Non-Italian food on College Street, Little Italy and the College Promenade in Toronto

My recommendations:
Bar Pompette
Bricolage
The Caledonian
Pompette Bakery
Liu (Baklava and Lokum)
Tsuchi
Kiss My Pans

Places I want to try:
Quetzal
Pompette

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Bar Isabel was still very good the last time we went. Same with Bar Raval. DaiLo is very good.

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The dinner time patios at Dailo, Bar Raval and Bar Isabel are a little too busy for me!

Weirdly, not everything on the menu is available to go at Bar Isabel and Bar Raval.

The dishes that are available through their website for pickup aren’t the dishes I like to order.

I almost ordered dinner at Bar Isabel on Wed night, but their website wasn’t taking orders while the patio was still full. I thought about asking the host about placing an order in person for the dishes I wanted, since the website made it impossible to order around 9:30 pm. A lot of restaurants don’t seem to fill pick-up orders after 9 pm, even when the restaurant is open for walk-ins until 10 pm.

I still have to figure out which upscale restaurants offer takeout for pick up after 9 pm.

I ultimately got takeout at Mannat, because it was quick.

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This thread prompted us to go back to Bar Raval last night as the last time we went was pre-pandemic. To our complete surprise, there was no wait to get a spot at the bar when we arrived at about 7:30 PM on a Friday. To be sure, it was fairly busy and got more packed over the course of the evening, but we were expecting a wait.

Cocktails remain expertly crafted, with helpful explanations from the staff as we watched them prepare them. All the food remains excellent, though a few leaned a bit heavy on the salt (to make you drink more we presumed).

Our cocktails included:


Porcelina [left]: Dillon’s dry gin 7, Junmai sake, elderflower, honeydew, lime and miso - deliciously sweet and tangy with a touch of earthy saltiness.
Palomita [right]: Fino sherry, Cynar, spiced grapefruit, lime, soda - a refreshing citrusy drink, with a hint of complexity from the Cynar, perfect for a warm evening.


Later Days [right]: Flor de Caña 12-year rum, Raval fig liqueur, cognac, Casa Mariol black vermouth, verjus and mole nut bitters - spirit forward but so well-balanced with a bit of sweet/bitter and lots of nuttiness. Under the Bridge [middle]: Agua Santa Mezcal, Cream Sherry, red pepper, cucumber, and makrut lime - nice, tasted mainly of cucumber. We didn’t try the one on the left, which our friend enjoyed.


Happy Medium: Amaro Lucano, Amontillado sherry, Yuzu, toasted black sesame, lemon and palo santo - especially amazing, the sweet sesame was really pronounced and the tart citrus was next.


Scallop crudo with compressed cucumber, trout roe, dill - simple, fresh and light.


Lightly cooked clams, served cold and enhanced with tarragon and other herbs.


Tomato bread - massive hunks of crusty bread with garlic and sweet tomatoes.


Jamon croquetas - gorgeous bits of ham in hot cheese


Tuna pickle Gilda - skewer with two big chucks of pickle around raw albacore in sea salt, hot peppers, raw onion and an olive - lots of salt but very delicious (and huge)


Chistorra and quail egg - skewer of spicy chorizo-like sausages, hot pepper between, and lovely gently hard boiled quail egg on top, over more crusty bread.

Stracciatella and boquerones (no pic) - lightly pickled fish on cream fresh cheese. Shishitos with sea salt (no pic) - good, though nothing different from other versions. 36-month Iberico (no pic) - sweet and nutty.


Mackerel special with tomato sauce and olives and dill - richly flavoured.


Asparagus and pancetta - 1-2 spears of roasted asparagus, wrapped with pancetta, with grated cheese over and a lovely mustardy sauce.


Lamb ribs with pickle slices and a sort of chimichurri - tender meat, with a sweet glaze.


Basque cheesecake - rich, carmelized, and not too sweet.

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I have enjoyed that dish at Bar Raval a few times! I always order the croquetas, as well.

I wish Bar Raval still opened at 8 am like it once did.

They switched to opening at 11 am or 12 noon around 2018.

Have you been to Casa Paco yet?

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I have not tried Casa Paco. Our list of places to try keeps growing and we can’t keep pace!

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Good to see that Bar Raval is still going strong. That and Bar Isabel were my two favourite places to eat in Toronto, pre pandemic. I liked them even better than Alo. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was fun and relaxed.

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I still haven’t been to Alo. I had a reservation when it first opened in 2014, for my birthday , and decided it wasn’t right for a fussy friend who was joining me, so we went to Splendido instead. I tried to get a reservation once or twice. I did go to the bar upstairs, and to Aloette, and I’ve been to AloBar in Yorkville a few times.

I think I’ve been to Bar Raval around a dozen times, but only made it to Bar Isabel once.
——
I plan to visit Bar Isabel’s patio soon.

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Alo was a lovely experience. The food was excellent and it was in a beautiful space. I would go again. I just felt more “at home” in Raval. I was also a real fan of Brockton General when it was still around.

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I completely understand that.

I feel at home at Union on Ossington and at Enoteca Sociale.

I haven’t been doing tasting menus or long dinners lately. 2 courses, or a few tapas or mezes, and an occasional dessert is perfect for me these days.

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I ordered a vegetarian basil stir fry and green mango salad to-go from Crystal Thani Thai tonight. It was decent, but not as good as Nana or Pai. Crystal Thani is open until 11 pm on a Sunday night. I was surprised how many patios were still fairly full on College St at 10 pm on a Sunday night. I will probably try Imm Thai next time, but they close earlier.

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The Mishwi Vegetables at Lebanese Garden. $15. Be warned the fattoush will be packed under the hot vegetables if you choose fattoush as a side.
I will be back.

I’m keeping track of places where I order a take-out dinner with lots of vegetables for less than $25.


Pho Hà Nội and Thindi Café caught my eye.

https://www.doordash.com/en-CA/store/pho-ha-noi-toronto-24158347/

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Nice baked goods at Coco’s coffee shop at 668 College St. Good pineapple upside down cake and cheddar corn jalapeño scone!!



Nice $10 breakfast sandwich at Janelle’s at 873 College. The photo is of half the sandwich. Very soft roll. Generous amount of scrambled egg.


https://janelleskitchen.ca/

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Coco’s has become my local over the past 3 months.
Today’s pumpkin muffin.

Nile River Egyptian

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I enjoyed Brazilian Feijoada to go from Casa Tropical tonight. They’re open 7 days a week.

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Take-out brunch from Ohiru Café, a Japanese brunch spot. This is my 3rd take-out brunch from Ohiru. The café is small and cozy, and all the tables were full at 1 pm on a holiday Monday.

The smoked salmon Benny costs $18.50. Good version. The meal was ready in 15 minutes.



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