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Euro Fare in Leslieville; Saudi Arabian in Yorkville; Fish on The Danforth & More

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Photo: Bistro 896

Staff over at Toronto Life check out Leslieville's Bistro 896. Not sure why they call kung pao calamari salad "European comfort food," but the butter-poached escargots with crusty baguette sound about right. Overall verdict: "the service is gracious, and the short menu [...] is affordable and thoughtfully prepared, if not terribly original." [Toronto Life]

David Sax goes to Yorkville to eat like he's in the Arabic Gulf at Gulf House. Not the kind of places where people indulge in "world-class Italian, Thai, or sushi" like they do in Dubai, but actual authentic Saudi Arabian dishes cooked by an actual authentic Saudi mom. Om-Mathab (her name means Mathab's mother) heads up the kitchen and "brags that they go through a lamb and a half each day." Diners can sit cross-legged on the floor and "men and women are welcome to mix freely." Sax samples cardamom-scented coffee, jereesh ("a bowl of cracked wheat cooked in yogurt and topped with soft, golden sautéed onions, cumin, and coriander") and motabaq ("a whole-wheat crepe that's folded over a filling of sautéed ground beef, chili peppers, fresh parsley, and green onions, given a squeeze of lemon juice, then eaten with your hands"). [Grid]

Amy Pataki goes Greek at a Danforth fish restaurant. At Kritamos Greek Fish House & Rotisserie, dinner for two with ouzo, tax and tip costs about $70. "Kritamos is a real psarotaverna, the kind of Greek restaurant where the day's catch is laid on ice. Customers point to a fish, the kitchen cooks it." Pataki warns, however, that "this concept only works if the chef knows which seafood to buy and how to cook it." Luckily Kritamos succeeds and the pompano, king cuttlefish, sea bass and whiting are cooked to perfection. Plus, "for those who don't want to wrestle with their proteins, lobster comes released from its shell atop linguine rich in cream, tomato and lobster roe." Yum. [Star]

Steven Davey does brunch at Chantecler. Chef Jonathan Poon has just introduced a dim sum menu to the Parkdale favourite. Some patrons foolishly disregard this swap but Davey calls them out: "Instead of the inevitable French toast and eggs Benny, they could have been tucking into Poon's signature iceberg lettuce cups stuffed with ground pork, shredded oysters, roasted seaweed and what appears to be deep-fried larvae but turns out to be puffed 'n' grilled wild rice." The west end resto also "pays tribute to the Egg McMuffin" with their Fancy Muffin, "a meaty sage-scented pork patty on a white-bread English muffin dressed with cheddar cheese, a fried egg, house-cured pork belly bacon and a splash of HP-like tonkatsu sauce, all sided with a heap of cheesy ripple chips." Davey also notes that all of Chantecler's cooking is done on "an antique four-burner electric stove." [NOW]

Corey Mintz proves himself yet again to be the city's most creative food writer by hosting a dinner party for a bunch of squirrels in a local park. "I spend as much time in the company of squirrels as any human, so why not have a meal with them?" Mintz ponders, adding, "I've never fed a squirrel until today. And today is the day they decide they're not interested." As with most of his dinner guests, he assembles the squirrels a three-course meal: "First I have raw fruits and vegetables: purple grapes, sliced Cortland apples, broccoli, yellow zucchini, carrots. To follow that are cooked vegetables: broccoli, sweet potato, zucchini, collard greens. To finish, treats: hazelnut brittle, walnuts in the shell and large chunks of roasted butternut squash filled with hazelnut butter." He didn't even get a thank you. [Star]