Monday, December 30, 2013

The Whippoorwill Restaurant [Brunch]

After an amazing dinner at The Whippoorwill (@WhippoorwillTO) back in August here, I have been tempted to go back after reading reviews about their new menu. Then someone on twitter suggested I try their brunch which is just as amazing.

I guess there's not much brunch spots in the area, so the place was packed when we got there at around 1:00pm inspite of the looming ice storm and we were lucky enough to grab the last table.
You can see pictures of the space from my previous post here.

Martin Picard $9
~ Bacon Infused Jim Beam, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, Maple Syrup, Mott's Clamato
A meatier version of my fave cocktail, hell yes... how could I resist?! Bacon Infused Bourbon Whisky, Crushed Candied Bacon Rim plus a yummy maple bacon to top it all off; the whole glass is just a yummy bacon goodness. I have had quite a few bacon Caesar before and it 's usually with bacon or bacon bits in it but this one, the drink itself was packed with bacon flavor.

Apple Pancakes $13
~ Maple Syrup, Glazed Apples, Walnut Crumble & Cinnamon Cream
Add Bacon $2.50
This is so pretty just to look at and it smelled extra delicious as well. Love how the thick fluffy pancakes are piled high with the apples and cream on top for even extra height. This was as delicious as it looks. I always crave for both salty and sweet for brunch and can't never decide what to order; this was somehow perfect with the side order of bacon. Love sweet and savory, love the perfect amount of syrup here and the extra texture from the bacon was perfect and the little thing like the walnut crumble make all the difference.

Friday, December 27, 2013

TOMA Burger Addiction

Have read some great things about Toma Burger Addiction (@Tomaburger). Yet another burger joint on Queen West and this one bought to you by French Chef Thomos Sedille. Toma was promised to offer burger with a French twist from daily handmade brioche style milk buns to slow-cooked compotes inspired by traditional French recipes. Almost all ingredients are made in house from their sauces, compotes, chutneys and Canadian Angus prime ribs patties.

I didn't bring my camera that day, so those are from my iphone.

Spiced Pear Mojito $9
This have a real kick to it, so if you can't handle hear please don't order this. I find the pear paired incredible with the heat and the mint. Definitely something different but a very easy drinking cocktail.

The Perfect Wedding $12.99
~ Angus beef, Spanish Chorizo, Homemade pear compote, Gorgonzola, sprouts, caramelized onions, walnut
Love sweet and savory combination but this is way too sweet with the sweet milk bun and the huge amount of compote. Not sure if it's the ratio of all the ingredients or not but it didn't really help highlight the amazing patty which was very moist and flavorful. And did I mention the milk bun was amazing which I won't mind eating it on it's own all day long.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

he said beer, she said... what? [Event]

Back in November when we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake (notl) for Taste the Season (see post here), we headed to Southbrook Vineyard  for one of their event at night. I just can't say no to a showdown of local wine vs local beer. Southbrook Vineyard (@SouthbrookWine) vs. Silversmith Brewery (@SilversmithBrew) with food pairing by The Yellow Pear (@FarmtoTruck).

Can't ask for a better place, with wine and beer pouring, live band playing and the smell of yummy food from the open kitchen. They are one of my fave local winery (see old post here)

Each course we were provided with a glass of beer and wine, then you cast your vote.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pink Sunset [Toronto]

Taken on Nov 30th at Riverdale Park when we were on our way to grab my fave Cappuccino at Rooster Coffee House (see old post here), the pink sunset is too beautiful not to share.

This is one of the rare time that everybody stop to admire this beauty, it was so amazing that none of the photo does it justice. I love my city #Toronto

The Dinning Room at Ridgepoint Wines [20 Valley]

Before heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake Day#2 for Taste the Season (post here) and after our haul at Megalomaniac Winery (@MegalomaniacJHC), we decided to head next door to The Dinning Room at Ridgepoint Wines (@Ridgepointwines) for lunch. I really have never heard of this winery before but why not give it a try since it was recommended by the people at Megalomaniac.

Very simple decor, nothing but a very casual restaurant serving Italian fare like fresh made pastas. We were early so the place was empty but heard from our server that the day before, the place was packed and they are sold out of a few items.

Freshly Baked Bread
This came piping hot and it was so good that I can munch on it these all day long.

Soup of the day $9
Made with fresh local produce, this was hot freshly made soup was perfect for that cold windy day.

Ridgepoint Nebbiolo Bolognese $22
~ Nebbiolo-stewed Alberta Beef and Ontario Pork, fresh paperdella and aged Canadian cheddar
We tend to order papardelle whenever we see it on the menu and this was amazing. Freshly made pasta does make a difference, there was just the right amount of sauce, meat and cheese that you still taste the egg-y flavor of the pasta. Doesn't it look beautiful (^_^)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gourmet Gringos [Latin]

One of Toronto's favorite food truck, Gourmet Gringos (@GourmetGringos) finally open up a brick and motor location at end of October at Bathurst and St.Claire. Not really my ideal choice of location but the space was actually previously use as their kitchen for the trucks and other catering events. But I guess it all end up wells with not much competition around and customer from the neighborhood.

With only around 20 seats, the space is bright and simple with hand written chalkboard menus over the assembly station/counter. You basically order at the counter, grab a seat and they'll bring you the food when ready.

Tamale $6.95
~ Choice of meat, Black Beans, Pico de Gallo, Chipotle Aioli, Queso Fresco
We choose the Molé Beef Short Ribs. I love tamale and I am surprise that not more restaurant would made them. They are Mexican version of Chinese lotus wrap sticky rice to me, always so warm and comforting flavors and texture. The ribs was juicy, moist and flavourful with the perfect amount of heat and amount of all the other ingredients like beans, Pico de Galo and sauce. It was so good that I was tempted to get a second but remembering our early dinner plan Ben promised to come back with me real soon.

Chicken Corn Tortilla Soup $5.95
 This really had a kick to it and it was quite yummy, wish it was slightly thicker but packed with flavors nonetheless.

Argentina Empanadas $6.95 for 2
~ Spiced Ground Beef, Boiled Egg, Green Olive, Chimichurri Sauce
Served piping hot, make sure to be real careful when biting into it since you can easily burn yourself with the hot steam trapped inside. The golden beauties has the perfect amount of stuffing; a balance of flavourful beef, salty olives and creamy egg but let's not forget the kick from the tangy paprika chimichurri dipping sauce.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taste the Season 2013 [Niagara on the Lake]

Remember our epic trip to Niagara-on-the-lake (NOTL) two years ago for Taste the Season (@NiagaraWine) here and here where we overtake the challenge to visit all 27 wineries within 2 days. This time around there's a total of 28 wineries but after so many visits to NOTL we decided to take it slowly and at our own pace.  The pass cost $45 each but this time around, I was lucky enough to be provided a pair of media passes.

After our lunch at Ravine Vineyard Bistro here, it only make sense to start our Day 1 here
House Made Ravine Clam Chowder
~ paired w/ 2011 Estate Chardonnay

 When at the winery, don't forget to visit their little bakery at the back, the have the yummiest treat and the day we went, they also have some vendors on site for some holidays shopping like handmade soaps and decorations.

Beef Goulash and Homade Spaetzle
~ paired w/ 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve
 They were barely open the last time we passes by and didn't even participate

Smoked Bacon and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Bar
~ paired w/ Trius Brut

Trius is probably one of the most beautiful winery in NOTL, I just can't help myself but take a few photos here once again. If you have a chance, you have to have dinner here with wine pairing 
(old post here)

Best New Restaurant in Toronto [Globe and Mail]

The Globe and Mail’s (@globeandmail) Food Critic Chris Nuttall-Smith (@cnutsnith) have just release his first Best New Restaurant Listing this morning.
Take a look at the Top 10 list here and how many have you tried so far?! I have been to 7 out the 10.

Here’s Globe and Mail Toronto Best New Restaurant of 2013 pick (comments are my own) :

1.      Bar Isabel (@BarIsabel797) ~ Being the top pick of many, I have recently been and it was definably worth the buzz (see my post latest post here)

2.     Patria (@PatriaTO) ~ been to Lunch and it was simply goodness with an amazing high ceiling location (see post here)

3.      Takht-E-Tavoos ~ frankly this is definably a spot that I missed and haven’t heard of until now (shame on me)

4.     The Chase/The Chase Fish & Oyster (@TheChaseTO) ~ still haven’t found the time to go to this one but heard that it’s definitely an experience to be had with amazing décor rave by so many of my lady foodies. I did try their food truck twice before the restaurant opened and I was thoroughly impressed.

5.       Bero (@BeroRestaurant)

6.       Porzia (@porziaparkdale) ~ another restaurant on top of my to-eat list that I yet have to visit.

7.      Dayali Beijing Roast Duck ~ I am so happy that an uptown Chinese restaurant made the list this year. I have been twice to this Beijing-based Peking Duck Chain this year and although I find the quality not being the same the two times that I have been, it’s still a great place worth lining up with all the other Markhan-ers for their Gold Medal Roast Duck.

8.      Seven Lives (@SevenLivesTO) ~ This is more of a take-out spot than an actual restaurant but nonetheless, it was one of the favorite tacos I had this year and that’s a lot (see my post here)

9.      OddSeoul (@TO_ODDSEOULS) ~ bought to you by the same Korean brothers of Swish-by-han which I love, this is their version of a dive bar with all sort of amazing Korean street food… this is like a snack size/bar menu version of their original restaurant.

10.   Electric Mud BBQ (@ElectricMudBBQ) ~ this was defiantly a change from your traditional ribs and brisket BBQ joint with offerings like pigtails, cauliflowers with wing sauce and soft served for dessert, they definitely reflect the  adventurous taste of Torontonians (see my post here)

Globe and Mail is currently offering a promotion to receive an eight-week complimentary service print delivery and online access.
Sign up for free here (sign up by 2pm Tuesday December 17, 2013)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bar Isabel [Spanish]

I finally decided to head over to Bar Isabel (@BarIsabel797) right at their opening time this past Sunday without a reservation after so many failed attempt at making one. There was already people waiting and within minutes of opening, the place start filling up. No surprise since it's been voted by so many as the Best new restaurant.

I hate waiting and we actually got a back-up reservation just in case, but we were seated as soon as we walk in. My guess is, they leave a lot of their tables open for walk in, hence the difficulty in getting a reservation.

Bought to you by Grant Van Gameren, the person behind The Black Hoof together with another former Hoofer Brandon Olsen as Chef de Cuisine and Guy Rawlings as General Manager; it can't help but be a recipe for success.

 The 75-seats interior feels like a Spanish tavern to me with the Cherry wood panels, hand-made Mexican tiles, arched crevices framing the dinning room. chairs & lights that doesn't match together with the red glow ambient lighting.... all that together gave the space an European charm.

Trou du Diable, Belgian Table Beer $9

Isabel Fashioned $15
~ Buffalo trace bourbon, bacon sugar, xocolatl mole / angostura bitters, orange zest

Baraganna $15
~ Charred Pineapple infused 1800 tequila, Cointreau, pardon peppers & sage simple syrup, lime juice
While the Fashioned was really nice, I find it really difficult to enjoy it while eating. The Baraganna was a lot better, love the sweet fresh pineapple taste and balance perfectly with just the right amount of lime plus the pop of the heat.

Smoked Sweetbread, Raw Tuna, Persimmon & Brown Butter $18
This was one of our fave dish of the night, we love the contrast of the hot vs cold, crispy vs soft and
springy vs creamy. All the ingredients didn't seem to fit together at first but they were all in perfect harmony here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

La Joie de Vivre aux Chocolate [EVENT]

Chef Eyal Lieberman (@EyalPastryChef) of L is for... (417 Restaurant, Harbour 60, Didier, Boehmer)  have crafted a six-course pop up dinner in celebration of all things Chocolate. I was lucky enough to be invited by Chey Eyal and host Abbey Sharp (@AbbeysKitchen) to attend the 2nd installment.

The tasting include wine pairings from Stanner's Vineyard (PEC) and put together by wine sommelier Rebecca Meir (Luma). And all chocolate featured are from Valrhona Chocolates.
The six course dinner is $70pp + $30 for wine pairing.

This was a sold out dinner, the place was packed and I felt lucky to be one of the attendants, the whole event felt very intimate.

Due to the incredibly small kitchen (it's a cafe) and Chef Eyal insisting on making everything himself, he was in the kitchen during the entire dinner. And that's also why it takes longer than usual to finish a 6-course dinner, unfortunately I had to leave after the 5th course since it was already 11pm by then since I had to commute back uptown.

I was very intrigue by a chocolate theme dinner that doesn't consist of all sweet dishes and as per Eyal, he's on a mission to prove Toronto foodies that it's not just for desserts.

Amuse Bouche
Oyster & Valrhona Grue de Cocoa
~ Cascumpec bay oyster & cocoa nibs infused tequila mignonette
 Sorry to say that I didn't taste the chocolate at all, all there is was the vinegar and onion flavor.

Shrimp & Valrhona Manjari
~ black tiger shrimp, pure Madagascar chocolate mole sauce, frisee cucumber & mixed greens salad
Paired w/ Pinot Gris 2010
I definitely expected mole since that's probably the only savory chocolate sauce that most people knew, Love the shrimp but wish it was served warm/hot instead of cold but the flavor was really good. Extra yummy mole sauce, wish there was more.

Geraldine [Seafood]

The Geraldine (@GeraldineResto) opened it's door back in August and I am surprise that there wasn't more reviews about it. Taking over the former Cowbell space, it's been completely transformed into a vintage romantic 1920's decor. Love everything from the old wood piano at the back, the absinthe fountain at the bar, the reclaimed wooden mantle to the antique glassware and place settings.

I especially love the oval tables where they place the two chairs next to each other which is perfect for an intimate romantic dinner ♥

The drink menu is appropriately titled "Prohibition" which kept up with the 1920's theme... I would say the most interesting cocktails are the two that contained Absinthe which I absolutely regretted of not trying. They also have wine and beer listing but with this innovating cocktail list, they shouldn't be your priority.
Silversmith Oyster Stout $7
Ben ordered this to try it with actual oysters and we were both surprise at how the fresh oysters bring out the oyster flavor of the beer.
The Scarlet Carson $11
~ Tanqueray Gin infused White Jasmine & Rose Petal Green Tea, Lillet Blanc, Campari, Grapefruit, Honey Syrup (in collaboration w/ Kitten & The Bear
Love this a lot, I was incredibly surprise at how pronounce the tea flavors was and the added touch of rose petal tea on top was very romantic.

Fanny Bay (BC) $3.50 x2 + Kumamoto (BC) $3.00 x2 + Crab Leg $5
There were only 3 type of oyster to choose from and one of them were sold out which I find the selection very limited for a seafood restaurant. Plus these 2 were pretty standard ones which I can find anywhere at a very affordable price.
When ordering we were told there's a 15-20 minutes wait for the oysters which is strange since it require no cooking but we were ok with it since we were in no rush. Then after 30mins, we were told that they were sold out, then the platter arrives after another 3mins... confusion? Need someone to shuck for the night?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Touro Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Located right by Hwy 7 and 404, Tauro (@tourosteakhouse) is basically steps away from where I work and yet I have never been. A few weeks ago, I was invited by View the Vibe (@ViewtheVibe) to a Media Tasting dinner.

I have probably pass by a million times but never would have thought how great it would look inside with the high ceiling and all the hanging lights.  I have only been to a Brazilian Style Rodizio (AYCE) restaurant once before but from what I remember there wasn't so many type of meat to choose from and the decor definitely didn't look as great.

I was early since the others had to travel up from downtown and I am glad for once it wasn't the other way around. I was quickly greeted by the owner/managing director and handed a drink by the gorgeous light-up lava rock bar.

This is consider Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça (rum made from sugar cane), sugar and lime. Love this simple cocktail with just the right amount of tartness and definitely needed it after a long day at work on a Wednesday.

The Appetizer Island
The Rodizo service also include a salad and appetizer buffet with over 40 dishes to choose from in-house baked bread, cured meats, cheeses to a vast array of salads and soup.