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Archive for September, 2010

Open-faced omelette

Contrary to popular belief, I do turn on a stove every now & again. And relaxed-style dinners (ahem, lazy-styles) are breakfast dinners. Who wouldn’t love, right?

Eggs. Spinach. Tomatoes. Mushrooms. Avocado. Parmigiano Reggiano. Chili powder. Cumin. Cracked black pepper. Open-faced omelette.

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Our first experience sans photos. Our second experience avec photos.

This wknd, a girlfriend asked if we enjoyed Ruby Watchco just as much the 2nd time round, and I belatedly realized with some chagrin that I had never posted our fabulous dinner from July.

Blasphemy!

Let’s fix that, shall we?

So, we were celebrating sweet A‘s birthday, and on the menu for the eve was Ruby’s BBQ chicken dinner. Now, if I may be completely frank, chicken doesn’t excite (ever). Perhaps to see what it’s been stuffed with, but given the amount of time I devote to a menu…barely a cursory glance. 2%, if that, to le insignificant poulet. Judge away. I judge your chicken with my snobbery.

Wish I could say that night was different. And I can’t, so I won’t.

Instead, will focus on what was underneath…and O MY, did it ever make up for its nonexcitingness.

Coffee porter braised beef brisket hash.

Yes. Sounds pretty freakin’ good, right? Forget the chicken, we were all digging for the braised beef. Dig dig dig.

ruby watchco: feast

Stand-outs: Warm and unbelievably fresh, you bet your pretty little smile those chive buttermilk biscuits taste just as good as they look.

…and even better with their to-die-for house churned butter.

ruby watchco: cheddar chive buttermilk biscuits

Now, honourable mention goes to the grilled corn with honey smoked paprika butter. Boiled, cooked in milk, finished off on the grill and smeared with that crazy good butter. Sweet corn on a summer’s day is the best, isn’t it? Too bad it’s no longer summer.

Right then, moving along!

It pains, but forgettable dishes of the night included the creamy cilantro lime napa slaw + summer bean salad.

The slaw was far too creamy, and absolutely unfair, but slaw triggers salivation over Susur’s singaporean version. The bean salad had a nice crunch from the yellow and green beans. Nice, like, your first blind date nice. Never again, nice.

ruby watchco: feast II

Cheese plate! So, I’m a stinky hard cheese kinda girl.

The riopelle was soft, brie-like, a triple cream cheese from Quebec…quite nice & smeared exceptionally well. Talk to the other ladies, they’ll give you a more eloquent orgasmic reaction.

ruby watchco: le riopelle de l'isle

Mmm, warm & peachy crumble.

More crumble & a stronger hit of cinnamon would have been just what autumn ordered.

ruby watchco: ontario peach crumble

Now, don’t worry we’re ending on a high note. Like you guys were even concerned ;)

Pavlova. My new FAVOURITE dessert.

Meringue-based, light, delicate and velvety with a spongey-crunchy shell; texture is fantastically good. Berries were bittersweet, but fork kept returning to the plate…for more pavlova…like it had a mind of its own. Hmm.

ruby watchco: pavlova w/ blackberries

ruby watchco

Ultimately, enjoyed the food more the first time around – however dessert redeemed itself tenfold, remember our le-gourmand-style-hard-rock cookies?! Service was just as lovely, we toasted the day A was born & happily stuffed our faces like the little piggies we were and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, it’s been months and we need to find ourselves another pavlova.

http://rubywatchco.ca/
730 Queen St. East
416.465.0100

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Is it too much to expect that a dish served high-styles at a restaurant opening will be the same dish, when you order from their menu weeks later?

Months ago, fell head over tummy in love with the tuna lettuce wraps at the O&B Café Grill opening / media launch (timely, this post is not). Generous hunks of Ahi tuna dipped in a wicked good citrus soy, topped with crispy taro and ginger…may or may not have staked claim beside table.

S had to tear me away to meet other food lovers, writers, chefs, publicists…and while peppering them with questions, I’d sneak in a rave or two about the tuna lettuce wraps, and we’d inevitably make our way over to sample (again and again).

Fast forward a few weeks, returned with friends and eagerly anticipated a repeat performance. Instead, was hit with an underwhelming version of the wrap. Lonely iceberg shells with 1/3 Ahi tuna and little to no presentation…for shame! Would’ve been comical, had it not been so disappointing.

A little pizzazz for the opening, absolutely – but expectations were set for something quite stellar, particularly if same dish was offered on the regular menu. Granted, we didn’t need it to be served on a beautiful slab of wood, but imagine meeting Megan Fox, when you were expecting Angelina Jolie. The poor man’s version. Deflating.

O&B Cafe Grill: tuna lettuce wraps (Jolie-styles)

Yet, we’re still drawn to her. Like a moth to the flame. A dirty flame.

Anyway. I’ve been back, several times…with fingers crossed each time. Out of sheer stubbornness or because we enjoy their patio & play the repeat game? Whatever the reason, have continued to order with hopes that the wraps would improve over time.

And on 3rd attempt, 3 months after launch…while still not Jolie-styles, certainly better.

O&B Café Grill: tuna lettuce wraps (fox-styles)

Random Q: Perfectly circular…what happens to the excess lettuce?

The things we ponder.

Out of all O&B restaurants, the least spectacular. Mind you, not competing with their brothers & sisters. Casual, bistro bar bites with a few gems like their mushroom soup and grilled calamari. Have a go if you haven’t tried… the heat lamps will keep you warm.

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill
33 Yonge Street
647-260-2070

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Feature: C5 corn salad

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the corn salad at C5.

Bold statement. But, if there was ever a moment you could prolong a dish (or two)… first few that come to mind: arctic char ceviche at Foxley, foie gras at Cava and the corn salad at C5. Gave myself seconds to write down. Pretty definitive, non?

We can discuss later.

Seriously. It’s incredible. Fresh creamy polenta, romaine hearts, chipotle lime dressing, Cookstown green radishes. And the 65 degree egg. Fantastic. Textures, flavours, match made in culinary heaven.

C5
http://www.c5restaurant.ca/
100 Queen’s Park
416.586.7928

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Simple menu. Local ingredients. Attention to detail. Casual charm. Canteen.

O&B’s newest restaurant with a home in the TIFF Bell Lightbox…yep, just in time for film fest.

Defying the notion that simple fare can’t be done well, Canteen’s menu is centered around familiar, comfort foods. Pasta (gnocchi, tagliatelle), pizza (calabrese, al parma), pressed sandwiches (chicken BLT, prosciutto), steak frites, mussels etc. with a weekly chef’s menu that changes based on seasonality.

Two encounters in the past two weeks. Our first was complete with C listening to me lament over forgotten camera every time a new dish was brought out… plated with care and served in beautifully heavy French cast iron cookware…we were all over the presentation. I’m partial, can’t help it.

A feast for the eyes, and our first indication of Chef Jason Bangerter’s influence. Second indication? Housemade ketchup. Seriously, try with the handcut fries…addicting. Third indication? Edible flowers. Try the Soma brownie. Could keep going, but he really does have his hand in everything. A little touch here and there…exceeding your expectations for casual dining.

Imagine spending eight years at Auberge and then making the leap to Canteen/Luma (higher-end lounge, opening Sept 12). Worlds apart and difficult to believe…unless you’ve experienced his personality. Warm, engaging and incredibly personable – he’s just as passionate about creating the finest French cuisine or $7 beef brisket sandwich and $11 mac & cheese.

Returned this eve, with camera in hand, and enjoyed a handful of new dishes. No repeats. Yet.

Stand-outs so far: the salads (thai coleslaw, beet root, israeli couscous), chicken liver parfait and desserts (soma brownie, lemon posset).

New challenges, exciting launches…and if both restaurants survive TIFF (Sept 9 -19), they’ll survive anything. Including the noise on King St.

Canteen: handcut fries & housemade ketchup

Canteen: chicken liver parfait

Canteen: gallo mussels

Canteen: lemon posset w/ chantilly & berries

O&B Canteen
330 King St. West, TIFF Bell Lightbox
647.288.4710

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