Yum, Yum: Best snacks in the city

As common sufferers of food envy, we enjoy restaurants that take the pressure off ordering the perfect entree and encourage sharing a variety of nibbles. This tapas-style eating allows us to sample a bunch of menu items, plus we heard that food has no calories when shared with friends. Grab a few of your best pals and try out a few of our fave places below.

416 Snack Bar

The mini-Mac!

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include our favourite after-work hangout on this list. Besides being across the street from our office, 416 offers an ever-changing list of scrumptious small plates including scotch eggs, steamed pork buns and tacos. Our favourite item, the mini-Mac (think: a mini Big Mac), was taken off the permanent menu but makes an appearance on Sunday nights as the day’s “special thing”. We can’t think of a better way to end a weekend.

Yours Truly
 

Portugal meets Japan meets delicious.

Yours Truly is a relatively recent addition to the popular Ossington restaurant strip, but has quickly distinguished itself from the pack with creative cocktails and inventive food. While they do offer meat and vegetarian prix fixe menus, we highly recommend ordering off the snacks menu. The inari-wrapped salt cod and rice is a must-have, but our favourite touch is the chefs delivering the food to your table.  

Swirl

Looking for a cute place to meet your girlfriends for drinks? Then look no further than Leslieville’s Swirl. The tiny restaurant is a bit tricky to find (it’s on the second floor), but once you get there the pretty decor and reclaimed furniture have you hoping you’ll never have to leave. There’s no kitchen, so almost everything on the menu is served in mason jars. The menu includes duck rillettes, marinated olives and cheese, and charcuterie plates.

Guu

It’s never this empty.

Guu originated in Vancouver, opening five restaurants before bringing their concept of the izakaya to Toronto. Pairing traditional Japanese tapas, such as deep fried oysters, carbonara udon and seaweed salad, with a fun, energetic and boisterous atmosphere made Guu an instant hit when it opened on Church St. Their second location in the Annex is equally as popular and no less loud. Be prepared for the entire restaurant staff to yell greetings as you enter and leave.

Yum, yum: New & noteworthy desserts

We love finding new dessert options. The perfect dessert can make anything better. Here are a few of our favourite new spots to snack on something sweet. 


A common cupcake #fail is an insufficient amount of icing; it can make a cupcake as undesirable as a muffin bottom. For The Love of Cake in Liberty Village has taken measures to ensure their cupcakes don’t meet that fate by creating the 4 Dimensional Cupcake. These cupcakes include four delicious elements: the cake (variety of flavours available), the filling (95% of their cupcakes are filled with custards, preserves, creams and ganaches), the topping (a mix of meringues, whipped cream, mascarpone, cream cheese frosting and more) and the garnish (which can range from anything to a candied carrot to an Oreo). Best part? No dorky 3D glasses required.
Other notable cupcake shout outs include: Sweet Bliss Baking Company in Leslieville and Prairie Girl (two locations downtown).
If cupcakes aren’t your thing, try a cheesecake in single-serve portions from a new Toronto-based baketress, Ladybird. With mouth-watering flavours like Banoffee and Caramel Apple Crumble, these pint-sized cakes are perfect for birthdays, bridal showers or Fridays.
Gourmet marshmallows have been popular in Europe for quite some time, but have only recently been popping up on our side of the pond. Torontonians have Nadège Nourian to thank for that, at least in part. At Nadège, her Trinity Bellwoods patisserie, Nourian has created decadent homemade marshmallows. They come in a variety of exotic flavours, such as violet, poppy, coffee and banana. If you don’t live in the area or feel up for a baking challenge, you can try out Nourian’s recipe at home. Bon appétit.
Once synonymous with police officers and bitter, watery coffee, the mighty doughnut is experiencing a renaissance these days. We first noticed this when we heard about NYC’s Doughnut Plant and their pistachio, Meyer lemon and tres leches flavours. Imagine our delight when we learned of Glory Hole Doughnuts. While this up-and-coming shop is still searching for a home, their scrumptious doughnuts can be found at Thor Espresso Bar, Burger Bar (Saturdays only) and occasionally at 416 Snackbar. Our favourite flavour? Maple Bacon.
@GHoleDoughnuts 

Have any other favourite treats in the city? We’d love to hear about them! Tweet us @rockitpromo. 

Best On The Fourth Floor posts from 2011

For our last post of the year, we’ve put together a round-up of some of our favourite and most-read posts from the last 12 months. We have had almost 175,000 page views since we started in the summer of 2010 thanks to you. Fist pump. xo

Our first Media, Darling of 2011, Sasha Tong, was fun to interview, and her post full of good advice and insider secrets is our most popular to date. 

The snowboarding vs. skiing debate raged in our office in February, when we went head to head with each other to see which snow sport reigned supreme. The verdict? Find out here.

Back in March, we went to visit a brand new little resto that opened just around the corner from us called 416 Snack Bar. We chatted with owners Dave and Adrian, and have literally been back almost weekly to sample their tasty wines and homemade snacks. It really is our Cheers.

We eloquently expressed our rage regarding biking in the city in April, since we’d just taken our trusty steeds out of winter storage and were still getting used to the new “war on bikes” era ushered in by Mayor Ford. We hate to say it, but things didn’t really change for the better when it comes to biking downtown. Maybe in 2012?
We were excited when PR maven Kelly Cutrone stopped by the fourth floor in May, to give us some advice (and record a funny video with our own Matt Austin, a former Power Ranger). 
Delicious cooking made an appearance on the fourth floor in June, with a delicious fiddlehead and ramps recipe, complete with quinoa. Yum.

Our appreciation for art increased with our trip and subsequent post about the Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the AGO, featuring Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and others. 

Lazy summer days gave us plenty of time to ponder email etiquette, so we put those thoughts on screen and generated a strong response. People have opinions about email etiquette.

We checked out the brand-new Black Hoof cocktail bar. Needless to say, we were impressed with the clever and careful concoctions. 

TIFF was busy and exciting, and we celebrated our favourite moments and memories from a festival that were full of encounters with talent, great music and fun after-parties (in between all the work!).

Immediately after TIFF, we dove into fashion with LG Fashion Week Beauty by L’Oreal Paris. Guests really brought their style, so we snapped shots of our fave looks. 

We got our craft on at Miracle Thieves and created some clever and sassy pumpkins. 

Finally, we closed out 2011 strong with our very successful step-by-step ballerina bun post. If you see these pretty hairstyles around the city, and want to DIY, read this

Thanks again for reading, commenting, tweeting and subscribing. It means a lot. We have some fun things planned for 2012, so keep on coming to visit us on the fourth floor. Happy and safe new year to you all. xo

 

Yum, yum: 416 Snack Bar

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you would know by now that we like to eat. So when 416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst Street) opened up just a hop, skip and a snack away from the fourth floor, we were one of the first to check it out.

The transformation from Johny Banana is pretty complete – it’s tough to recognize it as the same space. Owners Adrian Ravinsky and Dave Stewart have done an amazing job making it a cool local bar. They even chronicled the transformation on their site (check it out here).  
 Very cool photo installation on the ceiling.

Longtime friends, Ravinsky and Stewart both grew up working in the restaurant industry (most recently at Buca), and basically held every job in the business – from bus boy to server – except in the kitchen. 

The concept for a snack bar versus a regular restaurant was inspired by a trip Ravinsky took to San Sebastian in Spain. Small local restaurants served communal platters of snacks called centros (shared platters of ham, squid and other treats), which was exactly what he wanted when he was enjoying beverages, rather than a full meal. They figured that everyone wanted savoury, delicious snacks while drinking, and not many bars in Toronto did that. They were pretty bang on. 
The 416 menu.

It’s a great idea, and all of the items on the menu are delicious. The hot dog is house-made from beef short ribs and a bit of pork back fat for flavour, as is the tangy sauerkraut that tops it. The Napolitano pizza pocket is similarly made at the restaurant, including the dough, and is stuffed with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce. Both were a perfect size to accompany a freshly poured pint of Hoptical Illusion.

Ravinsky and Stewart try to make as much as they can themselves, and you can taste the difference (clichéd, but true). They plan on switching up the menu regularly to take advantage of seasonal produce. There was talk of a grilled asparagus dish and their version of a Caprese salad. Yum. 
The cozy bar

Another fun fact that sets them apart? A no-cutlery rule. Every snack has to be able to be eaten by hand, which will be an interesting challenge for the Caprese salad (maybe it will be skewered?). But we’re definitely hooked enough to come back and find out just how that works. 

This little spot is casual-cool, unpretentious and tasty. Just the way we like our snacks and our local watering hole.