Today in Weston – March 23, 2017

The menu at Zeal Burger offers a wide selection for burger lovers. Click for larger image.

Today I tried Zeal Burgers on a whim as I was passing. I won’t attempt to duplicate the excellent review our Lieselotte Noort wrote on this local restaurant last fall but I have to say owner Mark Ghopros makes one of the best cheeseburger and fries I have tasted in a long time. His walk-in special of cheeseburger fries and a drink is $10.00 all in.

Mark tells me that he’s planning an update of the menu soon to include some exciting new items.

Zeal Burgers: 1926 Weston Road. Phone: (647) 352-3933

Zeal burgers; real burgers

When people think of Weston Road, they usually think of the UP Express, traffic and a plethora of different places to shop and eat. But now people of Weston will have to think of mouth-watering juicy burgers with a side of crisp fries; thanks to Zeal Burger, located at 1926 Weston Road.

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The month-old restaurant is cooking up some of the best burgers I have ever had, using triple A steak and other fresh ingredients to whip up some seriously mind blowing creations. The family-run business is dedicated to making fresh food inspired by places all over the world.

With burgers topped with everything from guacamole to a fried egg to tzatziki sauce, there’s something on Zeal Burger’s menu for everyone! They’ve even got their own take on poutine that’s topped with a cheeseburger, and their signature Z Sauce! In the words of Mark Ghopros, the owner, “My favourite thing on the menu is the Chef’s Poutine. It’s like a meal on its own, the flavours on it are insane.” Even if you do not eat meat, Zeal serves up fries in many different ways, including Greek style. So no matter what you like, you’ll be able to find a meal at Zeal.

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Ghopros has dreamed of owning his own restaurant since he was a teenager. After having worked at places like the Keg and the Granite Club, Ghopros was waiting for the right moment to open a place of his own. When he saw the location he thought it was the perfect spot to open shop. “When I first came to the area I thought it was perfect. Everyone was so nice and I loved the community” he stated. Mark went on to tell me all about how he wanted to create an experience for his customers. Using an open-concept kitchen to create handmade burgers, he wanted to ‘throw it back’ to the 50s and 60s, when burger shops like his, where you can get killer food and milkshakes, were everywhere. From one conversation with Mr.Ghopros, I could tell he was extremely passionate about food and his business.

 

“I’m not trying to re-invent the burger; I’m trying to perfect the burger”

On my visit, I feasted on “The Heat”, a burger with pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, cheddar and jalapeno mayo, and their classic fries. It was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Every bite had more flavour than the last, and the hand cut fries were perfectly hot and crisp. I dipped mine in the restaurants homemade Z sauce, which just added to the great taste of the fried potatoes. Usually I’m not the biggest fan of burgers, however, Zeal has won me over. I know for a fact that I will be back on multiple occasions, to try everything on the menu.

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On top of all of this, Zeal offers a 15% off student special, with a valid student ID, and is planning on creating a senior discount as well! But even if you are not a senior or student, Zeal Burgers prices are already incredible!

Zeal Burger is a new gem to the Weston Community that I highly recommend everyone to visit. Everything on the menu is made with love and great ingredients. Zeal is the real deal when it comes to burgers, and I know that soon it will become a landmark of the area.


This article was sponsored by:Luisa Bada: Living in Weston and Loving it

 

Lutong Pinoy: A New Filipino Restaurant on Weston!

 

There’s a new Filipino restaurant in town and correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the first in Weston!

Front store of Lutong Pinoy
Nora preparing our food.

Lutong Pinoy is a Filipino restaurant that opened its doors on May 22 at 1754 Weston Rd.  (south of Weston and Lawrence), just beside the 89 bus stop at Wilby Cres., heading south.

Just a quick Tagalog lesson (Philippines’ official language): “Lutong Pinoy” roughly means “Filipino cooking.” Lutong= “cooking from”. Pinoy=informal way of saying “Filipino” (like describing Canadians as Canucks).

I’ll be straight to the point: they’ve got some good dishes, fair prices and of course…karaoke! I’ll highlight dishes I recommend in just a bit. But let me just say, we’ve definitely got a restaurant here that’s stayed true to its roots. No bells and whistles, just straight up good cooking. The main cook, Chef Lito Garma has years of experience cooking at Filipino restaurants in the Sherbourne area (one of the first areas Filipinos settled in Canada). So this is definitely not a rookie restaurant.

I had a chat with Nora Transfiguracion, the restaurant’s main front server when I went in for lunch with my cousin last week. Her brother Zobel Garma, and his wife Joy Garma are the restaurant owners, so it truly is a family-run business. They had always wanted to open a restaurant and it was only recently that they’ve been able to give this venture a shot. I found out they’re actually from Scarborough and are getting to know the Weston area slowly. They scoped neighbourhoods in Toronto and found out Weston didn’t have any Filipino restaurants. There are a few on Eglinton West, plenty on Bathurst St. (dubbed little Manila), a good number to choose from in Scarborough, the modernized (and a bit expensive) restaurants slowly popping up downtown and there’s also one popular restaurant in Rexdale. But none in Weston.

Never tried Filipino food before? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

I recommend trying their BBQ pork skewers ($2.50/skewer but oh so so good), bistek (marinated, tenderized and sliced sirloin) or the very famous adobo chicken dish. If you’re more adventurous, they have a good number of dishes for you to try from oxtail with peanut-based sauce, to the popular pancit canton/bihon noodles. Since the food is laid out buffet style, you can pick and choose whichever dish catches your eyes.

BBQ Pork Skewer
BBQ Pork Skewer

 

Bistek on styrofoam
Bistek

For dessert, I would absolutely recommend turon, or simply, fried banana. For $1.25 a piece, you get a good size and they do not skimp on the sweet bananas!

2 pieces of turon (fried bananas)
Turon (fried banana)

Dishes and Special Combos

They currently have two regular combos: For $6, you can have any main dish like the ones above, with rice or noodles. For $8, you can get two main dishes with rice or noodles. But they also have a special deal on Tuesdays: fried chicken with rice or noodles for only $4. And finally on Wednesdays, you can have a rice and main dish for only $5. The portions are fair; one main dish was enough for me, and I almost couldn’t finish it—so you’ll be well fed if you have a couple of toonies to spare.

Combo #1 at Lutong Pinoy
Regular Combo #1- 1 dish + rice or noodles
Combo #2 at Lutong Pinoy
Regular Combo #2-2 dishes + 1 rice or noodle

In addition, Lutong Pinoy also does catering! They have a catering menu with detailed pricing and a long list of dishes to choose from. I know for my family, we won’t need to trek to Bathurst or even St. Clair when we make large orders of pancit or dinuguan.

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on Weston Road, and this only adds to the many choices. The karaoke machine is running if you’re in the mood also, and maybe, just maybe, the chef will sing along with you ;).

Kareoke at Lutong Pinoy
Karaoke time!

Hours of operation:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-8pm
Sunday: 10am-6pm
(416) 264-6975
(647) 988-5494

5 Fantastic places to eat for under $10

Who doesn’t love trying foods from all over the world? While trying amazing dishes from all over the world is great, we can’t exactly hop on a plane whenever we want some piping hot juicy jerk chicken.

But, you can take a spin through Weston, and Mount Dennis, to find an array of amazing, and authentic restaurants, without breaking the bank!

Here’s a list of my personal favorite places to eat, in no particular order, in the Weston and Mount Dennis area!

Sun Crisp Fish and Chips: 2047 Weston Road

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I have never been the biggest fan of seafood until I tried the fish and chips here. Sun Crisp serves up an array of fish and seafood, served with the fluffiest French fries I’ve ever tried. With options of halibut, cod, haddock and more, cooked up in a soft batter, it’s hard to not like fish after trying a plate from this amazing joint! Throw on some vinegar, and you have the perfect meal! Not a fan of fish? No worries! Sun crisp also serves up shrimp, scallop, and chicken! Plus, everything tastes good with a side of fries, so you can’t go wrong with whatever you order from this friendly little restaurant

Brioni’s: 169: Gary Drive

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I’ve mentioned before how much I adore this place. But I cannot stress how amazing everything here is! If you’ve got a taste for veal, veggies, pasta, or anything in-between, you will fall in love with Brioni’s! With friendly owners and a life changing tomato sauce, Brioni’s will be loved by your entire family. On top of all that, the portion sizes are huge! If you head to Brioni’s for lunch and get a serving of $5.50 lasagna, it’ll be enough for lunch and dinner! You can taste the love in this food, and will fall in love with it as well.

Golden Star: 1690 Jane Street

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Need a great lunch? Only have $5? Golden Star will be your savior! This Asian noodle house has some amazing food, for dirt cheap! A small, which is more so large, lunch special will get you an order of either spicy chicken or chicken wings and fried rice or noodles (and it’ll only cost you $3.80)! Golden Star is run by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and their food is mind boggling! They also serve up delectable entrees such as beef and broccoli, hot and sour soup, sesame chicken and countless others

Kings Delight: 1658 Jane Street

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Close your eyes after having one bite from King’s and you’ll question if you’re in Toronto or somewhere under the palm trees in the luscious Caribbean. Spicy pull apart chicken, mouth watering rice, beef patties and any other Caribbean dishes you can think of are severed here. After one bite, you wouldn’t be able to stop eating! Kings serves up some amazing food and drinks from all over the Caribbean for prices that will blow your mind! It’s no wonder this adorable restaurant is called Kings, it’s built for one!

Papino’s Pizza: 1788 Jane Street

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This place is more than just the name. Not only do they serve some amazing pizza, but they also specialize in amazing fries, wings, and wedges! Amazing pizza with a huge variety of toppings, and wing flavors, Papino’s will make you forget about your one true love, pizza. This joint serves up some great fast food, for great prices. If the cheesy pizza doesn’t win you over, the crispy wings and fries will. Dipped in cool garlic sauce, Papino’s Pizza will transport you to an Italian villa. (or maybe just be the best fast food fix you


This post was brought to you by: Patricia, who thinks that you should get out and enjoy the Humber River.

Perfect Blend: A perfect spend

Perfect Blend at 1971 Weston Road.
Perfect Blend at 1971 Weston Road.

As many of you already may know, Perfect Blend has finally opened! This café is snuggled between Elsmere and John Street, beside the TD bank. If you’re looking for a charming coffee joint while avoiding the Timmie’s at Lawrence’s greasy food pit, then this is the place for you.

The menu consists of coffees, juices, teas, salads, sandwiches, crepes, ice cream, pastries, and the such. A surprisingly cute item I spotted was the ‘Wake Up Weston’ breafkast crepe. Baskets of freshly baked bagels and various breads await your choosing, and pasta sauces can be purchased as well.

What makes Perfect Blend more inviting is the reasonable price range. Pastries remain under the $4 mark, and coffee is between $4 – $5, depending on type and size. Of course, this is isn’t your normal coffeshop franchise (thankfully), so be prepared to squeeze out that extra buck on your meal – it’ll be worth it.

Upon walking through the glass door, the relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere of this quaint space instantly washes over you. Shades of brown cover the walls and floors, and are contrasted with splashes of orange accents. A glass display case houses baked goods, from croissants to decadent chocolate cakes. Ornate lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling and natural light pouring in from the big window brighten up the cozy café. Jazz music plays quietly over the din of the coffee maker. I was instantly in love.

Greeted by easy-going, smiling staff, I ordered myself a caramel macchiato latte (with no knowledge of what a macchiato is), hot chocolate, and a slice of chocolate cake with a name I connected spiritually to – ‘Chocolate Devotion’.

Caramel Macchiato Latte.

After years of buildling a Tim-Hortons-based standard of what hot beverages I deemed acceptable, the hot chocolate and caramel latte brew me away. Never again shall I fork over $4 for a water-downed ‘Caramel Dream Latte’ again – this concotion, topped with an intricate foam-and-caramel design, pleasantly surprised me. The hot chocolate could only be described as a celestial experience of drinking smooth, liquid chocolate; no strange powder or thick, syrupy residue stained the bottom of the glass. The Chocolate Devotion obviously did not disappoint.

Having already attracted a few regulars, the place was bustling with young moms and elderly couples chatting over stylish white plates of sandwiches and salads. The baristas sparked friendly and casual conversation with us, and made sure our experience was smooth.

Perfect Blend adds that extra ‘omph’ of clean, modern charm to the Weston community; something we’ve needed for a while. And ever-so-eloquently stated by ‘bobyouruncle’ in the comment section of a previous Perfect Blend post, this place is definitely better than Starbucks.

 


This post was brought to you by:

The Victory Community Credit Union, now at their new location at 2011 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 11. Stop by and meet Weston’s best bankers!

Restaurant Review: The Jolly

DSC01292JollyTucked away at the end of Crossroads Plaza, the Jolly is an Italian restaurant that has been around for more than twenty years. Specializing in (naturally) Italian food they do a ‘tavola calda‘ or buffet style option at lunchtime for those who need a fixed price meal that they can get without delay. Table service is available for those not in too great a hurry and we opted to go this route for our lunchtime meal. Not having eaten at The Jolly for a few years, my dining companion and I were somewhat trepidatious, wondering how things had changed.

The interior is divided into a buffet seating area laid out in rows and an à la carte section with booths. Having some time to enjoy the meal we opted for a booth and ordered drinks from the helpful and friendly waitress. The owners have painted over the old Italian-themed murals and in spite of this (or even because of it) the place looks a little tired and could do with some freshening up. The patio has been expanded and partially covered.

I ordered pasta primavera with tomato sauce and my wife had cozze alla marinara (two dozen steamed mussels in wine and garlic sauce). We waited a reasonable 15 minutes for them to be cooked to order and both were excellent; my wife knows mussels and she rated these and the sauce they came in very highly. The pasta was delicious with the right combination of pasta and vegetables. Our meal with an imported beer and water came to around $33 before tip which isn’t too bad. The tavola calda option would have been cheaper.

Overall impression; the food was excellent and the service very good, the decor needs help but the Jolly has the big things right and is well worth a visit.

Address: 2625 Weston Road .Toronto ON, M9N 3V9
Telephone: 416-242-6666
Hours of Operation
Monday – Wednesday 7:30 am – 10:30 pm
Thursday – Saturday 7:30 am – 11:30 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Payments Methods Visa, MasterCard, American Express,
Debit, Gift Certificate
Patio Yes
Free Parking Yes
Wheelchair Access Yes
Catering Yes
Take-out Yes
Liquor License Yes
Bring Your Own Wine Yes

Book Review: Safe as Houses

Safe As Houses, by Eric Walters, is ripping good story about Hurricane Hazel and its effects on three kids who are stranded in a house slowly being flooded. Weston and  Etobicoke figure prominently–Roy’s house, in fact, is only a few feet from where the story takes place, and one of the characters, David McBride, shares the name of the man who owned my house before me.

Elizabeth Hardy, the protagonist and narrator, is a 13-year old just starting to grow up. She splits her love between Donnie Davis (a boy in her class) and Elvis Presley; she babysits David and Suzie McBride every day after school to save up for his albums. The McBrides have just moved from the big city, Toronto, to the sticks, and David, the eldest, is still angry about it. His relationship with Elizabeth is strained: he is almost old enough to take care of himself, but he cannot behave well enough.

The story takes place after several days of torrential rain, just before the Humber River reaches its peak. The children walk home from school—presumably Weston Memorial—in the lashing storm and cross a footbridge, which, when it is destroyed, will separate them from rescue. What unfolds is a night of progressing horror. Elizabeth wakes up to find water up to her knees. It continues to rise, threatening and terrifying the children. Like the best horror movie monsters, the river is one dimensional, indestructible, and pitiless. It knows nothing but how to rise.

The book is written for young adults, but I enjoyed it and stayed up long past my bedtime to finish it. The story starts a little slowly and the characters are, at first, drawn a bit broadly—but suitably for a young-adult audience.

Before I read Safe as Houses, I thought of the Hurricane Hazel disaster as an abstract catastrophe that was the result, primarily, of bad city planning. This book opened my eyes. The hurricane was an epic natural disaster, and it is described grippingly in the last third of the story. The deaths of passing characters are haunting, and give a human dimension to the statistics: 32 people in Weston died, and 81 were killed in Toronto.

(If you buy the book, I make a 45¢ commission)