19.1.15

Beer and Quality Meats

http://www.beerandqualitymeats.com/

SHORT & SWEET
We randomly walked in, lured by the promise of $5 bourbons. Beer and Quality Meats (aka BQM) was surprisingly empty for a Thursday night, although it was -15 outside, so that might explain it. The $5 bourbons did not disappoint. 
We had the delicate Bulleit and a spicy Elijah Craig on the rocks, but regretted not eating a burger there. Our server Dwayne spent a bit of time chatting with us. Beer and Quality Meats around for six years. They ground their own meat for the burgers and about to expand the beer selection on tap to twelve from the current six.
We will likely be back here in a month or so when the updates to their selection are finished. BQM have friendly staff, a lively location and a sweet selection of local and not-so-local alcohol choices.

BQM Ossington on Urbanspoon

11.1.15

Easy Restaurant


http://easyrestaurant.ca/

We went to Easy Restaurant on late Sunday morning. The section of Queen Street parking adjacent is actually free until 1pm on Sundays which was a sweet surprise for us. Bright yellow lettering and lots of activity inside is difficult not to notice on this tranquil stretch of Queen.

APPEARANCE
Easy Restaurant has been there since 1999 and appears to be quite proud of it. Indeed, the Roncesvalles area went through (arguably still not finished) a massive transformation over the last few years. This joint probably saw it all with an ever-changing clientele. At any rate, Easy Restaurant is keeping true to its roots in spite of what happens around it. The aged wood look dominated the interior along with old movie posters adoring the walls. We also noticed a collection of rotary phones by the kitchen and a somewhat random car hood on the wall (might have missed something here with regard to its significance).

NOSE
We were welcomed by a Mustang decal on a glass door with a large message of only accepting cash and debit. All the writing is in a black font with a thick yellow stroke - Easy Rider movie tribute. A pleasant waitress got us all settled in a cozy corner by the door. The restaurant was full, but no waiting line.

SWIRL
We asked for their Classic Smoothie (strawberry, banana and OJ), West Coast Toast, and a Mexican Rider along with a bottomless coffee. Glancing around, we noticed that local beers appear to be in vogue here. On the other hand, looking at the menu, the wine selection was from Cote de Rhone…not so local. The menu proclaimed that local maple syrup and free-range Mennonite farm eggs were used.

PALATTE
The West Coast Toast was made of two pouched eggs, smoked salmon, red onion on English muffins with hollandaise sauce, dill and black caviar (the latter was more decoration than adding to taste). This dish was a very nice variation of a traditional benedict: originally constructed and with a twist. Our Mexican Rider came in a form of scrambled eggs with grilled chorizo and fresh jalapeño peppers on a soft corn tortilla. The dish also had some red salsa, sour cream and toasted baguette. It turned out to be too spicy for our taste (with fresh jalapeños), but a solid guarantee to wake up anyone ordering it. Their Original Smoothie was quite a good deal, a large cup of refreshing fruits was a decent idea for the spicy meal. Both dishes were served with a side of home made red skin fries or plain fresh leaf salad or a bit of both.

FINISH
We were somewhat disappointed by the lack of tea selection and a bland (although bottomless) coffee, but that normally is the case with traditional diners. Easy Rider is easy to recommend for a late breakfast on the edge of Parkdale. We need to venture in the area more often to discover other spots like that.

ps Easy Rider also went through a bit of an expansion. There is a King St. side area open weekends 11-3, plus a whole new location on College.

9.1.15

Wilbur Mexicana

wilburmexicana.com

I have been meaning to try this place out ever since it opened right by my work. The unique warm yellow wordmark and crowds of people sparked my interest.

APPEARANCE
Upon entering, we stepped on a floor mosaic with "Parke Davis 1912". We read up on Wilbur Lincoln Scoville a bit. He was an American pharmacist best known for his creation of the "Scoville Organoleptic Test", most heard of it a standardized Scoville scale. The mosaic is meaningful because the test and scale were devised in 1912 while Wilbur was working at the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company. It was meant to measure piquancy, or "hotness", of various chili peppers.

NOSE
Looking up, one can see plenty of trendy custom clipboards (menus) to the sides, followed by the cash registers. Above the registers are a few perforated boards with 3D letters - the drinks menu and a Wilbur How to Guide. We went for The Original Wilbur-rito (chicken) and their Classic Quesadillas. A pricier fish option is also available from the Wilbur-rito - Baja fish. The prices were reasonable overall. We were given a sign with a cute hot pepper illustration on it after we completed our order. 

SWIRL
It didn't take us long to find a spot in their stylish space, right under a mural with different hot pepper names. This was one of the many instances of casual writing on white tile inside the restaurant. Wilbur’s colour theme is clean & classy but it's the random primary colours and yellow elements that spice it all up. A few interior details to drool over in this hard loft space: very tall blackened out ceiling, comfortable pipe foot rests, tall chairs, marble table tops and a large custom light structure with chemical flasks ( a subtle tribute to Wilbur). The part that made sure we don't physically drool was the extremely loud hip-hop music. I asked the lady at the register if that is always the case and she didn't even seem to notice it, just said it varies. The music did not get any quieter throughout our experience, all songs with a beat to feel. If one has a slight headache coming in, beware!

PALATE
Our food didn't take long to arrive. The neatest part about the presentation was the casually dressed waiters. For all we knew, they were simply well-dressed customers. Their outfits had nothing in common. We were warned about the fresh hot chips on the side of the burrito. The chips were extremely oily (to be expected, I guess). The burrito itself was good, but nothing overly exciting. It came with black beans, pico de gallo, cheddar, jack, guac, lettuce, sour cream and the meat. The Quesadillas were extremely hard to eat, as their red oily sauce was dripping everywhere. Definitely not something one should have on a date or a business meeting. Ingredients wise - cheddar, jack, chicken tinga, poblano (a mild pepper), red pepper, onion. It came with a site of a guacamole - an extremely bland one. Not sure why they were afraid to add spices and herbs…

FINISH
In retrospect we missed step 4 of the “Wilbur How to Guide” - their salsa bar! A stand with plenty of salsas and bottled sauces - predominantly hot. In that area was also a draft soda fountain. These were definitely several essential things worth coming back for.
A quick note, the Wilbur wordmark was a bit excessive - cups, napkins, paper bags. Even though elegant, once repeated so many times, it loses its finesse. They can reply benefit from a secondary visual language to their brand perhaps the little illustrations?

Wilbur Mexicana on Urbanspoon

30.12.14

Wagamama Pastries and Cafe

http://www.wagamamapastries.com

Wagamama is a warm spot we keep on passing by in our morning walk to work.

SHORT & SWEET
On the door a note greets us stating: "No cash left on premises." There is no doubt that his neighborhood cafe has seen a lot of change for the 15 years it has been in the area.
Inside, dark red and beige walls warmed us as we entered. We ordered at the counter to a sweet lady with an Irish accent. She didn't get to the next customer until our order was complete. I must note, they have an excessive tea list. I went for their cold & flu tea, as I was feeling a bit under the weather. Cheri has their dark roast coffee. I quite liked its bitter taste. We took a seat at their old-style wooden chairs with our drinks. We had some of their home-made pastries - a croissant, cheese biscuit and carrot muffin. We did see another muffin flavor fogging up the glass, so there was no doubt about the freshness. We enjoyed all, but especially recommend their cheese biscuits. They also had a sandwich selection which we would love to try next time.
Chatting with the lady on the way out, we learned that the owners of this place are Japanese, the lady passed away but her husband is still in charge. Wagamama is actually a Japanese word for self-indulgence. That explains the little symbol above their glyphic serif logo.

FINISH
This place with traces of age definitely left a warm impression in our minds - a great refuge spot for anyone passing by on a dark, winter morning.

Wagamama Pastries & Cafe on Urbanspoon

7.12.14

Crepe & Co European Cafe

http://www.crepecocafe.ca

Cheri and I passed by this restaurant on Nuit Blanche but didn't think much of it at that time: another generic crepe spot, with a name that is easy to confuse with their competition. After we received a bunch of flyers promoting the place, we decided to support a neighborhood business.

APPEARANCE
With their light weight typeface, the brand is definitely going for a trendy, clean feel. All wall glass windows contributed to the look.

NOSE & SWIRL
Inside, the brick wall with large chalkboards gives a sense of warmth. I have to say, I was impressed by their enveloping idea of matching all crepes with a beer or wine suggestions. We were here a bit too early to test that out but it is definitely something worth to experience.

PALATE
After we ordered at the front counter we picked our seat. There are plenty of options - bar-like tall chairs, a few booths and cafe like tables. A nice ambient light comes from their unique monitor skylights - worms-ioeye view of French buildings. After sipping on our coffee and tea, our Blinchici order came. To our surprise they were not Russian Blinchici but a lot like
beignets - airy dough covered with some icing sugar, crème fresh, mint leafs and a side of raspberry jam.
Next we shared their Galette Au Sarasin - buckwheat crepe with ham, Swiss cheese, egg, a side of béchamel sauce and greens. A filling breakfast dish, overall. It was interesting to see the egg remain in tact.
Lastly came our Dulce De Leche crepe. With plenty of pecans, and peach garnish, it was a caramel delight.

FINISH
The kitchen staff at the cashier both looked after all of our needs and addressed our picky request. Both were also checking in on us once in a while. We really enjoyed our experience at this restaurant, and will be back for an evening meal and their beer and wine suggestions.

Crêpe and Co. European Café on Urbanspoon