Thursday, January 22, 2009

High and Low Dining

Yesterday, I meandered down Bay Street (where I'm convinced winter is kept in this city) to meet my cousin for lunch. We had previously agreed on Mercatto, a semi-upscale* Italian restauruant on Toronto Street. Mercatto is cozy, with full windows on two of its four sides. Surrounded by businesspeople talking about a number of important businessy things**, I looked down at the menu to see that the dishes were all Italian-named (not captioned). We struggled with the names, me frantically recalling the food words I'd learned in my ITA101 - Italian for Dialect Speakers - class, and managed to order a pasta dish each and a salad, to split.

The food was good, but not Italian. We are both seasoned eaters - my Nona saw to that ages ago - and this food was much too fancy to be Italian food. The salad, which was especially nice with shaved cheese and roasted pears, had shaved cheese and roasted pears on it - not Italian.

Later that night, I went to another restaurant. Future's Bakery (which, to be honest with you, isn't a new place for me at all - I think I've spent more time there over the past three years than I have sleeping), at Bloor and Brunswick. I am not about to say that Future's has real Italian food- it doesn't. I think for me, the only real Italian I can ever have is served on twenty-eight year old dishware at my Noni's house.

What Future's does have is consistency. It's always packed with people, but you're guaranteed to find at least one table free. The onion rings, with ketchup, always taste like a Quarter Pounder (which is good, as I renounced red meats five years ago and have been craving McDonald's beef just as long). The staff at the cake counter are only slightly pissed off when all you order is tea - which I do a lot. When you do order cake, they present it to you like an Olympic medal - all dusted with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.

The patronage of Future's is also unbelivably dependable. There's people on first or second dates, arguing lesbians, out-of-place families, and at least one hipster asshole reading Marx's Das Kapital while you're trying to study for an economics final. Next door is the Lab, behind is the Green Room, and across the street is the Brunny, so there's no short supply of drunken harlots to laugh at. If you get a window seat (which I don't like because the tables are too small), the crowd going in and out of the Brunny is like a little side show. Make a bet with your friends on skirt lengths - if you guess that the one outside is the shortest you'll see that night, you win***.

In short, I recommend both. Go to Mercatto if you feel like going out and later remembering a nice meal you had there. Go to Future's if you want to feel at home.

* Has waitstaff and entrees cost in the double digits.
** Mergers? What do businesspeople talk about?
*** You'll never win - there will always be a shorter one.

No comments:

Post a Comment