The annual Summerlicious food fest - showcasing some of T.O.'s best restos via the budget-friendly prix fixe - begins tomorrow (Friday, July 8) and runs through July 24. A number of Toronto's most esteemed eateries take part again this year - Canoe , Truffles , Bymark - but the $30 prix fixe three-course blue-plate specials now go for $35. Lunches, previously $10, are now $15 and $20 across the board, except for a couple of Chinese cantinas ( New Sky and Bright Pearl ).
The best bargain boîte has to be perennial Chinatown fave Lee Garden (331 Spadina, at Baldwin, 416-593-9524), where every day from 4 pm on 10 bucks gets you a choice of fresh steamed squash, shrimp wonton or hot 'n' sour soup to start, chicken and Asian veggies Szechuan-style, shrimp tofu pie, deep-fried garlic calamari or filet mignon with avocado and cashew (!), and deep-fried bananas for dessert. Reservations highly recommended. For more info about Summerlicious: www.toronto.ca/special_events/streetfest/summerlicious.htm
East! moving up
East! (240 Queen West, at John, 416-351-3278), the instantly popular Spring Roll offshoot located in the old Beverley Tavern across the street from MuchMusic, has just expanded. Now, diners can chow down on pan-Asian fare like pad thai and General Tao chicken on the second floor, where the likes of legendary Toronto punk and new wave combos Breeding Ground, the Rent Boys and Martha and her Muffins held court back in the day. Coming soon: the return of the third-floor patio!
Which midtown block of gourmet grocers is facing a 300 per cent rent increase now that a new landlord has taken possession of the valuable property? Regular customers already jokingly refer to the merchants as the five thieves, but what will the gentry say when the already steep prices soar even higher?
Hairdos & don'ts
Opening last week's NOW and turning to my review of Blue Zen, the cool uptown Japanese fusion joint, I see I described owner/chef Marco Tam - not his co-chef, Mike White - as the man with the extraordinary asymmetrical haircut. I now realize why Tam sounded so confused when I asked him about his do. "So who does your hair?"
"Er, I do it myself."
"Who cuts it?"
"Just a friend."
"Well, whoever it is, they're certainly very talented."
"Thanks - I think," replies Tam.