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Restaurants

Karine's

Posted by Devon Scoble / Reviewed on October 5, 2009 / review policy

Karine's Restaurant TorontoKarine's, a new eatery in the Village on the Grange food court, offers a rare combination of all-day breakfasts and plentiful vegan treats. I'd never been to the restaurant before, so I was surprised to be greeted familiarly by a smiling lady in a hot pink headscarf. Hand to jutting hip, she purred, "Hi baby. What can I get for you, baby?"

Now, grown woman to grown woman, this baby talk is a novelty, and my usual response to the catcalled 'hey baby' -- a middle finger and some stern words -- just doesn't seem appropriate. Still, I'm tempted to give her a good "you don't know me" finger wagging, until I notice the menu. $5 for breakfast? The choice was clear: I make an exception, order and serve myself a tea while Karine fries my eggs. (Is she actually Karine? I don't think so, but if she gets to call me baby, I get to call her Karine.)

Karine's Restaurant TorontoBedecked in hot-pink flowers and flashy purple prints, Karine's looks like an exploded fragment of Barbie's Dream Home, but thankfully the specials are geared more towards paper bag princesses than the plastic-doll crowd. At $5, breakfast includes 2 eggs, toast, and a choice of salad, bacon or sausage, plus fries, tropical fruit garnish and unlimited coffee or tea. Fries come in regular and garlic varieties, but unless you're planning to kill a vampire later, I suggest choosing the regular.

The breakfast is surprisingly generous, so I have time to read the menu while I devour my crispy bacon and perfectly fried eggs, and scrape raw garlic from over-garnished fries. Ranging from pedestrian standards like the $5 breakfast and sandwich combos, Karine's also offers vegan waffles and burgers, fattoush salads, raspberry turnovers and exotic cheese platters.

Karine's Restaurant TorontoI decide to get a vegetarian platter to take home, and am greeted this time as "honey-bunny." Although the $8 take-out platter is supposed to include four choices plus salad and pita bread, Karine insists I take more, piling my container high with mushroom-fried and tomato-pesto-topped tofu, tomatoey baked eggplant, a vegan burger patty, a serving of roasted vegetables and a scoop of celery and fava bean salad.

Like my breakfast, the platter is a satisfying mix of garlic-dominated flavours, with rich portabella tofu, sweet pesto tofu, perfectly roasted vegetables and a divine baked eggplant the definite highlights. I could do without the greasy, rice-heavy vegan burger, but will definitely be back for more of Karine's tropical-fruit topped combos and sugary sweet talk.

Discussion

30 Comments

J-Dawg / October 5, 2009 at 09:33 am
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styrofoam.

WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE.
Andrew / October 5, 2009 at 11:36 am
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Hey thanks blogTO, that's *another* neighbourhood secret you've ruined for me. Just like this:

http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/artsquarecafe

Now there's *another* place I'll have to line up to eat at, thanks to you.

Do you hate me?

P.S. Seriously, Karine's is great!
Scott / October 5, 2009 at 01:01 pm
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I'm a big fan of Karine's. It's the kind of place that learns your name if you're a semi-regular, the food is tasty, and the portions are very generous. Also, you can eat on real plates with real utensils if you "eat in" (as much as you can eat in at a food court).

The gregarious mother is Maggie (founder of Maggie's on College) and the daughter is Karine. This is not too hard to find on their website (which is linked to in the article but apparently to difficult to read for an easy fact-check).
Miriam / October 5, 2009 at 10:52 pm
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You didn't get a shot of the utterly cute brown & pink wallpaper and pink coffee machine! :D I pass by this wonderful place everyday and just the design makes me smile. :) This week was the first time I actually bought something and they were so friendly and they always have a smile. I just got fries and was expecting just that but it turns out they put a pineapple & a strawberry in as well. Everything is just a nice touch.
maggie replying to a comment from J-Dawg / October 6, 2009 at 02:15 am
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Look closely and u will notice it's not styrofoam.
It's absolutely biodegradable container.
Lisa / October 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm
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I love Karine's. It is the best place to find vegan french toast. Before my brother moved to Orlando (very sad) we went to Karine's to load up on the decadent peanut butter and banana stuffed vegan french toast. Maggie's warm words always make me smile. The veggie dinner combo is huge and certainly a delicious bargain for $8.
jocelyn / October 6, 2009 at 06:15 pm
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karine's is the best
Colleen / October 6, 2009 at 06:25 pm
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Karine's is the best and Maggie a total sweetheart. I love all the vegan options but those garlic fries just slay me!
mitten / October 7, 2009 at 12:41 am
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Karine's is great! sometimes when im exhausted and frustrated, i go to them during break and they'll yell at me with smiles and kindness! sometimes i wonder what kind of batteries they run one, but it always makes my day to see people that are so upbeat and nice to you! if you want a meal in the dundas and mccaul area that's only 5 bucks flat AND fills you up, then go to Karine's!
btw, any plate that involves their bomba and garlic fries, i highly recommend!
Kate / October 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm
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THE MFING BEST. Their bomba is a staple of my diet, and I always feel healthy cuz they shove a bunch of fruit into my container. They're all total sweethearts, and Maggie makes my day.
Tommy / October 7, 2009 at 06:22 pm
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I've been eating at Karine's since they opened a year ago. The food is exceptionally tasty, and Maggie's infectious enthusiasm always makes me smile. This place totally rocks!
Kay / October 10, 2009 at 01:35 pm
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Hey baby, nice article.
Ben / October 11, 2009 at 03:50 am
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Karine's is an absolute jewel in the Grange food court. They have a wide variety of mouth watering food and the prices are great :) My favorite dish so far is the vegan goodness. Maggie also makes amazing french toast. If you haven't checked Karine's out yet, do yourselves a favor and give it a try. You'll be hooked.
Courtney / October 14, 2009 at 11:48 am
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Oh man, I love Karine's! I stumbled on them the second day open. My boyfriend goes to OCAD across the street and is a regular, he's Vegan and eats like a horse. Its nice to have a place like this that is real good cheap eats for students but I would say it's totally worth a trip down there even if you don't go to school there. They are really generous with their portions and giving you extras. I love that they call everyone "sweetie" or "honey bun", they are just trying to put a smile on your face.
The Vegan french toast is a real stand out on the menu, but I really like Vegan benny (the sun dried tomatoe sauce they throw on it is so good). I'm a sucker for the galic fries but do warn that they are DEADLY! So don't order them if you've got a hot date later;)Thanks Ladies for being awesome!
Alex / October 17, 2009 at 08:10 pm
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I went to Karine's today for some afternoon breakfast, and it was a great experience. Great service, great prices and great food. I ordered exactly what was mentioned in the review, and my meal looked identical.

Certainly will be heading back!
Constructive / October 30, 2009 at 02:24 pm
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Just wondering where all the other comments went?

I guess constructive criticism is completely uncalled for. My apologies.
mitjak / December 6, 2009 at 11:03 am
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You are forgiven - there's hardly anything to criticize at this place. I agree with all the reviews - pleasant service, great food. I hope they do well and move out of the food court!
megs / January 12, 2010 at 10:15 am
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I live around the corner, and hit up Karine's at least once a week. I always bring out of town guests there for breakfast, and we've never been let down. Nothing like a "hello my babies!" and some garlic fries to pull you out of a hangover. Maggie is such a sweetheart, I love it there.
Chris Orbz / May 13, 2010 at 02:08 pm
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I went for the first time today in order to get breakfast, I was pretty hesitant 'cause I was starving and the 'vegan goodness' plate didn't look like much more than fruit and a couple pieces of tofu in the picture, but Maggie coaxed me into it and I couldn't believe how much food it was. It's hard to find a veggie restaurant downtown that doesn't hand out wussy amounts of things... I have a voracious appetite and always finish whatever's in front of me even if it means overstuffing myself, but I ate half and took the other half home for my lunch.

But, yes, I definitely took the other half home in a styrofoam container.
Karine's replying to a comment from J-Dawg / September 25, 2010 at 03:48 pm
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It's not Styrofoam. It's a fully eco-friendly product. Quite expensive.
Andrew Kokelj / November 20, 2010 at 04:44 pm
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Maggie is a great example who really enjoys what she is doing and makes sure everyone can leave with a smile. I came across her place by accident when I was looking for a smoothie for my son who was at Princess Margaret Hospital. She generously modified many meals for him always remembering to include a smoothie. Maggie helped many of our friends and family with her enthusiasm and care to provide a tasty meal for the best price.
Thank you.
Rachel / January 30, 2011 at 01:35 pm
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Really disappointing. Sure it has character, but when your eggs benedict are overdone, you receive italian sausage instead of breakfast sausage, the homefries are unseasoned and cold, character doesn't really make up for it. Not to mention it's dingy location leaves something to be desired.
Warm Hearts, COLD FOOD / March 5, 2011 at 06:44 pm
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I have to post this here because the women who work there are simply the sweetest ladies ever, and I can't say it to their faces. EVERY single time I've ordered from them, the food is COLD. Not even room temperature. It's cold. Slightly room temperature on the outside edges, maybe, but otherwise, COLD COLD COLD> Please please heat up the food thoroughly before serving it!(I'm talking vegan eggs benny, baby). Thankyou.
Thanasis / May 17, 2011 at 07:04 pm
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The food and service at Karines is great. Maggie's enthusiasm puts a smile on my face every time :) Anyways, I tried the raspberry twist today, and I have to say it's absolutely fricken amazing. Karines totally rocks!
karine's replying to a comment from Chris Orbz / May 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm
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Thank u all for taking the time to express yourselves.It's been fun and highly appreciated. One thing I would like to point is the styrofom. Believe me we HATE that more than anyone of you. We've been in this business for over eighteen years and never had to worry about harming the invironment.The majority of our clientele being young students on daily basis, we had to create a magic formula to be able to satisfy everybody without harming their pockets.We are obliged to provide the styrofom only for TAKE OUT. Eat in as you all know is served on proper china and cutlery. Have u seen this in any other food court?
Each one of you played a big role in our success.
Our 398 square feet establishment has become as popular as our large restaurants.
We all thank you for that.
We will always serve you only the most Fresh and the most delicious of all. We care too much about all of you.Forgive us for the stupid STYROFOM because that's only for our clientele's budget purpose. Thanks again and see u all soon for some delicious Vegan and Gluten free Crepes Extravaganza!
Check our website for updates. Love, Maggie
Tours Toronto / August 9, 2011 at 12:51 am
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I can't believe you are recommending any place that is located in the Village on the Grange food court. The Village by the Grange has to be one of the filthiest food courts in Toronto.
Daniel replying to a comment from Tours Toronto / August 9, 2011 at 12:59 am
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Karine's is the absolute highlight of the Village by the Grange food court. The Karine's team works incredibly hard to raise the bar and maintain high standards within that food court. They were the first to use real metal cutlery and real plates, which they clean up and wash themselves. They're also keeping the foodcourt lively with their music and friendly attitudes, which extends into the decor and materials they use to promote and highlight their spot.

If you prefer not to go to the Grange, I know that Karine's caters, so they'll bring it right to you!
Zbel / March 8, 2012 at 09:15 pm
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I love this place! They serve up the best power lunches in the downtown area without needing to be crammed with ppl in suits- I'm thankful for it's location, it certainly wouldn't be this cheap 1 more block south!
John / January 16, 2013 at 02:50 pm
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IT WOULD HAVE LOOKED MORE TASTEFULL IF THE PLATE WAS EMPTY!!!
Tom / March 26, 2013 at 09:33 pm
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The Lentil soup kicks major ass. I also love the array of awesome tasting treats that they carry. This place totally rocks and the service is great!

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