Charidise in Baldwin Village serves what they’re calling Taiwanese gourmet. The menu is an eclectic mix of burgers, poutine, fried snacks, and healthier pasta and rice bowls.
The name is a combination of the word “cha” meaning tea and the word paradise, and indeed a good two thirds of the restaurant’s hulking menu is devoted to drinks like bubble tea, slushes, and milk teas.
The interior of what used to be John's Italian Caffe is lumbering and impressive, two massive floors with a capacity for three hundred outfitted in a teal and copper scheme with tons of geometric shapes.
Fried snacks include light, crunchy calamari ($8.99), tempura fried along with some veg like broccoli and drizzled with two sauces.
The Taiwanese sausage ($6.99) is popular, not too spicy, savoury and topped with some nicely potent garlic chips.
There’s also chewy, squeaky and crunchy fried king mushroom ($6.99). You can opt for a sweet and sour sauce for dipping some of these deep fried snacks.
The Taiwanese fried chicken ($8.99) is made popcorn-style, crispy and well-seasoned. Everything comes in earth-friendly bamboo containers, and they create little “wings” using parchment paper.
You’ll need drinks to go with all that: standard milk teas are around $6, and you can add tapioca or jellies for fifty cents. My avocado slush ($6.99) is rich without being too heavy on the avocado flavour.
As for mains, they’re holding up the gourmet end of their promise with frenched New Zealand lamb chops on spaghetti with red sauce ($13.99). The lamb is well cooked and the sauce is tasty, not for a bad price. All noodle dishes are served with broccoli.
All rice dishes come with a skewer of grilled zucchini, egg and brussels sprouts, meaning the meals are also well balanced for the price. One such dish is a chicken leg glazed with a kind of hoisin sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds, complementing the rich dark meat.
The shrimp ($10.99) here are great, plump, juicy, and definitely jumbo, on the lighter side paired with an alfredo spaghetti.
To round it all out even more, every rice or noodle dish here comes with an apple, a much healthier alternative to fries or dessert that has the added benefit of cleaning your teeth a little after the meal, too.
The huge space is dynamic enough to accommodate many different needs, especially those of nearby U of T students.
A semi-private room with a skylight near the back is good for parties.
Quieter areas further to the back and upstairs suit studying. There’s a patio out front, and one on the roof too.