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)

P&M’s—lots of history and a bright future

You know about P&M restaurant, right? You may even be well-acquainted with their AMAZING burgers, great fish n’ chips and unbeatable breakfasts.  Every great town needs a great family-run restaurant – and boy, have we lucked out with P&M.

You are missing out if you have not yet experienced the hospitality and good eats of Frank Kalamaris and the P&M gang.  P&M Restaurant opened it’s doors 37 years ago, under the leadership of Frank’s father, George, a recent immigrant from Chios, Greece.  With a keen eye for business and traditional family recipes passed down to him through generations, George set up shop in Weston in 1975, with Frank in tow eager to learn the trade.  It would seem that the Kalamarises possess a strong entrepreneurial gene as Frank’s fraternal cousin, Peter carries on his own father’s legacy at Peter’s Barber Shop located on John Street.

Frank has seen Weston change over the better part of the last four decades and has, at times, been very concerned about the direction Weston has headed.  By his own admission, Frank isn’t much of a politician but perhaps our governmental representatives should visit for a little dose of advice to go with the amazing soulvlaki and homemade tzatziki.  Frank cites poverty, changing priorities of families and past political funding initiatives as major contributing factors to Weston’s rise in crime.  Despite the transitions that Weston has experienced, Frank predicts good things for the future.

I share Frank’s optimism.  P&M is gearing up to move into a new larger location.  Frank has purchased the building that currently houses the Central Bar and Grillyou know the one —they’ve got 2 yellow-cards from Toronto Public Health inspectors.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for this change.

The larger space will allow for more seating plus additional cooking and prep space. The current situation demands that staff cart supplies up and down stairs to an apartment space above, used solely for storage.

In the meantime, the family tradition continues at 1972 Weston Road with Niki (Frank’s wife), Mary (Frank’s twin sister), Stacey (Niki’s sister) Mandy (a member of their restaurant family) and George (Franks’s son) turning out homemade take-out and dine-in orders faster than any ‘fast food’ establishment in the area.  Obviously there is no comparison in terms of taste—that would be like comparing huge freshly picked apples offered with a smile to a dried out orange that you find hanging out in the back of your fridge.

Retirement isn’t in the cards for Frank any time soon, however George is quickly getting up to speed as he is studying Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management at Humber College.  Frank can’t say for certain if George plans to take over the business one day and is leaving the decision up to his son to make for himself.  George has already contributed to new menu items (I don’t know if this includes the reintroduction of hot dogs but I’m looking forward to trying the grill-top style street meat soon) and he has also set up a P&M facebook page that keeps fans updated about specials and new menu items.  And I should mention, in case you don’t know yet, that the servings are huge.  Always piping hot.  Always quick.  And the fries….OH. THE. FRIES.

I’ll keep my eye on P&M and report back when they make their big move.  Of course I will exercise correspondant prudence and check back with the folks at P&M for updates – often.  Any menu recommendations?  If you haven’t yet tried Niki’s homemade rice pudding, it’s an absolute must on your next visit.  P & M is truly one of the best parts of Weston!

 

 

Brioni Supermarket Open for Business

Brioni Supermarket is open for business! It has been two months since a devastating fire gutted the apartment above and caused flooding and water damage to the store.

Regular customers will be very pleased that Brioni’s has re-opened. In addition to groceries, Brioni’s features a hot table (I love the lasagna) and they also offer catering and free local delivery. If you have never been, check it out and support a local business, it is located at 173 Gary Drive.