The Layover in Toronto: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite spots and best quips

The Layover in Toronto: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite spots and best quips

Anthony Bourdain taking bone luge shots at The Black Hoof with Ezra Title; Bourdain with Scott Vivian at Porchetta and Co. (Images: Courtesy of Travel Channel)
 

For last night’s episode of The Layover, Anthony Bourdain and his merry crew squeezed as many of Toronto’s culinary delights as possible into their 30-odd hours in the city (we covered his trip back in July). And while he seemed genuinely impressed with some of what he saw, we’re not gonna lie: it was pretty much Bourdain by the numbers. Quirky store owner? Check! (Olivia Go of Tosho Knife Arts). Local punk band? Check! (Fucked Up). Over-the-top feats of on-air gluttony? Check! (Bone luge at The Black Hoof, expertly administered by Jen Agg). Still, there’s nothing a Torontonian likes better than to be acknowledged by an outsider—from New York, no less. In this respect, the show was a complete success, with Bourdain delivering his trademark razor-sharp backhanded compliments with relative abandon. Below, a roundup of where the Kitchen Confidential author stopped and, more importantly, what he said about it.

  • On arriving downtown via cab: “It’s not a good-looking city. It’s not a good-looking town. You’ve got all the worst architectural fads of the 20th century. That’s crypto-fascist Bauhaus. Mussolini would have been perfectly at home in that one. Looks like every public school in America. And every third-tier public library. ”
  • On the peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery: “Accept no substitutes.”
  • On the TTC: “Toronto’s subway system works. I urge you to avail yourself of it.”
  • On Tosho Knife Arts: “I find this experience very frustrating because there’s a little voice in my head all the time saying, ‘You must have all of these. Your living room should look like this. Your five-year-old girl will learn to respect knives early.’ Even if I could afford that, I shouldn’t own that. That’s a personality-altering knife. Movies are made about knives like that talking to you.”
  • On Cold Tea: “An excellent example of a refined and wonderful bar, discreetly tucked away from the herd. Enter through an unmarked door, pass by the lady selling authentic dim sum, continue on your way to fine beverages.”
  • On Torontonians’ propensity to mock Céline Dion: “This is a significant argument right away for the virtue of Toronto!”
  • On Torontonians’ propensity to wiggle around strict rules in order to have fun: “So, MacGyver would be the ultimate Torontonian.”
  • Responding to Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham’s contention that no revolving restaurant—and certainly not the CN Tower’s—is ever any good: “No, that’s never existed in the history of the world.”
  • On having poutine in Toronto: “You’re taking on your enemy at their own game.”
  • On the poutine at Poutini’s: “That’s good—morally wrong, but good….  I know I’m going to get a lot of shit from my friends in Montreal.”
  • On the spicy jerk chicken at Spence’s: “That shit will sober you up, and your burning anus tomorrow morning will serve as a warning to never get so drunk again.”
  • On the scene at Ronnie’s Local 069: “I kinda feel like I wandered into Brooklyn.”
  • On the now-closed Agave y Aguacate: “Some of the most amazing Mexican takeout north of the border—any border. They are moving locations, but catch them wherever they go.”
  • On seeing a show at Comedy Bar: “Canadians are funny. Really funny. In fact, most everybody funny in America actually came from Canada. Nothing I love more than some improv. Actually, no. I hate improv.”
  • On profiling the now-closed Hits and Misses record shop: “I wasted a whole shitload of time on yet another place that isn’t here anymore by air time.”
  • On the new generation of chef-owners in Toronto: “You seem to have caught the Brooklyn spore here. I mean that in a good way.”
  • On The Black Hoof: “The number-one most recommended restaurant in Toronto is easily this place.”
  • On the horse tartare at The Black Hoof: “My daughter is reaching that age where she like ponies. So now I can bring her here. ‘Here’s your fucking pony, right here.’”
  • On Beast: “If I weren’t eating here, by the way, I’d be over at Scott Vivian’s Beast in King West. His food got me here in the first place, after all. And it is delicious…. The man knows the good stuff, and he knows what to do with it.”
  • On the over-the-top fatty creations at The Burger’s Priest: “Insert artery-clogging joke here. How about fingers and toes falling off jokes? Too harsh? Nope. Got gout?”
  • On Forest View Chinese Restaurant: “Toronto does dim sum very, very well. It’s a strength, has been for a long time.”
  • On Canadian tourism ads: “Whoever is in charge of promoting Canada abroad completely have their heads up their asses. It’s all like bears and swatting salmon and Mounties.”
  • On what Toronto really needs for its food scene to become internationally recognized: “Maybe you just need a good slogan. Maybe you already had it. Hogtown. Hogtown, eh? Fuck your town. And my town. And Funky Town. And Flavourtown for that matter, bitches. I want to go to Hogtown. A magical place, for magical animals, where a pig is always turning slowly, slowly on a spit somewhere close, and the scent of bacon lingers like wildflowers in the air. Where cracklings fall freely from the sky at intermittent intervals, and the women folk rub lardo in their hair. Okay, maybe nix that last thing.”
  • Other places Bourdain visits or name checks: The Ritz-Carlton, The Drake Hotel, The Renaissance at Rogers Centre, Chez Vous catering at the Evergreen Brick Works market, The Belleview [sic], Ward’s Island beach, Sneaky Dee’s, The Horseshoe Tavern, The Dakota Tavern, Thirsty and Miserable, Owl of Minerva, Altona Kebab, Bairrada, WVRST, Hits and Misses, Spin Toronto, Cocktail Bar, Rose and Sons, Edulis, Bacchus Roti, California Sandwiches