Campechano (Toronto)

Campechano is a great place for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Their menu contains options for both and items are sold by piece, so everyone can order whatever they want.

Most tables start with the guacamole ($8) where it arrives with two cups brimming with thin crispy chips, which they refill if you finish the tortilla before the dips. The salsa roja is great, with just a bit of spice and plenty of zest. It leaves the guacamole feeling fairly neutral, jazzed up with pomegranate - an interesting twist, though personally I do enjoy my dip without fruit.


If you’re feeling hungry than order a sencillo sopes ($6) for yourself; otherwise, it’s hearty enough to share. The tortilla is thicker and soft, almost like naan but not oily. A layer of refried beans is spread on top with lettuce, cheese, and two types of sauce covering the pillowy tortilla. A different alternative to Campechano’s tacos, but not nearly as exciting.


If you can handle spice, the hongo ahumado ($6) has a healthy kick of fiery sauce drizzled on top. This heat was unexpected as the taco’s description made it sound earthy tasting, from the smoked mushroom base, with a hearty finish, thanks to the white bean puree. In reality, aside from the spice, it's rather fresh with plenty of herbs sprinkled over top and very tasty, despite all the water you’ll have afterwards.


On the other hand, the healthy sprinkling of cotija cheese on the rajas ($5) makes the roasted poblano peppers taco richer than you'd expect. Additionally, the peppers aren’t spicy at all, instead having a deep earthiness. With little bits of corn added for bite, this was another tasty taco.


Campechano’s dining room is small and cozy, so try to make a reservation. Regardless, there seems to be plenty of walk-ins and on our weekday dinner visit, the wait wasn’t long… their service is friendly and efficient so most tables turn over quickly.

Becoming a flexitarian has been a breeze with restaurants like Campechano. Their vegetarian tacos are so delicious that I definitely don’t miss the meat. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 504 Adelaide Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Campechano Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

COYA (Dubai)

Special thanks to Parv for so many of the photos in this post
You’ll find COYA on a busy cul de sac of restaurants at Dubai’s Four Seasons. After getting through the queue of cars being dropped off with the valet and the throng of people making their way to the many establishments in the area, the actual restaurant is a welcoming serene environment.

The colourful bar and dining room works well with the restaurant’s Peruvian menu. Quirky artwork adorning the wall is great for starting conversations and keeps the atmosphere fun and cheerful. There’s still an air of sophistication to the décor – the colours are done in rich jewel-toned hues and with lux velvet. And it’s the attentive service and little touches, like the mini shelf for purses that retract from the chairs like a CD player, which reminds you that you’re still at the Four Seasons.


COYA’s ceviche are one of the most ordered dishes and I can see why. The pargo a la trufa ceviche (AED88) uses chunks of tender red snapper that are gently marinated with a not-too-citrusy ponzu and jazzed up with chives. Even the truffle oil, an ingredient that can sometimes get overpowering, was present in scent and only slightly lingered on the tongue. Absolutely delicious and a great start to the meal.


The salmon tacos (AED60) may be more accurately described as a tostada: cubes of salmon and avocado sitting on a crispy fried tortilla. Once again, the dish didn’t lack flavour, but the strong ingredients (in this case the aji amarillo chilli) added just a bit of heat still allowing us to taste the fish.


While the pulpo rostizado (AED92) is described as a ‘small dish’, the portion was just as big as some of the mains. The protein was prepared wonderfully - you barely need to bite to get through the tendrils of roasted octopus. Yet, there’s something topping the creamed potatoes that wasn’t my cup of tea – the garlic chips and bits of olives covering the silky spuds gave it a bitter finish.


COYA offers tons of seafood on their menu. The lubina Chilena (AED180) leans towards the Japanese influences of Peruvian cuisine tasting like miso black cod rather than anything to do with the aji amarillo described on the menu. Nevertheless, the fish is cooked beautifully and it was a tasty rendition of miso cod.


I would go back for an entire langosta iron pot (AED158) for myself. The rice a luscious risotto that stays warm in the clay vessel. It’s everything I want with a risotto – creamy texture, just enough moisture, and filled with lobster essence with a bit of pea shoot for freshness.


COYA prepares chicken well, their pollo a la parrilla (AED148) arrives as four pieces of juicy and tender boneless meat with a fiery looking sauce covering it. Don’t worry, the aji panca is all look and no spice, instead adding a smoky flavour and aroma to the fowl. For me, how well a restaurant prepares chicken is a marker of their chefs’ talent. After all, it’s a protein that needs to be cooked thoroughly and has a rather neutral taste.


It’s not like the bife angosto wagyu (AED460), the beef so well-marbled that even being a sirloin cut there was plenty of flavourful fat covering the tongue. It’s left a ruby rare and stays that way as the grill it arrives on is all for show and isn’t actually heated. While the steak was tasty enough on its own, COYA’s chimichurri is something else – ultra fresh and the micro cubes of onion creating a great contrast against the rich meat.


Make sure to save room for the churros de naranja (AED52), they are the best I’ve ever had. The pastry’s centre is fluffy and creamy while the outside delightfully crispy. I had my doubts as the menu described them as orange and lime churros with a milk chocolate and dulce de leche sauce – fruit and chocolate should be kept separate in my books. Luckily, all the citrus seemed to lie within the dip so I ate the churros by itself and they were exquisite.


In a city where buildings and new restaurants and being constructed at a mile-a-minute I can see why COYA is still busy and respected since its opening in 2014. What a great meal for the senses, for both taste and sight.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: Restaurant Village Four Seasons Resort 

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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COYA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot (Richmond Hill)

During the winter months, I’m constantly craving a good hot pot meal. A bowl of boiling broth in front of me releasing an umami aroma, ingredients slowly being cooked, and voila a make-and-eat dinner is borne. There are abundant hot pot options across the GTA, both a la carte and all-you-can-eat (AYCE), but Surely Up Vegetarian Hot Pot is the first one I’ve found that’s completely meatless. 


It’s also the first one that has their ingredients presented on a conveyor belt, so you don’t need to try and flag down a staff member to get an extra order of anything – except for desserts as those seem to be slow to make it onto the belt.


The dining room is small but space is efficiently used. About twenty seats are placed in an oval around the conveyor belt, with a large mesh bag (for jackets) and a small shelf (for bags and phones) situated underneath the bar table. It makes you feel like you’re dining in Japan.


Up until end of February of the 2019-2020 holiday season, Surely is encouraging people to go vegetarian by offering a special $19.99 AYCE rate that includes a choice of soup base (mushroom or tomato), sauces, iced tea, and plum juice. It’s a fairly good deal from the regular $21.99, which includes the soup, but there’s an additional $1 for sauces and extra for drinks. In either case, if you want to go for the rare precious mushroom broth, it’s an additional $5.99.


In reality, there’s already tons of mushrooms spinning around as hot pot ingredients that you could easily make your own fungi broth. Grab anything you want from the conveyor and if you’re not sure what it is, underneath the dishes lies a sticker with the ingredient’s name. There are a few items where there’s an extra cost, these are clearly marked.


We mixed and matched to our heart’s content – tons of vegetables (oh watercress my beloved leafy green), mushrooms (enoki and shemeji goes so nicely with the broth), and even some mock meat for good measure (the mock shrimp balls and colourful dumplings were both good).


If you’re really hungry as you’re waiting for things to cook, there’s even a selection of ready-to-eat items such as warm tea eggs (these need a bit of extra flavouring added on) and mock duck floating around.


For me, the best part of the meal is tucking into a steaming bowl of noodles, at the end, and drinking the cooking broth with the noodles. The soup condenses down and is teeming with flavours. The frozen knife cut noodles at Surely is a nice change from the typical udon or instant noodles (although these are offered as well).

However, the worst part of the experience is all the plastic wrap being used to cover each and every dish – talk about a waste for a restaurant that’s encouraging people to go meatless! Of course, Surely needs to make sure things are hygienic, but the majority of the ingredients need to be cooked in scalding boiling water anyways, so it really doesn’t need to be covered. For the rest, they should invest in reuseable plastic domes to protect the plates. In fact, it’s the guilt of discarding all this plastic wrap that discourages me from visiting Surely Up more often.



Nonetheless, what I like most about hot pot is being able to spend time slowly catching up with a loved one. There’s no waiting around for ordering or dishes to arrive, and you eat at your own pace. Having hot pot is such a warming tradition that makes the winter months a bit more bearable.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 420 Highway 7

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Bourbon dinner at Jump (Toronto)


If whiskey helps to ‘grow hair on your chest’, than bourbon is a nice one to begin with as I find it sweeter and more palatable than the Scottish and Irish cousins. When Toronto Life contacted their Insiders’ group about a bourbon dinner Jump was throwing, my friend and I leapt to get tickets. This would be a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge about the spirit, especially in a situation where it’s paired with food.

Walking into the curtained off private dining area, the tables were already set up with gleaming glasses of the caramel coloured liquor. It takes will power to not slug them back before the food arrives. Luckily, everyone’s presented with a mug of Tom Collins made with Jim Beam and the table is set up with nibbles to tie us over: tasty terrine on crostini, a passable honey tarte with caviar, and a big plateful of crunchy chicharrón (its salty fattiness is cut nicely by the sweet bourbon).

Surprisingly, the meal started off with a lobster roll, not a typical item to pair with a strong spirit. While the lobster filling was delicious, the black garlic aioli was way too powerful for seafood. I get it, they wanted something that could hold up against the bourbon and the sweet smokiness of the black garlic can, but the condiment didn’t compliment the lobster. Keep it simple, I say, the bourbon green apple & celery slaw and fish roe would have been more than enough.


There’s no fear of overindulging in drinks at this dinner, as each course is more substantial than the last. Jump’s fried chicken showed restraint, a 3-bite crispy moist chicken drumstick, but then it’s served with sweet potato lasagna. Admittedly, it’s a surprisingly tasty side where the potato’s sweetness is balanced by cheese and the spud sliced so thinly that each layer does taste like pasta.


The dish just didn’t necessarily pair well with bourbon. Perhaps it’s just the spirit itself, so strong that it’s really hard to compliment food. Personally, I find bourbon is best when it’s sipped on plain or paired with dessert. For dinner, I’d imagine you’d need something luscious and creamy to coat the tongue to really meld with the bourbon.

A dish like the lamb shoulder worked well. If anything, it’s just a really good dish in general and Jump should add it to the menu. Pieces of tender lamb are wrapped in collard greens and sit in a tomato and okra stew that has a fantastic punchy gravy, which is of coursed spiked with the alcohol. If I weren't so full, I would have wiped up the sauce with bread.


In terms of dessert, how best to celebrate bourbon than with a flaming baked Alaska? The caramelized banana ice cream inside was absolutely delicious but the actual meringue simply too alcoholic tasting. Perhaps it’s due to the flame extinguishing while the dessert was brought over; the alcohol wasn't burning off and the meringue didn’t build that lovely crust. Nonetheless, on paper, it sounded like a good choice and the flavours did go nicely with the strongest drink, the Booker’s Kentucky straight bourbon, of the evening. It’s one the certainly needs the sweetness.



If anything, the dinner was an eye opening experience. Firstly, to learn that Jump has such a huge bourbon selection and to morph the typical corporate feeling restaurant to an intimate affair. Moreover, Ray Daniel was such a great host – indeed, he’s knowledgeable, but funny and warm as well. It was a night of laughs and so many interesting stories about bourbon and the Beam Suntory Corporation (the history and its founders). I won’t give away all the secrets, in case you bring a bourbon connoisseur to their next one. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

Want to become a Toronto Life Member? If this event sounded great, don't miss out on the fun. Toronto Life is providing Gastro World readers a $25 off discount code to become a member!

Just use discount code GASTROWORLD at the Toronto Life Member checkout and the discount will be automatically applied.
Email me if you join and let me know the next event you'll be attending. Maybe we can meet in person!

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 18 Wellington Street West

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Maker Pizza (Toronto)


Have you ever wanted to complete an eating challenge? It all started when my husband read an article naming a nearby pizzeria the “best” pizza in Toronto. On a particularly sunny day in early June, we visited Maker Pizza for the first time, and that’s when a challenge was determined: to try all their pizzas by the end of the summer.

Maker Pizza is more of a grab-and-go establishment, although they do have a dine-in area, which expands outdoors when the weather is nice. Eating at the restaurant is key, as by the time the pizza travels home (for us a 7 min drive) that slight crispy bottom disappears. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great pizza, just not nearly as good as it tastes when it’s fresh from the oven. 

It all started with the Tea With Broccolini ($17) and with that first bite I knew I’d want to come back again and again. You can feel the difference of their crust: the bottom is dry, slightly uneven in texture, and as thin as a cracker. It’s a crust that can’t go to waste… a perfect combination of crunchiness and chewiness, the consistency fluffy but still dense.


As I bit through, I heard that satisfying crunch and my mouth erupted with flavours: a spicy kick from the chilies, garlicky greens, a mellow bitterness from the rapini, and the bright lemon zest finish. To cap everything off, there’s the delicious creamy egg yolk.  It’s also a white sauce pizza (so there’s no tomatoes), instead there’s plenty of fragrant olive oil that drizzles onto your hands – grab a nice wad of napkins and a couple of wet naps, you’ll need them. 

The Dr. Pepperoni ($18) is filled with the salty cured meat, to the point that some pieces overlap. Using smaller pepperoni slices is a genius idea as it creates more of the crispy edges and ensures the meat is cooked through. Of course, with all the meat, there’s a real salty oiliness to this pie so you really need to enjoy pepperoni to love this pizza.


A more toned down version is The Real Pep God ($17), where the pepperoni is balanced off with more cheese - double orders of the mozzarella so the cheese just pulls and pulls. Pools of sauce are dolloped over top and garnished with fresh garlic and chili flakes to add extra boosts of flavours.


Maker Pizza's tomato sauce is delicious. Replacing the usual tanginess for a really fresh tasting sauce – it’s almost like they just take plain canned tomatoes and crush them. In fact, everything about Maker's is fresh; you can see them prep the ingredients on site, chopping things down into smaller pieces. There’s no vacuum sealed pre-prepared plastic packages here.  

My favourite red sauce pizza is the Little Deuce Coupe ($18), where the ingredients aren’t overly strong so you can really enjoy the tomato sauce. It also seems lighter: the chicken in bite sized chunks and the buffalo mozzarella replaced with ricotta so even though there's a lot of cheese on the pizza, it doesn't seem too rich. It could use more of the red onion and basil, as the bites with both ingredients were great, while the others seemed plain.


Maker Pizza creates New York style pizza, where the crust is thin and the slices are cut large so it can be folded. For the Little Deuce Coupe, because it's a milder recipe, it actually tastes better unfolded, so the ingredients have more of a chance to meet the taste buds. Conversely, the Return of the Mac ($24) needs to be folded. Overflowing with fresh crunchy lettuce and onions and so much mac sauce it's impossible to eat flat.


It is also the sole pizza that's dine-in only, given the fresh lettuce wilts quickly and you need that fresh crunch to balance off the other saucy ingredients. The Return of the Mac is Maker’s version of the Big Mac, the pizza topped with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and diced pickles along with the lettuce and onion. While it's exciting to see, there's too much of the Thousand Island dressing and with the crust being much thinner than a bun, the toppings are too overwhelming. It’s a pizza where one slice is enough.

The closest thing to a dessert pizza is the Frank’s Best ($17) topped with dollops of caramelized onions, ricotta, sesame seed and honey. However, it's not completely sweet, the Parmesan, rosemary and goat cheese adding a savouriness to the pie. For long time readers of the blog, you'll know I rarely like sweet and savoury combinations, this was certainly a challenging pie for me. 


If you know their menu, you’ll notice this post is still missing some options: the Tropic Thunder and Porky’s, to name a couple. Some just didn’t appeal to us and little did we know they do add new items occasionally (has anyone tried the new So Mushroom yet)? In the end, we didn’t successfully finish the challenge, but we already feel like winners from discovering such a tasty pizza place in the neighbourhood.

Who are you going to grab to take the challenge?

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1537 Avenue Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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CLOSED: Taste of Uzbekistan (Toronto)


Uzbekistan, a country part of the former Soviet Republic, is no major tourist destination even though it was formerly a stop along the Spice Route. It’s a cuisine that many Torontonians would have never tasted until Djovikhon Buzrukov opened Taj Restaurant in a North York strip mall.

With its success, a second location dubbed Taste of Uzbekistan has now opened in the Yonge Lawrence Village. A larger space, the signage has a palatial quality to it and makes it feel like you’re about to get a taste of royalty.

So, it seemed off brand when a humble plate of babaghanoush ($8.99) was presented with a side of tandoori non in a plastic diner basket. Where the starter lacked in presentation, it’s made up in taste: eggplant grilled lightly and seasoned with lemon juice and oil. So simple, yet when produce is fresh all you should taste is the lovely creamy eggplant.


The bread, made in-house in a clay tandoori oven, could be toasted a bit less as the thinner middle portion became hard and cracker like, while the thicker ring stayed in the softer doughy form. Who knows, maybe this is how it’s meant to be made offering two textures, but it’s the softly toasted part that went so well with the babaghanoush.  

How dishes are presented seems to indicate items are meant to be shared. Each arrives as soon as they’re done, so if guests order their own main, there could be a significant lag until the entire order arrives.

A dish they recommend highly is the plov ($15.99), a traditional Uzbek dish that’s typically prepared on special gatherings. It’s touted on the sign outdoors, on their menu, and even when you ask them for their advice. Certainly, it’s a comforting plate that I could imagine an Uzbekistan family gathering on a weekend to enjoy.


Rice is cooked with onion, carrot, raisins, and cumin so it gets a lovely colour and aroma. Thankfully, the raisins are used sparingly so that it doesn’t sweeten the rice, merely creating moisture in the dish. Chunks of tender lamb are strewn throughout adding an oily richness to everything else. As I tucked into forkfuls of the rice, thoughts of biryani came to mind, but in a mild form. The side of achichuk salad compliments the plov, the fresh tomato and crunchy cucumbers giving the dish a fresh cleansing element.

Conversely, the overdone kazan kebab ($19.99) was forgettable, the lamb lacking moisture or flavour. In fact, the best part of plate was the salty sliced potatoes cooked in a cast iron pan so that it fries at the edges creating a crispy scallop potato like side without the heavy cream, cheese, and butter.



Taste of Uzbekistan’s service isn’t bad, but is a tad off. Before I could even sit down, our waiter asks for a drink order, so I quickly respond water until I have a chance to settle. Yet, you come to realize there’s no beverage menu so wait around until one is produced. 


The only saving grace are the generous wine pours; the glass arrives filled to the brim. And with enough wine, for me, everything gets better.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3249 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Have you heard about Chef to Chef with Mark McEwan?


Getting to know a Torontonian chef isn’t the easiest endeavor. Usually, any details about them are captured in written media and center around their restaurant and its food. Sometimes these articles will include some tidbits about their past resume, but infrequently anything about their career journey or personal life.

Enter Chef to Chef, a new video documentary series by Mark McEwan where he interviews Torontonian at their restaurants. While there are the requisite food porn shots and discussions about the chef’s restaurant(s), a lot of the conversation is dedicated to their life – how did they become chefs, what are the highs and lows, and why they chose the food they use on their menus.

McEwan explains that in each interview he wants to get the interviewee to open up and honestly tell viewers how life is like being a chef. After all, with numerous restaurants, a catering company, and a luxury grocery store to his name, he has gone through the journey and knows it isn’t all roses. At the same time, he isn’t there to pry into personal details and wants them to feel comfortable.

The chefs he’s interviewed so far are very different: Grant van Gameren at Bar Isabel, Antonio Park at Pick 6ix, and Amanda Cohen at Dirt Candy (former Torontonian even though her restaurant is in NYC). Without giving up too much, there seems to be a common thread around all the interviews – that success is dependent on the people.

Whether it’s Chef van Gameren wishing the Toronto media would give his partners more credit when covering his joint ventures, Chef Park humbly giving credit to the teams that run his many restaurants, or Chef Cohen explaining why she chose to do away with gratuities at Dirt Candy and pay everyone a fair wage.

In November I had the pleasure of attending a party announcing Chef Suzanne Barr as the next chef Mark will be interviewing. Chef Barr is someone I’ve been hearing a lot about lately: she advocates for diversity in the kitchen and food security for all. From this, she has won so many accolades and to think she started out as an executive producer at MTV. I can’t wait to hear her conversation with McEwan!


You can find each episode on Amazon Prime or on their website. There’s no set schedule of when videos are released as this is a passion project where sponsors for each video must be found before it’s produced.

Maybe it has something to do with the interviewer being a fellow chef, but McEwan seems to know what to ask to tease further details out of everyone. It’s a program that people who love food should watch, it’ll help you grow an appreciation of how hard it is to open and run a restaurant. It’s also a great resource for those who want to become chefs and/or entrepreneurs, it’ll give you a small taste of the roadblocks to overcome.


How To Find Them


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CLOSED: Mythology (Toronto)



As Mythology’s pictures mingled their way into my Instagram feed, the gorgeous looking plant-based dishes drew me in and created a sense of excitement. When I heard the restaurant was started by Chef Doug McNish, a well-known vegan chef in Toronto, it sealed the deal… plans were made and a reservation was secured.

Mythology promises an elevated dining experience. Indeed, the esthetics of the dining room with its black, white, and gold motifs gave the restaurant a polished air. The menu’s enticing dishes, spanning multiple continents, also made the place stand out.


As an amuse bouche was presented, we knew… oh yes, Mythology wants to transcend into fine dining. Yet, this first bite also foreshadowed the meal to come: dishes that look great, contain A LOT of ingredients, and then one or two things throws it completely off.

This first bite of pickled zucchini with tomato pesto and garlic chip - it tasted fine, but the garlic “chip” was so chewy that it’d be more aptly described as garlic jerky, leaving a strong lingering taste in my mouth.


Without the menu, it’d be hard to even recite all the ingredients that are part of each dish: their crab croquette special ($21) sat beneath so many garnishes and chips that it felt fussy and confusing. Such a shame, as the actual banana blossom cake was absolutely delicious, the texture oddly like crab, and the chayote relish, when used in small doses, was great.


The zaatar cauliflower ($20) felt like a similar dish and while it also had a lot of different elements, they at least complemented each other. Fluffy falafels are shaped into pucks and deep fried, then enhanced with sweet pomegranate, citrusy tahini, and fresh quinoa taboloui. The only downfall was the actual cauliflower seems secondary… really, this should be renamed as ‘falafels and cauliflower’.


As soon as the coq au vin ($22) was presented I knew something was off. Somehow the dish that’s synonymous with slowly braised meat in red wine arrives looking like a deep fried chicken cutlet? Sure enough, the seitan chicken was cut too thickly and along with the garlic mashed potatoes made for a heavy feeling meal.


Maybe French cuisine just doesn’t lend itself to being vegan – after all, it’s a cuisine that relies so heavily on butter, cheese, and meat. If the chefs sliced the seitan thinner and reimagined the dish as schnitzel – substituting the pastrami carrots and rapini with braised cabbage – it may actually work.

Of all the dishes, the one I thought Mythology would ace was the mushroom ravioli ($24). I’ve been to other vegan restaurants that makes great mushroom pastas with cashew based cream sauces. While the porcini cream sauce was spot on, in terms of flavours, it was too gluey and the pasta forming the ravioli was also so thick that the consistency resembled leftover pasta re-heated in the microwave. Similar to the crab croquette, the dish was then further ruined by having way too much stuff on it: hazelnut crumbs, garlic chips, baby greens, and truffle lemon vinaigrette?! All things that do nothing to help the ravioli.


When we saw the avocado and tuna tartare ($13) it was stunning. The “egg” yolk, which actually oozed, was also so impressively recreated. But then we bite into it and are repulsed by the saltiness, to the point we had to send the dish back.


We’re advised that it’s because the tomato is cured in salt so the texture changes to represent tuna. In my mind, couldn’t that also be done by simply pressing the tomato? At the very least, rinse off the cured tomato before using it. It was so salty that after one bite of the dish, it threw us off on the seasoning of everything else. After the shock to the taste buds, the next dish seemed bland.

Not all the dishes were disappointing, some of the tastiest ones were also the simplest. We all loved the panisse ($8; not pictured as it came out terrible), which is listed as a side on the menu but could easily work as a starter. The deep fried wedges tasted like mozzarella sticks, but finishes lighter and left us wanting more.

Who would have thought that king oyster mushrooms could be made to look like calamari ($14)? Indeed, biting into it you can tell it’s not seafood, yet the texture is uncannily similar. Served freshly fried with the crispy garlic cornmeal crust and cooling tartar sauce, we loved it so much we got another order.


It’s then we discovered portion sizes are inconsistent: the first such a mammoth mound of large calamari pieces filling most of the board, while the second serving barely covered the middle and the pieces puny like it was made with the leftover ends.


I can’t help but feel I was tricked into eating at Mythology by great marketing – kudos to their Instagram photographer. Even with the terrible experience, I can’t help but want the restaurant to succeed. Hence, I offer two words of advice: keep it simple and restrict garnishes to three items; and if the dish doesn’t fill the initial vision, pivot and change it into something else. I sincerely hope it gets better from here, Toronto needs more meatless fine dining options.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1265 Queen Street West


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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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