Patio Season [Toronto] [Ontario]

I hit 2 more patios today.
The Oxley for a cocktail and scone, then a picnic table in front of Fresco’s Fish & Chips in Kensington Market.

Fresco’s was okay, not as good as I expected, but much better than the fish & chips at Harbord Fish & Chips, which have gone downhill since the change in ownership. We tried the cod and the halibut. The portions of fish were smaller than I get elsewhere. The batter was crispy, but on the thin side. The fries were frozen fries.

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Oxley is dependable
I tried the summerlicious menu was nothing special though I did enjoy the dessert (sticky toffee)



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Which patios are your favourites for Sunday lunch or Sunday dinner?

Trying to figure out a nice meal for next Sunday. Open to any price range and cuisine. Would prefer a place that takes reservations.

TIA

I find some of Oxley’s mains better, or better value, than others.

I tend to get the burger or fish & chips lately. Have found the English breakfast hit or miss at times. Pastas always seem expensive for what they are. Just noticing now the
lunch and dinner menu has changed quite a bit since before 2020. I’m surprised they’re charging $47 for the lamb main but I guess they can do that in Yorkville.

Great sticky toffee, though!

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I like Clay at the Gardiner museum. Their patio seating is limited so gets booked way earlier. I really enjoyed their fries and pancakes. Burger was decent Friday (previous try was way overcooked). The omelette went well.

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Good to know!! Thanks!

Haven’t posted here much as I don’t “do” patios with traffic passing close by.

However, many of these patios do have restaurants attached, so comments on the food seem relevant.

I did attend (inside) Chotto Matte – with mixed results. The service was impressive, but I was less impressed with the kitchen. A recent bugbear of mine is that ‘small plate restaurants’ seem to prioritize kitchen efficiency over customer satisfaction. So, the multiple dishes seem to come out in random order and at random times. One can experience long waits between dishes and then several arrive at the same time – Chotto Matte seems (to me) to fit into that category – the pacing was erratic. This was compounded by the Tempura Snow Crab Croquetas being the texture of ‘fake crab’ and exhibiting no detectable crab flavour or texture. At best, seemingly minced shrimp.

But in keeping with the Patio theme, I did try the backyard one at Neon Tiger (Dupont and Avenue Road). Here the food was more satisfying than Chotto Matte, but the service was ‘lacking’. Clearly inexperienced (yes, I know there are shortages, but at least do some training before loosing on unsuspecting customers), and at least show the staff how to use a corkscrew!

Although the food was ‘good’ – there were more significant issues – the menu description and the dishes received were seemingly distant cousins. Multiple changes and also differences between the website and the printed menu (if anything, the website was closer, except not all website dishes were actually on the menu anyway – the captioned ‘Most Popular Dish’ of Siu Mai Dog didn’t actually appear on the menu!).

The ‘Hakka’ Mushroom tacos contained nothing that I associate with Hakka cuisine (but the web description does not include the word ‘Hakka’).

The ‘Smashed Cucumber and Jicama’ Salad contained more radish than Jicama.

The ‘prawn tacos’ came with pickled iceberg lettuce, radish and Thai remoulade instead of the promised “cucumber, ginger, Thai Basil and cellophane noodles”.

The KFC Blinis and Lamb Sliders were close to the description.

The Duck Fried Rice contained a duck breast that (for me) was overcooked – but that’s a preference.

The wine we ordered (from a VERY small list) was entirely different from the menu – and this from a restaurant only opened relatively recently.

But a nice patio! Except choose seating that’s ‘moveable’ – the bench seats are too far from the fixed tables for comfortable seating.

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I tried to get take-out as a walk-in at Neon Tiger shortly after they opened.

The staff completely ignored me. I waited for a while then left, ultimately picking up some mediocre take-out at the Duke of York.

Service means more and more to me.

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I’m heading to the Clay, Enoteca Sociale and Rebel House patios this weekend.

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Pretty nice club (with chicken breast and peameal bacon) and mac & cheese on the back patio at the Rebel House. This patio should be open until mid October.

Enjoyed a nice meal with @rstuart on the Enoteca Sociale patio. Delicious cucumber panzanella with Burrata at Enoteca Sociale, rapini, bigoli with carrots and chiles, and amatriciana at Enoteca Sociale.

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We went to Grey Gardens on Wednesday. Most people were inside. The patio exposes you to all the sights, sounds, and smells of Kensington market, which can be off-putting for some. Our server recognized us and gave us lovely service, including complimentary glasses of Madeira to end the meal. Food remains great, with lots of interesting combinations of ingredients and flavours; only a couple of minor missteps.

We ordered a bottle of Bernard-Bonin 2018 Meursault Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy - loved the crisp to mineral transition, smelled of melon a little. Remained engaging and complex to the last drop.

  • Fresh and light scallops with green strawberry, strawberry vinegar, cucumber, and tiny radishes, all chopped up beautifully under some flowers and many herbs.

  • Blue mackerel with serrano, curry oil, chopped snow peas, pickled ramps, fermented pea water, celery, celery leaves - the strong pickle flavour and spice held up to the stronger-flavoured mackerel.

  • Venison carpaccio, with stracciatella underneath, very thin green tomato slices over, Asian pear bits, arugula sprouts, and breadcrumbs - smoky meaty flavour, complimented by sour and a touch of fruit. They also comped us their wonderful bread.

  • Rich, sweet, and meaty tomato over eggplant purée, Parmesan oil, black olive crumble - salty umami crumble elevated the tomatoes.

  • Roasted cauliflower with labneh, za’atar, chickpeas, lemon, mint, parsley - lovely, and a bit of a departure for GG, which usually stays in the territory of Europe + East Asia.

We found out that they do half-portions of pasta, so we got all three and thus could also get the subsequent dishes.

  • Gnocchi made with rye, charred corn (sweet and crisp), spinach - very nice.

  • Spaghetti with yuzu kosho, tempura mussels, furikake - a little too salty but nicely kicky and lots of citrus.

  • Panzotti filled with chicken and shiitake, black garlic, black vinegar, cooked beech mushrooms, and raw sliced cremini mushroom on top - excellent.

  • Whole branzino, soubise, garlic scapes, green onions, shallots - perfectly cooked, with crispy skin, light flaky flesh - went well with the sweet onion flavours.

  • Pork chop (sliced) with green beans, green peppercorn, chanterelles, and jus - wonderful flavours but a little too salty, and also a little more done than we really preferred.

  • Strawberry with sunflower seed, sumac meringue, sunflower sprouts, white chocolate and sunflower seed brittle, sunflower seed semifreddo - light, fruity, not too sweet.

  • Corn. roasted peach jam, miso caramel, corn flakes, corn cake, corn ice cream, popcorn - of the various corn desserts we’ve had, this one actually worked.
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Met up with a friend who lives in the west end, so we had a chance to try Barrel House Korchma, a Ukrainian restaurant on Lakeshore Blvd. The main restaurant is a bit like a giant beer hall, with big long tables. The patio is mainly a big, mostly enclosed tent, but there is an open air section that we opted for. Our first server was friendly and helpful. She went off shift midway and our second server was equally friendly and helpful, but appeared to have recently arrived in the country and had limited English (so we ordered mainly by pointing to items on the menu). Food was for the most part tasty and hearty.

With the wine options being uninspiring, I opted for the Shevchenko 9, a Ukrainian-inspired dark lager that was smooth and paired well with food. My wife had the Cossacks Mule - Ukrainian vodka, lime juice, cranberry, ginger beer, mint - fun but a bit too sweet.

So many appetizers looked intriguing, so we shared a bunch:

  • Khachapuri - homemade bread boat filled with melted cheese - bread was maybe not quite as pillowy and chewy as at Tiflisi, but overall still delicious.
  • Palushky - a bit like big gnocchi, with fried onions, bacon, and sour cream - somewhat plain in flavour, but nice texture.

  • Pelmeni - meat dumplings with sour cream - we tried the chicken version as our friend doesn’t eat pork; small and delicate, and very tasty.

  • Nalysnyky - crepes filled with minced chicken, served with mushroom sauce - eggy crepes, similar to palascinta or blintzes; mushroom sauce was full of umami and worth every bit.

  • Layered liver cake - thin layers of chicken liver batter, mayonnaise, and garlic, with shredded egg and red pepper on top. Certainly different than anything we’ve eaten. A bit too much mayo for our tastes.
  • Cucumber salad - baby cucumbers, slightly sweet, with tons of garlic and dill.
  • Fried buns with cabbage - like samosa with sauerkraut inside, and quite good.

  • House smoked pork ribs with buckwheat, mushroom sauce, and a beet/horseradish mixture - impressively smokey ribs; the main problem was not enough mushroom sauce to go over the buckwheat.

  • Crepes with cheese - basically blintzes with chocolate and caramel sauces - lovely, with slightly sweet dry cottage cheese.
  • Honey cake with ground nuts and prunes - nice, not too sweet.
  • Medovukha - vodka with honey and spices - a fine digestif.

A generously proportioned raccoon made its appearance towards the end of the meal, repeatedly coming within a couple of feet. We told our second waitress, who was entranced and tried to take a photo (it being her first sighting), but did not try to shoo it away.

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I wouldn’t ordinarily find my way to the above-mentioned Barrel House Korchma, which is way, way out of my usual radius, but a Ukrainian friend insisted, so I found myself downing some of the same dishes as Dr. John, and enjoying them immensely on the resto’s patio this past summer. Also liked the Shevchenko 9 dark lager. twice over. A cheerful, well-run spot with game service, though the place seemed short-handed that night. Didn’t see the resident raccoon, though.

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Patio round-up:

Oji Seichi is our neighbourhood ramen spot, just a couple of blocks away. To our dismay, they have removed the sandos from the menu.

  • The ramen itself remains excellent, the above version with shoyu broth and a grilled maitake. Richly flavoured broth and noodles with nice spring and texture.

  • Cucumber and seaweed salad, with shredded daikon and cabbage - nice sesame flavour.

  • Karaage chicken with a yuzu ranch sauce - lovely flavour, but a bit oily so they need to work a bit on their frying.

  • Curry pork croquettes - similarly great flavour but a bit oily.

Pinkerton’s is probably our favourite neighbourhood bar, with great cocktails and excellent Asian fusion food.

  • Floral French 75 (left) - gin, house floral liqueur (lavender, roses, cloves etc), lemon, lavender, sparkling - great floral complexity.
  • Paloma (right) - tequila, mezcal, grapefruit, lime, pink peppercorn salt - very nice, more gently smoky and salty than fruity.

  • Pink’s Mezcal Mule (left) - mezcal, lime, passion fruit, cucumber, agave, mole, ginger beer - very fun, quite sweet but pleasantly so.
  • Pina Colada 2.0 (right) - rum blend, cachaca, pineapple, coconut, lime - quite yummy.

  • Pork neck pancake - braised pork, kimchi chijimi, scallions, chili candied peanut - this is the dish we keep coming back for; richly flavoured, though it might be salty for some.

  • Laab style beef tartare with cassava chips, quail yolk, lettuce - tasty laab meets ssam.

  • Ahi tuna tostada with avocado crema, crisp wonton, chili, nori - like salty Mexican poke.

  • Fausto’s Chicken with piri piri chive buttermilk dressing - moist chicken, strangely under salted this time.

Three baos this time:

  • Kung Bao - Kung Pao chicken, toasted sesame mayo, candied peanuts - fun.
  • Bulgogi sirloin - carrot slaw, spicy mayo - very good.
  • Duck confit - mango mayo, cucumber/carrot, crispy duck skin - the best of the three.

Then we tried brunch at Gare de L’Est. Even though it was pouring rain, part of their patio is covered by an overhanging part of the building. We were the only ones outside.

  • Bichon Frisé - vodka, st germain, grapefruit, lemon, soda - very nice riff on mimosa

  • Croque Madame - jambon blanc, sauce Mornay, pain au lait, frites - delicious sauce Mornay and nice to have the runny egg go over everything; fries (not really frites) were tasty and crisp.

  • Hachis de Merguez - well-flavoured lamb sausage with a hash of potatoes, caramelized onions, and red pepper, covered with two runny poached eggs and some harissa-flavoured hollandaise - yummy.

  • Chocolate babka - nice very buttery light dough.
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And it’s my favourite too (inside, not the Patio which is too close to the passing traffic for me).
Their Pork Gyozas are my favourite in the city.

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Had 2 meals at the Duke of York’s back patio today.

Lunch was a Cobb salad with chicken, which was decent enough. Dressing was uninspired but I’d probably order jt again, if looking for a healthier option. The chicken was good. It was seasoned with oregano and other herbs, so it had a little more seasoning than a more traditional Cobb would.

I ordered the prawn curry for dinner. $19.99, quite spicy. Only 4 or 5 prawns, but they’re keeping the price under $20 so that’s what I expected. Nice light meal.

My DC had the avocado bacon burger with fries, which he liked.

The menu has gotten smaller again, since my last visit. I had been to the Duke in late May, once during the early spring, and had hosted a cookie exchange inside last Dec. They’re still trucking, but the food menu now fits on one page. The basket bites and Shepherd’s Pie are gone. There are around 9 sandwich/burger options, and around 10 mains at this time. The price of 1 lb wings went up since I last ordered them in Dec. 1 lb of wings costs $19.99.

Service is still friendly, and I like that they don’t mind me sitting on the back patio. They do have the heaters turned on tonight.

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