Despite the pervasiveness of the festive season, not everybody gives a damn about turkey and stuffing and sitting around with the family listening to some pop singer butcher the holiday favourites, for a whole variety of reasons. Some folks might want a more low-key celebration (one in which they don’t have to do the washing up) and for others, it’s just, well, Tuesday.
I’ve been putting together a “Christmas Day dining for heathens” list since the first year we ran TasteTO, and it was very popular last year when I was writing for Toronto.com. So here it is again, modified and updated and fact-checked for your dining pleasure. (Parkdalers – the Beaver is closed on Christmas Day this year, so check the list below before heading out!)
As usual, I’ve not included a lot of Chinese restaurants because they are usually open on Christmas Day as a default. However, because Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, and many Chinese-owned businesses are closed on Tuesdays, do yourself a favour and call ahead if you’ve got a favourite spot in mind.
Also, reservations are required for all of the options offered at hotels.
The signage has been up for months, but apparently the Fat Bastard Burrito Co. location at 1118 Queen Street West will finally open in late March.
You should go:
Do not touch the green beer this weekend. Instead find yourself a place serving some awesome stout, such as the Granite Brewery (245 Eglinton Avenue East), where starting Saturday, March 17th, they’ll be offering six different flavours of stout based on their main recipe. Chocolate Orange and Vanilla will join existing flavours of Maple, Chocolate, Coffee, and Chocolate Chili. They’ll be running 4 casks at a time, so the flavours will rotate. More details at Canadian Beer News.
Tickets are available for Made With Love, a cocktail competition taking place at The Distillery District on March 26th. 13 local bartenders will compete, plus there will be showcases from last year’s winners from across Canada. A $40 ticket gets you 13 drink tickets, appetizers and the right to vote for your favourite drink.
Caplansky’s (356 College Street) is taking reservations for their very popular Seder dinner, taking place on April 7th. Two seatings at 5pm and 8pm will book up well in advance. Contact the deli to book a space.
Welcome to the revamped Lucky Dip column in which I will be bringing you a daily selection (Monday to Friday) of local food news, upcoming events and links to local and international food news stories. Quantity of content will vary by day (thus the “Lucky Dip” name – you get what I scoop up), but I’ll try to ensure a little bit of everything.
If you enjoy the Lucky Dip posts, please help spread the word by sharing the link via Facebook, Twitter, etc. And if you have info on local restaurant news or events, I’d be very appreciative if you’d send it my way by visiting my Contact Page. Cheers!
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) has hired Chef Michael Smith (no, not that Michael Smith) as their new Executive Chef. Smith has previously worked at C5, and is in the process of revamping the various menus at the hotel.
Coming soon – This End Up, a new restaurant at 1454 Dundas Street West that will be serving sandwiches and cocktails. What? You need more than that?? Watch for their opening in March.
Both chef Carl Heinrich and butcher Ryan Donovan have announced they’ll be leaving Marben (488 Wellington Street West) (wait, who’s left to run the place?) to open their own restaurant somewhere in the west end. Heinrich is set to take part in the upcoming season of Top Chef Canada.
The Construction Site has opened a second location in Sherway Gardens where they’re spreading the grilled cheese love.
The problem with the restaurant biz is that most restaurants are stationary. Folks have got to come to you to enjoy your food. But Zane Caplansky of Caplansky’s Delicatessen (356 College Street) has his wheels spinning in other directions with a bunch of new initiatives that take the restaurant to the customer.
Earlier this week, Caplansky’s did their very first bicycle-powered lunch delivery. The deli owner bought two large, sturdy bikes with sizeable baskets, and now customers within a downtown delivery area (Dupont to Queen, University to Ossington) can, for a $5 delivery fee, have their smoked meat sandwich delivered to their home or office. Caplansky points out that the bikes are a low-maintenance, high-capacity delivery apparatus – each bike can hold a minimum of 2 orders and with 2 bikes, he can send staff in different directions at the same time. It’s also a respite for his kitchen staff, who can take a break from bussing or dishwashing for a quick bike ride to make a delivery. And while Caplansky works with a local food delivery company to serve a wider geographic area, he points out that the bike system is more local and more personal. Not to mention more efficient in downtown traffic.
By all accounts Toronto Beer Week was a resounding success. Many beers were consumed, and there were some outstanding beer dinners and other food pairing events that took place at restaurants across the city. Greg made it out to more of them than I did (stupid allergies), so many of the photos here are his (which explains why they might get a touch out of focus as we go through each course, as pretty much every one of these dishes came with an accompanying beer pairing.)
Jesse Vallins is a native of Toronto and has spent the last 12 years working in some of the city’s best restaurants. He has spent the last four years as the chef at Trevor Kitchen and Bar (38 Wellington Street East).
What inspired you to become a chef?
For as long as I can remember I’ve fallen asleep and woken up thinking about food. I love eating and sharing food with people and the experience of restaurants. I don’t care if it’s Canoe (66 Wellington Street West) or a dive in Chinatown, all restaurants are as much about experience as eating. I’ve always loved that and wanted to be a part of it.
What is your favourite dish at the restaurant where you cook and why?
The bacon and tomato salad with avocado ranch and crispy shallots. I love it because it’s got a great mix of different flavours and textures that really work together…and it’s absolutely lousy with bacon.