Friday, 31 August 2012

Red Lobster (Endless Shrimp)

It's that time of year again...Endless Shrimp @ Red Lobster! :D
We did a little research before attempting our Endless Shrimp Fest and according to other reviews, the Scarborough location is the best in Toronto in terms of food and service. 
All you can eat Shrimp for $18.99!

And of course, they have the complimentary biscuits:
Buttermilk Cheese Biscuits - yummy!
It has a nice and crispy texture outside and when you bite into it, you get the soft warm buttery dough. They're so good! (and you can get refills of their biscuits too - probably not a good idea when you're doing endless shrimp though)

Caesar Salad (also complimentary)
The Caesar salad dressing was sweet which was different than the Caesar salad dressing I usually eat (Renee's). It was a decent caesar salad - lettuce was crisp, garlic croutons were good and all the cheese on top made it awesome. 

Red Lobster serves 5 different shrimp options for the Endless Shrimp: 
1) Baked Garlic Shrimp and Cheese
2) Hand Breaded Shrimp
3) Garlic Shrimp
4) Shrimp Linguini Alfredo
5) Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp on Rice

How it works: You order two options first (and a side) 
After that, you can order whatever else you want (one order at a time)
Side note: Basically to get your money's worth, the Shrimp Trio is $21.99 on the regular menu - so if you eat  more than three dishes of shrimp then you're good.
My Combination: Baked garlic shrimp and cheese and hand breaded shrimp with mashed potatoes
The baked garlic shrimp was just garlic shrimp and cheese on top - nothing as glamorous as the baked garlic shrimp and cheese in the promo video for Endless Shrimp. 
The hand breaded shrimp were plentiful, but I wasn't a fan of the shrimp cocktail sauce. The garlic mashed potatoes were great though!

Another Combination: garlic shrimp and teriyaki shrimp with broccoli
The garlic shrimp was swimming in a dish of garlic butter: oh so delicious but oh so unhealthy. Seriously indulgent probably with some serious artery clogging effects - luckily I don't do this often (like the CNE).
The teriyaki shrimp was probably the healthiest item on the Endless shrimp menu since it wasn't deep fried or soaked in butter or heavy cream. It was pretty good too! (The rice was minute rice though - but I'm really all about the shrimp)

Another combination: Garlic shrimp and the shrimp linguini alfredo
I love their shrimp linguini alfredo - it's SO GOOD! Since they use this super heavy and creamy sauce which fills you up fast, I decided to order it as my last dish.

 
After finishing my main dish, I ordered the teriyaki shrimp (since it was good and it's not as super filling as the other types of shrimp). Then I ordered the shrimp linguini alfredo (since I couldn't eat anymore) and I ended up taking the alfredo home (and eating it as lunch the next day). 

Overall: If you're a seafood (and garlic butter) lover, this is the ultimate shrimp indulgence since there's so many ways you can try the shrimp and you get such a large portion each time. Caution to healthy eaters: The food has a lot of butter and cream, so it is super heavy and you may feel extremely drowsy & sleepy afterwards. The Red Lobster had fast service and our waiter was really attentive and knew when to ask us if we were ready to order more shrimp. The wait for a table was long since the turnover was slow (probably because everyone kept ordering as much as they could eat off the menu and were taking their time enjoying their meals), so much so that I still saw people lining up at 10:00pm to get a table. 

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

Schnitzel Queen

January 5, 2012

Located a few blocks east of Queen Station is a popular and simple diner-like restaurant with fantastic food. The area is a little sketchy (ok- very sketchy and probably not somewhere you'd want to hang out around at night), but it doesn't really matter since the Schnitzel Queen is only open for lunch on weekdays. All the menu items are under $10 which makes it a great deal! Especially when you have food like this:

The Schnitzel
Wow - what can I say? The food is humongous! I usually have a huge appetite and combine that with the fact that I was starving at lunch time today - I really thought that I would be able to finish the schnitzel, the potato salad and the sauerkraut. I finished about half and felt like I barely made a dent into the lunch. 
The sauerkraut was great! Not too sour and the thin strips of cabbage really absorbed the flavour well. The potato salad - wow was it ever amazing! There was egg, pickle, potato and little flecks of green (probably some herb that I can't distinguish) - based on the ingredient list, I probably wouldn't have gone near it (I'm not a big fan of eggs and pickles in a potato salad), but something about the way they put it together or maybe it was special mayonnaise - who knows? All I know is that it was so great - I tried to scrape off the remains of the mayonnaise at the very bottom because I couldn't get enough of the flavours of the salad. Hands down - one of the best potato salads I've ever had!
Now the schnitzel: first off --> it's HUGE, clearly a sign when it can't even fit in the box properly and although it was thinly sliced, the meat was juicy and it was nicely breaded. The mushroom and onion sauce was strong and just the whole combination came together so well and so perfectly - it's enough to make you want to brave the journey there tomorrow for seconds.

Michael Sandwich
The Schnitzel sandwich was a steal for $7.99! For lunch in Downtown Toronto, it is definitely way above food quality and quantity standards and it's so cheaply priced too. Pork schnitzel, roasted onions, lettuce and some awesome sauce = LOVE.
There was so much meat in this sandwich you could probably eat it with the meat enveloping the bun instead!

Conclusion: Fantastic place and definitely worth the trip through one of the roughest parts of town for lunch! Great value and great food - what more could you ask for?

Update: August 31, 2012


The inside - it looks like a kitchen! :D
And fully equipped with a kitchen bar, but the real stuff happens in the back. 

We went for a late lunch (because we weren't that hungry) and unfortunately, by the time we got there, the potato salad had almost run out. Teresa told us that she only had enough potato salad for one dinner - which limited our options...
Updated Menu!

"King" Schnitzel sandwich with bacon, roasted onions, sauerkraut and cheese
I can't emphasize how massive this sandwich is and it's such amazing value for $10. 
Soooo good!

Chicken Schnitzel Dinner with potato salad and sauerkraut
The schnitzel is still gigantic, super juicy and tender. I definitely like the chicken more than the veal since it was more meaty and tasty. They make a fantastic potato salad as well (next time I'll have to come earlier for it!)

 Schnitzel Queen  on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Grand Electric

Grand Electric

The patio in the back

The Menu

Guac & Chips
The guacamole was fresh and tasty (but still not as good as Dos Caminos). The salsa was a little spicy. I thought the chips were great: plain so that you could better taste the guacamole, baked so they were healthier and dense so they were filling. The crispy thing in the middle is fried pork skin (surprise! we thought it was a mostly vegetarian dish - but I guess not). It had a nice chewy texture despite looking crispy. 

Taco trio from the top left: Pork Cheek with guacamole and jalapenos, pork belly and pineapple salsa, spicy arbol chicken with yogurt and pickled onions
a) Pork cheek was tender and packed with flavour. It was so good that I ordered a second round (see picture below)
b) Pork belly was good - tender meat and I thought it was a nice touch with sweet grilled pineapples
c) Spicy arbol chicken was quite spicy, so I was grateful that there was yogurt on it. And I was happy we ordered the guacamole (that helped sooth my tongue when the waitress wasn't around to grab us another bottle of water).

Baja Fish with cabbage slaw
Huge! The fish was delicious! Sweet and soft meat inside the fried battered outside. I liked the slaw and mayo as well. This taco may have been the best bang for buck at Grand Electric. 

Pig tail and Pork cheek
For some reason when I ordered this, I had this misconception that it would be like one of those curly cartoon pig tails with very little meat. So I was happily surprised that it was so meaty and it was pretty good. The taco selection here is amazing! It's like you can't go wrong with anything here. 

Spicy calamari (squid) 
The battered squid were quite sweet without the jalapenos. It was done nicely, but I think it's more about the tacos here. 

Right: Chocolate pecan with creme fraiche, bourbon, chocolate and toasted pecans
Left: Key lime with graham cracker crumbs

Chocolate Pecan: I thought the bourbon was particularly strong in the dessert. It was nice, but not as delicious as the Key Lime.
Key lime: OMG this was heavenly! I tried to lick the mason jar clean because the combination of the key lime custard, crumbs and whipped cream were absolutely amazing. The key lime was the perfect combination of sweet and tart and even my friends who usually don't like key lime were totally blown away by it. 

Overall:  The line up to get a table is worth the wait. The tables on the patio are a little gross (especially since the tables were like picnic tables and they're hard to clean), but after eating the amazing food, you don't even notice. I was thoroughly impressed by everything I ate.

Grand Electric on Urbanspoon

Big Daddy's (Tasty Thursdays)

Another Tasty Thursdays @ Nathan Phillips Square.

I'm fascinated with the Deep South. There's a air of mystery and excitement there: the bayous, the charming Southern hospitality and who can forget the infamous Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans? It seems like there's tons to do and see in the Southern US, so I was excited to try out the New Orleans style cuisine at Tasty Thursdays. Po' Boys (which is short form for "Poor Boy") are crusty French bread sandwiches filled with fried seafood (usually shrimp, crayfish or catfish - based on what they catch in the bayou) and some spicy sauce. It's a sandwich concept: using simple local ingredients that they can get in the South and throwing it together to make a meal out of it.

So, I was expecting a fried catfish sandwich when I saw Catfish Po Boy...
Instead it was a Cajun spiced Catfish burger. 
I was left wondering where the fried catfish goodness was...and it was in a tiny box. 
The fish was okay, the bun was super big and took over most of the sandwich. 

Overall: The line up moved kind of slow considering most of the fish and cornbread were already prepared and placed in the catering containers and the staff just had to put everything together, serve it and take the money. The food was okay, not quite what I was expecting for my Cajun food experience.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

CNE Food Building

Every year, for the last three weeks of Summer, Toronto is host to the largest Fair in Canada: the CNE or the Ex. The Ex has a ton of stuff to do: carnival rides like the Ferris Wheel to the CNE Sky Ride, International Marketplace with vendors selling items from around the world and the Food Building filled with tons of great food options.
(Photo from H.C)

The Food Building got a new Bacon Nation stall:
 

 
My friend's Bacon Loaded Hot Dog and My Bacon wrapped hot dog...

Clearly, her hot dog was gargantuan in comparison.
You get so much more for $3 more: overflowing bacon bits for the full out bacon experience.
Bacon was crisp and not super oily - Good Job Bacon Nation. 

Then on our way out, they were giving out free samples of Tiny Tom's Mini Donuts, and I was sold: 

(H.C.)
The donut machine

 
The bag of dozen donuts with powdered sugar - yum!
They were fresh, not greasy and straight from the oven toasty. 

One of my goals this year was to try the Deep Fried Mars Bar and the Deep Fried Butter! 
Near the Prince's gate is the famous food stall selling both these items (and a few other deep fried treats). 

My $5 awesome deep fried Mars bar!

The gooey chocolatey inside...
The way I see it: you can only eat these greasy indulgent foods once a year - so you might as well make the best of it. This Deep Fried Mars Bar was one of the best parts of my Fair experience. It's pretty heavy though with all the batter on the outside (it's a pretty thick layer as you can see) and the oozy chocolate and caramel from the Mars bar inside. Yum!

Deep Fried Butter Balls

It was okay at first, until I got to the end with all the heavy butter then it felt a little painful to eat and swallow. 

Overall: The CNE is great! There's tons to see and check out here (especially all the food stalls - it's fascinating to see them try to consistently outdo themselves on their recipes each year to make their food crazier than the prior year). It was an artery clogging fest with the bacon and then the deep fried butter and Mars bar. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Terroni (Queen West)

I've heard good things about Terroni and I couldn't wait to try it out. (It also helps that Jake Gyllenhaal has been spotted here twice!)
I didn't know they had a patio until I got there and saw the sign. After which, I immediately requested that we wanted a table outside.

Awesome right?

Bread with Olive Oil 

Mangiabbun: white pizza with mozzarella, garlic, rapini and spicy sausage
This was really nicely done! Crispy just-taken-out-of the-oven crust and super melty hot cheese topped with their great spicy sausage and tender grilled rapini. It helped that we were starving and it came out super quick - great way to start off the meal (we shared it as an appetizer).

Cavatelli cu Pisci Spada
Handmade cavatelli, house smoked swordfish, fried eggplant, tomato sauce, basil, mint and chili 

I don't normally see swordfish on a menu, so I figured this dish of swordfish pasta was worth a try. I found that the swordfish meat was salty and a little tougher than most fish I've eaten and it was cut up in cubes which emphasized the toughness of the meat more. The cavatelli was cooked al dente, but I think it might have been better if it was a little softer to offset the tough swordfish cubes. The dish was okay, but I think I'd order something different next time I come to Terroni. 

Ravioli di Zio Paperone
Homemade ravioli stuffed with duck confit, fig, roasted butternut squash, sauteed with oyster, button mushrooms and parmigiano

Amazing! I was super impressed. The ravioli was delicate morsels filled with delicious stuff. Wow, I would totally order this next time. 

Spaghetti al Limone
Spinach, capers, parmigiano reggiano shavings, lemon, extra virgin olive oil 

We found this spaghetti rather plain. It was an interesting concept: lemon sauce but it didn't particularly stand out as a dish to me. It was good, but it didn't blow me out of the water.

Garganelli Geppetto
Dandelions, homemade spicy italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano, extra virgin olive oil 

This was SO GOOD - even our waitress said that all the kitchen staff rave about this dish. The pasta was al dente and different, but it was really the sauce and ingredients that made it an outstanding dish. I would really recommend this.

Then dessert:

Creme Caramel, Tiramisu, Torta Calda al Cioccolate
Tiramisu wasn't that amazing (despite reading all the reviews online). I've had better at Olio and Paese). The lady fingers were soft, but they weren't soaked in espresso or wine (so I thought they were dry). The mousse was nice though. The torta calda al cioccolate (flourless molten chocolate cake) was really yummy! Not too sweet and it just oozed chocolate when you sliced your fork through it. The crème caramel was okay, but not outstanding. 

Overall: The waitress was knowledgeable and helped us make some good choices (the mangiabun pizza and garganelli). They make really delicious Italian food that I would come back for. 

Website: http://www.terroni.com/
Terroni - Queen on Urbanspoon