Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/4/2007 (3604 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
But there's a snag. Although many high-end restaurants are considerably cheaper at noon, most don't serve lunch on Saturday. And many of the reasonably priced ones that do don't always offer a suitable ambiance.
No, what's wanted is a pleasant atmosphere where lingering isn't discouraged, where the food is moderately priced and, of course, good. Asian restaurants are often good bets, especially dim sum and Vietnamese restaurants. Like the following two.
If the words leisurely and dim sum seem contradictory, it's only because you haven't been to Kam Ho. This is a one-man kitchen where the dim sum are made to order and, therefore, take more time to arrive than in some of those big dim sum houses where they are wheeled around on carts, and lingering is possible only as long as the sometimes noisy and hectic atmosphere doesn't get to you.
No, this is a tranquil and pretty little place, with some lovely Chinese prints and wee porcelains on the walls, a charming staff and a decidedly leisurely pace. The selection may be smaller than in those large establishments, but the dim sum that are available are wonderful and, with most priced from $2.40 to $3.80, it's hard to rack up much of a tab. Especially since some of the fillings seem particularly generous.
Shrimp are one of the strong points and turn up often -- firm, plump and wonderfully flavourful, whether in the classic har gow dumpling, or dipped into rice flour batter and deep fried, or in the extraordinary wontons. Pork siu mai and pan-fried pork dumplings are also delicious, as are the oddly soothing turnip cake, and the intriguing Hong Kong rice roll -- a crunchy, deep-fried Chinese doughnut wrapped in a seductively soft rice flour crepe.
For dessert, don't miss the mango pudding.
Kim Sang's interior is a cheerful mish-mash of knotty pine walls, faux Tiffany lamps and occasional bamboo accents, but it is, nevertheless, a relaxing place, with a small parking lot in the rear. Best of all, the food is delicious, interesting and a bargain.
The menu lists some items that don't turn up everywhere -- No. 12, for instance, wonderful little rice flour cupcakes filled with chopped pork and shrimp and moistened with coconut milk ($8). Other dishes are less rare but equally good -- meaty spring rolls ($5.50); a turmuric-coloured rice flour crepe filled with lots of bean sprouts as well as sparing portions of shrimp and pork ($6.50); a sizable serving of thin-sliced charbroiled beef ($6.50); and a lovely light cole slaw fleshed out with either shrimp or chicken ($7.50).
Some of the above can be combined for a lovely lunch, but if you'd like a more conventional entree, opt for No. 84, the fabulous deep-fried shrimp on a spiced-up bed of diced peppers and onions ($9.50).
For European food, Bistro Dansk is unbeatable. The Danish-style interior looks as fresh and attractive as the day it opened over 30 years ago, the food is consistently delicious, the portions beyond generous, and the prices a steal for the quality. And if they served nothing else, I'd go there for the glorious house-made baguette and dense, dark Danish rye breads.
I'd also go there for my favourite comfort food, the Danish frikadeller veal and pork patties -- two enormous balls paired with a mountain of potato salad and a heap of pickled beets. Also, the diced chicken breast in white wine sauce tucked into tender, eggy palachinka crepes and garnished with fresh fruit ($8.95 each). If sandwiches seem more appealing for lunch, the open-face liver pâté topping is great -- two thick, moist slices, topped with sautéed mushrooms and slices of back bacon ($7.95).
Chicken soup turns up often among the du jours, with plenty of chicken and little flour dumplings ($3.50 small, $4.75 large, with bread). And although there's always a dessert du jour as well, the one that is always available is the one I can never resist-- the heavenly short-crusted hazelnut tart, served with lashings of freshly whipped cream.
If a casual café-cum-coffee house is more to your mood, Finales has multi-windowed walls that flood the interior with sunlight, and a nice corner room with a view of the city's skyline. It offers pre-prepared sandwiches that come packed as doubles only -- you may want to, even have to, share. They change daily -- the salmon filling is good, and so is the smoked meat, although purists may object to the inclusion in the latter of cheese, lettuce and salad dressing ($4.99 each).
Some of the many house-made pastries are very rich, but my favourites are the simple oatmeal-cherry muffin, and the maple walnut tart. Coffee beans are freshly roasted, and oh yes, there's a small parking lot.
Kam Ho, 757 St. Mary's Rd., 896-8177
Kim Sang, 1127 St. Mary's Rd., 256-2156
Bistro Dansk, 63 Sherbrook St., 775-5662
Finales, 3 St. Mary's Rd., 237-6211