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Restaurants

The Bloordale Pantry

Posted by Meaghan Binstock / Listed on June 22, 2010 / review policy

Bloordale PantryThe Bloordale Pantry, on the corner of Bloor and Landsdowne, was a diner for 60 years (most recently Dale's, a Bloordale Village staple in terms of questionable hangouts) before new owners cleaned up the time worn space, sourced antiques from local stores like Ping Pong, and transformed it into a modern diner inspired by the original concept.

Bloordale Pantry"We found so many trinkets and treasures in drawers and in the basement when we cleaned the place up," the owner tells us, chatting casually with the customers just like you might expect in a local diner.

Bloordale PantryThe inside is cute and kitschy, with vintage furniture and lighting. A beautiful reproduction of a classic Faema espresso machine sits on the bar.

Bloordale PantryThe bar offers a simple selection of drinks and fresh juices, as well as a couple classic cocktails. We select the Peach Bellini ($6) from the 'Three Martini Lunch' list, a refreshing mix of peach nectar and prosecco.

Bloordale PantryAfter examining the small, diner-inspired menu, we decide to start the meal with the Lazy Susan ($7/person), an assortment of meats and cheeses. When the platter arrives, we're walked through the selections, which include Quebec goat cheese, Saxon cheese from Wisconsin, soppressata, chorizo and salami. We're encouraged to try the goat cheese with the accompanying mission figs, and as promised, the combination is delicious.

I've never had Saxon cheese before, and it's fantastic, pairing well with the mildly spicy meats. The platter also includes pieces of tasty house-made cornbread, fruit, olives and pickled jalapenos.

Bloordale PantryNext arrives the Beet Salad ($6.99), consisting of mixed greens, orange segments, beets, feta and walnuts. The beets are a little crunchy, but balance out the salty feta. The salad has a nice variety of textures, though the dressing could use more flavour.

Bloordale PantryThe Boada ($11.49) is a sandwich consisting of twelve hour slow-cooked pulled pork, pressed panini-style with avocado and mozzarella. The avocado and melted cheese add just the right amount of creaminess to the sandwich as there appears to be little or no sauce on the pork.

This sandwich is simple and satisfying, and sided with some excellent fries. They're just like chip truck fries with the skin-on and thick cut. I continue to pick at them long after being full.

Bloordale PantryWe also try the Seared Polenta ($9.99). This classic cornmeal dish comes topped with San Marzano tomato sauce and sautéed greens, red pepper and onion, with a few slices of roasted sweet potato on the side. Separately, the components are good; the tomato sauce and the veggie sautee are sweet, and the texture of the polenta - crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside - is comfort food on a plate, if somewhat bland.

The spiced sweet potatoes that come with the polenta are crispy but not enough so to save this dish. Somehow the combination of all these flavours just isn't quite right.

Bloordale PantryA friendly resto with a welcoming vibe and a casual, diner-style menu, The Bloordale Pantry is open for lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner.

Photos by Taralyn Marshall

Discussion

37 Comments

Jimmy / June 22, 2010 at 09:58 am
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It's pretty awesome that Kensington has a new diner.
Kristen / June 22, 2010 at 10:07 am
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Kensington? Are you retarded?
Tim / June 22, 2010 at 10:13 am
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LMAO
Grant replying to a comment from Jimmy / June 22, 2010 at 10:14 am
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Way to read the article Jimmy. Or maybe Bloor and Landsdowne is in Kensington and I've been mistaken all this time?
bri / June 22, 2010 at 10:22 am
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mm.. the food looks delicious.. I can't wait 'til lunch now!
ramanan / June 22, 2010 at 10:31 am
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This place is a great addition to Blansdowne. I've been a few times now. The food is quite good. It's also way less sketchy than the Dale, which it replaced. The staff a really friendly. Also, they make some good cocktails.
le_jenk / June 22, 2010 at 10:44 am
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I prefer the former hooker haven where the 'specials' weren't on the menu. RIP Dale's.
Z / June 22, 2010 at 10:47 am
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polenta is often served with tomato sauce in italian culture, but it doesn't make it suck any less. (it basically sucks no mater how you serve it, really.)
cultureshot / June 22, 2010 at 10:47 am
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Excellent! I'm always glad when new local businesses open in my dingy but charming 'hood. I'll be checking this place out soon...
kiddo / June 22, 2010 at 11:41 am
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a nicely written review! thanks for the tips!
Paul / June 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm
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You should go back and do a brunch review - it's fabulous. Best homefries I've ever had. I'm really happy the Pantry opened in our neighborhood!
Eric26 / June 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm
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The only way to eat polenta is to cut it thinner than shown in the photo and throw it on the barbecue next to your meat. It takes surprisingly long to get the perfect crispy texture but it's worrrrth it.
Josca / June 22, 2010 at 02:50 pm
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This diner is great - great staff, great drinks, and on an interesting corner of the city. I agree with Meaghan on the polenta though - it was quite bland. That said, I had a really well made ceaser and I'll be going back for the breakfast for sure. My favourite spot is right at the window, which = excellent people watching.
Jimmy James / June 22, 2010 at 04:59 pm
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I haven't been there so I can't attest to the food, but I'm shocked by the tasteless renovation they did to the place.

The Dale was a classic looking diner, of which the city is growing short of.

I'm of the thought that people who make one stupid move are likely to make other stupid moves. Taking down the original sign and changing the layout of the place is something only someone without taste would do. I like the people making my food to have some taste.

But I'll still try it out. I'll just be walking in with much higher expectations.

I'm also guessing they didn't want it to look like a diner so that they could get away with charging more for food.
Jimmy James / June 22, 2010 at 05:02 pm
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And what does "diner inspired" mean? Does it mean it's nothing like a diner?
TAK / June 22, 2010 at 05:05 pm
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thanks for another great review - both enticing and honest. the pictures are a perfect complement and give a good visual cue to expectations.
HHH replying to a comment from Jimmy James / June 22, 2010 at 06:31 pm
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Thanks for the review. I have been eying this place since it open, and will have to make and outing one day soon.

@Jimmy James: Dale is no longer there for a reason. The "classic" aka "dingy" looking dinners are dying for a reason. It is because they are not wanted. Don't insult the moves of the owners just because it is different from what you wanted. Of course they would want a different sign, and different look. They are not trying to resurrect Dale, they are creating their own place. Utilizing terms like stupid just makes yourself look studpid. I for one think that people who insult the works of others does little work themselves. See you at Dale...i mean Bloordale Pantry
handfed / June 22, 2010 at 07:40 pm
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those "pickled jalapenos" look a lot like peperoncini to me
Rachel / June 23, 2010 at 10:28 am
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The second photo is great! Nice review.
Paul replying to a comment from Jimmy James / June 23, 2010 at 12:19 pm
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Jimmy James -- the proprietors of the Pantry will tell you they were very disappointed that the landlord got rid of the old sign. It wasn't their decision. They would have given it pride of place on the wall.

The 'classic' Dale was awful. I for one am celebrating a bright, cheerful new restaurant on the corner.
Cristina / June 24, 2010 at 11:06 am
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Had dinner there last night based on this review. We had a great meal! The atmosphere is perfect, the staff is so friendly - but most importantly the food and drinks were delicious (and super reasonably priced). So-so-so glad to see something like this go into this neighbourhood, we'll definitely be repeat visitors!
Rita / June 26, 2010 at 07:53 am
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Maybe the reno was to give a clear visual signal to any former Dale's regulars that this is not the same place. I've been + its cute! good food. Maybe a few kinks still to work out but very impressive otherwise and friendly
Junction Triangle resident / August 4, 2010 at 01:00 am
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Nice decor, tasty cocktails and friendly service. The Boada sandwich is weird. I am generally a fan of avocado, but am not convinced it goes well with pulled pork and cheese. One or perhaps two of these ingredients are redundant (I'm looking at you, cheese and avocado). Killer fries though.
James / August 4, 2010 at 02:04 pm
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Went for brunch on Saturday, must say I agree with one of the other comments above, the home fries are incredible! Had the eggs benny, absolutely delicious!
jim / August 19, 2010 at 10:06 am
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the standards must be extremely low here in Toronto, the poor..... does anyone in Toronto know what scrambled eggs are? you know.... the whisk, the milk, the eggs, .... all light and fluffy.... not a clump of yellow greasy crap... and hashbrowns should be a) hot, b) not from a bag in the freezer.

what is so very difficult about peeling a potato, par-boiling it, then frying with onions and savoury ?

Toronto is all style, Zero substance.

ZERO stars for this pretentious little dump
mandy / August 21, 2010 at 11:31 am
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We ate here for breakfast today and it was amazing. This was our second time. The first time I had the mushroom melt burger for brunch which was perfectly cooked and so flavorful. Today, I had the roadside breakfast. The farmer's sausage was a tad on the salty side but everything else was tops including the hashbrowns which were not cold or "from a bag in the freezer."

Their drinks are also really top notch. Had the blueberry limeade this time around and a watermelon/strawberry juice last time. Both very refreshing and a nice change from the regular oj.

We ate at Dale when it was still there and it was just another greasy spoon. It certainly wasn't all that reasonably priced for what it was either. Nothing to write home about or go back to. I will be going back to The Bloordale Pantry many times over. Happy to have it in our 'hood which is lacking in tasty am eats.
karen / August 22, 2010 at 07:37 am
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the food looks yummy and the decor is sweet. can't wait to try it out.
fyi- I've been eating polenta all my life.It probably doesn't taste right because polenta is a side dish,kinda like mash potato...it accompanies a meaty stew that you would then cover with the sauce from the stew. Also really great with an oil/rosemary/caper sauce.Just sayin'.
Tim / January 5, 2011 at 06:48 pm
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testing comments
TammyT / February 10, 2011 at 08:15 pm
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You gotta try the deep fried Oreos at this place...yes deep fried Oreos!!! Yumo!
Chris / February 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm
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In its old incarnation, it was a greasy spoon where prostitutes would grab a cheap breakfast. The 'hood has changed quite a bit...
Duke / March 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm
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Well...
I think JIM is a little Crusty, and a little to harsh, but he's not far off. However anyone who knows what pretentious Toronto looks like would NOT call this place pretentious.

BEST HOMEFRIES??? Whoever made that comment has clearly never had good home fries before. Same with the person that agreed...

The home fries where the one thing the breakfast that blew. Heavily undercook, bland, boring. HOME FRIES MAKE OR BREAK A CLASSIC BREAKFAST...They are not happening here..

Deep Fried Oreos really are good...

Burger - Classic burger hits the spot

Beat salad - I dunno, its beat salad... whatever

Floor Mopping - Someone needs to tell this lady that its not cool to mop the floors while customers are eating. It stinks....and we are paying you....

And I might agree this is not a classic diner. Its lost someplace between classic, and ...well something...
LA / May 8, 2011 at 03:56 pm
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I went here several months ago and had an ok experience. We ordered our lunch and waited and waited. We saw several people who were seated after us being served their lunches- including big tables with 6 ppl (there were 2 of us), while we waited patiently for our lunch. Once our food finally arrived, my friend had ordered the pulled pork sandwich which was just ok, and I ordered the vegetarian sandwich, which was overly heavy and bland.

We haven't returned since, despite living really close to the Bloordale Pantry. I just checked back on here to see if anything had changed since we went- perhaps better food?? It seems that the breakfast food is what to order here- and lunch, not so much. I'm gonna go back soon for breakfast and hopefully it'll be a better experience!
the ging / May 13, 2011 at 09:35 am
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One word for this place: inconsistent.

The service is friendly, but it's clearly disorganized and unprofessional. Sometimes you get coffee, sometimes you don't. Same with clearing tables to seat new guests, with speed in bringing the bill, etc.

The food is also inconsistent. Like some posters above, they *do* have a good brunch menu, but the quality varies so much from day to day that I find myself not wanting to risk it anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Blansdowne is changing and I wish them success, but as someone with lots of restaurant experience I feel like they are making some basic mistakes.

Fix staffing, streamline FoH roles, fix whatever is up in the kitchen...


So sad that the Holy Oak stopped serving brunch... well, there's always the 3Speed.
good stuff / October 9, 2011 at 12:40 am
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I've always been happy with the brunch here - I must admit I'm developing an addiction to the sausage patties (!).
Tim / October 20, 2012 at 04:59 pm
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My wife and i have come here twice for brunch and it is AMAZING! The whole experience was just perfect. The service, the music, the coffee, even the water! hah! Most importantly, the food was so so so delicious! We plan on going back many times.
Deb / October 24, 2012 at 06:24 pm
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We will not return. Customer service at the Bloordale Pantry was less than satisfactory when we waited more than an hour for a table. There is nobody running the room despite the owner being one of the wait people. She charged us for refilling a coffee after we complained we waited an hour? Try saying that at Mildred Pearce, or School Bakery or Saving Grace. Silly service practice to not apologize and send a round of coffees. I've owned businesses and that's not what you do if you want to appease customers. We all left extremely annoyed that the food, which is okay takes half an hour to come out, and the owner cares more about her cash register than her guests.
Erin / November 28, 2012 at 11:41 am
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Heads up - this place is now closed.

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