Secret patios Okay, they’re not secret, but you won’t see these hidden hideaways from the street By SteveN DAvey
553 Church, at Dundonald, 416-926-2501, 553church.com. If you were to take Renda Abdo’s other two restaurants – nearby 7 West and Wish on Charles – and mash them together, you’d get Smith: a chic South Beachstyle resto-lounge squeezed into a threestorey Victorian townhouse. You can’t miss the patio out front. It looks like someone plonked an Ikea sofa on the sidewalk, then built a wooden fence around it. Not terribly intimate, but up on the second floor overlooking the street, you’ll find a cozy two-seat veranda that oozes l’amour toujours l’amour. The contemporary locavore carte’s built for sharing as well, and features on-trend mains like pork belly tacos with acidulated onion ($14) and house-made charcuterie with all the accoutrements ($17). Better still, ride a bicycle-built-for-two – or any other bike – to weekend brunch and get a 10 per cent discount on food! Dinner Tuesday and Wednesday 5 to 11 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5 pm to midnight. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Licensed. Access: nine steps at door, washrooms upstairs.
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1182 Queen E, at Rushbrooke, 416-4635663. Though its not likely worth the drive across town, George Wensley’s low-key Leslieville trat is very definitely a neighbourhood treasure, especially its treeshaded 45-seat back-garden deck once patio season kicks come, oh, February. Gotta love that global warming! Under the whispering elm, regulars know to stick to signatures like grilled Mediterranean-style calamari with capers and kalamatas ($10) or pasta specials like rustic capellini in pesto with grilled chicken ($18). And though they’ll never top those at Queen Margherita down the street, Ms. Jones’s thin-crusted pizzas dressed with Italian sausage and grilled rapini ($15) more than hold their own. Tuesday to Saturday 5 to 10 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, holidays. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, but small washrooms.
208 Queen W, at Duncan, 416-598-4719, queenmothercafe.ca. And you thought the patio at Playa Cabana was hard to find? Once located, the trellised 46-seat garden tucked away behind the Queen Mum is definitive downtown al fresco dining. But that requires getting there first. Here’s the drill: in the front door and past the booths, hang a right at the bar and head for the stairs to the basement. Cross the hall and up another set of stairs, et voilà – patio perfection! Collapse at a table, order the Mum’s legendary pad thai ($13.95) and classic Ping Gai chicken ($17.95) and feel like the summer lasts forever. Monday to Saturday 11:30 am to 1 am. Brunch Sunday 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, dinner till midnight. Licensed. Access: barrierfree, washrooms in basement.
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1426 Bloor W, at Sterling, 647-342-1567. Since launching three years ago, this extremely low-key trat in the mystical Junction Triangle has proven a favourite of frugal foodies who prefer their grub locally
If you’ve been thinking of performing live there is no friendlier time than the
South Beach-style resto Smith’s intimate second-floor patio looks out over Church. sourced and ecologically minded. Why, even the booze comes from somewhere nearby. It’s even more of an insider destination now that owners Paul Hardy and Heather Braaten have expanded into the resto’s fenced-in backyard. Mains like housemade steak ’n’ cremini sausage ($11) or grilled peaches ($10, both over roasted local corn hummus and warm potato salad) remain a steal of a deal. And what other resto in town would have the nerve to play the Dirty Projectors’ early difficult work as dinner music? Wednesday to Monday from 10 am, lunch and weekend brunch from 10:30 am, dinner 5 to 10 pm. Bar till close. Closed Tuesday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement.
124 Harbord, at Major, 416-962-8284, tatibistro.com. Back when this south-Annex French café was known as Kensington Kitchen, its leafy rooftop deck was regularly voted Best Patio in NOW’s annual readers poll. Must have been that spreading chestnut tree. Having fallen off the radar somewhat of late since the change of culinary direction, Bistro has never been better, particularly for those looking for a little romance alongside their retro escargots ($9) and textbook steak frites ($24). Cheapskates will appreciate the three-course $25 prix fixe Sundays through Thursdays. Dinner nightly 6 pm to close. Brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Licensed. 3
A weekly look at what’s on LCBO shelves SaVe
WHAT: Garofoli Verdicchio 2010 (white) Rating: nnn WHERE: Marche, Italy WHY: Here’s what this wine isn’t: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling. Here’s what it is: herbal, savoury, refreshing, different but not difficult, great with lighter summer dishes and made by one of the region’s most respected producers. Another tasty option in the whites department. PRICE: 750 ml/$12.65 AVAILABILITY: At most liquor stores (product #277293)
By GRAHAM DUNCAN
WHAT: Rodney Strong Chalk Hill
ñChardonnay 2010 (white) Rating: nnnn
WHERE: Sonoma, California WHY: Smoky, buttery, creamy, stony, peaches, butterscotch, lively citrus-evoking acidity: yum! Start with a glass before dinner and proceed to something indulgent like the retro-decadence of chicken Kiev. While the name Rod Strong does indeed suggest, prior to winemaking, work in the entertainment industry, we would like to point out that his field was modern ballet. RS wines are certified by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. PRICE: 750 ml/$24.95 AVAILABILITY: At selected Vintages outlets (product #275552) 3 firstname.lastname@example.org
august 9-15 2012 NOW
= Critics’ Pick nnnnn = Rare perfection nnnn = Outstanding, almost flawless nnn = Recommended, worthy of repeat visits nn = Adequate n = You’d do better with a TV dinner