Category Archives: Food

Monday’s Munchies: Sizzling Skillet

At the end of summer, Nouman and I finally went to try the breakfast at Sizzling Skillet with some of our friends. Although we had had dinner at Sizzling Skillet before, I was way more excited to try their breakfast – it is definitely more vegetarian friendly.

In a nutshell, their breakfast was delicious! Nouman and I both ordered their omelettes – steak and cheese for him, vegetarian for me. We also ordered their toblerone pancakes to share. Our friends got their steak and cheese panini and their waffles. The omelettes were cooked to perfection and their panini made me drool a little – it had the crunch factor that a great sandwich should have. I did wish their toblerone pancake had more toblerone but the pancake itself was amazing – light, fluffy and melt in your mouth goodness.

Nouman and I will be giving their dinner menu another shot. Last time we went, we decided to takeout because of the wait time. I bit into my grilled cheese sandwich around 20 minutes later and it felt dry. Definitely want to try their dinner menu in store.

Sizzling Skillet looks like an average Halal restaurant on the inside; boxy but clean. The servers are all friendly as is everyone working behind the kitchen counter. If you go on a weekend, you can be sure that there will be a lineup.

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Top Row: Toblerone pancakes before and after eating them.
Middle Row: Waffles and the cheese and steak panini
Bottom Row: Steak and Cheese omelette and a veggie omelette

Can’t wait to go back again!

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Monday’s Munchies: Roasted Vegetables

I was inspired by my co-worker, Julianna, to start roasting veggies again. I had forgotten how much I love them until I saw her munching on some.

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 box of button mushrooms (approximately 12)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or enough to coat the vegetables well)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

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Method

Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, cut all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Try to cut all the pieces into the same size

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Toss the vegetables with the remaining ingredients (olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper). Make sure you coat all the vegetables evenly and well

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Spread the vegetables evenly on a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil). If your veggies don’t fit on one tray, use two. You can also use a baking dish

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Pop the baking sheet into the oven for 30-40 minutes. Flip your veggies around the half way point. Be careful you don’t burn them

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The veggies should be oozing with goodness now! Serve hot – these taste the best when they are fresh

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Enjoy!

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Monday’s Munchies: G For Gelato

Summer might be coming to an end (already?!) but if you want to hold on to it for just a little bit longer, then read on.

G for Gelato is a cute little store that opened close to my work (too close) not too long ago. The place has a large selection of gelato flavours – some of them are very unique and mouth watering. They also have pizza’s and sandwiches which I have been dying to try. So far, I have only tried their gelato because I can’t get past it!

  • Service: Their servers are friendly and patient (they have always had a lineup).
  • Atmosphere: The place has a cool, laid back vibe. I thought it would be dark and small on the inside but it was surprisingly bright and spacious.
  • Flavours: They have a huge variety of flavours; there is something there for every taste palette. I have tried: Salted Caramel, Cheesecake, Pistachio, Chocolate Lover and Vanilla Caramel Pecan. I have loved each one. I think my favourite is Salted Caramel and Cheesecake – oh so good!
  • Price: 1 scoop is $3.65 and 2 scoops are $5.10. I think the gelato is priced fairly but the food is definitely on the higher end. I have heard that the taste is amazing so I would definitely try it to see if it’s worth the price!

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Monday’s Munchies: Silo Grill

One of the many things I love about summer is having meals on the patio – a hot summer day, yummy food with a beautiful view and good company. Ever since I found out that the Silo Grill at the Angust Glen Golf Club serves Halal food, I have been wanting to try it out. After almost a year of waiting, Nouman and I finally tried it a few weekends ago.

If you’ve been to Angus Glen before, you’ll know that the ground are beautiful. Everytime I visit Angus Glen, I am taken aback by the gorgeous views. I also love that they have an entirely separate Halal menu – not just a little note on the side that marks the Halal items.

We had a mixed experience with the food. I ordered an omelette with homefries and toast (we went for brunch) and I liked it. Nouman did not love his beef burger; although he thought that the patty was juicy, he felt it lacked flavour. We went with two of our friends who ordered a beef burger and a grilled chicken panini. Both of them liked their meals. The vegetarian options are limited; ask for the regular menu and not the Halal one if you are dining with vegetarians. Overall, the atmosphere trumps the meal but I would definitely go again.

Breakfast and Halal menu

Breakfast and Halal menu

The view

The view

His and hers

His and hers

I am always on the lookout for new locations to try out a patio meal so leave a comment with your favourite spot!

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Monday’s Munchies: Magnum Pleasure Store

This post is for all the dessert lovers, sweet tooth’s and icecream fanatics. If you haven’t heard about the Magnum Store, then I will have to assume that you’ve been living under a rock. I had been wanting to go ever since I heard about it in early July. If you want to try it, hurry – the store is temporary and will close on August 30th.

The Magnum Pleasure Store is a place where you can customize your Magnum icecream bars – for $6. There are 21 toppings to choose from; toppings range from chopped almonds to popcorn and even chilli flakes.

How It Works:

  • Choose your flavour: vanilla, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. I got the milk chocolate.
  • Add your toppings: They mix the toppings in a shaker and add it to your icecream after the bar has been dipped. What I remember getting: chopped almonds, hazelnut, toffee, rose petals and chocolate flakes.
  • Dip Your Icecream: Milk, White or Dark chocolate. I got milk chocolate.
  • Drizzle: Once the toppings have been added, you can add a milk, white or dark chocolate drizzle. I went for the white.
Inside the store

Inside the store

The process of customizing your bar

The process of customizing your bar

The final picture before I dug in

The final picture before I dug in

Overall, the experience is fun and new. The taste of the toppings I got was mild so I liked it. It wasn’t very different to a regular Magnum bar. Nouman and I are going to try to fit in another visit amidst our crazy week. If you’ve been, I’d love to hear about your experience!

p.s. If you missed my instagram video of the Magnum Store, you can follow me now (@ShazasScrapbook) to take a look!

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Monday’s Munchies: Tofu Parmesan

I have been feeling quite tired lately – not enough rest, the lovely heat of the sun and a very unbalanced diet have attributed to how I have been feeling. For the past week, I have finally started eating balanced meals again.

With the exception of myself, everyone around me eats meat. One of you readers asked me if I find it difficult being a vegetarian in a desi family. The truthful answer is yes. Everywhere I go, people think I do not eat food because to desi’s, meat is food. When I went to Pakistan, people were constantly on my case – how could the guest of honour (me) not eat meat?! My choice to not eat meat isn’t because of moral reasons – I simply don’t like the taste of chicken or beef. Even as a child, I used to cry at the dinner table because I did not want to eat meat. Being a desi who doesn’t eat meat is tough – I constantly have people telling me that I don’t eat enough or my favourite: “no wonder you’re so skinny.” Anyone who isn’t a big meat eater will tell you this: the easiest thing for me to cook that will fill me up is carbs – pasta, rice, anything along those lines. I also feel bad when someone goes out of their way to accomodate me – at most parties, I am perfectly okay with eating rice and bread (carb galore)!

Anyway, in an attempt to bring some much-needed balance in my life, I have started cooking tofu again. My favourite (and go-to) recipe is tofu stirfry with peanut and soy sauce. I made a big batch of this stirfry and finally got sick of it at the end of last week. Hungry for new tofu recipes coupled with my lasagna craving, I stumbled upon a Tofu Parmesan recipe that I knew I had to try. The recipe below is my variation of Tofu Parmesan that I twisted into a lasagna.

Ingredients

  1. 1 package extra firm tofu (350g)
  2. 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  3. 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  4. 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  5. 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  6. 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1/4 cup egg whites*
  9. 1/2 onion, chopped
  10. 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  11. 1 zucchini, chopped
  12. 1 tablespoon garlic powder (you can also use fresh garlic)
  13. 1 teaspoon chili flakes if you are using store-bought pasta sauce. I made my own so I added the chili flakes to my pasta sauce
  14. 2 cups pasta sauce (the amount of pasta sauce you use depends on your taste – I like my lasagna to have lots of sauce)
  15. 1 pound mozzarella cheese*

* indicates the approximate amount

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and slice the tofu, lengthwise, into 4 pieces. Make sure to press the excess water out from the tofu.
  • Get two bowls: In one bowl, mix together the following ingredients: bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In the second one, place the egg whites for the egg wash
  • Dip each tofu piece into the egg wash and then coat it with the dry ingredient mixture. Continue this process until all four tofu slices are breaded.
  • Place the breaded tofu onto a baking tray and bake it in the oven for 20 minutes. Then flip each tofu piece and bake it for another 20 minutes – or until golden brown.
Baked on one side and not the other

Baked on one side and not the other

  • While the tofu is cooking, saute the onion and garlic powder – around 2 minutes. Now, add the mushroom and zucchini until they are tender. Set aside
  • In a baking dish, begin the layering process starting with pasta sauce at the bottom. Add the tofu, some more pasta sauce, onion/mushroom/zucchini mixture, half of the mozzarella cheese, the remaining tofu pieces, the rest of the mozzarella and finally finish off with some more pasta sauce.
  • Bake this in the oven for around 20 minutes – until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has slightly browned.
The layering in pictures

The layering in pictures

Eat away!

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Monday’s Munchies: Halal Food Festival Toronto

Well, this weekend was the much-awaited Halal Food Festival in Toronto. I had been excited about this event for a long, long, long time. Without further ado, I am going to highlight some good aspects aswell as areas for improvements:

Pros:

  • Large Number of Restaurants: I was happy (and surprised) to see that there were many restaurants that I had never heard of. Alot of vendors participated and that made me happy!
  • Food Samples: Many vendors were giving samples in exchange for tickets ($10 for 20 tickets) which was great if you wanted to try/test a place
  • Scheduled Activities: The stage area had fun and educational activities – such as Cake Decorating Competition and Grilling Techniques by Muslim Chefs.
  • Other Vendors: It was also nice to see that alot of Muslim business owners participated. There were stalls for everything – jewellery, Hijabs/Abayas, books, Islamic Art, clothes, etc.
  • Play Area for Children: There was a play area for children that had all sorts of attractions such as bouncy castles

Areas of Improvement:

  • Variety of Cuisines: I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t alot of variety of food. Yes, there were alot of burgers and ribs but I expected more than just that. There was one Mexican vendor but I had so been counting on more! Other food items I would’ve liked to see at the food court: Middle Eastern, Italian, Pizza, Wings, Mexican, Pakistani (okay, so I am not a fan of eating desi food outside but I know that some parents/grandparents prefer that. I know many people were hoping to eat Kabab Rolls and papri chaat) and even snacks such as corn.
  • Taste of Food: Overall, everyone in my family thought the food was not as good as we had anticipated.
  • Lack of Vegetarian Options: I get it. It was Halal Food Festival so the majority of people wanted to eat beef and chicken – anything with meat. However, there are a small number of Muslims who do not eat meat (for health or personal reasons) and were completely excluded. Besides fries, poutine and icecream, there was not much we could eat. I hope that we won’t be overlooked next year!
  • Crowd Control: Since this was the first event, I am assuming the organizers and vendors did not have a good estimate of the turnout. As a result, there were large crowds and long lineups – which obviously upset alot of people. Many of the food vendors also ran out of their major attractions very early. We arrived at Big Mama’s House at 1:30pm on Sunday and their burgers were sold out.
  • Consistency: Some vendors were quoting different ticket numbers to different people. Nouman’s parents bought icecream for 4 tickets, but when Nouman went, they told him it was 5. However, when I went back to the same place, they told me 4 again (all handled by the same person).
  • Sample Tickets: There seemed to be some confusion with the purchase of sample tickets. Many people thought that the vouchers could be used towards the food court but were disappointed (and annoyed) when they realized that the food court was cash only. Next time, the organizers should either make it clearer or allow the tickets to be used towards food court items

Some Funny/Weird Incidents:

  • For the life of me, I could not understand why I heard so many people asking vendors if the food was Halal. Nouman even overheard one person arguing with a vendor about not having a Halal sign up.
  • Alot of people were complaining that the food samples were too small and/or there wasn’t any free food. This was the most absurd thing I have ever heard – why on earth would you be allowed to enter, park and eat for free?!
The line

The line-ups and vendors

Fiesta Poutine: Gravy, Cheese, Sour Cream and Jalapenos

Fiesta Poutine: Tomato Gravy, Cheese, Sour Cream and Jalapenos

Clockwise from Top Right: Hotdog and Chicken Poutine (Big Mama's House), Juicy Lucy (Burger Factory), Pastries (Papa - Pastries & Cafe), Barbican, Churros and Funnel Cake (Burger Factory)

Clockwise from Top Right: Hotdog and Chicken Poutine (Big Mama’s House), Juicy Lucy (Burger Factory), Pastries (Papa – Pastries & Cafe), Barbican, Churros and Funnel Cake (Burger Factory)

  • Beef Sausage: Apparently, these were good
  • Poutines: The vegetarian poutine was a joke – it tasted like I was eating pasta sauce with the nachos. I would never have this again. The chicken poutine was better
  • Juicy Lucy: Although the wait to get the food was extremely long, the boys liked their burgers.
  • Funnel Cake: It was hard to like the funnel cake because the icecream had melted from being outside all day. The cake portion was good – batter was the right consistency and not soft (or too crunchy). I wish they had real strawberries instead of just the strawberry sauce
  • Churros: They offered three fillings: chocolate, strawberry and caramel. Unfortunately, they skimped out on the filling. Otherwise, the churros were good (the ones we had in Chicago were way better).

Overall, I liked the festival. It was a great event and it is always a pleasure to see the Muslim community come together. There were a few places that I wanted to eat at (i.e. The Pie Guyz) – I can’t wait for the event to be even bigger and better next year InshAllah. I would love to be part of it next time!

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Monday’s Munchies: Food in Kuwait

Without a doubt, food in the Middle East is the best compared to anywhere else in the world that I have been to. I am not only saying this because the food is Halal, but the taste is also amazing. Everything tastes more delicious there – whether it be a falafel/shawarma sandwich or something from Burger King/McDonalds.

Nouman and I were super excited to have as much food as our stomachs could take in the 2.5 days we were there. If it were upto my parents, they would have taken us out 20 times a day. In the 2.5 days we stayed in Kuwait, we had 6 main meals (brunch/lunch/dinner) and countless “snacks.” Yup, we both definitely packed on the pounds there.

We had dinner at Texas Road House on our first night. It was sooo good!Clockwise from Top Row: Peanuts and delicious buns to munch on while we waited, Ribeye steak (smothered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, gravy and cheese) with Beef Ribs and mashed potatoes, Beef Brisket and mashed potatoes, Salmon with mashed potatoes (mine) and 2 side salads: Caesar for me and a House Salad for my mom

We had dinner at Texas Road House on our first night. It was sooo good!
Clockwise from Top Row: Peanuts and delicious buns to munch on while we waited, Ribeye steak (smothered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, gravy and cheese) with Beef Ribs, mashed potatoes and fries (Noumans – my dad ordered the same except green beans instead of fries), Beef Brisket and mashed potatoes for my mom, Salmon with mashed potatoes for me and 2 side salads: Caesar for me and a House Salad for my mom

Cheesecake Factory

Cheesecake Factory

Random things we ate/drank. The picture of me sipping the Burger King drink is on our way home from the airport. Yup, we started munching right away!

Random things we ate/drank. The picture of me sipping the Burger King drink is on our way home from the airport. Yup, we started munching right away!

My parents took us grocery shopping and told us to go crazy. We did.

My parents took us grocery shopping and told us to go crazy. We did.

My dad's favourite store to buy nuts from. He once bought me 5-7kg worth of nuts!

My dad’s favourite store to buy nuts from. He once bought me 5-7kg worth of nuts!

Canary: One of the best places to get falafels from in Kuwait. Fresh cocktail fruit juices are a must when travelling to the Middle East

Canary: One of the best places to get falafels from in Kuwait.
Fresh cocktail fruit juices are a must when travelling to the Middle East

Best cheese fatayer. We ate these on the beach

Best cheese fatayer. We ate these on the beach

Kabaabs, Hummus, Cocktail Juice and Kahwa in Kuwait City

Kabaabs, Hummus, Cocktail Juice and Kahwa in Kuwait City

One of my favourite Lebanese restaurants in Kuwait: Mais Al Ghanim

One of my favourite Lebanese restaurants in Kuwait: Mais Al Ghanim

Top to Bottom: Kibbeh (made of minced meat); A fish dish that I can't remember the name of; the rest are Kabaabs and Chicken. The last picture is of Arayas - bread stuffed with a variety of things (meat, cheese,etc)

Top to Bottom: Kibbeh (made of minced meat); A fish dish that I can’t remember the name of; the rest are Kabaabs and Chicken. The last picture is of Arayas – bread stuffed with a variety of things (meat, cheese,etc)

Everything was delicious!

Restaurants:
Texas Stone House
Cheesecake Factory
Mais Al Ghanim
Al Rifai Nuts

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Monday’s Munchies: Food in Lahore

During our short visit to Lahore, Nouman and I ate out as much as we could. Below are some pictures from our trip.

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Nouman’s parents had a dinner at their house so we could meet some of their close family and friends. The food was so yummy. The best part about being in Pakistan? They had multiple live food stations – the cooks were cooking the food right infront of us. It was a slightly chilly night and the warm jalebi felt so good to eat!

Clockwise from top left: Salad bar, food and live food stations: Kabaab, Poori and Jalebi!

Clockwise from top left: Salad bar, food and live food stations: Kabaab, Poori and Jalebi!

Coco’s Den
After sightseeing around Badshahi Masjid and the Shahi Qila, we decided to go for dinner at Coco’s Den. Nouman’s parents (among other people) had told us that Coco’s Den was the place to go in that area. They have rooftop dinners and the view of the Badshahi Mosque is breathtaking. They were absolutely right. The food was also pretty good – Nouman loved the kabaabs and the naan was delicious.

Cheese Naan, Roghni Naan, Chicken Salan, Palak and Seekh Kabaabs

Cheese Naan, Roghni Naan, Chicken Salan, Palak and Seekh Kabaabs

Street Food
Whenever we visited Pakistan as children, our parents would never let us eat street food. Having never lived in Pakistan, our body could not handle the germs that are present in the water and food. My parents would always make us drink bottled (or boiled) water and street food was out of question. When I went to Pakistan for my wedding shopping, I finally did have street food. This time around, Nouman and I both got sick on our second day in Lahore. However, since we both already had upset stomachs, we took full advantage and ate everything. I even had gol guppay from a food stall at Liberty.

Clockwise from top right: Spout, Paan, Gol Gappay and Sugar Canes

Clockwise from top right: Spout (chewing gum that has a yummylicious juice in the middle), Gol Gappay and Sugar Canes

Papri Chaat

Papri Chaat – Yup, these guys used tree branches to hang their clothes and extra supplies!

Fast Food
Nouman was super excited about finally eating Halal McDonalds. Throughout our trip, Nouman gorged on any fast food he could get his hands on – McDonalds, Hardees, Burger King, etc. I always got large fries and a Filet-o-Fish!

McDonalds

McDonalds

Chocolate Bar
While we were touring around some of the areas in Lahore, we noticed the Chocolate Bar and rushed to try it out. I loved the chic decor at the restaurant – the white couches were awesome. Nouman ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake, which was amazing. I ordered a slice of their red velvet cake which sucked – it was actually PINK and it tasted like a typical cake in Pakistan – soggy, tasteless and the cream was nasty. I should have gotten a safe chocolatey treat – oh well!

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I love large chandeliers

Chocolate Bar. Bottom right to left: Chocolate Lava Cake, Red Velvet and a Cappucino

Chocolate Bar. Bottom right to left: Chocolate Lava Cake, Red Velvet and a Cappucino

What are some of your favourite places to eat in Pakistan?

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Monday’s Munchies: The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro

I am finally back! If you have been keeping up-to-date with my Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that Nouman and I had an absolutely amazing early anniversary holiday. I rushed straight into my sisters bridal shower as soon as we were back but I’ll be blogging about the trip soon! In the meantime, here is a review about a local burger joint. Who doesn’t love burgers, right?

As you know, I am a huge food lover and thankfully so are some of my co-workers. Last week, my team decided to go for a group lunch to check out The Works burger joint near our work. Anyone else notice all the burger joints that have opened up in Toronto recently? Love it!

The ambiance of The Works is laid back and casual. While there is a fair amount of seats inside, there is no bar as you would find in a pub. The restaurant is set up with wooden chairs and tables as well as booths. Something I found unique – light bulbs were filled with salt and pepper. Our server was upbeat and friendly and attended to us very well.

The drinks are served in a measuring cup!

The drinks are served in a measuring cup!

Our table started off the meal with an order of tower-o-rings which is a gigantic tower of deep-fried onion rings. The onion rings were divine. There was a strong onion flavour, which I love, and the batter was not too over powering. The two dipping sauces, chipotle mayo and tzatziki, perfectly complimented the rings.

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The menu is huge. I mean, HUGE. There are so many choices that it is overwhelming. Yup, there is a surprisingly large selection for vegetarians too! The Works not only offers a veggie patty but also portobello mushroom caps. They also clearly mark all the vegetarian options – and the variety is plentiful. I had been looking over the menu for five days so I knew what I wanted when I sat down at the restaurant. I ordered a Little Italy – pesto, grilled eggplant, sliced tomato and havarti cheese – with a veggie patty on a white bun and a side of sweet potato strings.

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Although the patty was flavourful – unlike most veggie patties – my first few bites of the burger were dry. I was a little disappointed because I had been looking forward to enjoying a yummy pesto burger for almost one week. As I bit further into my burger, the oil from the pesto sauce started to spread and the burger became more moist. After the initial few bites, the burger was no longer dry. The pesto was very good and the cheese was a great compliment to it. The burger was not too saucy (no juices running down my elbow) and it held together well. By the end of my burger (yup, I finished everything), I was addicted to the taste and was inhaling my food. The sweet potato fries were yummylicious too.

The portion sizes are massive – the poutine is served in a bucket – and worth the price ($14 including a side but not a drink). Overall, everyone on our table was happy and satisfied.

I will definitely be going again and can’t wait to try toppings until I find my favourite.

*p.s. Certain locations may offer Halal patties – check with your location to find out!*

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