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Restaurants & Bars 7

Four Capsule Reviews: Batting .500

evansl | Oct 14, 2016 02:46 PM

Having given up on Scarberia, it's back to the usual terrain. We batted .500, which is good for Toronto.

First the bad news

Pukka. Below average. The chicken in the butter chicken was horribly over cooked, dry and tasteless. The sauce was average. Another curry, whose name I can't recall, was thin and not especially good. The naan was little shriveled up pieces of bread that was obscenely overpriced.

Byblos. Average to below average. My business dinner companion and I both found the place a major disappointment. The place is so dark you need a coal miner helmet with light to find your way around. The bright colors of the website are completely misleading as the décor was blah, what little you could see in the dim light. On a Toronto restaurant noise scale it probably doesn't register near the top, but it was pretty loud. As for food, it didn't start well when we asked the waiter for recommendations. He gave us this long explanation of how much we should order from the various categories that left us both thoroughly confused. We ordered anyway. The crispy baby artichoke was the one really good dish. Basturma pide was very poor and didn't eat more than a bite. Octopus was OK, but a tiny portion while the crispy quid was average. We left the sabzi rice mostly uneaten. I did like the brussels sprouts, though. The wine markup was nothing short of breath taking. Of course, why anyone would waste money on a decent wine with such highly spiced food is a mystery to me. It's almost as big a mystery as how this place gets such rave reviews. There are plenty of better, and cheaper, Med places for food in Toronto.

Now the good news

Pai: Very good. Leaving Byblos in high dudgeon, we noticed Pai across the street. Owing myself, a decent meal, we gave it a try for lunch the next day. We had beef penang and Pad Gra Prow. Tastety, very tastey. Good spice with a nice, clean edge. I was there with someone who had spent time in Thailand. He said that although it didn't have the freshness of the real thing in situ, it was among the best he's had in North America. Definitely a return visit for a more elaborate meal.

Los Colibrís. Excellent. Refined Mexican food. It's really a different class of food from the typical taco/enchildada places. We had ceviche tradicional and other appetizers, which I can't specifically remember. But each dish had a full, rich and satisfying flavor. By far the best Mexican in Toronto and possibly the second best I've ever had. (The best, believe it or not, was in Boston.) You can have your Alo's, Buca's and the like. This is the kind of food that I want to eat.

Pukka,
Byblos,
PAI,
Los Colibris
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