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Tons of restaurants, crossing cultures, every week


Brunch

Black Metal Brunch @ Graffiti’s

170 Baldwin, at Kensington, 416-506-6699. graffitisbarandgrill.com. Planet Kensington may be dead, but the legendary punk club’s Black Metal Brunch lives on in this Elvis-fixated local. Unless your mom digs Florida grind-core blasted at maximum volume, maybe not a good Mother’s Day choice. Best: from grunge gourmet chef Linda Dawson’s (ex Southern Accent, Bellair Café) rotating card, start with bracing bowls of minty cream of spring pea soup mini-cheeseburgers on grilled garlic Calabrese topped with poached eggs and lemony hollandaise and sided with greens in berry vinaigrette or fried sweet potato “homies” pan-seared pork chops with buttery skin-on smashed potatoes, Market veggies, and beer-sozzled gravy hand-breaded eggplant Parmesan smothered in kick-ass tomato sauce. Open Sunday 11 am to 6 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, small washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNNN

Contemporary

Paramour

94 Ossington, at Humbert, 416-953-2356. paramourdining.com. Like some candlelit Moroccan boudoir, the LeVack Block’s Adam Baguley and Amber Honor Elson’s prototypical Oz storefront interior is painted a faux striped satin, a low-slung pillow-tossed banquette ringing the 30-seat casbah of a room. Ex-JKROM chef Laura Malin’s seasonal and locally sourced carte makes falling in love even easier. Service under former Spendido captain Adly Gawad is consummately professional, neither fawning nor aloof. Best: simple but rich heirloom tomato soup free-range chicken pot pie with sweetly braised red cabbage Ontario lamb shank with crispy sage leaves, roasted pumpkin polenta and Swiss chard for the vegetarian, balsamic-marimated portobello mushroom steaks with creamy green pea risotto to finish, baked Gala apples stuffed with currant ‘n’ oatmeal crumble over maple syrup pumpkin crème caramel with hazelnut biscotti. Complete dinners for $75 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $25. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm till close. Closed Monday, holidays. Licensed. Rating: NNNN

French

Leopold

672 St Clair W, at Christie, 416-652-0075. No froufrou boîte, Carlos de Loddere and chef Claude Boulliet’s (ex-Pastis and Le Bistingo) relaxed 44-seat “resto du peuple” delivers home-style French flavours at accessible prices in a modern, airy room free of country kitsch. Best: the $22 three-course prix fixe – cream of tomato soup followed by salmon croustillant and classic crème caramel, say starters like main-sized garlicky moules marinière in white wine sopped up with Ace baguette rustic mains like supreme of crisply roasted chicken breast in lemony mushroom tarragon non-confit duck leg stewed in red wine, pearl onion and smoky bacon, both sided, like most entrees, with seasonal veg and buttery rounds of creamy polenta thinly sliced bavette with chunky frites for dessert, lemon tart chocolate mousse. Complete dinners for $45 per person (prix fixe $40), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $18. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN

Loire Casual Gourmet

119 Harbord, at Brunswick, 416-850-8330. loirerestaurant.ca. 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

Japanese

Omi

243 Carlton, at Parliament, 416-920-8991. omisushi.ca. Since resurfacing in Cabbagetown, Hiro-trained chef John Lee’s hip fish shack has brought a touch of downtown sophistication to this nominally genteel berg. Can’t get into Guu? Find a similar scene here, only minus the lineups, the hype and all that shouting. Best: creamy organic white miso soup deep-fried gyoza stuffed with smoky bacon and Berkshire pork white tuna nigiri two ways, the first slices of lean ruby-red big-eye, the second buttery white albacore tataki-style splashed with roasted garlic oil scallop “sushi pizza” with wasabi mayo and tobiko with notice, sustainable omakase like flame-seared Spanish mackerel, BC sea urchin, and wild Alaskan sockeye sashimi. Complete omakase dinners for $90 per person (à la carte lunches $30), including all taxes, tip and a can of Japanese beer. Average main $20/$12. Open for lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm, dinner Monday to Saturday 5 to 10:30 pm. Closed Sunday, holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN

Poutine

Poutini’s House of Poutine

1112 Queen W, at Beaconsfield. poutini.com. Sure, almost every other beanery in town does a take on poutine – that artery-clogging collision of french fries, gravy and cheese curds that only makes sense on an empty stomach after the ninth beer (or the morning after) – but only this minimally appointed late-night noshery gets the combo correct. Best: the king of poutines, made from hand-cut russet potatoes twice-cooked in trans-fat-free vegetable oil and lightly dusted in sea salt, ladled with house-made roasted beef bone or veggie gravy based on leek ‘n’ onion stock and layered with super-squeaky cheese curds from Maple Dale Farm of Tweed, Ontario. Complete meals for $10, including all taxes, tip and a bottled water. Average main $6. Open Tuesday and Wednesday noon to 11 pm, Thursday noon to 3 am, Friday and Saturday noon to 3:30 am, Sunday and holidays 11 am to 9 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Cash only. Access: one step at door, no washrooms. Rating: NNNN

Vegan

Cruda Cafe

St Lawrence Market, lower level, 91 Front E, at Jarvis, 905-447-6501. crudacafe.com. Raw food advocate Claudia Gaviria brings organic vegan take-away to the historic St Lawrence Market. Some will dismiss her mostly raw card as souped-up salad, but most will agree the grub’s unusually delish, health-conscious and environmentally friendly. Best: from a seasonally changing menu, steaming bowls of macrobiotic winter soups – a Moroccan-inspired sweet potato purée one day, an Indo cauliflower the next – dressed with peppery dehydrated kale Claudia’s Salad, lemony parsnip threads, crunchy sunflower sprouts and baby plum tomatoes over arugula tossed with dates in organic Dijon vinaigrette raw baby turnip ravioli with cashew pesto sundried tomato ‘n’ zucchini wraps stuffed with smashed-to-order avocado and crunchy sprouts du jour banana and lavender bud crepes of blackberries, and faux almond cheesecake. Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a juice. Average main $7. Open Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday 8 am to 5 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN

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