Dundas Dining: Lenos Bar-Restaurant

May 31, 2010

Let’s get this out of the way right now. Despite being another restaurant which doesn’t believe in apostrophes, Lenos is by far the best dining experience we’ve had in The Junction. And that isn’t to say it was merely the best of a bad lot (The Junction serves up some fine meals), it was one of the better experiences I’ve had in the city of Toronto. Which, in terms of service, might still be saying “the best of a bad lot”.

Toronto has strangely low service standards for a city which considers itself a competitor on the world stage. The service at Leno’s was as good as the best service I’ve experienced anywhere. Even cities outside of Toronto where servers understand they have to work for their tips.

For the first time since starting Dundas Dining, we really felt like we had a professional—more than just a merely competent— server.

But perhaps more importantly, the food was truly delicious (and reasonably priced). Though if you’re not familiar with Colombian dishes (like us), you might not have any idea what exactly the items on the menu are. They are all familiar—similar to Mexican, Central and South American dishes—but tweeked slightly. This is where the good service came in. Our server happily walked us through the menu without making us feel like gringo noobs.

Mandi said, “I love her.”

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May 28, 2010

I gave up coffee again this week. I do this periodically when I feel my emotional equilibrium is getting out of alignment. It’s never an entirely uneventful process—some level of fatigue is always involved—so I was prepared. Or thought I was.

Withdrawal is hitting me like sack of unroasted beans tossed off the back of a Colombian burro.

I’d intended to keep up with the daily/near daily posting schedule I’d achieved last week when I was wired on several cups of hot, black crack but I ran into a problem . When I’d go to write a post, all I’d find in my head was a lot of blank, white cotton filling the space.

Such as happens to be the case right now.

TwitFic #14 : Coffee Club

May 25, 2010

Whenever she poured a cup of joe without putting a quarter in the jar, she felt dirty. Some days she’d drink three or four stolen coffees. She didn’t feel the same about not paying for cookies. Especially chocolate chip. Cookies and chocolate, she felt, were basic human rights.

Pens and sundry stationery supplies also fell into this category. A comfortable writing implement was as essential to her as air and water. Taking the value of said items into account, she hit upon paying for coffee with pens and was able to supply herself with guilt-free java.

On a good day she could procure three coffees, four cookies, two quality pens and a full stapler. And it had been a good week.

A very good week.

Bench FAIL

May 21, 2010

Midway though a long hike along the Humber River, I needed a rest. I found this “BENCH” but opted to sit on the slightly more comfortable—and hygenic—looking pile of broken glass and rusty metal a little ways down.

Things you see on two separate subway cars

May 20, 2010

1 : The voice coming over the speakers of the TTC subway car announces a service disruption between Jane and Islington stations. There are, however, shuttle busses running, never a comfortable alternative to the already barely comfortable transit experience.

Yet the train is still nine or ten stops away so none of the passengers seem overly concerned. Most likely their stop is either far in advance of Jane or they’re confident, however naively, the problem will be cleared before long.

About a half-dozen faces, perhaps less, express a resigned chagrin at the situation—they are probably in for the long-haul to Kipling at the end-of-the-line and have a realistic expectation the disruption will not be cleared any time soon, based on previous experiences when a shuttle-bus was involved.

Still, no one is outwardly concerned. Except one young man.

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Glass fragments

May 19, 2010

There had been a storm the night before and she’d forgotten to close the window in the living room. On the floor, in a pool of water gleaming with morning sun, are shards of glistening black glass, the remains of a goblet she’d acquired sixteen years ago.

On the shards she can see fragments of silver text: Bea; mmer; ’94; and Th; uty; ea; e B; Su; st. She knows what the letters spell out. Despair. Doubt. Drama. Paranoia. Betrayal. Love. Friendship. Laughter.

Notes from a lesson. Notes she’s carried with her for a decade and a half for a course that only ends when you die. It doesn’t matter if you pass or fail the final exam, she’s come to understand. Only that you show up to class. Learn the lessons. Keep the notes.

Notes. Musical notes. Little black dots of glass on staffs of wood grain. A score. She scans the measures on the floor but happenstance hasn’t created a masterpiece. Only a chaos of discord. Much like that summer.

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TwitFic #13 : Meeting notes

May 17, 2010

In front of her on the boardroom table, she spread out an array of small personal items as a cat might do with urine to mark its territory. Sunglasses. Phone. Lozenges. Water bottle. 3 pens. 2 notebooks. He half-expected her to produce a framed photo of her kids from her purse.

Once the meeting commenced, she gingerly approached topics but would then silently draw back—like a cat smelling danger on a new sofa. He kept his eyes down and silently chewed his pencil. Occasionally he’d raise hackles by lifting his head to bark his opinions at the room.

When they left the meeting, his muzzle was covered in scratches but he possessed the bone she had turned-up her proud, finicky nose at.

Vavatenina : That and Nothing Else (1994)

May 14, 2010

Of all the rootsy, alt-Americana bands that followed in the wake of Gin Blossoms, none faded into obscurity faster than Vavatenina. Not even Gin Blossoms themselves. Their lone long-player from the summer of 1994, That and Nothing Else, proved to be prophetically titled.

Though the band couldn’t even claim status as a one-hit-wonder (their best-charting single sputtered at #78, no one here in the office can remember what it was), the band did see its proverbial 15-minutes of fame. Unfortunately, singer Jimmy Knee wasted the 15-minutes on an incident involving Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner and balloon full of horse vomit.

It’s a shame Vavatenina didn’t gain more attention for their actual music since, though sounding exactly like Gin Blossoms, the album does not make the listener want to cauterize their ears with a soldering iron—a feat of musical dexterity deserving of more recognition than its been given.

Impure sweat

May 13, 2010

I guess at some point this martial arts studio decided their sweat wasn’t pure enough and the sign had to be altered. Sadly, the move to more honest signage couldn’t prevent them from going out of business. It’s now a gym with various excercise machines in the window. No word on the purity of the gym’s sweat.

Things you see standing outside a pub

May 7, 2010

The weren’t old men. Nor were they particularly young. Middle-aged or just toeing middle-age, slight paunches under their button-down business shirts. No jackets, it was a warm day as they waited for the walk-signal on Yonge.

There was an amiable unfamiliarity between them. They were clearly strangers, or near strangers, who were acting like old friends for the sake of the project they were working on together.

The blonde one worked in the area, the dark one was in for a meeting but indicated he used to live or work in the vicinity by pointing to the franchise pub on the corner and saying, “It’s really changed around here. This used to be a…”

He stared up at the sign above the doors, brows knit, as if he were picturing the old establishment but unable to read its name. The blonde said, chuckling, “Yeah, yeah. A Shopsy’s. That was a long time ago. And before that it was a—”

The horn of a taxicab drowned out the name of the business. The other man was laughing and nodding  in agreement. His grin seemed to say: You and me, bud. We’re veterans of this town. We’ve survived it all. Businesses came and went, but we’re still here. Brothers in arms.

Then the light changed and the men crossed the street sharing memories they didn’t actually share.

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