Dinner Saturday night, brunch Sunday morning.
107 Danforth, at Broadview, 647-352-5044, dasgasthaus.ca, @DasGasthausTO Ex-Spice Room sommelier Ruthie Cummings’s German gastro-pub seems of two minds – part fine Mitteleuropean dining room, part student-friendly beer hall. Like the cozy room’s decor – mismatched chandeliers, velvet-tufted banquettes – the kitchen plays it right down the middle. Best: to start, the charcuterie board groaning with rustic chicken liver pâté, Haus-made pickles, sliced salami and smoked Gouda served with a basket of warm pretzel buns roasted beet salads in creamy yogurt dressing pounded pork schnitzel cleverly breaded with pretzel crumbs over a pool of walnut brown butter, a handful of perfectly executed string beans and a whole lotta dill bright red cabbage rolls with smoked ham hock and nutty wild rice in tomato sauce to finish, old-school cherry strudel. Complete dinners for $45 per person, including tax, tip and a microbrew. Average main $18. Open for dinner Saturday 4 pm to 1 am. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
60 Richmond E, at Church, 647-930-9517, hawthorneto.ca, @hawthorneto Cowbell owner/chef Mark Cutrara resurfaces at this particularly under-appreciated bistro in the downtown core. A locally sourced seasonal carte, rock-bottom prices and polished service deserve a larger audience. Those standing in line for tables at the very similar Richmond Station two blocks away, take note. Best: to start, crostini smeared with salty smoked tomato purée layered with deep-fried zucchini and buttery Monforte Dairy pecorino shareable aps like quinoa salad with roasted eggplant, garlic and goat feta in a VQA Riesling vinaigrette pan-seared Lake Erie perch with crispy polenta fries and caper-rich sauce gribiche chicken liver mousse “brûlée” with caramel sauce and stewed blackberries larger plates like grass-fed beef-cheek ravioli smoky Memphis-style side ribs with roasted fingerling potatoes in chicken schmaltz to finish, preserved cherry panna cotta with candied ginger. Complete dinners for $40 per person (lunches $28), including tax, tip and a glass of VQA wine. Average main $18/$12. Open for dinner Saturday 5 to 10 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
388 Spadina, at Baldwin, 416-901-1510 Toronto’s no stranger to East-West fusion. Susur Lee ring a bell? But Tao Zhang and Jianing Hu’s student-friendly spot puts a new spin on this still cutting-edge cuisine, even if the decor – exposed brick, Edison light bulbs – is somewhat generic. Best: to start, deep-fried Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken breaded in what we swear are crushed graham crackers mains like braised beef brisket soup with al dente ramen-style wheat noodles, baby bok choy and chopped Italian tomatoes meatball-sized dumplings stuffed with minced pork, watercress and chives rice casseroles topped with broiled eel in teriyaki sauce and mozzarella cheese cold Korean noodles dressed with shredded chicken thigh, carrot and pickled eggs to finish, baked marshmallow toast creamy egg custard in eggshells served in a ceramic egg carton. Complete meals for $20 per person, including tax, tip and an iced tea or hot chocolate. Average main $9. Open for dinner Saturday 5 to 11 pm. Reservations accepted. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
335 Queen W, at Beverley, 416-493-2786, thebeverleyhotel.ca, @beverleyhotelTO Former Fabarnak and Hawthorne chef Eric Wood brings his updated comfort carte to downtown’s latest boutique hotel. Those who fondly remember the once-nearby Beverley Tavern are in for a shock. Best: to start, baskets of cinnamon-dusted doughnuts, cheesy biscuits and wedges of warm cornbread shareable starters like a Caesar salad with kale and dehydrated tomato instead of romaine and bacon the Breakfast Bone, a halved veal shin with marrow topped with poached quail eggs over toasted bread salad with grilled pork belly the house burger, 6 ounces of grass-fed chuck on an eggy Fred’s bun dressed with tomato jam, sautéed wild mushrooms and a wedge of deep-fried cheese, sided with correctly skinny frites southern-fried chicken ‘n’ Eggo waffle sandwich with maple syrup to drink, $4 Caesars made with bacon-infused bourbon. Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a Caesar. Average main $13. Open for Sunday brunch 10 am to 4 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
1416 Gerrard E, at Hiawatha, 416-469-4444, thesiddhartha.com Though the original was shuttered more than a year ago after a fire, Siddhartha rises from the ashes phoenix-like in fancier new digs a few blocks west. Not only is Sid’s all-you-can-eat buffet as exemplary as ever, but it can now be enjoyed al fresco on the only licensed patio in Little India. Best: from the buffet, crisply fried samosas stuffed with potato, peas and mild peppers saag paneer swirled with yogurt biryani-style rice with garden peas and curry leaves stir-fried cabbage with turmeric and mustard seeds mashed eggplant and potato with chilies aloo gobi with curried cauliflower ‘n’ spuds super-moist tandoori chicken legs and thighs while they last to finish, rice pudding, mango ice cream and fresh fruit to drink, lime sodas. Complete buffet dinners for $25 per person (lunches $20), including tax, tip and a domestic lager. Average la carte main $10. Open for $10.99 Sunday lunch buffet 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
1330 Queen W, at Elm Grove, 416-627-3459, grandelectricbar.com, @grandelectricTO Now that ex-Black Hoof chef Colin Tooke’s super-hot Parkdale taqueria has more than doubled in size with the addition of a 40-seat patio, scoring a no-reserve table should be twice as easy. Wrong! But show up at 6, get on the list and come back in an hour or so – no problemo. Friendly and efficient servers ensure the feeding frenzy never wanes. Best: vibrantly spiced soft-shell tacos stuffed with sweet pulled pork belly topped with grilled pineapple salsa shredded chicken kicked with árbol pepper and pickled red onion deliciously braised beef cheeks dressed with buttery avocado and hellaciously hot jalapeños fried slices of mild queso over roasted poblano peppers Baja-style fish tacos with crisply deep-fried tilapia finished with radish and red onion lashed with crema and lime shareable plates like chunky tuna ceviche piled high tostada-style on deep-fried tortillas remarkably tender rings of deep-fried calamari drenched in a Sriracha-like hot sauce Chicken Frito, a heap of marvellously messy deep-fried chicken parts doused in a five-alarm sauce thick with fresh coriander, brown sugar, chili pods and funky nam pla to finish, Mason jars of key lime pudding. Complete meals for $40 per person, including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average main $10. Open for lunch Sunday 11:30 am to 4 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN