Patio Season [Toronto] [Ontario]

Thanks!
I used to be semi-regular at Jump, but it has been a long time!

Actinolite has reopened their patio this month. The patio is covered, so it is safe in the case of light rain. The format is similar to last year, with a six-course dinner and features some dishes cooked on the outdoor grill. They have moved the grill away from the centre, which reduces the amount of smoke diners get exposed to. Service remains excellent, with several long-time staff.

A picture of the set-up:

We split one wine pairing, which was lovely:

  • Sélection des Cognettes, Clisson, Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Stéphane et Vincent Perraud, 2020 Muscadet - very lemony
  • Fortitudo, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Tavola dei Briganti, 2021 Rosé (montepulciano) - beautiful cherry colour, strawberry and floral, sort of a deep cranberry-ish flavour
  • Sameriás, Antonio Cajide Gulín, Ribeiro, 2020 Spanish white (Treixadura, Albariño, Godello, Loureira, Lado) - very tart ?apricot, white flowers and candied lemon and also mineral and butter ( to me ), probably our favourite
  • Weissburgunder Pinot Bianco, Kelleri Bozen, Cantina Winery, Südtirol, Alto Adige, 2021 - very sour, maybe mineral
  • El Oso Y La Alemana, 2019 Spain, Tinta del Toro (tempranillo) and Black Grenache - nice, tanniny and floral like violets
  • Les Capriades, Piège à…, 2019 (Gamay, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Pineau d’Aunis) Petnat rosé from Loire Valley - gorgeous visually and loved the flavour

The food remains excellent, if a bit simpler than their indoor menus:

  • Cascapeque oysters, gooseberries, dill vinegar, verbena oil - fresh, sweet oysters with the gooseberries a nice sub for the usual sour accompaniment.

  • Rainbow cherry tomatoes, baby basil, sunflower oil, gooseberries, and salt - like tomatoes should be, with simple accents.

  • Bread - amber wheat rye - giant slices of super crusty bread with yeast butter. Great with the meat and cheese board below. They were happy to provide more to mop up sauces from later dishes.

  • Cheese - Blythe farms “Golden Blythe” sheep cheese - great and a little earthy
  • Meat “koji rose” - yeast starter with rose, pork and lots of pork fat - supple and almost like a terrine.

  • Beets, mulberries, charred rose petals, dill vinaigrette, lovage and marjoram from their garden - another simple dish, emphasizing the quality of the produce, with perfect herbal highlights.

  • Beautiful plate of crisp cucumber slices, white currants, coriander oil, herbs, lemon zest - the tartness of the currants subbed in for a vinaigrette.

  • Cured lake trout - ikejime style, pine salt spruce paste and tips, three-year aged fish sauce - one of the top dishes of the night, with complex umami.

  • Giant dish of vegetables to be eaten by hand and dipped in sour cream and/or plum emulsion: carrots (prepared with honey - sliced lengthwise), purple and green snow peas, snap peas, lettuce with lovage and flowers, white turnips, pineapple weed, and celery leaves.

  • 3-month aged rib and shoulder from Tweed (tender, smoky, juicy), lovely salty jus, grilled green onions, sweet turnip, flowering cauliflower.

  • Elderflower with raspberries and elderflower custard, woodruff powder, rhubarb sorbet - a fresh and light finish, with the woodruff providing shiso-like flavours.
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https://torontolife.com/food/torontos-best-patios-right-now/?fbclid=IwAR1AcdHzIyq33hS5JEUlW6yGTWLCvU5YkgNtXMD7qUfgeDvTDkwWA64ZYLM

Met a friend for a burger on the Safari Bar and Grill’s, on Avenue Road north of Lawrence. Home-style patty. This is the Safari burger with bbq sauce, mushrooms, bacon and cheese.

Lots of ventilation and space between tables.

Maybe not a destination, but a good place for a burger and a beer. I’d say I like Safari’s burger better than the burgers I’ve had at the Duke of York, Duke of Kent, the Firkin.


I noticed Tutto Pronto across the street has a small rooftop patio.

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Tried Atomic 10, a modern Mexican-ish spot on Lauder Ave south of St Clair W. Meh food. Patio tables well spaced.
A little stingy with the guacamole. Shrimp tacos tasted like they had commercial sweet and sour sauce. Plantain and black bean tacos didn’t really work . Won’t bother uploading photos since what’s the point.

Tenoch has a patio that had more of a Mexican and/or Latino client base, but the tables were rather close to one another. (Haven’t tried, might get takeout, tables too close for me)

Itacate has 2 2 tops in front of their restaurant. (Didn’t stop, liked their carnitas and al pastor pre-pandemic)

I also stopped by Kafe Daki on Oakwood north of St Clair, which has at least 6 2 tops on their patio. Greek themed coffee shop with croissants and some Greek pastries, and they have frappe. I didn’t see or try the spanakopita or bougatsa they mention on a chalkboard. I bought a raspberry pistachio Danish I will try tomorrow.

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Went to Grey Gardens, one of our favourites, a couple of weeks ago. The patio has some big umbrellas, so you will be relatively sheltered if it rains. You will have to be comfortable with the folks congregating in the park across Augusta, who are often quite loud and billowing out clouds of weed. Service remains friendly and informed, with some regular staff from last year. And the food remains excellent:

  • delicate striped bass crudo, with oyster mayo, jalapeño, preserved lemon, and fennel fronds - fresh and light, if a little salty

  • raw side stripe shrimp, cooked mussels, green tomato water, honeydew, charred cucumber - sweet and delicious, with a light acid from the tomato water

  • Wagyu beef tartare with white turnip, wasabi peas - a fun and tasty variation

  • they thoughtfully comped us some incredible bread - “red tail” with butter - crisp outside and chewy inside

  • asparagus, with homemade kimchi, soft boiled egg, salad greens - kimchi was unnecessary, but the yolk made a great sauce for the asparagus

  • tomatoes, with roasted eggplant puree, crumbled black olives, and parmesan oil - fresh, sweet, with just the right amount of saltiness

  • tortelloni with shrimp and black pepper and watercress in lobster broth - one of the best pastas they have done and very different than their usual, which are often butter-based sauces

  • al dente spaghetti, with fermented peppers, chopped herbs - delicious

  • campanelle made with chanterelle powder, plus peas and goat butter - a fun different kind of mushroom pasta

  • lamb belly with morels and fava beans - fatty and very lamby belly, with crisped edges, scant morels, and fresh mild fava beans

  • mascarpone, tangy rhubarb and crisp waffle pieces - light and just the right amount of sweet to balance the sour from the rhubarb

  • fresh sweet strawberries, light meringue dusted with sumac powder, and a delicious sunflower ice cream

For wine, we had another bottle of the Chateau Musar white (a blend of indigenous Lebanese grapes) 2008, which is one of my wife’s favourites. I feel we are responsible for depleting much of their supply over the past few years.

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Looks fantastic. I went for a drink when it first opened, but haven’t been back.

Hope to dine there this summer.

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https://torontolife.com/food/torontos-best-patios-right-now/

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Decided to try Shook last night. Their patio is on Portland, some of which is right alongside the building and separated from the sidewalk. We were seated in the other portion, right beside the neverending flow of cars on a Saturday night. If you get a chance, pick a table away from the street. We had a friendly server who didn’t know Middle Eastern foods in-depth, but was willing to go get answers when uncertain. He also comped us a small dish when we pointed out it had never made it to our bill. The food is all vegetarian, with vegan options/adaptations possible with many dishes. The food was excellent overall - great flavours, presentation. This is a great place to take vegetarian friends and family.

They have some nice cocktails, but the fun thing to do is order one of their smoothies and either enjoy it as is, or add some rum:

  • Cocktail - Far From Home: Dillons melon liqueur, Cointreau, lemon juice, spiced honey raspberry syrup, Prosecco - citrus, berries, and cloves (not mentioned) which added some lovely spice.
  • Smoothie - Berries and Roses: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, rosewater, coconut water, pomegranate molasses, mint, blue agave, with the shot of spiced rum - so many berry flavours, with the rose and mint adding complexity.

  • Mushroom Kibbeh: labneh, truffle honey, pickled mushrooms beside - nicely smoky, with chunks of mushroom inside, though the truffle and honey were barely present.

  • Halloumi with preserved rhubarb, Amba sauce (blended mango pickle), and sumac lavash - lovely charred cheese with tangy accompaniments.

  • Shakshuka: a really great version with smoky tomato, grilled peppers, harissa, poached eggs, toum, and fresh pillow-y pita covered in sesame dukkah. Best dish of the lot.

  • Kreplach Dumplings: Hawaij cream (egg, cream, coriander, cumin), snow peas, ricotta (inside), barberries - supple dumplings with curry-ish spice notes, plus sweetnees from the peas, sour from the barberries.

  • Kataifi Nest: phyllo nest, lemon cream underneath, green fig slices, pistachio, labneh ice cream and rose petals - great balance of sours from the lemon cream and labneh with sweet, plus floral and nutty.

  • Coconut Basbousa: semolina cake with coconut bits, Persian lime, coconut ice cream, pineapple (marinated in something delicious) - the ice cream and pineapple were outstanding, the cake only OK

Interestingly, their specialty “coffees” don’t actually contain any coffee. We tried the butterfly pea flower latte, with vanilla - beautiful blue purple colour, but tasted mainly of sweetened whipped milk:

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5 patios this weekend:

Unionville Arms Pub has nicely spaced tables. I enjoyed a club sandwich with a Greek salad, and a slushy Somersby Cider.

Croque Monsieur and Spinach Mushroom Croque at Bar Pompette. I liked the Croque Monsieur a little more than the Spinach Mushroom Croque. Enjoyed the Smackaguava cocktail , which was similar to a shaken daiquiri.



Guava cheese scone and Flat White at Pomarosa.

Savoury Kouign Amann and cortado at Le Conciliabule.

Greek fries and a cocktail at Bar Reyna. Wish Bar Reyna had a little more ventilation. Cocktails weren’t as much to my liking as they were in 2019. Both Bar Pompette and Bar Reyna are charging $18 for cocktails. The 2 I tried at Bar Pompette were better than my cocktail at Bar Reyna.

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Did a walk-in for the patio at Chubby’s. There are actually two patios, one also in the back. The front one exposed us to frequent wafts of weed from the passersby, but was otherwise fine. The food is Jamaican and very tasty, though not much different than what you would get for half the price at more casual places.

Service was friendly but uninformed. We asked for clarification on what looked like Ocean Wise symbols beside some of the seafood and were told the symbol meant the dish was spicy. After magnifying the symbol and confirming it was Ocean Wise, we asked why one shrimp dish had it and the others didn’t. We were then told that all he knew was the the one with the symbol was more expensive and wasn’t something the staff couldn’t order for themselves.

Cocktails were tasty and fun:

  • Paula’s Paloma - Tromba tequila, grapefruit juice, coconut syrup, lemon, ting, cinnamon - good but almost a cinnamon grapefruit colada, not that much like a Paloma.
  • Hibiscus mojito - Appleton signature rum, sorrel, mint, lime, ginger beer - especially lovely and refreshing.

Seeing that the mains appeared on the small side, we ordered one as an app and 3 as mains (we did skip on the other sides, of which there were many).

  • Ackee and salt fish bites - mashed salt cod with sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, on fried dumpling halves - a bit salty, but otherwise great mix of flavours.

  • Quarter jerk chicken - wood fire grilled marinated chicken - lovely moist chicken that had been brined, prominent allspice, but little heat.

  • Oxtail stew with rice and peas (top) - lots of umami flavour, with tender braised meat and tendon. Rice and peas very coconut-y.
  • Curry goat with mango chutney, jasmine rice (bottom) - lovely herby curry sauce, tender meat, a bit salty.

  • Curry shrimp (apparently Ocean Wise) and jasmine rice - a wonderful spicy yellow curry with cherry tomatoes.

  • Coconut guava tart - more like a coconut pudding with lots of fresh coconut, plus a couple of pieces of guava and some pastry crust pieces - very nice
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3 patios this past weekend:

A lemonade and coffee at UG Social Café in The Junction (a sidewalk patio)

Otto’s Berlin Doner- my phone was charging. I had a litchi slushie and my doner on top of half fries/half salad.

Emmer


Would return to all of them.

If anyone is looking for Thai food on a patio, Issan Der in the Junction has a sidewalk patio.

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I’m a bit behind on my patio updates, so apologies for the dump of them over the next few days:

We tried Minami back at the beginning of the month. It is a sister restaurant to Miku, which we also have liked. We also appreciate that it has at least a few sustainable seafood options, which is rarely the case for Japanese restaurants (Skippa was another one). The patio is well-spaced, with some tables protected by an overhang. Service was friendly and fairly attentive. After registering our disappointment about being out of our most-desired dessert, the server hunted down another serving. Food ranged from good to excellent, with lapses more in execution than flavour and freshness.

Cocktails were lots of fun:

  • Royal Ōjo: prosecco, Hayman’s sloe gin, nakano shuzo ume, dried rosebud - light, a bit sweet, and stone fruit flavours.

  • Shinjuku: aburi ginjo, lychee liqueur, grapefruit hibiscus, cotton candy - fun and basically dessert in cocktail form.

We also shared a featured rosé flight: 3oz each of Terre Cevico Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco (delightful), Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses (pale salmon Provence colour, dry strawberrry), Jasci & Marchesani Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo (lovely and fruity).

The sushi were all great, with fresh fish, nice balance of flavourings, and decent rice (which was sometimes a little under-packed together:

  • Saba Oshi: cured mackerel, bonito and sweet miso sauce
  • Albacore Oshi: BC albacore tuna, spicy Miku sauce, crispy capers

  • BC tempura roll: sockeye salmon, albacore tuna, cucumber, avocado, with dollops of soy daikon oroshi, ikura, micro shiso beside - this was particularly good, with a very light batter just-barely fried, and lots of variety in the flavours and textures.

  • Vegetable nigiri set: eggplant, avocado, bamboo shoots, carrot kinpira, tempura lotus root instead, sake-marinated daikon - nice visual mimicry of standard nigiri options and lots of umami in the flavourings for the veggies.

  • Daigaku-Imo: caramelized Japanese sweet potato, crème fraîche, green onion, sesame seeds - sweet and crumbly, nicely offset by the creme fraiche.

  • Donabe Wild Mushrooms: (cremini, shiitake, shimeji) garlic, butter, sherry wine, chervil, togarashi chili threads, steamed in a Japanese clay pot - while we doubt the “wild” part, this straightforward preparation highlighted the different flavours and textures of each mushroom.

  • Soy Braised Beef Short Rib: carrot puree, mustard medley, baby potato, pickled shallot, pickled shallot, mustard aioli - nice flavour, but the meat was a bit dried out.

  • Japanese Cheese Tart: brown sugar mascarpone cream, spiced pear compote, caramel, shaved blue cheese - excellent way to feature the pairing of pear and blue cheese.

  • Dark Chocolate Cake: tofu dark chocolate cream, strawberry jelly, genmai tea caramel tuile, strawberry cassis sorbet - pleasant enough but certainly not “dark”.

  • Coconut Banana Pie: almond cream, salted coconut sorbet, black sesame sauce, miso candy pecan, coconut whipped cream - amazing intense skin like layer of banana over a delicious sorbet and what was almost like an almond croissant underneath.
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Nice burger and fresh cut fries, a Manhattan and a Whisky Sour on the Emmet Ray’s patio last night.

My phone was out of power, so no photos this time.

Their kitchen is open until 11 pm.

I’m finding so many pubs with better food and patios have kitchens that close by 9 pm or 10 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, so it’s nice to know of one that is open later.

The classic cocktails are $14.16 or $15.16, which is a few dollars less than I’ve been paying at places like Bar Pompette. It is further west, and the Emmet Ray is a jazz club rather than an it spot bar, so different crowd. It is nice to know a place with good cocktails that’s charging $14 or $15, instead of $18 or $20. Most of my cocktails have cost $18 or more over the past 6 months.

I will be back. The menu is simpler than it was before 2020.

https://www.theemmetray.com/
Cocktails (prices not listed)
https://www.theemmetray.com/menu/other/

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I had brunch at the Harbord House’s rooftop patio. Not too crowded, nice breeze.
Pretty typical menu. Bennies, daily omelette. Eggs in purgatory wasn’t the traditional eggs cooked in tomato sauce- this was poached eggs on cornbread with peameal bacon , drizzled with Hollandaise and hot sauce . I knew this when I ordered it. It was pretty good. Maybe not a destination dish (I try a lot of new dishes), but better than quite a few brunch mains I’ve ordered.

The staff are really nice and I like the laidback patio. Harbord House takes reservations for brunch.

I’ll go back to try dinner at some point.

Tried the rooftop patio at Baro. It is walk-in only, so we went on a Wednesday at about 6:30 and got a table easily. Some of the tables are fully outside and have a great view of the sunset. Others are essentially inside, with wide open large windows. Our server was friendly, attentive, and fairly informed about the menu. Food is Mexican-focused and generally very good.

Cocktails were fun and get extra points for presentation:

  • Paloma with mezcal - nice big grapefruit slice inside and salt rim.
  • Bogotá sour: Grey Goose, amaretto, pink guava, lime, honey, bitters - nice mix of tropical and bitters, with a perfect green palm tree on the top of the egg white.

  • Bull Run - Don Julio Blanco, green chartreuse, pineapple, lime, cilantro jalapeño syrup, marigold - delicious, though spice was absent; the presentation on a tray of dry ice was cool.

  • Grande Mac empanada: ground beef, special sauce, lettuce, American cheese, pickles, onion, sesame - Big Macs are a guilty pleasure, so I did like this one.

  • Baro wedge: iceberg lettuce, buttermilk, cotija, chilies, scallions, chulpes, chicharrón, pomegranate, cilantro, paprika tajin, anatto oil - another fun riff on a standard.

  • Pollo a la brasa: chicken drumsticks, aji panca, soy, lemon, scallion, chilies, guava barbeque sauce - moist chicken, with complex sauce that had fruit, umami, and a little kick.

  • Street corn: grilled corn, chipotle crema, cotija, paprika tajin, scallion, chili, cilantro - very nice, fresh small corn cobs with lots of fun stuff over.

  • Pescado del dia: sea bream, grilled lemon, tomatillo vinaigrette, chayote slaw - beautiful presentation, delicate fish, complemented by a tasty slaw of chayote, carrot, peppers, red cabbage, red onion, cucumber, mango, yuzu vinaigrette, cilantro, mint, chulpes, chilis.

  • Calamares a la parrilla: grilled calamari, salsa negra, ginger chilli crumble, cilantro, grilled lemon, charred Guajillo powder - quite nicely done and very smoky from the chili paste with a nice kick.

  • Paletas - primarily coconut-flavoured, nice and light to finish the meal.
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Went to Chotto Matte about a week and a half ago on a Monday night. They have quite a large patio that is covered and fully open-air. It has lots of live plants, so I spent time watching honeybees feed on some of the flowers. We were the only people on the patio, so Monday night is clearly the time to go if you want a table.

We had been wanting to try here for awhile as they feature Nikkei cuisine, a mash-up of Japanese and Peruvian. Overall we were quite happy with the food, although it is a bit pricy due to its location in the heart of the Financial District. Service was very good and they comped us a dessert because it wasn’t actually as advertised (though still very good).

Cocktails/mocktails had great flavour combinations and textures:

  • Lychee Picante: Cazadores Blanco tequila, lychees, chia seeds, chili, lime and dragon fruit - like a riff on a spicy margarita, with interesting textural elements from the chia seeds.
  • Jasmine Fantasy: Tanqueray Gin, St. Germain, Aperol, tonic water and pink grapefruit - very nice, like a grapefruit-y Aperol spritz.

  • Chicha Morada mocktail: purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, cloves, soda, lime, and a dried apple - nice spice notes and perhaps the best beverage of the evening.

  • Lychee ceviche: leche de tigre, chive oil, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, cilantro, corn nuts, kumquat - a vegan ceviche that really works, with supple texture from the lychee, crunch from the corn nuts, herbal notes, and nice citrus’y tang.

  • Branzino tempura: amazu ponzu sauce, red onion salsa (slices plus cilantro plus red chilies) - not actually a tempura coating, but a very light non-oily coating, with a delicious red powder/rub over top - really good dish.

  • California hand roll: snow crab, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, mayo - decent, but too heavy on the mayo.

  • Soft shell crab makisushi with avocado, tobiko, mayo, sesame, wasabi, and shiso, wrapped in crisp raw daikon - this was really good, with the lightly fried crab not overwhelmed by all the other flavours.

  • Rocoto cauliflower wings: Peruvian Chili dressing, cilantro - lots of kick, with a complexity of spicing.

  • Binchotan charcoal BBQ - black cod aji miso: chili miso marinade, yuzu, chives - straightforward and very well done.

  • Coconut Sakura: coconut biscuit, chocolate orange ice cream (not the lemon sorbet on the menu) orange crema (not really, seemed to be mascarpone cream), amarena cherry grated on top - overall a good dessert, perhaps improved with the changes.



  • Magical Chocolate Ball: Dulce de leche treacle cake, black sesame ice cream, red berry dust, white sesame sauce poured over it - nice to have a little bit of show, and the flavours all worked well, particularly the sesame ice cream.
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Looks good.

We met up with friends at Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!, a relatively new Mexican place on King West. It has a streetside patio, which isn’t bad as there isn’t much traffic on King except streetcars. Service was friendly and fairly attentive. Food and drinks were very good, well executed and fresh flavours. We took advantage of the Summerlicious menu to try more dishes (by ordering the set menu and then adding a dish).

Cocktails:

  • Pink Lemonade: mezcal, elderflower, watermelon, hibiscus, ginger and lemon - a beautiful dark pink, with smoky and floral notes.
  • Margarita: tromba blanco tequila, kiwi, guava, lime - pleasant, although the fruit combo didn’t really come through.

  • Spicy Margarita: Tromba Blanco tequila, serrano pepper, poblano, lime, tajin - also pleasant, not spicy though.
  • New cocktail: Gin, green goddess syrup, dill - lovely herbal flavours and beautiful colour.

Summerlicious prix fixe:

  • Beef tartare tostada: cotija, egg yolk, preserved chili - terrific flavours and not on the regular menu.
  • Albacore tuna crudo: passion fruit, cucumber, jalapeño - passionfruit is a nice flavour twist, with fresh tuna.

  • Corn and mushroom huarache: sikil pak, grilled maitake, sweet corn - simple and delicious (and not on the regular menu).

  • 24-hour short rib: salsa macha, hazelnuts, sesame, cauliflower - lovely. Meat quite firm and not exactly moist, but still delicious.

Extra a la carte dish:

  • Mushroom fajitas - maitake, pickled onion, fried onion, red teardrop chilies, with tortillas and three sauces - delicious mushrooms.

Dessert (part of Summerlicious menu):

  • Horchata panna cotta: field berries (nice fresh raspberries), meringue (purple), mango glass (didn’t register this) - only OK - not panna cotta textured and didn’t bring horchata to mind (not on a la carte menu)
  • Pineapple and coconut tres leches: Coco Lopez, brown sugar, candied pineapple - wonderful moist cake in cream.
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Union’s crispy polenta with eggs, on the back patio.

I make sure I do brunch on Union’s patio at least once a year.

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