Bannock ★★★

Price: $15-25+

Wanted to try something new and thought this would be a good chance to check out  another Oliver & Bonacini restaurant (huge fan and making it a point to eventually visit all O&B restos). Bannock’s located next to the Bay store on Queen, with it split into a dining area and a café/grab and go area. The interior has a lot of wooden furnishings and seating here is a little cramped (unless you are with a big group and have a table in the center or back of the dining area).

On the day I dined here, the weather was pretty brisk and cold out…you know typical Toronto weather. I had walked up from Union to Queen and Bay..breaking in my 3.5 inch heels no less. Safe to say, I was freezing and ready to sit down to escape from the cold and pain in my feet. Haha. Now, my first impressions of Bannock while walking in is it’s another “business-casual” restaurant. It was pretty empty when I came (4:30pm) and all I saw were a few workers doing paperwork while eating. There was even one table where a woman had a laptop and just spread her papers everywhere. However, by the time I left (6:30pm) it got considerably more busy and louder. So if it’s some quiet time your after, come before 6pm and if you’re into a more after hours vibe, 6pm and later is the most opportune time.

Anyway, I digress. I was in the mood for a hot dish and debating between the chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes ($16), the peppered flatiron steak with duck fat potatoes ($23) or their burger ($16) — which looked big by the way. I saw someone order it on the table next to me. Decided to go with the chicken pot pie though, it just beckoned to me. Turns out this was a great choice on my part, I LOVED IT! It was foodie-licious with its peas, chicken slices, sauce, etc. The side of creamy smashed potatoes and gravy was a nice addition as well. Well worth my $16 bucks. As for my friend, they had the noodle of the day ($14) and claimed it was good too. Didn’t get a chance to sample it so can’t really comment. We both also ordered the same drinks, the HBC cocktail with peach schnapps ($9), predicting it would be sweet and fruity. It was and tasted nice enough but I am not sure its worth the $9 price tag it has. Kind of expensive for just a nice enough cocktail.

Onto the restaurant service, the servers were suitably polite and attentive. Sometimes a bit too attentive I think, as my server came over to our table so many times I eventually felt rushed to leave. Over the course of our meal, I think our server came to our table over 10 times! My rough count: 2 times to ask for our order, 4 to ask and get our drink orders, 2 to place and get our plates, 2 to ask if we can pay and bring out our checks and finally 2 to ask us if we wanted anything else. Don’t get me wrong, its great they are attentive but my friend and I were trying to catch up and got interrupted too many times for my taste.

Dress code: Business casual. Good for lunch/dinner with friends, coworkers and your boss. Probably not for large families with children though.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Bannock.aspx
Location: 401 Bay St., Toronto, M5H 2Y4
Telephone: (416) 861 – 6996
Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 10:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am – 10:00pm and Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Cafe Hours: Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 8:00pm, Saturday: 9:00am – 8:00pm and Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm

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Bannock on Urbanspoon

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News

Hi everyone!

Just letting all my foodie readers know I will not be able to update for the next 2 weeks. Going on vacation! However, once I get back I’ll add more reviews and maybe something new! 😉

Also, any comments will probably not be approved till after this time as well.

Thanks!

Winterlicious 2012 – Canoe Restaurant

Canoe is one of my personal favourite restaurants, which is evident from my previous review.

However, I recently ate here on the first day of Winterlicious and I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with the food this time. Maybe it was because this was the first day of Winterlicious or the menu itself but I found the food somewhat bland in taste for certain dishes.

My starter was fine, I had clover roads duck rillette with gribiche, pretzel bread & forbes’ wild flavours. With the main dish however, I had braised Alberta lamb pappardelle with walnuts & mill st. coffee porter sauce but felt the noodles were a bit undercooked? My dessert, birch syrup pudding with bacon caramel & ginger foam was good but the portion was incredibly small. I’m usually one not to complain about portions because I know most fine dining restaurants don’t offer you large portions like more main stream restaurants. However, this was a bit too small for even me. As for drinks, I enjoyed the Winterlicious special pear and cranberry non-alcoholic drink. It was very fruity.

Overall, I did enjoy myself at Canoe. Even if sometimes I felt it was hectic (there were 2-3 people coming to our table, the waiter and 2 staff members), who were very nice and friendly but came too frequently for me to fully enjoy my meal with friends. I also felt a little rushed at the end to leave but our group did stay for almost 3 hours, so its understandable. Would still recommend visiting here.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx
Location: 66 Wellington Street West, 54th Floor of TD Tower, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6
Telephone: (416) 364-0054
Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:45am to 10:30pm, Saturday & Sunday: closed for private events

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Canoe Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Salad King ★★★

Price: Under $15

It has been remiss of me not to review Salad King as it is one of the most popular restaurants to eat phud thai at. This place is so popular the business survived what I still think of as a curse.

I recommend the siam fried rice and phud thai fry noodles in shrimp or chicken. Salad King gives you an option of how spicy you want your dish as well. From mild/medium/1 chili to 20 chilis.

If you are new to Salad King you might be surprised at the seating arrangements. They have these long metal tables where you would need to eat next to strangers. This is to fit the maximum number of people in the restaurant. They also added small tables so now you can sit in groups of 4 or so too, however getting seats there are kind of difficult.

Tips: go in smaller groups, its easier to get seating that way. They only do reservations at lunch and you can pick up any food orders there but no delivery.

Great for lunches and dinners with friends, family, coworkers and casual dates. Its pretty loud so don’t come here with your boss or have an important meeting to discuss.

Website: http://www.saladking.com/
Location: 340 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M5B 1R8
Telephone: (416) 593 – 0333
Hours: Monday to Thursday – 11am to 10pm, Friday – 11am to 11pm, Saturday – 12pm to 11pm, Sunday – 12pm to 9pm

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Salad King on Urbanspoon

PURE SPIRITS Oyster House & Grill ★★★

Price: $30+

Located at Distillery District, I went here during the Christmas Market event in the middle December.

The service could have been better here, I felt like we were imposing for just wanting to eat there and perhaps we overstayed our welcome (we were there for over two hours) and didn’t order much. I had the oysters and tried the calamari. Both yummy but pricey. Half a dozen oysters were $18 and 2 pieces of calamari were $14.

Good for dates and with friends. Dress code: semi-dressy/casual

Website: http://purespirits.ca/
Location: 55 Mill Street, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Telephone: (416) 361 – 5859
Hours:  Monday to Sunday (Lunch) – 11:30am to 3:00pm, Monday to Sunday (Dinner) – 5:00pm to 11:00pm

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Pure Spirits Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Spring Rolls – Yonge & Bloor ★★ 1/2

Price: $15-20+

With a restaurant franchise, I think service is one of the essential things that a restaurant can do to differentiate itself. From my previous review of Spring Rolls, I find the Spring Rolls at Yonge and Bloor to be much more hurried.

I went here with a friend for dinner and decided to try this new all you can eat menu while my friend wanted to order something off the regular menu. Our waiter, Tony, was too pushy and was acting like he was doing us a favour by getting our orders and such. At first he said we both had to use this all you can eat option but after explaining my friend is a vegan and therefore could probably only eat 25% of what was listed on the menu, he finally accepted.

The all you can eat dinner is from 3pm to 10pm. Monday to Thursday is $22.99 and Friday to Sunday is $24.99 with a premium menu choice for $2.00 extra. Regular all you can eat menu has soups, salads, dim sum, appetizers, thai, chinese, sushi, sashimi, handrolls and pizza options. Premium menu is the regular menu plus a dessert and chef’s special menu.

I tried the har gow, udon teriyaki noodles, salmon sashimi, unagi (bbq eel) dragon roll, dynamite roll and spicy salmon roll. The only thing I didnt like was the udon noodles and that was because they kind of tasted bland and kind of funny. I asked if I could not be charged for not finishing the noodles because they tasted weird and I didnt want to get sick from eating them. Our waiter acted like he’s doing me such a favour that I am totally turned off by it. I ask for the bill, we pay and leave.

Therefore, if I plan to eat at Spring Rolls…I will probably make my way to the Dundas or Front St. location if I can.

Website: http://www.springrolls.ca/home.php
Location: 693 Yonge St, Toronto ON M4Y 2B6
Telephone: (416) 972 – 6623
Hours: Monday to Thursday – 11am to 11pm, Friday & Saturday – 11am to 12am, Sunday – 12pm to 11pm

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Spring Rolls on Urbanspoon

Bier Market – The Esplanade ★ 1/2

Price: $15-30+ depending on meal

Two words: BAD SERVICE! In my TOP 5 WORST Service Experiences.

Came here with friends for a holiday get together. We made reservations for 14 people and confirmed this with the restaurant. Knowing this, they gave us a table that can fit 8-10 max and to figure out how to sit the remaining people ourselves. We couldn’t even get chairs! Waitress was so unhelpful, all I heard was “no i cant..no, sorry…unfortunately, no..” … you get my drift. I would provide a name but she wasn’t wearing a tag and actually, everyone was basically unhelpful. I managed to get 1 extra chair after asking repeatedly. I inquired to the waitress AGAIN, a staff member (who said she would find someone to help but never did) and finally a hostess (who must have sensed I was getting frustrated and might have asked for a manager if I didn’t get my chairs).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the company, food and music. Just not the service. I know we were a big group but I think the tip would have made up for the hassle? Also, there were so many extra chairs lying around I just wanted to grab one myself. I guess they were just trying to save them to fit in as many paying customers as possible. Though some of the chairs were still empty when I left the place. Anyway, whats more frustrating is that they wanted us to coat check too, charging $3 per coat and $5 if you place it together with someone. Sorry but this seemed like a rip off to me, its not a club but a restaurant & bar. I would assume that would be complimentary and if not, at least given as an option. Not basically forced to do it so we can have enough room to sit.

I am not totally writing this place off because everything else isn’t bad. The food, beer and band are okay. Band played later then expected though, started around 10:15pm instead of 9pm. I had the Market Poutine $13 and Fruli Strawberry Wheat Ale $6.42. Both which I liked and would try again. The poutine was very filling and the ale was almost sweet as juice. If I ever do come back, I might try the Delirium Tremens Ale $7.74. I recommend trying this place only if you are in the area and in the mood for pub food. However, come with very low expectations! Perhaps you will have better luck then I.

It gets really noisy and crowded later though, so not ideal for any romantic dates or meetings. Dress Code: No hoodies but a sweater and jean outfit should be fine.

Website: http://www.thebiermarkt.com/
Location: 58 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON M5E 1A6
Telephone: (416) 862 – 7575
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday – 11am to 1am, Thursday to Saturday – 11am to 2am

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Bier Markt - Esplanade on Urbanspoon

Sassafraz ★★★

Price: $50+

My friend and I were shopping around Yorkville and suddenly felt like grabbing a bite at a new restaurant. We were debating between Sassafraz and One (which we couldn’t even identify until we basically went up to the hostess to check menu’s. I guess the restaurant doesn’t need to advertise it much). We ended up going to Sassafraz despite the reviews I read online (I saw a lot of bad reviews so I wasn’t inclined to eat there anytime soon). However, my other friends went there before and convinced me it was all right. My friend and I splurged and didnt go during their prix fix menu events. So this review is based on a regular weekday at the restaurant.

I have been here twice (went again for a birthday dinner during a regular weeknight too) and the restaurant itself is really nice. It’s like a house with yellow-coloured exterior and white furnishing inside. I believe they have 4 sections where you can eat: patio, restaurant inside, s-cafe bar on main floor and private event area upstairs.

I tried the halibut and striploin, both around $36. I found the halibut a bit dry and the striploin a little greasy If you are visiting there for the first time or haven’t had the chance to try it, I would recommend the striploin anyway or perhaps the trout (friends said they were okay). Note – the striploin comes with a cute pour cup of sauce!! Sorry, I am easily amused and a sucker for cute things like that. Haha. Service was nice and efficient on both visits, with a free chocolate at the end as a finishing touch.

To sum things up, this place is nice for dates, work meetings or lunches, group dinners, etc. Dress code: Semi-Dressy/Business.

Website: http://www.sassafraz.ca/default.aspx
Location: 100 Cumberland St. Toronto ON M5R 1A6
Telephone: (416) 964-2222
Hours: Monday: 11:30 to 12:00am, Tuesday to Friday: 11:30 am to 2am, Saturday: 11am to 2am, Sunday: 11am to 12am

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Sassafraz on Urbanspoon

Pickle Barrel – Atrium ★★

Price: $15-20+

This is a popular place frequented by students, families and professionals looking to grab a bite and have drinks after work. The atrium downtown location near Eaton Centre is where I usually eat, so I will be basing my review on that. I recommend their seafood linguine, sweet potato fries, italian sausage penne, grilled chicken hummus wrap and cheesecake. I dont recommend their soups, esp. the chicken soup w/ matzo ball. It seemed like something from a cambells soup can with just two large meat balls. What also recently turned me off was when I ordered a mojito, I found a bug in it! If it occurs again, I’ll lower my rating.

Service here is sometimes spotty as well. For example, for my last visit the hostess was clearly not having a good day with all the glares, no smiles and greetings she was showing. But the waitress for our table was very nice, always checking up us. Their roles could easily be switched if I had gone on another day. So I don’t think they have consistent service.

Website: http://www.picklebarrel.ca/index.php
Menu: http://www.picklebarrel.ca/menu/pickle_barrel_menus/grand.pdf
Location: 312 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M5B 1R4
Telephone: (416) 977 – 6677
Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 8am to 11pm, Friday & Saturday: 8am to 12am.

The Pickle Barrel on Urbanspoon

Moxies ★★1/2

Price: $25+

I went to Moxies, a popular restaurant chain for my birthday. It was a restaurant I hadn’t tried and was kinda convenient to eat at. Decor is nice and lighting is somewhat dark, giving it a relaxing atmosphere I guess. I think our waitress was kind of new, she didn’t really seem experienced but she was friendly so I have no real complaints there. Now with the food, I had a seafood linguine and a strawberry-blueberry daiquiri. I found there was too much sauce in the pasta and the daiquiri was overly sweet even for me (which is saying a lot).

Not sure about this place yet, I don’t necessarily love or hate it at the moment. I’ll update my review should I ever happen to visit it again though. Moxies is a place to go with friends and family but not anything business related.

Website: http://www.moxies.ca/
Location: Various locations, review for 3401 Dufferin Street, Toronto, ON M6A
Telephone: (416) 787 – 7600
Hours: Sunday to Monday – 11am to 12am, Tuesday to Thursday – 11am to 1am, Friday to Saturday – 11am to 2am.

Moxie's Classic Grill on Urbanspoon