The Sweet Taste of Strawberries & Lemonade – Summer Sipping at Butler’s Pantry in Roncesvalles

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Cheers to summer!

With the temperatures as high as they are during these hot summer days, everyone is guzzling down bucketfuls of their favourite drinks: iced coffee, ice cold beer, fruity bubble tea, and plenty of water.  One of my preferred summer beverages?  Lemonade!  Aside from yummy iced loose leaf tea in a plethora of flavours, lemonade is my go-to summer drink treat and a number of spots in the city are serving up flavoured lemonades to slurp and cool down with: a brand spankin’ new frozen lemonade slushie from our beloved Tim Hortons, a lemonade and an iced lemon mint from Aroma Espresso Bar, a raspberry lemongrass iced tea from Le Gourmand Cafe,  and a maple lemonade soda seltzer from The Depanneur!

Much like my Winter Wonderland – Hot Chocolate series, this spotlight on lemonade will serve as one of the summer drink counterparts on the blog and I am so excited about finally starting it!  I’ve been looking forward to this for months and trust that one way or another, I am going to get to every single last one of these drinks and report back to you all!  I’ll be waddling around with a water balloon for a tummy because of it, but everything sounds too refreshing and tasty to pass up so water balloon I will be.  Lucky for me, I found myself another fantastic lemonade option to enjoy in the city and to add to that list: the strawberry lemonade from Butler’s Pantry!

I have wanted to visit Butler’s Pantry for ages.  With 2 locations in Toronto (one in Mirvish Village and the other on Roncesvalles in the west end), it is a great cafe for both carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Their menu, especially their main entree portion ($10-$14), is to die-for.  Butler’s Pantry takes its cue from a variety of different countries and cuisines to recreate those authentic cultural flavours and meals in dishes such as their Korean bulgogi, Indian biryani, Southern jambalaya, Greek moussaka, Moroccan vegetable tagine, and SO much more.  Even though this post is devoted to their strawberry lemonade, you can definitely expect many future food posts from Butler’s Pantry!  In addition to their main course items, Butler’s Pantry also has a selection of sandwiches and appetizers (say hello to crab cakes!) as well as a brunch menu with French toast, omelettes, and eggs benny among other favourites.

Their strawberry lemonade ($3.50) comes in a nice tall glass (around 16 oz., I believe) with a wedge of lemon slice and is one of the most refreshing fruit drinks ever.  First off, it’s gorgeous.  It’s a beautiful ruby red grapefruit shade and when you look at it from top to bottom, you’ll notice a lovely eye-catching colour gradient which just makes it all the more fun to drink and look it.  And of course, it tastes cold, refreshing, and delicious.  I love lemonade, but even I can acknowledge the fact that when it isn’t made well, it can either taste too mouth-pucker sour, too cavity-inducing sweet, or just plain artificial, powdery, or rubbery.

A fruity kind of day! Strawberries and cantaloupe with yogurt, along with a strawberry lemonade.

Not this one.  The strawberry lemonade actually tastes like fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries with the citrus tang of lemons and the flavours are so bright, crisp, and clean.  It is a beautiful marriage of the two flavours and fruits and it isn’t too sweet or sour at all.  Unless I’m actually out at a coffee shop or teahouse, I don’t normally get special drinks when I’m out for a meal, just because I’m of the mindset that I would rather spend the money on the food.  However, there are always exceptions and if there are drinks on the menu that catch my eye and that are unique enough to warrant the extra few bucks, I go for it.  This strawberry lemonade is truly a great drink for spring and summer, so if you happen to nosh at Butler’s Pantry sometime in the near future (or anytime for that matter), give it a whirl!

*****

Butler’s Pantry serves 2 locations in Toronto: 1) 591 Markham St. in Mirvish Village, just off of Bloor Street West and Bathurst St. and 2) 371 Roncesvalles Ave. in Roncesvalles Village, south of Dundas Street West in the west end.  They are open for brunch, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week from 11am-10pm Monday-Thursday, 10am-11:30pm Friday-Saturday, and 10am-10pm on Sundays.  Visit their official website for more info and menus HERE.

Bagels, Baked Goods, Pastries, and Russian Matryoshka Dolls! Seventh Sister Bakery on Roncesvalles

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Welcome to Seventh Sister and Roncesvalles!  It took me awhile to get here, I know.  I’ve wanted to explore Roncesvalles and the surrounding neighbourhood for so long and last month I finally did!  Whenever I would go downtown, I would see the King streetcar and see the name “Roncesvalles” at the top and it drove me crazy knowing I had never been in the area.  These past few years have been amazing in terms of city exploration.  Anyone who thinks TO is boring is out of their mind; with all the running around I’ve done, I still haven’t seen all of the city and I know I won’t for quite some time.  Anyway, I made it a mission to visit Roncesvalles and since I had a Teambuy voucher for Cardinal Rule (blog post forthcoming), it was the perfect fit.  Luck was not on my side that day though as Cardinal Rule was closed just for that day because of city sidewalk and curb construction right outside their diner. 

Believe me, I was not thrilled.  I stuffed the voucher in my bag, pouted, and mumbled and grumbled about how much I had looked forward to eating veggie diner food.  I sighed, looked at my boyfriend, and decided that we would walk up and down Roncesvalles to find ourselves some yummy food.  I promise to dedicate an entire Foodie District post (or two) to all the amazing food on and around Roncesvalles, but for now, I’m just going to say that there is no way anyone could ever starve while being here.  Oh my goodness.  You know how we have Chinatown, Little India, and Little Italy?  Roncesvalles is Little Poland.  We’re talking Polish bookstores, Polish cheese and deli shops, Polish bakeries, and Polish and Hungarian restaurants among coffee shops, diners, and other amazing eateries.

As we walked north on Roncesvalles, I saw Seventh Sister and fell in love with it from the get go.  There are SO many things I love about Seventh Sister Bakery.  I’m not going to lie though, I wish Seventh Sister was 100 times bigger.  The bakery is TINY.  There are two tables that seat 4 people each inside and a small 2-seater outside the bakery and that’s it.  I know, the teenyness makes me cringe a bit too.  My boyfriend, Richard, and I had to come back 3 times to nab ourselves a table inside (yes, I refused to give up because I’m just that damn stubborn) and while many people were coming and going and grabbing bags of bagels, bread, and pastries, you know how I feel about having a place to sit to eat my yummies. 

But I’m telling you, the bakery has so much character and so many wonderful sweet treats, the tight corners make it all worth it.  I adore Seventh Sister.  First, who wouldn’t fall in love with the storefront?  Russian matryoshka dolls!!  I adore these dolls.  This scrapbook layout was so much fun to make and I’ve been waiting to make it for over a month now.  The handmade paper doll was inspired by my matryoshka tote bag, makeup bag, and matching compact mirror 😀  If you’re wondering, yes, every single piece of cardstock and part of the doll was drawn and cut out by me!  I also love the bakery’s yellow and orange and chocolate brown storefront with the stripey awning!  And the walls and shop are adorned with adorable toys and matryoshka doll accessories like drinking glasses and ornaments.

I love that I can come here and have a simple but delicious lunch or afternoon snack.  If you enjoy bagels, sandwiches, baked goods, pastries, and cute decor, this is your kind of bakery.  The set up of the bakery is kind of like this: when you enter the shop, the two tables are in the center.  To your right is a shelf where you’d get your coffee creamer, milk, sugar, honey, and cups.  In front of you past the tables and closer to the back is the cash, the menu board up on the wall, and the sweet lady owners who make your food.  Last, to your left are the shelves with all the delicious baked goods and pastries!  Snatch up a paper bag and go to town!  There are huuuge baskets of freshly baked sesame, poppy seed, and plain bagels for you to grab from, bread and buns, and dishes and cake stands of sweet treats and savoury snacks.

The sweet treats and baked goods alone would compel me to go all the way to Roncesvalles, and not just to Seventh Sister!  The bakery had a fabulous assortment of goodies with prices around $0.50-$3.  There were fruit danishes and pinwheels with sweet icing, chocolate chip shortbread cookies, oat cake squares with cinnamon, chocolate croissants dusted with powdered sugar, dried fruit squares with oats, coconut, almonds, and nuts, lemon poppy seed muffins, soft pretzels, triple chocolate pecan brownies, and – get this – savoury bacon and gruyère muffins!!

That day for lunch, I got myself a bacon and gruyère muffin ($2.75), and a sesame seed bagel from the big basket on the shelf, which I gave it to the nice ladies to toast for me for my veggie and cheese sandwich.  Their menu is full of deli meat and veggie sandwich options that you can have on bread or bagels and prices range from $2-$6.  Oh, and they have Nutella and fluffernutter sandwiches on the menu too!  My veggie sandwich on a bagel was stuffed silly with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, green olives, guacamole, swiss cheese, mayo, and dijon mustard.  I loooved my veggie and swiss cheese bagel (yes, even with the olives!) and even though it sounds simple, sometimes that’s the best.  Simple food done well that tastes delicious that isn’t expensive.

And the bacon and gruyère cheese muffin?  Talk about deliciously delicious!  This muffin is amazing and I could eat these day in and day out.  They’re the perfect brunch or afternoon tea muffin and they are so incredibly moist, soft, and flavourful.  There are strips of chopped bacon in the muffin with ooey gooey melted cheese inside and my muffin was still super warm when I got it.  Forget bacon and eggs, this is where it’s at.  If I didn’t care so much about sharing the wealth of goodness with others, I would have taken the entire plate.  

And speaking of plates, Seventh Sister is even more awesome in my book because of the mismatched china they use for their food.  The plates are beautiful and so full of history and artistry.  There are china plates with gold filigree, plates with painted scenes of American states and Canadian provinces (possibly from the 70s or 80s), and plates with pretty, colourful, and dainty floral prints.  The kitchen decor lover in me was in conniptions and the next time I plan on coming here, I’m coming prepared.  I’m bringing tupperware.

*****

Seventh Sister Bakery is located at 53 Roncesvalles Ave., north of Queen St. on the east side of Roncesvalles.  The bakery is sandwiched between Marion St. to the north and Harvard Ave. to the south.  If you are curious about the name, the name is true to life – the owner is in fact the 7th sister in her large family!

Scrapbooking materials used: grape purple, bubblegum pink, grass green, mint green, powder blue, red, and black cardstock (Recollections); bakery dessert stickers (Sticko); gold foiled flower and forest stickers (atd by momenta); adhesive foam squares; paper corner rounder (ek success), black fine point Sharpie.