Classic Comfort Food at Emmer

EmmerLocation: 161 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.emmertoronto.ca/

Emmer is a bakery that recently opened to pretty much immediate success — if you check this place out (and you should definitely check this place out), expect to be in line for a while.  It’s worth it.

Emmer

Everything here is so good.  On a previous, unblogged visit, I tried the roast beef sandwich and a chocolate croissant, and both were thoroughly delicious.

On this visit I was able to sit on their patio for their newly introduced lunch service.  I tried the tuna melt, which is 100% pure comfort food.   This isn’t any kind of “elevated” tuna melt; it’s like a tuna melt you might make at home, only so much better.

Emmer

The tuna is perfectly creamy without being overly rich, and the gooey American cheese complements it perfectly.  The sandwich also features some kind of zippy chili sauce, which adds a very mild kick and generally makes it all a bit more interesting.

Emmer

And of course, Emmer’s specialty is their baked goods, so the bread in the sandwich is house made and amazing.  It’s also slathered in butter and nicely crisped up on its exterior, so yeah, it’s very good.

A Disappointing Meal at Dreyfus

Dreyfus
Location
: 96 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Dreyfus-Toronto-382976892314156/

Dreyfus’ main claim to fame is that it was opened by an alumnus of Joe Beef, a seriously acclaimed Montreal bistro (among many, many accolades, it was recently called Canada’s second best restaurant).  I’ve never tried that place, so this seemed like the next best thing.

The menu consists of various small, shareable plates with big price tags; cheap eats this isn’t, but then every now and then you need to break the bank and try some top-notch food.  Or at least, that was the idea.

Dreyfus

The menu is entirely French, which means that effectively, there is no menu — the waiter tells you about every dish, and then you have to remember it all; not ideal for a place that requires you to order multiple dishes.  That whole conceit is a bit overly precious, but if the food is great, who cares?

Yeah, about that.

Nothing is outright bad, I’ll give it that, but for what they’re charging, the food is very much a mixed bag.

Dreyfus

There were some highlights, however.  There was a dish that featured endives topped with tender roast pork shoulder that was particularly delicious.  The endive was doused in a tasty, Russian-style dressing and was basically a variation on a wedge salad, and the thickly-sliced pork was meaty and tender.

Dreyfus

The croque cubano — essentially an open-faced Cubano that you can eat in a couple of bites — was crispy, meaty, zesty, and satisfying.

Dreyfus

And the ice cream sandwich featured top-notch ice cream sandwiched between two chewy, delicious cookies.

Dreyfus

Everything else was a bit iffy.  The steak tartare was fine, but it was way overseasoned and had zero beefy flavour.

Dreyfus

I can’t remember what the croquette was even supposed to be; the vaguely yogurty interior was basically just a thick, tasteless sludge.

Dreyfus

This squash dish topped with Jersey Royal cheese should have been tasty, but the cheese was haphazardly applied, and most of the squash was undercooked and crunchy.

The mackerel seemed okay, but it was absolutely doused in an overly vinegary sauce that completely overwhelmed the fish.

Dreyfus

The madelines were basically tasty, but they were overcooked and dry, and the sauce that comes on the side was overly sweet (the sugar that was haphazardly dumped into the container probably didn’t help).

A Delicious Fried Fish Sandwich at Sea Witch

Sea Witch Fish and ChipsLocation: 636 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto
Website: http://www.seawitchfc.com/

Taking the fish from a plate of fish and chips and serving it in a sandwich is such an obvious idea that I’m shocked it isn’t more common.  And if Sea Witch is anything to go by, it totally works.

Sea Witch Fish and Chips

You can get the pickerel sandwich either with or without chips; it’s $15 with, and $13 without, so obviously you need to get the chips (it is, however, a massive amount of food, so bring your appetite).

Sea Witch Fish and Chips

It’s quite tasty.  The sandwich easily could have been too rich, but they wisely pile on a whole bunch of zingy pickled onions, not to mention a generous amount of tangy tartar sauce.  This balances things out quite nicely.  The hearty ciabatta holds together well, and proves to be an ideal vehicle for the hearty sandwich.

Sea Witch Fish and Chips

As for the fish itself, it’s good, though it’s not outstanding — the batter is slightly too substantial, and the fish is a bit overcooked and dry.  Still, with all of the other stuff going on, it works just fine.

The fries are the highlight.  They’re crispy, creamy, and substantial; they’re basically the perfect fish and chips chips.

Halibut House Fish & Chips

Halibut House Fish and ChipsLocation: 2814 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.halibuthouse.ca/

Halibut House is a fish and chips chain with over 20 locations around the GTA, though I didn’t even know it existed until very recently.

I don’t think it’s going to blow anyone’s mind, but if you’re looking for a tasty plate of fish and chips, you could do a lot worse.

Halibut House Fish and Chips

It’s also a decent deal.  You can get a half plate for about eleven bucks, which comes with a piece of halibut (of course), fries, and coleslaw.  The fish is on the smaller side, but the pile of fries is generous enough that it’s pretty much guaranteed to fill you up.

Halibut House Fish and Chips

The fish itself is a bit overcooked (it was quite dry), but the flavour was nice, and the batter was just right.  A lot of places tend to overwhelm the fish with a thick, overly-crunchy coating, but the batter here was nice and crispy while still allowing the fish to be the star of the show.

Halibut House Fish and Chips

The fries are the highlight.  They’re crispy, creamy, and very tasty.  The coleslaw is a bit bland, but it’s fine, and the tartar sauce is creamy and zesty (if a bit overly oniony).  It’s a solid plate of fish and chips.

Great Fish Tacos at Seven Lives

Seven LivesLocation: 69 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
Website: http://sevenlives.restaurantsnapshot.com/

Seven Lives serves what is frequently called the best fish taco in the city, which makes deciding what to order there quite easy.  It’s the fish taco.  It’s gotta be the fish taco.

I’ve actually been wanting to try this place for quite a while, but it’s popular; the place routinely has a line-up going out the door, and it’s a tiny restaurant.  If you don’t get a seat on one of the two benches out front, or at the one table inside, you’re out of luck.  You’ll just have to eat and walk, which is a bit of a challenge with their generously-stuffed tacos.

Seven Lives

It’s worth the wait and the hassle.  It is as advertised: it’s clearly one of the best fish tacos in the city, if not the best.

It consists of a very generous piece of fried haddock topped with cabbage, pico de gallo, and a garlicky sauce.  Everything works really well together.  The fish, in particular, is delicious; it’s super tender and flaky with a very satisfying crispy exterior that never overwhelms the fish itself.

Seven Lives

The toppings are great — the cabbage and the pico de gallo add some nice freshness and crunch (not to mention an acidity that helps cut through the fried fish), and the creamy sauce brings a nice garlicky bite.

My only real issue here are the two corn tortillas, which were a bit stale (corn tortillas are one of those things that pretty much have to be consumed within minutes rather than hours of being cooked — they get stale fast).  But that’s a minor complaint for an otherwise superlative taco.