mon­day to Fri­day 9 am to 3 pm; brunch Satur­day and Sun­day 10 am to 3 pm. Closed first Tues­day of ev­ery month, hol­i­days. Li­censed. Ac

cess: one step at door, wash­rooms up­stairs. NNN

freshdish

Strudel at the Butcher Over the past cou­ple of weeks, I’ve be­come a big fan of the oddly named

Chicago Butcher Shoppe (289 Ron­ces­valles, atWest­min­ster, 416-588-2001). It sells a stan­dard se­lec­tion of Eastern Euro­pean deli, but this Pol­ish bak­ery just two doors south of Freshwood Grill (See fea­ture, page 75) makes a mean ap­ple strudel. For two bucks you get a huge 6-inch square of inch-thick sugar-glazed phyllo-like pas­try spread with Old World fruit. Eat only half and still get stuffed.

Cam­bo­dian

KH­MER THAI

1018 St Clair W, at Ap­ple­ton, 416- 654- 0609. For­get pad thai. This gaudy west- side store­front spe­cial­izes in sub­tly spiced Cam­bo­dian dishes that com­bine in­flu­ences from neigh­bour­ing Viet­nam and Thai­land as well as those fur­ther afield – In­dia, Por­tu­gal, France. Bonus: the joint’s pre­vi­ously un­com­fort­able food- court- style seat­ing has been up­graded with regular ta­bles and chairs! Best: sub­stan­tial soups that verge on multi-por­tion stews, like hot and sour bamboo shoots, chicken and Asian egg­plant in coral­hued co­conut gravy, or Soup De­light, pineap­ple, tomato and Chi­nese cel­ery in a clear aro­matic broth det­o­nated with whis­pers of salty pra­hok (fer­mented fish paste) and galan­gal; Kh­mer Pan­cake, a rice flour omelette stuffed with gen­tly spiced ground chicken dunked into a com­plex sug­ary dip of chili, peanut and vine­gar; tamarind-tanged Sam­law Kh­mer chicken with car­rot, broc­coli and bell pep­per over jas­mine rice; lassi-like green tea shakes. Com­plete meals for $20 per per­son ($12 at lunch), in­clud­ing all taxes, tip and a Canada Dry. Av­er­age Main $8. Open Mon­day to Fri­day noon to 9 pm, Satur­day noon to 10 pm, Sun­day 5 to 9 pm. Un­li­censed. Ac­cess: one step at door, wash­rooms on same floor. NNN

Caribbean

ñISLAND THYME

872 Bathurst, at Lon­don, 416-538-9729. A laid­back Caribbean café, this bright ca­sual space of­fers cre­ative, rea­son­ably priced takes on familiar is­land­style grub. No wor­ries for those not in a hurry. What’s

Zorba’s Con­stanti­nos Cara­sou­los serves up old-school Greek.

Go for Tharo Ch­houk’s

soups at Kh­mer Thai.

Mauro Ma­rina’s (left) all-day break­fasts score at Tony

Cap­pel­lano’s Boom.

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