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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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Guu Setup

A life-changing experience. Well, for two weeks at least.

There’s no greater satisfaction than introducing friends to a new restaurant, where their enthusiasm surpasses yours (a difficult feat, mind you), and their appreciation for food knows no boundaries.

The three of us seized the evening, took off for Guu and miraculously, managed not to wait an hour and a half in line…a sign for a good night ahead. Walked in to a room filled with loud, boisterous greetings, sat down, ordered sake and rubbed our hands in anticipation. K&K poured over the menu, scanned every dish, finally looked up, and said “order for us”.

Should’ve seen the grin on my face.

Although…it could have been disastrous.

berry sakegria!

Thankfully, it wasn’t! Suspenseful, this blog is not. May even claim greatest success to-date.

Matched up a couple with a restaurant. High five!

Their infatuation has since waned (1 of 2 will dispute that claim), but for fourteen days, it was glorious.

Outstanding dishes:

As the raw egg was deftly mixed into our salmon natto yukke & spooned on to a square of seaweed – held my breath, this was a favourite – if K&K didn’t enjoy, setup was gonna fail…miserably.

Seconds later, we had ourselves vigorous nods & incoherent ramblings. Yes.

salmon natto yukke

Honourable Mentions:

Tuna tartare & avocado. Layer 1 of happy. Layer 2 of happy.

Special of the night…hope it re-appears again.

B.C tuna tartare & avocado w. sesame oil, teriyaki sauce

Scallop sashimi was our hero. Fresh & citrusy with the yuzu, another ceviche knocked off the list!

scallop, prawn, squid ceviche

ceviche + deep-fried octopus balls

It pains, but easily forgettable:

Take a look at this pic. Something I’d want for breakfast. But shockingly – and note, you’ll never hear me say this again – too much of a good thing.

grilled avocado & prawn topped w. mayo & panko crust

Riding our high of good food, good company…we were also determined to get the best farewell.

Finale of a tweet: SUCCESS! the chefs screamed goodbye & our waiter ran into a table opening the door for us #guu

Try it, you may also find a compatible match ;)

http://www.guu-izakaya.com/toronto.html
398 Church St.
416.977.0999

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…how I’ve missed you. It’s been 24 days since last update. For shame! And trust me, no good excuse.

I’ve been eating like a fiend.

At some fantastically good places, too. With good friends. With new friends! So, the need to air my dirty laundry in public is a vow to myself and anyone who reads this…<hi dad>…to be more committed. No more neglecting. If I can eat, I can write.

New mantra. Kinda like a second-wind resolution. A taste of the last few weeks…yep, read it like a menu.

—————

{Brunch}
Lady Marmalade, Fire on the East Side, Insomnia

{Lunch}
Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill, Lola’s Commissary

{Dinner}
Foxley, Oyshi, Harlem, Kokoro, Nyood, Masa, O&B Café Grill, Starfish, RubyWatchco (sweet lord, just wait ’til I get to this one), Seafood for Thought, Guu Izakaya

{Sweets}
Soma Chocolatemaker, Sweet Escape, Nadège

—————

See, Gowalla’s good for something! You folks on 4sq are lucky…would’ve turned off your notifications long ago. And yes, I wear these like badges of honour. Rather…badges of GLUTTONY.

We’ve got some home-cooking thrown into the mix as well, by some special ladies in my life. My mama, for one. My bestest, for another. Think I also tried a new recipe this month. Notice, singular. Will regale you with stories & pictures, promise.

Warning: It’ll be out of order. sigh. Breaking every rule in the book. Since I couldn’t get my sh*t together, this is what happens. And some, simply need to be aired out first… like my first media event!!! And Ruby. And Seafood for Thought. And Guu. And home-made pho.

In other news! Next week, if I’m so lucky…will be checking out a new restaurant w/ a certain someone ;)

Cue Julie & Julia. Except. I’m not cooking. And, not being interviewed. And, not channeling Julia Child.

Hmm. Not the greatest analogy, was it? But damn it, will be JUST as exuberant as that red-head.

And with that, will leave you hanging… ’cause I kinda want you to come back ;) This wknd. Me. MacBook. Balcony. Writing.

BBQ anyone? Just head south of the barricade.

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Quick snaps part deux

3 times this week already. Same fish, different place(s). 

I sound distinterested. But you know better, right? 

Snaps from yesterday: Sushi Xtra 

salmon lover combo

 

maki mono set D

 

 
Sushi Xtra
423 Queen Street W.
416.599.2688 

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Quick snaps

Dazzling. On King. Yep, that’s the name of the restaurant.    

Slightly forgivable after eating the best spicy tuna maki  in the city. Dare you to find better.  

kimchi tuna maki

  

A’s flavourful Panang curry – spicy & delicious.  

panang curry

  

Panang noodles – unimaginatively ok. (see VK! can be a critic.)  

panang noodles w. shrimp & chicken

  

 

http://www.dazzlingrestaurant.com/
291 King Street W.
416.506.8886  

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Tomi-Kro

Every Tomi-Kro review will rave about the lobster maki balls.  

This one, won’t be any different. So unoriginal, I know.
Visual caveat: these maki balls don’t do anything for me. Barely excited. 
And I like to get excited about my…… food.  

So, we get over the presentation. And focus on the different layers of fantastic.  

Cut into the crispy battered tempura shell to the lobster meat & avocado (that combination alone); smear on some heat with wasabi and dip into the soy. Redemption.  

photo cred: blogTO

 

Let’s rewind and focus on the foie gras crème brûlée for a minute, shall we?  

Foie gras + crème brûlée. It’s exactly what you think it is.  

Take your spoon and lightly tap… into indescribableness.
I know it’s not a word and please don’t hate me for enjoying it so much.  

photo cred: Jen Chan

 

And rewind again, to that first step through the door. Immediately, you’ll take in the ambiance, artlessly detailed decor, warm tones…eclectic and inviting. One of those great date places.  

Try it, you’ll see.  

photo cred: Jen Chan

 

Stand-out dishes:  

Tempura lobster maki balls
Fois gras crème brûlée
Cedar Valley organic duck breast (if you enjoy duck, you’ll love)  

   

photo cred: blogTO

 

Honourable mentions:  

Veal osso bucco
Bay scallops over slaw
Shitake risotto
  

It pains, but easily forgettable:  

Wasabi panko potato cake
Tuna tartare & sashimi (delicate portion woes)
Brussel sprouts with asiago & pancetta
Roasted beets w. pistachio, balsamic vinegar & goat cheese (not a beets fan, wasn’t converted)  

Until next time:  

Octopus ceviche (on a mission to try every ceviche dish in the city)
Sesame albecore tuna
Arctic char  


Tomi-Kro
1214 Queen St. E.
(416) 463-6677
  


  

 

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And we’re back.

Yes, have now officially tried every ceviche on their menu. 

wahoo ceviche w. mango salad
wild sea scallops ceviche w. kumquat & grilled jalapeño
arctic char ceviche w. green apple & ginger
…. and now, the sea bream ceviche w. yuzu & shiso

Again, the flavours. How does he do it?!
Delicate, citrusy, topped w. saw-leaf & crisp shallots…each mouthful is better than the last.
Though, nothing tops the arctic char quite just yet. Just sayin’. 

foxley: sea bream ceviche

 

There she is, the black cod. Deceptively simple. Don’t be fooled. 

foxley: black cod with asian greens & truffle oil

 

Thank you N, for a wonderful dinner. And for requesting that 2nd steamed rice.

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