Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Guild Restaurant

Has it been only two months? Two months since The Guild opened? I was wondering about this the other day because the restaurant, located at 1442 Dundas St. W., seemed to have successfully integrated and established itself as a friendly and popular neighbouhood spot already (it is a packed house there every weekend). I double checked and triple checked. Yes, I'm right - it hasn't even been a full two months, technically speaking.

The Guild (Twitter: @guildresto, Facebook: The Guild Restaurantserved its first weekend brunch on Sunday, March 10th. Dinner service quickly followed a week later on Wednesday, March 20th. Saturday and Sunday brunch, plus dinner from Wednesday through Sunday? Methinks that's pretty impressive for a brand new restaurant. Well chef and owner Mani Binelli (formerly of Centro, Canoe, and Auberge du Pommier) didn't just stop there 'cause a couple of weeks later, he further expanded his restaurant's menu to include a $2 snack menu (with half priced wine) every Wednesday and Thursday, as well as a $30 prix-fixe menu on Sundays. 

With such an ambitious offering, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that The Guild is gaining so much positive momentum in such a short period of time. The local spot is certainly off to a fantastic start, and this is confirmed after the very solid dinner I had at the chef's table several weekends ago, all thanks to chef Binelli (@ManiBChef) and Peter Petruniak (@ChefPeteTO), dinner sous chef of The Guild.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kingyo Toronto

Ramen or Izakaya. Pick one. PICK ONE NOW OR ELSE!!!

Okay I kid :P There is absolutely no need to choose between the two 'cause both are equally awesome! In fact, Torontonians just can't seem to get enough of the pair - Japanese ramen shops and izakayas are popping up left right and centre. They are pretty much invading our entire city! I'm not complaining nor exaggerating. Really ;) 

Following the footsteps of Guu Izakaya / Sakabar, Kinton Ramen, Hapa Izakaya, and Ramen Raijin , Kingyo Toronto is yet another Japanese restaurant to descend upon us from Vancity. Opened last December in Cabbagetown and replacing the previous "Stonegrill on Winchester", this Toronto location is Kingyo's first outpost (side note: I'm glad Stonegrill is gone, that place was a complete disaster).

The sign above the restaurant's front entrance is the restaurant's name "Kingyo" written in Kanji (or Chinese Han characters). Kingyo means "goldfish".

Kingyo's (Twitter: @Kingyotoronto, Facebook: Kingyo Torontolarge space can accommodate up to 120 people; a welcoming change compared to other tiny ramen shops and izakayas in the city. Kingyo is spacious and cozy...thanks in part to the warm woods and tall banquettes. 

Bright and fun, Pachinko machines from Japan are used as wall decor at Kingyo.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sunday Brunch at Splendido

I remember taking my parents to Splendido (Twitter: @Splendido_TO, Facebook: Splendido Restaurant) for Mother's Day brunch last year, which was the one and only day of the year that the Harbord landmark restaurant serves the mid-morning meal. However, that all changed a month ago when Splendido started its first ever regular brunch service in its 23-year history. From 11am-2pm, you can now indulge in Splendido's two-course brunch, dubbed "The Spread", every Sunday for $35. And if you want to do it up in style, the restaurant also offers large-format communal dishes catered for larger groups for pre-order, such as whole roasted lobes of foie gras with fresh brioche, seafood platters, caviar service and whole sides of house-smoked trout, etc., that will guarantee to tickle your fancy and enrich your favourite Sunday pastime. Oh yes, those who decide to splurge on a bottle of champagne can even put on a show and sabre it at the front of the restaurant ;)

My friends and I ordered a couple of cocktails to start.

MILANO SUNRISE - Tanqueray, Aperol & Fresh Grapefruit Juice ($12)
RUDE AWAKENING - El Jimador Tequila, Averna, Punt e Mes, Khalua, Espresso ($12)

The following assortment of pastries, charcuterie, cheeses were shared amongst the four of us:
Croissant, Scone, Country Bread

Butter, Preserves, Whipped Cream Cheese, Farmhouse Cheese, Cured Ham, Potted Parfait, Terrine & Pickles

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Winner of the AfterWorkDrinksTO Tickets Giveaway is


Congratulations Nicole! =D You have just won a pair of tickets to the AfterWorkDrinksTO 2013 Kickoff Party + $25 in HAILO credits. Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com with your first and last name and we'll go from there :)

And thanks to all the contestants who participated in the contest

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #foodieyucontest hashtag from day one of the contest (if you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream, it means there is no entry from you. Sorry. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up.) The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person has to tweet "Hey @foodieyu I want to win a pair of tickets to #AfterWorkDrinksTO http://bit.ly/11gYA4i #foodieyucontest". Each person may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for, I checked to see if they follow me on Twitter.

After verifying, I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick three winners from the 44 entries.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hunt Camp

My dinner at HUNT CAMP is without a doubt the BEST meal I've had so far this year. Not only was the food feast itself spectacular, the entire dining experience was INCREDIBLE.

HUNT CAMP (@HuntCampTO) is an exclusive dinner series brought to you by the folks at Farmhouse Tavern (@FARMHOUSEtavern). Owner Darcy MacDonell launched the temporary project on January 30th and since then, the dinners have been happening every Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. Running for 13 weeks until April 24th, the intimate dinners only seats six...and YES, I'm proud to say I was one of the lucky ones who managed to snatch up a reservation (it sold out extremely quick)!

Farmhouse's chef Alex Molitz is also the chef of HUNT CAMP.

 A restaurant within a restaurant, HUNT CAMP takes place in a cozy dining room in the back of Farmhouse Tavern.

Monday, April 15, 2013

AfterWorkDrinksTO Tickets Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away a PAIR of tickets to AfterWorkDrinksTO 2013 Kickoff Party (valued at $40) + $25 in HAILO credits!

Brought to you by Graham (@beachrockinc) and Amanda (@AmandaBlake9), AfterWorkDrinksTO will be kicking off 2013 in style! A not-for-profit-event (with $5 from each ticket sale going to Dress for Success Toronto), you can party it up at #AfterWorkDrinksTO next Tuesday with old friends and new, along with great booze and tasty canapes!

LocationFynn's of Temple Bar (489 King St. W.) 

When: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Time: 6:00 - 9:00PM

You and your guest will each get 3 drink tickets and:

Innis & Gunn sampling
(Added bonus: Innis & Gunn special pint price thereafter for #AfterWorkDrinksTO guests)
Special #AfterWorkDrinksTO Mount Gay Rum cocktail prepared by Robin James Wynne (@djrobinjames), a Canadian award winning mixologist and Mount Gay rep.
Select Wines wine tasting
Great selection of canapes to pair with your drinks
Live band playing awesome funk and Motown music

Great prize giveaways & swag
Bring your business cards to the event because you'll have a chance to WIN 1 of 2 $25 HAILO credits! Draws to take place at the event. 
$5 from each ticket sale will go directly to Dress for Success Toronto - #AfterWorkDrinksTO charity of choice. They'll be doing a prize giveaway for the Best Dressed for Success Attendee so don't change out of your work clothes.
The bar will be offering the following to all guests as part of their regular Tuesday night special:
SHARE PLATE TUESDAYS: Enjoy unique share plate choices | 5-10pm.
$5 Pints of Foundry Cider all day
$5 Select glasses of wine or bubbles | 5-11pm
DINNER FOR TWO: Two can dine with a bottle of wine for $45 | 5-11pm

In addition, the lucky winner of my contest will also get $25 in HAILO credits!


1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter:


2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it

Hey @foodieyu I want to win a pair of tickets to #AfterWorkDrinksTO http://bit.ly/11gYA4i #foodieyucontest

*For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown*
*You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry*
*Contest is tracked by the #foodieyucontest hashtag stream. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream, it means there is no entry from you. Sorry. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up*


Contest starts on Monday, April 15th and ends on Monday, April 22nd at 12PM. 

One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner on Monday, April 22nd. 

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^

Friday, April 12, 2013

Little Anthony's

Andreas Antoniou, owner of Estiatorio VOLOS, has recently re-launched Little Anthony's with a new chef and an updated menu. A downtown landmark for over 17 years, Little Anthony's is a 150-seat restaurant located in the financial district, directly across from Estiatorio VOLOS at the corner of Richmond and York.

Precisely a year ago, Antoniou worked with designer Marc Kryaciou in revamping the original 
 Little Anthony's (which was founded by Bob Antoniou). After a three-month complete overhaul, the restaurant reopened as the more casual, affordable Italian osteria.

I had the pleasure of attending a media dinner at Little Anthony's (Twitter: @little_anthonys, Facebook: Little Anthony'son Wednesday night. Replacing former executive chef Aaron Foster, Garth Legree (previously of The County General) prepared for us a tasting of canapes, pasta, mains and desserts. The tasting also featured wine selection from general manager Matt Roulston's well-curated wine list.

Signature cocktail "Milano Sunrise"

Cheese Tortellini
Scarmoza, Saffron Bechamel, Watercress, Breadcrumb

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Make Your Next Monday Feel Less Like a Monday

Simple. Have lunch at JaBistro.

Many people suffer from the occasional bout of Monday Blues. That's normal.

But one way to beat your case of the Mondays is to make a list of things that you are excited about.

For me, this includes splurging on a delicious lunch at JaBistro. It was utterly satisfying!

I assure you that this is a very effective mood-boosting technique. Try it out sometime ;)

Fish Bowl - Chef's daily choice of sashimi, sushi rice -  $23
JaBistro Platter (dessert included) - $30
Lunch at Jabistro is available Monday through Friday, 11:30am - 3:00pm

Twitter: @JaBistro222
Facebook: JaBistro
My previous blog post on JaBistro: JaBistro

JaBistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Burgers and More at West50 Pourhouse

I became somewhat obsessed with West50 Pourhouse's "Elvis Burger" ever since I laid eyes on the beauty. I kept thinking about it, over and over again. 


The last time I was at West50 was less than a month ago for their new menu tasting and while I was pigging out on all that awesomeness, I managed to notice from the corner of my eye a burger that was being served several tables over (I'm naturally drawn to burgers) and damn, did that burger look GOOD. I was then informed by chef Brendan Prong (@chef_prong) that it was the "Elvis Burger" that I had my eyes on, which has of course: 


Not gonna lie, my heart skipped a beat. PB & B?! In a burger?! HIT ME UP! I actually contemplated ordering the burger in addition to everything else that I was already having but thank goodness, I still had a drop of self-control left in me *whew* so I made the wise decision to go back to West50 next time specifically for the Elvis Burger and guess what? "Next time" turned out to be last Saturday night :) I brought along my two friends, Ray and Rian, so obviously there was no way I was just gonna have the burger lol.

With beer pairings for each course, the three of us had the following at West50 (Twitter: @West50Pourhouse, Facebook: West50 Pourhouse & Grille):

Beer batter, parmesan, chipotle ranch, stout tomato marinara

Chipotle ranch, marinara, parmesan

Catfish, avocado, fresco, sour cream, cilantro

Just some of the beers we had...

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Happy Hooker

Far from being a stranger to the sandwich, chef and owner Attilio Pugliese (formerly of the now-closed Italian sandwich shop Tavolino) opened his new venture The Happy Hooker on 887 Dundas Street West last month. Pugliese (@attilio25) is currently serving up a fun, seafood-focused menu at The Happy Hooker - you will find economical and tasty snacks like shrimp corn dogs, fish tacos and oyster sliders, to more filling sandwich options such as the blue marlin burger and the surf n' turf. From sauces to picklings, The Happy Hooker does everything in-house. Pugliese also emphasizes that all his fish comes in fresh daily; you will not find a freezer on premise. 

Casual yet warm, The Happy Hooker (Twitter: @HappyHookerTDOT, Facebook: The Happy Hooker) is a very inviting space. I'm particularly fond of the barn wood paneling on the walls and the mismatched vintage metal stools. The "outhouse" a.k.a. washrooms also contributes to the very "outdoorsy" feel to the restaurant.

And look what we have here!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ursa: One Year Later

Toronto's culinary scene is booming. We seem to have a never-ending insatiable hunger for new restaurants (a staggering 20 restaurants opened in March) and I admit it, it is often very tempting to solely focus on the latest joints and unintentionally, neglect the not-so-new restaurants (with this rate the "not-so-new" restaurants can include those opened for merely six to nine months). In any event, I do pride myself in revisiting restaurants where I've had great meals, and that's precisely why I found myself back at Ursa (Twitter: @ursarestaurant, Facebook: URSAlast month.

Dinner at Ursa a year ago was very memorable. Everything I had that night was well, unlike anything I've ever had before in the city. Brothers and co-owners Jacob and Lucas Sharkey Pearce's background in sports nutrition plays a defining role in Ursa's eccentric, unconventional menu.

Despite the fact that I've taken a very similar picture last year, I couldn't help myself - these LED bulbs are so alluring. 

Cocktails = the best way to kick-off dinner (well for me anyway!) 
Big ups to Robin Goodfellow (@robandcheese) for these tasty concoctions :D

Alberta Springs 10 Year Rye, Lemon, Lime, Egg White, Barley Malt Syrup 

 Beefeater, Housemade Vermouth, Campari 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rose and Sons

The following is a tip for you readers: make sure you schedule an afternoon nap after Sunday brunch at Rose and Sons (Twitter: @RoseandSons, Facebook: Rose and Sons). You'll need it. Guaranteed. 

Located on 176 Dupont Street and opened for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and dinner, Rose and Sons is a new neighbourhood diner that does fancy comfort food (chef Anthony Rose of Rose and Sons prefers the phrase "country rustic" over "comfort food".) So what is "fancy comfort" / "country rustic", you ask? Well, think rich and hearty comfort food kicked up a notch. Actually, kicked up several notches. As a case in point, let us look at some of the items on Rose and Sonsmenu:

Patty Melt Gurger - Grilled cheese, fried onions, fries, chili mayo
Pork Fried Rice - Peanuts, china town sauce, egg, ginger
Happy Pork Plate - Chop, kabanosy, dr bacon, applesauce, mustard pickle
Eggs - 3, schmaltz hash, toast, bacon or sausage pork chop
Griddled Brie Cornbread - Brisket, fried egg, maple syrup, chili sauce

Do you get it now? It's like comfort food on steroids. Or fatty delicious pork heaven.

People's Foods was an old diner that previously occupied Rose and Sonsspace. The "Food" part remains intact.

The small 30-seat diner was bustling last Sunday afternoon (i.e. expect lineups).

Semi-enclosed at the front of Rose and Sons is the kitchen...probably one of the smallest kitchen I've ever seen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Toronto Popup with Chef Peter Pietruniak

Toronto Popup,"a culinary creative lab that connects people and innovative talent through their passion for locally grown, seasonally produced organic food" is a monthly popup dinner series created by Juliana Conceicao. Promoting healthy, conscious eating with a focus on using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, Toronto Popup's inaugural dinner took place on Sunday, March 24th. Chef Peter Pietruniak (formerly junior sous chef at Ten Restaurant & Wine Bar now dinner sous chef of the newly opened The Guild Restaurantcreated a beautiful five course seafood tasting which featured a variety of fresh and sustainable Ontario lake fish. Committed to making sustainable choices and already a true advocate of local food, Pietruniak's seven course Coast to Coast "C2C" Dinner last year also paid tribute to fresh local produce, meat, and food ingredients. 

When I asked Petruniak if there was anything that inspired his Toronto Popup menu, this is what he said:

"I wanted to again highlight the great Ontario produce in an environment that allows me to create, push myself, and get my mind going. Even if there is a mistake I learn, grow and become a better cook. I like cooking for people, it makes me happy."

After several trial runs with friends and family, Toronto Popup's held their first ever dinner at The Monarch Tavern (Twitter: @MonarchTavern, Facebook: Monarch Tavern).

For $40 per person, this Toronto Popup (Twitter: @Toronto_PopUp, Facebook: Toronto Popup) dinner was an absolute steal! Optional beer or wine pairings were also priced very reasonably at $2 or $4 per course.

I had a couple of cocktails before dinner:

MARE CAESAR - Mare Gin: Infused with Olives, Rosemary and Basil; Lemon Juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, Lemon Pepper Rim
DARK & STORMY - Spiced Rum, Ginger Beer, Soda, Lime, Ginger