Double Cheese Nachos at Moxie’s
Before having these nachos, I hadn’t been to Moxie’s in several years. My recollection is that the place was deeply mediocre, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, it’s still deeply mediocre. The nachos were fine-ish; they’re somewhere in the vicinity of fine, I guess? For something called “Double Cheese” nachos, there were a lot of dry chips, and there otherwise isn’t much going on here other than some chopped tomatoes and sliced jalapenos. It’s one-note in its flavour, and desperately needs something with a bit of acidity/zinginess to perk it up a bit (salsa could have filled this role, but the salsa here tasted like it came out of a jar — and a particularly shoddy one, at that).
It’s also crazy overpriced for what it is; with the pulled chicken (which was basically stewed chicken mush) and guacamole (which was exceptionally bland), the platter comes up to a whopping 29 bucks, which is a galling amount to pay for such a mediocre plate of nachos.
Hot Fudge Sundae at Tom’s Dairy Freeze
I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze a couple of times before, which is why I didn’t bother writing a whole post about this, but it’s worth noting that the hot fudge sauce here is above average. It’s not great, mind you (the ice cream itself is definitely the reason to come to Tom’s), but it has a decent chocolate flavour, and it’s not overly sweet. It’s definitely a cut above a place like Dairy Queen.
Cinnamon Bun at Blackbird Baking Co.
Like the almond croissant at Blackbird Baking Co., the cinnamon bun is a lot more subtle than you’re expecting it to be — but it’s also delicious. It’s basically like a croissant and a cinnamon bun had a baby. The croissants at Blackbird are quite good, so yeah, this is as good as you’d hope.
Location: 3447 Kennedy Road, Scarborough
Ming’s Noodle Cafe is a Hong-Kong-style diner; it’s also one of those restaurants with a multi-page menu with literally hundreds of choices. If you’re not sure what to order, the All Day Special is a safe bet, and an absolutely incredible deal.
For the almost absurdly low price of 7.45, you get an egg sandwich or an omelette with toast on the side, a main meal, and a drink. It’s an insane deal.
Is the food amazing? No, it definitely isn’t; but for that price how can you complain?
And it’s certainly not bad. I started with the egg sandwich, which features a tasty, buttery omelette between two fluffy slices of white bread. The eggs were slightly overcooked, but it was a respectable sandwich.
Next up was the beef with satay sauce on vermicelli soup. This was fine; the beef is tender, and the satay sauce is tasty enough. Nothing about it particularly stands out… until you add a heaping amount of the chili sauce they have on the table, then it really comes alive.
I wish that sauce were a bit spicier (it’s surprisingly mild) but it’s otherwise sweet, savoury, and addictive, with a face-punch of satisfying flavours. You can buy a jar to take home for six bucks, and you’d better believe I bought one.
Location: 235 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
I recently had a pide at Byblos Uptown that was good but not great; now here comes Best Istanbul Restaurant to show them how it’s really done.
I tried a couple of pides, and they were both seriously delicious. There was the Sucuk Pide (“Turkish flatbread with mozzarella, sucuk meat and eggs”) and the Veggie Pide (“mozzarella, spinach and feta cheese”).
Both were quite good, though the sucuk was my favourite of the two. If you’re unfamiliar with sucuk (which is sometimes spelled sujuk), it’s a really tasty, intensely-spiced sausage that’s kind of like a turbo-charged version of pepperoni. It’s so good.
It works perfectly on the pide, with its assertive flavour matching perfectly with the mild, gooey cheese. The crust is great too, with a nice exterior crispiness and a satisfyingly chewy/fluffy interior. I didn’t notice the egg, however; either they forgot about it (the picture on the menu shows a full egg yolk on the pide), or they mixed it right in with the cheese (though it didn’t taste like they did).
The Veggie was quite tasty as well, though the crust was slightly thinner and crispier, which wasn’t quite as satisfying as the other one. It was also a bit underseasoned, though a spritz from the accompanying lemon wedge easily took care of that problem.
Location: 515 Dundas Street West, Oakville
The Pho Beef Banh Mi at Just Braise in Oakville is pretty much exactly what you want it to be; it is the Brundlefly version of a bowl of pho and a banh mi, and it’s delicious.
Here’s how the menu describes it: “braised beef, pho sauce, pickled veg, cucumber, garlic mayo, hoisin+sriracha, cilantro.”
The combo of the beef and the pho sauce does a great job of capturing the flavour of that particular soup. The only issue: the beef was actually pretty dry, which holds the sandwich back from greatness.
Everything else was quite tasty — the pickled veggies and the crunchy cucumber add a nice bright counterpoint to the savoury beef, and the garlic mayo / hoisin / sriracha combo compliments the beef very well.
It helps that the bread is perfect; it’s lightly crispy on the outside, with a great fluffy interior. It’s a tasty sandwich.
Location: 2537 Yonge Street, Toronto
Brunch is great, no doubt about it. Eggs Benedict, pancakes, French toast — all tasty stuff. But sometimes you want something a bit different, and if that’s the case, the Middle-Eastern-influenced brunch menu at Byblos fits the bill quite nicely.
We started with the Turkish Manti Dumplings (“eggplant + yogurt sauce + date molasses”), which was easily the weakest dish of the three I tried. The yogurt/molasses sauce was one-note sweet and tangy, and the dumplings were basically pure mush. There was almost no distinction in texture between the wrapper and the creamy filling.
Up next was the Eggplant Kibbeh: “zucchini flower + baharat + chickpea batter.” This was interesting. Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish made from spiced ground beef; it’s essentially a fried meatball stuffed with more meat.
The vegetarian version they serve here has only the most vague kibbeh-like properties, but it’s tasty for what it is; it’s nicely spiced, and the creamy filling contrasts well with the crispy fried exterior.
My main meal was the Bastirma Khachapuri: “manouri cheese + egg + guindilla + urfa chili.” This was basically a Turkish pide filled with cheese, eggs, and bastirma, a cured meat that’s generally thought to be the precursor to pastrami.
It was pretty tasty — it was freshly baked, with a nice crispy exterior and a chewy interior. It’s not the best pide you’ll ever eat, but of course, the combo of cheese, eggs, and salty cured meat is a winner. That’s always going to be a winner. It’s hard to go wrong there.