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Get Melted; Playa Cabana Hacienda; Monk Kitchen

Photo: Playa Cabana Hacienda/Website

Neev Tapiero, owner of Get Melted on Church St., gets genius points for opening a "no-frills café specializing in gourmet grilled cheese with a separate vaporizer lounge upstairs" for registered medicinal marijuana users. Steven Davey finds the cheese-centric munchies, created by Chippy's John S.J. Lee, reasonably priced and, at times, "innovative." Grab the Classic Melt for $4.20, yo.

Joanne Kates "hates to be so negative" but her love affair with Playa Cabana has reached an impasse. Playa Cabana Hacienda, the fourth iteration of the Mexican dynasty, is "wildly cramped" and the fish tacos, according to Kates, taste too much alike, with the al pastor "woefully under-powered in the taste department." And her efforts to grab dessert are dashed by servers too busy to take an order. Sounds like Kates and Playa Cabana need a time out.

Amy Pataki has a "satisfying experience" at Monk Kitchen, "a quirky little restaurant" that has no set menus or prices. Set inside The Templar Hotel, civil engineer-turned-chef Roberto Fracchioni makes whatever his heart desires – claiming never to make the same dish twice – and adventurous eaters are invited to eat in the kitchen while watching him cook and cuss. Featuring "a nightly tasting menu of seven to 10 courses that varies between $75 and $90 a person," the meals sound like a rollercoaster ride that is as thrilling as it is bumpy. Pataki finds the "ho-hum arancini and stiff walnut-and-brown butter ravioli make an unpromising start to one meal," while "the highlight is a well-timed flank steak splashed with porcini-infused cream, big enough to make an impression after six courses." The only problem: "you can't request a kitchen seat through Open Table and the front desk says they are first-come, first-served. Only a call to Fracchioni will guarantee it."
· Cheese dreams [NOW]
· Table Talk: Joanne Kates reviews Playa Cabana Hacienda [Post City]
· Watch your eight-course meal being made inside Monk Kitchen's kitchen [Toronto Star]