Plantains, Mango Salad, and Rooftop Gardens – Tasty Thursdays at Nathan Phillips Square, 2nd Edition

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Yesterday was wonderfully warm, sunny, and finally, it was a day that wasn’t unbearably hot and humid.  In other words, a PERFECT day for a summer lunch out at Tasty Thursdays!  After a great lunch opener during the summer foodie festival’s first week in July with my chickpeas, rice, and salad, it was high time I made my way back for another meal.  It’s not every day you get to eat out in an open air setting and it’s not every day you get to buy lunch without paying tax on it!  I know, how sad, right?  The sun is shining, I have some great food at my fingertips, and what I am most jubilant about is not having to pay tax on my food.  It really is a selling point!  Anyway, I strolled into Nathan Phillips Square at lunchtime with two goals in mind: 1) grab a vegetarian lunch like the first time, and 2) eat on the Nathan Phillips Square/City Hall rooftop garden.  Lucky for me, I accomplished both!

There are several things I really enjoy at Nathan Phillips Square.  I love the fountains with the arches overtop and I love how the pond with the fountains is converted into an outdoor ice rink in the winter.  What I love most about this iconic space in Toronto though is not on ground level, but rather, somewhat up in the air!  It’s the rooftop garden surrounding City Hall (accessible from the ramp leading up to City Hall in Nathan Phillps Square on the east side of the grounds), a wonderful green space with flowers, grasses, and benches in the shade and in the sun for people to either sit out and soak up some rays, or to seek some refuge from the blazing hot weather in the breezy areas with plenty of peaceful shade. 

It’s not the only one in the city, but it’s in such a bustling part of town that it really serves its purpose: to provide green space in an otherwise urban area.  For those who are interested in other rooftop gardens close by, there’s a beautiful one at 401 Richmond St. West with flowers, herbs, planters, hanging baskets, and tables and wooden benches.  I went to the one on Richmond St. for the first time during Doors Open at the end of May and I fell in love with it.  It’s the juxtaposition between industrial and urban landscapes with peaceful, green spaces that make these areas so special and so interesting.  If you’re looking for a little respite from the everyday grind, these are great spaces.  Grab some lunch (at Tasty Thursdays, for instance) and enjoy the scenery!     

Aside from the photo of myself with part of the rooftop garden in the background, I don’t have photos for you all right now (I really didn’t want to capture people eating in the background!), but I promise to have some next time.  Trust me when I say though that this is an urban oasis, a gathering place for those who want a comfortable place to eat lunch, and for those who want some solitude to read a book.  I love it.

On the menu for Tasty Thursday: fried plantains with ricotta cheese ($3) from Mis Amigos Fiesta Catering and juicy mango salad ($3) from Na Siam Thai Restaurant!  I was mega excited to try a real plantain for the first time.  I’ve had plantain chips and all that jazz, but an honest to goodness plantain?  Not till yesterday.  And even though I had eaten an orange for breakfast, I was dying for some juicy fruit so mango salad it was!  Mis Amigos offers the option of having the plantain with or without ricotta cheese (for those who are vegan, lactose intolerant, or who just plain don’t like cheese!), but y’all know me, I like my cheese.  The plantain was sweet like honey with lots of flavour and yummy crispy parts (and surprisingly filling!), and the mango salad with julienned mango, onions, and red pepper didn’t disappoint either.  It was refreshing, juicy, and just what I wanted.  Mission Tasty Thursday, part II accomplished 😀


Nathan Phillips Square is located at 100 Queen St. West at the intersection of Queen and Bay St.  Tasty Thursdays takes place every Thursday from 11am-2pm from July 14th-September 1st, 2011.  All food items are $7 or less.  For more information on which restaurants and vendors are participating this summer, click here.

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