Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ikea Cafeteria

September 3, 2012
When you think of Ikea, usually the first thing that comes to mind is "cheap furniture",
Did you know they also have a cafeteria that serves cheap food?
If I'm shopping at Ikea, I make sure that I drop by the cafeteria. Otherwise, once in a while I like to check out the specials at the Ikea Cafeteria:

$3.99 Chicken thigh dinner with choice of side
The chicken was a little dry, but the portion was pretty huge. 
The side was penne pasta in tomato sauce - pretty simple.

Another chicken thigh dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. 
The skin was super dry and not really crispy, but the meat was okay. 
I like their meatball gravy.

Sept 16, 2012
$5.98 Salmon dinner
The mash potato and broccoli medallions were delicious and filling. 
The salmon, on the other hand, was overcooked and tough with a light hollandaise sauce that I barely tasted. The steamed veggies were okay.

May 29, 2013
$5.99 for 10 meatballs, small salad and drink
I used to love Ikea's Swedish meatballs with gravy - it's their signature dinner item. 
The meatballs are tight packed morsels of meat and it usually comes with a side of mashed potatoes, but I opted for the mash potato and broccoli medallions instead. The side salad was a "help yourself" portion with a choice of packaged dressing on the side and the drink is refillable for free. Pretty cheap meal!

Overall: It may not be the most amazing meal of your life, but it's quick service, good value and cheap - so you can get back to shopping for cheap furniture and goods at Ikea. Long live the home...

Ikea Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Owl of Minerva

The Owl of Minerva started out as a popular Korean restaurant in the Annex and gradually expanded to a whole bunch of locations around Toronto and GTA.
We went to the Owl location in North York.
Owl of Minerva
The locations all have distinctively bright yellow signs.

Menu Menu
Side dishes
The variety of side dishes: spicy cucumbers (refreshing), kimchi (not too spicy) and spicy radishes (a bit spicier than the kimchi)

LA Kalbi
L.A. Kalbi
We got a small order and it was quite huge! 3 slices of the spare ribs marinated in sauce and grilled until the meat was tender. Delicious!

Bulgolgi lunch special
Bulgogi lunch special
You get an order of the bulgogi dish, rice on the side and a drink for under $10 - pretty good deal.
The bulgogi was nice - there was enough sauce and it was pretty tasty and colourful with all the stir-fried vegetables.

Pork Bone Soup
Pork Bone Soup
For fans of pork bone soup, the soup is usually spicy and filled with gigantic chunks of bone with tender meat falling off the bones. In this case, it didn't really have the heat from the spicy broth (even for someone with little or no spice tolerance). However, they put in a lot of Asian spices to make it more flavourable - I actually think I like the Pork Bone Soup at Galleria more.
Dolsot Bibimbap
I was having an off-day when I ordered this (considering I can't eat spicy food and a key component of this dish is the spicy sauce that goes with this dish). I found it a little dry for my liking (for obvious reasons - fail on my part) and after trying a bit of the sauce, I couldn't bring myself to use the tangy spicy sauce that came with my order cause I was a little overwhelmed by the heat. It looked pretty.

Overall: Owl of Minerva is a good place for Korean food that's relatively cheap and fast. 
Owl of Minerva on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 18 May 2013


One of my out-of-province friends was in town for the weekend and she had a craving all you can eat Korean barbeque. So we ended up at Chako in Scarborough for dinner: 
Chako Menu Chako Menu
(The first 5 photos are courtesy of C.L.)

Quite a few options: salmon, mussels and sushi
The food usually comes raw (sometimes marinated if it's beef, pork or chicken).

The servers start up the grill and off you go:
Salmon, shrimp and zucchini

Chako select beef (really nicely marbled), marinated chicken, marinated short ribs and lamb

Chicken, salmon, zucchini (I really love grilled zucchini), lamb, short ribs

The all beef and pork grill

Overall: The fun part of Korean Barbeque is that you get to grill your own food (sort of like barbecuing in the summer, but indoors and with proper ventilation). It's a test of your skill to see how well you can cook your food (I tend to overcook my food at KBBQ). Service was okay (the server was a little disorganized and forgetful when we ordered our dessert), food was good and it was a fun experience.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Marcel's Bistro and Lounge

The strip of restaurants on King West across from the Princess of Wales theatre and the Tiff Lightbox brought back memories of Europe. In particular, Brussels' Rue de Bouchers and Rome's Borgio Pio with waiters and managers standing outside the restaurants holding out menus to entice passer-bys to try the restaurant. 
We wanted to grab a meal before catching the Book of Mormon at the Princess of Wales theatre, so we made reservations at Marcel's Bistro and Lounge on the second floor.

The Tour de France prix fixe promotion was going on and we were in time for the Pays de la Loire specials.
Main and Dessert for $30 
Rôti de noix de veau sauce à l’estragon et vin blanc, purée de carottes au beurre noisette
et asperges vertes (Roasted veal top round with a tarragon white wine sauce, served with brown butter carrot purée and asparagus) - Prix Fixe

The veal was okay, but there was a bitterness in the sauce that I didn't really like. The carrot purée tasted like baby food - it probably wasn't the best side to the dish.

Filets d’agneau grillés et sauce aux pruneaux servi avec polenta et légumes de saison (Grilled filet of lamb with a prune sauce, served with polenta and seasonal vegetables) - Prix Fixe

The lamb was pretty good and quite tasty and the prune sauce was nice. 

Coquilles Saint Jacques poêlées, velouté au safran, légumes de saison (Seared sea scallops in a saffron velouté served with seasonal vegetables) - Regular menu

This dish is not part of the prix fixe promotion, but the scallops were really delicious! The meat of the scallops was sweet and juicy and the sauce was great.

Steak frites, beurre Bordelais aux échalotes et vin rouge (Grilled certified Angus sirloin steak, shallot-red wine butter & frites)  - Regular menu

The steak was done to a nice medium and it was really nice with the wine butter on top.

Tarte tatin avec sorbet aux framboises (Tarte tatin with raspberry sorbet) - Prix Fixe

I was disappointed by this dessert: the portion was huge, but the actual tarte had a soggy crust and was not that great. The apples were caramelized, but they were mushy and not sweet. The raspberry sorbet was okay, but the combination didn't work as well because the apples weren't sweet enough.

Overall: The service was slow, the food was mediocre and it was pricey. If it wasn't for the proximity to the theatre, I wouldn't have considered it.
Marcel's Bistro Fine French Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Banjara Indian Cuisine

Feb 12, 2012
On the outside, the Banjara at Bloor resembles a local diner (I think it actually used to be a Coffee Time). It's not very impressive inside either, but it must be the food that keeps customers coming back for more.
Papad - Thin, crispy and lots of spices 
A really nice way to start the meal. 

Butter Chicken with side order of Naan
It was really good butter chicken along with huge portions of Naan bread. There were large pieces of chicken Tikka smothered in a delicious sauce that flavourful and rich and not too heavy or spicy. 

Lamb Rogan Josh
The lamb was nicely cooked, not too gamy and it had a slow burning spiciness to it.
Lots of sauce and full of flavour - Yum!

Overall: I'm not really a connoisseur of Indian cooking, but I really liked what I ate! The dishes were tasty, delicious and super filling with the naan.

Location: 796 Bloor Street West, Toronto

May 2, 2013

I liked the Bloor Banjara so much that when I saw a Groupon for the new Yonge and Eglinton Banjara, I bought the Groupon: $15 for $30 worth of food.

It was the same crispy starter with tons of spices. It's really great to nibble on as you're waiting for your main meal. 

Meat samosas 
We were kind of surprised by how big they were! The menu says two, but we were used to samosas that you find in grocery stores and potlucks. It was almost the size of a fist and filled with hot meat filling that was nicely spiced but not too spicy.

Butter Chicken Combination Platter 
Butter chicken on the platter was a much smaller portion (and the naan was a smaller portion too). The sauce was still really tasty and not too rich or heavy. The other items were hit and miss: the chickpeas and potatoes were okay; the long grained rice was lightly flavoured and nice; the crispy pakora was good; the rice pudding was very watery and had a strange sweetness to it - I wasn't a fan. 

Beef Madras 
The sauce was delicious and packed with flavour.

Overall: I think I liked the Bloor location better. The platters had a lot of food, but the quality was okay.

Location: 164 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto