Discover the Davisville Village Farmers Market

 

One of the great things about living in Ontario is the abundance of fresh, local and seasonal produce available in the summertime. The Davisville Village Farmers Market is a great nearby market to visit to pick some up this season. The market is open every Tuesday from 3pm to 7pm, from mid-May to early October. It’s part of the Apple Tree family of markets, run by founders Lesley Stoyan and Chris Trussell. We spoke with Lesley to learn more about how this community market has grown and what’s in store for this season!

 

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

 

So Lesley, when was the market first opened, and has it grown since?

 

We started our first market at Yonge and Eglinton 10 years ago. So, we’re actually in our tenth season there now. It started off as literally a one-off project. We were asked to coordinate a community event by (former City Councillor) Karen Stintz. We did a one-off market because local foods were just becoming popular in the Toronto community and public market spaces. It was so successful that we decided to keep it going as a regular, weekly thing. So in 2008, The North Toronto Farmers Market opened. It was dubbed The Apple Tree Market. We’ve opened three markets since then. The next market that we opened was Ryerson University, and the Davisville Village Farmers Market was our third. So it’s grown. Those three are our every season, staple, marketplaces but we’ve got over twenty pop-up markets that go on throughout the city, throughout the year. We also run a fresh food program with the TDSB (Toronto District School Board).

 

Wow, you’re making the rounds! Who does the fresh food program serve?

 

(It) predominantly serves Davisville Junior Public School which is at Yonge and Davisville. It’s a farm fresh fare snack program — so that the kids can have fresh fruits and vegetables everyday at school.

 

What a great initiative! Many of our our residents send their children to that public school. The program is free for the kids?

 

It’s subsidized by the TDSB and parents have the option to contribute, if they’d like, but every child gets it. Davisville Village has a very significant, low-income community. A lot of new Canadians making under $25, 000 a year reside here, so Davisville qualifies as a high needs school, so they get a subsidized food program. That’s actually why we started the Apple Tree Group. As I said, it started in 2008 as a one-off, fun project and we’re now a fully registered non-profit and our mission is to build community around food initiatives and family-friendly events. The farmers market is just a small amount of the project work that we do per week. We try to have outdoor, free public events predominantly in Davisville Park. We do the “movie night in the park”, which happens every September. It’s a free movie for everybody to attend. We build a skating rink in Davisville Park that everyone is able to come out and enjoy in the winter as well. We also do a Pumpkin Parade. We’re doing something called the Apple Seed and Kernel Festival this year, which is a big apple harvest festival, so kids can come out and have a fun day. There’s farmers and bouncy castles and everything is free to ensure that the neighbourhood, the people that can’t afford it, can take part in it.

 

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

 

What a wonderful and fun way to reach out and engage with the community! What is your role at Apple Tree?

 

I’m the co-founder, with my husband (co-founder, Chris Trussell). It’s honestly just the two of us that do 90% of the work. We have a handful of contractors that we bring onboard when it gets to be too much. We hope to be able to grow that number so that we can continue to grow and keep spreading out the volume of work. My focus is mostly on family health education. Around the farmers markets we do a lot of things. We offer free recipes and educational workshops, we teach cooking classes in the public schools. At all of our events, we often have fresh food and food tastings. I curate the menu. I studied holistic nutrition in school, so I do a lot of the programming ideas and my husband, Chris, does most of the executive direction, the planning, the logistics, the operation, that sort of thing.

 

 

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

Credit: Apple Tree Markets

 

Sounds like a small but mighty operation! How many vendors serve the Davisville Village Farmers market?

 

In the Apple Tree Family of vendors, so that’s anybody who’s part of our organization, I think our membership is at sixty-five vendors this year. That means whenever we do an event, we can pool from our family of vendors. For the Davisville Market I think we’re just shy of 40 vendors this year.

 

And what types of products do they sell?

 

The market really represents the complete bounty of the Ontario harvest. In May we have the early spring vegetables. This year it happened quite early, we had asparagus, strawberries pretty much right out of that. We’ve got all the greenhouse, year-round vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, peppers – all the things that you can now have year long. You can actually have strawberries now, year long. There’s something called an ever-bearing strawberry! As the season progresses, you get into the more seasonal stuff. So, rasberry season just ended. Raspberries are pretty well done. Peaches just came out, corn just came out, again, a little bit early because of how much rain we’ve had. We’ve got a full gamut of everything that is Ontario, plus a few unique products that people may not know about. One of our vendors carries more of the exotic Ontario fruits and vegetables – which is really fun to showcase, especially when we get back in the school year. There is something called a northern Kiwi, that is grown in Ontario. We get to showcase that…

 

Then we’ve got wonderful, ready-made foods. There are a large percentage of shoppers that want grab-and-go, so we’ve got soups and tacos, pre-made salads and bottled juices, hummus, fresh pastas and olive oils, and fresh breads, fresh cheeses. All the things you want to pick up so that you don’t have to make dinner.

 

What a bounty! What is the season for the Davisville Village Market?

 

We usually open in the second week in May, and we close right before Thanksgiving.

 

Do you host any special events that close out the season?

 

A bunch of things, actually! We’ve got our movie night in the park – that’s always the lead up to the end of the season – which is on September 22nd. The Seed and Kernel Festival is the next day, on September 23rd. Then on the last day of the market we do a couple of things. We have the New Vendor Showcase. There are so many young businesses that want to get into selling food, but they may not have the capacity, they may not have the volume, the stock. We give new chefs and new producers or new farmers a one day time when they can come and introduce themselves to the community. We always do that on the last day. Then we have a big harvest party when it’s all over!

 

Sounds like a lot of fun! We can’t wait to come by and dig in. Thanks for speaking with us, Lesley!

 

Greenrock Property Management Limited wants to connect you with your community. For information onGreenrock Rental Communities in Toronto, including Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street and 55 Maitland Street), please visit our website.

Enjoy one of a kind burgers at Holy Chuck!

 

Have you noticed the gourmet burger trend in Toronto? It could almost be called a movement. Basically it’s a trend of making outstanding burgers readily available and has been pioneered by burger joints that promise unprocessed, real burgers that taste the way a burger should taste. One of the original establishments to lead the charge of burger brigade was Holy Chuck. They opened their first restaurant back in September of 2011 and have since opened two more locations. We spoke with the no-bull founder of Holy Chuck, Johnny Prassoulis, to find out what separates them from the herd.

 

Photo credit: Holy Chuck

Photo credit: Holy Chuck

 

So Johnny, what do you enjoy most about being a chef?

 

Watching other people eat my food and enjoy it. There’s no bigger pleasure than that.

 

What made you choose to specialize in gourmet burgers after coming up in high end restaurants?

 

I’ve always loved burgers. They’ve always been one of my favourite foods. And nobody — I shouldn’t say nobody — but almost nobody was doing them properly. Most commercially available burgers have been overcooked, processed and it’s been pretty much cr** for many, many years. And I think a burger is one of the most enjoyable things to eat. It’s also one of the most difficult things to make properly. And that’s why I did it.

 

So when you started, did you want to ensure your burgers were prepared following certain methods using certain ingredients?

 

I mean, for personal taste, yeah. I think burgers should be cooked no more than medium – at the most. But I think a good burger should have great flavour, nothing added to it, and be juicy. Definitely juicy. Because I think that’s one thing that lacks in most burgers, because burgers are over processed and there are so many additives, fillers… they’re frozen, not fresh. That whole juicy element and the flavour element has just gone out the window.

 

There is a lot of competition in the gourmet burger joint field these days. How do you separate yourself from the new brands that keep coming up?

 

Yeah, I’d definitely say that we were one of the pioneers in this whole burger trend, that’s for sure. I think one thing that we still do, that nobody else does, is we actually have our grinder right at the front and we grind our beef right in front of the customers pretty much hourly. So, it’s one thing to say that you have fresh beef, and it’s another thing for it to be seen.

 

Everything is homemade in our restaurant, pretty much — except for our onion rings. We do everything from scratch. And we still maintain the same quality and the same values as when we first started. I know a lot of places — they start of doing something, and then they get recognized and they kind of start changing things. Maybe doing things that are little bit more cost effective, which is not a bad thing but I think it’s a bad thing when it starts interfering with quality. So we’re pretty strict with how we serve our burgers and what goes on them, stuff like that. It’s what we’re proud of and we just don’t want to be like everyone else.

 

I know a lot of people get upset when they come in and they want to add certain things to certain burgers. Our Holy Duck Burger ($31.99), we don’t even allow it out of the restaurant. Because it will lose its… it will lose its taste. It’s foie gras. There are certain elements to that burger that have to be eaten right there, on the spot. I’ve gotten orders for like 30 foie gras burgers at one time, which is like a $900 order, but I turned it down because they wanted it to go.

 

Wow, that’s dedication! Is that the only burger on the menu that you can’t get ‘to go’?

 

Yes. The foie gras burger and the foie gras poutine and the foie gras pancakes are the only items that are not allowed ‘to go’.

 

Noted! Do you have a favourite burger on your menu?

 

My foie gras burger. Yeah.

 

What’s the most popular menu item or combo at Holy Chuck?

 

My Holy Chuck Burger ($10.49 with caramelized onions and bacon, please don’t ask for toppings) is right now my number one seller, at all three of my restaurants.

 

Photo Credit: Holy Chuck

Photo Credit: Holy Chuck

 

If you’re looking for a real burger, ground fresh right before your eyes, you owe it to yourself to give Holy Chuck a try. Taste the difference the uncompromising commitment to quality makes — just don’t ask for the foie gras burger ‘to go’!

 

Greenrock Property Management loves to help you connect with your community and all that it has to offer. There are Holy Chuck locations near two Greenrock Communities. Their original location is at 1451 Yonge Street, by Greenrock at Davisville Village (77 Davisville Avenue, 45 Balliol Street and 225 Davisville Avenue). The newest location is at 586 Yonge Street, right near Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street and 55 Maitland Street). There is also a third Holy Chuck location at 4421 Hwy 7 in Woodbridge. For more information on Greenrock Communities across Toronto, please visit our website.

 

 

Taste Toronto at Taste of the Danforth

 

Taste of the Danforth returns to Toronto’s Greek Town for its 24th year, from August 11th to 13th. The festival is a celebration of the Danforth’s Greek heritage and Toronto’s multicultural population.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

It’s a Toronto tradition that has been satisfying those hungry for family-friendly fun and fabulous food from around the world. As spokesperson for the festival tells us:

 

What keeps people coming back each year is the fact that we offer free family-friendly fun as well as food, food and more food!  The great food remains the same. The low prices for the food in the tasting menus remains the same. The entertainment changes dramatically.

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

Live Performances

 

There are so many live performances from such a wide array of performers at this year’s festival that it takes three stages to contain them all. The Greek Stage is the place to find the finest Greek singers, dancers and musicians. The Celebrity Stage features music and dance performances from around the world. This year’s Showcase Stage is being programmed by the North-by-Northeast Festival!

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

It’s All Greek to Me

 

The ancient Greek tradition of breaking plates after a meal has been banned in Greece since 1969 but you can feel free to smash away at this year’s festival! Experience the simple, stress-relieving pleasure of plate smashing, in partnership with BattleSports’ Rage Room. Festival attendees can also participate in a dart of war Nerf battle with Ares’ Dart Challenge, in honour of the son of Zeus and the God of War.

 

Hollywood on the Danforth

 

Experience the thrills from some Hollywood films. Figure out who done it with the “Murder on the Orient Express” mystery challenge and win tickets to the film! See a professional stunt team on the Celebrity Stage and join them after for a photo!

 

Canada 150

 

In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, Taste of the Danforth celebrates Canadian Heroes. Take a virtual reality trip to visit some Canadian Heroes and meet the Heroes of the Future with superstar students who may change the world.

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

Food, Food & More Food!

 

There is so much to enjoy at Taste of the Danforth. From classic Greek favourites to Thai, Cuban, Indian and more. This is truly a multicultural festival. Best of all you don’t have to narrow your choices, “the model of the festival is to offer sting menus so that people don’t have to choose one vendor over another. They can taste of variety of items from a variety of vendors.” Try a little from here, a little from there. You can taste the world in one place.

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

Contests and Prizes

 

There are also contests and giveaways galore!

 

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

There are trips to be won with Newstalk 1010, Metroland, Toronto Star and CP24. At the Festival this year, if people pick up one of our brochures there is a secret code on the back, or they just need to look at the Jumbo Screen next to the Celebrity Stage for the secret code.  All they have to do is go online and answer some questions for a chance to win a Trip for 2 to Portugal.

 

Over the years the Taste of the Danforth has grown and evolved. It is now much more than simply a Greek food festival. As their festival representative puts it:

 

We have changed much like the country, the city and the street to be reflective of Canada’s multicultural mosaic. We still respect the fact that the Festival is in the heart of GreekTown and we have both a Greek stage with continuous performances as well as an “It’s All Greek To Me” experience, which features the ancient tradition of breaking plates as well as an Ares’ God of War experience. While we have many mainstream activities, ranging from a Sports Zone with challenges from the Leafs, the Raptors, the Argos and the Toronto FC, and some amazing Hollywood on the Danforth activations, we also have lots of cultures reflected in the Festival. On our Celebrity Stage you can see everything from the city’s leading Bollywood dancers to the contestants in the Mr. & Miss Asia Toronto pageant. In our “Learn a Little” experience, we’ve got 7 different cultural dance troupes teaching our attendees a fun cultural dance. The list goes on.

 

The Taste of the Danforth has something to offer everyone. It’s truly multicultural festival for a truly multicultural city. It’s time to experience the diverse flavours of your community.

 

Greenrock Property Management is proud to fill you in on what’s happening in this great city that we’re proud to call home. For information on Greenrock Rental Communities throughout Toronto, please visit our website.

Make your brunch dreams come true at Brownstone Bistro

 

Brownstone Bistro (603 Yonge Street), on the corner of Yonge and Gloucester, has been a fixture of the Yonge and Wellesley neighbourhood for over 20 years. The brownstone building the restaurant is housed in is a designated heritage building that dates back to 1888. The architecture gives Brownstone Bistro a ton of character and a major advantage over the other establishments in the area in terms of ambiance. If you haven’t been, you should go.

 

photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

 

We asked owner and manager Kai Yu about the secret to the restaurant’s longevity and success.

 

The secret to Brownstone Bistro’s success is our continuous focus and improvement on food quality, customers satisfaction and dining environment. We love the neighborhood. It is our customers that keep on inspiring us in this industry. We love being a part of their lives and memories.

 

photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

 

As soon as you step into the bistro’s elegant interior — with its exposed brick walls, black tabletops and soft lighting — you know that you are somewhere special. The restaurant is known for its Italian-inspired casual fine dining and their popular weekend brunch.

 

If you like to drink while you dine, you’ll love that Brownstone Bistro’s drink menu features a nice selection of domestic and imported beers on tap, plus cool cocktails, and wines by the glass or bottle. Make the most of the warm weather on their sunny corner patio overlooking Yonge Street. It’s a fantastic spot for people watching.

 

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict - Photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict – Photo courtesy of Brownstone Bistro

 

You can’t go wrong with any items on Brownstone Bistro’s brunch menu. If you want decadence, try their Eggs Benedict with Norwegian Smoked Salmon, goat cheese & capers ($14) or for something really over the top, try their Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon with peppercorn hollandaise ($17). If you’re more of a traditional breakfast lover you’ll be happy to know that the menu features many staples like their New York Steak & Eggs which comes with sautéed mushrooms, 2 large eggs any style and toast ($16.95) or The Big Brownstone Breakfast with 3 large eggs any style with toast, ham, bacon and Italian sausage ($13.95). If you’re after a brunch item you can’t easily make for yourself, there are amazing omelettes, frittatas, and crêpes to choose from — including their delicious Shrimp and Béchamel Crepe ($15.95) and much more.

 

Pay a visit to the Brownstone Bistro this summer — it’s about time you let them make your brunch dreams come true!

 

Greenrock Property Management is proud to help connect you to the unique flavour of your community. For information on Greenrock Rental Communities, including Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street, 55 Maitland Street), please visit our website.

 

 

Enjoy the finer things at Smoked and Cracked

 

If you’re searching for an outstanding meal, you can’t go wrong with Smoked and Cracked (516 Mount Pleasant Rd.) in Toronto! Located minutes away from our Davisville Village rental community, this incredible restaurant is all about the finer things, primarily lobster and other delectable seafood favourites, served in a comfortable and casual setting.

 

Manhattan Chowder, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

Manhattan Chowder, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

 

The concept for Smoked and Cracked was created in 2012 by Michael Kash and Ron Raymer, a dynamic duo with a huge number of years of experience in the Toronto restaurant and hospitality industry. The restaurant is all about simple yet fabulous food. Their focus is on great ingredients presented in simple and classic preparations. Everything is fresh and delicious, with live lobsters delivered daily to the restaurant from the East Coast. Smoked and Cracked also uses fresh local produce, herbs, local cheeses, and meats whenever possible.

 

The backstory of Smoked and Cracked is pretty serendipitous. Michael, an actor and chef, had opened his own catering company called Live Edge Catering. He met his business partner Ron Raymer on the job. Ron is a Classical French-trained chef with over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He transitioned from working under notable chefs in well known restaurants (like Marie Lacroix from Church Restaurant, now called Revival House, in Stratford, William “Ben” Merritt from the Benmiller Inn in Goderich, and Toronto chef Dinah Koo) to working in catering in 1995. He met and partnered with Kash in 2012. The pair dreamed up the business over drinks after a catering gig. It all started with one deceptively simple question — ‘what do you think about lobsters?’ That night they decided to create Smoked and Cracked and are now aiming to expand the business with new franchise locations for the restaurant in other areas of Toronto.

 

The restaurant is inviting and features an open kitchen. Despite the fact that a luxurious ingredient like lobster finds its way into almost everything on the menu, the decor is understated with tables from Kash’s home, and furniture and decor pieces that were donated by family, friends and customers.

 

The restaurant is known for its smoked dishes. ‘We smoke our own foods using both hot and cold smokers, and use a variety of fruit wood chips to create a range of different smoked flavours,” says Chef/Co-owner Ron Raymer. In fact, they smoke everything from rainbow trout and wild sturgeon to duck and ribs at Smoked and Cracked. The locals love it. “When we started, we had seating for eight, but since the place took off, we now have 27 seats,” says Ron. You don’t have to eat in though, Smoked and Cracked caters! They run a successful catering business on the side, serving up everything from clambakes to lobster boils to their happy customers. They also work with customers to create their dream menu.

 

Lobster Roll, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

Lobster Roll, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

 

If you do decide to pay them a visit at the restaurant, be sure to try one of their classic lobster rolls. Their menu features a cold East Coast-style roll ($13.25), and a hot Newport-style roll ($15.25).

 

New England Lobster Chowder, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

New England Lobster Chowder, photo courtesy of Smoked and Cracked

 

The menu also features seafood soup classics to pair with your roll, like New England Lobster Chowder (bowl $13, cup $9) and Lobster Bisque (bowl $15, cup $10). For a seafood-focused restaurant, the menu also features some fish-hater friendly fare like Caesar Salad ($10.95) and house-smoked Duck Magret ($20). Be sure to wash it all down with a craft beer or a glass of fine wine for the ultimate Smoked and Cracked experience.

 

Basically you can’t go wrong at Smoked and Cracked! Best of all, the restaurant is located just a 10 minute walk from our Davisville Village rental community.

 

Greenrock Property Management wants to connect you with your city and your community. For information on Greenrock Rental Communities in Toronto, please visit our website.

 

 

Share an exotic meal at Ethiopian House

 

The Yonge and Wellesley neighbourhood in downtown Toronto is a vibrant and diverse area where there is always something new to discover. It’s a truly walkable neighbourhood full of bars, interesting shops and exotic restaurants.Ethiopian House is shining example of the diverse food available in the area. It’s a family business that has been a fixture in the neighbourhood for over 20 years! Ethiopian cuisine traditionally consists of a lot of vegetable curries, from mild to spicy, and very spicy meat dishes, served in dollops on top of a spongy sourdough flatbread called injera which is made from fermented teff flour. The flatbread is torn by hand and used to scoop up the curries. It’s incredibly delicious and very healthy! If you’re tempted to try Ethiopian fare but don’t know where to start, we are here to help! Trying a new-to-you cuisine can feel intimidating, so we spoke with Mohammed Haddis owner of Ethiopian House, for his best advice to help you add a little spice and variety to your life.

 

So Mohammed, how long have you been in business in the Yonge and Wellesley neighbourhood?

 

Since 1996. It was my brother in law’s idea. We wanted to be in the center of town to introduce Ethiopian cooking to more people, to be more inclusive.

 

It certainly worked! What keeps your customers coming back for more after all these years?

 

The ambiance, the food definitely. We take care of our customers. We’re on the reasonable side for pricing, but we are also consistent and the food is good here. The ambiance has to be great for people to keep coming back.

 

Some of our readers may be new to Ethiopian food. What dishes do you recommend for first-timers?

 

It all depends, really. There are vegetarian options and meat options. If you are vegetarian, we suggest the Vegetarian Combo. My favourite curry is Shiro Wat, a chickpea curry.

If you are a meat eater we hope you’ll try the Meat Combo. We serve 8 curries in the Vegetarian Combo, and the Meat Combo features both vegetarian and meat dishes.

photo credit: Ethiopian House

photo credit: Ethiopian House

 

Ethiopian food is great to share, what shareable menu options do you recommend for couples and groups?

 

The Sharing Platter on our menu can be shared easily. We also have a delicious chicken stew which is great for sharing, it’s great paired with a veggie combo to share.

 

photo credit: Ethiopian House

photo credit: Ethiopian House

 

That all sounds delicious! Please tell us about the Ethiopian coffee ceremony that you offer.

 

We offer a great coffee ceremony, if you have the time and the company to enjoy it it is a very nice ceremony.

 

Is there a proper technique for eating Ethiopian food?

 

Yes and no, if you are looking at traditional culture we use the right hand to eat for religious and hygienic reasons but if you’re a lefty, you’re a lefty. The most important thing is that you enjoy the food. It’s fun to eat with your hands, but we do have cutlery if you need it. Injera is traditionally eaten for every meal. We offer takeout for large and small groups. We do catering as well for parties and events. We’re here to offer a bit of our culture in Toronto.


The Yonge and Wellesley community is fueled by its diverse and inclusive culture. The variety of flavours available here is hard to match. If you’re looking to spice up your life and engage in all that this neighbourhood has to offer, pay a visit a to the Ethiopian House at 4 Irwin Avenue. Their comfortable, welcoming  and unassuming atmosphere will make you feel right at home and offer you an exotic experience at the same time.


Greenrock Property Management is proud to help connect you with your community. For information on Greenrock Rental Communities including Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street and 55 Maitland Street) pleasevisit our website today.

Enjoy gourmet seafood at Zee Grill

 

Deep in the heart of midtown, in the Davisville neighbourhood near Yonge and Eglinton, sits a treasure. Zee Grill (641 Mt Pleasant Rd) is one of oldest and best oyster bars and seafood restaurants in the city. They  have been sourcing and serving the finest oyster, clams, mussels, lobsters and fish – as well as an excellent selection of duck, steak and lamb – since 1981. That’s a long time to keep your head above water in the restaurant business. Zee Grill has managed to survive and thrive in a sea of competition. The restaurant is owned and operated by Jac and Beth Eckhardt — a chef and sommelier husband and wife team. We spoke with Mr. Eckhardt to learn about the secret to their success.

 

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

 

So Jac, what sets Zee Grill apart from other seafood restaurants?

 

That’s a difficult question to answer but I’ll try. I think the main difference is the composition of our dishes. For example, our tuna. We plate it in a variety of flavors without the flavors getting in the way of each other. Our tuna is served rare only and seared in a crust of Cajun style spices. We serve it with shiitake mushrooms that are sautéed in a ginger carrot broth.

It comes with shanghai bok choy, a bit of mango salsa, pickled daikon and fermented cabbage. It is finished with an asparagus spring roll, with fresh wasabi and soy on the side.

I don’t think that a lot of seafood restaurants go to the extent of making every single plate different. We do.

 

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

 

That sounds like a brilliant dish and approach! What’s your most popular menu item and why?

 

Our grilled calamari and our crab cakes are extremely popular and are in the appetizer category, however, lots of people order just appetizers and share them for the table. As a main, our tuna is something that is impossible for me to take off our menu. I would lose some clientele if I did.

 

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

 

We noticed that you refer to Zee Grill as the oldest seafood restaurant in the city — when and why was it founded?

 

We opened in 1981 and we have been the sole owners of Zee Grill since. We opened as Phebes Oyster Bar but changed that name to Zee Grill in 1998. The reason for the name change was simple: we started to drift away from the simple and short oyster bar menu and I was getting into a more diverse cooking style. Zee is Dutch for Sea. I am Dutch. The reason we opened the restaurant is simple, I am a chef and Beth is a certified sommelier.

 

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

Photo courtesy of Zee Grill

 

It seems like opening the restaurant and changing your focus were the right decisions! Is there anything special about the fish you serve? For example, is it sustainable or sashimi-grade?

 

I like to serve wild caught fish and other seafood like shrimp, squid etc. I am all for sustainable and therefore I try to source my products from respectable companies. I like to buy Ocean Wise product as long as it is not farmed. If it is farmed and I buy it, it has to be organic.Organic fish for example is not fed with hormones or antibiotics. I also use sashimi grade fish and other seafood for some of my dishes. Yellow fin tuna, scallops for our ceviches and other fish types for our crudo or carpaccio.

 

Thank you for speaking with us, Jac! Your success and longevity at Zee Grill is not surprising. You and your wife obviously take great pride in what you serve and invest in quality ingredients that speak for themselves. It’s no wonder Zee Grill has become a fixture of the Davisville community over the past few decades.

 

Greenrock Property Management is proud to connect you with your community. For information aboutGreenrock Communities, including Greenrock at Davisville Village, please visit our website.

 

 

Drink up at Granite Brewery

 

The Granite Brewery and Tied House (245 Eglinton Ave E) is not easy to define. It’s part brewery, part restaurant, part bar, part beer store and all awesome. Whether you want to enjoy a quick lunch on one of their two patios, have a relaxing dinner by the fireplace in the dining room, sip your favourite brew at the bar, or grab a growler to take home — The Granite Brewery has everything you want and more.

 

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

 

The original location of The Granite Brewery was opened by Kevin Keefe in Halifax back in 1985. His brother, Ron Keefe, opened the Toronto location in 1991. They helped usher in the age of craft beer. The Keefe family has been running the brewery ever since. Ron’s daughter, Mary Beth Keefe, is now the head brewmaster. We spoke with Sam Keefe, Co-owner and General Manager, to find out more about this amazing local establishment.

 

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

 

When Granite first opened in Toronto in 1991, the craft beer market was not at all what it is today. How does Granite stay current and set itself apart in such a competitive market?

 

We brew all natural, English style ales using open fermentation. Most brewers prefer using closed fermentation systems to avoid the risk of infection and brew different styles of beer. Our yeast strain is so rigorous and aggressive that it is able to fight off infection from the surrounding environment and forms a protective layer over the beer. Open fermented ales are very rare…there are only a few other breweries in the country who brew this way. Ironically, it is one of the oldest and most traditional forms of brewing and it’s what separates us from all of the other great breweries in the province. We’ve been in business brewing this way for over 25 years, so in a way we feel more like a “heritage brand” in the market. We stay current by keeping it classic.

 

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

 

It sounds like your beers are very distinct. You offer a very wide selection of craft brews. What advice would you give to someone coming into Granite Brewery for the first time to help them navigate their way?

 

We get a lot of customers who come in not knowing exactly what they like but are adventurous enough to try new styles. The best option is to try one of our flights. We offer four 5 oz samples of our draft list which is a great way to try a few different beers without committing to a full pint. We also sell growlers (2L jugs) and tall cans from our on-site Beer Store which you can take home and enjoy with your friends and family. Our Beer Store is open from 11:30 am until 11 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays!

 

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

Photo courtesy of The Granite Brewery

 

That sounds like a great way to get a lay of the land at your establishment! Could you please describe the distinct qualities of the varieties of beer you serve, an IPA versus a Stout for example?

 

We offer a wide range of tastes and flavors that will please any palate. If you’re looking for a nice, light patio beer, we recommend our Ringwood or Summer Ale. Both are crisp, blonde and refreshing, with minimal bitterness. One of our most famous beers is the Peculiar Ale — a malty, English strong ale that has a slightly sweet finish. If you prefer hoppy beers, our Hopping Mad or our Galactic Pale Ale are staff and fan favourites. Our Keefe’s Irish Stout that is rich with notes of coffee and chocolate is very popular as well. It is our most popular beer carried by other bars and restaurants in the city.

 

Thanks for speaking with us, Sam!

 

If you enjoy quality craft beer and good food served in a friendly atmosphere, you’ll love The Granite Brewery. It’s a mecca for great brews and delicious food in the Davisville neighbourhood, all in one convenient location!

 

Greenrock Property Management wants to connect you with your community and local businesses. For more information on Greenrock Communities including Greenrock at Davisville Village (77 Davisville Avenue, 45 Balliol Street, 225 Davisville Avenue), please visit our website.

 

Enjoy a taste of Indonesia at Little Sister!

 

Toronto’s Davisville neighbourhood has always been unique. It’s an area for everyone, popular with (and populated by) singles, couples and families. It’s also home to Little Sister Indonesian Food Bar, the first and only authentic Indonesian restaurant in the city. The restaurant appeals to the same demographic – everyone. Little Sister has an open and friendly atmosphere. Whether you choose to sit at one of their cozy high top tables, grab a seat at the bar or sit at the communal table, there’s a place for you. You can watch the chefs do their thing through the large, take-out style window reminiscent of Indonesian street food carts. The big idea at Little Sister is to be part restaurant, part bar and completely authentic – both in terms of the menu and the overall vibe of the place. We spoke with co-owner Jennifer Gittins about this concept.

 

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

 

So, Jennifer, what makes Little Sister unique?

 

Well, we happen to be the only full on Indonesian place in the city. We call ourselves a “food bar”, a restaurant dressed up in a bar jacket. So we play our music at a louder level than a traditional restaurant, but still keep great levels of service and quality. We serve wine and cocktails that pair really well with our Indonesian cuisine. We also have a bar open above Little Sister called Bar Batavia, which is a speakeasy style bar, with plush velvet seating that’s open late, Thursday through Saturday.

 

We’ll have to go there next! How long have you been in the Davisville area and what keeps your customers coming back for more?

 

We have been in this area for 20 years now. Our first place was called Stork on the Roof, then we opened Quince Bistro, then Little Sister / Bar Batavia, and our latest is Noorden Food Bar. Noorden is Toronto’s first gin bar to open, with more than 50 gins from around the world, it serves modern Dutch cuisine, keeping to my partner’s Dutch background.

 

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister @littlesisterto

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister @littlesisterto

 

That’s a lot of gin variations! We’re definitely intrigued. At Little Sister, what dishes do you recommend for first timers at the restaurant?

 

They should definitely try any of the skewers, the Udang curry (coconut shrimp curry), Semur Java and of course our Nasi Goreng rice.

 

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

 

Which drinks pair well with those dishes?

 

All our cocktails and wine have been chosen to pair with the food. Indonesian food is all about 4 tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Indonesia is the original spice islands, so our food is full of spices.

 

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister @littlesisterto

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister @littlesisterto

 

Thanks for guiding us, Jennifer!


Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

 

They certainly don’t shy away from spices here. The food at Little Sister is both bold and confident. The intriguing restaurant is co-owned and operated by Dutch chef, Michael van den Winkel. The Netherlands has a long history with Indonesia and its cuisine and Mr. van den Winkel is well versed in its nuances. Jennifer and Michael are heading into their third year of operations at Little Sister and are going stronger than ever. This wonderful restaurant certainly adds another layer of complexity to the ever-evolving and diverse Davisville neighbourhood. If you haven’t paid Jennifer and Michael a visit, you owe it to yourself to see what you’ve been missing at Little Sister.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

Photo Courtesy of Little Sister

 

Greenrock Property Management is proud to highlight what your community has to offer. For more information onGreenrock Communities, including Davisville Village (77 Davisville Avenue,45 Balliol Street and 225 Davisville Avenue), please visit our website.

 

 

Cafe California: A Neighbourhood Gem

 

A fixture in the heart of the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood, Cafe California (538 Church Street) has been serving the community with a variety of Mediterranean-inspired dishes for over 20 years. Only an exceptional and special kind of place could last this long in an industry that seems to constantly crave the next new thing. Is it the food? The martini bar? The friendly staff? Maybe it’s the eclectic Mediterranean decor, or the sunny solarium that keeps people coming back for more. It’s hard to tell, but the restaurant is doing something right.

 

Photo courtesy of Cafe California

Photo courtesy of Cafe California

 

We spoke with General Manager, Bob Parsons, to see if he could put his finger on what sets Cafe California apart. We asked him about the vibe of the place.

 

It really depends on which seating we’re doing. We welcome all walks of life, it’s warm and inviting, kind of like a Cheers. We attract everyone from young people to seniors at different times of day.

 

The vibe fluctuates depending on the time of day and is influenced by the presence of the patrons. It’s truly a place for everyone because the customers create the atmosphere. The restaurant manages to stay ahead of new trends while remaining true to its Mediterranean roots. As Bob tells us:

 

Our food is definitely what brings people back year after year. Our menu has a very wide range and our customer service is excellent.

 

So, it is the food! Could it be that simple? Maybe. We asked Bob if there was a certain dish that a first time guest should try. Something that defines what Cafe California is.

 

It really depends on your food preferences, we have something for everyone though. Like for example, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll love our salads. Our menu changes a lot and there’s really nothing on our menu that I could remove. People love the quality and the quantity of our menu items. People come for our salads in the summer season — the Capri is my favourite. Our California salad is massive — most people share the small size — and it’s a great salad to try because it’s got a bit of everything. Every seating draws a different crowd to the restaurant. We really serve the entire neighbourhood — they love the food and the service they get here.

 

It seems that the secret to Cafe California’s success is both simple and indefinable. The accessibility of the food seems to have a lot to do with it, as does the inviting atmosphere and the vibe of the place. We think it might be the restaurant’s authenticity that brings people back year after year. The feeling of people dedicated to doing what they do best, with as much enthusiasm as possible. Day in, day out. That authenticity has made Cafe California a neighbourhood gem, and a fixture of the Church and Wellesley community for over twenty years. If you haven’t had the pleasure, come in to see and taste it for yourself.


Greenrock Property Management is dedicated to connecting you with your community. For information on Greenrock Communities, including Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street and 55 Maitland Street), please visit our website.