When I was a kid, my family went on a summer vacation to Canada's East Coast. We went to go visit my Uncle Garth, Aunt Joanne and my cousin Angela in Halifax. While were were there, I remember my uncle taking us out and having a Nova Scotian Donair (NSD). I had never tried anything like it. A pita with some sort of spiced meat and onions, and, well the sauce. Some sort of white goo that was super sweet and tasty. I remember we bought a bottle, and I even think he sent us some for X-mas a few times. A long time went by, and it was but a memory.
Back in the mid 2000's I found a place called Gyros in Toronto that had NSD, and I found heaven again. But in 2007 it closed. Soon after I heard about another donair joint that had NSD, but it just wasn't the same. In the spring of 2012 I heard rumours that a NSD place had opened on the Danforth. So I decided to check it out for myself.
The Fuzz Box is a very unassuming place. The entrance was very plain, and if I didn't know better, would guess that it was an old eatery. I walked inside, where a music theme was demonstrated through mounted guitars. There are a few tables about the place. What really caught my attention was the big "Hello" when I came towards the counter to order.
"I'm Neil, what's your name?" asks the man, who shakes my hand. What is this . . . this friendliness in Toronto? I was taken aback. This is Neil, the owner, and Nova Scotian. He does this with everyone who comes in. He is super friendly and happy to talk about anything. Through my conversation and others I overhear, he wanted to bring a taste of his home here to Toronto. It's called the Fuzz Box, because his band is The Fuzz. There's some cross promotion going on there. He cares a lot about this business. I hear him go in the back and he's talking to his staff - making sure everything is done right. He's keeping them on track - he's firm, but still friendly.
He asks if I've ever had a NSD. I say yes, but it's been years. I'm excited to get back to having them. I look over the menu at the options.
|From The Fuzz Box's Facebook Photos|
I stick with what I'm there for (the Donair) and what I do (wings). Fortunately I can get a smaller order of wings and the NSD come in different sizes too!
At this point you must be asking, what makes a Nova Scotian Donair special from a regular donair? So you have your pita wrap, some gyro meat, onions and tomato. But what really sets it apart is the sauce. The sauce is sickly sweet. Its condenced milk and some garlic . . . its ooey and gooey and good.
The Fuzz Box's NSD floods me with memories. They are a few slight differences; he uses a more spiced meat that is not like the shaved gyro meat, but a ground beef mixture that's cooked on a flat top. He says he's hoping to do spit roasted in the future. The pita, Greek style, is moistened, so it is a soft blanket.
Every bite is a happy moment for me and really comes down to the sweet sauce and the soft pita. The meat is not as spicy as I was expecting, but the onion and tomato add their bits to the pool. And it's a pool - there is no skimping on sauce here. This is what I have missed for so long.
So how were the wings?
You can either get 6 or a bakers dozen of wings. I ask about the cooking process and Neil tells me the wings are marinated, baked, then pan fried. He wants to get a deep fryer at some point, but for now, that's how the wings are done.
They came in a clam shell foam container, and inside that they were wrapped in tinfoil (I assume this is their standard take-out configuration). There are three flavours to choose from: BBQ, Honey Garlice, and House Marinade.
The wings were large - long, big, meaty. I was really impressed with the size. However the wings were a little tough. I had difficulty pulling the bones apart and the meat was not as tender as I would like it. The skin also was not very crispy (I would prefer crispy). If Neil does get that deep fryer, that would improve things.
The flavour of the marinade was good. Very homemade. A little bit of a kick, but very underwhelming.
The wings, ah, I was not a huge fan of the wings. I really think that if they were deep fried, that would fix the toughness and the lack of crispy skin. In fact, I would order them deep fried with the house marinade, and then dip it in the sweet garlic sauce. But for now, I would pass on wings. But the donairs ... I was in love. So good. Excellent. These may not be for everyone (if you don't like super sweet on meat, or you view NSD's as just after-bar food) but I will be back for sure. 3.5/10
About a week after coming to the Fuzz Box, my uncle Garth passed away. It was sad for myself and my family, but I know every time I have a NSD, I think of him. Thanks uncle Garth for introducing me to this tasty Haligonian dish.
The Fuzz Box
1246 Danforth Ave, Toronto ON