Monthly Archives: October 2013

Totally biased product review by me — Bombay Bhel

On a cold, rainy night the warm red comforting glow of the Bombay Bhel sign offers hope of a tasty curry in this dramatically soft-focus photo

On a cold, rainy night the warm red comforting glow of the Bombay Bhel sign offers hope of a tasty curry in this dramatically soft-focus photo

Picture the scenario. It’s been a tough day. Work was hectic, someone stole your pork pie lunch from the communal fridge and the commute home on the TTC doesn’t go as planned.

You finally get in, slump in your armchair and put on your slippers. But before you turn on the goggle box for Corrie Street there’s just one word in your mind: curry. (Or two words if you say Ruby Murray to sound harder than you are.)

Where can you go, where there’s various locations and you’ll always get a decent curry? Glad you asked. Bombay Bhel!

I go there a LOT, and it’s one of the best curries for me personally. Two clues to back up that bold, totally biased statement: (1) They spend money on paying the best chefs and not on their website design, and (2) there’s always a lot of Indian customers enjoying the food … not just pasty-white Brits like me sitting alone and looking around trying to pretend I do have mates, but they’re busy that night.

So — onto the food.

First off, let me tell you that if you’re looking for the “English style” curry — all the oranges and reds floating around in copious amounts of ghee — then this is not the place for you. Bombay Bhel has opted for the more traditional type of curry: more browns, slightly thicker in texture and with more spice.

As someone who started off my curry adventure as a teen on Chicken Korma and worked up to a Vindaloo, asking for “slightly hotter than medium please, old chap!” once had me taking cooling air breaths in between mouthfuls — it was pretty spicy. But DELISH!

Another great thing about Bombay Bhel is they don’t scrimp on the portion sizes. I usually have enough of my main course to take half home for lunch next day, but prefer not to put temptation in the way of the pork pie thief at work … so I eat the lot. I’m also a greedy bugger too, so that helps.

As a starter, the samosas are a nice size — crispy with a good, meaty filling — and come with a tamarind dipping sauce. I always get three poppadoms too and ask for the green minty raita sauce and a side of the spicy lime pickle. [Curious fact = the Bombay Bhel I go to never charges me for the poppadoms or pickle! Maybe it’s because I’m a regular there? Not sure. Anyway, it’s never on the bill so I make it up on the tip. Good karma and all that.]

My go-to dish — and the one I drive miles specifically to Bombay Bhel for — is the Chicken Karahi. They cook it in the perfect way, with lots of sauce (a must for me), big chunks of succulent chicken (Jesus Christ, writing this is making me starving now actually) and lots of ginger and onions. Mmmmm! (They always put that little bit of wood in too, that I’m not sure what it is, but must be a spice of some kind. Keep an eye out for that.)

It’s licensed, so you can enjoy a beer or wine with your meal, but make sure you are responsible in your drinking, take a taxi or go with a designated driver. (Just saying that to cover myself legally.)

So, there you have it. One of my personal favourite curry houses and I give it a nose-blowing, brow-mopping, eye-watering Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

What Toronto pub do you watch your football in?

Hours of number crunching the data produced some disappointing statistics

Hours of number crunching the data produced some groundbreaking statistics*

The great thing about Toronto is that you can put on your football scarf, wander into a pub on game day and mix with other football fans. You can also get out alive, which is a nice, respectable way to enjoy the game these days.

I had a quick look at the Brits in Toronto football page and — although chuffed that we have just over 50% of the English Premier League represented — still want to complete the full tally.

So, if you know which Toronto pubs fans of the following teams watch their matches at, drop us a quick line. Much appreciated.

  • Southampton
  • Swansea City
  • Hull City
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • Fulham
  • Cardiff City
  • Stoke City
  • Norwich City
  • Crystal Palace

*Illustration copyright Brits in Toronto 2013. All rights reserved. Unlawful copying or reproduction of the data is strictly prohibited.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Karin and Kieran Ronde

Karin and Kieran laugh about the uncanny similarity in their names

Karin and Kieran laugh and joke about the uncanny similarity in their names

Brits in Toronto feels a warm affinity to Karin and Kieran Ronde because of their blog — K&K Adventures — that they started in January 2012 “as a way to introduce locals and travellers abroad to Canada and the expat lifestyle they’ve come to love!”

So, in effect we’re copying their idea. Fiddlesticks!

But curious as to what brought them to Toronto, we invited them to be featured in Successful Brits in Toronto … and they were game. Right ho, here we go then and over to you, Karin:

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

Toronto wasn’t so much of a choice for me; my parents moved to Toronto when I was 17. I was still living in Europe and decided to stay there and go to university in England. Because I was a minor at the time, I was given permanent Canadian residency along with the rest of my family.

At university I met Kieran, who was convinced we should take the opportunity of my residency and move to Canada when I’d finished my studies. Once there, I could sponsor him and he could get residency too. We planned to move permanently … although recently have been talking about looking at other cities in Canada because job opportunities may be better elsewhere.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

When we both first moved here in April 2011 I was fresh out of university and knew that it was a bad time to be a recent graduate looking for a job. Kieran and I both worked for six months at my parents’ fishing lodge in northern Ontario. It was bliss, totally remote and peaceful.

After we finished for the summer we were both still scared to move to Toronto and look for work. We went travelling round south east Asia for two months instead!

When we came back we jumped right in and I was lucky enough to get an interview with a Canadian who grew up in Bali. We spent the whole interview talking about my recent trip and she gave me a call the next day with a job offer.

Kieran was not so lucky. It took him the best part of a year temping, and looking for work before he found his current job.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

From a job-hunting perspective we both have had struggles with agencies, and find them beyond frustrating. I moved to another company recently and it took me four months of searching and interviewing before landing a job that I can truly say I love. Every industry here seems very competitive and it can be difficult to get an interview.

That being said, Toronto is a wonderful place to live in. We live in midtown, by Forest hill, and as neither of us have lived in a big city before, we are still struck by how much we love being close to the subway, having a grocery store next to our building, and the speed of which we can get anywhere in the city.

We also love the constant stream of events and activities we can enjoy living in the city. Toronto has a thriving music scene, many quirky bars and tons of beautiful parks to explore.

There are activities for everyone in both winter and summer, and Toronto is close enough to mountains for winter sports, and lakes for summer ones. Really there is no excuse to not be outdoors, and we both really enjoy that aspect.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

When we first arrived we went on Meetup.com and found the Brit Meetup to be a fantastic place to make new friends. We participate in their bi-monthly pub quiz when we can, and really enjoy it. In terms of pubs I would say Scallywags at St Clair and Yonge always has a British crowd as well as the Football Factory on Bathurst.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

My advice for anyone moving to Toronto is to get out there and experience all that the city and surrounding areas has to offer. The scenery north of Toronto is breathtaking and in any season you can find something to do.

Don’t be afraid to explore all of Toronto’s neighborhoods too as they really are so diverse, and look out for street parties and festivals like Taste of the Danforth or Salsa on St Clair.

Thank you K&K! Here’s their Twitter account if you’d like to connect.

Vote for Brits in Toronto in the MiB Awards

Sally Field just phoned to say, "The first time I didn't feel Brits in Toronto. But this time I feel it. And I can't deny the fact that I like you, right now, I like you!"

Sally Field just phoned to say, “The first time I didn’t feel Brits in Toronto. But this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that I like you, right now, I like you!”

Never a dull day in the Brits in Toronto HQ. Yes, we work Saturdays. Just got an e-mail stating, “We are pleased to let you know that your candidature to the MiB Awards has been approved.”

Having already won one award since launching — voted Best New Website 2013 by my mum — it would be most pleasing to scoop another.

So, dear reader, best mate, old pal … if you like what we’re trying to do at Brits in Toronto, please click here and give us your hard-earned vote! REALLY appreciate it …

Totally biased product review by me — The Feisty Jack British food truck

Canadian customers shuffle around nervously polishing up their Cockney before ordering

Canadian customers shuffle around, nervously polishing up their Cockney before ordering

My mate told me about The Feisty Jack British food truck, and I just had to check it out for a review.

At lunchtime on Friday, I left the Brits in Toronto HQ, strolled two blocks south, a couple of blocks west, crossed the traffic lights, ran across a busy road … and there it was, like a red, white and blue beacon, at the corner of Simcoe Street and Wellington Street West (check where they’ll be on Food Trucks Toronto first).

There were only about four people in the queue, so I didn’t have to wait long before ordering. I went for the English sausage poutine, on Yukon Gold fries, Mozzarella cheese and onion gravy ($9).

A hearty portion of English sausage, Yukon Gold fries, Mozzarella cheese and onion gravy, with a plastic fork for scale

A hearty portion of English sausage, Yukon Gold fries, Mozzarella cheese and onion gravy, with a plastic fork for scale and framed thoughtfully by a grate

The portion size was definitely filling enough for lunch and came in one of those boxes that stops the grease from leaking out over your jeans. Nice touch!

The food quality? Excellent! The sausage had a nice meaty tang to it, backed up nicely by the well-sized fries. The cheese melted perfectly over the top, all complemented by the rich onion gravy. It was the perfect, comforting lunch for a chilly, grey Toronto day.

One small criticism: I checked the street food menu on their website and was excited to try the TFJ Chicken Tikka Box … but found out that they only choose certain items to sell from the truck on any one day. So you are limited to what is on the menu that day.

I can live with that. It means I have an excuse to go back every Friday now to work my way through the menu!

Overall, very nice and I give it the first Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars. Well done!

The Duke of Gloucester = World Cup 2014 HQ for Brits!

Cheer up, son. You can have a pint and pop downstairs for a Ruby Murray

Cheer up, son … we got pretty far. Bloody Italy. Let’s have a pint and pop downstairs for a Ruby Murray

Bad news: it’s Monday. Good news: England recently qualified for the World Cup 2014!

And today I’m launching a stellar campaign to make The Duke of Gloucester pub on Yonge Street (between Bloor and Wellesley) the OFFICIAL World Cup HQ for Brits in Toronto.

I’m totally biased … let’s get that out of the way so there’s no accusations of bribery or conflict down the road. I consider it my local and have been going there a good number of years.

Having experienced a couple of World Cups/Euros there, I can attest it’s the place to be for live games. The place is jammed, seats are at a premium, usually CP24 or CityTV show up and film the joy and anguish on the faces of the collective Brits that come together as one for games.

The atmosphere is electric and the support when another English penalty shoots over the goal is heartwarming.

So … more details and campaign news to come down the road. But, let’s start getting excited!

ENGERLAND … ENGERLAND … ENGERLAAAANND … ENGERLAND … ENGERLAND … ENGERLAAAANDDDD!!

Dance like Jane Austen

"Darcy, the one who smelt it, dealt it." "Why yes, Lizzie, but the one who ignored it, stored it."

“But Darcy, the one who smelt it, dealt it.” “Why yes, Lizzie, but the one who ignored it, stored it.”

English novelist Jane Austen once famously wrote, “Don’t believe every quote you read on the Internet.”

That’s why Jane still has many fans to this day — a true Brit who spoke her mind and … was also a massive dance fan!

So, Brits in Toronto was very excited to hear about Jane Austen Dancing, a website listing sociable events in and around Toronto based on the theme of the famed, curly brown ringlet-haired novelist always staring off into the distance as she ponders her next best-selling book on the wry foibles of high society, cakes and piano lessons by the window.

The website lists a lot of Austen- and Regency era-related events and other fun stuff that would even make Jane crack a smile.

Here’s the next one: Saturday, October 19 — Trafalgar Ball. Dancing, decorations, live music and toasts to Lord Nelson and King George!

There’s also a mailing list, Twitter accounts to follow and a whole lot more.

So, swallow your pride, forget your prejudice, use your sensibility and spend some of those cents (that one didn’t quite work) on tickets!