Saturday, 14 February 2015

Purple Pig - Chicago

Location: 500 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
We booked a weekend getaway to Chicago through for about $500 flying Porter Airlines and staying on Mag Mile. It was our first time in the city - so we had a lot to look forward to!
Yay! Chicago

Originally, we planned to start off our trip with Deep Dish Pizza at Gino's East, but unfortunately, by the time we got to our hotel and checked in it was 11:30pm CST (meaning no pizza since the restaurant's closed).
Instead, we did a quick search on Yelp and discovered Purple Pig was still open and it was a 7 minute walk from our hotel. Perfect! A few people gave me recommendations to try the Purple Pig - so it's really a win-win foodie situation. 
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It's surprisingly still busy for midnight eats, but we got seated very quickly and the waiter came by after 15 minutes to take our order and to tell us that the kitchen would be closing soon.
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Since everything here is tapas style, we decided to order two dishes since we didn't really want to eat a super filling meal this late at night.
Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes
Super tender and just melt in your mouth delicious! It was a tad on the salty side (which may be because we literally just landed in Chicago an hour ago and might have been a little dehydrated - interestingly, I just read this article recently about how in-flight your tastebuds change).

Pig's Ear with kale, pickled peppers and a fried egg
All mixed together
Again, this was another really salty dish. However, I think it was supposed to be on the saltier side with the salted pig's ear, salted kale chips and sour pickled peppers. The jiggly fried egg, crispy kale and crunchy pig's ears made an interesting texture combination and it was fun and playful, but I probably wouldn't order it again (too much salt).

After our two courses, we decided to grab another one since we weren't really full.
So we ordered the porchetta panini
There was a lot of pesto on the panini: pesto inside the sandwich and outside the sandwich.
Unfortunately, the pesto sauce was really salty. The porchetta was nice and flavourful, but the pesto may have overwhelmed us. Decent sized portion for $11.

Overall: They have some really interesting and innovative pig items on the menu, but we found everything really salty (either because it was really salty or because we just got off the plane and our taste buds were dehydrated or something). Of the three dishes, I'd recommend the milk braised pork shoulder.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Cafe California

Location: 538 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C6, Canada
Ever since the Winterlicious menus came out, I've been looking forward to the $25 dinner menu at Cafe California. (*Items I would recommend and/or order again)

Calamari Diablo with chili aioli
It was a nice filling portion for an appetizer. The calamari was breaded and fried and worked well with the aioli.

Lobster Mac & Cheese
I was really looking forward to this when I first saw the menu. Lobster mac & cheese is usually served as a main rather than an appetizer (and you get filet mignon for $25 too? that's a ridiculously good deal). The mac & cheese was super creamy with the three cheese sauce and there were 2-3 pieces of lobster on top. The breadcrumbs on top were nice, but I would have liked it even more if they baked the appetizer until there was a nice crust on top of the mac and cheese.

8 oz Filet Mignon with Madeira sauce and vegetables
The filet mignon was done really well! Lots of meat and cooked to perfection - tender and juicy.
I wasn't sure if I'd like the gorgonzola (blue cheese) on top, but I think it paired nicely with the meat and the sauce. A very yummy and filling portion!

Apple Crumble Tart
When we got the tart, it looked really nice, but as soon as I dug a fork in - it crumbled.
The apple crumble was a little too literal: the crust was not very good and the apple and crumble part were nice, but it's not that easy to enjoy it when the crust fails to hold it all together.

Amarula Liqueur Cheesecake
This cheesecake was really nicely done. It had great flavour from the amarula liqueur and it was moist with a good solid crust. I almost wish I had more - but I was pretty full from the other two courses.

Overall: Great value for money and very yummy food at Cafe California! The service was great and the food came out fast and very well done - and it's such a bargain for lobster mac & cheese and filet mignon.

Cafe California on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Cafe Pleiade

Location: 557 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M5, Canada
My third Winterlicious this year and it's back at one of my favourites: Cafe Pleiade for a $25 dinner.
It's this cute and cozy little restaurant on Mount Pleasant that serves deliciously filling portions of French and Mediterranean food. I can always count on them to serve good home style food at really reasonable prices. 
(*Items I would recommend and/or order again)
Bread with olive oil and balsamic

Fresh Ravioli with tomato sauce and Parmesan flakes
This is such a nice change from those overpriced high end restaurants that serve one ravioli as an appetizer. 
I got a few ravioli with a lot of their fresh marinara sauce with chunks of tomato and cheese on top. The pasta was good, but I was hoping that they would have something other than just cheese in the ravioli. 

Fresh Mussels Mariniere
Every time we've been here for Winterlicious or dinner, we always get the mussels. They're just that good! 
The sauce was so tasty and the mussels soaked up all the flavour. The fresh tomatoes and onions added a nice freshness to the dish. The mussels are their best appetizer (or main course at lunch) - so you should definitely order this!

Grill Pork Tenderloin on Spinach with fingerling potatoes, yoghurt and mint sauce
Amazing! The grilled pork tenderloin was juicy and so delicious! The best part was that I got three pieces of tenderloin with nice grill marks on that I could dip in the refreshing yoghurt sauce. It was so good and great value for money. 

Cassoulet with pork, chicken, sausage and lima beans on pasta
Hefty portion as well with huge chunks of sausage, pork and chicken. The sauce was a little on the watery side and it used the same marinara base that was in the ravioli. The pasta missed out on the flavours of the cassoulet because of the watery sauce and the dish missed an overall cohesive flavour too. Cafe Pleiade on Urbanspoon

Friday, 6 February 2015

Rock Lobster

Location: 110 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z4, Canada
January 30, 2015
I'm not a big fan of alcoholic drinks when I'm eating out (I'm a lightweight and sleepy drunk and generally I like to remember what my food tastes like), so I didn't really want to get a Caesar...until everyone else ordered one and I saw how awesome it looked on the menu. Who puts a lobster tail into a Caesar??? That's Awesome (with a capital A)!
Rock Lobster Caesar
Delicious! This was like a meal in itself: ketel one vodka, steak spice, tabasco, worcestershire, clamato and lobster tail
You have to get this when you're here!

Lobster poutine
It's Poutine + Lobster --> enough said. It was served in this really cute pan with chunks and bits of lobster on top of cheese curds and fries all topped with a lobster gravy sauce - Yum!

February 2, 2015
I was pretty happy with my lobster poutine and Caesar last week, so I came back for the $25 Winterlicious dinner.
(*Items I would recommend and/or order again)

Lobster Taco and Lobster Cake
Even though the lobster cake on the menu is $13 and the lobster taco is $6 - I would much rather eat the taco over the cake if I could choose again. The taco was fresh and zesty (and tasted better with the selection of hot sauces). Meanwhile, the cake was good if super crumbly and rather one-dimensional in taste compared to the taco.

Lobster Roll
I saw the lobster roll last week and I remembered thinking "I don't think that's worth $15, but if I can eat it as part of a 3 course meal for Winterlicious - that might actually be a good deal". So here I am - eating it for Winterlicious instead of paying $15 for it regularly. The bun was buttered and lightly toasted with lobster piled on. The size was kinda small, but the quality was there. The Yukon chips were good too - they're a little charred, but that's what makes them different.

S'mores Brownie with marshmallows and Dutch Butter Cake with dulce de leche and toasted almonds
I thought the s'mores brownie was an interesting concept, but I didn't really like the presentation of it because it made it harder to eat. The butter cake was good, but it was hard and I wish there was more dulce de leche drizzled all over it.

Overall: The Rock Lobster Caesar is a MUST-TRY here! I was really happy with my drink. The lobster dishes are all good, but they're a little on the pricey side. I think the Winterlicious was a good deal since I got to try the lobster taco, lobster roll and dessert for a lot less than regular price.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Le Papillion on Front

Location: 69 Front Street East, Toronto, ON M5E 1B5, Canada
Winterlicious Season is back! This year I kicked it off with Le Papillion's $25 Winterlicious menu:
(*Items I would recommend and/or order again)
Escargot with sauteed leek, cream sauce and croustinis
The best way to eat snails is with butter or this way with a heavy and strong cream sauce to accompany the slightly chewy snails. 

Filet of Salmon - baked salmon stuffed with sauteed leek and mushroom and a baby shrimp brandy sauce, rice and vegetables
When I ordered this, I was actually hoping for the salmon to be baked in a pastry with leek and mushroom. I turned out that it was a piece of salmon wrapped around some mushrooms and leeks. The salmon was still tasty, but I think the mushrooms and leeks ruined it for me - it made it awkward to eat it and I didn't like that the salmon skin was still on it. The rest of the dish was fine: the baby shrimp brandy sauce was nice as were the rice and veggies. 

Duck leg confit with a wild berry sauce and vegetables
The duck leg had a nice crispy skin outside with nice juicy dark meat inside. It was very well done.

Traditional Cheesecake with berry coulis on top
I really liked this cheesecake - it had a great crust and the cheesecake wasn't too dense and heavy. 

Overall: A nice three course French meal for $25 with good service and good food.