North American eateries

Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 24. The scale used to be 0 to 10, so restaurants written about before 2012 may have only had their ratings adjusted by formula and not by hand (hence all the 2s, 5s, 8s, etc.) The scale works as follows:

24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
15 14 13 12 11 10
9 8 7 6 5 4
3 2 1

An asymmetrical 0 to 24 scale may not be intuitive, I realize. But as a rule of thumb: a double-digit score means I liked it, while a single-digit score... less so. Also, as you might expect, scores from many years ago may not be very reliable, so do check the dates.

English Canada excluding BC

Ah, donuts. Is there anything they can't do?

Click on the column titles to sort the entries!

Name Cuisine Address Last update Score
Nadège PatisserieBakerylocal chain, Toronto2012-06-1412
Elizabeth went into raptures over the fig and goat cheese croissant sandwich she got here. I got two non-crescent-shaped croissants — a square with rhubarb, and a figure-eight with chocolate and pistachio paste. They were fine but not revelatory.
Life of PieBakeryBank near Sunnyside, Ottawa2012-06-1910
Here we got a scone and a couple of cookies. They were fine — not really memorable either way.
Second Street BakeryBakerySecond & Park, Kenora, ON2002-08-238
You can get sandwiches here, but as you might expect from a bakery, they're basically two big slabs of bread with a little bit of filling in the middle. Which is fine, because the bread's quite good. One oddity is that the sign that lists possible sandwich add-ons includes "dill," but if you order that you get not the herb but a pickle. You'd think that if you were going to leave one word out of the phrase "dill pickle"... oh, and also the pole with the "Second Street Bakery" sign on it is poorly placed, and that's all I'm going to say about that.
Big John's Bar and GrillBar and grillHighway 71, Sioux Narrows, ON2002-08-248
Sioux Narrows is apparently a vacation town, with lakefront cottages and houseboats and so forth. Not many eateries, however. At this one I got some radioactive-looking raspberry lemonade (undoubtedly from a powder) plus soggy bruschetta plus the quesadillas. What are quesadillas like in central Canada? Surprisingly good, probably because they're so unlike actual quesadillas as to count as a different food altogether. These were crispy and cheddary and full of green onions and really not bad at all.
Cora'sBreakfast/lunchDresden Row btw Spring Garden/Sackville, Halifax, NS2004-09-1314
This is part of a Montreal-based chain with some interesting items on the menu. I got chocolate brioche French toast with sliced bananas and crème anglais... not a knockout, but interesting enough to be memorable.
the Planet BakeryCafeWater btw Simcoe/Hunter, Peterborough, ON2012-06-1711
This is a very downscale, Mexican-inflected cafe with a small selection of baked goods up front. I got a breakfast burrito, and though the wait was interminable (as has been the case pretty much everywhere in Canada) when the food finally did arrive it was pretty darn tasty.
La CaveCheesecakeBlowers & Grafton, Halifax, NS2004-09-125
The name is appropriate. If sitting hunched in a claustrophobic cave eating an enh cheesecake is your thing, this might be the place for you.
FreshCrunchylocal chain, Toronto2012-06-166
Smoothies, tofu scrambles, undercooked rice topped with vegan chili... yep, it's hippie food all right. I did get the southwestern tofu scramble and it was all right, but Elizabeth's veggie burger was basically alfalfa sprouts on health-food bread.
FressenCrunchyQueen near Denison, Toronto2012-06-165
This topped the lists of higher-end vegetarian places in Toronto I saw online, so we decided to give it a try. Appetizers were a bunch of Mediterranean spreads that were basically indistinguishable from the ones at Trader Joe's, except $15 for three little plates. My main course was basically a bowl of tangy guacamole with corn; Lizzie's was a bunch of sliced mushrooms in a slightly bitter broth. Not terrible, but the waitress talked as if she were awestruck by how amazing the food was and really it's not worth much more than a "meh."
Baked ExpectationsDessertOsborne & Wardlaw, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-238
This place was packed solid at quarter after eleven at night: Peggers love their dessert, I guess. They must be getting something different from what we got the first time I went there. I had a slice of peanut butter cheesecake that tasted bizarrely sharp and sorta fruity; Bridget got a cookie torte that was better by virtue of not tasting like much of anything but whipped cream. Later (as in, two years later) I had a slice of German chocolate cheesecake that was much better.
G.G. GelatiDessert (gelato)Corydon btw Hugo/Cockburn, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-2314
Not the selection of Vancouver's Casa Gelato, but that place is a landmark. This is just a place with excellent gelato. Which is more than enough.
Easy RestaurantDinerQueen near Roncesvalles, Toronto2012-06-236
My breakfast burrito was okay but not the greatest: the black beans were dry (and not refried as stated on the menu) and the cheese was congealed, plus there was no alchemy of flavors. Elizabeth's waffles were dense and doughy. We were quoted a five-to-ten-minute wait and the reality was half an hour. Service was marked by the indifference typical of Toronto.
FudeEclecticOsborne & River, Winnipeg, MB2002-08-2511
This place is basically a Canadian version of Judie's in Amherst, right down to the multicolored pasta swamped in vegetables and sauce... though that wasn't actually all that terrific. Bridget's warm artichoke dip thingie was quite excellent, however, and even the bitter strawberry lemonade (which you have to mix yourself) grew on me after a while.
Basil'sEclecticOsborne & Stradbrook, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-198
Had a non-awful ultra-thin-crust pizza here while trying not to be creeped out by the Hitler mermaid hanging above our table.
TGIF, eh? A big loud chamber with funky art and everything from Asian noodles to personal-sized pizzas to rosemary pan bread, and none of it's particularly good.
MassawaEthiopianOsborne & Stradbrook, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-205
I saw one report hailing this as Winnipeg's best restaurant, which is a frightening prospect. It's passable Ethiopian... probably more impressive if you haven't had Ethiopian elsewhere, as I imagine is the case for a fair number of Massawa's guests. But it's distinctly less impressive when served after a wait of over 90 minutes. This is so much more the rule than the exception that the menus scold customers in advance for complaining about the wait. Feh. I've had much better Ethiopian served in a reasonable amount of time.
Mrs. D's ChipsFriesSecond S btw Main S/the lake, Kenora, ON2001-07-075
Soggy, overly salty rectangles of potato. Nice view, though.
Gelato Simply ItalianGelatoYonge btw Lola/Manor, Toronto2012-06-226
I dunno, I guess the gelato was fine — nothing special, though. I came away with a negative impression of this place since getting here was such a pain in the ass (Toronto is a nightmare to get around) and when we finally arrived, they were out of what I wanted and the service was comically bad.
Piccolo GrandeGelatoMurray & Parent, Ottawa2012-06-186
Caramel and stracciatella were fine if not especially memorable; chocolate orange was bad, sad to say.
Mother IndiaIndianQueen near Landsdowne, Toronto2012-06-2211
This is a roti house, meaning that it offers pretty standard Indian fare (decent, but certainly no Shalimar) wrapped up in flatbread rather than being served with rice. "Medium" is quite spicy, so go with "mild" if you're used to "medium" meaning "not completely bland."
Il MercatoItalianSpring Garden & Brenton, Halifax, NS2004-09-118
Okay mid-range Italian place.
MonvisoItalianCorydon btw Hugo/Daly, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-232
Lousy food served at a glacial pace while wasps divebomb the tables. Awful.
Di RienzoItalian deliBeech near Champagne, Ottawa2012-06-188
This market has a sandwich counter, but despite the online raves, I didn't see anything too special about the sandwich I got. It was cheap, the guy running the shop was very nice, and it certainly wasn't bad at all, but I don't really see what the fuss is about. (Note: only a couple of vegetarian options.)
Danforth Pizza HousePizzaDanforth near Dewhurst, Toronto2012-06-1512
Like Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, this is a little shop run by a brusque, ancient man who certainly takes his time making the pizzas: 80 minutes for mine. Unlike the pizzas from Di Fara, the results here are not mind-blowing works of art. But the one I got was still very good, and if I lived in the neighborhood I'd go here all the time — especially since my pizza, enough to feed two pretty hungry people, cost all of $8 Canadian. I guess you could say that in being very good but not pantheon-level, and in being very cheap but making you wait for ages, this pizza house is a lot like the Canadian medical system.
Bonfire BistroPizzaCorydon & Waterloo, Winnipeg, MB2003-08-2111
More ultra-thin pizzas from a wood-fired stove... which are okay. A bit too much emphasis on being froufrou and exotic and not enough emphasis on being tasty. Salad and desserts were good.
Lorenzo'sPizzaArch near Canterbury, Ottawa2012-06-183
I had read that Ottawa pizza was greasy and bready with huge amounts of gloppy cheese (often more cheddar than mozzarella) and with an odd smoked flavor to the sauce. This was all proven correct. I had also read that, at least in the case of Lorenzo's, these qualities made the pizza good. This, not so much.
The KegSteakhousePembina & Southwood, Winnipeg, MB2001-07-078
I was less than thrilled when I found out we were going to a steakhouse — and a bit puzzled, since I wasn't the only vegetarian in the group. But it was pretty much the only thing in the area with space for us, so off we went. And I was pleasantly surprised: I figured a steakhouse would concentrate on the steak and let the peripherals slide. But no — the salad was very good, the bread was just terrific, and the portobello fajitas... did I mention the bread was good?
Camros Organic EateryVeganHayden near Yonge, Toronto2012-06-147
Various stews and salads and things. Decent enough, I guess, but none of the alchemical fusion of flavors that, at Potala in Albany CA, turns "brown rice with millet" into a taste extravangza. At Camros it tastes pretty much how you'd expect "brown rice with millet" to taste.

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