The Layover in Toronto: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite spots and best quips
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
13 thoughts on “The Layover in Toronto: Anthony Bourdain’s favourite spots and best quips”
What a guy. Aside from the horribly misinformed bit about the TTC…
See Randi, that’s what makes me laugh – its practically sport in Toronto to crap on the TTC and how inadequate it is, and yet you will rarely find an out of town visitor who has taken the TTC and doesn’t speak highly of it. Of course, that’s probably because out of town visitors tend to stay in the core, where the subway works just fine – its really only once you leave the downtown area that the system’s inadequacies are more clearly displayed.
That said, a nice bit of plumping for T.O. by Mr, Bourdain – great job!
Don’t think the episode captured Toronto as well as it could have been captured. The interviews with locals were horrible. They mostly found interesting looking hipsters to interview.
I LOVE Anthony Bourdain. I’ve always appreciated his unique look at a city and his willingness to try anything. That being said, there were several problems with this episode that put me right off. I am thrilled that he mentioned the Bellevue, it’s a fantastic restaurant. However; there is NO EXCUSE to have it spelled wrong on the show. If you were filming it, you should know how it’s spelled, and it’s a disservice to the restaurant as people might not be able to find it when googling it. Also, Tosho Knife Arts, is on Markham, not Palmerston and the TTC is also $3 not $2.75, and was filmed way after the fare hike. These are totally avoidable mistakes, It make me wonder how often that happens on his shows.
Was very excited to hear he was doing the show and it actually hurt my heart with how bad it turned out to be. Do we just suck or are these type of travel shows just utter BS and I couldn’t tell until they did my own town?
“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. ” Spot on Brother Anthony, spot on. I’m pretty sure Hell looks a lot like Toronto.
Really boring episode, thanks to really boring Torontonians showing Bourdain really boring spots that are more trendy and cliche than examples of the culinary traditions of this city. Peameal bacon sandwich – yawn. Poutine after the bars – seriously? Is this the best we’ve got?
saw the layover last night it was ok, the focused on toronto west of yonge that’s it. with a minor clip of some persian joint in north york . that’s not toronto. it was like a infomercial for the hoof
we had a visitor from hungary a couple of years ago and they thought toronto looked like a eastern block country before the fall of communism. lol. so i guess Anthony thought the same
Scott Vivian is a shit chef.
Clearly just about who got to the publicist first and that was not the person who has a tasteful view of the culinary offerings in Toronto.
whomever planned his trip must have their head stuck up their asses.. Surely if he had this better planned by someone who knows the city’s culinary gem better he may have a better experiences.. so negative and he practically sold Toronto out.. Alas.. it’s dark here, pretty shitty , look around.. oh wait your staff had their ass stuck up their ass.. DUH!
Tosho Knife Arts is on Markham street near the Christie subway stop in downtown Toronto. FYI
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