Now That's Tasty!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Is Fine Dining A Dying Breed In Toronto?

The restaurant scene in Toronto is booming. Gastro-gems are popping up on corners across town and formerly neglected neighbourhoods are becoming culinary hubs for the epicurious. The trend of the tartan shirt server has slowed down – somewhat. The restos du jour are accepting reservations – mostly. Bay Streeters are brunching alongside stentorian university students. Dining out five or six nights a week has become an avocation of the everyman. As culinary culture creeps towards the middle, both in access and audience, what has come of the upper echelon of eating out? Is fine dining a dying breed in Toronto?

Find out the answer in my FULL ARTICLE at View the Vibe.

Photo from Hunt Camp at Farmhouse Tavern

Friday, 21 February 2014

Best Burgers in Toronto by Location

There’s been a lot of patty pushing going on around Toronto this past year. Newcomers and well-seasoned staples have been putting meat to bun and no one really seems to be complaining – and why should they! A well-cooked burger is perhaps the holy grail of American eats. Compact and quick, a fix for protein, carbs and condiment, the burger is reveled the world over. While we all have our partialities, I won’t be sharing my opinion on who’s got the best burger in Toronto today. Though locationally speaking, here are some top spots to gorge yourself on the ground and grilled delights, depending on where in Toronto you find yourself.

Downtown Core (Bloor to Front, Bathurst to Jarvis)
Of course there are a plethora of pattied options in Toronto’s dense downtown core. The Queen West strip has exploded with burger joints like P&L Burger who can dress you up like an Italian or a Philly, and newest The Burger’s Priest location, who still receive a mix of praise and displeasure over their secret menu. The Burgernator in Kensington Market slings 100% halal patties, while at the busy intersection of Yonge and Dundas many are lauding the latest American fast food addition of Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Photo Cred: Parts & Labour's Facebook Page 
West End (South of Bloor, West of Bathurst)
Monday night on College Street means half-off your second burger at Utopia Café & Grill. The latest addition to Queen West, TomaBurger Addiction bakes their milk buns fresh in house and make their patties from Canadian Prime Rib. The first of three outposts, BQM Burger Shoppe on Ossington serves Ontario raised beef with three choices of cow cut. On the Bloor West tip, Clara’s Gourmet Burgers has received some mixed reviews, but their weekday $4.95 student special (11am-3pm) is nothing to scoff at. The big kids might want to head further west to Brock Sandwiches, the boys who used to work under Susur Lee don’t specialize in burgers but they pump out a hell of a patty. Further west on Roncesvalles try TheRude Boy for some distinctive toppings like house made kimchi, fried halloumi cheese and tongue pastrami.

The Wile Life @ Toma Burger Addiction (w/ Foie Gras & Caramelized Onions) Photo Cred: Toma's FB Page
East End (South of Bloor, East of Jarvis)
Test your palatal extremes on the Danforth with The Secret Stomp, a custom “over-the-top” creation from Burger Stomper. Head further east to Patty & Franks or Greektown classic SquareBoy Drive In. Allen’s on Danforth is also not to be overlooked – they’ve got one of the fattest and freshest patties in the game. Popping off on Parliament is No Bull Burgers, made with organic Ontario beef and an abundance of free premium toppings. Riverdale locals have been hitting up Dangerous Dan’s for a decade and a half and his 8oz burgers pack a lot of beef for the price.

The North (Anywhere Above Bloor)

The area is expansive, and expanding but boasts some of the best burgers in Toronto. Holy Chuck is a Midtown must, grinding their beef fresh every hour. The Stockyards serves us St. Clair West’s most stunning examples of a burger done right. If you’re looking for a burger at brunch time, the patty melt at Rose & Sons is far from Kosher – it’s goddamn delicious. For homeburger heaven and a hit of old school, it’s all about The Burger Shack near Yonge and Eglinton or Golden Star who will be celebrating 50-years in Thornhill this May.

Original article published at: View the Vibe

Friday, 14 February 2014

The Aphrodisiac Meal Plan for Valentine's Day

The old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is no longer so gender specific. No matter what sex, if you play your edible cards right that delectable three-letter word may be just what you’ll get in return. You’re already gonna score points if you’ve curated a meal for your loved one, but follow this dinner plan and you’ll both be sheading layers soon enough. This Valentines Day, it’s all about the eats that’ll have you dancing between the sheets…

Figs, Roasted Walnuts and Almonds, Pomegranate Seeds [READ WHY]

Oysters and Chili Sauce [READ WHY]

Main Course
Steak with Basil Hollandaise & Honey Roasted Asparagus [READ WHY]

Dark Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Fresh Bananas [READ WHY]

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

2014 Range Rover Sport Review: Tackling the Icy Elements

The Canadian winter has been ruthless this year. From above average snowfall to a crippling ice storm, and a seemingly endless plunge into the depths of a polar vortex, when one leaves the house it’s rarely without purpose. Frankly, a week in the new 2014 Range Rover Sport made life outside and on the roads, substantially more bearable.

At first glance the new staple SUV from Land Rover is stylistically sweet. The Adaptive Xenon headlights have been narrowed, giving it an aggressive front façade. It’s a big beast of an automobile, but its stature is unassuming. The lines are tight and it ain’t half bad once your eyes drop down to the 21-inch wheels.

Stepping up to the driver’s seat (“up” is the operative word here), I realize they could benefit from a pop-out step. My grandma wouldn’t be making it into this baby, and my girlfriends even had to go for a headfirst dive just to situate themselves on the passenger side.

Once you’ve managed to find your way into the front, however, the tasteful design elements are abundant. Espresso leather seats that I’d trade in my desk chair for, touches of chrome that add elegance instead of flash, and an unfettered areal view through the huge sun roof. There are a few dials to play with, but aside from the sleek 8-inch touch screen the dashboard is relatively minimalist.

The tie matches the suit, as it were, however I felt that some of the controls were misplaced or mismanaged. Heated seats are a must in this climate (cooled seats for the winter are a bonus!), but having to turn them on every time you re-start the car is a bother. Audio controls rather than camera components should have been moved over to the driver’s side of the screen, the heads up driver display provided useless information (where are my fuel efficiency stats and trip computer? No audio information or incoming call display?), and the steering wheel switches could have been amped up. Perhaps the most reasonably aggravating automated element was the amount of steps it took to place a simple call using the voice commands. Of course, my complaints tended to be nitpicky – electronic shortcomings that I expected to be flawless alongside a base price of $80,560 CAD before tax and add-ons.

Ultimately, the most important thing for me is how the Range Rover Sport performs on the road. At 3.0 L V6 with a 340-horsepower engine in the HSE model I tested (available 5.0 L supercharged V8, 510-horsepower) having your way with the road was hardly an issue. With a variety of driving modes, including one for snow and ice, I was impressed with the 4-wheel drive capability on Toronto’s slick streets. Despite its size and weight, it took the corners like a champ and was comfortable at highway speeds in an unplowed HOV lane. The only thought that perpetuated in my head was that of all the soccer moms rolling around in this mammoth. It may drive like a sports car, but it’s sure not sized like one.

With impeccable drivability and a burly output to match, an aggressive yet elegant design, and a level of comfort that comes requisite with the price tag, I wouldn’t scoff if this auto were sitting in my driveway each morning. While it could use some tailoring on the electronic functionality, its effectiveness in the snow and overall comfort made the 2014 Range Rover Sport a welcome sanctuary from the elements, bearing them all at the same time.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Super Bowl Deals in Toronto

It’s going to be a little bit chilly for Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey on Sunday, February 2nd, but here in Toronto things are really heating up. With Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos set to face off against the Seattle Seahawks and the number one defense in the NFL, the battle of the top seeded teams is sure to be fierce. But the battle on the field need not mean that you have to battle with your wallet. Things can a little expeeze on the day of The Big Game – especially if you’re losing your prop bets. So, why not take advantage of these Super Bowl specials around Toronto – they’re the only things that aren’t a gamble…

Kick things off at 4:30 on Super Bowl Sunday, as the Office Pub provides an all you can eat buffet and three domestic drinks for a meager $35. With $5 pints, a trip to Las Vegas and a 50’’LED TV up for grabs, it’s a safe bet that you’ll have a good time.

Leslieville’s most laudable Irish pub is going to have football fans (American football, this time) banging the bodhrán with $16 for 32oz of Irish lager along with wings. 

Stop in for the top shelf Sunday brunch at the home of The Great One from 9am-3pm and don’t bother leaving. There’s no need to skimp on greatness at Wayne Gretzky’s, no matter what sport your watching.

With a banging food menu and a bevvy of beers on tap, The Loose Moose is always highly seeded when it comes to a Sunday Funday. But with $3 Caesars and 50oz Bud Light pitchers for $12.95 one might just call it a Super Sunday Funday.

Start off with a true tailgate party at 3pm and settle in until last call – Monday is gonna be a write-off regardless so you might as well make the most of your Super Bowl Sunday. Advanced tickets are $20 for gals and $30 for guys and include an all you can eat buffet, drink and pitcher specials, prizes galore and the chance to win hotel and tickets for 2 to the Buffalo Bills home opener next year.

While they’re being a little secretive about the offerings, the smokey Super Bowl special menu is sure to be a touchdown for your taste buds. Reserve early – the seats around their massive projector screen are going to go as fast as Marshawn Lynch.

Bring out the plaid and pop on your cowboy boots, because it’s ‘bout to be a good ‘ol time in the east end. With wings gracing their already gorge-worthy menu at $9 a pound, it’ll be a veritable hootenanny ‘round here!

The Bud Light Official Super Bowl XLVII Party is being held at The Ballroom this year. $35 tickets will be selling out quickly, and offer guests a drink ticket, all you can eat buffet, prize draws and bowling and drink specials all night.

Whether you’re just talking smack with opposing fans or mowing down on spicy baskets of their half price wings, get ready to spit some fire at the Crown and Dragon this Super Bowl Sunday.

Original article published on View the Vibe