THE PATIO @ KUBO DX (off York south of King, 416-368-5826) Complete picnic lunch for $7, including all taxes and tip. Open Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 8 pm. Closed Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
I've never been a fan of Kubo's kitchen, whether in its original incarnation on Dalhousie in the Merchandise Building, its later ill-conceived experiment in the basement of Yorkville's Club Monaco or its current home in the Design Exchange. But at no time have I ever said that Kubo king Leslie Ng and crew can't throw a party, especially if exotic alcoholic libations are involved.
Every summer, Kubo DX takes it outdoors from its home in the Ernst and Young tower and moves across the TD's green to a patio set up on the square in front of the Canadian Pacific building.
"Next to the cows!" trumpets its just-inaugurated promo menu of after-2-pm weekday drink specials, including bottles of Stella for $3.85 each and killer sake cocktails for only 5 bucks.
Be nice and they might throw in a few complimentary sesame-seed-strewn dim sum dumplings to dip into chili-charged soy.
Despite the incessant roar of an exhaust vent belching fumes from the parking garage below, and a CD selection that ranges from monotonous drill 'n' bass to innocuous salsa (stick with the summery Latin rhythms, kids), the shady ad hoc patio offers the same spectacular skyscraper scenery as Bymark directly opposite.
Better yet, for $35 you can buy seven of Kubo's excellent 6-ounce barbecued burgers ($4.95 each/takeout only). That's almost half the price they are to eat in ($9.25). While the bun's nothing special and the fixins (red onion, pink tomato, lettuce) are minimal, the burger itself is first-rate, dense and tweaked with a suggestion of garlic and ginger.
This "moo of a deal," as Kubo's flyers crow, also includes a serviceable though dressing-free salad of commercial mesclun, canned chickpeas and carrot sticks.
When his patio season ends this fall, Ng will open another Kubo in Leslieville on the same block that's already home to hip Verveine offshoot Barrio, vegan paradise Pulp Kitchen and popular Joy bistro. The concept?
"A Chinese pub!" he laughs. "I know it sounds silly, but it's going to be a neighbourhood kind of place. Chinese and Vietnamese food, real cheap, the kind of place where you can hang out after work. No designers and no modern craziness."