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Gone Fishing

Saturday night. Every new restaurant you wanna try is booked. Every old fave is, well, old. So you (I) let down your (my) guard and let the friends take care of the venue. Some place they went to a while back and liked. A place we never heard of, and had no on-line reviews (that counted). A place at the wrong end of the right street. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

WRONG! Tho’ it did start out a bit iffy…

Ferillo. We’d booked a table, but there really was no need. ‘Cuz it was Saturday night and the joint was anything but jumping. In fact, it was Deadsville. I guess no one else had heard of Ferillo either. But what the hell! We’d bring our own atmo. We braved the subtle bleachy/worn mop smell and took our seats in the window.

And were we glad we did!

We started off with champagne. OK, it wasn’t really champagne. It was the Portuguese version. But at $130 for a bottle of Veuve vs. $32 for the cheap swill, do you blame us? Guess what? It was delicious!

Maybe it was the bubbly, but what followed was a feast that met – and surpassed – even the snootiest of gastrosnobs: a massive appetizer platter filled with grilled octopus and squid, fried calamari and shrimp, and their tasty (but somewhat mismatched) salsa. House salad for four was served family style, complete with feta cheese and chickpeas.

And then came the mains: the fish.

This was the kind of place that brought out various fishies and mollusks so we could pick ourselves a winner. We ordered, they told us they’d run out of some things, we thought was strange (considering no one, but no one, was there), and we re-ordered. The fish arrived, heads or tails in tact for those that wanted it; deboned and perfect for those who didn’t. The chef put together a platter of sides too – mushrooms, potatoes and a smattering of veg. But I didn’t pay attention because I was too busy ooh-ing and aah-ing over my porgy and sampling my man’s dorado.

In a word? Deeee-lish.

Homemade sugar crepes and frothy caps finished us off. We marvelled how such a yummy spot could be so, well, not hot. Why why why? They had a massive saltwater fishtank in the entrance, and even that was nearly empty!

You know how desperadoes are extra super nice? And how those who, erm, lack in physical perfection can compensate with sparkling personalities? That’s Ferillo. It’s a Meditteranean fish joint that, while having much in common menu-wise to that swanky hot spot at Ave and Dav, couldn’t be more different.

In other words, Ferillo may be the poor cousin, but so what? It’s tasty, the folks there are lovely, and food is great. All it needs – aside from some (any) customers, is a chance. The menu was nearly identical to That Other Fish ‘n Tits joint – but with lower prices. The food was on par – if not superior.

And the only tits in the place were ours.

Ferillo
924 College W.
Doubt you’ll need to book, but here’s the #: 416 840 1144

1 comments:

Anonymous said…

Could told you all that– it’s in me ‘hood. Thanks for stopping by to say ‘hi’! (ummm… not)

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November 27, 2006   No Comments

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The Happy Hookah

Doing dinner.

Sounds great, right? Except for the dreaded question: where to go. French? I don’t get the fuss – the fussy food or the big deal. Southeast Asian? Done done done. Tapas? Some slabs of piggy and olives? Can be tasty, but naah. Chinois? Soooo not Saturday night fare.

And the list goes on. And on. And on. The hipster spots are too busy. The neighbourhood spots too, well, neighbourhoody. You go through the city, street by street, trying to think of somewhere new and different and then it hits.

Banu.

Ba-who?

There’s a new kid in town. Our town. Sorry foreign readers, you may want to stop now. But locals, keep readng. It’s down on Queen Street. Past the throngs of Queen West, but not too far deep into the newly-minted trendoids of Queen West West West. Look closely and you’ll find it, Banu: an unpretentious, delicious and totally unique vodka-and-kebab experience.

That’s right, experience.

If you find it. Banu has no sign, only Farsi writing overtop a blue-tinged sepia photo on the glass door. Once inside, you may be a bit confused – the place feels more spa than supper. Actually, it feels like a Hammam. I know I’m mixing my cultures here, but it feels like whatever the Iranian equivalent of a Turkish bath is. But go with it.

Pick your vodka – you’ve got about 14 to choose from. Pretend you’re an afficianado and try try try. Or just go for one of their delicious martinis: sour cherry, pomegranate or (yawn) plain. Then open your menu. You’ll find 3 starters, 3 salads, 3 yoghurts. That’s right, yoghurts. And a whole slew of kebabs.

Aaaaah, the humble kebab. It’s not just a late-night drink absorber anymore. Banu takes these humble meat sticks and turns them into an art form. We skipped the lamb balls and heart (I swear!), opting for more traditional fare of ground beef, marinated beef tenderloin, lamb chops and saffron chicken. Yum, yum, and yum. (Note only 3 out of four ‘yums’. Skip the chicken.)

Food arrived family-style, on a plate lined with traditional bread – I haven’t a clue what it’s called. It’s thinner than pita but it could be just that. Also on the platter were green onions, radishes, and a handful of greens. Herbs, that is: mint, basil and tarragon leaves.

And that’s it. A lovely restaurant. Looked pretty. Tasty food. The end.

Or so we thought. Boy we were wrong. ‘Cuz with the dessert menu came something else. A little thing some people like to call a Hookah.

HOOKAH HOOKAH HOOKAH

Water pipe, bong, call it what you want. We had a choice of around 10 flavours and went for the blackberry. And for those of you who are thinking we sat around getting high – maybe we did. But it was on blackberry molasses.

Huh?

I know, I know. I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. I’ma hookah virgin. All’s I know is we sat around the table, inside the restaurant, smoking! Yes, smoking. But nary an evil eye in sight. ‘Cuz with no nicotine, tar, or nasty bi-products, this was a totally natural, delicious way to lounge. And for those of you with an aversion to other people’s, erm, spit, fret not – every one is treated to their own hermetically sealed, totally non-gross plastic pipe.

The hookah went for an hour (insert porny jokes here). We smoked. We watched it bubble and burn. We marvelled. We smoked some more. Look at us! We’re so rad! Check us out! Tourists in our own town!

HOOKAH!

We topped it all off with Iranian desserts and tea and marvelled at how, well, different it was from your average night out for dinner. It was, as they say, an experience.

HOOKAH!

Are you experienced?

4 comments:

jojo said…

Now this I relate to!!!!!! Martini’s, tasty food and hangin’ out smokin’ !
I must admit it reminds me of us 40 years ago! You know who and you know who…… our Sat. nights[with gin martini’s though!]
We must try this place. Thank you for the review!
I wonder what Joann Kates would say? I’ll bet she has been keeping Banu a secret for a while!
Take Nanu to Banu; it will cheer her up!
Silly arn’t I?

6:50 PM

scribbit said…

That is some experience. Never knew you could get “virgin” hookahs. Too bad I’m 2000 miles away.

6:01 PM

Anonymous said…

So happy to hear that there is a Hookah cafe in Toronto. Went to one in Washington DC last summer and thought it was great. Chose the apple flavour. Yummy!

All I kept thinking was how great it would be to have a similar place in Toronto, but how tight-assed the city was and it would never be allowed.

Let’s keep Banu our little secret.

Oh yeah. Would love to join the 2 of you there one night when we have a baby sitter.

-Vooolfie and Vern.

October 2, 2006   No Comments

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