More Delicious Pasta at Shiso Tree Cafe

Shiso Tree CafeLocation: 3160 Steeles Avenue East, Markham
Website: https://www.facebook.com/ShisoTree/

I mentioned recently that I generally prefer checking out restaurants I haven’t tried over revisiting ones I have.  There are, however, exceptions to that rule, such as: Shiso Tree Cafe, a restaurant that fuses Japanese and Italian cuisine with some seriously delicious results.

On this visit I had the shoyu mushroom spaghetti: “shimeji, enoki, king oyster mushrooms in mentsuyu butter sauce.”

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s so good.  It looks a little bit dry in the photo; a lot of the sauce is at the bottom of the bowl, but once you mix it up, it becomes creamy and amazing (and the sauce is rich enough to cling perfectly to the pasta — there wasn’t any left in the bowl when the spaghetti was done).

It has an incredibly satisfying buttery/savoury flavour, and the various types of mushrooms add a nice variety of textures and flavours.  It’s a top-notch bowl of pasta.

Shiso Tree Cafe

It’s also an incredible deal; every pasta on their lunch menu costs twelve bucks and comes with a salad, soup, and a slice of garlic bread.  The salad looks a little sad, but features a sesame-infused dressing that’s a cut above the standard Japanese-inspired salad dressing you’re expecting.  The creamy seafood soup is rich, flavourful, and packed with tasty chunks of seafood — it’s way better than a free soup has any right to be.  The garlic bread is quite tasty, too.

A Decent Sandwich at Flock

FlockLocation: 97 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://flockonharbord.com/

The first time I had the pulled rotisserie chicken sandwich from Flock, I wasn’t a fan.  It had obviously been assembled in advance and put in the fridge, and it was clammy, with a uniformly soft texture.  None of the flavours popped.  It wasn’t great.

Flock

But Toronto Life recently called it one of the 25 best sandwiches in the city, so I figured I’d give it another shot.

It’s still not the best sandwich ever, but it’s tasty enough.  From their menu: “Ace Bakery Bun, Avocado Spread, Crisp Romaine & Horseradish/Beet/Apple Slaw & Crispy Onion”

Flock

This time the sandwich was clearly made to order, which helped a lot.  The chicken was warm, fresh, and tasty, and there’s a pretty generous amount of it.   The sweet slaw adds a welcoming hit of zinginess, and the avocado is nice and creamy.

I’m a little bit baffled that it wound up on a list of the best sandwiches in the city, but it certainly isn’t bad.  It just doesn’t stand out in any particular way.

White Lily Diner Makes a Mean Meatloaf Sandwich

White Lily DinerLocation: 678 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://whitelilydiner.ca/

At this point, I’ve eaten several of the sandwiches from Toronto Life’s list of the best in the city.  That’s a solid list.  And the meatloaf sandwich from White Lily Diner (Toronto Life’s 12th best sandwich) is absolutely outstanding.

White Lily Diner

The sandwich features a thick slice of meatloaf, mayo, a sweet tomato sauce, and pickles.  An egg is an optional surcharge, but of course you need to get the egg.  Every sandwich is improved by the addition of a fried egg with a gooey yolk.  That’s just science.

Oh, and did I mention that it also comes with a bowl of gravy on the side for dipping?  Because it does, and it’s glorious.

White Lily Diner

It’s an incredibly rich sandwich — there’s the butter-laden toast (which they make in house, and which is amazing), the weighty slice of meatloaf, the fried egg, and of course, the gravy.  That sandwich doesn’t take any prisoners.  It’s not kidding around.

It’s also delicious.  The meatloaf is perfectly spiced while still retaining a nice beefy flavour.  It has a great texture, not to mention a nice crispy exterior from the griddle.  The rich gravy only amps up the beefy flavour.

White Lily Diner

But it’s perfectly balanced; the pickles and the sweet tomato sauce ensure that it never feels one-note rich.

It comes with a salad on the side (and trust me, you don’t need anything heavier than that to accompany this sandwich) which is dressed with a simple vinaigrette; it works as a nice counterpoint to the very rich sandwich.

Seed to Sausage Meatery at the Food District in Square One

Seed to Sausage Meatery, Square OneLocation: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
Website: https://www.seedtosausage.ca/

The Food District in Square One is the latest in the recent trend of upmarket food courts that have been popping up throughout the city.  This is one of the more delightful food trends of late.  All the convenience of a food court, but with above average food?  Yes please.

Or is it above average?  Maybe not.  Enter: Seed to Sausage Meatery, which has an “award-winning” Montreal smoked meat sandwich on their menu (though the menu isn’t forthcoming on what this mysterious award might actually be).

Award-winning or not, I can’t say no to a smoked meat sandwich.

Seed to Sausage Meatery, Square One

Alas, it’s not great.  The meat is very thinly machine-sliced; normally I prefer the more satisfying thickness of hand-cut meat, but in this case, that just isn’t possible.  If you sliced this meat too thickly, it’d be like trying to eat your belt.  It would be completely inedible.

It’s tough.  The fat is just barely rendered, and the meat is dry and sinewy and difficult to bite through.  And yet somehow, it’s absolutely dripping with grease.  It might be the greasiest smoked meat sandwich I’ve ever had.  The grease soaked through the bread and turned it into mush in parts.

Seed to Sausage Meatery, Square One

It’s too bad, because the flavour is actually pretty good.  It’s a touch too salty, but it’s nicely spiced and has a mild but satisfying smokiness.  And the fresh, tasty bread was way above average — it was the best part of the sandwich by far.  So there’s definitely potential there.

I got a salad on the side instead of fries, which was clearly a mistake.  I went with the field greens salad, which comes with a vinaigrette that’s so intensely sweet you could put it on ice cream.  Remember Tahiti Treat?  I hadn’t thought about that soda in years, but as soon as I tried the dressing here, I flashed right back.  That’s how sweet it was.

It’s technically food court fare, so at least if the meal had been cheap, it might be possible to overlook some of its issues.  It isn’t; it’s $15.95 for the sandwich and one side, which makes it more expensive than unambiguously superior restaurants like Centre Street Deli and SumiLicious.

Unique Pork Cheeseburgers at Harmony Lunch

Harmony LunchLocation: 90 King Street North, Waterloo
Websitehttps://harmonylunch.ca/

Harmony Lunch makes me mad.  Not because the food is bad — it’s actually quite good.  That’s the problem.

I went to the University of Waterloo, so I lived in the area for four years, and I somehow managed to go that entire time without knowing that this place existed.  To add insult to injury: it’s right around the corner from the Princess Cinema, an art house theatre that was a regular destination for me during my time in Waterloo.  So it was right there, and I had no idea.

Harmony Lunch

Harmony Lunch is a legit old-school diner (it’s been around since 1930) that’s mostly known for their pork-based hamburgers that are served with a generous amount of griddled onions (along with tomato, relish, mustard, and American cheese).

It’s basically a classic griddled hamburger, only with pork instead of beef.  I missed the beef — in the context of a hamburger, the much milder flavour of pork feels like a downgrade when you’re expecting that nice beefy hit.  But then I’m kinda burger-obsessed, so maybe I’m biased.

Harmony Lunch

Certainly, it’s hard to complain too much when the final product is so tasty.  The patty is otherwise just right, with a good texture, a nice amount of crust from the griddle, and a satisfying juiciness.  And the combo of the pork patty, the soft griddled onions, and the gooey American cheese is hard to resist.

It’s all on a soft, fresh bun that’s been lightly toasted on both sides, and that suits the burger perfectly.

Harmony Lunch

I got it with the house salad on the side, which was nicely prepared and featured a deliciously zingy dressing.

So… how did I manage to live in Waterloo for four years without knowing about this place??  Who should I be furious at?  I need to direct this anger somewhere.