Recently reviewed

Tons of restaurants, crossing cultures, every week


Brunch

Hoof Cafe

923 Dundas W, at Gore Vale, 416-792-7511. Jennifer Agg and Grant van Gameren’s diner offshoot of their insanely popular Black Hoof offers all-day charcuterie-based breakfasts by day and sophisticated cocktails ‘n’ offal after dark. Best: mini-donuts laced with bone marrow and house-made sour cherry jam Suckling Pig Eggs Benny, buttermilk biscuits topped with Carolina-style pulled pork, poached free-range eggs and pickled jalapeño hollandaise sided with arugula tossed with spice-rubbed pork rinds house-baked brioche in crème fraîche and gingery peach compote upgraded with seared foie gras gluten-free buckwheat pancakes with sous-vide rabbit, house-made ricotta and blueberries over candied celery to drink, pink peppercorn vodka Caesars with Marmite syrup. Complete breakfasts for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Caesar. Average main $13. Open for breakfast Thursday to Monday 10 am to 4 pm, cocktail nibbles 6 pm to 2 am. Closed Tuesday, Wednesday, some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Cash only. Access: six steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN

Caribbean Vegetarian

One Love Vegetarian

854 Bathurst, at London, 416-535-5683. If you’ve ever had Ikeila and Iville Wright’s spicy vegan corn soup at Harbourfront, you’ll recognize the signature dish at their Annex take-away. The rest of their short Caribbean-style veggie card’s just as tasty, but because much of it’s made from scratch, it can sometimes be a long time coming. Historical note: their storefront was once home to Joyce’s, Toronto’s first Caribbean provisioner. Best: Funky House Pizza on whole wheat focaccia topped with peppers, mushrooms, artichoke heart, organic tomato sauce, basil pesto, scrambled tofu and diced Scotch bonnet peppers curried bean curd and lima beans with sliced avocado, caramelized plantain, basmati rice ‘n’ lentils and salad rotis – either paratha, dahl puri or whole wheat – generously stuffed with curried chana chickpeas. Complete dinners for $20 per person (lunches $15), including all taxes, tip and a freshly squeezed juice. Average main $10. Open Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 9 pm, Saturday 11 am to 6 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Rating: NNN

French

Loire Casual Gourmet

119 Harbord, at Brunswick, 416-850-8330. It ain’t as hip as the Double Deuce, but Jean-Charles Dupoire and Sylvain Brissonnet’s charming 40-seat Annex bistro dishes up some of the most competent French-inspired plates in town. Smooth professional service and a carefully wrought wine list deliver substance over flash. Best: to start, warm St. John’s Bakery baguette aps like bitter endive ‘n’ radicchio slaw with watercress coulis and aged Sainte-Maure pistachio-dusted chèvre slow-braised pork belly over yellow-eyed bean and shaved Brussels sprout ragout mains like grilled local partridge over house-made linguine laced with nutty arugula pesto and buttery wilted kale to finish, chai-infused crème brûlée with mini-coconut muffins caramel bread pudding. Complete dinners for $65 per person (lunches $35), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $25/$17. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 to 10 pm, for lunch Tuesday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

Italian

Local Kitchen

1710 Queen W, at Roncesvalles, 416-534-6700. The food philosophy of Michael Sangregorio and Fabio Bondi’s candlelit, 28-seat southern Italian bistro is all in its name: slow-cooked locally sourced comfort food. Warning: while the resto’s dim lighting may be conducive to romance, it makes reading the tapas-style menu and mostly Ontario wine list next to impossible. Best: to start, panko-crusted olives stuffed with rabbit bitter radicchio tossed with roasted squash and hazelnuts in gorgonzola vinaigrette house-made sharable pasta like ziti with house heirloom tomato sauce à la Carmela Soprano Swiss chard papardelle with shredded pheasant and parmigiano secondi like Ontario white fish over Brussels sprouts and fried pig’s jowl guanciale Kerr Farms flatiron steak garnished with a sunny-side-up quail egg and a handful of roasted patatini potatoes. Complete dinners for $45 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $15. Open Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 to 11 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN

Tunisian

Djerba La Douce

1475 Danforth, at Parkmount, 416-778-7870. Featuring an intoxicating card that fuses the cuisines of North Africa, southern Italy and France, Toronto’s only Tunisian trat may not be the fanciest spot on the strip, but it’s certainly one of the tastiest. Bonus: organic veggies, halal meat and after-dinner hookahs! Best: salad grill mushwa, garlicky roasted tomato and onion tossed with lemon, olive oil, capers, pickled cucumber and green chilies salad Tunisienne, a North African niçoise of tomato, celery, lettuce, cuke, slivered scallions and mild radish mixed with cookbook-correct canned tuna generously portioned mains like steamed mussels in harissa-fired tomato sauce cacciatore meets paella – couscous layered with sweet, tomato-sauced chicken and merguez lamb sausage, carrot, potato and cabbage to finish, house-made baclava with honey and rosewater. Complete dinners for $25 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pot of minty Tunisian green tea. Average main $12. Open Tuesday to Sunday 4 to 10 pm. Closed Monday. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

Vegetarian

Calico

1226 Bloor W, at Brock, 416-536-1883. You can’t get much greener than former Fressen chef Jared Davis, who either grows most of the produce that makes its way onto his inventive vegetarian card in the resto’s backyard garden or buys it from nearby Dufferin Grove organic farmers’ market. Best: grilled lobster mushrooms with caramelized fennel and cashew cream quinoa-crusted tempeh with baked acorn squash, tomato-basil purée and kasha pillaf apple bourbon cobbler in coconut pastry gluten-free chocolate brownies with fudge sauce at brunch, egg or scrambled tofu frittata-style omelettes du jour with organic house greens and paprika-dusted home fries to drink, rosemary green iced tea. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches/brunches $20), including all taxes, tip and a juice. Average main $13/$10. Open for lunch Wednesday to Friday 11 am to 5 pm, dinner Wednesday to Saturday 5 to 9 pm. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday, Tuesday, holidays. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN

Leave your opinion for the editor...We read everything!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *