Sunday, 15 December 2013

Aroma Espresso Bar @ Shops at Don Mills

I remember the first time I ever tried Aroma Espresso Bar's quinoa salad from the Standard Life Building in the PATH. It was my first experience with quinoa and I was immediately a fan of quinoa (and the restaurant chain).  Aroma has expanded all across Toronto with one of the latest locations at the Shops at Don Mills:
Aroma @ Shops at Don Mills

Power Breakfast
Aroma Power Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, mixed cucumber, carrot and tomato salad with balsamic and whole grain toast with olives, feta cheese and avocado spread.
Wow - that is a lot of food. It was the combination of the salty feta cheese, mushy and sweet avocado spread, tangy olives and choppy scrambled eggs that I never would have worked together, but did quite well. I was so pleasantly surprised and the side cucumber and tomato salad was piled so high and the balsamic vinaigrette was so tasty. What a great healthy way to start the morning!

IMAG3718
Shakshuka
A Tunisian breakfast with two sunny side up eggs on top of a tomato and pepper sauce and served with Tahini and whole grain bread.
You definitely don't see or hear a lot about Tunisian food in Toronto - so I was pretty excited to try this.
It was two eggs on top of a warm thick and spiced tomato broth. I wasn't sure what the proper way to eat this was - so I grabbed the toast slathered on the Tahini then scooped some egg and tomato sauce on top and tried to stuff my face. Pretty good - but it can get pretty heavy if you slather too much Tahini.

Chicken Phillysteak Sandwich
Philly Chicken half sandwich
Chicken with aroma sauce with sauteed onions, red peppers and melted swiss cheese on toasted whole grain bread
For some reason Aroma is really big on half sandwiches, and sometimes I can't complain since I get to throw two different halves to make a whole (and I get to try two different ones). I especially love the Double Up combo (mmm quinoa salad). Anyways, I love that they grill the sandwich so that the cheese melts and oozes. The sandwiches here are just really good, but I probably prefer the grilled chicken breast sandwich over the Philly Chicken - I like the whole chicken breast meat rather than the slices of chicken in the Philly.

Steak Sandwich
Steak half sandwich
Steak strips with sauteed red peppers, red onions, aroma sauce and Swiss cheese on grilled whole grain bread

Hot Chocolate     S'mores Hot Chocolate
S'mores hot chocolate!
Mmm I couldn't resist! Marshmallows and cookie crumbles on top of frothed milk with thick chocolate at the bottom (that you have to stir to make your hot chocolate)? Awesome!

Overall: The food is healthy and delicious and it's made with such great quality ingredients. I feel like you can't go wrong with any menu items you choose here whether it's breakfast or lunch (which is probably why the chain has been so successful expanding across Toronto). Yum!

Aroma Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Lindt Cafe @ The PATH

I finally had a chance to check out the new Lindt boutique location just in time for Christmas!
IMAG3709 Lindt Store - Downtown Toronto
And I've got to say: one of the most exciting parts of this new (as of June 2013) boutique is the cafe where they prepare drinks:
IMAG3707
 The barista was nice enough to give me some samples of the hot chocolate which was spectacular!
The dark chocolate was really rich in flavour and had the nice thick consistency of slowly melted chocolate. The milk chocolate was sweeter, but tasted a little blander after I was spoiled by the full-bodied dark chocolate. 
White Chocolate Mocha
After much deliberation, I opted for the white chocolate mocha
I loved it! It wasn't too sweet which was a really nice change from my usual super sweet white chocolate mocha drink at Starbucks. Also, I found the espresso made it really aromatic and overall, it was just delicious. 

Overall: Heaven for Lindt Chocolate fans! I love all their drinks - you can't really go wrong with any of their options. The best part is that they're competitively priced with Starbucks (finally someone is giving the Starbucks white chocolate mochas a run for their money!). 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bent

I'm generally not a fan of Asian Fusion, but my friends and I were really looking forward to Susur Lee's Bent. So on a dark rainy night, we made our way to 777 Dundas Street West to try it out.
Bent
Bent-O menu!
Menu

Lobster Bisque with Shrimp ravioli
Lobster Bisque with Shrimp Ravioli
A cute petite cup of lobster bisque. The soup was not as thick and creamy as I would have liked my lobster bisque and it was heavily spiced. I wasn't a fan of the shrimp ravioli which was more like a shrimp wonton.

Bent-O
The Bent-O for two
Clockwise from the left: braised beef bao, Peruvian ceviche shooter, kale and tofu salad, tuna and watermelon ceviche, oysters Rockafeller gratinee, Susur's jerk spiced octopus and two sushi pieces
As quaint and pretty everything was, it wasn't a particularly filling meal. It was a lovely (and expensive) tray with all the seafood components, but nothing particularly stood out to me except the jerk spiced octopus which I thought was too heavily spiced and which my friend found very spicy. 

White Snapper with coconut curry and goji berries
We topped up our meal with white snapper in coconut curry with goji berries
The fish was crispy and flaky and the coconut curry was delicious. I just wasn't wow-ed by it.

Overall: Bent delivered Asian fusion, but I wasn't a big fan of it (maybe my tastes are simpler). It was a relatively expensive meal considering the portions we were given and while the food was interesting and had some nice playful elements, I wasn't really impressed overall.

Bent on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Paisano's Italian Garden Cafe

It's been a while since I've been to Paisano's and I remember it as a reasonably priced Italian restaurant serving large portions of traditional Italian cuisine.
Paisano's 

Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon
The plate was so big that it made the portions of salmon, rice and vegetables look small.
The salmon had nice grill marks on it and was cooked well.

8oz. steak special

8 oz. Steak Special
The steak was a little charred around the edges and was a little overdone for medium. 

Grilled Chicken Pizza
Grilled Chicken Pizza
The pizza was really good: large strips of grilled chicken breast, sweet roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes and tons of cheese all on a thick crust - Yum!

Veal Parmigiano
Veal Parmigiano
Now this is what I remember: huge portions for a decent price. The breaded veal cutlet was about half an inch thick and smothered in tomato sauce and baked with cheese on top. It was delicious! The sauce was fresh and the veal was tender. 

Overall: It's exactly what I remembered - a nice family style Italian restaurant with reasonable prices and good portion sizes. 

Website: http://paisanos.ca/index.html
Paisano's Italian Garden Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 10 November 2013

La Carnita

Tacos! I'm glad I finally had the chance to try out La Carnita, it's been on my list since it first opened last year.
La Carnita

IMAG3666
The Menu (in really bad lighting)

Beef Cheek and Tostada de Ceviche taco
Beef Cheek taco and a Tostada de Ceviche taco
The beef cheek taco was amazing with braised tender beef cheek topped with a lime avocado sauce, cabbage, shallots and a hint of spice with jalapenos. It was a perfect blend of tangy sweet melt-in-your mouth yummy. 
The tostada de ceviche was different from a typical taco as it was served on a crispy hard tostada shell. It was piled high with cubes of swordfish, guacamole, tomatoes, cucumbers, habanero and coconut milk to balance it out and slightly tone down the spicy kick. 

Carnitas and Fish Taco
Top tacos are In Cod We Trust and bottom tacos are Carnitas
The cod tacoes were so pretty with the red cabbage, cilantro and fried cod. I liked the combination of flavours and textures with the hint of lime, pickled cabbage, crisp apple slivers and crunchy & flaky cod. 
The carnitas had confit pork, jalapeno sauce, mango salsa and queso anejo cheese topped with cilantro. These had quite a kick to them with the spicy sauce - definitely not for the faint of heart.

Lime pie paleta
Key Lime Pie Paleta
Prior to this, I had no idea what a paleta was. All I heard from the waitress was key lime pie and I was sold. It was good (but not as satisfying as a real key lime pie), the ice pop was creamy, tangy and sweet and quite a refreshing dessert after that spicy taco meal. 

Overall: The tacos were really pretty and yummy. I'll definitely be back for more of the beef cheek taco...yum!

La Carnita on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Delicious Seafood & Steak

We saw the advertisement in the Chinese newspaper for Delicious Seafood & Steak restaurant on Highway 7 and they were offering a special promo: half-price meals from 4pm onwards. 
Delicious Seafood and Steak IMAG3651
The Fish Soup and Hot Pot menu
IMAG3652 IMAG3653 IMAG3654
The entree menus
The entrees seemed like a really good deal: you get salad, soup and a main dish.
Garlic bread and Salad
The garlic bread that came with the surf and turf meal and the salad
IMAG3657
Lobster bisque soup
The bisque was thick, heavy and bland with a slightly burnt taste to it - there was a hint of lobster flavour but it wasn't very appetizing at all.

Sea Bass Platter
Sea Bass in Cream Sauce Plate
The sea bass in cream sauce was decent even if the portion was a little small. The fries were the weird part of the dish, when are fries ever a good side dish to a fish dish (unless it's fish and chips)?

Surf and Turf Platter
Surf and Turf Sizzle Plate
The tiny portion of meat in the small lobster was completely overwhelmed and covered by cheese (maybe the cheese was there to secretly hide the fact that there was barely any meat?). The steak was okay, but it was definitely a lower grade of beef. The fries were rather bland and soggy.

Mixed Sizzling Platter
Delicious XXL Mixed Sizzle Plate
Unfortunately, it wasn't sizzling - some of the meat was barely warm. There was a lot of stuff on the plate, but none of it was tasty or any good. It was the most random assortment of meats I think I've ever seen on a platter: shrimp, sausage, chicken, beef, bacon, onions and it was all topped with a gravy sauce on a bed of fries.

Overall: The food wasn't very good even though it was cheap. The service was atrocious; they were great at seating us and taking our orders since we got there before the dinner rush, but they were terrible at serving us and getting the bill because they were so understaffed. Even if there's a great promotion like 1/2 price on the meals, I wouldn't go back.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Drake One Fifty

The latest in the Drake Hotel chain is Drake One Fifty in the financial district.
Drake One Fifty

Menu Menu Menu
The menu
Octopus
Charred Octopus with sunchokes, romano beans, smoked cipollini + swiss chard
The octopus was not quite what I expected it to be especially since it was also labeled a starter. I figured they would give enough octopus to share for a few people...instead it was just a meaty tentacle.
The salad underneath was interesting and it worked well with the octopus.

Beef Tartare
Beef Tartare
Cumbrae's sirloin, tomato puree, pickled shiitake, egg yolk + potato chips
The beef tartare was delicious; I rather enjoyed the contrast between the hard crispy chips with a scoop of the soft beef tartare topped with chives and a runny egg yolk.

Gnocchi
Ricotta Gnocchi with broccoli pesto + florets, pine nuts + preserved chili
This gnocchi was the smallest portion ever for $19. A huge disappointment and it wasn't particularly amazing either.

Margherita Pizza
Margherita pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, basil + preserved chili
The pizza was rather doughy and didn't have enough tomato sauce.

Rabbit pasta
Rabbit Confit Torchetti with sundried black olives, spinach, chanterelles, pecorino
The rabbit was nice and sweet, but the dish didn't really wow me.

Drake 150 burger
The One Fifty Burger with Cumbrae's thirty day aged shortrib, Perth bacon, cheddar, pickled red onion, bibb lettuce, Russian dressing + hand out fries

Roast Lamb
Roast Lamb with Greek yogurt, roasted baby eggplant, citrus new potatoes, haricot vert + chili puree
The roast lamb was nicely spiced and I liked the Greek yogurt and chili puree sauce. It added a different touch to the normal roast lamb dinner. I do have to say though, considering I paid almost $30 for this dish, I was kind of disappointed there wasn't more to it. It was good, but not that good.

Overall: The new Drake One Fifty aims to cater to young professionals and bring in a hipster vibe to the Financial District. The decor was interesting and the bar area was packed.  In terms of the food though, I found it very pricey and only average.

Drake One Fifty on Urbanspoon