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Grocery Stores

The Epicure Shop

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Posted on December 19, 2012

epicure shop torontoThe Epicure Shop has been a Cabbagetown fixture since the '80s. Helmed by Patty Junior (who does the buying, as well as creates the lavish holiday gift baskets), and with ample help from her family, the independent grocery is a go-to spot for local meats and cheeses, and unusual food stuffs.

epicure shop torontoAt one time, there were three Toronto shops under the Epicure umbrella, but Junior eventually shut down the other two and returned to her Cabbagetown roots. Perhaps the most impressive feat of the shop is that it manages to cram so much stock into such a cramped space. Jars are propped on shelves high enough to necessitate a stool, each inch of shelf space is used to its full potential, and flavoured olive oils share counter space with lush, no-skimp-on-the-butter donuts. It's a shop of curiosities for food lovers, and you could easily spend an hour inching through the small space.

epicure shop torontoWhen Junior first opened the store, she focused on Italian products (due to her Italian background) but now you'll find a range of Ontario products including cheddars from Maple Dale Cheese (including a 9-year-old cheddar on special for $7.99/100 g) and Upper Canada Cheese Company, and jams from Niagara on the Lake's Greaves.

epicure shop torontoEpicure also stocks artisanal charcuterie from Le Canard ($7.99 for 100g of spiced pork tenderloin, or $8.99 for duck pate), and fresh-roasted coffees from Kicking Horse and I Deal. The shop's house blend (which can be enjoyed with their range of breakfast sandwiches, including options with peameal for under $5), is from Reunion Island.

epicure shop toronto"People have left the neighbourhood and come back for the olives alone," Junior tells me, and indeed, the large green olives flecked with chili peppers ($1.69/100g) and kalamata olives ($2.19/100 g) are remarkably flavorful. You'll also find the usual deli meat suspects such as Genoa salami ($2.39) from Mastro, as well as some other meats from Wagener's Meats, and Mennonite salami ($2.69/100g).

epicure shop torontoAside from the stock, what no doubt draws repeat customers and regulars is Junior herself, who is ready with an array of unusual gift ideas, stories about the origins of the food, and a handful of her personal favourites, including hand-made, all-natural tortas from Spain ($5.99), non-filtered flavoured olive oils from Morocco ($10.99), and peanut butter from Peanut Butter and Co. in flavours such as white chocolate and honey. They've also introduced a gluten-free section.

epicure shop torontoThey also offer daily lunch specials (soup and sandwich for $6)--not too shabby. Or, you can opt for panini and gourmet sandwiches ($6.99) such as the Northern Italian--a blend of pesto, asiago cheese, roasted peppers and veggies-- or the staff picks created by her family. The Leo Sicilian Sub, with prosciutto and hot calabrese, is a stand-out.

epicure shop torontoI've never been a particular fan of shortbread, but when I'm told that the same woman has been making the cookies for the store for 20 years, I have to sample some ($0.85 each), and they do rank high among the best, most butter-rich shortbread I've ever tasted. On the sweet side of things, interspersed among homemade gingerbread cookies, are Dufflet pastries, and a variety of pies, packaged biscuits, and loafs.

epicure shop toronto"I've been around for such a long time," Junior tells me, "that I'm able to pick the best from a variety of different companies." Her prices are also kept reasonable. "I don't gouge," she says. "I'd rather sell 20 than 1."

epicure shop toronto

Discussion

9 Comments

Vanessa / August 10, 2011 at 02:09 pm
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I have been goign to The Epicure Shopf or years! The staff are amongst the most friendliest I've ever met and they have loads of delicious cheeses, pastries, dips, among other things. Their breakfast sandwhiches are made with farm fresh eggs and fill you up! They even have pizza Tuesdays. I would recommend that all those in the Cabbagetown area check it out!
Paul / December 19, 2012 at 10:27 am
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The Epicure is great. Friendly staff, interesting merchandise; what a neighbourhood shop is all about.
Indeed / December 19, 2012 at 10:39 am
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Sobeys sells that peanut butter. Big deal.
Jamie replying to a comment from Indeed / December 19, 2012 at 11:36 am
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Good point, Indeed. No way - NO WAY - am I going to a local shop that sells the exact same (I'm told) peanut butter as a large grocery store chain. Could you imagine how ridiculous that would be?

"Hey Jamie, did you get the peanut butter at Sobey's?"
"No, this little shop in Cabbagetown."
"o_0"

The looks you would get. What an absolute nightmare.
Alex / December 19, 2012 at 05:07 pm
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Love their mustard selection and their smoked meat. Good price. However, would really love to be asked if 50 extra grams of meat is ok when I specifically ask for an amount i.e. 200g or 300g. Quit trying to guilt people into buying extra please! Once the lady rang me up and charged me for 250 grams worth. I explained I had asked for 200g and she made such a big deal of it.
Elysse / December 20, 2012 at 11:15 am
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The Epicure Shop is a one-stop-shop! They offer the friendliest service, tastiest & freshest homemade goods, as well as their shelves are always stocked with the most interesting goodies. Their deli selection is extensive, and definitely considered to NOT be limited. The OLIVES are delicious! Overall, a great family establishment that offers more than just the basics.
Lucie / December 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm
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This shop makes the best sandwhiches around!Way more value for your buck and healthier too, in comparison with Timmy's, Subway, Starbucks etc. Good food, good people
Len / January 5, 2013 at 05:58 pm
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The breakfast and lunch sandwiches are excellent. Fresh ingredients and reasonably priced. I agree with Lucie! Better to have a breakfast sandwich here than Timmy's or Starbucks. Great value and portion for your money! I like knowing that if I want to pick up something sweet it is delicious and available. Their special sandwiches at the Cabbagetown festival are worth waiting for all year. It is great to know that a local small business could stay in business, give back to the community of which it is a part as well as have reasonable prices and very good selection for over 30 years when so many other shops have folded in the area.
CV / November 2, 2014 at 05:29 pm
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An awesome little shop. The best pickles in Toronto. I love this little place.

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