Patio Season [Toronto] [Ontario]

It looks like patio season is here, so I’m starting a new thread!

CaféTO has begun, so we will see more sidewalk dining again. I’m excited that there’s also some live music offered at some locations, such as The Emmett Ray on College W (which has excellent pub food , including a good shepherd’s pie)

https://www.theemmetray.com/

My next outdoor dinner will be at Lapinou on King West. I’ll post my photos after it happens.

I’m also booked for a patio brunch at Bar Reyna in a few weeks.

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Hope you enjoy Lapinou. The cocktails are generally very good, although they also have some nice French wines by the glass. Get the bread rolls along with the house smoked ham and then make great sandwiches. The duck confit cassoulet is also very good.

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I tried the Le Diable cocktail which I liked a lot ( pictured) and the Bon Iver cocktail (not pictured, essentially a sweet cranberry whisky sour) which was fair.

Tables were well-spaced and the patio was half-full on a Saturday night.

image

The bread rolls were delicious and worth ordering. They were probably the biggest wow for me. Lol.

The fried squash was pretty good, but would have been better if it was fried in hotter oil.
Fried Squash topped with Pepitas

The steak frites ($36) was quite good. I haven’t ordered it anywhere else lately, so can’t compare.
Steak Frites with aioli

It was a good place to visit with this particular friend.

I want to start revisiting other bistros with patios to compare. I used to spend a fair amount of time on King West 15 years ago. Not my kind of neighbourhood anymore. It was chaotic tonight, the other patios were packed.

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Nice gastropub share plates at The Dog & Tiger on College.
Good shrimp empanada (oil should have been hotter for frying IMO)

Nice chicken croquettes

Lamb bacon with pickled ramps on toast

Their take on a Dark & Stormy

I would go back .

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Went to One for brunch on Sunday. We have found it only OK before, but we had visiting friends who wanted something near where they were staying. It remains OK:

  • iced latte - OK
  • regular latte - OK, a little cooled down
  • blueberry scone with lemon curd, pain au chocolat, and regular croissant (with a giant amount of butter beside) - all nice, lemon curd not that tart but pleasant
  • Shakshouka - two poached eggs (runny), a little feta, lovely tomato/pepper sauce, lots of challah toast (a bit overly-crumbly)
  • Eggs Benedict - with “artisan ham” on brioche and tasty potatoes, eggs were not runny though
  • Buttermilk pancakes - five big pancakes with whipped cheesecake, graham crumble and stewed blueberries - best dish of the lot
  • avocado toast - fine, not remarkable

Then on Tuesday we went to Figo, before the opera. It remains good, although a few things kept it from being great:

  • Rosalina - empress gin, Cocchi white, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, guerra dry vermouth, cherry syrup and a lovely boozy cherry for each of us - fun, beautiful pale purple colour, floral and very cherry.
  • glass of 2020 Piona Gavi, cortese, Piemonte - delicious, gentle, creamy and kind of hazelnutty.
  • glass of 2019 Peter Zemmer ‘Rolhut’ Pinot noir, alto adige - smelled minerally, flavour was too subtle for our food though
  • Sea bream crudo: Meyer lemon, cucumber, extra-virgin olive oil, pickled fennel, chili - a bit overboard with the lemon and the fish itself seemed not quite fresh
  • Artichoke and Gem Insalata: pistachio vinaigrette (creamy), frisee, marinated artichokes, crispy artichokes, basil, pecorino, Espelette powdered on top, also capers - lovely flavour but disappointing the crispy artichoke is just a few leaves- were hoping for whole deep fried hearts, and didn’t notice any basil.
  • Paccheri: olive oil confit rabbit, peas, wild mushrooms, butter, ricotta - sadly the rabbit was kind of dry/tough and very salty, but the dish was not too buttery, nice basil, lovely huge king mushrooms, very good pasta.
  • mortadella pizza: Taleggio Bechamel, pistachio, (pickled) artichoke, ricotta Salata - nice and the acid from the pickle was helpful, but the pickles were too salty, and the pistachios were subtle. The dough was lovely though (crisp and chewy).
  • Panna cotta: pink peppercorn, citrus (blood and regular oranges), mint - delightful, just right, with nice accents from the pink peppercorn.
  • Chocolate semifreddo: almonds (in the chocolate coating under and around the sides), budino over top, salted caramel drizzle, amaretti (crumbs on top) - very nice.
  • Decaf americano - well they brought a macchiato but oh well.
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My friend had wanted to try One when she was late meeting me for our planned brunch at Bar Reyna. Bar Reyna had tried to accommodate, pushing our brunch back to 11:45, but my friend was even later than that. The available tables at One were in the sun, as were the available tables at Cibo. We ate at the Duke of York, which has been better at lunch and dinner, in my experience. (It’s convenient for me , so I have given them a lot of business- the wings, the chicken pot pie, the chicken curry, the burger, the shepherd’s pie are decent) The patio is shaded, would not recommend their English Breakfast.

I had one brunch at One maybe 5 years ago, and found it just okay as well. At least it’s consistent, I suppose.

I want to try the patio brunch at Cano on St Clair W. I may also revisit Old School on Dundas W, which was okay in 2018.

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I was taken out to George for my birthday as their courtyard patio is again open. The food remains excellent, with many flavours integrating on the plate and plenty to appeal to the eye. I won’t post every photo since we both had the 10-course menu and each of us gets different courses. We also split one wine pairing, which also had some great choices (although some occasional minor misinformation from the sommelier about grape type). There were also a few minor missteps from the servers, bringing the wrong plate to us occasionally. This is likely an outcome of the pandemic, with many of the more experienced staff having moved on and relatively new ones in place.

  • bread - focaccia, baguette and flatbreads - focaccia particularly delicious, with rosemary hints
  • glass of Baud Brut Crémant du Jura - very appley and a little nutty
  • amuse-bouche: ricotta with sausage, sweet potato chips and avocado, and perhaps a tamarind chili sauce
  • glass of Alto Adige Tradition Gewurztraminer, 2020, Kellerei Cantina Terlan - smells strongly of apricot but totally dry - very striking, really loved this wine
  • Crab cake, orange, raspberry, nasturtium - nice crisp to the edges
  • ^ potato-wrapped tuna, asparagus - a recurring favourite
  • glass of Domaine Denizot, Millesime, 2019, Sancerre Sauvignon blanc - fresh, tart
  • watermelon and salmon, quinoa, sprouts - fresh and light
  • ^ cauliflower and hamachi, radish, chives, tiny mushrooms - nice contrast of the crunch of the cauliflower and the suppleness of the hamachi
  • glass of Fossil Point Chardonnay, Edna Valley, 2019 - really smooth and wonderful
  • ^ cod salad, lotus chip, little balls of carrot, melon - intricate, multiple textures and flavours
  • scallop, navy bean purée, couscous, sprouts, grapefruit - lovely
  • glass of Big Flower Cabernet Franc rosé, 2019, Stellenboosch, South Africa - redcurrant? very lovely
  • ^ duck breast and leg, sweet potato, delicious amazing notes like chocolate
  • tuna tartare, tomato tartare, avocado espuma - sweet and sour and coriander
  • glass of Vadio, 2019, Bairrada - Grapes indigenous to Portugal - very acidic
  • octopus, tapioca, poached pear - interesting combo of the pear with the octopus
  • ^ sweetbreads, white asparagus, cucumber carpaccio, rhubarb - perfect sweetbread, crisp on the outside, creamy inside
  • glass of Beaujolais Gamay - Régnié, 2020, Guy Breton, Villié-Morgon
  • pork belly, red beet foam, peas, Asian pear, foie gras - fatty and crispy belly, lightened by the pear and peas
  • glass of Chateau de Viaud-Lalande, 2019, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Grand Vin de Bordeaux (Merlot, cab franc, cab sauv) - Smoky and cherry and maybe blueberry or plum
  • beef tenderloin with orange hollandaise and zucchini flower tempura - good, if more straightforward
  • ^ lamb rib, chimichurri with potato ratatouille, blue cheese foam, ravioli
  • glass of Sivipa, Moscatel de Setúbal, 2018, Portugal muscat
  • 2 cheeses from Quebec: Ashley and Thea sheep cheese, on hazelnut cherry purée with pecans and little toasts
  • glass of Cave Spring 2017 Riesling ice wine, Lincoln Lakeshore VQA
  • ^ lemon tart, sesame tuile, raspberry, blackberry, basil - basil was an interesting note amongst more typical flavours
  • white chocolate creme brulee, grapefruit, pistachio
  • glass of Mas Karolina, Maury, Languedoc-Roussillon grenache, lovely dark red sweet wine - although less sweet than the other
  • chocolate mousse cake, pineapple - tasted very espresso-y, lovely not too sweet
  • ^ chocolate flourless cake - all right but much sweeter than the mousse
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I know Dynasty is not the pinnacle of Chinese cuisine, but it does have a patio and could seat 9, which worked for my family. Food was overall good, with flavours being a bit on the too subtle side. It was a bit weird to have disposable plates when just a few feet away, separated by a glass window, people were dining with standard dinnerware. And it was all pretty pricey, which is what you get for eating out in Yorkville.

  • mushroom and snow pea leaf dumplings (from the dim sum menu) - quite nice, very fall-apart though
  • Salt and pepper squid - beautifully cooked, but a bit low on the salt and garlic flavour
  • Salt and pepper smelts - also pleasan
  • Roasted duck - great flavour all the way through, crispy skin
  • Cantonese chow mein - unremarkable, but good for the kids
  • Flat rice noodle and beef - one of the better dishes, lots of wok hay
  • Snow pea leaves - good
  • Crabmeat and broccoli - good texture, although not that flavourful
  • Scallops and asparagus - similarly well-executed, if a bit underflavoured
  • Sweet and sour chicken - another kid request, decent
  • Rainbow chopped in crystal fold with pork - nice but there was a predominance of sautéed onion
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We tried RendezViews East earlier this week with some friends. We somehow missed this opening last year. The patio itself is fun, with brightly painted picnic tables and a great view of the CN Tower. Service is pretty casual, which was fine. We stuck with the Nuit Regular options from the Pai menu, which were mostly very flavourful. The one black mark is that it is all disposable cups, containers, and cutlery and it was not clear they were sorting for recycling or composting.



Cocktails “on tap” were simple, enjoyable, and kinda expensive for what you were getting:

  • Smirnoff Summer fling - Smirnoff vodka, Galliano vanilla, passionfruit juice and fresh lime juice - delicious, perhaps there was also orange juice; overall it was still very tangy and tasty

  • Watermelon and Elderflower G&T - Tanqueray gin, watermelon juice, fresh lime and elderflower tonic water - also delicious, sweet but balanced well with tanginess

  • Captain Morgan Spiced rum, mango juice, pineapple juice, passionfruit - OK, we didn’t taste much more than pineapple

  • Tom Yum Wings - tossed with Tom Yum seasoning and magrud lime leaves, crispy shallots, pickled serrano chili, Tom Yum oil, with sour cream and Tom Yum oil - great flavour, particularly from the lime leaves

  • Tom Yum calamari - tossed with Tom Yum seasoning and magrud lime leaves, crispy shallots, pickled serrano chili, Tom Yum oil, with fries and sriracha mayo - very good

  • Tom Yum cauliflower bites - tossed with Tom Yum seasoning and magrud lime leaves, crispy shallots, Tom Yum oil, and fries, with sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce - also very good

  • Green Chicken Curry - in a broth with bamboo shoots, Thai Basil, magrud lime leaf, with rice on the side - despite a fairly thin broth, rich in flavour and a good kick

  • Khao Soi chicken - fresh egg noodles in golden coconut milk curry with chicken breast, crispy noodles on top, coriander and green onions - wonderful noodles, lovely dish

  • Pad Gra Pow - Holy basil ground pork stir-fry on steamed jasmine rice with Thai style fried egg, served with nam prik nam pla sauce (fish sauce to pour over) - sweet and delicious, perhaps the best dish of the bunch


Dessert is by Death in Venice, which can also be purchased directly from the sidewalk. All gelato had great smooth, dense mouthfeel:

  • Coconut lemon cream pie - fantastic, with a nice chewy meringue-y texture
  • Coconut pandan - also fantastic, a little herbal and not too sweet
  • Nutella chocolate cookie - good but less remarkable; nice it was not too sweet but not strong enough on the chocolate or hazelnut
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We were out for a late night walk and dropped in on the patio at Pinkerton’s, one of our local favourites. We sampled a few new cocktails:

  • Tequila sunrise - dejado tequila, aperol, orange, lemon, mint, hibiscus grenadine, pink peppercorn - fruity and not too sweet
  • Margarita 65 - altos tequila, lime, blue curaçao, salt - very fun and bright blue

Our main reason to drop in was the return of the pork neck pancake:

  • Pork neck pancake: moist and supple braised pork neck, kimchi shijimi; scallions, chili candied peanut - wonderful as always, sweet and a bit of a kick

The baos have returned in numbers, so we tried a new one and two old favourites:

  • Korean fried chicken bao - gochujang hot sauce pickle - nice frying, crispy, sweet and tangy, sesame and a little kick

  • Duck confit bao - apricot sriracha, mayo, cucumber, carrot, crispy duck skin - delicious, though the duck skin was MIA
  • Bulgogi sirloin - carrot slaw, spicy mayo, and a thick brown sauce - sweet, umami, a bit of kick, and moist beef.

They said they will have some special baos and other things on a secret menu, so ask about that if you go.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr