Saturday, 31 March 2012

Enoteca Sociale

After the sketchiest streetcar ride (and getting off 2 stops too early because I misread the numbers on the storefronts), we arrived at Enoteca Sociale.

It's really nice inside - great use of the space because it feels warm and inviting.

The special appetizer of the day was a Charcuterie board ($20)
with mortadella with pistachio, red wine salami with fennel, ice wine chicken liver pate, garlic toast and poached apple with mustard seed.
The poached apple was gross - mustard seeds and apples are not a good combination. It was bitter and pungent and an awful way to eat apples. We weren't impressed at all. 
On the other hand, the chicken liver pate was amazing! After a while I totally forgot it was pate because it didn't have the usual meaty taste. It almost felt like a mousse because the ice wine and the pate was really light and airy. The meat selections were also really well done - the mortadella and salami ribbons were fantastic! 

Stinging Nettle Mezzaluna, wild leek and pancetta breadcrumbs
When we first read this item on the menu, we were puzzled - stinging nettle mezzaluna? what is that?
The waiter was super helpful in describing the dish as a half moon ravoli with some stinging nettle (wild herb) stuffed inside and topped with wild leeks and breadcrumbs cooked in pancetta fat. 
The stinging nettle tasted like spinach when cooked and the whole dish was delicate and earthy. I loved the pancetta breadcrumbs with the pasta - it worked nicely together. 

Trecce, pork sausage, charred broccoli & Tomato Peperonata
After eating a ton of Italian food last summer, we figured we would be able to puzzle out any Italian menu (we got really good at words for food in Italian), but we were totally stumped by this menu. We relied on the knowledgeable waiter to figure out this dish too - trecce is a braided pasta (almost similar to fusilli). 
The dish was spicy which was definitely not what I expected when I ordered the dish (based on the ingredients in the menu). The trecce was fun and the pork sausage was good with a bit of a slow burn. Eventually, this dish got to spicy for me and I had to trade dishes with my friend. 

Sticky toffee pudding, cardamom syrup & vanilla bean ice cream
Quite yummy! Although we could tell it came straight out of the microwave because the dessert was way too hot causing us to almost burn our tongues. 

Lemon olive oil cake, rosemary ice cream
This was AMAZING! At first we thought the description wasn't very appealing and that the combination might be really strange - but they actually worked great together! I would totally recommend this dessert - it was unique, different and fresh. 

Overall: For all the hype about this place, I guess our expectations were set really high because my friend and I were kind of disappointed with how the meal turned out. We were expecting authentic Italian food (i.e. big portions and simple ingredients), and we were quite surprised by the variety (and confusion) of the menu. Definitely an interesting experience with so many ingredients we never heard of before. The waiters were super knowledgeable and efficient (and we would have never made it through the meal without them).

Enoteca Sociale on Urbanspoon

Friday, 30 March 2012

Somethin' 2 talk about

It's the distinctive little yellow house on Gerard (near Bay St.)

The Simple Menu..
It's a relatively simple lunch/early dinner take-out place (hours are 11am - 5pm) 
Feta, chicken, sundried tomato, baby spinach wrap: $6.20 (including tax)
Really Really Good! The food has been consistently fresh and the meat is always nicely seasoned/marinated. They also have quite an extensive halal menu and vegetarian menu. Unlike other places, when they specify ingredients on the menu, they definitely include them in - what you see is what you get. I loved that they didn't skimp on the feta cheese and they actually put in real sun dried tomatoes! Yum! 

Chicken Shawarma 
You can taste the freshness of the ingredients (even if they don't have the pickled turnips) and they don't cheap out on the ingredients either - there was a lot of chicken! :D 
The best part of all this: what a steal for $5 (including tax). 

Conclusion: This Mom & Pop Shop really knows how to deliver great fresh meals for reasonable prices. 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The 3 Brewers Restaurant Micro-Brewery

Don't be deceived by the exterior! Looks are totally deceiving with the 3 Brewers

This place is HUGE - there's 3 floors inside! To get to the washroom, you have to go up 4 flights of stairs and then back down a flight and head straight pass the bar to the back. 

The lunch specials are a good deal: You get soup or salad with your meal in addition to one of the main courses.

Beef Barley soup
 I guess I was expecting something similar to Pickle Barrel's thick and filling beef barley soup because I was disappointed with this soup. I found it very watery and even having an ton of vegetables didn't save the quality of the soup.

T.O. Flammekeuche
 Sliced steak, mushrooms, onions and cheddar cheese
When I was served this, my first thought was "Wow! There's a lot of steak and cheese - I hope I can finish this because it's HUGE". It actually turned out kind of well though; the meal wasn't too heavy because it had a very thin crust (I was concerned I wasn't going to be able to finish the dish, but I managed to eat 3/4 of the Flamme) and there wasn't a lot of sauce (so it wasn't too messy). I liked it! It was new and different and kind of fun to eat (you don't feel so guilty finishing all of it because it has a really thin crust).

Conclusion: Their main selling point is that they're a micro-brewery as well as a restaurant. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try out of one their brews, so that might warrant a return trip to try one of their in-house brews. Overall, I thought the food was decent and service was pretty fast - definitely an interesting place!


The 3 Brewers Restaurant Micro-Brewery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Ravi Soups

Photo from Google Street View

The colourful menu

The line up and the kitchen (they churn out food really fast despite the limited space).

Roasted red pepper bisque and curried beef wrap $10.99 (excl. tax)
The roasted red pepper bisque soup was AMAZING - it's no wonder that they're known for their soups! There was such a harmony of the bold flavour of the curried shrimp and roasted red pepper with the more subtle flavour of the basil and you really relish each spoonful. It was super rich, packed with flavour and lots of shrimp. A very thick hearty soup for lunch. 

Curried beef wrap with roasted yams, baby spinach, mango pineapple salsa , lime chili & mint cilantro
The wrap was fingerlicking good. The spice mix was wonderful and the chunks of beef were really succulent and tender and there was even some ground beef mixed in (really good texture). I could take the heat of the first half of the wrap since it seemed the veggies helped to mellow out the spiciness of the curry. However, as I got to the end of my wrap, it ended up being way too spicy for me to eat all at once and I ended up downing quite a bit of water to mellow out the spiciness.

Overall: Great place for a quick lunch (beware the line up!) and the prices are totally reasonable for a Downtown Toronto lunch.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Kenzo Ramen

Interior of Kenzo Ramen
Menu with pictures!
There were a lot of spicy ramen options. My friend (who can regularly handle hot sauce) had the King of Kings ramen and it was spicy enough to make her nose run. 
Sapporo Miso Ramen 
with roasted vegetables, bean sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and ground pork
There were lots of veggies, but not a lot of noodles in my ramen. I found the broth was really nice and quite hearty. My one disappointment was that there wasn't a lot of ground beef in the Sapporo - not quite the balanced ramen I was hoping for. 

I probably have to give this restaurant another shot before I make decide whether or not I like it (a lot of people ordered the Tonkotsu ramen and it looked really good). But for a Japanese restaurant, I found it funny that the waitresses spoke Korean instead of Japanese....


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Black Hoof

Photo courtesy of Google Street View

The bar at the Black Hoof (not to be confused with the Cocktail bar across the street at 923 Dundas St. W)

Whoever wrote the menu on the blackboard has the coolest penmanship I've ever seen! I wish I could write like that - unfortunately my chicken scratches are barely legible. 

House Cured Meats (Charcuterie board)
We all loved the grainy mustard with the bread and salted meats. You really can't go wrong with this cured meat board. My favourites were probably their version of the mortadella on the bottom left (I love mortadella in general even though I know how fattening it is), summer sausage (right above the mortadella) and the pancetta. They also had an interesting pork heart meat (the small dark star-shaped meat in the middle), but it was probably our least favourite - very dense and tough in comparison to the other meats. 

Roasted Bone Marrow $7
Delicious! The toast + roasted bone marrow and olive oil + chimicurri (the green herb stuff which is AMAZING) + Maldon sea salt = yummy! The bone marrow had to be scooped up using these small special spoons and it was delightfully fatty and buttery - mmm totally worth it to me!

Spicy Horse Tartare with hickory sticks, hollandaise and fennel
Make sure you get an even amount of the horse meat, hickory sticks and hollandaise because that all together is the jackpot! The texture of it is fantastic: crispy hickory sticks and raw horse meat all held together with the hollandaise and the fennel for aromatic purposes. Definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night and it speaks to the restaurant too - you really just have to take a chance with the menu sometimes!

Pork Carnitas Tacos
They have some really great guacamole! The huge mound of shredded pork was quite a mouthful and there was plenty of juice dripping off the side of the tiny taco when I was eating it. I wasn't really a fan of the crispy chip thing. In total, I thought the dish was nice, but it wasn't really outstanding. 

Duck and black bean 
Asian inspired duck thigh with cabbage and black bean
We were kinda disappointed with this dish considering it was one of the pricier items on the menu and we got a duck thigh (we were expecting half a duck - crazy right? but for $19 we really thought we would get more). It was an ok dish, but when we compared it Chinese duck dishes cooked in black bean sauce, it just didn't measure up in terms of value and quality to dishes we've tried before.

Overall: Great food and the menu really allows you to try out adventurous new dishes - it was really fun picking and choosing and the portions were enough to try a little of each. Eating here is definitely on the pricier side considering what you're really served (but that's the point of tapas I guess). I must say though: it was a really cool experience and with the menu changing frequently, it definitely keeps it interesting.

Black Hoof on Urbanspoon

Friday, 23 March 2012

Wildfire Steakhouse (Lobster fest)

Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar is running a Lobsterfest promotion (on until April 1st) where you can get a 3 course meal for $45 (a really good deal if you're trying it for the first time). The menu is fantastic! If you love lobster then this is perfect since there's tons of lobster options.  

Lobster salad
Atlantic Lobster pieces, tossed with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and mango on a bed of organic field greens, drizzled with a light aioli dressing

There was definitely a lot of lobster pieces in the salad, but in comparison to the grilled calamari and the escargots: this appetizer was good, but it just wasn't as fantastic as the others. 

Grilled Calamari
Warm tomato salsa, capers, black olives, red onions and topped with salsa verde

I love this appetizer - the calamari is always perfectly tender and the salsa adds really great flavour to it. The only downside was that the appetizer portion was smaller than their usual portion size. Still, this is one of the best calamari appetizers I've ever had (and I keep coming back for it). 

Escargot provencal
served with herbed butter, roasted garlic and shallots with panko topping

Mmm snails drenched in garlic butter sauce - heavenly! And with the warm bread on the side - it's just juicy buttery goodness.

Surf and Turf
6 oz. Striploin Steak & 1/2 Nova Scotia Lobster,
roasted garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and garlic drawn butter

The quality of the steak wasn't quite what we were used to when we eat steak here normally. So we weren't particularly impressed by the steak portion. The lobster was great though! They definitely delivered on the 1/2 Nova Scotia lobster! And as always, the sides were delicious: garlic mashed potatoes, grilled red peppers and a small cooked carrot.

Layered Chocolate mouse
Rich dark chocolate mousse under a layer of creamy white chocolate mousse with a blanket of ganache

This was good - but not our favourite dessert (that would have to be reserved for the Red Velvet cake)

Lemon Drop cheesecake
tangy, refreshing delight with a hidden layer of lemon custard on a graham cracker crust

We couldn't taste the "hidden" lemon custard layer (it was probably too well hidden). The actual cheesecake with the graham cracker crust was nice though. 

Red velvet
Moist sponge cake made with rich artisan red cocoa, layered with chcolate ganache and vanilla cream cheese frosting

Amazing - love it! It wasn't too sweet and there was enough icing to balance it out the layers. Fantastic dessert!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Carole's Cafe Yorkville

Photo of the outside from Google Street View

The inside...the restaurant is kind of tiny - but they make good use of their space!

Pistachio cheesecake
I've been on a bit of a pistachio craze lately (I blame it on my Europe trip - pistachio flavoured stuff was everywhere and now that I'm back in Canada, it's nowhere). So when I saw this opportunity, you bet I jumped on it! My impression of the first bite was: this is really good cheesecake, while my second thought was: I don't really taste the pistachio. The taste is there, but I guess I was expecting it to be stronger than it actually was. There were some pistachio nuts which was a nice touch and I loved the crust of the cheesecake - so I still enjoyed it (I guess I just expected more from the Best Cheesecake place in Toronto).

Dulce de leche and Red velvet cheesecake
The dulce de leche was nice, maybe a bit too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the red velvet was definitely something I would order again - Amazing! Usually red velvet cakes are pretty sweet by themselves, but I thought the cheesecake (instead of cream cheese icing) actually mellowed out the taste and made it richer and smoother. Delicious little bites of rich velvet cake + smooth creamy cheesecake = Heaven

Taffy apple cheesecake
This was really good! The combination of the sticky sweet taffy apple chunks, mild delectable cheesecake and the crunchy crust make this an absolute delight to eat. 

Overall: The cheesecakes are really delicious here (and it's no wonder since the place is located in the heart of Yorkville - they've got to meet top notch standards). The service can be slow sometimes (we waited 15 minutes for our bill), but it's a great place to chill, relax and catch up with friends over a slice of cake. 

Carole's Café Yorkville on Urbanspoon