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the keg

Hot Dining: Steak expectations

By Trevor J. Adams

STEAK EXPECTATIONS
Succulent steak and top-notch service are hallmarks of The Keg. Visit the popular chain in Halifax in the heart of the downtown on Market Street.

As the name suggests, Primal Kitchen on Brenton Street is a carnivore’s haven, boasting local meats smoked, cured, and butchered inhouse. The 35-ounce bone-in prime rib for two, paired with truffle fries, is a guaranteed date-night all-star.

The Barrington Steakhouse & Oyster Bar gives the classic chop-house experience a 21st-century spin. You can’t go wrong with a classic New York striploin paired with a couple of big, juicy, fresh Atlantic scallops.

The Keg.

The Keg.

CASUAL FAVOURITES
A Southern-style smokehouse tucked away in a tiny Barrington Street location, Boneheads BBQ is beloved by locals. The menu includes all the slow-smoked mainstays you’d expect: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and more. Indecisive? Try the mammoth (and ideal for sharing) Pit Boss Sampler and get a little bit of everything.

Boneheads BBQ

Boneheads BBQ

Just around the corner from the Atlantica Hotel on Quinpool Road, Relish Gourmet Burgers offers creative takes on the classic burger and fries. The house specialty is the Halifax Explosion: a flash-grilled pineapple ring dusted in habanero powder, plus pancetta bacon, curried onion frites, and aged cheddar.

A SHORE THING
The Shore Club Lobster Suppers in Hubbards are a must for Nova Scotian visitors. Enjoy a huge feed of fresh Atlantic lobster in the rollicking and informal setting of a community supper at one of the province’s last old-fashioned dance halls. The menu also includes all-you-can-eat mussels, with vegetarian, steak, chicken, and kids’ meals

FEELING CRAFTY?
Take a break from the bustle of Spring Garden Road in the subterranean refuge of the Rockbottom Brewpub. The menu offers all the pub grub you’d expect, but the house-made craft-beer is the real draw. Locals love the zesty IPA and rich oatmeal stout; keep an eye out for the brewer’s latest seasonal creations. But why play favourites? A sampler tray is a tasty way to experience all the newest brews.

Rockbottom Brewpub

Rockbottom Brewpub

HOW SWEET IT IS 
If you’re the sort of person who skips dinner to save room for dessert, proceed directly to The Middle Spoon on Barrington Street and at Sunnyside Mall. This stylish spot specializes in decadent desserts paired with creative cocktails. It’s the ideal place to while away an evening with friends.

Haunted Toronto: Six Ghostly Sites in Hogtown

THE LEAD UP TO HALLOWEEN INEVITABLY BRINGS OUT BONE-CHILLING, SPINE-TINGLING, GOOSEBUMP-INCITING STORIES OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, SPOOKY SIGHTINGS AND HAUNTED TORONTO DESTINATIONS. FEELING THE URGE TO INDULGE YOUR INNER GHOSTBUSTER? HEAD TO OEN OF THESE SIX SCARY SPOTS IN THE CITY—IF YOU DARE.

Haunted Toronto Ghost Tours

Old City Hall is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two convicted criminals (photo: Eric Parker)

Depending on who you talk to, both Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas are said to haunt one of two different locations in Toronto: Old City Hall and the Don Jail. Turpin and Lucas were the last two individuals in “Muddy York” to be sentenced to death for their crimes. As one story goes, the penalty of death by hanging was delivered in a courtroom at Old City Hall where the men now roam, sometimes tugging at judges’ robes. Alternatively, the men haunt the gallows of the Old Don Jail—where many inmates were treated poorly while the prison was in operation from 1964 to 1977, and in whose open courtyard hangings were carried out.

(more…)

Quick Pick: 3 Church Street Restaurants That are Perfect for Pride Patrons

ATTENDING THIS MONTH’S PRIDE TORONTO FESTIVITIES? FUEL UP FOR THE FUN AT THESE CHURCH STREET RESTAURANTS

Church Street Restaurants Pride Toronto Dining

(Smith photo courtesy of Smith; The Keg photo courtesy of The Keg)

• At the south end of the Gaybourhood sits Guu Izakaya, a boisterous, cosmopolitan Japanese pub where you can down some takoyaki, karaage, deep-fried tofu and refreshingly affordable cocktails. 398 Church St., 416-977-0999; guu-izakaya.com

• Special-occasion diners, as well as those who simply enjoy a high-quality cut of meat, crowd the historic mansion location of the popular Keg steakhouse chain. Legend has it that at least one ghost haunts the Jarvis Street restaurant’s halls. 515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; kegsteakhouse.com

• Though spread across three floors, Smith manages to cultivate an appealingly intimate atmosphere—even during its very popular weekend brunch service. 553 Church St., 416-926-2501; 553church.com

—Craig Moy

October Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

woodys-Percy-with-Adam-web

BACK TO THE GRILL
Woody’s Bar-B-Q has returned to Hector Gate in Dartmouth Crossing. Savour the menu of authentic Southern classics like baby back ribs and pulled pork. On Mondays, try the all-you-can-eat wings for $10. The refurbished family-friendly restaurant now has a children’s play area.

Ryan Duffy's. Photo: Janice Hudson

Ryan Duffy’s. Photo: Janice Hudson

CLASSIC DINING

•Dry-aged Alberta AAA steaks cut and weighed table side are the specialty at Ryan Duffy’s a chic steakhouse on Bedford Row. Pick from a selection of flavourful extras to enhance your meat choice, including bacon jam, creamed spinach and Béarnaise sauce.

•On the corner of Prince and Market streets, The Keg offers a classic steakhouse experience. Pick from a range of regular and specialty cuts plus mouth-watering seafood dishes. The house-made Caesar salad with aged parmesan is a highlight.

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GET ME TO THE GREEK
A local favourite for over 30 years, Athens Restaurant on Quinpool Road is the spot to hit for a hearty breakfast. On weekends, come early as the booths fill up fast. Return for lunch and sample flavourful Greek dishes, including souvlaki, moussaka and other specialties.

Cheelin. Photo: Julé malet-veale

Cheelin. Photo: Julé malet-veale

THE SPICE ROUTE

•A downtown mainstay since 1984, Great Wall on Bedford Row boasts an array of Cantonese and Szechuan dishes, such as Kung Po shrimp and Singapore vermicelli. Owner Patrick Wong uses fresh local vegetables and house-made marinades. On Sundays from 11:30am to 3pm., try the tasty Dim Sum.

Cheelin has been serving up Szechuan and Beijing cuisine in the historic Brewery Market on Lower Water Street for over 20 years. The Friday buffet is a local favourite, featuring many MSG-free dishes seasoned with traditional spices. You can’t go wrong with ginger beef or wonton soup.

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PIZZA PERFECTION
An anchor of the stylish Hydrostone neighbourhood on Young Street, Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria creates scratch-made artisanal pizzas. Pick from over 12 original and specialty pizza combinations, plus a range of hearty oven-baked heroes (the meatball sandwich is a must try). Free delivery on the Halifax peninsula.

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

SEAFOOD IN STYLE
On Lower Water Street, McKelvie’s takes fresh seafood to new creative heights. Try the pulled lobster poutine or the blackened salmon with pineapple mango salsa. The crunchy haddock is a top seller among lunch and dinner crowds, boasting creamy BBQ sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

Tops in Taste: Toronto’s 2011 Where to Dine Awards

From quick and casual eateries to fine dining experiences inspired by global cuisines, Toronto has many hundreds of excellent restaurants. Only a handful, however,
can be true consensus favourites, and the winners of our annual Where to Dine
readers’ choice awards.

Canoe (photo by Kristina Doyle)

AMBIENCE
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Six locations of the popular steakhouse ensure diners can get a grilled-to-perfection sirloin, T-bone or filet mignon practically anywhere in Toronto. The brand’s most notable venue is in a circa-1868 mansion on Jarvis Street—the immaculately adorned interior is a conversation starter. Two other restaurants in the heart of downtown offer a more modern vibe for business lunches and pre-show dinners.
Honorable Mention: Auberge du Pommier

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH
Cora Breakfast & Lunch
Down-home country-kitchen dishes are the draw at this group of restaurants, originally from Quebec. Fresh fruit and eggs in various preparations comprise the majority of the menu, from the “10 Star” omelette—filled with ham, sausage, spinach, tomatoes and much more—to the “1990s Harvest” of cinnamon French toast with an egg, bacon and a mountain of seasonal fruit.
Honorable Mention: Fran’s (more…)

2010 Dining Guide: Surf and Turf

For a classic dinner of steak or seafood, these restaurants are hard to top.

Blue-Ribbon Bites: Our 2010 Where to Dine Readers’ Choice Awards

Once again we asked you, Where readers, to tell us about your most memorable meals for our annual Where to Dine Awards. This year, thousands dined, dashed to their computers and dished about these exemplary restaurants in 20 categories.

AMBIENCE — La Maquette
Go for: This French institution’s refined atmosphere: grand fireplaces, a lovely solarium and a patio adjacent to the Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Stay for: The chef’s specialty grilled jumbo quail with blackberry sauce, wild cherries and apricot chutney.
Runners up: The Sultan’s Tent, Southern Accent.

BUSINESS LUNCH — Canoe
Go for: Everything on executive chef Anthony Walsh’s acclaimed menu, which highlights the best of Canada’s culinary bounty.
Stay for: The 54th-floor view that colleagues and clients are unlikely to forget.
Runners up: Jump, Bymark.

BAR/LOUNGE — Dakota Tavern
Go for: The underground watering hole’s eclectic urban-cowboy ambience, fun-loving crowd and nightly rip-snortin’ performances by local and touring bands.
Stay for: An excellent all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch—complete with live bluegrass music.
Runners up: Panorama, The Abbot Pub & Fare.

The Drake Hotel

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH — The Drake Hotel
G0 for: An enormous helping of fluffy buttermilk pancakes with stewed fruit and crème fraiche.
Stay for: The diverse juice and drinks list, with everything from mango iced tea to a piquant tequila and cilantro Caesar.
Runners up: Le Sélect Bistro, Cora Breakfast & Lunch.

CAFÉ — Dark Horse Espresso Bar
G0 for: A steaming mug of French-pressed coffee or a shot of espresso expertly prepared by gregarious baristas at two locations.
Stay for: The relaxed and inclusive vibe—though the communal tables can get crowded with laptop-toting javaheads.
Runners up: B Espresso Bar, Art Square Café.

CHINESE — Lai Wah Heen
Go for: An unparalleled dim sum experience. The variety of nibbles and their artful presentation are worth the price.
Stay for: The array of Cantonese entrees ranging from the expected—Peking duck—to the exotic, like sea cucumber and sliced abalone.
Runners up: Asian Legend, Pearl Harbourfront.

FAMILY DINNER — The Pickle Barrel
Go for: All-day breakfast favourites like Belgian waffles and French toast that are sure to please even the pickiest of young palates.
Stay for: Adult-oriented entrees including stir-fries, sandwiches, seafood and steaks—approximately 300 menu items in all.
Runners up: The Old Spaghetti Factory, Jack Astor’s.

Scaramouche

FINE DINING — Scaramouche
Go for: Such contemporary French-influenced fare as lobster and lamb enhanced by the freshest of seasonal accompaniments.
Stay for: The expansive hilltop view of downtown, and a fabulous slice of coconut cream pie to end the evening.
Runners up: Splendido, Harbour Sixty.

FRENCH — Auberge du Pommier
Go for: The classic combination of milk-poached veal tenderloin and crispy fried sweetbreads. C’est magnifique!
Stay for: A charcuterie platter that adds Canadian touches like spruce tips and apple mustard, plus a to-die-for crème brûlée.
Runners up: Batifole, Loire.

GREEK — Pan on the Danforth
Go for: Large, affordable servings of Hellenic faves like stifatho, a dish of spiced veal cubes traditionally offered at weddings.
Stay for: Seafood staples including a fillet of red snapper in white wine sauce.
Runners up: Christina’s on the Danforth, Penelope.

HOTEL DINING — Epic at the Fairmont Royal York
Go for: Meaty, Canadian-sourced mains—Ontario pork, Alberta lamb and more—seasoned with herbs grown in the hotel’s own rooftop garden.
Stay for: Ocean Wise–certified sustainable fish from both the east and west coasts.
Runners up: Victor at the Hôtel le Germain, Victoria’s Restaurant at Le Méridien King Edward Hotel.

Epic at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

INDIAN — Little India
Go for: A laid-back lunch with downtown friends. The daily buffet is fresh and very reasonably priced.
Stay for: The rich and savoury butter chicken, plus a wide variety of vegetarian entrees.
Runners up: 259 Host, Babur.

ITALIAN — Zucca Trattoria
Go for: The daily selection of market-fresh whole grilled fish, presented by knowledgeable servers and paired with Italian vino.
Stay for: House-made pastas—try the strozapretti or casunsei ampezzani—that are counted among the city’s best.
Runners up: Mistura, Bellini’s.

JAPANESE — Funé
Go for: Varied pickings at the moat-encircled sushi bar. Grab what you like from the bamboo boats for a quick meal before catching a show in the Theatre District.
Stay for: Charbroiled Atlantic salmon with teriyaki sauce.
Runners up: Ki Modern Japanese & Bar, Nami.

ROMANTIC — 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower
Go for: The unforgettable revolving vistas afforded at more than 351 metres above Toronto. The city’s expanse twinkles wonderfully when it’s lit up at night.
Stay for: A rack of slow-roasted Canadian AAA prime beef ribs—big enough to share with your date—plus vintages from the world’s highest wine cellar.
Runners up: North 44, Trattoria Sotto Sotto.

Fisherman's Wharf

SEAFOOD — Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco
Go for: The mammoth seafood platter for two, which could include everything from lobster and Alaskan king crab legs to oysters, scallops and shrimp.
Stay for: Cherry wood–planked Tasmanian sea trout and grilled, miso-glazed
black cod are reliable options.
Runners up: Pier 4 Storehouse, Rodney’s Oyster House.

SERVICE — Bâton Rouge Restaurant
Go for: Grilled-to-order steaks and the restaurant’s signature pork back ribs, of course.
Stay for: The Toronto Eaton Centre location’s attentive staff, who ensure your business lunch or pre-theatre meal goes off without a hitch.
Runners up: George, Pangaea.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN — Golden Thai
Go for: Green curry chicken is an ever-popular choice, as is the Thai steak with mushrooms, peppers and lemon-coriander sauce.
Stay for: Pad Thai. This long-standing resto was one of the first to jump-start the city’s Thai food love affair and its staple dish still satisfies.
Runners up: Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Gourmet Thai.

STEAKHOUSE — The Keg
Go for: Dependable cuts of beef—like juicy New York striploin—available at seven Toronto locations, one of which is an impossibly elegant Victorian mansion.
Stay for: Surf-and-turf combo platters including prime rib and lobster tail, and teriyaki sirloin with tiger shrimp.
Runners up: Barberian’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

WINE LIST — Reds Bistro & Wine Bar
Go for: A Proustian list of bottled and by-the-glass vintages sourced by sommelier Carol Racicot and matched with bistro-style cuisine.
Stay for: Your choice of more than 30 international cheeses, plus a varied charcuterie.
Runners up: Opus, Via Allegro.

You Are Here: 4 Avenue SW

This stretch of downtown is in the thick of it: skyscrapers obscure the skyline, and the lunch hour is a mad rush. Not surprisingly, it has a high concentration of quality restaurants, but there are also retail gems and access to the picturesque Bow River Pathway.

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Royal India's expansive buffet, available seven days a week from 11 am - 2 pm. Photographer: Blair Hill.

A TASTE OF ASIA
Lunch crowds flock to two of the best Indian buffets in Calgary: Glory of India and Royal India Cuisine. Glory is owned and operated by Jassie Bakhshi, a chef with more than 25 years experience and a Delhi-style menu. Royal India’s lunch buffet is known for its size, with 12 entrees to choose from—including some of the city’s yummiest butter chicken. Over at Zen 8, high-end Japanese cuisine is the specialty; standard choices are augmented by novelties such as seafood cakes wrapped in noori and a Fujiyama steak.

SHARP DRESSED MEN
Supreme Men’s Wear excels at customer service: attentive staff, roomy dressing rooms, complimentary parking, personal appointments, tailoring and delivery. Brands include designer names such as Versace, Belstaff, Savile Row Co. and Biedermann, and for women there’s a small area with items from Hale Bob.

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Hemp soap from The EcoStore, which unveiled its newly renovated store in October.

ECO SHOPPING
The EcoStore is a labour of love for the Clean Calgary Association, which has been promoting the eco-friendly lifestyle since 1978. The store itself is much younger, but benefits from the association’s expertise. Items range from necessities such as rain barrels and compost bins to jewellery and greeting cards. Many of their brands are made locally—look for body products by All Things Jill and laundry powder from Claudia’s Choices.

CANADIAN DIAMONDS
J. Vair Anderson Jewellers is a family run business that has been selling jewellery since 1925. Their specialty is Canadian diamonds, and the selection boasts “ideal” cuts—a certification that can be applied to less than one per cent of the world’s diamonds. Coloured stones are also on hand, as well as pieces from Bulgari, Wellendorff and Georg Jensen and watches by Rolex, Omega and Tag Heuer.

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The interior of Caesar's Steakhouse, in business for more than 30 years. Photographer: Jason Dziver.

STEAK PALACE
Caesar’s Steakhouse is a Calgary institution. They’ve been serving Alberta beef for 37 years, and their décor maintains an old-world charm with dark woods, crimson leather, Ionic columns and white tablecloths. Charbroiled steak is their mainstay, served with stuffed potato, baked potato, french fries, rice or cottage cheese. Inside the Westin, The Keg offers dishes such as AAA steak and proscuitto-wrapped shrimp. Their lounge is a trendy spot to sip and be seen, with fireplaces and a central wraparound bar.

PUB HUB
Fans of comfortable, worn-in pubs head to the intersection of 4th Avenue and 4th Street, where Fourth & 4th Restaurant & Pub has made its home for four years. The restaurant serves favourites such as roast beef and fish & chips, while the bar offers ten beers on tap (503 – 4 Ave SW).

View 4 Avenue SW in a larger map