People always assume because we write about food that we’ve been to every restaurant in the city (all 5000 or so of them), and they’re always disappointed that we haven’t been. Meanwhile, readers tell us that they’d like more photo-essays.
So to satisfy your food porn cravings and what might be an inappropriate desire to live vicariously through us, we’ve started eating out more just for the sake of eating out; to expand our palates, to learn more about our city’s great restaurants, and to give you all something to drool over. Note that these are not reviews – just photos of pretty and tasty food, and that while all the restaurants and chefs knew who we were, all have been paid for out of our own pockets.
Above, from L.A.B. (651 College Street), are chicken pogos; breaded chicken legs that have been Frenched to reveal the bone which doubles as the stick. The creamy puddles are the blue cheese dressing and the red discs are a jelled hot sauce. A shredded celery salad takes the place of the traditional celery sticks that accompany chicken wings.
We visited LAB with a vegetarian friend who was quite delighted to have another slightly upscale place to go for dinner. We tried a number of things on the menu which is about 50/50 vegetarian to carnivore. We all dug the fun tongue-in-cheek sense of humour that chefs Dubrovsky and Scott demonstrate in their menu.
This past Thursday night, 250 lucky people trekked through the snow to attend Foodshare’s Recipe For Change fundraising event. I say lucky because the event sold out and many people found themselves on a waiting list, but also because some of Toronto’s top chefs were on hand with delicious treats for guests to enjoy.
The event raised funds for the Field to Table Schools program which brings food literacy back to students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Held in Foodshare’s warehouse at their Croatia Street offices (the same space where the weekly Good Food Boxes get packed), the room was simply but elegantly decorated, with plenty of seats (no, really, there’s usually never enough seats or tables at these things – I always threaten to come wearing a toolbelt to hold my camera, notebook, wineglass and cutlery) and plenty of good stuff to eat. Our only minor complaint was the lighting, which, while it made the room look fantastic, was not so photo-friendly. As such, I don’t have photos of everything that was offered (the full menu is available on the Foodshare website), but hopefully these will inspire readers to support both Foodshare and the great work they do as well as the many chefs and restaurants who donated their time and product to this event.
Remember how in high school, there was always one guy whose house you’d all flock to? The kid with the cool basement rec room, and the Mom who always made everyone snacks, and who didn’t mind if you were there until three in the morning listening to Floyd, or The Sex Pistols, or Nirvana (depending on your particular era). It maybe wasn’t the slickest place, maybe the furniture didn’t match, or the walls were covered in peeling rock posters, but it was so comfortable, and so welcoming, that it’s where you naturally gravitated every day.
Fabio Bondi and Michael Sangregorio are (collectively) those guys, and their new restaurant, Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, is the hip grown-up equivalent to the basement rec room. It might be the collection of old news articles and photos of the neighbourhood on the walls, the handmade bar, or the mismatched chairs. It might also be that Sangregorio, who runs the front of house, is the modern equivalent of your friend’s Mom, proffering samples from the restaurant’s piattini (small plates) menu, and encouraging regulars to flip through the boxes of vinyl records by the kitchen door to spin on the restaurant’s turntable-based sound system. This is the only restaurant in town where you could actually hear someone ask, “Mike, man, let’s hear some Zeppelin…” and actually have it happen.