Yum, Yum: Winter Comfort Food

Brrr! So, it looks like winter actually made it this year. Weather like this makes us want to snuggle in our adult onesies and eat nothing but our favourite comfort food. Each of these categories could have a post of its own (which may come later), but for now it’s all about keeping (your belly) warm. Here’s our round-up of Toronto’s best places
to indulge your comfort food craving.



Mac and Cheese 
We’re not going to lie, President’s Choice
White Mac and Cheese was a university staple and often creeps back into our
roster of I’m-hungry-now-but-too-lazy-to-cook foods. We‘ve broached the best mac and cheese subject before, and still can’t get enough of it.



For the lobstah lovahs: Rock Lobster Co.

Mac and cheese for one? Yes, please. 
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For the traditionalists: Czehoski.

No sharing. 
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Fried Chicken 

We’re lucky Toronto has so many places
where we can get our fried chicken fix, especially since most of them seem to
be in the general vicinity of our office. Pairs well with the aforementioned mac and cheese (see, we’re planning your whole meal for you!).



For straight up fried chicken: Harlem Underground.

No utensils needed. 



For chicken and waffles: The Drake Hotel.

#SorryNotSorry. 



For a fried chicken sandwich: The County General.


Because everything tastes better between two slices of bread. 

Meatballs

What’s not to love about a bite-size ball
of delicious meat and sauce? Nothing, unless you don’t eat meat, and well,
we’re sorry about that. There are more places than you would think serving meatballs here in Hogtown – there’s even a restaurant dedicated to them – but here are the balls that we find are our top choices.



For meatballs like nonna’s: 7 Numbers


If Rosa was our nonna we’d eat these suckers every day. 


For another white meat version: Little Anthony’s.

Three little turkey meatballs, all in a row.

For balls with a twist: Banh Mi Boys.


Like we said, add bread and you’re good to go. 



Soup

Whether it’s split-pea, chicken noodle or French onion, soup warms the hearts of even the coldest icicles. Out of the hundreds
of restos in Toronto that offer delicious options, here’s where we usually
frequent.



Something for everyone: Soup Nutsy.

Hint: the Metro Hall location is a great spot for lunch during World MasterCard Fashion Week
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For a taste of South Asia: Ravi Soups.

 We’re hungry already. 
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For the Francophile: Le Sélect/La Société/Le Papillon.
 

Might have just drooled….look at that cheese! 
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The places that have it all 
Can’t decide between your go-to comfort foods? Have no fear; these next places have all your favourites under one roof. 


Top purveyor of all things comforting: The Rebel House


Our choice for the city’s best gastropub, take your pick of meatloaf, baked beans or schnitzel. 



For 24 hour comfort: Fran’s/The Lakeview


A Toronto comfort food staple. 



Post-bar comfort. 



For new comfort: Rose and Sons.


Schmaltz, schmaltz, and more schmaltz. 

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Yum Yum: Lamesa

With such a diverse and international population,  it follows that Toronto’s restaurant scene is equally as varied. Expanding our palate through discovering a new type of ethnic cuisine is one of our favourite flavour pursuits. We’d never tried Filipino food before and, perhaps more embarrassingly, knew even less about what it entailed. When we’d spied Lamesa taking over the old Rosebud space, just down the street from our office (at 669 Queen St. W.), we figured it was a sign to explore new culinary territory!


Exterior on Queen St. W.



Lamesa’s menu changes daily, reflecting food available locally and seasonally, and combines traditional Filipino dishes with French cooking techniques for a dynamic and unusual dining experience. The menu is available a la carte, but our server explained the 5-course prix fixe was the best bang for your buck. At only $35, the prix fixe was a done deal; particularly as we wanted to try as many things as possible. 


We’re obsessed with Lamesa’s custom mural. 



Filipino cuisine is a mash-up of many culinary techniques, including Chinese, Malaysian and Spanish. We started with an amuse bouche of a risotto-like one bite hit of delicious. First course was the Halo Halo Sisig, a blend of beef, pork and chicken mixed with ginger and chiles, topped with a fried egg and Filipino pico de gallo. Our server suggested cutting up the egg and mixing it all together, so we did. We also tried their soup of the day, a creamy mung bean soup topped with pulled duck confit and apples. Would be hard pressed deciding between the two starters, so were glad our dining buddy was willing to share.


Halo Halo Sisig makes an excellent case for eggs for dinner. 
For our mains we had the Pritong Manok, crispy, battered chicken drizzled with an Adobo gastrique/reduction, and the Short Rib Nilaga, braised beef served over cabbage and a bone marrow, potato puree. While we tend to love anything fried, we were partial to the tenderness of the braised beef. The French braising technique, combined with the South Asian flavouring, was an unexpected delight.

So much fried chicken-y goodness.

The pre-dessert (oh, you read that right) was delicate house-made dark and white chocolate bites, with caramel drizzled on the plate. We completed our dinner with two desserts, including a Ginataan with sweet taro chips which is a sweet, coconut milk traditional dessert. The desserts were not the highlight of the meal, but were the most unfamiliar dishes of the night. 

We were impressed by the staff’s attentiveness and knowledge. They were happy to explain any questions about our meal and were able to provide knowledgeable answers in regards to anything cuisine-specific. We loved the prix fixe, both for its value and the range of food items it allows you to try. If you’re curious about Filipino food, this place is a must-try.

Yum Yum: Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken

We don’t mean to toot our own horn (okay, well, maybe we do), but we foresaw the doughnut revival about six months ago. However, a take-out shop devoted to fried chicken and doughnuts? That’s just crazy! Crazy or not, this is the successful formula behind Paulette’s Original Donuts* and Chicken.

Paulette’s bright, can’t-miss exterior.



The aqua-hued Leslieville shop (913 Queen St. E.) is a hop, skip and a jump down the street from Leslieville Pumps (read our review here) and features staff decked out in 1950s-style diner uniforms. Doughnuts are available from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. or until they run out, Tuesday through Sunday, while the fried chicken starts at 11:30 a.m.

What is Foodie411 ordering?



Owner Devin Connell and chef Graham Bower create seven different flavours of full-size doughnuts daily, available for $2.75 each. The “Donut Dots” (think: Timbits) come tossed in either Maple Sugar or Garam Masala and are $4.50 for 8. We sampled the Root Beer Float doughnut and were impressed by the subtle root beer flavouring and dough texture. The doughnut wasn’t as sweet as we’d expected, which was a pleasant surprise.

Seven delectable flavours.



The fried chicken batter was lighter than we’d expected; closer to tempura than KFC. Paulette’s offers a variety of serving sizes, and each chicken order comes with your choice of dipping sauce (hot sauce, tandoori BBQ or honey) or rub (sumac oregano or garam masala). The fried chicken is the main show, but Paulette’s offers a few delicious sides to round out the meal, including Asian slaw, mac & cheese and cornbread. 

Chicken, hot sauce and mac & cheese, oh my!


We can’t speak for everyone, but doughnuts and fried chicken might be our new favourite combination. Grab a few friends (preferably with bikes), some Paulette’s and head over to the nearest park for a casual brunch al fresco. Diets be damned! 

Follow them on Twitter: @Paulettesorig


*Donuts vs. doughnuts. The eternal debate. “Doughnut” is the dictionary-approved spelling, so we’re sticking to that version, but respect Paulette’s right to the “donut”.