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May 15, 2005

Dining in Toronto

Being partial to Asian food (and being cheap) I tend to seek out that out wherever I travel. I had good luck in Toronto this trip finding reasonably priced good meals.

You may already know I am a sucker for Banh Mi. Rose's Cafe on Broadview at Gerrard does not have New Saigon Sandwich in Boston beat for quality, but they blow them away on price. A sandwich is $1.50 CDN. Several varieties are available, but with understandably cheaper meats and cold cuts than in Boston. The ""BBQ Pork" is actually sliced pork sausage, but no matter, it's still tasty.

Chris is vegetarian, so when John, Chris and I went out to eat, I wanted to go somewhere we could all enjoy. Although all the Southern Indian restaurants on the strip of Gerrard are less inviting than the more familiar northern Indian ones, I gently insisted we try Southern Indian because of its unfamiliarity.

Udupi Palace is quite a ways farther east on Gerrard in Little India (near Cogswell). Udupi Palace is the largest of the places, right next to the Saree Emporium. It's not much of a palace; it's rather a large bare dining hall. The food is another matter, though. Southern Indian cooking leans towards vegetarian and the main delicacies are dosas and uttapam, both crepes of mixed rice and lentil flour. An uttapam is open faced, a dosa is enormous, spilling over the plate to be filled (or not) and eaten with coconut chutney and sambar, a dal and lentil stew.

We began with a mixed appetizer plate. This is and idli (a steamed cake of the same flour mix) - a vada - similar base, now fried - it's amazing how different rice and lentils can taste in their endless guises - and a few fritters. Beware the long thin ones. They contain a whole hot chile within.

John and Chris both had dosas, I had the Southern Indian Thali which was a large portion of rice, a roti and a papad wafer surrounded by several vegetable dishes on a large metal thal or plate. It was filling and interesting - several of the dishes, sambar and rasam, a thinner lentil-tomato broth are not familiar from northern Indian cuisine. None of it is painfully hot. Total for three people including tip was about $43 CDN.

Spring Rolls is on Front and Jarvis, and a good place to get a pre-ballet meal. It's a bright, modern noodle house, but bowing to the low-carb craze there are other options. Wanting a light lunch, I had the chicken satay and mango salad, which was very good. We spent $11 CDN per person including tip for lunch.

On the non Asian front, I went for brunch with my friends Desirée and Peter to Batifole. Batifole is also on Gerrard, in East Chinatown a few blocks from Rose's Cafe, but tucked amidst the Chinese groceries (where I again bought Pocky!) it is an upscale French cafe. We all shared rillettes de lapin , then Peter had scrambled eggs with lamb sausage (they looked like chic merguez). I had the omelet of the day (mushroom and brie) and Des had clams and mussels and then a cinnamon waffle with stewed fruit that ended up bein a communal dessert. The atmosphere is laid back (think Brooklyn Heights instead of Manhattan) and the prices within bounds - about $25 CDN per person ordering liberally.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at May 15, 2005 5:02 PM

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