Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill @ Yonge and Front

I'm usually not a fan of Oliver & Bonacini restaurants (I haven't been too impressed with their food in the past and on top of that, they're pricey!). However, the Cafe Grill on Yonge and Front felt like a better and healthier option than Fran's or any downtown Food Court (at the time).
Oliver and Bonacini Cafe & Grill 

Sandwich of the Day: Croque Madame with a mixed greens salad
Ooo grilled ham and cheese! You really can't go wrong with this combination and they used nice cheese with a fresh and bright salad on the side. 

Braised beef short rib gnocchi with Northern Woods mushrooms, tomato, Parmesan crème fraîche $18
Baked pasta! It doesn't really look appealing though. I thought there would be more braised short rib, but it was a mostly mushroom filled dish (I guess they were cutting costs and yet charging exuberant prices). 
The whole dish was okay, but nothing special. The portion was a little small for a $18 pasta dish even if it was a lunch portion.

We tried to redeem the meal with the Chef's platter of desserts
Clockwise from Top Left: Lemon Posset, Famous Carrot Cake, Blueberry Cheesecake and Toasted marshmallow raspberry brownie
Chef's platter - lemon poppet, carrot cake, brownie, cheesecake
I really enjoyed all the desserts on the plate! It was well worth the money spent. 
The lemon poppet had a nice tangy flavour from the lemon zest and the posset was cool and creamy. The carrot cake was fantastic! I loved the moist texture and cream cheese icing with shaved carrots on top. The cheesecake was rich and creamy and the blueberry sauce was a great complement. My favourite item was definitely the brownie! It doesn't get any better than raspberry and toasted marshmallows on a decadent brownie. Yum! 

Overall: It was a good meal, if on the pricey side and you can be in-and-out within an hour for a quick business lunch. Dessert was definitely worth it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Yours Truly

Yours Truly was one of the restaurants on my Toronto To-Eat list ever since it opened in 2012
 and when I saw on their Facebook that May was their last month for their Tasting Menu, I knew that this was going to be my last chance to try it. 
Yours Truly 

Appetizers: Tiny bowls of albacore tuna, pate between two buns and lamb on a leaf
I loved this as an appetizer! It was so interesting & different and everything worked really well together. 

 mushroom daishi soup and garlic beignet 
Garlic Beignet and Mushroom Dashi Soup
Really cute tall shot glass soup - I liked that there were different levels to it: past the foam, there was the dashi soup broth then the mushroom at the bottom. The garlic beignets were lovely.

 octopus, powdered speck, oranges 
Octopus, oranges and speck
Really beautifully presented...portions were a little tiny I guess.
The saltiness of the speck with the sweet and tart oranges was definitely a pairing that I didn't really see together, but it was okay. The octopus was a little gummy and boring compared to the rest of this visual feast.

Day lily, scallop, jelly and milk skin
 lily, milk skin, scallop, jelly 
It sounds almost experimental and yet, it tasted really good as one cohesive dish.
The scallop was sweet and was topped with the slippery jelly and wrinkly milk skin. I thought it was unusual pairing the day lily leaves but somehow it was a little more fragrant with it. I really enjoyed this dish.

 brisket, crisp onions, rice paper 
Brisket with crisp onions and rice paper

  chentecler chicken thigh and breast, roasted hazelnuts, onions
Chentecler rouge with roasted hazelnut, cherries, onions and dandelions
Chicken thigh and breast medallions with pearl onions and roasted hazelnuts in a fantastic brown sauce. I really liked the dish, I just wished the portions were bigger. After we had this course, we knew we had to order more food:

 duck ragu pappadelle, beans, parmesan
Duck Ragu Pappadelle with beans and parmesan
The pasta was definitely home-made, but I wasn't a big fan of the duck ragu sauce and the big broad beans. This dish fell off the mark for me and it was a pretty expensive addition too. 

 dark chocolate, salted caramel powder, rhubarb, jelly
Dark chocolate, salted caramel powder, rhubarb and jelly
Definitely a lot of molecular gastronomy going on here tonight. The powders were concentrated, but sometimes I just like eating the original food item. I thought it was a well executed dessert, but this was one where I didn't feel like it was as cohesive as the other dishes.

Overall: As great an experience as this adventure with the tasting menu was, my friend and I both got food poisoning somewhere along the way from one of the courses. It just sucked that it was subsequently ruined by the runs (and in my case, a fever and an inability to keep any food down for a few days) causing me to really regret going to Yours Truly. It also hurt since our meal was pretty expensive ($55 per person excluding the extra course we paid for) and I can't help associating the cost as "one of the most expensive cases of food poisoning I've ever gotten (and the most miserable)". The restaurant is one of the most hyped places in Toronto and a lot of friends have raved about the food. Overall, I thought our meal was original and lovely, but I know it'll be a while before I'm brave enough to test the waters here again.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

East Thirty-Six

My friend and I were catching a show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and we wanted to grab a nice dinner nearby. After some research, we found East Thirty-Six just recently opened in the area and we decided to try it out.

 razor clams 
 It looked like a feast for the eyes! The dish was plated beautifully and it looked really appetizing.
 Razor Clam 
So...there wasn't a lot of razor clams - the abundance of stuff on the razor clams shells turned out to be more vegetables than clam meat. It was nice and refreshing with the citrus and mint, but not particularly filling.

 Duck confit 
 Duck Confit with duck egg, maitaki and pecorino semolina $19
 Braised Shortrib 
 Shortrib with parmesan grits, brussel sprouts, horseradish $21
  The shortrib was an interesting dish - I'm not too sure I liked the grits with the horseradish and brussel sprout combination. It also wasn't a particularly filling combination either (and it was a little on the pricey side considering the portion). 

Overall: The atmosphere and interior of the restaurant was nice and the menu looked interesting, but the food was a little disappointing and pricey. 

East Thirty-Six on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Il Fornaro's 25th Anniversary Dinner

I really like going to Il Fornaro for classic, consistently delicious and reasonably priced Italian food. 
So when I saw the promotional email celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a 4 course dinner for two for $39 (regularly $79), I knew I couldn't pass up this deal! The promotion ran from May 15th to June 15th and came with three shared plates.

  IMAG4150 IMAG4140 
Flatbread and roasted eggplant humus to start! Yum!
Shared Caesar Salad
The salad was evenly tossed and made with their homemade Caesar dressing. 
Pretty big sharing portion (which I love about Il Fornaro!)

Left to Right: Shared Rose pasta and Shared Marinara Pasta
I love Rose pasta - it's so creamy, sweet and delicious! On the other hand, the marinara was tangy and piquant from the tomatoes. The pasta was perfectly al dente and topped with a ton of parmesan cheese! Delicious!

 Atlantic Salmon
The fish was really flavourful (and according to my Grandma, it was done much better than Paisano's salmon). The capers were a nice touch to add a sharp and salty taste to the sweet grilled Salmon. The vegetables were nicely seasoned and cooked. 

 Chicken Supreme
The chicken was stuffed with mushrooms, pine nuts, apricot and goat cheese giving it an earthy taste. If you're not a fan of the goat cheese, it'll probably be overwhelming. However, I liked the stuffed chicken, it was juicy with a nice crisp to the outer skin and the filling was pretty good.

Veal Osso Buco
 I definitely remember the osso buco being much bigger with lots of meat, but the center cut veal was tender and tasty. The sauce was delicious too! 

Chicken Parmigiana
 This was a huge portion of Chicken Parmigiana. They definitely didn't skimp on this - it was a large breaded chicken breast topped with baked cheeses and fresh marinara sauce. 

Cheesecake and Tiramisu
The blueberry compote was nice and the cheesecake was rich, but the crust was a little too hard to be fully enjoyable. The tiramisu was heavily flavoured with liquor and the layers were a little too soft and mushy. 

Overall: Great meal for a fantastic price at Il Fornaro! Still one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Toronto. :D

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Monsieur Felix & Mr. Norton

November 13, 2011

The most delicious cookies ever!

I absolutely LOVE cookies from Monsieur Felix & Mr. Norton (http://www.felixandnorton.com/). Whenever we're in the Markham area, we make a special trip out to the Highway 7 and Warden location for their cookies because they are to DIE FOR. They bake them fresh daily and have the most amazing flavours - my favourites are Ebony & Ivory (Dark Chocolate cookie and white chocolate pieces), Lemon Delight (Lemon pieces and white chocolate in the cookie) and Ménage a Trois (Dark, milk and white chocolate cookie). The other flavours are amazing too - you can never go wrong with their cookies --> this place is an absolute MUST TRY if you love good quality cookies.

Update February 12, 2012

I knew they started distributing Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookies in pre-packaged bake-able form in November, but at the time, they were only available in Quebec. 
Now I'm happy to say - they're available in Toronto!!! I bought my first box that makes 20 Ebony and Ivory Cookies at Sobey's at College Park for $6.99. Other flavours available included Milk Chocolate and the Ménage a Trois.
However, when they were actually baked, I found that they weren't the same soft, delectable and gooey cookies that the "real" fresh Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookies are. I think they must either add a pound of butter to the cookie dough or have some other secret method to keep them moist (and avoid them from drying out). 

Update October 19, 2012
Yay! It's been a while for me since I've had Monsieur Felix & Mr. Norton cookies - mostly because I haven't been in the Highway 7 and Warden area. 
This time I actually managed to grab a quick picture of some of the cookies before I devoured the entire box of cookies. 

Clockwise from the top: Double Chocolate, Lemon Delight, Ebony and Ivory and the specialty flavour of the month: Orange Milk Chocolate. 
The company doesn't sell their cookies based on the number you purchase, instead they sell them by weight. We got a pound of cookies (approx 17 cookies) of which 6 were Ebony and Ivory and OMG were they amazing! There's such a difference between the "bake it yourself" cookies and the cookies they bake in the store. They're just melt in your mouth delicious - buttery, rich, soft and chewy. MMMM

Update May 17, 2014
I finally took better pictures of Felix & Norton cookies!

 Still the same cute box!

 A pound of cookies! Milk chocolate cookies and double chocolate cookies are visible here
I love their milk chocolate cookie: it's rich, buttery and they have this delicious melty and oozy chocolate when they're fresh. So delicious!

 Lemon Delight cookie with small edible pieces of lemon rind and white chocolate
I love this cookie because it's so different! It's a perfect balance of tart and sweet all in a rich decadent cookie. One of my favourites and a must try at Felix and Norton!
I thought this picture would show how soft the cookies are. They don't "crack" or break and they have soft melted chocolate inside..mmmmm

 Chocolate Oatmeal and Very Berry
We were a little sad that the Oatmeal Raisin cookie was no longer made because that was another favourite here. Unfortunately, the Chocolate Oatmeal just didn't compare to the Oatmeal Raisin.
The Very Berry is relatively newer with cranberries, blueberries and raspberries. A fragrant cookie, but it just doesn't have the same draw that the Lemon Delight has or the Ebony and Ivory.

 Ebony & Ivory!
Dark chocolate cookie with soft white chocolate chunks inside. This one was a little more dark than white haha - still same delicious recipe that we can't recreate. Must be because it's made with love and baked until perfection!

Monsieur Felix & Mr. Norton Cookie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Lindt Store @ 5th Avenue - NYC

I'm a HUGE fan of Lindt Chocolate. Surprisingly less of a fan in recent years (I think they've changed their ingredients or something because it doesn't have the same addictive quality it used to have). However, if I see a Lindt store, you can guarantee I'm going to make a stop to take a look around.

 OMG! There's so much VARIETY! There's like barely anything in Canada in comparison. 
I love the Caffarel brand, so this was really exciting for me to see more of the Italian chocolate brand. 

 The chocolates are priced by weight. I spent $31 on this bag $36 per kilo (and I grabbed one of everything I thought I would like).
When I went to the counter, the helpful sales associate told me that if I bought $50 worth of chocolate that I would get this bonus pack of Lindt Dessert bars:
So I went back to grab more chocolate. Haha

More of the ones I thought I would enjoy...

$0.50 per Lindor (Strawberries and Cream, Citrus and Salted Caramel - all not available in Canada yet).
I really liked the Strawberries and Cream and Citrus white chocolate Lindor Balls because they were sweet, but not too sweet and I love strawberries and citrus flavours.
 Caffarel does an amazing rich and nutty gianduja chocolate. I could have done without all the pretty wrappings, but the chocolate is fantastic!
Lindt's Fioretto's especially the peach one was delicious! I recommend these chocolates (I should have stocked up on these - even my Grandma loves them).

Other delicious treats:  Caffarel's Gocce di Sole (jelly candies) are SO GOOD! I got one of each: arancia (orange), limone (lemon), lime, pompelo (grapefruit) and mandarino (mandarin orange)

Now on to the rest...I didn't enjoy these chocolates:

Strawberry cheesecake Lindt was awful! It tasted like cheesecake but it went terribly with the chocolat.
The green Lindt chocolate was a gianduja with hazelnut paste and a hazelnut inside, but it was nowhere near the creamy and flavourful texture of the Caffarel brand.
The last chocolate in the picture was a Wildberry yogurt eisdesser with blueberry, raspberry and blackberry over a yogurt cream. After eating this, I don't think yogurt creams should ever be used in a chocolate. 

Eis Dessert Caffee is a white chocolate square with a very strong espresso flavour. I couldn't figure out if I was eating a chocolate or eating a coffee bean

Other chocolates I didn't really like: Lindt Roulettes - the Fondente chocolate felt really thick and heavy and the Latte wasn't really memorable; Lindt Bastoncini - some were okay, but most were not very good; Lindt's Noccionoir & Gianduja boules - it's just not the same deliciousness as Caffarel (Caffarel's my new standard for gianduja).
Chocolates I really detested: Lindt's Milk & Dark Mozartkugein - I thought it would have been okay since it was a praline chocolate with a pistachio marzipan, but the marzipan was just too overwhelming for my tastes (being pistachio didn't save it cause I hate marzipan) and Lindt's Knusper nougat creme and nougat - probably the same situation I thought a crunchy chocolate with nougat would be fine, but I couldn't get over my dislike of nougat.

Overall: So it was a really grab-bag, some chocolates and candies I absolutely loved and couldn't wait to eat more of and there were others that I suffered through.

Website: http://www.lindtusa.com/