Monday, December 24, 2012

St. Lawrence Market (Buster's Sea Cove & Carousel Bakery)- Toronto, ON

Living in Toronto for most of my life, I had never really explored the city; MY city. But when my friend came to visit me over the holidays, we decided to make the trip downtown to the Distillery District. To our dismay, we were thoroughly disappointed with what we found and decided to head back to Eaton's Centre for some more shopping and a bite to eat. As we were walking back, we stumbled across the St. Lawrence Market. I have heard the name through random conversations over the past years but had never checked it out for myself. There was no better time than now, as we were wandering the streets of Downtown Toronto. St. Lawrence market is a lively two level building housing a variety of fresh small fruit/vegetable, butcher, cheese, baked goods and fish shops. It was clear that all the desserts were freshly baked, all the fish was just very recently caught, and all the meat was clearly of high end cuts and of top quality.  After doing a quick search on our phones for the best places to eat, we decided on two places: Busters Sea Cove and Carousel Bakery.

Busters Sea Cove

The Salmon Sandwich with Coleslaw at Busters Sea Cove
After perusing through the menu of fresh seafood, we decided on the Atlantic salmon. Busters had a vast menu of seafood including: swordfish, tilapia, calamari, tuna, snapper, octopus, shrimp, halibut, etc. The fish was clearly fresh and most likely bought from a shop no more than 30 paces from their booth. They also offer multiple methods for cooking; whether it be fried in a batter like fish and chips, or grilled placed on a slice of oiled bread. We went with the sandwich/panini filled with fresh lettuce, red onion and tomatoes. The first bite was an explosion of the sea! The fillet of fish was soft, tender and moist, almost breaking apart when bitten into. The char of the grill also made the piece of fish very tasty, as it added a nice, almost slightly burnt flavor. I was also surprised by the size of the fillet in the sandwich, as it was quite large. The appearance also served on a piece of "newspaper" which provided a very rustic feel.

Service was also excellent as it took no more than 5-10 minutes from the time of order until we got our food and cooks seemed cheerful. Sandwiches are served with coleslaw; for an additional charge, customers can choose to add either salad or freshly cut skinny fries. We decided to stick with the coleslaw, made up of carrots, shredded raw and red cabbage and mixed with a light milk (possibly buttermilk), vinegar, and black pepper dressing. This was the only thing we were disappointed with as the coleslaw seemed very flavorless. There was hardly any taste, but at least it was light and added a fresh, clean element to accompany the sandwich. Busters, like all the places at St. Lawrence, is more of a casual fast food, sit wherever you can type of restaurant, which is great!


4/5 Erics for Busters Sea Cove

Carousel Bakery

The Peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery 
After making a quick walk around scouting the different places, I had stopped at the Carousel Bakery. Apparently, this bacon is quite famous. What had first caught my eye was a board with a letter by Emeril Lagasse (you know that chef who says "BAM!") stating how he loved Carousel's peameal bacon. Then I began to look more and saw that other celebrities, such as Anthony Bourdain also ate here and thoroughly enjoyed this infamous bacon.The best way to describe peameal bacon is thick slices of cured ham, but instead a cut from the pork belly, its from the loin making it a leaner meat.  I decided that for lunch, I would try what all these famous people had so much passion for. The sandwich sells for $5.75 and although, it seems relatively cheap, in my opinion, you get the right amount of peameal for what you pay for. Sitting on the counter lay many types of mustard's: hot mustard, Dijon, regular mustard, honey mustard, etc. I decided to add a bit of Dijon mustard on my sandwich. On first bite, I got a big piece of peameal bacon. I finally understood why so many people enjoyed Carousel's infamous sandwich. The peameal bacon was just the perfect amount of saltiness and the outer trim of ground yellow cornmeal surrounding the bacon was crispy and added a nice crunchy texture. The bread was also very soft and warm, something that all sandwiches should have. Although, this sandwich is very simple; the tastes are very pure and show off the true flavors of peameal bacon. However, in the end, peameal bacon is peameal bacon; it was very good, but just an extraordinary sandwich of a usually ordinary meat. Also, one criticism that I will say is that the sandwiches seemed to already be prepared and it would have been nice to see them actually put the sandwich together from scratch. Service was also excellent at Carousel.

4/5 Erics for Carousel Bakery

St. Lawrence Market has so many small and wonderful shops with delicious food at every corner. Most of the product sold is of high quality, so be prepared to spend that extra money; don't worry, in the end it will be worth it! As for Buster's and Carousel, I highly recommend both of these restaurants to those looking for a casual, yet great place to eat. I will be back to try more on their menu as I feel I must be thorough in my research. And I am happy to do THIS research. Although, I had only tried a few things at this market, I was thoroughly impressed with what I was able to taste. There is so much left for me to experience and I definitely will be back! I just wish I knew about this place earlier....


5/5 Erics for St. Lawrence Market

Buster's Sea Cove on Urbanspoon
Carousel Bakery on Urbanspoon

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