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Archive for the ‘resto reviews’ Category

SUKHOTHAI: Tucked away on not-so-charmingly Parliament E. Deliberately unassuming.

KHAO SAN ROAD: Prominently located for all to stumble upon on Adelaide W. Vibrantly welcoming.

Both owned by husband wife duo Jeff & Chef Nuit Regular. Menus are 90% similar. And the common thread, despite vast differences in locale, decor & ambiance, is the food. Simply phenomenal. Ask anyone who has eaten at either. No competition. Easily the best Thai in this city.

Hold up. I do say this with a tiny caveat, as Mengrai is another hidden gem & deserves more recognition than it’s been given. Another time, another post :)

Ok, the elusive recipe for success. Is the food really that good? YES.

If you think you’ve had a good red curry, try the Gaeng Phed. If you think you’ve had good pad thai, try the Sam Roas. None of this one-note business. Chef Nuit offers dishes that are beautifully complex, flavourful, lingering with fantastic heat. Seriously satisfying.

If you’re trying for the first time, may I recommend two dishes? Dishes that may easily be passed over, simply because you don’t recognize:

  1. Gaeng Massaman: With a hint of tamarind, bolder hand with peanuts & chunks of potatoes, this curry is one the most fantastic balance of sweet heat you’ll ever taste.
  2. Khao Soi: A rich, velvety smooth yellow curry with coconut milk, with added texture from the crunch of crispy noodles, this one is crave-worthy special.

khao san road: khao soi & squash fritters

{Quick tip!} I’m a medium-heat kind of gal. If you’re the same, go hot for the curries & get an ice cold Singha to help you get through the medium pad thai, as it’s infinitely more spicy. In a ridiculously good way.

Thai food fascinates, because I haven’t been able to re-create at home. One-note wonder. Same for you? So, until George B. teaches some of the finer points of Thai cuisine in May, will happily get my fix with Sukho or KSR.

Although…what would be even better… if Chef Nuit (in her abundant spare time of course) would graciously think about opening up her kitchen for cooking classes! Wouldn’t you just love to make a good tom yum soup from scratch & throw away that tom yum paste?

Hey now, don’t look at me like that. Bet you have a jar stashed in your fridge.

Below are dishes from both menus. Begrudgingly ranked as friends tell me I must be objective & not love EVERY dish I try. Hrmph.

Outstanding:

    • Gaeng Massaman: Thai curry with tamarind sauce & cooked with onions, peanuts, potatoes & bay leaves; topped with crispy deep fried shallots.
    • Khao Soi: Egg noodles in a coconut milk enriched curry, garnished with crispy noodles, green onion and lime.
    • Sam Roas: Pad Thai “three flavours style” topped with home-made roasted peanuts, dried chili & fresh lime.

Honourable Mentions:

    • Gra Bong: Fried squash fritters battered with red curry paste, shrimp paste, and lemongrass.
    • Gaeng Phed: Red Curry with squash, kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, red/green peppers & coconut milk.

It Pains, But Forgettable:

    • Khao greup goong: Large airy shrimp chips with a tart tamarind dipping sauce.
    • Tao hoo Taud Samoon Prai: Nuggets of fried tofu breaded in a crispy garlic/fresh kaffir lime coating, served with sweet & tangy garlic sauce.
    • Fresh rolls filled with homemade chicken sausage, lettuce, carrots, mint leaves, Thai basil
    • khao san road: tom yum soups

      http://www.khaosanroad.ca/
      326 Adelaide W.
      647.352.5773

      http://www.sukhothaifood.com/ 
      274 Parliament St.
      416.913.8846

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A certain someone will laugh if they see this post…  far too long, it’s (almost) inexcusable.

Let’s not state the obvious, hmm? Let us focus on what matters. Re-familiarized myself with the menu. Delectable dishes are still present. Which means, still relevant. And still delicious.

First impression of Enoteca was one of utter delight. An intimately warm, yet vibrant space. A space perfect for a catch up with dear friends, a first date, a special anniversary, a birthday celebration, a Sunday family dinner… lit by candlelight, it lures you in and invites you (and your guests) to order a glass of vino and peruse a menu inspired by local seasonal ingredients. A menu filled with mouth-watering antipasti, secondi, house made pastas… and of course, the cheese cave. 

The cheese cave alone demands you peek in the cellar, to ask for recommendations – sample a little moliterno from Sicily, pasteurized sheep’s milk from Calabria, chèvre noir from Quebec – and then plan for next visit. We missed the vento d’estate our first time… “pasteurized cow’s milk, veneto, aged in grass from the farm it is produced, buttery with a hint of lavender”  Sounds positively lovely, doesn’t it?

What I can attest to: Enoteca = best grilled octopus in the city. Absolutely rave-worthy. And those who have tried will resolutely back me up. Fresh pappardelle with hearty rabbit ragu was satisfying, but out-of-this-world-pasta continues to lie with Tutti Matti. Regardless, keen to re-experience and by finally posting, brings this lovely Italian restaurant to mind again. Who wants to join?

ontario buffalo mozzarella in carrozza, anchovies, pickled shallots, parsley

grilled octopus, fava beans, new potato & chili pepper (seriously phenomenal)

house made pappardelle w. ontario rabbit ragu

cheese cave! parmigiano reggiano dop, brillo pecorino divino etc. (aka i cannot remember).

 http://www.sociale.ca/
1288 Dundas St. West
416.534.1200

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January = a month of tiny gluttony. I know, two words that should never sit side by side.

And 23 days too late.

In my pathetically weak defense, I DID start this post 23 days ago. And if I don’t complete, N will shoot me her “work/life balance” look. So let’s give a try (speaks the girl who’s going on vacation for 3 weeks in 3 days).

Hello tapas. Hello Wine Bar, Malena and Salt Wine Bar. Sans photography, written snapshots.
Hope you enjoy :)

 

{WINE BAR}

Sorely disappointed. Wasn’t overly enthused about the menu (which changes on a daily basis), but still optimistic a few dishes would stand out. Sadly, no. Qualicum bay scallops were overcooked, tomato ratatouille too sweet for the braised beef cheek, and the B.C fluke, pulled pork poutine and risotto simply didn’t live up to their expectations. Enough moaning, you get it. Highlights: Beautiful use of the space. Ambiance. Open kitchen. And we all admired the pickled jars lining the back wall & the recipe wallpaper in the ‘loo. Would I recommend to others? Negative.

http://www.9church.com/
9 Church Street
416.504.9463

 

{MALENA}

Beautifully serene, with meticulous attention to detail – from decor to the menu designs, it’s quite lovely. You do feel as if you’re a guest in someone’s house, even if it’s accompanied by the feeling that one must be on their best behaviour. Fitting for its Yorkville locale. Dishes are influenced by some Greek love, some Italian love, and all quite memorable. Worthy of the prices? Debatably no. Would I recommend to others? Debatably no. Unless, it’s a special treat. Then, by all means yes.

Outstanding

Rodney’s oysters on the half shell – agro dolce & ‘bomba’
Seared maine scallops with winter squash & raddichio risotto

Honourable Mentions

Grilled octopus with pancetta & root vegetable fregola, greek yogurt & orange agro dolce
Sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi with braised rabbit, spinach & crisp parsnip

Sadly, forgettable

Squid ink chitarra & lobster with tomato, fresh herbs & calabrian chillies
Warm chocolate budino with local preserved strawberries, honeycomb & fresh whipped cream 9.
Greek honey ‘loukoumades’ crispy fried doughnuts with attiki honey, pistachios & cinnamon crema

http://www.malena120.ca/
120 Avenue Road
416.964.0606

 

{SALT WINE BAR}

Darkly inviting and intimately familiar, imagine the inside of a wine & pickled goods cellar. You’d really like to stay a while, wouldn’t you? We certainly did. The newest kid on the Ossington block, she’s a sexy mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Really, quite lovely. Interior aside, the menu has the potential to be stellar. But, when only a handful of dishes hold our attention and dessert takes the limelight; it’s not there yet. Would I recommend to others? Yes. I do feel compelled to come back. To try other dishes. Introduce others to it. Discuss over a bottle of vino or two.

Outstanding

Braised oxtail consumme with garlic mashed, tthyme
Wagu beef crudo with truffled quail egg, parmesan croutons, watercress
Brown butter creme brulee
Cinnamon churros with dark pot of chocolat

Honourable Mentions

Striped beets on bed of arugula, goat cheese, marcona almond, tarragon & citrus vinaigrette
Pulled pork sandwich with guacamole
Oyster mushrooms on toasted baguettes with parsley & garlic
Lobster bisque ‘basque’ style

Sadly, forgettable

Grilled calamari (this one didn’t really stand a chance after disappointment over no octopus)
Rapini with garlic, chili, olive oil

http://saltrestaurant.ca/
225 Ossington Ave.
416.533.7258

 

Next on the list: LEE LOUNGE

Expectations are through the roof. Can’t help it. Susur commands it…for me anyway. And I peeked at Toronto Life’s review last night. O my. 1. Peking duck rolls 2. Asian-style salmon ceviche. Y’all know my long-standing mission. Find the best ceviche in the city.

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Today was a good day. And today, also consisted of two slices of pizza, two cheeseburgers & fries.

Wow. Slightly embarrassed.

Balancing act flew out the window, didn’t it? Daily scoffs at M & K may need to cease for a while. In hindsight, not so brilliant. At the time, quite… like this one:

After a fantastically good client preso, J & I were riding a high and decided to celebrate with burgers. And not just any burgers.

Burger’s Priest burgers.

So, there’s been great hoopla & debate over the best burger joint in the city. Will neither confirm or deny, but when a convoy of cars from Church & Bloor make the trek (and I mean, trek) over to the eastest end of Queen & Coxwell for lunch… you know it’s something serious. Crazy agency folks.

Would defend, compare and throw opinions around, but 6hrs later, still in a slight food coma and can only focus on one thing at a time. So, singularly-focused this post will be.

P.s – will never forgive you guys for not telling me that day. So, this convoy comes back and they rave. Rave about the patties. Rave about the ground beef. Rave about the patty to bun ratio. Rave about how good it is. Rave about how they can’t describe why it’s so good. Rave about possible best burger in the city.

Colour me green.

So, I make them promise to take me the following week.

When that day came, so much anticipation from so much internal hype. And let me tell you… hype FULLY justified. Not disappointed. In the least. Raved to friends, strangers, anyone who would listen. And 6 weeks later, 2nd trek was made.

The patties! So fresh. Grounded daily, never frozen. You see ‘em grilling, and your tastebuds start to salivate. Buns are buns are buns, but something happens when they meet freshly grilled ground beef. Chemistry! The combination of incredibly soft patties, slightly charred, flanked by two unassuming buns and fixings, if you so desire… kinda fantastic.

This eve, honed in on the Combo (cheeseburger, fries & drink) and threw in an extra cheeseburger for the road.

Listen, I’m a fat kid at heart. But, not that fat.

These burgers are not large. In fact, quite small. However, may have to retract claim after tonight. Deceivingly small. Having eaten two cheeseburgers and 1/4 of the fries (ok fine, 1/2)… not so brilliant on my part. Regrets? Never. You eat, enjoy & digest… yep. Sorry Ma, most unladylike post.

As for the pizza, no good story. It was there for taking. So, I ate it.

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8 days of great anticipation. Not gonna lie, may have had a mini countdown.

Too much build-up? Nah. Why would you want to suppress the excitement? Keeps it fun ;)

Get ready, this post has perma-smile written all over it.

8 ladies. 8 little black dresses. Lovely bride-to-be. Private room. Intimate setting. Dark wood panelling, blonde wood highlights. Beautifully grand table. Cream leather chairs. Complimentary flutes of prosecco. Sets the scene quite nicely, non?

We’re ready to dine.

Chef Jason walks in, welcomes us warmly and within seconds, manages to charm the stilettos off every single lady. Hell, we probably would’ve agreed to eat pig’s feet had he suggested it.

So, we order and the perks of dining with 8…wider menu coverage! Excited and could hardly wait to try as many dishes as possible. Most excited to try the burrata and butter poached lobster.

When our apps arrived, all of the ladies waited…bless their sweet hearts. For what? Grace? Oui, of sorts. I’ve had the pleasure of dining with most (more than once), and over time, have established this unspoken “grace period”. Pattern as follows: Dish arrives. 10 seconds to snap a photo (or 5). Nod of gratitude. Permission to eat ;)

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

LUMA: BURRATA

Grace periods granted, and while intent on capturing last neurotically perfect angle – T, upon her first bite of the burrata caught my attention with “O wow, you need try. Now”. I glance over. She’s nodding emphatically. My eyes widen. Anticipation builds again. First taste. Would it live up to its expectations…

Be still my heart.

Best mozza you’ll ever taste in your lifetime. Ok, best mozza I’ve ever tasted in my lifetime. No exaggeration. So fresh. So unbelievably fresh. So light. And the marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette…don’t know how he does it. Frankly, don’t care. Just give me more. Or, we could sit and stare at this fabulous dish all day long…look at that presentation!

[Sidebar] Not a beets fan. Very much want to like, because they’re so damn pretty. And, anything that pretty must taste good, right? Well, with some mozza & v, best beets ever tasted.

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly w/ celery leaves, herbs, radish & ginger vinaigrette}

LUMA: SCALLOP SASHIMI

Always drawn to scallops. And sashimi. Lingered over this one on the menu. Slices of sashimi with a subtle hit of ginger; vinaigrette was a delicate balance for buttery smooth scallops.

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

LUMA: FOIE GRAS TORCHON

If heart wasn’t already set on the burrata, foie gras torchon was a close runner up. Cava still lingers as best foie gras, and willing to try others…just to see, you know? And this was close. Very, very close. Wish I had snuck in another taste. Imagine, scrambling across that beautifully large table in black dress. Would’ve ruined all pretense of classiness. Promptly. Alas, next time. But, wait! Must have the burrata again. Oh, the dilemmas we face sometimes.

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS
{amazingess}

LUMA: MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS

Chef Jason popped back in at this point with a surprise dish and the smell that wafted over…oh la. Truffles. If ever an ingredient could be described as pure decadence…if ever an ingredient could add that element of je ne sais quoi… if ever… you know I could go on. An adaptation from his signature dish at Auberge, he served with a knowing smile; knowing we’d fall head over tummy in love.

Must feel nice to always be right. We practically licked our little saucepans clean.

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

LUMA: RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Gnochhi like you’ve never had it before. A cloud of ricotta. Yes. A cheese cloud. Most apt description I could think of. And not heavy at all. Oxymoron? Perhaps…just go with me here. 3 ladies ordered…3 identical exclamations of ahhh, so good”. If you’re a gnochhi lover, try Luma’s. You’ll never go back.

BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}

LUMA: BAKED SALMON

The baked salmon had caught J’s eye and if we were honest, the salmon simply acted as a conduit for everything else…mussels, chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille. Fleeting impression from one forkful…spicy & flavourful. Damn table was too big. Couldn’t scramble.

ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery & porcini cream}

LUMA: ROASTED COD

Who doesn’t love mushroom foam? Who doesn’t love mushrooms? Who doesn’t love porcini cream? Perfectly cooked. Flaked immediately at the touch of your fork. Fleeting taste.

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

LUMA: BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER

High expectations. May or may not have had lobster two nights prior at EPIC at the Fairmont. Listen, it was the best week of dining and I was celebrating the gorgeous bride-to-be. How that directly translates to permissible lobster, haven’t quite worked it out.

Focus your attention on this dish. Now, that’s some serious foam. Too much? Oui. But, underneath serious foam is incredible lobster. All of the work is done. All of that succulent meat is yours for taking. Sigh. Barely remember steamed potato, corn and grilled leeks…too intent on lobster. Managed a remark about the lime and coriander pistou…something to do with a lovely balance of flavours. Really, it’s an art form – articulating pure enjoyment of food ;)

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

LUMA: LEMON TART

Verdict: Best lemon tart in the city. I kid you not, the rumours are true. Believe ‘em. Light, creamy and tart with a brûléed top and a thin layer of crust. Ridiculously good. Small scoop of sour ice cream and the combination is lemony tartiness h-e-a-v-e-n.

OPERA CAKE
{almond sponge cake with layers of mocha buttercream, chocolate ganache with popcorn ice cream & caramel popcorn}

LUMA: OPERA CAKE

Will be honest. This takes a back seat. Way back seat to the lemon tart. A huge chocolate & caramel fan. But when up against lemon tart goodness, no contest.

Whew! Indulge, we did. Our little black dresses were a wee bit tighter at this point. Worth it? Absolutely.

Overall, food was outstanding. Service was impeccably warm & attentive. From the extra little touches, to the wonderful team of 5-7 who rotated seamlessly throughout the night, to the generosity of general manager Richard and Chef Jason – it was a spectacular dining experience. Many many thanks for making our night so special!

[Sidebar] Mildly disturbing how often I think about the burrata. Kinda like a good date. Wait. Nevermind. Let’s not go there.

Good thing we’re back at Luma on Friday. To get my fix, of course.

LUMA
http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2nd Floor
330 King St. West
647.288.4715

 

 

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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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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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I had beyond high expectations.

My own silly fault… waited months to try. So, the anticipation builds and builds…and when the eve finally arrived, giddy as a schoolgirl. Thankfully, I was in good company. Me & my three best ladies. All giddy together.

Cute, I know. Go ahead, gag a little.

While you’re doing that, keep reading.

….BOOK A RESERVATION!

Premature you may think, since I haven’t described anything, but nauseating giddiness.

So, imagine this: Chef Lynn Crawford has invited you over for dinner. And she has crafted a menu just for the evening. Paying homage to fresh, local ingredients, a four-course culinary feast is being whipped up in the back kitchen. For you. Served family-styles, in heavy, red casserole dishes, think home cooking at its best. Yes, help yourself. And be generous…there’s enough for everybody ;)

During our mains, I was animatedly sharing – something fascinating, I’m sure – paused, glanced down and realized that we had devoured…everything. Every dish, every plate, licked clean. Spotless. Clearly, the girls were just pretending to be engaged. They didn’t give a sh*t. All they cared about was the food.

And what better compliment is there? None.

photo cred: ruby watchco

Overwhelming consensus. Exceptionally good food. Matched by equally impressive service. Rarely will I comment, unless it was abominable or outstanding…and it was wonderful. Ever walk in a restaurant to encounter that refined-perky-nose-in-air judgement? The worst. Not the case with Ruby.

Our hostess was charming, and our server was lovely and attentive…didn’t miss a detail…and if a crumb was left behind, discreetly taken care of by co-owner Joey Skeir seconds later. Atmosphere? Engaging, charged and lively. We had a bloody great time. Best experience in a while.

Sidebar: Unfortunately, my kick ass camera isn’t a robot who tells me how to properly adjust for low mood lighting. The shots don’t do it justice. So, I’d rather not. Use your imagination & tastebuds ;)

——–

Our menu for the eve:

ONTARIO ASPARAGUS & HARICOT VERT PANZELLA SALAD
Heirloom Tomatoes, Halloumi Cheese Croutons, Creemore Radishes, Rose Bella Cerignola Olive Vinaigrette

{we were fighting over those croutons)

GREY WEST PREMIUM TRI-TIP STEAK WITH GREEN GARLIC BUTTER
Button Mushroom & Boston Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing, Smashed Thompson Farm’s Yukon Gold Potatoes, Darling Honey Glazed Carrots

{um. steak. medium-rare. good. that’s all.
reduced to one word sentences good.
blue cheese. not a fan…still not a fan. and salad was salt-y. pourquoi? je ne sais pas.
best smashed potatoes you’ll ever taste. true story.}

GLENGARRY FINE CHEESE’S BIG BROTHER
Spiced Mixed Nuts & Homemade Orange Marmalade

{who loves cheese? we do! forget the nuts & marma. vino was perfect with it}

RUBY’S CHOCOLATE CHIP SLIDERS
Ed’s Real Scoop Stracciatella Gelato

{ok. our only disappointment. not rave-worthy.  expected a warm, gooey mess. minutes out of oven mess. we got hard la-gourmand-style-cookie-muffins that just confused us. we couldn’t break into it. do we pick it up? eat it with our hands? throw it back in the oven? what to do?!}

photo cred: youngstreetmedia (head chef lora kirk, owner chef lynn crawford)

FYI: The menu changes every night, every week. If you’re an obsessive planner – or simply curious – you’ll be able to see the week’s menu on their site. Other option: opt in & get daily menu e-mails. My personal choice of food porn, every morning.

The vibe in the back is slightly different from the front; a little closer to the heart of the action. Plus, all the better to admire the Ruby Watch Co. sign, which is by far, the most arresting fixture in the restaurant. That, or Chef Lynn, herself.

So if she’s inviting you over for dinner, you can’t turn her down. Nor, would you want to ;)

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

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Origin

I get excited, really excited, about trying new restaurants. You all know I do ;) And Origin topped my excitement list. Heads up, this is a raving post. Comfort zone. Scathing…not so much.

I have a long-standing affair with tapas-style restaurants. Reminds me of Spain. A lot of people, however, are on the fence…dishes are too small, expensive, half-satisfied bellies etc.

Pigs.

My take: you get to sample a little from a lot…flit from plate to plate, be experimental & try dishes you’d never think of trying. Life should always be this fun ;)

So, we walked in…and in that first sweep, completely smitten. Dark woods, exposed brick, unique fixtures, stainless steel open-concept kitchen. Main attraction. Inviting. Soirée ambiance. Good energy (like I’m an expert).

[insert resto pic - my shots didn't do it justice - take my word for now]

We started off with cocktails and immediately, my eyes went to the sake something something. Forgive, it’s been weeks. What I remember are two defining ingredients. Yuzu + ponzu.  Favourite à la moment ingredients. Fresh asian citrus with a sharp tangy bite…love so much that I had to try the sake. It’s like wanting to try your favourite food in any way, shape or form. You just want it. First sip. Interesting combination, clean flavours…

N ruined it when she said it tasted like soap.

Outstanding dishes:

Chinois duck wrap + pickled cucumber + sriracha :

The most lackluster presentation out of all 6 dishes. But oh, the redemption! Tender pieces of duck, smeared with great heat from the Sriracha (yep, rooster sauce), offset & cooled by sour cream, with a slight crunch of thinly sliced cucumbers…took one bite…and completely enamoured. BIG crush. Already planning next encounter.

Salmon tataki +ponzu-soy + dried miso + diakon salad :

Beautiful sashimi-styles, delicate crunch of diakon & the ponzu…this dish so did not disappoint. Not in the least. Reminiscent of Foxley. Our happy place.

Miso-glazed black cod + mushroom + jerusalem artichoke puree  + crispy soba :

Again, we both have a soft spot for black cod. Again, our happy place. And we’re so glad we ordered. Perfectly cooked, light & silky, flaking with the touch of our forks…sitting in a dark pool of serious deliciousness. Not kidding. Try it.

Honourable Mentions:

Shrimp ceviche + lime + tomato + freeze-dried corn + coconut :

Yep, you read that correctly. Freeze-dried corn. The mad scientist in Claudio Aprile making an appearance…down Colborne Lane over to Origin.

N – influenced by helping me achieve mission of trying every ceviche dish in this city – caved, and we ordered. Nice fresh citrus that ceviches call for, but didn’t wow. Lacked… something. Or too much of…something. Unnecessary liquid nitro, hmm?

And instead of shrimp, scallops or arctic char. Probably not up for debate – but hey, you never know ;)

It pains, but forgettable:

Bufala mozzarella + pear + rosemary oil + pinenuts + honey :

Least favourite. And interestingly, it was the most ordered dish.

Couple to our left, couple to our right, couple across the bar… and I wondered: did they all feel the same thing?! Disappointingly devoid of any  flavour. Muted. Beige food is boring.

However. Look at that presentation…not boring at all. You’ll likely order, based on this pic alone.

Dessert: Manchego cheese cake + saffron sorbet + marinated berries :

Waited weeks! May have spent an entire Sat morning reading menus. Food porn, don’t judge.

Patience was rewarded in the form of wee indulgence w. a side of tart… if the sorbet is home-made, kudos. Cheese cake…hmm. If spoons are clanging against plate to break through crust, it’s too hard.

Of course, did that stop us from clanging? Absolutely not…until all that remained, were freeze-dried blueberries.

High time for another Origin dinner! I hear they may have opened up a patio. Who wants the duck wrap?

http://origintoronto.com
107-109 King E.
416.603.8007

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