Toronto….

Is an eclectic place of people, food, architecture, and shops. I don’t think I can come for a visit and not find something to new to look at, eat, or entertain me.

This recent trip I found a lovely pub The Queen and Beaver. The atmosphere was quite cozy. The den is upstairs where they play the rugby games and have the bar, and the first level is the main dining area. I visited the pub for brunch and was not disappointed. I ordered buttermilk pancakes with brown butter maple syrup. The pancakes are also served with a scoop of house made chunky peanut butter ice cream.

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When I ordered the pancakes I did not know that I was about to change my life. I also did not realize that I had been eating my pancakes wrong my entire life. The pancakes were crisp on the outer edges and fluffy and light in the middle. When their warmth mixed with the nutty chill from the ice cream and the caramel of the maple butter, it was like a symphony hitting the crescendo perfectly all over my tongue. The chef has designed these pancakes so perfectly, as to ruin you, so that you will not want to eat pancakes anywhere else.

I also visited Via Vai for dinner with some of my husband’s colleagues. This experience was not as great as my brunch one was. My husband and I split the heirloom caprese salad. It was lacking seasoning and needed more basil. However, the tomatoes were fresh as was the mozzarella. I ordered the duck pappardelle. The noodles were house made and very well done. The duck ragu that the noodles sat in was very bland, unless you had a piece of duck in that bite. The sweet peas were lost in this dish and had no identity, they seemed to be thrown in more for color than anything else. The duck had a sweet, tangy taste that was something akin to peking duck, but the rest of the ragu was like eating steamed, mashed tomatoes, which I am not really fond of. We ended our meal with tiramisu, which was very pleasing to the eyes. There were two scoops of the Italian desert on the plate along with blueberries, raspberries, and a piece of dark chocolate. With each bite I am reminded why espresso, lady fingers, and marscarpone play so very well together. Adding a fresh berry in a bite helps all the flavors explode on your palate. Our dessert was the highlight of the meal but it took the staff nearly two hours to get us to that point. I also had to ask three times for water which I finally received at the end with the tiramisu.

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The art at Via Vai was bold and colorful. You can feel the movement in each piece. In my opinion the style of their art is dated for an edgy restaurant, but that is all subject to the consumer of the art.

I also had the pleasure of stumbling into Snakes & Lattes.  It is an oasis for geeks (even you closeted ones), who love games and gush over the sight of expansion packs for Munchkin (Pick me, pick me). Or perhaps fifteen different types of trivia games, Dominion variations, forms of Settlers of Cattan, etc. There are walls and walls of games that are made just for the curious, competitive, intellectual fan-person. There is a small cover charge for unlimited game play of 3,000 plus games. What more could you need?…Caffeine! And they have plenty. The cup of joe that you receive is very well brewed and the milk is steamed expertly. The espresso tasted as though is was well roasted with deep peaberry flavors. I am saddened that I did not have more time to spend, to lose myself in the world of competition.

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I really enjoyed my time in Toronto. It was fun trying to figure out if we were going to take an Uber or walk to places. Sometimes the deciding factors were if we could all fit in the car (the guys did get to feel what is was like to be in a clown car) or was the traffic going to make us so late that we were going to miss the event all together. I am sad that my time with this city was so short this time around but I look forward to my next city and what it might bring.

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