Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking to the East

At Pioneer homestead we usually try and stick to a pretty healthy kitchen but with the pressures of work and the Juniors' picky palates, it's fair to say we hit the golden arches way more than we really should. If you're in the same boat, you'll be happy to hear about Danforth East's newest delectable destination called East of York Gourmet Food Emporium at 1905 Danforth.

When Pioneer popped in earlier today to meet chef and proprietor Ashvin (or Ash as everyone calls him), the space was already filled with delectable aromas as he prepped for his soft opening day. He wasted no time in helping us fill our belly with his first offerings while chatting happily about how East Of York went from dream to reality.

A former banker turned caterer, Ash had a vision to bring healthy (affordable) gourmet to the people of East York in a store-front catering format. He has lived in and around East York for practically his whole life and has witnessed the change in the neighbourhood first hand. He feels proud to be part of this community (and has a 1.5 minute commute to work!). In his own words he says "it feels good be part of something special happening here". Well, we're glad to have you!

All the East of York menu items are $1 each or 12 pieces for $11 and the offerings will rotate every few months. Ash promises they will be low in saturated fats, low in sodium but very high in deliciousness. It's mostly small fare, but enough of a combination that a family or four could easily fill up for dinner.

The international menu is currently highlighting Ash's Guyanese and Indian background. As soon as we popped (ok, crammed!) a samosa into our mouth, we realized Ash is a miracle worker. The warm little packet of kale and jerk chicken (which was baked instead of deep fried) was the best thing we've noshed on in a long time. And don't get us started on the caramelized walnuts....

East of York is open every day from 11 - 7 except for Mondays and holidays! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Follow-up to Local 1794

We have ALL been eagerly anticipating the opening of Local 1794 since Pioneer blogged about it back in the lazy hazy days of summer. The leaves are all falling now, and the sky is grey (cue the Mamas and the Papas) and the windows of this local gem are still papered up while the resto waits for the City of Toronto to upgrade water service. However, we have great news! Pioneer's sleuthing skills have determined that all the issues will soon be resolved and Harry is only weeks away from firing up his brick oven and opening up the 25 craft beer taps. Wowzers! Even writing that makes our mouths water. Looks like we better get moving on a reservation. See you there soon!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

London Calling!

Anyone who has ever tried to squeeze up to the bar, or waited patiently for a table at The Wren on any night other than Monday, knows that this neighbourhood is dying for more gastropubs - or really, anything that serves good food and has a few taps. The ironic sign at new Brit-inspired gastropub The Burough may have thrown a few people off, but after realizing it wasn't actually an outpost of East York city hall or a constituency office, we're certain many will be queuing up on September 30 when it opens its doors.

We were expecting some tongue-in-cheek British ambiance but the first thing Pioneer loved about this place was the archive prints of Danforth East adorning the walls. The pictures reinforce immediately that The Burrough is keenly aware of its place and its role within this local community.

Before talking about the menu, proprietors Richard and Jason walked Pioneer through the pillars of their gastropub dream: community, local, sustainable. Richard lives a few minutes walk away and loves that the Danforth East community feels like his neighbourhood growing up. This became his inspiration for jumping into the restaurant business. With his partner Jason in charge of the menu, the two dreamed up a vision that weaves community together with food. A British-inspired gastropub with a local twist.

They've not only committed to a local menu, but are practicing what they preach by using community resources as much as possible. The London-inspired exterior was created by a Danforth sign shop and the eight British and European style draught taps were installed by a local technician.

Getting back to the menu, Jason says he's keeping it tight so their tiny kitchen can stick to the mandate of staying local. Pioneer's mouth was watering dreaming about the bangers & mash or the Ontario pickerel fillet with roasted cauliflower. Richard insisted that the place will be family friendly and welcome kids just like a British pub (we're pretty sure the $17 Mac & Cheese with aged cheddar and goat’s milk parmesan will go to waste on the Junior Pioneers though).

It's a long way from London, but Pioneer thinks this sleek little pub will be a great place to have a pint and "support the economy"!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kids! Kids! Kids!

Everywhere Pioneer looks these days, there are kids! Young and younger, tweens and teens. Danforth East is alive with the jubilant laughter of the young. The only downside to this many young Pioneers in a saturated market, is what to do with them between 3pm and 6pm while you're hustling for a living. So, when an email popped into our inbox about Kaza Family Centre, a new family/community hub on Danforth, we thought it was worth a good old-fashioned Pioneer look.

Kaza Family Centre took over the old "piano" store between Linsmore and Monarch Park and turned a dusty, unused space into a welcome oasis for both little ones and their parents. Owner and chief creative officer Nadia Barakeh was inspired to open the doors on this little piece of sunshine after moving to the neighbourhood and falling in love with, what else, the community!

She calls Kaza a family hub to support a healthy community which jives perfectly with the rest of Danforth East. It's a place where junior Pioneers get actual homework support after school, can do some tumbling to get out those beans and be taken care of in a bi-lingual home away from home. You can (and should) read more about it here: http://www.kazafamilycentre.com/#!untitled/cc16.

What we think is totally awesome, is the added bonus of family workshops along the lines of "Improv  comedy for you and your kids" (kids are truly the funniest little creatures) and "Intro to Parenting"(Pioneer wishes this had been mandatory six years ago....!). Nadia's background in clinical psychiatry and development also means we've got a therapist on speed dial - if we needed it that is.

Nadia is also planning art workshops for kids and parents, plus, rainy day fun and PA day programming - more info will be posted to KaZa's Facebook page so stayed tuned!