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This weekend landed me in Toronto, and happily reunited with a dear friend who’s been missing in action for 5 months. Okay, not really MIA per sey, unless you count disappearing to Berlin for the summer as such. Sadly, our academic paths have led us to be in different cities, but alas! It gives me yet another excuse (beyond my mother’s rendition of oh-so-good Chiu Chow styled duck) to come visit.

We caught up in the yuppy neighborhood of Yonge + Eglinton, where yummy mummies were plenty, dog-walking (and child-walking) on sidewalks. With Sunset Grill being packed (and neither one of us extremely craving the greasy spoon: to be honest, I’m still recoiling from the Quebec protein of August), we sauntered north along Yonge. A few restaurants seemed to serve brunch, but Amore caught our eye with its menu displayed prominently beside the door. C-Food, for example, had this silly little tv screen on the patio, that stayed too long on the ’15$ prix fixe’ screen, without divulging the details of this special. It wasn’t that Amore had a spectacular menu, per sey, it just, well, had a menu.

Reasonably priced enough (brunch items seemed to mostly hover at 9$ or so), we took a seat on the ‘patio’ – a crammed 3 table space in front of the restaurant. Unfortunately, it proved not to be the best seat of the house, as the autumn winds and shade quickly cooled our ordered items. I suppose I’m still in denial that summer is quickly fleeting.

I was sorely disappointed with the overly lemony hollandaise sauce on my bennys. Which leaves me still on a quest to find the perfect rendition of this sauce. The last time I had eggs benedict, I was in North Bay where the joint served a way-too-thick version of the sauce (did they put cornstarch in it?!). And unfortunately, my dear friend was unimpressed with the undercooked potatoes that came with her spicy italian sausage frittata (the bread was a redeeming factor, however.) Coffee was standard, as far as coffee goes when it’s served at 2.3$/mug.

Spending QT was more of a priority today, so I think I wasn’t actually as frustrated (vocally, anyway) with the food as I would usually be. Sometimes, even good service can’t make up for the food. When I’m in the area next, however, I’ll probably be venturing elsewhere. Like Grazie Ristorante, for example (a fave of my dear friend’s).

Amore Trattoria
2425 Yonge St.
* * (of 5)

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Dinner tonight in Richmond Hill (yes, twice in the span of a week). At Ten Ren’s Tea Time, on hwy 7 between Leslie and Bayview. Service was mediocre at best, with servers who didn’t speak Cantonese (Mandarin & broken English only). At least the managers were full of smiles, and slightly apologetic. Food was interesting: but seemingly more conceptual cuisine than actual culinary art – the flavours of the different teas that were supposedly in all of the dishes was subtle, very very subtle. But the prix fixe menus (with actually quite a bit of choice) were well priced (mostly 15 or 20$) and multi-coursed (a tiny salad – made up for with a tasty dressing, soup, main dish with rice, dessert, and tea – but by tea, since it is a tea house, there were plenty of interesting choices). I think the wonton soup was with a hint of jasmine (I’ve forgotten now) – which came through the broth-from-a-can taste; pleasant and interesting. The pu-erh beef brisket was tasty, but didn’t taste, to me, of pu-erh at all – a little bit of a disappointment, because it’s the stuff I grew up on, my family’s tea of choice. A new tea in my books to close the meal: tian-mu (mountain fog? I think that sounds somewhat like a loose translation) . The leaves are apparently picked in the early morning dew on this mountain… and the vagaries of that hearsay make me want to become more of a tea drinker.

And now I’m going to sleep through all of that caffeine.

Ten Ren's Tea Time on Urbanspoon

Pan asian restaurant, this time in RH way up at 10610 Bayview Ave. Sweet Basil is worth raving about: fabulous service, and great price:quality ratio (8.99 pad thai, 14.99 appetizer plate for 2-3 with spring rolls, satay chicken, mango salad, crab cakes). Lemongrass ice tea? Tasty.

Of course, I was in great company.

Sweet Basil Pan Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon