It’s been a spiced and steamy February in Toronto's restaurant scene so far, with several helpings of hearty happenings. A taste:
• With the looming closure of Bistro 990, Toronto is poised to lose another of its culinary institutions. For years after Bistro 990 opened in 1986, this trendsetter enjoyed a reputation as a see-and-be-seen Yorkville must-visit, where serious partiers gathered, particularly in and around TIFF. Among its list of regulars find Garth Drabinsky, Jeanne Beker and Conrad Black, but the guest list expanded often to accommodate both Hollywood luminaries and their ardent stargazers. Bistro 990 has been sold to make way for a 400-unit condo complex.
• The Fairmont Royal York has signed Collin Thornton to its executive chef post. Fresh from the same position at The Fairmont Orchid, located on the somewhat more exotic than TO Kohala Coast in Hawaii, Thornton will oversee a team of more than 100 culinary professionals in the largest hotel kitchen in Canada....more
Considering what a right neighbourly joint The Real Jerk is, the treatment the place has received over the past month has been anything but. During this past Christmas break, merciless new landlords issued an eviction notice to the longstanding institution, demanding vacancy by the end of the month. The building has been sold, they told the stunned Toronto restaurateurs, and the new owners were keen to get started on converting the property into condos.
And so it is that February dawned without the reassuring knowledge that this Riverside establishment, a treasured part of the landscape for, lo, these past 29 years, would still be around. A last-minute victory, however, has secured its current-location existence for a bit longer. ...more
In support of the annual feast of food that is Winterlicious, the City of Toronto has launched an interactive, Web-based tool to facilitate diners’ perusal and participation in the cold-weather culinary fest.
Each of the 175 participating Toronto restaurants (21 more than last year!) is geographically listed at http://www.dine.to/winterlicious_restaurants.php, complete with a few words specifying what kind of eatery it is and its location. Symbols indicate whether the place serves local ingredients, offers vegetarian menu options, is accessible to wheelchairs and happens to be a member of the 10th-anniversary club.
Would-be patrons nominate the parameters of their search and generate a preferences list that reflects the type of food, neighbourhood and price range they seek....more
The movie theatres were the first to cotton on to the idea of Tuesday being the most dishwater-dull of all the days of the week. Now a slew of Toronto eateries are looking to inject their own kind-to-your-pocketbook-inspired mark on that full-of-grace day.
Tuesday Foodie is a spanking-new 52-week program, launching January 3, that gives cardholders a 30% break on the bill at a collection of local restaurants....more
The Renaissance Project’s Wine Tasting Challenge was held in Toronto recently, and the eighth annual event attracted an enthusiastic crew of participants. That they were all in the right spirit goes without saying.
The Challenge, now recognized as one of the largest and most noted wine-tasting competitions in North America, has the dual mandate of encouraging future talent and highlighting Ontario’s professionals on the world stage.
The event is notable for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it attracts the largest prize purse of its kind, anywhere. The $100,000-plus lot of goodies includes trips to Napa Valley, trips to Tuscany, a day with a master sommelier, cases of wines, private wine-and-cheese tasting parties, bursaries for wine education, stemware, celebrity-chef-hosted dinners, and, for the grand prize winner, a two-week foray to China....more
The Gladstone Hotel prides itself on notable achievements across a number of fronts. And we’re talking about some pretty cool stuff here, not just manufactured superlatives, like the restaurant professing to serve the “world’s best hog maw” or the pub with the “city’s comfiest bar stools.”
Consider, for one, that the Gladstone’s Melody Bar was named among the top 10 bars in the world by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. No small potatoes, that.
Nor is the one about the Gladstone being the oldest continuously operating hotel in the city. That’s a pretty nifty claim to fame to bandy about with your buds.
Or that it was one of the first 10 hotels in the province to be granted permission to allow its patrons to drink and play shuffleboard in a licensed alcoholic area, at one time even skirting the municipal imperative that all beverage rooms had to close between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m....more
Life just got easier for home stickers with a taste for restaurant food.
Online food-ordering service Just-Eat Canada Inc. has gobbled up its fattest rival, GrubCanada. With this move, the Toronto-based Just-Eat—the Canadian arm of the London, England parent company—adds another 200 Ontario and BC eateries to the roster. All told, Just-Eat clients now have access to more than 1,000 participants across the country....more
Next weekend marks the occasion of the seventh annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival in Toronto, a hoi-polloi biennial celebration of all things food and drink that brings together the worlds of wine, gourmet dining and medical research in a powerful combo.
The exclusive dinners that are the hallmark of the event spill out across 27 of Toronto’s most splendid private homes, with each experience featuring fine food, fine wine, a treasure-laden silent auction and the attendance of a leading UHN scientist to pepper the conversation with erudite stuff.
Among the participating wine estates this year, find such oenophilic powerhouses as Champagne Barons de Rothschild, Château Margaux and Hugel et Fils. The chefs, meanwhile...more
It’s been lodged in the back of your brain since Labour Day: the looming toilfest that is Thanksgiving. Take heed, gentle tryptophan fan—this annual indulgence doesn’t need to tax your tail feathers unduly. Here are some outside-the-coop options for getting your turkey on.
Feast your eyes along with your belly with a Thanksgiving eat-a-thon 1,151 feet up in Toronto’s oxygen. The prix-fixe Monday dinner (also offered on the Yank-friendly November 24) features such up-in-the-air exotica as roast pork stuffed with calvados prunes and roasted squash, and pumpkin seed fettuccini. Dinner’s $52 a head; the view, however, is free and for nothing.
Introduce an element of stateliness to your proceedings with a Thanksgiving meal at Toronto’s most regal of lodgings. Three Sunday brunch sittings are held in the august conservatory and library. Follow up the candied yams and maple-baked toupee ham with a toss-back of the complimentary pumpkin pie liqueur...more
25: The number of would-be chefs, home cooks, aspiring entrepreneurs and food purveyors who hawked their wares at the Toronto Underground Market on the evening of Saturday, September 24, the inaugural rollout of what promises to be a favourite for local foodies.
1,200: How many bellies rumbled inside the shadows of the Don Valley as a slew of food lovers hunkered down for the much-anticipated social food market at the Evergreen Brick Works.
1: The number of weeks it took for the 1,200 tickets to sell out.
$2.99: How much it cost for one pulled-pork adobo slider, served with a mango and papaya slaw and deep-fried plantain chips, from the Bistro Filipino booth on Saturday night.
20: The number of minutes one might have spent lining up for jerk chicken on a coco bun, lemon and lime rice, or cornbread grilled cheese under a blanket of sour cream and guac, some of the evening’s favourites....more