Where to eat and drink around George Brown College
Options are plentiful when it comes to finding a place to nosh around George Brown College's St. James campus. For one, its own culinary arts school operates a restaurant through which students can hone their skills, giving the rest of the campus (and public) access to high-end fare at pretty reasonable prices. But beyond that, the campus has the good fortune of being in the epicentre of great eats, with the St. Lawrence Market just down the road, and plenty of dining options lining the perimeter of the school.
Of course, if all else fails (i.e. exhausted grocery budget) there's always begging at the culinary school door, and an apple from the Market. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, because the places listed below are certainly worth a visit. Here are some spots to check out around George Brown College.
While playing guinea pig for graduates-to-be is sometimes a questionable decision (I say that as someone who has gambled--and lost--with a beauty school haircut), lunch at Chef's House is typically a safe bet. Actually, it's usually more than that with a prix-fixe menu for lunch and dinner that includes multiple courses and keen-student attention to detail. Promoting local, sustainable foods and everything made from scratch, the George Brown culinary students in the kitchen prepare dishes such as braised lamb shank, chicken confit, and pan-seared Atlantic salmon.
In anticipation of lecture, there's Cafe 260, a spot to grab a fair trade, organic cup of coffee. More than just jolts, Cafe 260 is also a place to refuel, offering fresh panini, cold sandwiches, soups, and baked goods. There's free Wifi, of course, but not a lot of room, so be prepared to elbow Facebook-lurkers out of their chairs to get some studying done. Want more of a traditional espresso bar? Head over to Bisogno instead where a communal table awaits.
While we're on the topic of vegan, Cruda Cafe is just a stone's throw from George Brown, nestled in the lower-level corner of the St. Lawrence Market. Cruda is great for students looking for a vegan, organic, and mostly raw lunch (packaged in eco-friendly containers, of course), with plenty of salads, wraps, and fresh juices and smoothies. Cruda also offers breakfast items, though only on Saturday mornings.
Betty's could do with a polish or two, but a good selection of beer and an awesome back patio make it an ideal George Brown watering hole. Few menu items actually top $10, and you might catch an improv show some evenings in the upstairs party room. Or maybe those are just drunk college students making the most of a Tuesday night...
Every college student needs a shawarma stronghold and Shawarma House on the Esplanade may be just that. Less than a 10-minute walk from campus, the small shop offers fresh (and cheap) falafel, shawarma, and other Middle Eastern fare, served in generous portions.
Patrician Grill: the greasy spoon that time forgot. This place hasn't changed in decades--in menu and decor--offering the same classic burgers, fries, grilled cheese, and breakfast specials from back when our parents were at George Brown. Plates often come with a side of sarcasm, which for Patrician Grill regulars, is just like a cosy, familiar hug.
The best tasting food is always the kind you hunt yourself, and since Food Cabbie is actually on wheels, let's call a pulled-pork sandwich from its truck a delicious "successful seizure." The truck is usually at Queen and someplace (Jarvis, Mutual, Dalhousie, etc.), offering classic comfort food like burgers and Philly cheese steaks, as well as $5 breakfast burritos, hot "dawgs," and Italian sausage.
George St. Diner
All-day breakfast is always a winner with students. More "quaint" than "untouched" (especially after a change in management and renovation a few years back), the diner has all the classic comfort food favourites necessary after a long day of classes. George's Irish breakfast, complete with soda bread and Belfast ham, explains the long brunch line out the door.
Le Petit Dejeuner
On the topic of breakfast, Le Petit Dejeuner is said to have some of the best eggs benny in Toronto. Even better--you can get it on a waffle! I hope George Brown Culinary students are paying attention; this is dining innovation. Not the cheapest option in the area, but also not the most expensive, Le Petit Dejeuner has a great atmosphere and plenty of spiked coffee drinks (combining students' two loves).
Olympos/Crowbar is a stained apron/killer souvlaki type diner. The padded stools and cold milkshakes provide a respite for students on those extra-long days, and you can usually count on a sympathetic ear (especially if well tipped) from behind the counter.
Fusaro's is known for its fresh, delicious, and fairly priced Italian fare. While the panini is the student choice for fast and filling, Fusaro's makes a great plate of pasta and offers a whole assortments of salads alongside. The daily gourmet pizza slice is also a good student option at $4 and change per piece.
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