Restaurant Review – Alder

Alder
Ace Hotel
51 Camden Street
Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm – 10pm
fully accessible via ramp/elevator in hotel lobby

“Just book it now, or we’ll never get a table!”

The hungry husband and I are looking at the Tock reservation system for Alder, the new restaurant in the newly-opened Ace Hotel Toronto, helmed by Chef Patrick Kriss of Alo. Knowing how hard it is to get a table at Kriss’ other restaurants, we figure we have to move fast. Alder launched a few days prior and still has plenty of tables for its first weekend open to the public, but we don’t expect it to stay that way. As it is, we take a 5:15pm reservation and are pleased as punch. We don’t normally eat on “Vegas time”, but we also don’t normally go to King West willingly on a Saturday night, so needs must. Continue reading “Restaurant Review – Alder”

Short Fiction – The Black Cat and the Prince of Darkness

We would walk for miles most nights.

First we would smoke a big joint, purchased from the dealer who hung out at the Quoc Thé, the basement Vietnamese karaoke bar up the street with the dirty glassware and the overwhelming incense. Then, in search of munchies, we would head north to the 7-11, the only place in Kensington Market open after dark, other than the Portuguese billiards hall where I, a young woman of the Goth persuasion, was most definitely not welcome.

On nights when we didn’t load up with every form of chocolate then return to the flat to eat and pass out, we would walk around the city for hours. We walked because we were skint most of the time, or would rather save our money to buy drugs than pay for transit, but also because everything was within walking distance. Sort of. We thought nothing of leaving a club at 2am and walking three or four miles home, even in the freezing cold. Most stuff was closer. But on those nights when we intentionally went for a walk, we would just wander for hours. Sometimes it was down into the empty financial district, other times up to the posh enclaves of old mansions in the Annex or Yorkville where we peered curiously into windows to see people’s fancy decor.

We would come home after these walks, or any night we were out clubbing, staggering into the Market past the nausea-inducing stink of trucks full of live chickens parked and awaiting slaughter in the morning, to be greeted by a small black cat that sat at the end of the alleyway we traversed to get to our door. It would always run away before we got close to it, and over the months it never seemed to get any larger. But it was there every night, regardless of the weather, seemingly waiting for us.

Continue reading “Short Fiction – The Black Cat and the Prince of Darkness”

Short Fiction – The Cherry Beach Express

Shannon walked out of Nuts and Bolts just before last call expecting the air outside to be cool, or at least cooler than the soup of humidity that hung over the dance floor. But the early-August night offered no respite; no breeze with the heady scent of summer blooms, no drop in temperature from the sweltering heat of the daytime. It was hard to breathe, but she shrugged her leather jacket back on, the collection of buttons and badges of her favourite punk and industrial bands carefully arranged on the lapels clinking together as the heavy garment settled on her shoulders.

Her white t-shirt was soaked with sweat, and she hadn’t worn a bra. Usually it didn’t matter but this old shirt with The Smiths on the front had been worn so often it was getting faded and thin and while it hadn’t bothered her in the darkness of the club, on the street she felt self-conscious about the sheerness of the fabric.

Between the exertion of dancing and the temperature inside the club, what little make-up she had bothered to wear had mostly melted off her face, leaving her with only a messy smudge of black eyeliner under each eye.

Continue reading “Short Fiction – The Cherry Beach Express”

Smörgåsbord – Mamakas Tavern

mamakas_mule

I am terrible these days for going out to try new restaurants and either just not taking photos or taking a pile and never uploading the things. So hurrah that it’s only taken me about a month to remember that we had a fantastic meal at Mamakas Tavern.

Mamakas is a fresh take on Greek cuisine, and it’s being touted as the best Greek restaurant in Toronto. It’s certainly a few steps up from the tired pile o’ dips and sad souvlaki typically found on the Danforth, and it’s scored fantastic reviews from both The Star and The Globe in the past few months. Which is why the place was packed on a Tuesday night.

Chef Chris Kalisperas and owner Thanos Tripi keep the menu innovative and fresh, based on what is good that week – many things we had (below) or that were on the menu during our visit have since been replaced with other dishes.

Enjoyed it very much, stoked to go back.

Above: A Mataxa Mule cocktail with Metaxa 7, ginger beer, lemon and lime, and cardamom bitters.

Continue reading “Smörgåsbord – Mamakas Tavern”

Got Game?

qb_quail
Crispy Masala Quail from The Queen & Beaver. Photo by Q&B chef Andrew Berry-Ashpole.

Hey y’all! A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to write a feature on local game meat for Toronto’s weekly indie NOW Magazine. Just adding some linkage here to prove it actually happened. 🙂

Got Game – why more Toronto shops and restaurants don’t offer wild-caught meat.

Top 5 places to buy game meat in Toronto.

Top 5 game dishes from Toronto restaurants.

 

Where To Eat in Toronto on Christmas Day – 2014 Edition

turkeydinner

You crazy kids have been hitting the 2012 edition of this post so much (there wasn’t one last year), my site stats are going to be pitiful come December 26th. But it seems that there are an awful lot of you out there who have no intention of sitting around with the family wearing those silly hats that come in the Christmas crackers, and who instead want to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning for you on the big day.

I have concentrated on downtown Toronto, but if you’re in the burbs, I think David Ort of Post City is planning a list with a wider range. Even though my list is cross-referenced and confirmed, I’d still recommend calling to book a reservation at anything other than the most casual places, and reservations are required for any of the hotel restaurants.

Enjoy!

Continue reading “Where To Eat in Toronto on Christmas Day – 2014 Edition”

Fixing the Vote – or Why Toronto Needs to Find a Better Way to Choose Its Politicians

vote-ballot-boxIt’s the day after election day, and like most people, you’re probably exhausted and feeling full of ennui. After a 10 month campaign, Toronto finally got rid of Rob Ford (sort of, but not really) and chose that other guy, solely because he is not a Ford.

The problem is less about our actual politicians, however, and more about how we got here in the first place. This election has been full of chaos, drama, racism, misogyny, and assorted other clusterfuckedness that made the whole process horrific.

So here are my humble suggestions…

Make It Shorter
A shorter campaign duration would be beneficial to everyone; candidates and voters. A 10 -month campaign just drags out the worst parts of the process (debates, mud-slinging) and by election day everyone is just frustrated.

There would need to be a way to allow candidates to raise funds, so we could begin registration in July, but prohibit debates, etc. until after Labour Day.

Speaking of fund-raising, we should also look at tightening campaign financing rules. The City of Toronto will be writing large tax receipts to residents of Mississauga who donated to Rob Ford’s campaign. This really shouldn’t happen and there needs to be a rule that candidates can only accept donations from Toronto residents.

Continue reading “Fixing the Vote – or Why Toronto Needs to Find a Better Way to Choose Its Politicians”

First and Foremost – For the Greater Good

Like so many people who watched and took part in the proceedings at Toronto City Hall yesterday, I was enthralled by the sense of coming together to support the city. People from disparate groups and organizations all took the time, despite Mayor Ford and the committee making it more and more difficult for them to do so, to stand up and tell the committee, and the people of the city, what they believe in. As a city, as a community, I think this will make us stronger. I think that it will provoke more and more people to become engaged in municipal politics, which is a very good thing – that lack of involvement is what got us into this mess in the first place.

But I’m not sure I believe it’s going to do much good.

The hand-picked executive committee went into these sessions having clearly stated that they were not going to be swayed by the deputations. Councillor Mammoliti made it clear that he was there because it was his job but that he wasn’t interested in opposing points of view, something that he continually made clear through the 22 hours of deputations with his attitude and condescending questions. In the end, the committee voted unanimously to take the advice of the KPMG report and look at making cuts, essentially telling every deputant that their time and effort didn’t matter.

The hope now is that the deputations DID sway all of those other, middle of the road councillors so that when it comes time for the full council to vote on the recommendations, decisions will be made with consideration for issues other than budget line items.

Continue reading “First and Foremost – For the Greater Good”

Why Cyndi Lauper Looks an Awful Lot Like Macy Gray

As a teenager, I was a huge Cyndi Lauper fan. I loved her music, wanted to look like her, and for a year or so in high school, modelled my wardrobe after the outfits from the videos for her album She’s so Unusual.

By the late 80s though, I had moved on to other types of music and didn’t keep up on everything Cyndi. One night in the summer of ’88, when I was living in Kensington Market, we came home fairly late to find that the streets were blocked off for a film set. This was the summer of that bad vampire detective show Forever Night, which seemed to be filming everywhere in Toronto at the time, so we assumed that’s what it was, and went a few blocks out of our way to get home.

In the middle of the night we woke up to the same Cyndi Lauper song playing over and over again. It was a song I didn’t recognize but as it was a hot night my roommate Amanda and I left the door to our little attic balcony open to catch a breeze. Restlessly we fell asleep to the sound of Cyndi singing. The next morning, the whole market was abuzz about the Cyndi Lauper video shoot that had taken place the night before. Yep, Cyndi Lauper has been right there, on my street, and I had missed her.

Continue reading “Why Cyndi Lauper Looks an Awful Lot Like Macy Gray”

The Window at Rhino

My neighbourhood is an interesting place. Run down rooming houses full of run down people sit side-by-side beautifully renovated Victorian and Edwardian homes with $15,000 stoves in the kitchen. We have a high end toy/gift shop but the swankest coffee chain is Coffee Time – we don’t even rate a Tim’s. A seasonal, local, nose-to-tail restaurant looks out across Queen West at a community drop-in centre and soup kitchen. Rich ladies with sweaters over their shoulders emerge from vintage Jaguars to cruise the junque shops while trying to avoid used condoms and syringes on the sidewalk.

Sitting in the front window of Rhino, our local watering hole, it’s interesting to watch this diversity wander by.

Across the street at Public Butter, a vintage clothing shop, a rack of plaid jackets sits on the sidewalk. Priced as much as a new one from somewhere like Mark’s Work Wearhouse, they’re meant for the hipsters putting together outfits featuring the latest flavour of ironic. They’re less ironic when a pair of rocker guys, complete with mullets, walk past the rack, wearing those same jackets with utter seriousness.

Continue reading “The Window at Rhino”