Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Keg Steakhouse & Bar

We were craving red meat, so we headed to The Keg for their classic Sirloin and Prime Rib.
12 oz Grilled Top Sirloin
12oz. Grilled Top Sirloin with vegetables and roasted garlic mashed potatoes
It was a little pinker than medium rare, but I guess it might have been hard to gauge when something that round and thick is the perfect temperature. A sirloin is a tougher cut than the New York striploin that I usually order and this was a huge chunk of meat. The mashed potatoes had the skin still in the mix (which I wasn't a fan of). It was adequate, but not particularly enjoyable.

12 oz Prime Rib
12 oz. Prime Rib with a twice baked potato, crispy onions, horseradish and au jus on the side
The prime rib was delicious! Tender and juicy and I loved the au jus and crispy onions. The twice baked potato is definitely my favourite accompaniment.

Billie Miner cake
Billy Miner Pie
Amazing mocha ice cream cake on a chocolate crumble crust with caramel and fudge drizzled on top and finished off with almonds! Wow - it plainly requires more than one person to finish such a crazy huge slice of ice cream cake (it's almost a meal in itself). Bonus: you get a free slice of this on your birthday!

Overall: It's the Keg - their specialty is affordable red meat. Enough said.
Dessert was pretty spectacular too.

Banu

Mmmm it's been so long since I've had Iranian food! I couldn't wait to try Banu.
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Ideally, it would have been better to come for dinner than lunch since they have more variety and menu choices at night, but given some time constraints and scheduling problems - we went for lunch:
Lunch Menu

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Koobideh Loghmeh (grilled ground Angus sirloin, roasted tomato, fresh herbs and scallions wrapped in lavash bread) with a non-alcoholic Sekanjebin drink
The drink was really delicious and the wrap was nice as well.

Stew
Khoresht Gheymeh (Iranian stew served with saffron basmati rice)
The stew was full of flavour and very hearty and the fragrant basmati rice was a great complement to the stew. The only downside was the small portion size - otherwise it would have been amazing!

Overall: Yummy Iranian food at Banu, but it was definitely on the pricier side considering the portions and pricing. I thought it was a decent experience - service was fast and friendly and the decor was lovely.

Banu on Urbanspoon

Friday, 21 March 2014

Table 17

I rarely make my way to Riverdale/Leslieville for dinner; but I've heard that there are a lot of trendy and interesting restaurants in the neighbourhood.
Table 17

Table 17 Menu  Olive oil and bread
The menu and some bread with olive oil
Oh man, that is some crazy good olive oil...YUM!
Hot balls
Hot Balls
Top down: (1) Arancino - mushroom & Fontina stuffed risotto and a mint sauce, (2) Goat cheese – with wildflower honey, (3) Arancino - spiced lamb stuffed risotto with marinara sauce
I thought these resemble the suppli we had in Rome, but they weren't. They're definitely arancini though with a crispy fried outer shell and warm risotto inside. However, I wasn't blown away by the flavours of the balls (there wasn't enough lamb, the goat cheese was way too pungent and the mushroom and fontina was a little bland), but I liked the pairings with the sauces.

Thai Braised Pork Belly
Thai Braised Yorkshire Pork Belly
The pork belly was okay, maybe not as tender as I would have liked, but I definitely think the Thai aspect of the dish missed the mark. I love lemongrass, but I was disappointed that it was more of an afterthought/supplementary flavour rather than a real Thai style pork belly dish.

Pacific Cod
Pacific Cod
An interesting dish - the crispy and flaky cod was placed on top of a bed of braised white beans and kale with some chorizo thrown into the mix. The fish was nice, but the whole dish wasn't anything particularly special. I noticed that both dishes had a lot of sauce, but the main protein was almost separate from the sauce (and so it didn't really absorb the flavours). It really was like having a dish and then a side rather than an integrated plate.

Dark Chocolate and Olive Oil Tartlette
Dark Chocolate and Olive Oil Tartlette
OMG! This was amazing! If there's one thing I'll come back to Table 17 for - it's anything that they make with their olive oil! The tart was so delicious with thick rich dark chocolate inside a crumbly tart shell and the fantastic sauce on the side! Yum!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky Toffee Pudding
The pudding was mushy rather than sticky. It was okay, but definitely nowhere near as great as the tartlette.

Overall: The restaurant was nice, service was prompt and the olive oil was addictive. If you have the chance to come here - definitely order the items with olive oil! It's amazing what a quality olive oil can do.


Table 17 on Urbanspoon

The Rebel House

I was meeting up with a friend for lunch in the Rosedale area and I wanted somewhere with good food and healthy options. Luckily, I did some research and found The Rebel House.

Smoked salmon pasta
Daily pasta was a penne tossed with Atlantic Smoked Salmon, Rapini, Red Onion, Zucchini and Asparagus in a Creamy Basil Sauce $14.95
This dish was all kinds of awesome! I loved that there was so much salmon and smoked salmon. They definitely didn't skimp on the fish and everything was tossed with their delicious sauce. Yummy! 

Grilled Chicken Salad 
Daily salad was Grilled Chicken, Green Beans, Red Onion, Tomato, Cucumber and Aged Cheddar on Baby Spinach with Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette $13.95
What a huge salad and there was so much chicken! It's such a nice change from those downtown salad restaurants where they grill one chicken breast and charge you an extra $5 for it. The vinaigrette was lovely and the salad ingredients were all fresh and appetizing. It was quite a filling salad.

Overall: Great meal at the Rebel House! The service was fast, the food was good and the prices were reasonable. I like that the menu changes quite a bit, it definitely keeps things interesting.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Macaron Day in Toronto

This year was the first time I actually got to participate in Macaron Day! I think Toronto's Macaron Day started two years ago (that or I only started noticing it two years ago). Unfortunately, I was always either out of town or nowhere near any of the patisserie locations. 
So I tried to make up for it by hitting up two different places: 

Petite Thuet
Petit Thuet Chocolate Caramel and Lemon 
Right: Chocolate Caramel macaron and Lemon macaron
Petite Thuet had a sign at the front of the store indicating that the macaron proceeds were to going to the Red Door Family Shelter, which I thought was a nice way to raise awareness of the cause that Macaron Day was supporting. However, they also put a note saying that there is a $2 donation for each macaron (so instead of free macarons, you have to pay).  I guess you save 50 cents since each macaron is usually $2.50 *sarcastic yay*.

First up: Lemon macaron
The lemon macaron was really pretty covered in yellow sugar crystals and it was nice, soft and quite sizable. However, it was a little mushy inside because of the lemon curd. Still, it was a decent macaron.

Next: Chocolate caramel 
It was awful! Not only was it super hard to bite into (like rock solid day-old meringue), but the caramel was super sweet. I can't believe I paid $2 for this! I was pretty upset.
Chocolate Caramel
(please excuse the bite marks...I couldn't get a picture of how hard it was to cut/bite into this thing otherwise)

Patachou
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Yay! A free raspberry macaron. I'm getting into Macaron Day now...

It looks nice enough at first glance, then when I bit into it, I was a little disturbed by the neon pink inside. The top of the feet were crumbly, but it was soft inside. The buttercream was sweet, but not particularly flavourful. 

As a size comparison: 
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Trust me, the angle wasn't bad. The Petite Thuet macarons were pretty big.

I guess the search for decent macarons in Toronto continues...

Website: http://macarondayto.com/index.html

Friday, 14 March 2014

Dobri Jesti Food Truck

A schnitzel food truck! I love schnitzel, so when the truck was in town - I made sure to stop by:
Dobro Jesti Food Truck

Schnitzel sandwich
Schnitzel Dilla with arugula, lettuce and garlic dill aioli sandwiched between two big slices of Bavarian rye bread $10
Schnitzel sandwich
A little more up close and personal with my schnitzel sandwich...
Schnitzel sandwich
I really loved the garlic dill aioli sauce! The schnitzel was a little dry without the aioli and it made the sandwich much tastier. The lettuce and arugula were fresh, but I don't think they added anything interesting to the sandwich. I did love the bread though - it was so good! 

Overall: A good food truck and the portions are quite big (you get one gigantic piece of schnitzel cut into two for the sandwich). However, I still prefer Schnitzel Queen.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Hana-Bi Sushi

Another trip to First Markham place on a busy Saturday night (parking is such a nightmare here). This time we decided to go for sushi (instead of Korean)!
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Starters: Salad with sesame dressing and miso soup
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Rainbow roll
Salmon, Tuna, fish roe and avocado on top of a California roll
The roll was tightly packed and there was a lot of fish roe on top of the sushi (a nice change from places that skimp on the garnish). Very nicely presented. 

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Sushi Platter (60 pieces)
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A lot of sushi here - but they were all variants of the same few fishes. There were 4 groups of salmon, 2 groups of butterfish, 2 groups of spicy salmon and 1 group of tuna. I thought the grilled squid on the side was interesting and different. 

Overall: Okay sushi at Hana-bi. The service was fast, but the food was a little pricey. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sbarro @ Ottawa Airport

Flying out from Ottawa! It was a short and sweet trip...
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Combo with drink, salad and pasta with tomato sauce
Well, I've had some terrible airport food and some really great airport food - but this definitely fell into the former category. The penne was watery, the sauce was bland, and the drink was super watered down. The two saving graces were that the lone meatball and the salad was okay. There was a lot of dressing, but the tomatoes and cucumbers were fresh.

The French Baker - Ottawa

I love that Ottawa is so close to the Quebec and there's a lot of spillover of the French culture (and food!) in the area. So, I was really looking forward to breakfast...mmm French pastries and baked goods Yum!
The French Baker
I liked Benny's Bistro so much the last time I was here, that I came back to try the bakery side: The French Baker.

Pain au Chocolat
Pain au Chocolat
A nice flaky pastry with the chocolate baked inside. It was nice, but not as filling or delicious as I hoped.

Chocolate pear tart
Poire Chocolat Tarte (Chocolate pear tart)
OMG! This was amazing! It was so decadent and delicious. The chocolate was rich and creamy, paired with the juicy wine-poached pears and baked in a chocolate tart shell - heavenly!

Overall: Really delicious desserts at The French Baker! Yum!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Mamma Grazzi's Kitchen - Ottawa

We were looking for Italian food near Byward Market for dinner and came across Mamma Grazzi's Kitchen in a little street away from the main Byward Market area:
Front

Milano
Milano: linguine with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and snow peas
The pasta was home-made: I never had linguine that was that chunky or thick. The sauce was nice and the chicken, red peppers and snow peas were great, but I thought it was missing a distinctive flavour.

Torrone
Torrone: Dark chocolate terrine with almonds and sun-dried cherries, covered with white chocolate and pistachios
The terrine was nice, perhaps a little overpriced for $8 since it was really only 3 slivers of terrine which was a cold chocolate dessert.

Overall: It was a nice Italian meal at Mamma Grazzi's Kitchen, if a little pricey.
Mamma Grazzi's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Casablanca - Ottawa

The last time I was in Byward Market, I came at night for Nuit Blanche in Ottawa, so I didn't really get a good feel for the landmark. This time I was inside looking for a meal for lunch and it really is quite nice inside:
Byward Market
I walked by Casablanca and the food looked really appetizing. 
Casablanca  Casablanca
The inside was furnished with some nice Moroccan accents including plush cushions and nice gold accents.
Chicken Pastillo and stuffed eggplant
Chicken Pastillo platter with a side of stuffed eggplant and rice
It looked so lovely and delicious! The eggplant was the vegetarian option for the day, but they let me substitute it for the normal veggies. The eggplant was  nicely spiced and delicious if a little on the greasy and oily side. The rice was also lightly fragrant and worked well with all the juices from the eggplant side.
Chicken Pastillo 
The pastillo was really delicious! It was a great combination of sweet and savoury with the powdered sugar on top of a crunchy baked crust. The pastry was filled inside with chicken, almond slivers and a great blend of spices to make it hearty and tasty. The lemon added a nice zest to the pastillo. 

Overall: Great meal! If a little on the pricier side (which might be due to the novelty of the Byward Market).

   Le Casablanca on Urbanspoon