Empanadas a popular choice at Simon's Cuisine. (Mike Green/CBC)
He creates nine different varieties of them at Simon's Cuisine
, which José opened along with his wife Clara, back in 2004.
The dough is a mix of shortening, flour and water, "that's it" said José, "simple." But it's not that simple. It's a perfect ratio; a recipe passed down to him from his mom in Tucumán, Argentina, which come out crisp-yet-soft.
They're baked, not fried, so they are never greasy (which is great because I'm going to start carrying these things around in my pocket on a daily basis).
The classic beef empanada is always a good choice, while the Humita (corn and squash with mozzarella) is also excellent.
Like all good neighbourhood haunts Simon's Cuisine is located in a nondescript strip mall, beside a drycleaners - which appears to be a trend
. But unlike other haunts the interior is quite warm, and relatively well decorated -- which is nice, because sometimes when you're eating in a room this small it can feel like you're at someone's house.
Simon's Cuisine on St. Mary's Road (Mike Green/CBC)
"We renovated the restaurant last year," said José. "Before it was just take-out, now it is dine-in." "And take out," Clara interjects. Though dine-in is now the more popular choice for guests.
And they are licensed too, which is fitting as beef with chimichurri sauce demands a bottle of Alamos Malbec
In the kitchen, which is quite huge considering the dinning room size, José runs the show. And he has the expericence, they used to own a larger restaurant in Tucumán before they moved. Watching José twist the empanadas into distinguishing folds is a thing of beauty. Clara, who works at Scotiabank during the day, comes in in the evenings to keep the front of the house going.
The food is handmade and homemade, the recipes simple and delicious.
I've been told by one customer that next time I'm in I'm to have the Milanesa Especial (breaded beef with tomato sauce, ham, mozzarella, roasted red peppers and fried eggs) -- as if I'll need an excuse to come back. Have a favourite neighbourhood restaurant you think Mike should check out? Tell him about it here.