Maki My Way

Maki My Way is a casual Japanese-themed establishment offering customers a chance to have a custom sushi experience. The concept is pretty simple - customers are able to create their rolls using the provided fresh ingredients. If you're not interested in sushi, they also have a good selection of items from their signature menu from udons, baos, and bento boxes. Overall, I found the bento boxes at Maki My Way to be a little high compared to other sushi joints, but I did find the rest of their menu to be reasonably priced.

 Maki My Way is a good spot in the Entertainment District for a quick lunch, or dinner. The service is rather fast, and delivery times are usually within the 45 minute time-mark.

Sushi Pizza ($4.50)
Chicken Bento Box ($12.50) - includes miso soup, seaweed salad, 2 pieces of gyoza or spring rolls, and 4 pieces of California roll
Pork Belly Bento Box ($12.50) - includes miso soup, seaweed salad, 2 pieces of gyoza or spring rolls, and 4 pieces of California roll
Beef Bento Box ($12.50) - includes miso soup, seaweed salad, 2 pieces of gyoza or spring rolls, and 4 pieces of California roll
Address: 293 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1J5

Maki My Way Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taverna Mercatto

Taverna Mercatto is the latest addition to the Mercatto brand. It opened earlier this February 2015 in the SouthCore Financial Centre. Similarly to all of their other locations, Taverna Mercatto serves Italian food from pastas to pizzas. I was familiar with their food, as I attended an event at their Eaton's Center location last summer. Walking into the restaurant, I was immediately taken by the interior. It was a nice mix of rustic, and trendy decor with an open kitchen. The high ceiling, and lights make it a lovely location for either business matters, or even special occasions. As for the menu, it was small, and I liked that it was, as it shows that they rather keep it simple.

As a starter, I opted for the calamari ($14), and it was one of the best that I have had in years. The calamari was lightly battered, yet it was super crispy, and well-seasoned. Lastly, it was simply garnished with fennel with some garlic crema, which tasted great with the squid.


The Spiedini ($14) - grilled octopus, fregola, panna fresca, tomato, olive tapenade was another appetizer that was ordered. The grilled octopus was tender, but it was slightly lacking some flavor.



All of the pizza sounded tempting, but I opted for the Pepperoni ($19). It was a thin crust pizza topped with fior, padano, red onion, san marzano. There was a generous portion of large slices of pepperoni, and I liked the crispiness of the crust. I'd return to try one of the other pizzas on their menu, as they sounded pretty good.


Address: 120 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5J 0A1

Taverna Mercatto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Streetcar Developments Upper Beaches Tour

I had the opportunity to attend a tour of this lovely neighborhood called “The Upper Beaches" about two weeks ago. The neighborhood had an abundance of small and indie shops, and there was a sense of belonging to a community, as shop owners and locals knew one another. I joined a small group of bloggers, and we visited a couple of the shops in the neighborhood, where we got to meet and chat with the respective local business owners. We also traveled in style - in a limo.


The evening started with a visit to The Southwood Presentation Centre designed by Streetcar Developments; a Toronto-based real estate developer. The company designed a variety of contemporary urban homes, and The Southwood is one of their latest ones. The Southwood is a new "community tailored to urbanites, devoted east-enders and modern families located in the Upper Beaches." The neighborhood is great as it's easily accessible by TTC, and there are tons of shops, cafe, schools, and parks all within the vicinity of one another. At the end, we were all gifted with a fantastic picnic bag filled with everything needed for a perfect picnic. Streetcar Developments have definitely helped to shape the neighborhood's evolution, and helped to create a strong yet tight-knit community.







The second stop on our tour was to a lovely art gallery called Yellow House Gallery. It's a new art gallery in The Beaches area, and located in the heart of Kingston Road Village. The gallery aims to showcase a lot of local and regional artworks from emerging and established artists. It's owned and operated by Christina Kostoff, who is an alumna of the Art Institute of Chicago. We were lucky enough to visit on a day where some of her artworks were on display on the wall. Yellow House Gallery also hosts exhibitions, and special events such as artist talks, lectures, workshops and neighborhood gatherings. 








The Art of Cheese was our next stop; it's a cheese shop that opened its door in 2007. It's owned and operated by Bill Miller who is known around The Beaches area as "the grand fromage". Bill was full of energy, and was completely passionate when talking about the variety of cheeses that the store had to offer. The Art of Cheese specializes in Canadian cheeses, but they also carry European & international classics and specialty cheeses that are not found in the typical grocery stores. Bill was kind enough to prepared us with some samples of an Italian cheese called San de Oro, a raw cow's milk cheese made in the Grappa of North Eastern Italy. The wine selected to complement the cheese was a 2011 East Dell Estates Black Label Shiraz from Diamond Estates.








Next up was a visit to Collected Joy; a local shop "dedicated to the ongoing discovery and collection of beautiful things." The shop is filled with plenty of items that would make perfect gifts, such as small-batch and locally made quality gifts, jewelry, cards, stationery, pottery, and glassware. Owner, Sharon Smyl, left her corporate job as a marketing director, to open a shop filled with wonderful things that she personally loves, and wants to introduce to her customers. Many of the items found in the shop are also locally made and sourced. 

We were served homemade guacamole made with using La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde, which was made locally in Toronto.  It's super easy to make guacamole with the jar of this sauce, as all you need is 6-8 ripe avocados, freshly squeezed lime juice, pinch of salt, and a jar of La Natura Fine Foods Salsa Verde which is available at Collected Joy. Lastly, we quenched our thirst with ice tea made with Toronto-based Sloane Fine Teas. Thank you to Sharon for gifting us with a jar of "That's My Jam!" - marmalades are made by Maggie Fruitman in Riverdale.




We made a quick pit stop to The Stone Pizza; a local pizzeria that specializes in eight house-made pizzas with customizable toppings. They pride themselves on making everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients, as they don't even have a freezer on-site. We tried three of their pizzas; The Apple Jack, The Margherita, and The Me-Ted. 


The Apple Jack - vintage cheddar, caramelized onions, grilled apples, arugula and herbed oil
The Me-Ted - grilled sausage, smoked bacon, vintage cheddar, and tomato sauce
The Margherita - roma tomatoes, red onions, fresh basil, Bononcini, and balsamic
We stopped by The Beech Tree for a quick dinner; it's a restaurant along Kingston Road offering traditional pub fare. Robert Maxwell, owner, quit his job as a former analyst, to open up his own restaurant after realizing his culinary dreams. Despite being a first-time restaurateur, he has succeeded in creating a warm space where people could enjoy "comforting and accessible food made with good ingredients and flair." The Beech Tree specializes in creating from-scratch dishes that are made with locally sourced ingredients, and providing customers with an exceptional dining experience. I liked that the menu incorporate inspirations from British, Italian, and French cuisines, but they do add a more Ontario-centric interpretations of these dishes.


London Calling - London dry gin, Pimms, St. Germain Elder flower liquour, lemon juice, garnished with a lemon twist, and rosemary, and House-infused hot pepper tequila margarita with fresh Ontario peach puree, salt/sugar rim
Gnocchi - The gnocchi is house-made traditionally with potato, tossed with a sweet corn puree, and garnished with marinated zucchini, feta, and a fennel bread crumble
Charcuterie Board - Everything on the charcuterie board was made in house; pork rillettes, the pork and walnut terrine, pork and herb terrine, the air-cured duck ham, chicken liver parfait, apricot chutney, and turmeric Dijon

Short Rib - 36 hour sous-vide short rib with deep-fried broccoli, sherry vinegar, and roasted king oyster mushroom, topped with a caper and raisin dressing
 Walking along the Glen Stewart was part of the plan, but it was too dangerous as it got dark pretty fast. However, if you're every around the area, definitely check out the Glen Stewart; a 11-hectare ravine with plants and bird life all around. 

We did get the chance to encounter Steve Sanna who owns Sanna's Farmacia Juice Bar. Sanna's Farmacia is an organic juice bar located on Queen St East that offers potions, elixirs, detox programs, power drinks, smoothies, and juices. All of the cold pressed juice available at the store are made using only organic ingredients to ensure that you're getting all of the right nutrients. To make his products more accessible to people, owner, Steve Sanna, also drives around on his mobile bike in the neighborhood.



I had a great time exploring the neighborhood of Upper Beaches, and definitely discovered some really nice gems. Many thanks to Streetcar Developments for being a great host, and Rock-It-Promotions for the opportunity.

Disclaimer: The food and products provided in this post were complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Sanna's Farmacia Juicebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Libertine

The Libertine are now under new ownership, and I was kindly invited to try their newly launched snack-lounge menu. The outside of the bar was rather unassuming as there was no clear sign of the bar's name. Rather, there was a tarot card and palm reading sign brightly flashing before my eyes, so I was slightly confused. The dim-lit yet modern speakeasy was actually located in the basement level of the building. The 2000-square-foot basement retained most of the previous space's decor, which featured high counter tops, photographs, and comfortable side booths. My boyfriend and I were greeted warmly by the main bartender, Matt, who showed us to our reserved booth. We ordered some drinks, and while we were waiting the new owner, Phil, came out and introduced himself. Phil was the one who explained all of the dishes that came out, and he was very attentive, and accommodating throughout the night. 

We were shown the menu, and Phil told us that we were going to be tasting several of the items that are available on the menu. I also noticed that their menu also caters to those who have stricter dietary restrictions as they offer both vegan and gluten-free dishes as well.



 Many of the dishes on The Libertine's new menu incorporates Chef JP's Middle Eastern roots, which I could tell as many of the dishes were colorful, vibrant, and had intense flavors. We actually started the night off with Hummus & Pita ($6), which is a staple dish in Middle Eastern cuisine. The hummus was relatively standard, but I did like the texture, as there was a nice consistency to the well-blended chickpeas.  



The Falafel Blinis ($9)  - fluffy falafel, chickpea blini, date & cinnamon jam, rainbow swiss chard, pickled watermelon radish, bitter melon candy & toasted fennel/cumin Tahini sauce, were beautifully presented. Blinis are actually light pancakes that are traditionally served in Eastern European countries. The ones from The Libertine incorporated Middle Eastern influences with the layering of both the falafel, and chickpea to the mix. I also really liked how flavorful these bite-sized appetizers were, and not to mention that they are also vegan, and gluten-free.



The Coconut and Spiced Pecan Arancini ($7) - Gochujang & almond sauce, fried sage, was another vegan, and gluten-free item on the menu. The creamy risotto was cooked in coconut soy milk, which gave the ball a very sweet flavor. However, since this was a savory dish, the addition of the Korean paste, gochujang, added a nice kick, and balanced the sweetness of the arancini.

 

The Baby Clam Po'Boys ($9) - Swiss chard & mustard green slaw, apple cilantro mayo, sweet scotch bonnet sauce, was made with homemade milk buns, which were a little thick for my taste. However, it was dressed with a nice sauce that was both sweet, and spicy.




One of favorite dishes of the night was JP's Mac n Cheese Balls ($8) - Casal Da Ermida, a rich stank Portuguese cheese. Blended with fresh garlic scapes. My intital thought when I saw that Casal Da Ermida was used was that the scent would probably be overpowering. However, that was definitely not the case, as it was delicious. Normally, this dish would come with three pieces, but we feasted on a lot of food that night. The mac, and cheese were tightly packed inside of the deep-fried balls, and the cheese sauce was made with real garlic, which added a lot of flavor.
 

The Pork & Potato Asian Slaw ($9) - soy ginger lime vinaigrette, house smoked pork, potato skin chips, bbq chips, pickled ginger, green onion, avocado crema, was another dish that I really enjoyed. It was presented in a creative way; in a make-shift take-out box with wooden chopsticks. I thought that the Asian slaw was very well made, and contained a generous amount of house smoked pork that had a nice smoky flavor to them. The coleslaw had a lot of components to it, so you have to mix it very well. However, I did find that the bbq chips that were on the bottom got soggy fast when mixed. So, it would have been better if the potato skin chips, and bbq chips topped off the slaw. Overall, I thought that the shredded pulled pork tasted amazing with the light vinaigrette.



I was too full by the time the Gnocchi Poutine ($8) came out, so my boyfriend helped himself to the entire thing. The dish consisted of fried gnocchi, root vegetable gravy, cheddar cheese, and topped off with some green onions, and fried shallots.

 

I was full, but I can never say no to desserts. We ended the night off with two pieces of Churros - cinnamon butter, and coconut dulce de lece; a fried-dough pastry that are very popular in Spain. The cinnamon-dusted churros tasted great with the sweet coconut dulce de lece that I could have gone for seconds.



Overall, I enjoyed both the food, and service that we got from The Libertine. All of the staff, including the owner (Phil) were very pleasant, and helpful. We also got to meet Chef JP, who came out of the kitchen to tell us a little bit more about his dishes. He was very humble, and just completely passionate about cooking, and food. I love meeting, and talking to people who share the same love of food as I do, so I appreciate him coming out. The Libertine has since improved their drinks and food menu from their predecessor, and I think it's a very relaxing place to hang out on the weekends. Many thanks to The Libertine for having us, and we had a great time!

Address: 1307 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X8

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

The Libertine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato