Crepelicious! Juicy Strawberries and Golden Yellow Crepes at Futures Bakery

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In honour of the ridiculously early morning outing I had yesterday, here’s some breakfast for anyone and everyone who needs a delicious energy boost!  Yesterday morning reminded me just how much I adore breakfast and breakfast foods (especially in a state of ravenous hunger), and also how much I’ve missed being in the water.  I used to be a hardcore swimmer when I was little, taking my fins all the way to Whalers life-saving class (Level 8 in my swim program and the first of three life-saving levels) when I was 11 years old.  I stopped swimming on a regular basis shortly after and only took it up again, briefly, when I started high school.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I last went swimming and I went to the pool with my dad yesterday morning at the crack of dawn for the first time since I was 15.  Needless to say, I had one hell of a workout!  It’s going to take some time for me to get my groove back (most of the time I was just flutter kicking, doggy paddling, and treading water), but it felt so good to swim again and I’m really glad I stuck it out and ran out of the house in a sleepy stumble at 6:15am! 😀

That morning swim worked up quite the appetite, so to celebrate all yummy breakfast things, I have fresh and fruity strawberry crepes from Futures Bakery for you!  Futures Bakery has a mouth-watering breakfast menu (along with a hunger-inducing lunch and dinner menu), that boasts thick slabs of French toast and several different kinds of eggs benedict, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and of course, crepes!  Their spinach and feta omelette was the first breakfast dish I blogged about and I absolutely raved about their portions, their home fries, and everything in between.  I made a solemn foodie promise to myself that I would eat my way through their menu, so this is my second breakfast post with much more to come in the future (no pun intended).

Futures serves 3 different kinds of crepes on their all-day breakfast menu ($6.95): strawberry, blueberry, and maple.  And if you can believe, between myself, my mum, and my brother, we’ve eaten through all 3 kinds!  And we love all of them.  I love crepes, but I’m always a little wary about them.  And what I mean by that is their potential to fill you and satisfy you as a full-fledged meal, without falling into the dessert category.  I’ve had non-dessert crepes that tasted good, but that have sadly left me hungry and a little empty in the end.  Off the top of my head, I know Demetres has GIANT dessert crepes (which prompted an old friend of mine to look at our non-crepe dessert plates and say, “why does mine look the most gluttonous?!”), and there are plenty of other places in the city I would love to go to that specialize in crepes, both savoury and sweet.  I am to say though that Futures breakfast crepes are AH-MAZING.

It was the combination of crepe and filling that makes the dish so good to eat.  One doesn’t trump the other because both are equally as delicious and of stellar quality.  The filling is so fruity and sweet and fresh.  You are not eating some lame filling that resembles jam out of a jar.  You’re literally cutting into a thick, yummy crepe and watching the juicy strawberry puree ooze out and let me tell you, there’s a lot of it. 

As well, they’re not the paper thin kind that we’re accustomed to seeing.  They’re thicker, like a pancake, but chewy instead of cakey.  If I could make an accurate comparison of their appearance and texture to any other kind of food, I would say that they resemble blintzes.  I say this time and time again, but Futures does not skimp and it’s great quality food at bang-for-your-buck prices and portions.  The crepes are plump, wonderfully crispy on the edges, golden in colour, and folded into cute little “envelopes” of strawberry fruit filling.   This meal reminds me so much of summer mornings with baskets of fresh fruit, and why breakfast is so much fun to eat.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.

The Vegetarian Sandwich Series – First Up: Futures Bakery and the Monsterous Grilled Vegetable Sandwich!

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I’m so excited to finally unveil this new series I’ve been working on – the vegetarian sandwich series!  Entirely inspired by my friend Wini who is my vegetarian foodie partner in crime, I wanted to showcase some of the fantastic veggie eats around the city and places that are vegetarian, vegan, or just plain veggie-friendly with lots of healthy and delicious options.  My vegetarian and vegan friends inspire me both in and outside the home kitchen.  Between comfort food at home and eating out at fine dining establishments, diners, mom-and-pop shops, and greasy spoons, there’s a kind of reciprocity that occurs.  The cooking and eating you do at home affects the choices you make when you’re out and about and conversely, what you eat when you’re out inspires you to take something away for future use at home. 

I find this to be especially true for me when it comes to vegetarian eating.  I’m inspired by combinations, colours, and flavours both in and out of my home and I’m always eager to discuss new recipes I’ve tried out as well as excitedly bringing back home stories of tasty dishes.  There have been times where I’ll see something on a menu and think, “huh, I didn’t think to put x, y, and z together in sandwich!” and I’ll end up being pleasantly surprised.  It’s all about learning and experimenting and expanding our foodie horizons.

So, first up for this vegetarian sandwich series is the amazing grilled vegetable sandwich at Future’s Bakery!  Not only does Future’s Bakery serve out-of-this-world all-day breakfasts, they also serve fantastic mountain-high sandwiches worthy enough to fill you (and stuff you silly) for dinner!  Futures seriously blows me away with their generous portions and wholesome delicious food. 

Their sandwiches are served on thick wedges of sundried tomato foccacia bread and are served with your choice of either two kinds of salad, or your choice of salad with a huge mound of yummy mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy.  They normally have around five different kinds of salad to choose from including spring mix greens, potato salad, beets, mixed vegetables, and fruit salad.  All their sandwich mains are priced between $6.49-$10.95 and yes, that’s including the salads and/or mashed potatoes!  Lunch at Futures starts at 11am and all mains are available to order until closing. 

Their grilled vegetable sandwich is piled high with leafy lettuce, tomato, cucumber, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, and grilled bell peppers.  This sandwich seriously lasted me through two meals and I really enjoyed it.  The vegetables were juicy (and by that I just mean juicy in flavour, not juicy as in leaky!) and the bread was soft, flavourful, and so full of herbs.  I’m a huuuge fan of places that utilize different types of bread outside the plain loaf of boring sliced white bread, so I definitely made a mental sticky note of their sundried tomato foccacia!  Oh, and the mashed potatoes and gravy!  Oh how I love how smart Futures is when it comes to their mashed potatoes.  They make a well in the mashed potatoes on your plate for the mushroom gravy to sit in so the gravy doesn’t get all over your sandwich and messy.  Genius!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea and think that this grilled vegetable sandwich is just lip service on their menu for vegetarians; they have a number of vegetarian sandwiches on their menu which makes for plenty of options!  They have eggplant sandwiches (breaded eggplant and eggplant parmesan), a simple cheese and veggie, and -get this- a PESTO, mozza, tomato sandwich! 😀  We all know how amazing pesto is.  Sigh.  I hope you guys have enjoyed this first installment of the veggie sandwich series, there’s plenty more where this came from and if any of you have suggestions, requests, or just discussion points pertaining to this, feel free to comment!  This is going to be a really fun series to write about.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.

Food Discoveries on Harbord Street: Sweets at The Harbord Bakery!

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Living in the suburbs doesn’t exactly allow me to be spontaneous with my plans and my timing.  I’m constantly checking bus schedules, train schedules, connecting transit routes to maximize the value of my bus tokens and tickets, and mentally making “Plan Bs” in case things don’t go my way on any given day.  In many ways then, my life is very structured in this sense.  The one way I inject spontaneity into my every day (or weekly) adventures around the city is to go places I’ve never been.  I let my mind and feet (and sometimes my tummy) lead the way and there are times when I will arbitrarily choose a neighbourhood in Toronto to explore and there are other times when I’ll choose a street I’ve never walked along and plan a morning, afternoon, or entire day around this one exploration point.  Sometimes it’s me just thinking, “hmm, I’ve never been down this road, I wonder what’s around here?” and other times my plans are dictated by things I’ve read in magazines, newspapers, and other blogs online.

I read great things about the food scene on Harbord Street (in the Annex neighbourhood, south of Bloor St. West) from Where Toronto magazine and decided that a foodie like myself definitely needed a look-see.  And to my jubilance, I was rewarded with some new food discoveries during my trek along Harbord between Spadina and Ossington Ave. including upscale haunts Loire and Splendido, Dessert Trends Bistro-Patisserie, Harbord Fish & Chips, Peruvian and Latin eats at The Boulevard Cafe, and gourmet cheese shop Chabichoi. 

My favourite find of the afternoon?  Harbord Bakery!  Another bakery for me to get yummy baked goods and sweet treats from!  Even though I didn’t give my tummy a feast (I know, shocking!), my eyes were certainly feasting on all the baked goods and sweets: chocolate cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles, ginormous chocolate cakes frosted with ganache, baskets of crunchy, airy white and pastel coloured meringues (seriously, BASKETS of them!), loaves of bread, cookies, and biscotti among many other yummies.  There’s also an adorable gift shop subsection off to the side of  closer to the entrace that has children’s books and toys along with cute things like napkins and cupcake accessories and toppers.  As well, they have a selection of gourmet foods to take home and a glass case of take away salads and lunch/dinner foods priced by weight.  I’m so looking forward to going back and trying out a few things (like those chocolate cupcakes and biscotti cookies!), but for the time being, enjoy the photos and check out the bakery if you haven’t already!

*****

Harbord Bakery is located at 115 Harbord St., west of Spadina Ave. just before Major St.  For more info on the bakery, check out this article on The Jewels of Food.  According to their article, Harbord Bakery is one of the oldest Jewish bakeries in the city and the biscotti-like cookies pictured up top are actually mandelbrot, Jewish biscotti! 

Line-Ups Out the Door, Lunch or Dinner – Great Sushi and Rolls at Sushi on Bloor!

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It’s been months since I blogged about Sushi on Bloor and even though I really wanted to incorporate a new scrapbook layout into this post, I figured some new photos sans the cardstock and patterned paper wouldn’t hurt!  Sushi on Bloor is just all sorts of awesome and convenience.  As I was discussing with a friend, anything located within The Annex makes for great accessibility.  The neighbourhood itself is always bustling with foot traffic, there’s great stuff to see and eat, and Sushi on Bloor’s location on Bloor St. West between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St. makes it simple to explore other neighbouring areas such as Korea Town to the west, Kensington Market to the southeast, and Yorkville to the northeast.  I’ve explored this neighbourhood a lot over the last year and half and I’ve had so much fun finding and taking my graffiti art photos, getting excited over new additions (hello, there’s a David’s Tea now!), and basically walking up and down and all around a million times.

Although The Sushi Shop will always be my number one for amazing sushi rolls, Sushi on Bloor holds its place as a solid second.  As I mentioned in my very first Sushi on Bloor post, I enjoy their Crunchy Rolls (salmon) and Crunchy Spicy Tuna Rolls SO much.  Since then I’ve tried their smoked salmon rolls, their tuna dragon roll, the Casa Loma (again), and their avocado salad and there are some real winners here.  The smoked salmon rolls consist of salmon, crab meat, tobiko, and bell pepper!  Their smoked salmon rolls are served warm and are different from so many other rolls I’ve had.  For one thing, the outer layer of seaweed is coated in crunchy tempura (I know, start drooling!) and for another, there’s bell pepper inside which you don’t see quite as often as other fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, avocado, sweet potato, and mango, for instance.  The smoked salmon is not the cured, smoky version but the flaky, grilled fish kind and it absorbs the flavour of the little bit of soy sauce they use on the rolls so well.  The texture is fabulous and it packs a punch of flavour with the sauce they use.  If you like crispy and crunchy, it has your name all over it!

From my personal experience, if you love rolls stick to enjoying the large variety they have as opposed to ordering the dragon sets.  They’re yummy, but honestly, I feel you get SO much more bang for your buck when you order the different sushi roll sets and really, this is their strong suit.  They have a wonderful selection of different roll sets (most of them with 8 rolls per set) for $5.00 and great lunch specials that offer 12 rolls (6 each of 2 kinds: salmon and California, or avocado and Dynamite shrimp tempura) for $5.99.  I couldn’t get decent photos of my Casa Loma rolls (both times I had them!  I really need to clamour harder for those window seats) but I will say that I reeeeally wish they would use more cream cheese in them (unagi, cream cheese, and avocado).  They’re yummy, but the beasty cream cream monster in me wants more 😀

The nicest surprise for me in all the times I’ve eaten here was the avocado salad.  I was only expecting maybe a small dish or bowl of salad; a decent size, but nothing big.  I almost jumped out of my seat in excited surprise when I was presented with a HONKING LARGE dinner plate full of spring mix salad greens, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, and big creamy wedges of avocado.  OH.MY.GOD.  I love this salad.  Hands down, one of the most fantastic items on their menu.  It’s $4.50 for crying out loud!  It’s meal-size!  To think that you could have a fresh meal-size salad for under $5 in Toronto at a SUSHI PLACE no less is unheard of!  Freshii salads ring in at around $7-$9.  Fancy pants places charge $5+ for a simple green salad with balsalmic!  And don’t even get me started on the fast food places that attempt to put on a healthier image with their $5-$7 salads.  This blew me away and now I’m tempted to order this every time I’m there now!

I know how popular Sushi on Bloor is in this city but it still wows me every time I see line-ups out the door here.  They recently renovated and added a 2nd floor of seating to the restaurant and the place is STILL packed to the brim!  There are obviously lull periods, but come 12:30pm and after 6pm, you might as well take a number!  They serve great quality food and they deserve all the success and business they’ve been getting.  It excites to me try the different rolls and really, the only thing missing here is a dessert menu.  Fantastic selection with fantastic prices in a hopping neighbourhood.  You really couldn’t ask for more.  Except the dessert menu 😉

*****

Sushi on Bloor is located at 515 Bloor St. West just east of Bathurst St.  They are open for business 7 days a week at 12pm and offer a number of lunch specials and an wide range of rolls, appetizers, bento boxes, and sashimi, sushi, and maki sets.

I See Delicious Breakfast in Your Future! All-Day Breakfast and Good Eats at Futures Bakery & Cafe

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I’m so super excited to finally do a blog post featuring Futures Bakery.  It’s one of my favourite places to eat in the city and it’s situated within a very well-known and well-loved neighbourhood in Toronto, The Annex.  Sandwiched between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St. on Bloor St. West, it’s surrounded by sushi bars, coffee shops, pubs, Thai and Indian restaurants, bookstores, and independent retailers with quirky, offbeat fashions, candy, stationery, and other trinkets.  In other words, it occupies a fabulous location with a heck of a lot of foot traffic during the day!  There’s plenty to explore and I’ve walked up and down this neighbourhood so many times for the past 3 years I’ve lost count.  I’ve been here for breakfast, for lunch, with friends for brainstorming sessions for school, with my boyfriend for a midday meal, and most recently, with my mum and my brother for breakfast, and each time has been fun and has provided me with such a sense of comfort.

Futures Bakery, to me, is a jack of all trades.  The cake selection in the bakery would make anybody’s jaw hit the floor (and then, you know, drool out puddles) with their offerings of key lime cheesecake, Oreo cheesecake, tiramisu cake, black forest cheesecake, and carrot cake cheesecake just to name a bunch.  And their all-day breakfast and lunch/dinner menu offers plenty of delicious eats!  Their breakfast menu includes both sweet and savoury meals such as strawberry, blueberry, and maple crepes, French toast, omelettes, pancakes, eggs benedict, eggs florentine, grilled cheese, and others, served with sides such as toast, fruit salad, and potato wedge home fries. 

Their lunch and dinner entrees are just amazing.  Not only do they offer all-you-cat-eat pierogies night every Wednesday from 5-9pm (the pierogi lover in me squeals like teenybopper at this) but they also have a menu dedicated to ridiculously large sandwiches and comfort food such as cabbage rolls, lasagna, chicken and pork schnitzel, chili, and a selection of soup and salads.  Entrees come with either a choice of 2 salads, or a choice of salad and mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

I’ve eaten here a handful of times, but I’m going to start by showcasing their breakfast for this blog post first.  I brought my mum and brother to Futures Bakery for breakfast last week for the first time and they both LOVED it and that made me so happy.  And not just because everything tasted delicious, but for other reasons which I’ll get to a bit later in the post.  I adore breakfast food.  I am totally amoured by my vision of the perfect meal: great food, great company, and beautiful sunshine and a light breeze streaming through the windows.  Basically, a meal of relaxation, peacefulness, and absolute bliss.  I ordered the spinach and feta cheese omelette and I was so happy with my food.  A large omelette (I’m positive they must have used 3 eggs for this) chock full of fresh spinach leaves and savoury feta, served with a helping of potato wedge home fries and ketchup, and whole wheat toast with jam and butter.

I loved my omelette and home fries for so many reasons.  My omelette let the feta do the talking.  In other words, it wasn’t salty or oily or overcooked.  The feta was allowed to shine with its creamy saltiness without being overwhelmed by the eggs or the spinach and I was able to appreciate all three without having the flavour muddied up together.  And the awesome thing about the spinach was that there were fresh leaves of it in my omelette.  It didn’t taste like it had been sitting in a packet in the freezer the whole time and really, you can tell.  Frozen spinach does not come in leaves!  The potato wedge home fries definitely deserve lots of “yays!” because they’re soft, not too starchy (I hate the potato wedges that come out so starchy they make your mouth feel parched and then make you want to gag), and I LOVE how they’re seasoned!  They taste like all dressed Ruffles chips!

And here’s why I love Futures Bakery so much.  Of course I love it here because I have enjoyed everything I’ve eaten, but it’s more than that.  Their prices are SO freakin’ awesome (breakfast and entrees for under $10) and their portions of food say this: we want you to eat.  That’s not to say they give you a buffet on a plate and want to give you a heart attack (read: super size syndrome), but you can tell from the food on your plate that they take the care, the time, and the love to give you good food.  They give you bang for your buck and they want you to leave feeling full and satisfied.  

People can say that their biggest turn-off with a place is the atmosphere, the service, the menu choices, etc.  My biggest turn-off is when I can SEE, from my plate, that the establishment is nickeling and dime-ing me.  There is no bigger turn-off.  I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart whenever I get a plate of food from here because it embodies the comfort and love of food, and the people who work here have been so nice and welcoming each time.  And it’s because of all these things that I will continue to come back, time and time again.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.

Pick a Flavour, Any Flavour! Chocolates, Sprinkles, Gummy Bears, and Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt Fun at Menchie’s – Part I

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If you love frozen yogurt, creating your own sweet tooth masterpieces, and having oodles of choice when it comes to yummy toppings, you will LOVE today and tomorrow’s posts!  Today is a teaser post with photos from Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, so enjoy! 😀

The Dizzying Array of Choices at Sushi on Bloor! Salmon Crunch & Spicy Tuna Crunch Rolls

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I am not joking with my post title.  Other than Queen Street West, if sushi restaurants and bars were people, Bloor Street West would have to be one of the most densely populated!  Walking westbound from Spadina to Bathurst, you literally pass by a different sushi establishment every four shops.  I kid you not.  And yes, if you are wondering, I have already been to several *whistles innocently*.  Surprise, surprise.  Given how many sushi places are in this area though, it’s going to take me quite some time to make my rounds, especially considering how large many of the menus are these places!  What I have for you today is some food porn from Sushi on Bloor (how appropriately named!), located at 515 Bloor St. W. (west of Spadina, east of Bathurst).

Now, with so many sushi places in the city to nosh at, it can get dizzying and you start wondering what sets each place apart from the rest.  Thus far I’ve posted about Haru Zushi and The Sushi Shop, as well as some thoughts on some decent maki rolls from T&T supermarket, Promenade Mall location.  Besides freshness and great customer service, Haru Zushi sells itself with terrific prices and variety for lunch specials, and The Sushi Shop impresses with their creativity and interpretation of ingredients for their rolls.

Sushi on Bloor is fab for several things in particular.  First, the sheer number of menu items on the menu would send anyone into a tizzy.  There are nearly 150 menu items!  Aside from their daily lunch specials which include maki combinations and bento boxes, their menu is broken down into maki rolls, vegetarian maki, nigiri and handrolls a la carte, sashimi combos, soup and salads, appetizers, teriyaki meat dishes, tempura and rice meals, noodles and udon bowls, and bento boxes among others.  In addition, the prices are very reasonable for a sushi bar and restaurant.  Many items hover around the $5-$8 price range which makes it easy to mix and match and is an ideal place for either lunch or dinner.  Or both!

Just a word of warning though: Sushi on Bloor is open for business 7 days a week at 12 noon, as opposed to Haru Zushi which opens at 11am and The Sushi Shop which opens at 10-11am depending on the location.  On weekdays during the busy lunch rush, you better be there at 12 sharp.  12:15 if you’re pushing it.  This place isn’t very big and it gets PACKED!  There are literally line-ups out the door and hungry sushi lovers even claim their place in line a little before 12 noon to make sure they have a lunch spot.

Everyone has different meal preferences when it comes to sushi restaurants.  My best friend prefers bento boxes whereas I stick to maki rolls, hand rolls, and appetizers.  My brother, my mum, and my boyfriend all enjoy teriyaki while I steer clear and would much rather nosh on a bowl of udon noodles.  My favourite things about Sushi on Bloor have to be their avocado and dynamite roll (rolls with tempura shrimp) lunch special ($5.99 for soup, salad, and 12 giant rolls, 6 of each), their maki roll selection (I could eat my way through their maki menu every single day because they’re just that delicious), and their hand rolls.

 

The rolls are BIG!  The size of rolls at Sushi on Bloor are always consistently on the larger size which, in my opinion, is a great thing.  The last thing you want to feel is disappointed.  The kind of disappointed you feel when you finish your meal and you wonder what the heck you’ve eaten because you can’t feel it in your tummy.  However you may feel about the sushi and the food, everyone can agree that the sizes of the rolls don’t disappoint.

Their hand rolls are also on the larger side and their salmon hand roll is fantastic.  The roll is the size of small burrito (I like to think of hand rolls as sushi tacos) and the salmon sashimi is sliced nice and thick and absolutely scrumptious.  I really enjoy the salmon at Sushi on Bloor because it has this wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture and it’s served at the right temperature.  Some places make the mistake of either serving it lukewarm or freezing cold and neither of these qualities make the salmon taste good.  

Thus far, I have tried these rolls from Sushi on Bloor:

  1. Avocado and tempura shrimp rolls daily lunch combo (12 rolls, 6 of each)
  2. Casa Loma Roll (unagi/eel, avocado, tobiko/fish roe, and cream cheese – 8 rolls)
  3. Spicy Tuna Roll (6 rolls)
  4. Crunchy Roll (pictured; salmon, avocado, tobiko, tempura bits, mayo – 8 rolls)
  5. Spicy Tuna Crunchy Roll (pictured; tuna, avocado, tobiko, tempura bits, mayo – 8 rolls)
  6. Tuna Salad Roll (tuna and ginger wrapped with cucumber with dollops of mayo – 4 rolls)

My favourites?  Both types of Crunchy Roll, salmon and tuna, hands down.  Not only am I in love with the way the salmon and tuna melt in your mouth with the avocado, but the tempura bits make these rolls outstanding!  My next favourite would have to be the Casa Loma roll because the savouriness of the unagi just melts into the creamy, tangy cream cheese and anything and everything with cream cheese floats my boats.  My only misgiving about the Casa Loma roll is just a desire for more cream cheese!  Call it personal preference, call it a cream cheese obsession, I would love to have more of it in the roll!  I thoroughly enjoy it though and I’m really looking forward to trying other rolls!  The selection of rolls and appetizers alone will keep me occupied here for many meals to come. 

*****

Sushi on Bloor is located at 515 Bloor Street West between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst Street on the south side of Bloor.  Sushi on Bloor is closer to Bathurst Street, just west of Howland Ave.  They are open 7 days a week at 12pm and they also offer take-out.