St. Jamestown Delicatessen ~ 518 Parliament St ~ (416) 925-7665

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Located on the SW corner or Parliament and Winchester, the St. Jamestown Delicatessen is a Cabbagetown institution. When I lived in the neighborhood back in the day, this place flew under my radar. Let’s just say I have been making up for lost time recently, frequenting regularly when I get that hankering for a Soup/Sandwich… or when I need to obtain some fine provisions for the BBQ.

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There are about a dozen sandwiches to choose from on the big board. Ordering takes place on a little paper slip. You pick your meat, cheese, bread and toppings; they pile them high. Sides consist of the soup of the day or a variety of fresh salads (the Village Greek and Red-skinned Potato stand out). There is also a daily hot plate special that ranges anywhere from Pierogis to Stews.

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The deli is attached to St. Jamestown Steak & Chops, so it’s safe to say that what they’re stacking atop their sandwiches is going to be decent. Here we have fine cuts of beef, house-made sausages and a number of seasoned chicken options ready for the BBQ. Their shelves are stocked with an assortment of gourmet dry goods that will compliment any choices made from the butcher’s block.

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There’s something to be said about good deli food. On the east-side of downtown, your choices can be limited. Fear not… the St. Jamestown Delicatessen has got you covered. Come for lunch and take home dinner. Oh, and their side patio is a spectacular vantage point to do some great people watching while enjoying a coffee.

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Pasha Authentic Turkish ~ 64 Overlea Blvd #10 ~ (416) 421-3500

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I met-up with a fellow food blogger recently. She told me about a Turkish restaurant on Overlea that was a must try. Now, I absolutely love Turkish food. Thing is, I know of very few places in the city to indulge. So glad we found Pasha Authentic Turkish. It’s a super friendly, family-run place that serves-up some very, very tasty eats.

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We start by ordering a Gavurdagi Salad. We’re told it’s an important part of the meze spread at kebab houses in Turkey. We quickly see why. Tomatoes, cucumber and red onions are chopped then tossed with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and sumac. There’s lots going on here in both the flavour and texture departments.

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Speaking of mezes, the Cold Appetizer Sampler is a must try. You get a generous serving of hummus and patlican salatasi (Eggplant salads). But what really stands out for me are the Cacik (yogurt, herbs, cucumber, garlic, salt, olive oil, dill and lemon juice) and the Acili Ezme (a salsa-like blend of chopped tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, parsley, EVOO, pomegranate syrup and lemon). I am full after the first two courses… and it turns out that we’re just getting started.

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I still can’t believe what came out next. Their mixed grill is a veritable pantheon of BBQ’d meats & veggiesAdana kebab, sujuk, chicken, lamb and beef are piled high alongside charred tomatoes, chili peppers and a cool chopped salad. I wrap up a number of different meat/mezes/salad combinations in the fresh-baked flatbread that keeps getting replenished.

There is so much food on the table, it was actually laughable when they brought out the Lahmacun and Pide. They were both absolutely delicious, but we ended-up taking most of the slices home.

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I am really looking forward to returning to Pasha Authentic Turkish again soon to try their Manti (boiled lamb dumplings with sour cream) followed by some Kunefe for dessert (think baklava filled with cheese). Both just so happened to be sold out when we visited… a result of the Iftar the evening before. Thanks so much for lunch, Joanna Sable. Really nice to see you again, Bonnie.

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Posted in Don Mills, East York, Flemingdon Park | Tagged | Leave a comment

Keeffaa Coffee ~ 368 Queen St E ~ 647-349-0900

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Keeffaa Coffee is a place I have walked by over a hundred times and always wanted to try. Upon entering, it’s difficult to pinpoint what was more intoxicating: the smell of Ethiopian coffee beans roasting; the Django Reinhart & Stéphane Grappelli music softly spinning; or the unbelievably warm reception I received from the owner, Elsabet Wubie. All I know is that I was immediately hooked, and I hadn’t even seen the menu yet.

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Named after the small Ethiopian city where coffee was first discovered in 1565, Keeffaa Coffee is a rare breed. Half coffee shop, half kitchen, I feel like an honoured guest in Elsabet’s home. The menu has breakfast served number of different ways, versions completed with Eggs, Mixed Veggies and Ful (fava beans stewed in berbere, onion and tomato).

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No Ethiopian restaurant is complete without a Vegetarian Platter ($14). Keeffaa’s rendition doesn’t disappoint. Roasted Yam Julienne is served alongside mashed Beets & Dill, a Chopped Salad, and a generous serving of Shiro (a heavily-spiced puree of chickpea-meal).

I opt for the Keeffaa Platter ($15), composed of grilled Lamb Tibs, a Yam/Yellow Pepper/Coconut Milk Mash and a made-to-order Tomato, Onion and Chili Salad. My gluten-free Injera is toasted, offering a nice contrast that softens as it soaks everything up on the plate. I finish quickly despite the large portion size.

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Keeffaa Coffee is a very comfortable place to frequent. Elsabet treats me like family. She certainly feeds me like I’m family. Be sure to pop in the next time you’re walking by, even if it’s just for a hot chocolate on the back patio. I’m confident that you will quickly become a regular customer. Thanks for playing “Misty” for me.

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Posted in Corktown/Distillery, Regent Park | Tagged | 1 Comment

Tommaso’s Trattoria ~ 400 Eastern Ave ~ (416) 466-0988

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Tommaso Conti’s trattoria is a bit off the beaten track (Eastern Avenue between Broadview and Logan). Don’t let location fool you… this is the best Italian food on the east side of town. Their Italian Hot Plate draws the lunch crowds on a daily basis. I’m becoming a bit of a regular. Pay them a visit and you’ll see why.

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There are a number of daily Pizza creations for $4 a slice and Calzones for $5 (Sausage & Rapini is my current favourite). Enormous Italian Sandwiches are also available for $8… everything from Meatball to Chicken, Veal to Cold Cuts.

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The $12 lunch combo affords you a bit of everything from the hot/cold buffet: pastas, meats, sides and salads; all piled high. They really don’t scrimp on the portions… choosing instead to provide you with everything you ask for (and then some). There’s also a massive salad bar ($8-10) for those who don’t dig on the gluten or meat.

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Dinner really has nothing to do with the hot-plate lunch menu, focusing on meaty mains and whole pizza pies. And though I have only ever been for lunch, I’m seriously considering booking our next big dinner here, as there’s ample space for a function in the dining room. It worth noting that catering is also available, and it’s awesome (I work minutes away and often call these guys to bring in lunch). Eastern Avenue love, baby.

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Little Coxwell ~ 986 Coxwell Ave ~ (416) 916-2565

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Located in Olde East York (on Coxwell Avenue between Cosburn and O’Connor), I had initially thought that Little Coxwell catered solely to the high school students across the street. Over time, we have come to realize that they’re a staple with much of the community. Dining in, pick-up or delivery, these guys are cooking the best Vietnamese food in the east end of the city… hands down.

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Rare Beef Pho is my favorite thing on any Vietnamese menu, and Little Coxwell offers-up an extremely generous bowl (in both the size and flavor department) for $8.75. I find Pho never travels well, so I’ll only order it when I dine in… which is regularly. My wife will almost always get the Chicken Bun (vermicelli). It comes in a combo, a deal at $8.50, complete with a spring roll and salad.

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Thinking about something for sharing? BBQ Kalbi Ribs ($9.50) are tossed in a sticky sesame glaze; a great starter for the table. Their Green Mango Salad ($7.75) is spicy and sweet and holds up well the next day without getting soggy. The menu also offers a number of Curry and Rice dishes that lean a little more towards Thai. The Basil Chicken/ Beef ($11.95) is enough for 2 people and comes with either a sidecar of rice or tossed in glass noodles. Green curries are available, loaded with veggies and your choice of protein. The show-stopper for me, however, has got to be their Goat Curry ($10.50). Now I am a purveyor of curried goat, ordering it regularly at various establishments around town. Little Coxwell’s version is right up there, presented as an enormous stew of bone-in goat, potato & root vegetables. Definitely worth a try.

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If you live in East York and are reading this, you probably know all about Little Coxwell already. If not, check out their website (www.littlecoxwell.ca) and order yourself something off the extensive delivery menu. Or dine in with the family. They’re extremely kid friendly; a family-run place. Either way, you will not be disappointed and will have found yourself a new go-to. We certainly have.

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Posted in East York | Tagged | 1 Comment

Brock Sandwich ~ 1260 Bloor St W ~ (647) 748-1260

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Brock Sandwich is a place that needs little introduction. Tucked away on one of my favourite sections of Bloor West (between Dufferin & Lansdowne), they have been winning awards and piling-up the accolades over the past year as the best place for sandwiches in the city. I had the pleasure of visiting recently with the babe you see in the window (@giggsysays). Great food; great company; return visits on the horizon. We only wish this place had existed when we lived on Lansdowne back in the day.

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We order-up a couple of sandwiches, both deep-fried. The Crispy Chicken ($9) is a generous portion of southern fried thigh meat, lathered in homemade Piri Piri Sauce and then absolutely smothered in fried onions. Their Pork Schnitzel ($10) is currently my favoutite thing on the menu… in part because of its dill/caper/pickle grabiche; in part because of the bed of spicy collard greens. This sandwich truly is a thing of beauty. We both agreed that one of the more memorable surprises was that the buns did not become a soggy, inedible mess. Even the leftovers held up (though they didn’t make it home before my stomach intervened).

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There are a number of other utensil-free options available, including (but not limited to) a $10 Cheeseburger & Fries combo. This is a great burger at a price-point most other places seem to be exceeding these days. Sides include slaws, soups, salads and spuds.

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Due to Brock Sandwich’s popularity and limited seating, it’s advised that you order ahead for pick-up to cut down on waiting times… especially around lunch hour. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys are serving-up craft beers by the next time we visit. That will be very soon, btw.

Posted in Bloor West, Bloordale | Tagged | Leave a comment

Kaiju ~ 384 Yonge St ~ (647) 748-6338

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In the basement of the city’s tallest condo lies one of the city’s smallest food courts. It’s really nothing much to speak of. At first glance, one might actually miss Kaiju (tucked away in stall 51). If the PATH ever reaches Aura, this location could become a hot spot. For now, though, Kaiju is gaining notoriety with its Asian mash-up cuisine… specifically their curry dishes. This place is an excellent addition to the Ryerson lunch scene, and I find myself driving over from east of the Don at least once a month for lunch. My goal is to try everything on the menu.

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The name of the game at Kaiju is really the Katsu Curry ($8). Their homemade curry sauce is made from over 14 different ingredients, and simmered low-and-slow for 2 days before serving. Panko-crusted cutlets of the chicken or pork variety are deep-fried to order, sliced thin and served atop the curry sauce (spiced to your liking). This dish looks, smells and tastes great. It’s truly line-up worthy.

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My second visit saw me venture out to try new things on the menu. Their Malaysian Fried Sambal Udon ($8.50) is a real hit. I order it “Kaiju Spicy” and am presented with an extremely generous serving of extra spicy fried udon noodles, tossed with sambal, onion, fish balls, bean sprouts, carrots, red pepper and sliced chicken breast. My lunch date ordered the Thai Spicy Chicken ($8.95), which is served crispy and boneless, drizzled with a sticky chili-peanut sauce. This is a great dish for sharing or ordered as a sidecar. 

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Many moons ago, I lived in Australia and played on a travelling Japanese baseball team. We would have a rather large meal after every home game. This is when I was first introduced to Katsu Curry. Naturally, when I heard about Kaiju, I really, really wanted to love this place. I have to tell you, they have yet to disappoint. I’ll be going there again this week for a Friday lunch. Next up: Taco Rice!

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