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We Finally Tried Porter House

IMG_20150226_212002Porter House opened in December at 1321 Dundas Street West, former home to Brockton General, and we finally got in last night!

Yes, we have tried unsuccessfully a couple of other times to find a seat at this new vegan pub on Dundas a few blocks west of Ossington, mostly on weekends. Porter House does not take reservations, and the food is good and plentiful, so be prepared for a little waiting time during busy periods.

One of the main reasons that Porter House should be popular is its description: a vegan pub with craft beer. That’s the first of its kind in our part of town, if not the whole downtown, and they deliver on both counts and then some: tasty, filling vegan meals and a good list of uncommon craft brews from Oast House, Bellwoods, Great Lakes and many more.

We got 2 snacks – the root vegetable salad and the curry fries – and one plate – the lentil and ale pie – to share. The portions are generous: we had leftovers. If you’re not vegan, it shouldn’t make a difference; we omnivores thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

Root Vegetable Salad:

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Lentil & Ale Pie:

IMG_20150226_203335Decor of craft beer:

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Sign for a cold winter’s night:

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109 Oz Demolition Begins

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.59.01 PMThe people who purchased homes at 109 Oz can be happy, as they have finally started demolishing the building which previously occupied the space. Yes, the storage facility (which showcased the heritage of Ossington, (sic)) is being knocked down for a condo.

There are fences up, probably to prevent people getting too close and hurting themselves, so it’s not easy to get photos, but we took some and they are posted below:

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Here’s what it is supposed to look like when it’s done:

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La Cubana opens on Ossington

IMG_20150214_124403After much anticipation, La Cubana is finally open! Yes, as of this weekend, we now have a Cuban joint on Ossington. The owners of one of the early restaurants that made the strip famous, DeLux, have converted 92 Ossington into a snack bar style restaurant – similar to their successful location on Roncesvalles.

 

We already stopped in for lunch today. The space is bright and cheery, and the Cuban jazz playing on the stereo enhanced the party mood. It is a snack bar, so when you arrive, you must go to the counter to place your order. They are new, but we didn’t have to wait long for anything.

The menu is small and focuses on a few Cuban specialties including medianoche sandwiches and larger plates of ribs and roasted chicken. You can complement these with authentic side dishes of tostones, conch fritters and yuca frita.

They have a beer specially made for them, La Cubana beer, make by the Junction Brewing Company, vintage sodas, and red and white wine, as well as a selection of mixed cocktails including Cuban favorites mohitos and Cuba Libres.

For this opening weekend they are open from noon until 10pm today and tomorrow, and closed Monday, while reserving the right to change those hours while they are learning the ropes and training.

The snack bar:

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Cafe con leche:

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Guava BBQ short ribs plate:

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Traditional Medianoche

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Snack bar style:

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Local Festival For Video Game and New Media Art

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Vector Festival is in town next week, and InterAccess on the south end of Ossington is a partner and the main host of this festival which celebrates and showcases art in games and new media. The line-up sounds informative and fun, and while some events are ticketed, there are many freebies too!

Running from Wednesday, February 18th – Sunday, February 22nd, the festival offers lots of opportunities to explore, discover and enjoy new media and video game art, with workshops, exhibitions, parties and more. They are also using venues at Bento Miso workspace south of Trinity Bellwoods and Videofag in Kensington.

At Interaccess, the events start next Wednesday night with a free opening reception from 7-9PM. One highlight  is on Saturday night, where 3 Canadians perform their versions of computer music.

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Sounds interesting, right?

Hawker Bar Adds 2nd Floor Dining Room

If you’ve ever tried to get into Ossington’s Singapore street food restaurant Hawker Bar on a weekend night, it could be a challenge. But that’s now going to change. Hawker Bar has finally opened their second floor dining room to expand their seating area, and serve more hungry customers.

In early 2013, the team at Hawker applied to the city for a back patio to add to their small space, but unfortunately their application was denied. The plans then changed to renovate and redevelop the second floor. For about a year they’ve been gutting and rebuilding and the last couple of nights they’ve offered a sneak peek with a soft opening. They’ve also added some new menu items, including the “”Fry””-nanese and a Black Angus Strip Loin, pictured below.

Expect a public opening this coming Sunday, February 15. For more updates, follow their hashtag #HawkerUpstairs

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Spring Awakening Entertains at The Lower Ossington Theatre

Tspringhe latest musical onstage at Lower Ossington Theatre is 2006’s multiple Tony winning story of sexual teenagers in turn of the century Germany, Spring Awakening. The rock musical is now playing on the small stage on Ossington Avenue, where it opened this weekend.

For those who don’t know, the musical was created with music by pop singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik. The original Broadway production launched careers of stars who went on to Glee, Pitch Perfect, The Newsroom and other hits.

The show offers a glimpse into the repressed lives of German teens in the 1890s as they discover their sexuality in many different ways. This is a very dramatic musical, and the stars at LOT deliver worthy performances. It’s also impressive to have a full live band backing the singers and dancers – the show is lively even when it’s sad. Spring Awakening runs 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission. Some of the topics are mature, and songs with names like “It’s A Bitch” and “Totally Fucked” tell you who you should and should not bring with you.

Spring Awakening is heartfelt and features drama and some laughs along with great vocals and the players put their all into the performances. It’s onstage until March 1st and tickets are available here.

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 Photo credit: Seanna Kennedy.

 

Restaurant News – Feb 2015

opensignThe Toronto restaurant scene is always changing, and our part of Toronto is no different. We’ve got some information on new and upcoming restaurants on Dundas and Ossington, plus a couple of changes at existing dining spots.

Three restaurants have opened in the last month and a half. We haven’t even made it to all of them, but we did post about Hanmoto on Lakeview.

Another new spot on Dundas is a vegan restaurant and beer bar called Porter House. Located in the space previously occupied by Brockton General, it’s getting good reviews for it’s meat-free fare and relaxed atmosphere. We’ll let you know when we get in!

Another newly open Dundas west eatery we’ve visited is Junked Food Co. With a menu of what they’re calling “gourmet junk food”, they’re serving up the snacks late at 1256 Dundas West and Dovercourt – open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.

We’ve also already told you about the salon at Cote De Boeuf. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to remind you of their buck a shuck oysters, tasty ribs, drinks and more they are serving Thursday – Saturday night and all Sunday afternoon.

When the owners of Ossington’s much loved Hawker Bar‘s attempts to add a patio were denied by the city, they built up. They are renovating the 2nd floor so they can feed more people more of the time. They’re renovating right now so expect word on the #HawkerUpstairs any minute now!

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Coming soon-ish to 229 Ossington, former home of beloved Yours Truly, is a lounge and bar called La Saucisserie. They posted some signs this weekend, and they are hiring. PS. Did you know there is a working pay phone on Ossington? Just realized it myself.

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Another much missed dining spot, The Grove, is being converted into a restaurant called Ufficio (Italian for Office). We spoke to one of the employees outside on the cold sidewalk this weekend and learned that it will feature a chef from Campagnolo and will focus on fish and vegetables in a Mediterranean style. They don’t expect to be open until April.

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Finally, popular Greek taverna Mamakas is expanding their hours – as of February 15, they’ll be serving Sunday brunch.

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Enjoy your eating adventures around the neighborhood! Let us know what you liked!

Junked Now Open

junkedsignJunked Food Co is now open and serving creative and tasty snacks. In a former kitchen store at Dundas and Dovercourt, Junked has prime placement for the Dundas West hungry.

Located at 1256 Dundas West, Junked is a take-out joint for locals and the local bar crowd. They open at 6PM and close as late as 4am on the weekends, and have two tables, each with one seat. They also do not serve liquor.

With dishes like deep dish pizza, sandwiches made out of donuts, and chili on top of Doritos, Junked will serve all of your snack cravings. We tried some of the food tonight, and this is not your mini market junk food. They make a lot of their ingredients from scratch and you can taste the freshness and quality. They are officially open as of tonight, so stop by!

We took some photos of the interior and the food.

The menu:
junked menuThe interior

junkedinsideThe bacon and cheese donut:

wafflebaconMac and cheese:

macncheeseJunkedThe “Treat Yo-Self” dessert:

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Now Open: Hanmoto

Hanmoto, the new snack bar from the men behind Oddseoul, is at 2 Lakeview Avenue just north of Dundas and has been soft open for a few days. We stopped in on Friday evening and sampled some of the delicious Japanese snack food. The place was already hopping when we arrived and very busy – with a wait list – when we finished.

Hanmoto is a tiny space, maybe fitting 20-25 people max. They’ve converted what was for a very short time a men’s vintage store into a bar, kitchen with sushi bar, and 5-6 tables for diners. It’s really that small.

We tried some hamachi tartare, Japanese shisito peppers and eggplant. The peppers were among the most popular dishes, along with the Moto bun, a “burger” of chicken curry and daikon in a soft bun. We’ll have to go back and get one!

The exterior of Hanmoto – there’s no sign, so don’t miss it:

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The food menu:

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And our peppers:

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They tweeted that they’ll be open daily as of tomorrow from 6p-2a, so we’ll all have time to try the Moto Bun and more.

hanMotoFeb2

Ossington Business Profile #18 – The Saint

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The Saint Tavern is one of the anchor restaurants on the Ossington strip. Serving a bacon-heavy brunch and classic contemporary dishes all week long to crowds from across the GTA, The Saint has been well-reviewed since opening – after a long delay – in 2012.

We spoke with the executive chef from The Saint, Jesse Vallins, about his restaurant.

Tell our readers a bit about your business?

The Saint is a classic tavern.  We’re a love-all, serve-all establishment with no pretense.  We have great food and warm, welcoming hospitality. No matter if you are there for a post work drink, a three-course prix-fixe Sunday Supper, or a weekend brunch with friends, we’ve got you covered! We specialize is sausages too. We offer a great wine, cocktail and beer selection.

How is your business unique?
We’re unique in a couple of ways.  First is our approach to food; we’re cooking very simple, familiar food, the food that people want to eat, but doing everything from scratch, and making the best versions of the dishes we do.  Second is that as a tavern in the classic sense, we’re a place that people can come for different reasons and different price points.  You can come in with a friend for oysters and cocktails; you can come in on your own for a burger and a beer; you can come with a big group and go all out on a family style feast with great wine.  We aren’t trying to be part of any scene, we just want people to come in and have a great time.  The Saint is one of King Street Food Company’s restaurants (Buca King, Buca Yorkville, Bar Buca, Jacobs, Jamie’s Italian Canada) and as a company, our goal is to provide a consistently great dining experience with the freshest and best sourced ingredients, an artisanal approach to the craft, a warm and sophisticated atmosphere, and a thoughtful approach to hospitality.

How long have you been in business here?

The Saint has been open for about three years.  I’ve been with King Street Food Company for two.

What drew you to be on Ossington?

We were drawn to Ossington because of the diversity of the neighbourhood and its establishments.  There is a real sense of community, along with a dynamic vibe. I think that combination is why it stays down to earth.

What changes have you seen on Ossington since your business has been here?

The area changes all the time but the thing I like best is how it stays the same. While it is a destination for eating and drinking, it’s also a true neighbourhood all day long, with local businesses of every kind. New restaurants, bars and shops have opened and closed over the time we’ve been here but the blend of new residents and families who’ve been in the area for generations keep it solid.

How do you see your business and Ossington five years from now?

We want to continue to be a neighbourhood tavern; a place where you can come for comfort food done right, a pint from our list of craft beer options on tap, and consistently great service. As for Ossington, I can’t wait to see what it looks like in five years. If the last five are any indication it will continue to thrive!

What is your favorite spot on Ossington, other than your own? and why?

Bellwoods Brewery.  They’re brewing some of the best beer in Ontario. We have a wide selection of craft beers on tap at The Saint and I love the fact that beer geeks like me have multiple great options on the Ossington strip.  I drop in a few times a week there to pick up beer to bring home!

The Saint, 227 Ossington Ave. Toronto ON. M6J 2Z8 | T: 647 350 2100

 

To read more profiles of the businesses on Ossington click here.

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