Little did I know when I booked our hotel in Toronto on a street called The Esplanade, that there were four restaurants on the opposite side of the street, referred to by some as the best patio street in the city. We stayed four nights and after full days of walking all over the city it was wonderful to go back to the room, freshen up and get to dinner in minutes. These were very popular restaurants and they were always packed even on a weekday evening.
All of them had outdoor cafe areas. Every evening we had beautiful weather so even though we had to wait up to 25 minutes (at the bar, oh poor us) for a table we definitely opted for the outdoors. There were older couples like us but predominately this was the refuge for young professionals. Lots of talking, lots of laughing and lots of beer. Great fun.
The first night we tried the Amsterdam Bicycle Club. Lots of beer food: meatball sliders, chicken wings, provolone sticks…, Lots of pizza and lots of pasta. I had the cannelloni and Curt had the spaghetti with spicy meat sauce. The food was good but the portions were too hardy and heavy for me. An interesting aside, the outside cafe has a different name than the inside restaurant, The Old Spaghetti Factory, though they have the same menu and kitchen. The difference, our server informed us, was that the portions inside were larger. Yikes!
Next night, we went next door to the Bier Markt. They advertise 100 brands
of beer from 24 countries, many of them from Belgium, many of them on-draft. While we waited for our table I had a Carlsberg and Curt, a Pilsner Urquell. This was not the easiest choice in the world since the beer list is pages long, all organized by country. While waiting for our table we had time to peruse the menu so once we were seated we knew our order that evening was going to be the Markt Charcuterie for Two. This was part of the appetizers but it was a great dinner for us. A wooden plank arrived at our table with slices of coppa, cacciatorini, prosciutto, salumi and pate’ maison, small ramekins of a black cherry & balsamic compote and macerated plums, a selection of mustards and bistro bread. Accompanied by our cold beers, excellent!
Since we had such a great time on Tuesday, we went back to the Bier Markt on Wednesday. This night while we waited for our table I had the most interesting mushroom soup ever. I was served a bowl of roasted wild and tame mushrooms topped with two gougeres. Then the waitress poured mushroom broth over them. Very different and very good. Curt opted for one each of Pickle Point, Fanny Bay, Beausoleil, and French Kiss oysters. The Fanny Bays were the winners. Later for dinner we ordered from the appetizer menu again, this time the Wurst Sampler which consisted of bratwurst, smoked Bavarian and spicy sausage, gouda cheese, sour pickles, warm Bavarian pretzel and of course, a selection of mustards. I had the Urquell Pilsner tonight and Curt went with Jupiler (described as the Coors of Belgium).
Our last night in Toronto was spent at Fionn MacCool’s. The appetizers here didn’t work for dinner but the entrees were good. I had the Guinness Steak & Mushroom Boxty. A boxty is a seasoned potato pancake. The steak and mushrooms were stuffed inside.
Curt ordered the Fish and Chips which he dubbed excellent. We shared a Chocolate Volcano for dessert, oh yes.
Well this was a lot of good eating. I would recommend each restaurant and all for different reasons. Tonight Curt attempted a combined re-creation of our Bier Markt dinners with tweaks and additions. A selection of sausages (French garlic and salami), prosciutto and a mushroom-laced pate, french bread, herbed green beans, cornichons, macerated crap apples, black cherry compote, green-olive tapenade and homemade mustard. The only thing missing was the outdoor seating.