August 2013

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Toronto’s Dîner en Blanc transforms a dismal parking lot into a magical dining experience

An hour before Toronto’s second official Dîner en Blanc was slated to commence, 1,600 people were eagerly checking their emails because they still hadn’t a clue where this year’s event was going to take place. Last year, 1,400 people gathered at Fort York (in the rain no less!). Part of this international pop-up dinner party’s magic is that guests don’t know where they’re headed to until the eleventh hour (6 p.m. in this case).

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Tony Aspler’s Weekly Wine Pick: an Australian red that pairs well with barbecue

A little sister to Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz. Deep ruby-purple colour; savoury nose of black fruits, herbs and pepper; dry, full-bodied, spicy, licorice, blackberry and toasty oak flavours. Good value.

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Coming soon to Toronto: hamburgers from Marky Mark and Donnie

Mark and Donnie Wahlberg — yeah, that Mark and that Donnie — own a hamburger chain, and it’s coming to Toronto. Wahlburgers, as it’s called, will be opening at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel by early 2014. The brothers own the chain with one of their other siblings, Paul, who acts as executive chef and who nobody has ever heard of.

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First Draught: Switchback IPA, an excellent hop-driven beer from BC

It wasn’t too long ago when beer from BC only reached Ontario in a very slow stream of drips and drops. We would get an occasional selection like Red Racer, or a few entries from Howe Sound, but things finally seem to be changing. A few weeks ago, a six-pack sampler of BC beers arrived on LCBO shelves.

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First Look: Teppan Kenta, a new teppanyaki from a Japanese expat

Teppan Kenta, a new teppanyaki run by a Japanese expat, has taken over the space previously occupied by Tokyo-based izakaya Nejibee. Teppan Kenta, which is tucked into a small alley behind Wellesley Street, is hoping to flourish where Nejibee floundered because, unlike its predecessor, Kenta is offering a more intimate dining experience, rather than a cookie-cutter one.

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Table Talk: Joanne Kates reviews THR & Co.

Meh. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. THR & Co. is what happened when the Harbord Room was super successful: Messis next door went on the block, and chef/co-owner Cory Vitiello of the Harbord Room just couldn’t resist.

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Drink This: The Beaver’s El Diablo

The Beaver has been a Queen West staple since before the street’s westernmost reaches were deemed cool. The low-key space, fit with a long bar, wooden tables and a large picture window — perfect for people-gazing — is full of freelancers and café dwellers during the day. Come sundown, things get a tad rowdier, with some nights witnessing karaoke and others resulting in a raging party on the tiny dance floor.

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Eating Gross Things: fish head soup at Catch

Squeamish eaters are weird. They will readily eat minced whatever in their hamburgers, or slurp the pork buttock off their plates with glee, but then avoid eating animal heads. This is messed up.

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Toronto’s Best Sandwiches: Euro Pasta’s grilled chicken

Originally from Albania, Besnik and Dhurata Gjunkshi opened up the Junction’s Euro Pasta back in 2009. The long and narrow shop offers up homey foods that showcase family recipes passed down through generations. Popular eats include the daily soup, the stuffed cabbage rolls and the baklava, made from a secret honey-free recipe that results in a better texture.

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First Look: Gourmeats, a new family-run butcher shop in the Junction

If you peer through the front window of the Junction’s newest butcher shop, Gourmeats, you’ll see barn beam table with three stools. No, this little nook isn’t for munching on your prepared foods (they aren’t making any, at least not yet) — it’s the meal-planning table.

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