BUDDHA DOG (163 Roncesvalles, at Fern, 416-534-2007) Complete meals for $18 per person, including all taxes, tip and a juice. Average main $2.50 times three. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 7 pm, Sun 11 am to 5 pm. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN
How does the sustainable, local, organic food movement protect itself against accusations that it's unrealistic and elitist, its sourcing concerns nothing more than the latest lifestyle accessory and yet another way to increase the divide between the haves and the have-nots?
One-hundred-mile dieters could defend their beliefs by taking the unconvinced to Buddha Dog and serving them the not unreasonably priced green salad ($4.50) with green beans, radishes and carrots in a blueberry vinaigrette. This salad tasted so earthy, fresh and delicious that it was like performing cunnilingus on Alice Waters's vegetable patch.
But after the salad, it's going to be hard for the slow food nation to convince supermarket Johns and Janes that the Buddha Dog "hot dog" is the price we have to pay to save the world and its domesticated animals from the industrial food complex.
Here's how it works: $2 gets you started with a 100 per cent beef mini-dog from Aman's Meats of Wellington served on a bun handmade by Peter Grendel of Picton. For 25 cents you can add one of three cheeses made by Black River of Milford. And another 25 cents gets you one of Buddha's 11 homemade sauces. The wiener, which is the size of a breakfast sausage (we're talking 4 inches here) is grilled in a panini press, as is the bun, and then the whole thing's panini-pressed together.
Here's what you get: a bland, fairly dry mini-wiener on a very nice bun. The mini-slice of cheese arrives half-melted.
The sauces sampled were Indian butter, smoky ketchup, ginger maple Dijon, sweet onion and beef chili. We also tried one bareback dog. The sauces taste like they've undergone a lot of reduction and are quite thick, which, combined with the dry dog, bun and cheese, gives you an un-fun Upper Canadian mouthful.
It takes about three Buddha dogs to equal a regular portion of street meat, which adds up to $7.50 before tax.