Dinner Saturday night, brunch Sunday morning.
686 Queen E, at Broadview, 647-346-1541, aftbar.com, @aft_bar Taking its name from the acronym for “about fucking time,” Paul Campbell’s southern-fried bistro in the one-time Toucan Taco/Le Rossignol/Pop space delivers considerable ‘cue on one of the loveliest backyard patios east of the Don Valley Parkway. Best: to start, smoked and briefly deep-fried chicken wings in the Buffalo style sided with a whack o’ hand-cut fries for the wayward vegetarian, deep-fried strips of panko-dusted portobello mushrooms with thyme aioli mains like free-range half chicken slathered with sweet Kansas City-style sauce sided with purple cabbage slaw and German potato salad nicely barked and perfectly pink pork side ribs optionally mopped with sauce weekend-only platters with peppercorn-crusted brisket, those meaty ribs and saucy chicken cheddar-studded ground-brisket burgers on eggy Harbord Bakery buns. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and smoked habanero Caesar. Average main $18. Open for dinner Saturday 4 pm to 1 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
325 Roncesvalles, at Grenadier, 416-533-2723, hopgoodsfoodliner.com Don’t come to former Hoof Café chef Geoff Hopgood’s ultra-hip Foodliner expecting bone-marrow donuts and suckling-pig eggs Benny. Not only does his Roncey resto not offer the two dishes that put him on the foodie map, but he doesn’t do brunch at all. Instead, go for some of the most creative and downright fun plates in town in a relaxed room tended by attentive servers. Best: to start, Halifax-style donairs on warm house-baked pitas dressed with ripe tomato, diced Vidalia onions and a weirdly addictive sauce made from evaporated milk, sugar, garlic and vinegar lamb’s heart tartare laced with green olives and dehydrated cauliflower purée over nutty caramelized cream a winter cassoulet of French flageots beans thick with meaty sweetbreads and sage-scented sausages deep-fried chicken roulade on cheesy grits in bacon-maple sauce to finish, frozen house-made chocolate bars. Complete dinners for $60 per person, including tax tip and a glass of wine. Average main $22. Open for dinner Saturday 5:30 pm till close. Reservations recommended. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN
51B Winchester, at Parliament, 647-748-2121, kingyotoronto.ca, @Kingyotoronto This laid-back Cabbagetown izakaya proves you don’t need the full-bore frat-boy party vibe of Guu and the like to have a good time. Where else can you enjoy shareable plates that are as much fun for the tongue as they are for the eye while a kitschy Japanese sci-fi movie unspools over the bar? Best: rice-paper-wrapped salad rolls stuffed with barbecued cha shu pork, cucumber and lettuce splashed with house-made teriyaki sauce and sweet kewpie mayo tataki-style seared albacore tuna dressed with ponzu jelly and deep-fried garlic chips cold al dente ramen noodles tossed with salty cod roe, barbecued pork, bitter radicchio and strips of both seaweed and scrambled egg hamachi yellowtail carpaccio over organic mesclun, slivered red radish and daikon sprouts in a sesame-wasabi vinaigrette. Complete dinners for $40 per person, including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average main $11. Open for dinner Saturday 5:30 to 11:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
176 Dupont, at St George, 647-748-3287, roseandsonsbigcrow.com, @roseandsons Former Drake executive chef Anthony Rose revives his wildly ambitious pop-up barbecue concept on a tented ‘n’ heated Annex year-round backyard patio down an alleyway next to the train tracks. Close your eyes and you could be sitting round a campfire in Muskoka. Best: to start, slices of grilled Thuet Bakery sourdough dressed with banana, Nutella and dulce de leche peanut-butter-and-jam pork chops with salted Norfolk County peanuts and house-made sour cherry jam smoky-sweet Perth County pork belly sided with a pair of over-easies and garlicky grilled broccoli smoked mozzarella and shredded brisket with more Thuet bread, eggs, roasted garlic, whiskey-sautéed onions, Kozlik’s horseradish mustard and a Tymek pickle pepperoni-like sausage ‘n’ beans with eggs, Memphis-style cornbread and crunchy raw scallion to share, “soft and sexy” grits swirled with melted butter to drink, steamin’ mugs of instant Maxwell House coffee. Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a root beer. Average main $15. Open for Sunday brunch 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, three steps to washroom. Rating: NNNNN
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
1144 College, at Dufferin, 416-535-5858, meandmine.ca, @meandmineto Zocalo’s Joel MacMillan and Melissa daSilva resurface on their own at this low-key West College café. Easy on the wallet, their versatile veggie-friendly carte moves effortlessly from brunch to lunch to dinner, all spectacularly plated. Who can say no to grilled watermelon wedges dusted with sea salt and squirted with lime, especially when they’re free? Best: to start, carrot croquettes with nutty sunflower tahini and grilled jalapeño mains like torched rainbow trout with blackened cucumber, house-made yogurt cheese and buckwheat poppyseed mini-pancakes à la lox ‘n’ blinis cheesy kale torte over jalapeño cornbread pudding with roasted grape tomatoes and sprouted chickpea salad “cowboy” pork ‘n’ beef sausages with baked cauli-cheese, pickled cherries and green bean and wilted watercress salad minced pork ‘n’ quail egg pie with mashed root veggies and minty garden peas at brunch, house-cured pork belly with grilled scallion salad, St John Bakery toast spread with sticky tomato jam, and roasted salt ‘n’ malt vinegar home fries sweet and savoury apple, cheddar and rosemary galette in buttery whole-wheat crust. Complete meals for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a pint of local microbrew. Average main $13. Open for Sunday brunch 10 am to 4 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN