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Restaurants

Paradise Farms Cafe

Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on July 6, 2012 / review policy

paradise farms torontoParadise Farms Cafe recently opened their first of many (at least that's the plan) farm-inspired eateries in the condo-filled Bayview and Sheppard area. Owned by real estate mogul Shane Baghai, the café unsurprisingly is the flagship tenant in the St Gabriel Manor condo development.

Named after his Caledon area farm, Baghai recently became motivated to enter into the restaurant business after his wife was encouraged by doctors to eat a hormone-free diet. While the use of HGP (hormonal growth promoter) is rampant in the farming industry, Baghai vehemently bucks this trend and insists his meat instead be local, delicious and sustainable.

paradise farmsIts cafeteria-style interior is eerily reminiscent of a futuristic Harvey's, as is the fact that you place your order with a cashier and wait until your name is called. The glowing menus hung above the counter offer a somewhat schizophrenic selection of of patisserie type offerings--such as croissants, loose leaf teas and ice cream--which compete with brisket sandwiches, kobe beef burgers and steak sandwiches.

Cold drinks are self-serve, and packaged in glass bottles that definitely inflate the price ($2.25 for a Coke), but as we know, glass is the ultimate vehicle for pop--it just tastes better.

paradise farms cafeWe shared a BLT ($4.95) a gourmet version of the classic with peppered, maple-smoked bacon, sliced beefsteak tomatoes and a basil aioli on a ciabatta-style bun. The bacon was salty and sweet, and a perfect complement to the basil and juicy tomatoes. Traditional BLTs are pretty vanilla; they're always a safe choice, as they are Paradise Farms, but the noticeable alterations elevate it somewhat.

paradise farms cafeWith the 6oz Angus Burger ($6.95) being sold out (even though it was only noon) I was forced to upgrade to the massive 9oz burger ($8.95) topped with aged white cheddar ($1.50). While it took almost 10 minutes for them to beckon me to the counter to top it up, it was worth the wait. Served in a rectangular shape, this was one hot mess of a sandwich.

In all fairness, I did up the mess quotient of my own volition by garnishing it with chipotle mayo, homemade ketchup, tomatoes, lettuce and caramelized onions. Food allergy sufferers take note; the spoon for the mayo was reused when it came to ketchup. With no egg allergy to speak of, I happily carted my giant silver platter over to my table and, armed with about 50 napkins, went to town. Just because it's hormone-free doesn't make this a healthy option. With minimal nutritional value and a steady geyser of grease erupting from the patty, it doesn't take a doctor to confirm that this isn't exactly diet food.

paradise farms cafeThe Veal Steak Sandwich ($12.95), served on a length of crunchy French bread was cooked to a lovely medium, although I would prefer the gristle cut off; plastic knives aren't cut out (pun intended) for that sort of sawing. Enhanced by a tangy Gouda cheese ($1.50) and a slathering of Dijon mustard, the tender and juicy steak was well paired with its side of buttermilk battered Onion Rings ($3.50) and fresh cut French fries ($2.95).

The fries were fairly standard, and had they arrived a minute or two early they may have still been crispy, but the onion rings were some of the best I've ever had. The thinly-sliced, sweet Vidalia onions battered in buttermilk were absolutely spot on.

paradise farms cafeThe interior only seats a maximum of about 20, but the corner patio with coloured umbrellas looks like a promising alternative when temperatures aren't soaring to record-breaking heights. Free parking is accommodated around the back of the condo, and there is no liquor license, so save the beer budget for another time.

With future plans to roll out more of these cafés, and dozens of buildings in the GTA with Shane Baghai's name on them, odds are good that you'll soon be tempted by Paradise Farms Cafe's convenient locations as well as their flavourful beef.

Discussion

22 Comments

Guy / July 6, 2012 at 09:37 am
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You cannot buy Kobe beef outside of Japan, and you especially cannot buy Kobe beef from _Caledon Ontario_.
Chester Pape / July 6, 2012 at 10:44 am
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Won't be the first or last restaurant to play fast and loose with the semantic difference between kobe and waygu
HollandSt / July 6, 2012 at 11:17 am
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Kobe refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle. Correct they are bred in Japan but the beef from Wagyu cattle is in fact farmed in many places in the world. So I wonder if they are simply saying that it's Wagyu? Regardless its the best beef you'll ever eat when cooked correctly.
Chick / July 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm
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The premium taste of Kobe/wagyu would be wasted minced into a burger patty. Kobe/Wagyu's biggest plus is it's exceptional marbling which makes the steak more tender and flavourful. What's the point when you're just going to grind it all up into a patty? The best thing about a hamburger patty is that you've got ground up chuck (flavourul but tough)so it's easier to eat. Save your Kobe/Wagyu for a proper steak. FYI, while Wagyu is the same breed, in North America, it's often cross-bred with local species. The cow need only be over 50% Tajima-ushi to be classified as Wagyu.
kook replying to a comment from Guy / July 6, 2012 at 01:17 pm
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most fascinating conversation today
TJ / July 6, 2012 at 01:24 pm
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The food prices at this place is actually on par with the rest of the "gourmet" cafes/burger places. I am not sure if this is a cafe or gourmet burger joint with the way this article was written to describe this place. Does it actually have coffee? Snacks? Cookies/Muffins? Anyways, it seems like a weird combination to be a cafe and a burger place. So I enjoy my latte in the store but its also filled with the smell of a burger joint?
Joel / July 6, 2012 at 01:35 pm
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While it is called a "Koberger", PFC's online menu describes it as "Kobe Style Ontario Wagyu Beef Burger" (9oz for $17.95). Same type of description for the Kobe Steak Sandwich ($19.00)
tnt / July 6, 2012 at 01:59 pm
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True....Kobe refers to meat from cattle grown in Japan only....it also glows in the dark...
LA / July 6, 2012 at 04:24 pm
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Kobe lives in L.A. You can get Kobe in L.A.
Ryan / July 6, 2012 at 05:03 pm
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Reusing the same spoon for mayo and ketchup? You won't see this happening at the cheapest of places.

At these prices, I would expect them to be able to spend the extra $1 on another spoon. Or even have these sauces in squeeze containers so they are not exposed to the open air and bugs (even the cleanest of places will have the occasional problem with fruit flies near the topping station).

Like this writer, I am not allergic or adverse to either ketchup or mayo. But if I just want ketchup, I just want ketchup, no mayo mixed in.

I'm not even going to touch the Kobe subject as it's already been addressed by many readers.

Sounds like this place has some potential, but needs more work in order to be a success.
Jane 2 / July 7, 2012 at 06:09 pm
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Went there today and the brisket sandwich and the mushroom veggie burger were amazing...lots of free toppings to choose from. Service was very scattered but that's OK since they are only 2 weeks old. Steady stream of customers. Prices very fair.
TJ / July 9, 2012 at 11:33 am
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Went on Saturday night. Pretty packed. Had veal burger, excellent (they do need a little seasoning with the burger). Great toppings.
Only downside to meal was Onions rings, while good, they were a tad cold and for $3.50 I got 6 onion rings (3 big ones, a medium one, 2 small ones). Seriously? only 6?

Got expensive quickly. went with fiancee, 2 burgers, an onion ring, fries, and two drinks, over $33. Ouch.
RJ / July 20, 2012 at 09:03 pm
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Went there today for lunch w/ a few co workers and found it was just ok burgers. Certainly the meat is quality, but unfortunately the patties are packed too tightly and was over cooked. I like my patties slightly pink and juicy on the inside, and a nice charred crunch on the outside, and today it had neither. Comparing a bite of just the patty alone of the highlander vs angus, I found very little difference. My co worker had the Kobe vs. Angus and she found the kobe to be drier than the angus. The sweet potato fries were ok, while the onion rings were crispy but tasteless. The homemade ketchup was nice, almost salsa like.
Martine / July 23, 2012 at 01:09 pm
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I was at the cafe yesterday and observed they have all their sauces in squeezable bottles, not in open air as it may have been before. It seems since their first few weeks they have improved their processes immensely. I remember in the first week it took them over 15 minutes to get my order but yesterday I didn't even wait 10 minutes! (And it was three times as busy! Sunday lunch rush) I ordered the 6 ounce angus and drowned it in their maple chipotle sauce which is unbelievable! The meat is juicy and tender, just talking about it makes me want to go back again today! My favourite part is all their free toppings! If you decide to go definitely get the crispy shallots and the caramelized onions. It's the same reason I go to menchies instead of baskin robbins...toppings make all the difference! Paradise Farms Cafe is definitely the menchies of all burger joints! PS: for anyone interested, I was reading up on the company and all their meat is growth hormone free! Shane Baghai started his farm because his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and he did a lot of research to find that it can be caused by the growth hormones in our meats which have been banned in europe but not yet in north america!
Dc / July 27, 2012 at 09:56 pm
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Okay. I was at Paradise (not) Cafe with the wifey and son today. First of all, let me tell you that I have been to many burger restaurants in my short 40 years of eating moo. Let's cut to the chase. My wife and I shared two 9 oz Angus burgers with onion rings and fries. The burgers taste like a nice backyard burger with quality meat. The gourmet toppings and sauces are great.

We were going to share it with our 2 year old son, but to my surprise and disappointment they didn't have any high chairs. To make it worse the manager didn't really care. This woman must not have children. The customer service needs major improvement.

Overall, the food was decent, but FIVE GUYS serves up a better tasting burger in a more family friendly environment. In addition, SOUTH STREET has a great burger and friendly attitude.

There are an abundance of fast casual burger joints in Toronto. Get your customer service right Shane or just leave it to those burger places that already do it well and just concentrate on real-estate.
Judy / August 11, 2012 at 01:53 pm
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All but one comment has missed the main point. The beef served at Paradise Farms Cafe is free of artificial growth hormones which are hazardous to our health. When comparing to other burger joints it is important to compare apples to apples (I am not aware whether those mentioned here serve meat that is free of artificial growth hormones).
Play / August 14, 2012 at 10:39 am
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Went there yesterday with my wife and baby. The food was delicious. I really liked the brisket, and my wife enjoyed the portobello mushroom burger and she went to town on all the different gourmet free toppings. The onion rings were the best I have had in town. They seem to make it in some kind of tempura batter, it was very tasty. We didn't have a problem getting a high chair, they had two available. We will definitely go back. The customer service was also very good, we had our hands full with the baby and they even brought our food to our table and helped us settle in.

Paradise Farms Cafe / August 21, 2012 at 04:43 pm
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Hi all!

Thanks for the feedback, every suggestion is important to us and we thought you'd like to know what we've done to improve!
We do in fact have high chairs now and yes all our sauces are in squeezable bottles, so no cross contamination may take place. We also now offer WHOLE WHEAT breads to cater to those looking for a healthier option.

A note regarding the KOBE/WAGYU. There is no such thing as Kobe Beef outside Japan, this is very true. This is why our beef is Kobe "Style" beef. The cattle we raise in Caledon is Wagyu. Kobe beef is a specific type of Wagyu cattle bred only in the province of Kobe in Japan. Therefore, the relation between the two is that they are from the same breed stock. On our menu this has been clearly labelled as Ontario WAGYU beef, kindly refer to our site for the menu and additional information.

Feel free to email us with any questions or concerns at info@shanebaghai.ca. Every suggestion leads to an improvement! Thank you!
hotrunner / October 10, 2012 at 07:23 pm
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the guy Shane should stick to building condos, not open these types of restaurants. He knows nothing about this kind of business and it shows. It will not last with only a couple of customers per day. 50% of restaurants that open in the first year actually close. The burgers are actually tasteless compressed meat almost like a meat loaf, fries really greasy (fries were once served in a cardboard box they actually contained a lot more fries but that stopped), no highchairs for little ones. My wife was a x2 per week customer. They raised the Cobe Sausage to $15 !!!! that is when we had enough. To top things off, they tried to fool her by giving her Cobe $15 Sausage on a Baguette. The Baguette was very small, about 1/4 the size of the Sausage. She told the server behind the counter and the girl went to back of the kitchen and actually got her the correct bun. Why would this happen when serving up a $15 Sausage ? WHY did we have to ask and bring it to their attention? ...CRAZY....High prices, bad service, really bad manager, bad customer service and nobody cares when you complain, you just get silence and the manager says "then why do you come here." ! This is no way to treat any customer, especially a repeat x2 week customer. We use to drop $50 - $60 per week there. Better options elsewhere for the money. Why would anyone go back ? noooooooobdy!
George / November 29, 2012 at 01:24 am
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Wow hotrunner you must have a serious chip on your shoulder. I ate there and the food was pretty good. The kobe sausage was $9, and the fries portion was a lot. I didn't find them greasy either. You must be one of those retarded customers, that restaurant staff wish would never come. If a manager has to ask why you go there, you must have been quite the ass. I wonder how your wife puts up with you. You must be blind too cause I saw a few high chairs around there. Get some glasses, learn English and get some therapy. That should help you become a contributing member to society rather than posting garbage like this.
hotrunner replying to a comment from George / December 7, 2012 at 09:58 am
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WOW George, u r a prick, maybe you should ask the right questions and get a life and stop jumping to conclusions. For example, What you see and experienced now has changed there since my complaint. The establishment obviously took my complaint seriously. Maybe you should get a life, GET SOME THERAPY YOURSELF and stop jumping to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions can make a damn ass out of yourself. YOU HAVE PROVEN THAT QUITE WELL. Sometimes calling things the way they are does make a difference and certainly has made a difference since my last experience. You have benefited from this on your last visit. Lowered the price and installed high chairs, NO I AM NOT BIND. Your experience has proven me correct. They tried to push the envelope on prices. Obviously they were proven wrong, didn't work and lowered the prices back down. I saw this in a flyer that was mailed to our area recently. Next time, you could be a little nicer with your comments and you misbehaving like a little boy does NOT make the world a nice place to live. GROW UP !!!
sometimes the truth hurts.
Aaron / August 30, 2014 at 09:42 pm
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Been going there every 3-4 months. Went tonight and doubt I'll return. The burger was no longer fresh. It was frozen (cookie cutter style) and VERY dry.

When I place my order, I added (as I always do) "for here", then pont at the counter. When buzzer went off, I was greeted with a takeout bag. After I ate, I returned to the counter to complain about the takeout error and two people were complaining their orders weren't was they asked for. Dumped my empty takeout bag and walked out. bye bye

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