Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Go to restaurant list

places I love: (in no particular order)
-Buca (King and Portland) - Upmarket version of Teronni with killer pizzas and pastas. With amazing dishes like blue cheese and mushroom pizza on a paper thin crust, fried olives stuffed with sausage and duck egg pasta carbonaera, how could you go wrong? Really fantastic and unlike many other places on this list, they do take reservations.
-Black hoof (Dundas and Clinton) - No Reservations. Lives up to the hype as being a carnivore dream. Check your diet at the door. Allot of organ meat served here, but oh boy is it ever good come with an open mind.
-Black hoof Cafe (Dundas and Clinton) No reservations. Across the street from the original, this spot is its own destination. The Foie gras and french toast on their brunch menu is by far the best breakfast I have had in a long time. Primarily they act as a place to have a drink and some great noshes while waiting for a table at the original Black Boof, but the dishes here are also stellar.
-Pizzeria Libretto (Ossington and Dundas) No reservations. Not only are the pizza's fantastic, but so is everything else on the menu. I normally will go there an hour before I am actually hungry to give my name and cell number to the maitre di restaurant and then go to Reposado, the tequila bar up the street to go build up an appetite.
-Sukothai (Parliment and Gerrard) - Not the best neighborhood, but hands down the city's best Thai food. They will deliver if you "bribe" them with a self induced delivery charge.
-Japango - (Dundas and Elizabeth) - Real authentic Japanese sushi, not that same dreck Korean and Chinese owned sushi joints will sell you. My favorite sushi in the city. They take reservations.
-Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder.- (St Clair and Duffrin) best bbq in town. Apperently the ribs are amazing, but call ahead because they don't make them every night. I have no idea why they wouldn't, maybe they don't like money.
-Bohmer - (Ossington and Queen W.) - Great food with an eclectic menu. The prices are just high enough to keep the skinny jeaned hippsters at bay and most importantly, yes they take reservations.
Black Camel (Yonge and Rosedale) Sandwich store with great brisket and pulled pork.
-Foxley (Ossington and Dundas) No reservations, but they do Asian fusion right when so many others fail.
Terroni (Adelaide and Church) - Rustic crowd pleasing Italian wrapped up in a very wallet friendly and stylish package.
King Noodle (spadina and dundas) good Chinese food, inexpensive and tasty.
Golden Turtle (ossington and dundas)- Vietnamese food, good pho (soup).
7 numbers (danforth and bowden) simple italien dishes, delicious food
-Manpukou (Dundas and McCaul) Japanese soup. Inexpensive and delicious
-Negroni (college and palmerstone) great grilled sandwiches.
-Scaramouch pasta bar (avenue and balmoral) a toronto institution. Bistro staples and fantastic pastas.
-Black Camel (Yonge and cresent) great sandwiches, pulled pork and briske sandwiches
-Atlantic (dundas and brock) Tapas style seafood with a modern twist.
-Allens (danforth and broadview) irish pub with great beer list and great burgers
-La Palette (augusta and college) french bistro with focus and game meats
Lai wah heen (chesnut and dundad) upscale chinese food. Great dim sum in the mornings and afternoons
-Lee (king and bathurst) asian fusion small tapas like dishes from one of canada's most well known chefs
-Nota Bene (queen and university) high end restaurant from a very well known chef. Expensive.
-Pastis (yonge and roxborough) great french bistro
-Cafe polonez- see review
-Enoteca social - see review

Places that i want to go to, but have yet to go:
-Splendido (Harbord and Spadina) - I want to try their new casual less expensive menu, I have heard great things.
-Paramour - (Ossington and Dundas) I hear it is well priced good simple food.
-Queen and Beaver Public House- (Elm and Bay) English style gastro pub
-Maléna (Avenue and Davenport)- Rustic Italian seafood with a Yorkville style price tag.
-Country Style Hungarian Restaurant - hungarian restaurant

-Niagra street cafe, king and niagra, small restaurant with interesting modern menu.
-Oddfellows (queen and shaw) strange restaurant with a lot of vegetarian
-Simple bistro
-Parts and labour
Enoteca social
-queen margarita pizza

Barriada Churrascaria - Disgusting - Do not go!

I recently went to Barriada Churrascaria at College and Dovercort. I hear the flaming sausage there is really delicious. I ordered the churrasco chicken, which was a bone dry half of a tiny chicken, with barley any meat on it. My girlfriend ordered the halibut, which was also dry, more importantly it was so fishy tasting we both found it inedible. This is our second trip to this place, the first time we also found the chicken very dry. On the plus side, I will say the piri piri sauce was delicious and the outdoor patio is really great there.

While I hear the flaming sausage here cannot be missed, I can tell you the rest of the menu should be missed.

There has got to be an inexpensive casual Portuguese restaurant somewhere in this neighborhood.
Please help me.

Enoteca Social

Home style Roman cuisine done with modern style and great ingredients.

I spent $55 for 1 glass of wine, 1 app, 1 pasta, 1 vege side after tax and tip

I had a fantastic meal there and will be going again. The decor was homey and not as hipster chick as Libretto, the owner's other establishment, but I didn't mind that. They have a great outdoor patio, which is quiet and was buzzing with excitement. The wine list was great and had a lot of inexpensive options. The service was warm, friendly and attentive with zero hipster attitude some popular west end places can inherent.

Braised and seared octopus, was the best thing I ate that night. Amazing soft texture with a great sear and depth of flavor. I did however find the fava bean undercooked and the potatoes not memorable.

Fried Veal sweetbreads- were nicely friend, crispy and not oily and were paired with a spicy mayo and arugula. All an all a great dish.

Papardalle with braised rabbit: perfect al dente noodles with hand pulled shreds of rabbit meat in a buttery sauce, was very well done and delicious. I did feel however that the dish could have used a bit more zing.

Duck liver ravioli – this dish had a lot more flavor and character. Traditional blown butter and sage sauce with a toothsome pasta and wonderfully smooth duck liver filling that had just enough liver flavor to make this dish really special.

Contorni of sauteed rapini and batter fried zucchini sticks were simple delicious and perfectly executed..

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Franks Kitchen - Little Italy

Great Neighborhood restaurant executed flawlessly by seasoned professionals

I have been here several times recently and loved it both times.
The servers are warm and inviting. You can tell that someone has really through every detail of your experience. From the cucumber water to the fresh bread baked by the chef on site. The bread was one of the highlights for sure. Crispy butter epi, delicious herby focaccia all served with great dips. You also get an amuse bouche, which I was sort of shocked to get at a inexpensive bistro restaurant where mains are around $25. The amuse was a lobster taco which was delicious and very generous.
This is the sort of place that everyone wishes was around the corner to their house. The menu has a mix of simple vege pastas to a delicious beef carpaccio with foie gras torchon, which is as delicious as it sounds.
They also have a fantastic porcini risotto which had the perfect texture and a robust rich, salty, cheesy flavor that was lacking in the Risotto I had at L.A.B.. The lobster ravioli is filled with nice big chunks of lobster and is in very fresh tasting tomato sauce, which all adds up to light and delicious summertime dinner.
The pork three ways was just as lovely. The rack and loin were perfectly cooked. I should mention that the pork belly was not as crispy as I would have liked and was a bit of a let down. The calvados sauce and squash pure both acted as the perfect sweet counterpoint to the fatty and delicious pork.

In short, go to this restaurant, but I will be pissed off if I have to wait in line.

Cafe Polonez- Roncesvalles

Cheap, Huge portions, Non nonsense polish home cooking

A friend of mine took me here recently, and since I know this place gets allot of great reviews on chowhound I was excited to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This place looks and tastes like a thick built and bearded polish grandmother is cooking in the back. I should point out that I come from a polish background, and I have always found bearded women to look distinguished.
The service was not great. I do feel that if I spoke polish the servers might have been more attentive, but I didn't mind to wait, because this place is simple and honest, the sort of place you can tell has been around awhile.
Now onto what I ordered:
Cold borscht - Delicious, rich, sweet, chunky with a fresh hit of dill at the end. My only complaint was that I prefer my soups with not as much big chunks of vege, but that's an issue of personal taste
Herring - Now I am not the biggest herring lover. I personally found this too salty, but my dinner companion, a self proclaimed herring expert, says this is really great.
Grilled beef liver - I decided to go a bit adventurous and have liver. I was surprised how much I loved it. Great beefy almost steaky flavor, with the expected livery minerally aftertaste. Considering I am below the age of 70, I was surprised how much I liked this liver. It came with ample amounts of cole slaw, cabbage and potatoes.
Next time I might get the schnitzel or grilled meats I saw other people eating.
I will 100% come back. I shared these three items with other person and we both left stuffed. I can't remember how much ti cost, but I know it was cheap and good.

- I recently came here again and was very happy with what I received.
The Hot cabbage soup with dumplings is amazing, a complex mix of sweet, vinegar, salty, savory, meaty goodness!!!
The pork schnitzel was perfectly executed. Who needs veal or chicken schnitzel when there is pork available anyways.

The little side of pork fat with onions (i forget the polish name) was delicious. I would spread this on everything if i could.

This place has become a go to inexpensive weeknight destination for me when I am too lazy to cook.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

L.A.B. Live and Breath

I have been itching to go to this place since it opened. I do however like to give a restaurant a couple months to get its sea legs before I go.
Anyways here are the details:
3 Guests, Spent about $100 on 3 mains and 1 App, before booze, tip, tax etc.

Grilled Romain salad with capers - Really fantastic and perhaps the highlight of the whole meal. I have never had anything like this. The lightly grilled lettuce gave this app some great depth and a surprising savory character, while still remaining delicate.
Asparagus risotto. Overcooked and under seasoned. 'Meh' at best.
Sous Vide beef. Beef is perfectly cooked, tender with a great beefy flavor. Bone marrow creme tastes pretty bad. Not sure how you can make bone marrow taste bad, as it is really amazing stuff, but they somehow managed that. The texture of the marrow creme was also too sticky and too gummy. To be honest I already forgot what else this dish came with.
Halibut - Fish was well seasoned but slightly overcooked. The gingered pineapple was delicious and a great refreshing surprise. The bok choy was also delicious. There was some sort of miso creme/paste, but it had the flavor and texture of Vaseline, which I haven't touched since puberty.
Service - Our server was a douche bag. His hippster, too cool for school attitude, was both cold and uninviting. He really seemed as if he wanted to be somewhere else. Hopefully the owners will find this out and soon he will be somewhere else - not in the service industry. While I was not the biggest fan of the food here, I respect that fact the chefs are doing something different and risky, especially in little Italy. The server should have told us more about the dishes he put in front of us, and at least attempt to get us excited about the molecular gastronomy process.

I wish this restaurant the best of luck, and will one day give it a try again, but I will not be running back.


Hello Fellow Eater!

Like you I have always taken eating very seriously.
As I sit here on a very hot July day eating beets, I have decided to upgrade my eating status to professional. Sure I have dabbled in the minors for quite some time, but since I decided to create this free blog, I think my status should be - and must- upgraded.
The point of this blog is to share my culinary experience throughout this great city of ours. I spend entirely too much time reading about restaurants, going to restaurants, buying ridiculous kitchen gadgets and overall just obsessing about anything food related; this blog will share the great insight I accumulate on this great journey. Hopefully I will help you make wise choices on where to spend your time, money and calories.

I assume anyone who actually will read this is either a personal friend or someone sitting in an office somewhere looking for break and thinking: Where should i go for dinner tonight? Hopefully I will help you out with that even a little.

I want to emphasize that I will be keeping this pretty raw. Grammar and spelling have never been my strong suit so please excuse certain small errors. While I do take eating and food extremely seriously, and do consider myself to be a detailed person, I do expect I will forget to capitalize some i's. If you have a problem with that please do me a favor and leave this blog now and don't come back.

Oh crap I just got beets on my shirt. I guess that is a good reason to end this welcoming post.