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Dundas West's epicurean epicentre expands next door

May 25th 2012 at 7:09 AM

Raw Bar

WHY:Dundas West's epicurean epicentre expands next door.
Jen Agg has opened a new restaurant beside the much exalted Black Hoof. Raw Bar is a seafood restaurant cheffed by Black Hoof alumni Jonathan Pong. The menu takes an approach to curing and smoking similar to the way that BH does their meat; standouts include the fried prawn shells which remind us of eating dragon moths in northern Laos, and the cured fish board , which is everything you would expect given the restaurant's genesis. Open for dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
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WHY:Better than surfing in Ohio, these drinks make their own waves.
You know better than to go surfing in Cleveland. You know better than to go buy a suit off the rack. And you know that when you need a drink, it can always be browner, stiffer, and more complex. In times like these, we suggest the SpiritHouse, and more specifically, their Old Fashioned and Negroni . Both meet the above criteria, in addition to really taking the edge off a long day. A menu is also available, though with a selection of bourbons this big, we found it difficult to focus. Our apologies.
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WHY:It's the fastest way to look good on two wheels.
There are bikes and then there are bikes. Mario Cipollini -- aka Cipo, the Lion King or Super Mario -- makes the latter. This kind of speed machine is reserved for two kinds of people: serious cyclists and people with entirely too much money but a keen desire to go fast between their personal trainer and espresso. No matter which kind you are, a trip to this recently opened bike boutique is warranted for several reasons, most prevalent among them the chance to touch what a real bike feels like and to see how one of the greatest cyclists of all time defines speed.
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Chino Locos

WHY:Off the top rope, Chino delivers the Nacho Libre of burritos.
On a Mexican kick of late, we head east to Chino Locos, looking for a burrito alternative to our west-end favorite, Tacos El Asador. We are pleasantly surprised with the slow-cooked pork burrito and enticed enough to muscle down a few bites of the General Tao burrito . Purely out of curiosity to see what foods taste good wrapped in warm tortilla, we'd return to Chino. A definite pick for the lunch hour.
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WHY:The fungophiliac Niagara Street Cafe has resprouted.
Some mushrooms are part of colonies that can live for thousands of years. You can pluck and eat the visible part of them, but the colony remains, ready to regrow in the same spot. We're belaboring this metaphor because, while the mushroom- and truffle-crazed Niagara Street Café is plucked and gone, Edulis has sprouted in its place . While Edulis may not be as fungus-intensive as its predecessor, the little savoury powerups feature prominently in its European plates. Rabbit sausage, caramelized foie gras and whole, hay-cooked chickens abound, but for the daring , the "Carte Blanche" will bring you over five courses of chef Michael Caballo's choosing. Don't be intimidated -- he's a fungi .
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WHY:At last, Filipino food downtown.
After centuries of waiting, Filipino food has finally found its way into downtown Toronto in the guise of Lamesa, opening this weekend. Filipino cuisine is a unique beast: part Chinese, part Spanish, part Malaysian, part fresh fruit. Seriously, banana is gently woven into most of the sauces, and every dessert is fruit-based . You might not be able to order an entire roast pig, but with a five-course tasting menu featuring crispy pork belly adobo and steak kaldereta in the offing, you'll have plenty of opportunities to go whole hog .
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Banh Mi Boys

WHY:It's worth the premium.
We wanted to hate Banh Mi Boys, we really did. "Another overpriced take on cheap comfort food," we mused to our wood-paneled mansion. "How do they justify charging triple for a Vietnamese sandwich? Pork belly? Some sort of fusion? Some in-store art?" We swirled our brandy and laughed at our cleverness, and, on a lark, had our servants bring us a sampling. OK, we admit it, we were wrong. They're tasty little suckers, vastly better and more creative than the reliable $2 mediocrities that are the norm. Duck confit, kalbi and, yes, pork belly -- they're all here and well worth the $6 price tag, given great backup by kimchi fries, a signature side. Get there fast before the prices go up. 
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Indie Ale Brew House

WHY:Small-batch beer and a better life? Yes, it is possible.
Tough to say what we like more about the Indie Ale Brew House: that we finally have a local alternative to government monopolized hooch that sells small-batch beer in 500ml and 750ml bottles, or that it servers fresher alternatives to bland pub food made with locally sourced ingredients -- a concept typically reserved for mid-tier restaurants and vegetarian gathering places, known in Toronto as Fresh. But the question remains: Does drinking better beer give you a better life? We believe that this fact has long been proven to be true.
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Philip Sparks Tailored Goods

WHY:A good way to spend your tax return.
While stumbling out of nearby Hawker Bar on Ossington one late afternoon, we spotted the newly opened Philip Sparks pop-up shop -- an intriguing if not downright impressive ensemble of vintage cut shirts, seasonal khakis, jackets and a tight looking work-ready walnut attache -- the kind that would make John Slattery say "atta boy" if he saw you holding it. So, while the urge to tuck away this year's tax return into something low-yield may be tempting, investing in you will be a lot more fun. Trust us. We know about this kind of thing.
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