Toronto: Where to Eat and Shop by Chef Carolyn Reid
Toronto’s food scene is on the up lately. The city has entered the top ranks of enRoute Magazine’s Canada’s Best New Restaurants and Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants for the past several years. The city affectionately called ‘Hogtown’ now has a lot more going for it than hotdogs or even salumi.
Scaramouche has seen the changing tide, as has Chef de Cuisine Carolyn Reid, one of Toronto’s top chefs. She been working at the restaurant for 25 years and says that in that despite the sea change in the city, Scaramouche has maintained its classical cooking methods and commitment to quality ingredients while staying up to date with fine dining tastes. Through it all, it’s maintained a reputation for an elegant dining experience. For Reid, the focus has always been on taste – texture and seasoning – with a minimum of fuss, which translates into her choices for places to eat on her days off.
Where to eat in Toronto? Here are her favourite places to eat in town, from fresh pasta to exceptional wines.
Que Ling + Dumpling House
“I'd get bored eating at the same place every day. Most cooks eat according to their moods and hence are less creatures of habit in the food department and tend to go more with whatever they're craving for the day. That could be Chinese one day, Mexican the next and French or Italian after that. In terms of a quick bite, I tend to go with what’s nearby, so for me that's Old Chinatown: Que Ling for pho’ and Dumpling House for dumplings and Northern Chinese.”
“The exception to the eating nearby rule is Famiglia Baldassarre on Geary Avenue. It’s way out of my way, but Leo is phenomenal and does the best, most straight-up simple and delicious pastas I've ever had in my life. I also learned more about fresh pasta from him in two hours than I have in all of my years of cooking. And he's a really nice person.”
Brothers Food and Wine
“For a casual dinner, I go to Brothers. It’s simple, straight forward, no-muss-no-fuss cooking. And it has a great wine list with some off-the-beaten-path wines.”
House on Parliament
“I don’t really go for drinks after service, but I do like House on Parliament for a quick pint. They are very friendly and the place has a great relaxed vibe and lots of regulars.”
“In terms of markets, my favourites are Fiesta Farms, Leslieville Farmers Market in the summer and the Big Carrot for anything natural or organic.” Fiesta Farms is the largest independent grocery store in Toronto, favouring local and ethical produce. The Sunday farmers market sells everything from wild-foraged mushrooms and herbs to organic sour cherries and chewy momo dumplings.
The Big Carrot
The Big Carrot is Greektown’s organic grocer/juicebar/healthfood store, with a big prepared foods takeaway section.
Butchers of Distinction
“I also love Butchers of Distinction at Queen and Broadview.” The store calls itself the first meat specialty shop to offer only Ontario grown, raised or made produce. It sells only meat raised without antibiotics, hormones and pesticides.
The Glen Tavern
“Another great food experience is The Glen Tavern in Glen Williams, Ontario.” At less than an hour from Toronto’s downtown, it’s the kind of place that feels like home. Its serves contemporary, seasonal food, like pan-roasted scallops with pea shoots and purée, potato crisps and a bacon-butter sauce and a peppercorn fettucine with sautéd beef tenderloin and a truffled porcini Madeira sauce and Gruyère herb crust.