Just Opened: Imperial Chinese, southern barbecue and a little west-end game changer
Crown Princess Fine Dining
1033 Bay St., 416-923-8784
The colonial Shanghai decor is impressive, to say the least: there’s more expensive marble here than in Hadrian’s baths. Chandeliers blaze, piano concertos play, one server wears a French maid’s uniform, and the tableside service is proper and accomplished. The menu offers just about every luxury ingredient imaginable: goose liver, caviar, lobster, swallow’s nest and (ecologically disastrous) shark’s fin dishes. While the Cantonese cooking is good, it doesn’t live up to the sticker shock. That said, the $48 Peking duck wheeled out on a mahogany trolley is nicely crackly and rich-skinned; it’s best post-carving, turned into a stir-fry with crisp fried rice noodles and iceberg lettuce for wrapping. Whole grouper (don’t tell the SeaChoice folks) comes straight out of the aquarium, is steamed and clean tasting and set over a subtle house-made soy and wine broth ($24). Dim sum standouts include the flaky, golden abalone pastry and broiling-hot sesame balls enveloping marzipan and pumpkin. Mains $16–$98.
1426 Bloor St. W., 647-342-1567
The launch of this simple little bistro this summer—the first good place to eat on an otherwise desolate west-end strip—instantly changed the neighbourhood’s feel. The place is bright and welcoming, with urban farmhouse decor, well-chosen beer (Beau’s Lug-Tread Lagered Ale is fantastic) and chef Joel Macmillan’s down-home dishes. Juicy house pork sausage with apricot and sage is poached in cider, with sweet onion and balsamic marmalade. Potted trout, with green peppercorns, gets nice balance from steamed cabbage and crunch from house caraway and spelt crackers. Entrées, $12 and under, come with basic but good mustard-vinaigrette green salad. Short wine list.
1142 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042
The menu at this brilliantly unambitious pop-up shop from Anthony Rose, chef at the Drake Hotel, is built on lowbrow Texas-style brisket and North Carolina pulled pork, smoked on the premises and piled on flimsy (as they should be) white buns. The pork is lightly sauced with apple cider vinegar, sugar and slow-building chili; the beef is earthier and sweeter, with molasses, maple syrup and ancho chilies. Occasional adds include Canadian whiskey bacon and chili made with that glorious beef, and you can get a kosher pickle, Ontario peanuts and excellent, not-too-vinegary-or-mayonnaisey coleslaw on the side. Open Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. “until the meat runs out.”
12 thoughts on “Just Opened: Imperial Chinese, southern barbecue and a little west-end game changer”
Shark fin dishes… really? I understand that the slaughter of any species for food is not a pleasant thing (whats a vegan?), but at least the BBQ came from some regulatory standards. Its even possible the meat came from one of Dr. Temple Grandin’s designed houses. But promoting such a disgraceful practice as shark fining… shame on Toronto Life. I’ll be avoiding Cinderella’s sisters crown thanks. One broken dish for Toronto life.
I also, will ban anywhere and anything that promotes shark fining.
Why is there not an outcry to the slaughter of sharks – where are those who had such an aversion to the poor geese/foie gras issue?
I too will boycott any restaurant that serves shark’s fin dishes!
I completely disagree with serving shark fin soup, so strike that off my list of places to eat.
I also abhor people who can’t spell. Shark fining? Come people, I thought Torontonians were at least literate.
As for the Drake BBQ review. Can’t wait to tell the folks in Texas you think their BBQ is “lowbrow”. This description from a country that generally doesn’t know the difference between grilling and BBQ. And the brisket at Drake sure as heck isn’t Texas-style anything if it includes maple syrup.
People who serve shark fin soup will never, ever get a penny from me.I’ve seen the illegal long-line fishing in the Galapagos – even the strict regulations there don’t stop the slaughter from happening – disgusting.
@Ry TL is hardly promoting shark fin, they’ve just reported that Crown Princess HAS it. The writing is socially concious by putting in the “(ecologically disastrous)” note just in case readers aren’t in the know yet. It’s information for us to use for action – like petitioning the restaurant or boycotting them.
ec: thank you. Sheesh! TL doesn’t ever order shark’s fin (or bluefin, or Chilean Seabass . . . ) and we generally deduct half a star from restaurants that serve them. We’re not promoting it! Not at all!
I totally concur re: shark fin soup. Come on…are we just mindlessly barbaric? Another major ‘beef’ of mine is foie gras. A disgusting and cruel abuse of animals for our dining pleasure. I find I’m often ashamed of being human.
Actually, I’d like to suggest a BOYCOTT of all Toronto restos serving either shark fin soup and/or foie gras. It’s interesting to attempt…especially re: foie gras…it really narrows down your dining options. But worth it…at least to flag your distate to resto owners…as I did recently with Ruby WatchCo.
Chris, if TL doesn’t order anything that isn’t “ecologically disastrous” then how would your reviewer know that the whole steamed grouper was “clean tasting”? Did they take someone’s word for it? This restaurant didn’t deserve to be reviewed, and if you’re serious about getting the message out that restaurants need to take more responsibility for the food they choose to serve then maybe the comments regarding the shark fin and grouper should have been less humorous. “Don’t tell the Sea Choice folks”? That’s just plain disrespectful.
Thank you Toronto Life for drawing this to my attention. They’ll never see a penny of my business. “Ecologically disastrous” is a euphemism.
Why not publish a guide of where not to eat in Toronto?
Shark fin soup served in Canada, let alone Toronto, is truly
“Sharks have been around for 400 million years. Are we going to let them die out because of ignorance about the origins of what we eat and because of human arrogance? Would this still be going on if the soup was made with tiger paws instead of shark fins? Act now and find out what you can do to help save sharks”.
Shame on you (TORONTO LIFE) for promoting a restaurant that serves shark fin soup. FYI the Shark fins add zero flavour and are an antiquated status symbol that would be best forgotten. Due to the demand for this type of food our oceans are being senselessly destroyed. I have a better idea for anyone thinking of trying this backwards restaurant- Rent Sharkwater and NEVER spend your money at an establishment that supports the pillaging of our seas.
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