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.

Foodie Districts: Mirvish Village!

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After sharing the goodness of portobellos, avocado, and honey-nut bread from Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches this past week, I thought it would be a great time to do a Foodie Districts post on the quaint, yet flashy, Mirvish Village!  Named after the late business tycoon, theatre connoissuer, and philanthropist, Ed Mirvish, the little district that could is sandwiched between The Annex and Koreatown near Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.  Mirvish Village is a tiny neighbourhood with a loud voice, a little bit of cheese, and a whole lot of retro, vintage, and character. 

Flashing lights from Toronto’s historic flagship discount store, Honest’s Ed, flicker like bedazzled jewels at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, vibrant, colourful murals and graffiti paintings adorn the brick walls of the shops and Victorian house storefronts, and the wining and dining is one big pub and carnival affair.  While the bulk of Mirvish Village is concentrated within one or two blocks on and around Markham Street, its character and quaintness more than make up for its tininess, and the food in the area is fabulous.  You have a terrific pub, a southern cajun and creole powerhouse, vegetarian delights, and a board game cafe to boot!  Here’s a food snapshot of Mirvish Village in all its glory:

Southern Accent, Toronto headquarters for all things cajun, creole, and carnival!  Southern Accent has become one of my absolute favourite places to eat not only because of the food but because of the flamboyant decor and big and brash, party atmosphere.  With its colourful lanterns, psychic readings, boozy purple lighting, and southern fare, every day is Mardi Gras and it is just so much fun having a meal here.  My boyfriend took me here for our very first Valentine’s together because he knew I would go crazy-happy with the atmosphere and decor and because I have a real soft spot for cajun cuisine.  I love learning about the food culture (especially in New Orleans) and because there aren’t too many places in the city that serve this style of food, coming here is always a huge treat.  Hush puppies, collard greens, gumbo, okra, oysters, southern corn bread, jambalaya, catfish – it’s all here.  I am crazy about their creme brulee and my favourite foods thus far have to be the grilled corn on the cob with paprika along with my pork tenderloin and grilled mango skewers and my cod fish dinner. 

I’ve enjoyed a number of delicious dishes over the years and what I love about the menu is that there are always new selections every so often depending on the season.  Aside from their permanent, every day menu, Southern Accent has a running price fixe that changes throughout the year, huge annual Mardi bashes, and consistent appearances at both Winterlicious and Summerlicious.  Located at 595 Markham Street, open at 5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Thanks to my grad school friends and grad school activities, I became very acquainted with the Victory Cafe!  I held conference committee meetings over juice and snacks here during the summer, attended an end-of-the-year sociology bash where I stuffed my face with a chicken club and a rich, decadent, delicious slice of chocolate milk and cookies cake (pictured up top), and an evening or two here and there for some drinks and classic pub food with classmates and professors.  Their menu is a classic pub menu with fabulous variety and portions.  There are curry and rice meals, plenty of vegetarian yummies (chili, spinach and cheese quesadillas, lentil and veggie curry, and veggie chili poutine among others), in addition to pub classics such as fish n’ chips, club sandwiches, calamari, wings, and nachos. 

The Victory Cafe houses some great memories for me because it was one of the first pubs I ever frequented as a grad student and because it gave me one of the best mac n’ cheese meals ever!  One of my fondest memories is my first visit to the Victory.  While walking in the direction of the pub spot, I stopped to ask someone if the Victory was around the corner to make sure I was heading the right way (this was before I knew my neighbourhoods inside out and backwards).  The nice young man told me it was just down the road and then went on to say, “you have to try the mac n’ cheese, it’s the best!”  I took the advice (I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!), ordered the mac n’ cheese and from that moment on, I was forever grateful to that young lad.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back during the summer so I can eat it out on the patio and get a fab photo.  Located at 581 Markham Street.

If you’re in the market for a spot that is both vegetarian-friendly and meaty, Butler’s Pantry is at your service!  Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Butler’s Pantry is perfect for those who want to dine among vegetarians and carnivores alike.  Their menu is chock full of mains that showcase the diversity of different regional and ethnic cuisines and comfort foods while at the same time showing the versatility of vegetarian cuisine as starring mains.  They serve a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch, egg breakfasts and French toasts for brunch, and a host of pasta, rice, meat, and veggie dishes for lunch mains and dinner.  They have two locations in the city (one in Mirvish Village and the other in Roncesvalles) and I’ve been itching to go for the longest time because their menu is just spectacular in terms of variety and very reasonable when it comes to pricing.  Located at 591 Markham Street.  Open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-11:30pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.

 

I’ve been meaning to do a big post on Snakes and Lattes for ages now, but I need more food photos!  Snakes and Lattes is Toronto’s super popular board game cafe.  With a selection of over 200 board games, comfortable couches, and food and drinks, it’s the perfect place to go to when the weather isn’t cooperating and to spend time with a group of friends.  It’s such a fun place to go to and given how crowded and busy it can get during the afternoons and evenings, I’m not the only who who feels this way! 

How the cafe works: $5/person for all day play.  You can stay for as long as you want, order whatever drinks and food you want, and have a blast with your friends.  If you know you’re going to be coming with a group of friends, they also take reservations, just give them a call and they will save or section of the cafe for you.  They have a fabulous menu of drinks (cold and hot) and quite a bit of lunch and snack food including freshly made sandwiches, quiches (meat and vegetarian), mini donuts, and vegan cupcakes!  Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches and Snakes and Lattes sit on the border of Koreatown and Mirvish Village, but I like to include them in the mix.  Located at 600 Bloor Street West just west of Markham Street.  Open at 11am into the wee hours of the morning!

*****

Mirvish Village is located near the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst, between The Annex and Koreatown