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Winterlicious at The Saint Tavern

Winterlicious is pretty much the best part of shitty ol’ winter in Toronto: I can wear a loose sweater to dinner and eat lots of high-end food for cheap prix-fixe prices all over the city for two weeks straight. I had to control myself on how many reservations I made this year considering we are going to Chicago next weekend, but The Saint Tavern was top of the list. I had been wanting to visit the Ossington watering hole and I was pumped to see fried chicken on their Winterlicious menu.

A warm host greeted us at the door and brought us over to one of the half-moon shaped leather booths that face the bar. Dimly lit with a 1940s style diner vibe, this pseudo-French-bistro-bar is adorned with globe lights, dark wood accents and white subway tile. Our dear friends Matt and Erin arrived a few minutes later, just long enough for us to order a cocktail, a Pimm’s Cup ($12) for me — delicious and fresh — and a La Fin du Monde ($8) for Adam.

The appetizers came quickly after Erin’s Ginnifer Connolly ($12) and Matt’s pint of Lowenbrau ($5). The Potato Soup was so creamy and flavourful with crispy cheesy bits that could have easily been mistaken for bacon they were so delicious and salty (Matt totally thought they were bacon bits).

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Erin went with the Wedge Salad: this 1950’s dinner staple was jazzed up with pickled veg and bacon praline. In true typical carnivorous fashion, Adam chose the Grilled Beef Salami with hot mustard and pickled shallot.

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For the mains, Erin and I went with the fried chicken and the boys went with burgers.

The Fried Chicken was served with smoked sweet potato puree that melted in your mouth, creamed collard greens and super sour pickled watermelon that added interesting texture to the dish.

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The server shocked (and delighted) Adam by asking him how he wanted his burger cooked — the med-rare Saint Cheeseburger was served with a giant pile of fries and bone marrow aioli.

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The Dark Chocolate Pudding with chili powder was devoured by three of us with a salted caramel waiting for us at the bottom of the bowl.

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Matt went with the Raw Milk Cheddar to end his meal with toasted baguette and beet chutney.

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If Winterlicious restaurant one was any indication of the deliciousness ahead of me this week, I am going to have to buy some bigger pants.

Stay tuned.

 

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Cacao70 in the Distillery

Cacao70 is a diabetic’s worst nightmare and a chocolate lover’s wet dream. An establishment devoted to cacao confections like fondue, crepes, hot chocolate, etc., the Montreal-based chain opened in the Distillery during the annual Christmas market, so naturally I avoided it like the plague until things settled down in the new year. My friend Kara and I met up last week to give the new choc-spot a try.

The freshly minted space is brightly lit with industrial fixtures and decorated with painted tile floors, eclectically covered banquets and mid-century knockoff chairs with chocolatey notes floating through the air. It looks chainy, as to be expected, but it’s comfortable and smelled ridiculously good, even from the sidewalk.

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Brunch at The Drake

 

The following comments could possibly exile me from The Six, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about with The Drake Hotel.

I went there for brunch last weekend to catch up with a friend. After consulting my Toronto Brunch Map and strolling along Queen West, we decided on The Drake because we both had never been there, and not living under a rock for the past decade, we both had heard so much about it.

There was no line so we didn’t have to wait long at all for a table (tip: if you stay at the hotel you get to skip the brunch line; in the short time we waited, two couples were seated who had just checked out).

The space is absolutely gorgeous and the atmosphere oozes hip with whiffs of Ossington trendiness hanging in the air. But the service was below average — those servers in denim aprons did not perform. We both had the classic breakfast and it was good, not great, but good. I loved the beans, and the toast was thick and fresh, but the tough bacon was a disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, I am dying to stay at The Drake Devonshire and have heard nothing but raves about the food there, but at $14 for an average breakfast at The Drake Hotel, I would rather spend $10 and get a solid Irish breakfast at George Street Diner.

The Lounge - The Drake Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wvrst is the best

Growing up I despised sausages: They looked weird and I hated how the casing burst in my mouth when I bit into to them. I was always a bacon girl — then one day out of the blue, I ordered a sausage with breakfast at some random diner and everything changed. What had I been thinking? The bursting case, the juicy meat inside; sausages really are the whole package. Young Gabby was just plain nuts!

My dad, on the other hand, loves sausages, so when my parents were visiting for the weekend I knew exactly where I wanted to take them after a morning of shopping on Queen West: Wvrst.

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Beast

I’m a carnivore. My sharp canines love to dig into a meaty dish (one a little sharper than the other after I chipped it eating a slice of pizza on a flight to Australia), so it’s not hard to guess why Beast has been on my to-eat list for awhile. Owned by Chef Scott Vivian and his baker extraordinaire wife Rochelle, this charmingly carnivorous restaurant off King West opened in 2010, and serves up some of the most drool-inducing, meat-centric small plates in the city. Last Saturday night, Adam and I got ready for our favourite kind of date night: a meat feast.

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Grand Banker Bar & Grill

Maybe it’s homesickness, maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe I’m just craving some fresh seafood, but damn you, Nova Scotia, you and your salty breezes are in my blood.

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