Sunday, March 28, 2010

For the Love of Cake

The hunt for Toronto's best cupcake begins right now!

I'd been hearing a lot about a new bakery in Liberty Village called For The Love of Cake. One Sunday after eating at Mildred's Temple Kitchen, I thought since I was close by, I'd pop in and see what all the hype was about, that is if I could find the place. The very small shop is tucked away in an almost deserted alleyway, hard to find if you don't know where you're going. I'm sure that will change once the rest of the stores are leased but for now, Cake is definitely a little lonely.

At first glimpse the dozens of colourful cupcakes on display look exciting. So many flavours and options to choose from. Then, after getting a closer look, the fascination fades. To be honest, they just looked like they weren't going to taste good. And unfortunately it was true. To each their own, some may like very buttery cream frosting but I usually don't, and couldn't even get through a whole one of these cupcakes. We tried a chocolate, carrot cake, and the maple bacon, interesting in theory but executed wrong. The icing on the carrot cake cupcake seemed a bit off as well. No need to waste calories here.

On to the next!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cross My Heart, Hope to Diet

I got these shots walking down an alley of back driveways from The Hoof Cafe on Dundas to my friend Daniel's on Queen Street. One of the tag artists seemed to have a thing about dieting.

Universal Grill

If you feel like indulging in some big ass baked pancakes, check out the ones at Universal Grill. They can be a bit overwhelming at first but once you get going, it's hard to stop. They have a fruit version and chocolate, which could also work as a brunch dessert to share after your mains. I didn't really find anything else one the menu that I wanted though, so a large puffy pancake it was. I also tried the heuvos racheros which was really good and not overly spicy. And if you're in the mood for latkes, they have them too, although we didn't try them out in fear we'd keel over.

This old school diner at the corner of Dupont and Shaw is busy for brunch, bringing in the neighbourhood folk and hipsters alike. And like I say in a lot of my posts, go early! On a Sunday morning there was a line outside before they opened.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Go west on Queen Street, and then keep going, and then keep going some more, and you'll end up at Roncesvalles Avenue. But just before, nuzzled in a row of shops, is Local Kitchen and Wine Bar. Depending on where you are in the city, it's worth the commute. We were a party of 7, attempting a Sunday night dinner, so I called the day before and asked about reservations. They don't take them. The polite man on the phone pretty much told me that we were screwed and that there would be lots of people waiting for their 6pm open. Well, we took our chances and happened to luck out. We got there at around 5:30pm to only two other people chilling outside. But as more people trickled down the street and the restaurant officially opened their doors, the place was almost full after everyone was seated.

The restaurant is small. You can see the kitchen at the back from anywhere you sit. We were seated at the coolest table there - an old door, turned into a table. The menu is tiny but appealing, and the thought of homemade pasta, an instant turn on. We started off with some drinks, creations you haven't seen anywhere else. Penny's cousin - bacon washed bourbon, maple syrup, grapefruit juice and grapefruit bitters, Professore's Neproni - gin, campari, and house infused cointreau, and The Sicilian Triangle - averna, white rum, pomegranate, orange, lemon and pineapple. I preferred the triangle - it was light, delicious and fruity. But if you're feeling something stronger, go with the first two.

The Sicilian Triangle

Professore's Neproni (it's basically all alcohol, not that there's anything wrong with that!)

The first two dishes we got - melt in your mouth. The crostini topped with chicken liver pate, so rich and so good. We ordered two for the table. I could have probably had one all to myself. The next melt in your mouth - the Ontario Berkshire Pancetta (maple cured then smoked). The meat was so tender and flavorful from the maple drizzled all over it, Daniel declared it was one of the most delicious things he's ever tasted. That's a bold statement coming from a chef and major foodie, but everyone at the table agreed.

We also ordered the beet carpaccio salad, venison meatballs, meat tortellini with mushrooms, bone marrow and lemon zest, smoked potato gnocchi, pepper duck egg pasta and the pork belly with lentils and a quail egg. We shared it all and loved it all.

We loved it all except for dessert. It was disappointing after having such a great meal, the desserts falling flat. One was a simple chocolate cake, very moist but nothing special. The other - a sort of pistachio cannoli.

On our way out there was a friendly lady peering into Locals front window, and when I say friendly, I mean she looked slightly crazy. She asked 'how was your dinner? I just ate at Mcdonalds and I'm so full!' It didn't stop there... "Is it expensive? The food looks so delicious!" As we walked to the car, one of the staff came out on the street to say goodbye, our lady friend shouted bye as well. I guess it is true, local loves you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Good Bite

Locals flock to this Yonge and Eglinton greasy spoon staple because of its cheap food and cheerful service. It's been around since 1969, so they know what they're doing.
Get all your basics here for a reasonable price, perfect for a low key weekend meal...or if you're hungover.