Good eats where you least expect them

Rating: NNNNNVAVOOM (472 Queen West, 603-0297) Anyone familiar with the late Blue Jay -- a greasy spoon notorious for its.


Rating: NNNNN

VAVOOM (472 Queen West, 603-0297) Anyone familiar with the late Blue Jay — a greasy spoon notorious for its pirogis — will be shocked by its transformation into a chic eatery featuring contemporary fare with more flair than most. With its recent second makeover, this comfy space glows even more glamorously. Best: massive grilled pork chop stuffed with spinach, apricots and pistachios alongside shallot-kicked pureed spuds Mornay-sauced “deconstructed” vegetarian lasagna top-notch Caesar salad — two slightly bitter romaine halves drizzled in mild, creamy horseradish dressing with whole grilled Roma tomatoes and smoky pancetta roasted pear stuffed with tart beet ice cream over flourless chocolate cake. Complete dinners for $40 per person ($15 at lunch or brunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open for lunch Wednesday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm, and for dinner Tuesday to Friday 5 to 11 pm, Saturday and Sunday 6 to 11 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday noon to 3:30 pm. Closed Monday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: short ramp at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

VERVEINE (1097 Queen East, 405-9906) Downtown comes to Leslieville. This mid-size bistro from the folks who created Mistral serves classic European cuisine with contemporary spin. A smart room, smooth service and a kitchen with potential make this neighbourhood noshery a hit. Friday/Saturday reservations recommended. Best: mussels steamed in mango butter garnished with slivered spring onion maple-glazed chicken with grilled corn ‘n’ fresh fava succotash Provimi veal-liver terrine daily lunchtime $7 sandwich specials with first-rate frites bratwurst and rosti sauced with caramelized onion jus at brunch. Complete dinners for $40 per person ($20 at lunch or brunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6 to 10 pm, for lunch Wednesday to Friday noon to 3 pm, and for brunch Saturday 10 am to 3 pm and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

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