Recent reviews

Rating: NNNNNLE BIFTHEQUE (96 Richmond West, 366-4333) A meat 'n' potatoes steak house in the Sheraton Centre serving, well, meat.


Rating: NNNNN


LE BIFTHEQUE (96 Richmond West, 366-4333) A meat ‘n’ potatoes steak house in the Sheraton Centre serving, well, meat ‘n’ potatoes. A Montreal chain reminiscent of the Steak & Burgers of yore, it serves Canadian beef at half or a third the USDA Prime prices of other downtown cow palaces. Warning: stay clear of the vegetables. And expect a lineup unless it’s weekend lunch, when the place is deserted. Best: 16-ounce New York sirloin with baked potato, garden salad and rolls 18-ounce rib-eye with same 8-ounce burger with slaw and iffy fries battered and deep-fried Vidalia-onion “flower” with bland ranch dip, big enough for four bottomless soda-pop refills. Complete meals for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open daily 11:30 am to 11 pm. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
PANORAMA (267 Scarlett, 762-0367) A modest Indian eatery on the Toronto-Etobicoke border, it offers subtly spiced fare in a cozy, neighbourly space. Best: pan-sauteed shrimp with curry and lime sizzling Acharri Chicken Tikka with cumin-spiked cabbage slaw Chicken Shorba soup rich with coconut naan studded with caramelized onion. Weekday $7.99 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Complete dinners for $30 per person ($15 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and an Indian ale. Open for lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 2 pm, and for dinner Monday to Saturday 5:30 to 10:30 pm. Closed Sunday. Fully licensed. Access: short step at curb, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

*PATRIOT (131 Bloor West, 922-0025) Ex-Cafe Societa whiz kid David Chrystian re-materializes in the Colonnade with an inspired take on Canadian cuisine. Combine benchmark creativity with suave service, a sleek-chic sophisticated space, a stellar lineup of Canadian vintages and Diana Krall’s swinging supper-club jazz –alas, on CD — and get the most audacious restaurant to explode onto Toronto’s dining scene in years. And there’s a $25 three-course prix fixe! Reservations essential. Best: stuffed saddle of rabbit with lentil tourtière velvet-centred sauteed calf’s liver over broccoli puree and sunchoke-and-red-onion stew in black-mustard-seed sauce seared Arctic char with multi-mushroom and root veg ragout foie gras with sage-apple fritters in cinnamon honey other-worldly chevre cheesecake. Complete dinners for $50 per person ($30 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open Monday to Saturday for lunch 11:30 am to 3 pm and for dinner 5 to 11 pm. Closed Sunday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN

*ROXBOROUGH’S (1055 Yonge, 323-0000). Elaina Asselin returns at her most adventurous, creating neo-classical French fare with contemporary Morrocan influences in a stylish setting coupled with superb service. Don’t let the Thurston and Lovey Howells who call this home put you off — though they probably won’t join in, this is cuisine that deserves celebration. Karaoke, perhaps? Best: braised oxtail risotto with roasted salsify, ‘shrooms, and sunchokes calf’s liver with oversized onion rings, red onion jam, and green-onion mash honey-glazed duck breast with both cauliflower and parsnip puree Savoy cabbage “rolls” stuffed with shredded duck confit and sided with preserved kumquats multi-beet salad dressed with toasted walnuts, pouprier, and Roquefort inspirational coconut brulee tart sensational house-made breads. Complete dinners for $50 per person, including all taxes, tip, and a glass of wine. Open for dinner Monday to Saturday 5:30 to 11 pm. Closed Sunday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating:NNNNN

SAVING GRACE (907 Dundas West, 899-9186) This deceptively anonymous space — white-on-white walls, minimalist decor, 20 seats tops — offers stylish salads and sandwiches at wallet-friendly prices. Once word gets out about their no-reservations weekend brunches, west-siders will line up overnight. Best: super brunch menu of corn cakes with fiery mango chutney grilled croissant with melting Brie, pear and walnut with honey-basil-dressed greens weekday soups like coconut-chicken or Cuban bean, both kicked with Thai peppers sandwiches en baguette of peameal, avocado and tomato or roasted eggplant, tomato and mozzarella drizzled with homemade pesto sorta niçoise or romaine with blue cheese, bacon and pear salads. Complete meals for $10 per person, including taxes and tip. Open Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 7 pm, and for brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday and holidays. Unlicensed. Smoke-free. Cash only. Access: 2-inch step at door, five steps to washroom. Rating: NNN

TEATRO (505 College, 972-1475) Designed to the nines, this suave wine bar attracts fashionistas and oenophiles alike. Tapas-like portions make perfect grazing fodder, but the prices quickly add up. Expect major attitude. Warning: a very small room, very noisy when crowded. Best: poached tomato with buffalo mozzarella, anchovy fillets and black olive tapenade cool veggie terrine of asparagus, red pepper, artichoke and eggplant seared strip loin and chunky Lincoln Log fries with house-made Dijon mayo a non-traditional take on Pernod-scented bouillabaisse — but it wouldn’t bankrupt the place to throw in a few more mussels, clams or shrimp. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open Monday to Saturday 6 pm to midnight. Bar open till 2 am. Closed Sunday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: one step 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 11:30 am 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

*TEMPO (596 College, 531-2822) Sushi-meister Tom Thai brings cutting-edge Japanese fare to the epicentre of College Street cool. Because no reservations are taken, show up early to get a spot at the six-seat counter where Thai presents his astounding ad-libbed tasting menu for less than you’d expect. Best: while a la carte menu items like lobster maki with white-truffle oil and tuna tataki salad with arugula are first-class, they can’t compare to such creative fare as Spanish mackerel tartare with sun-dried tomato salsa raw silver moonfish with chrysanthemum greens tea-infused tofu with green-tea-powdered grouper sea urchin and oba leaf wrapped in wafer-thin salmon grilled fiddlehead handroll minced-lamb-and-duck-liver gyoza dumplings. Complete dinners for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of sake. Open Monday to Wednesday 5:30 to 11 pm, and Thursday to Saturday 5:30 pm to midnight. Bar open till 2 am. Closed Sunday and holidays. Fully licensed. Access: partially barrier-free, washrooms up three steps. Rating: NNNNN

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