doug and i finally got a chance to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary – though two weeks after the actual date. not really a big concern for us since we rarely get to celebrate on the weekend of (since it falls on thanksgiving weekend).
we ended up cancelling our trip to kleinburg because after coming back from the long drive to and from t-bay, and eating traditional, n. american/western food, we craved culture. and we wanted to stay in toronto – we missed our city.
it's always like that – anytime we go to t-bay for an extended stay, we are reminded of how spoiled we are to live in a multi-cultural city, as opposed to a small-town, northern ontario city.
and so, with chaeli staying at my parents' place, we took advantage of just re-visiting some favourite places in toronto, as well as a couple of new places.
on friday night, we went to one of my favourite restaurants, the butler's pantry. this place is set up more like a cafe-style restaurant but has the most interesting collection of menu items. the sandwhiches are all british influences but the appetizer and main entree menu is a variation of korean, moroccan, greek, burmese, east indian… just to name some.
doug had a chicken curried dish over egg noodles and i had the biryani. we both shared a spinach nut casserole and side salad for the appetizer. and 1/2 litre of red wine – which got me feeling a good buzz as we walked the streets after dinner before going home.
the next day, we woke up and slowly made our way to the gym. after an hour workout, we went to a near-by japanese restaurant called ni-ji. this place is small but the decor is very modern and fun. it's somewhat out of place in the neibourhood which is probably what gives it it's charm. when it first opened, we were one of two tables in the restaurant. yesterday, we got one of the two LAST tables available. and so, we indulged in a lot of salmon sashimi and various types of sushi rolls. plus, their green tea couldn't be beat.
later in the evening, we headed down to queen street east which is, thanks to ada and hoa, my new favourite place to find good eats. the restaurants around that area remind me of some of the san francisco restaurants we visited. a lot of unique menus from great chefs. and while some of the places look very nice, it's casual, casual, casual all the way. there's also a collection of organic foods and/or usages of local farmer produce… the latter being something that's becoming more and more important in our choices of grocery shopping, so knowing that the restaurant cares about our local agriculture industry makes it that much more enjoyable for us to dine in their establishment.
we went to ada and hoa's place first and took a 15 walk through what ended up being a fairly warm night for autumn in toronto.
they took us to a place called "Gio Rana's Really Really Nice Restaurant" which is fairly new. the owner use to own the popular restaurant called 'Gio' known for it's big nose at the front of the restaurant (an icon of uptown toronto). the place closed down and he's since opened two more restaurants. one called 'five doors north' and this one in the queen st. east area.
and thankfully, the nose came with it. the building use to be a bank. they actually left the outside structure exactly the same aside from the big nose sticking out over the front entrance. the inside, however, has been transformed to a very hip and urban-rough place. i say 'rough' because the place was left purposely unfinished. and while that may sound a bit weird to envision, they were able to create a really good atmosphere.
anyway, the four of us had great food last night. we shared appetizers then went on to have a first course pasta, followed by some more southern italian fare.
i had the butternut squash ravioli in sage butter, followed by the 'sexier duck' and we shared a platter of side-vegetables.
i think the word 'living large' and 'spoiled' was how i felt this weekend except that each meal came out to be a lot less then what one would imagine these places to charge.
gio rana's realy really nice restaurant was surprisingly inexpensive… i've been to restaurants around the theatre district (which i hate going to now) that isn't even close to being unique and/or having the same, great taste, but have no problems charging $30-35 a plate.
gio's charged nothing over $20, with most appetizer dishes and first course pasta dishes being around $5 and main courses usually around $12 to $17 (one or two seafood dishes were more because they were the market price, but that's about it). desserts were also no more over $5 where as the same type of dessert on the west end of downtown toronto would be double the price!
the service, though, was amazing. we had the most nicest, down-to-earth waiter who encompassed excillent customer service without constantly being in our face or 'stuffy'.
afterwards, we went back to ada and hoa's for some pie and tea, before headinb back home.
the past two nights were perfect – even better then i had planned!
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