MISS CORA?S KITCHEN (69 Kensington, at Baldwin, 416-593-2672) Complete meals for $10 per person, including all taxes, tip and a soda. Average main $5. Open Tuesday to Sunday noon to 7 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNNN
Kensington has always been Toronto's most vital neighbourhood, but until quite recently Sundays were dead in the Market. But with the commencement of monthly arts events like last Sunday's car-free fest, these once sleepy streets are now packed with hundreds of hungry pedestrians.
There's no question that the Market has changed in the last five years. Once a quirky community of mom 'n' pop greengrocers, butchers and questionable cheese shops, today's Kensington is a foodie's paradise of specialty shops, fair trade coffee houses and WiFi cafés. True, you can no longer buy live goats, but the historic nabe is still edgy even if it's been buffed up a bit.
How better to describe Miss Cora's Kitchen? Open only a month, this gorgeous gourmet take-away in the long-gone Pizzabilities 'R' Endless spot combines the best of the old Market - a beautifully restored brick-lined room, rock-bottom prices - with the new. Like the old tenant, Miss Cora's house specialty is slices ($2), crisp golden squares of whole-wheat Persian barberi flatbread spread with sweet made-from-scratch tomato sauce, impressively dressed with the likes of chicken breast with mozzarella, grilled artichokes with roasted tomato, or steak with blue cheese and onion.
While waiting for my order to emerge from the oven, I can't help but nibble non-stop from a plate of free samples, addictive tidbits of both chocolate and caramel walnut-studded brownies as well as textbook butter tarts (all $2) and cute two-for-a-buck carrot cupcakes. I'm sold!
I also pick up a delish gently jerked chicken club layered with ripe Roma tomato, bacon and lettuce on an anonymous bun, and a container of whole-wheat penne in house sauce, thick with grilled bell pepper (both $5). There's enough left over to generously sauce a side of buttery spaghetti squash in Parmesan and sage ($4).
Kitchen queen Cora Devries may be new to Kensington, but her self-described "food with a healthy attitude" suggests she'll be around for quite a while. Kinda like the Market itself.