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Posts Tagged ‘toronto restaurants’

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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You may rave about a restaurant. And why do you rave? The Food. Cocktails. Ambiance. Service. Super cute waiter. That ONE dish on the menu.

Alas, 2010 is wrapping up & I have a penchant for making lists (bright yellow sticky notes are a girl’s best friend)… this one had to be done!

[Sidebar] One must always be prepared. To fill awkward silences. Make witty small talk. Entertain hrs of conversation. You know, if ever stuck in an elevator… on a double blind date… job interview…  you see? Countless needs. So yes, I have my list ready.

And I’ll have you know that I tried (albeit half-heartedly) to narrow down to top 10. Silly conventions. Let’s make it a top 18 with a bonus list.

Below, you’ll find my most blathered about dishes in 2010. Any day, any time, anywhere.

Made up of the city’s finest*:

18. Enoteca Sociale: Grilled octopus
17. Le Select Bistro: Steak tartare
16. Guu: Salmon natto yukke
15. Burger’s Priest: Cheeseburger
14. WoodLot: Potato puree & bone marrow
13. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen: Profiteroles
12. Biff’s Bistro: Chicken liver parfait
11. O&B: Grilled calamari
10. Grace Upstairs (BBQ): Grilled lobster
9. Marben: Roasted beef
8. Black Hoof: Charcuterie
7. Tutti Matti: Beef carpaccio
6. C5: Corn salad
5. Cava: Foie gras
4. Scarpetta: Polenta with truffled mushrooms
3. Foxley: Black cod with truffle oil & asian greens
2. Luma: Burrata
1. Foxley: Arctic char ceviche (surprise!)

luma: burrata

C5: corn salad

Guu: salmon natto yukke

 

And these six are special. It’s like being asked to pick your favourite child. Impossible.

  • WoodLot: Handcut pappardelle w. wild boar ragu
  • Tutti Matti: Handcut pappardelle w. pulled beef brisket
  • Mengrai Thai: Red curry w. lychee & pineapple
  • SukhoThai: Red curry (gaeng phed)
  • Nadege Patisserie: Salted caramel macaron
  • Moroco Chocolat: Salted caramel macaron

nadege: salted caramel & pistachio macaron (photo cred: Tina H)

 

For the past 12 months, have eaten my way through the city… with many friends, many bottles of vino, and many O MY! moments. Glorious fun. Pure unadulterated fun. So much fun, planning to do it again next year. Who’s joining? ;)

 

*Excluded – mama’s cooking. Y’all know why…homecooking is simply incomparable x

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