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Chicken For the Win?!

Chicken For the Win?!

Having been to Franklin’s in Austin and to Adamson’s in Toronto, Cherry St BBQ was up against some stiff competition to win our hearts. I had seen it either on Instagram or on Toronto Life or BlogTO or some combination of those. (I really do have to start taking better notes). The walk down was pretty nice, it was starting to feel like summer, so much so we both got sunburns.

We ordered a half pound of brisket, half pound of pulled pork, 1/4 chicken and a side of baked beans. I was all for the beans, they were laced with brisket crispy ends. Surprisingly, the chicken was the clear winner. I was not a fan of the brisket (I don’t really like brisket that much as it is) and the pulled pork was a flop. My second place was the beans, Brent put the brisket above it. The chicken, oh man, it was some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Crispy skin, the smoky BBQ flavour was infused right through the meat, even the bits I was picking off the bone. And so juicy! My only complaint was: where’s my side of white bread?! I desperately needed it as a palate cleanser and break from all the grease. I would alternate bites of everything but I really needed that spongey basic white bread.

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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

That Time I Resisted The Urge To Bring My Banana Purse

That Time I Resisted The Urge To Bring My Banana Purse

We were both really excited for dinner at La Banane. It was #7 on Toronto Life’s Top 100 (2018)  and it was also on Canada’s Best 100 (2018) at #16. Dinner was off to a great start. Duck fat pretzels with mustard? Yes please! (I am so looking for a recipe now so I can eat these all day every day). I was all ready to get the pate as my appetizer but when I heard taht the special of the day came with a rhubarb compote (my current obsession, I had $10 worth of rhubarb in my purse) I was all for it. Who could resist that with slice of brioche and foie gras?! The slices were very thick but very light. The foie gras was good. But the real standout was the compote. It paired so unbelievably well, it brought the dish up a notch. Which it kind of needed? It was a tad underwhelming. Brent had gotten a salt fish cake with celeriac and something else because it was in the 1001 foods book. It all paired really well, like a fish cake with coleslaw and tartar all in one bite. But it was not outstanding. We had come here looking for wow. So far only the rhubarb compote, pretzels and cocktails were at that level.

Brent had ordered the fish which was baked in a super salty bread. They presented it to him, a whole fish braided in bread. Then promptly took it away to carve it up and make it easy to eat. Twice they warned not to eat the bread. Of course he had a bite. It was indeed salty, I took his word for it. Meanwhile I devoured crab with cheese and crumbs, conveniently crammed back into the crab shell. The main course was definitely very pretty looking. The crab was so good, but in between I needed bites of something less heavy. The potatoes aligot were as amazing as expected, the cheese was so thoroughly blended into the mashed potatoes that it just stretched. I never imagined getting to twirl my fork through mashed potatoes a-la spaghetti noodles but there you go. It is possible. I actually resorted to eating the salad on the side. The fish dish was also heavy thanks to a white sauce with butter and yuzu. The yuzu really made the sauce outstanding. Both dishes were great. But we were way too stuffed for a gimmicky $50 dessert (a chocolate egg full of truffles) and nothing else really stood out.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Best Beer Selection?

Best Beer Selection?

C’est What was voted best beer selection. I’m no expert, I had to use the selection of sours and ciders as my gauge. It seemed alright. Until I realized that one of the ciders was from the Shiny brand. The plums were not enough to save it. It was a mediocre cider at best. The rosehip hibiscus cider (impossible to pronounce) was delicious. While they had quite a few offers on draught and from cask, it still didn’t seem like that that much. Brent concurred that the beers he had were not the greatest. Birreria Volo is way better- by a long shot.

What of the food? Was it enough to recover the night? Not so much. Granted we were there for the drinks, but still. I had possibly the worst beef ribs of all time. Poorly cooked, bad sauce. The only good part of the dish were the potatoes. The clear winner of the three dishes was the appetizer we shared. It was a beer-cheese dip that came with (disgustingly crumbly) sausage, really good naan and chicken skewers. It wasn’t nearly as heavy or cheesey as we thought it would be. Plus it had some grainy mustard too.

At the table next to us, a first date was unfolding and it just got worse as the evening wore on. It started out fine, they were talking about cameras. Actually, he, he was talking. She barely got in a few words before he was off again. I was intrigued. But then the conversation switched to the types of vehicles he has (a Jeep and a motorcycle- fascinating). This was about when we clued in to it being a first date. It just got worse from there. He started talking about how much money he makes. How old he is. Reminiscing about a bad Green Day album. At least if the food had been good and the drinks better it would have been alright.

In the end we would have been better off getting a drink or two (at most, because that’s all they had: two ciders and the sours were mostly giant bottles) and then just getting McDonald’s or pizza on the way home. The entertainment would have been better too. TV > awkward first date.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

I Feel Like Chicken Kiev, Like Chicken Kiev

I Feel Like Chicken Kiev, Like Chicken Kiev

We finally have a semi-working (but oh-so-ugly) kitchen again. Brent has whipped out the 1001 Foods book and we thought we’d start cooking again. Except random number led to the page with chicken Kiev. I was all “oh we can totally make that” until Brent looked up a recipe that said when the deep-fry thermometer reads… and I flashed forward to us eating under-cooked chicken and getting sick. Plan B. We would find a place in Toronto that serves chicken Kiev. The point of the endeavour is that we eat these things, not necessarily make them. That’s just an added bonus for yours truly.

Internet said Pravda Vodka Bar had what we were looking for. With a name like that it seemed we couldn’t go wrong. I had arrived with just 3 minutes to spare before happy hour ended. I quickly scanned the bar menu and ordered an apple martini. What a deal it was! $7 for a 2.5oz drink. If only I had not gotten caught in the rain and hail. If I had arrived sooner we could have had more cheap drinks. Alas my second martini, the Red Square with pomegranate juice and Campari was full price. But still a solid 2.5oz.

We were initially going to order caviar but they didn’t have the one from the book, in the end we got Canadian sturgeon. It’s flavour was lost in the cream and blini. Only one bite had caviar flavour. For our mains we had, obviously, the chicken kiev and then I ordered the veal pelmini (which was also apparently in the book). Brent complained about the quality of the meat, I stared at him. Despite its miniature size, it was basically a perogi by another name. They are not exactly known for their high quality meat, that is the whole point. Economics! I had ¼ of the chicken and we traded back. The mushroom gravy was really hitting the spot.

I finished off the night with a nanaimo bar McFlurry. I had mistakenly thought I had tried it before. It seemed so familiar! I had not. It was great. One of their better ventures into non-Oreo territory. They nailed the flavour.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Fooding

 

I Forget Why?

I Forget Why?

It has been decided that I need to start including my reasoning for choosing restaurants. Time was, we had one list, the BlogTO best of, peppered in a with a few “best of the years,” usually only from Toronto Life. Now, what with the internet and all (namely Instagram), our list and the accompanying sources, has grown. Hence the reason, last Wednesday when we could not figure out why I had (long ago) suggested Levetto. Was it a co-workers suggestion? (Later confirmed, it was not). Regardless the reason, off we went to Spadina for some pizza and pasta.

Who can say no to pizza with smoked mozzarella and smoked bacon? It was delicious and the perfect size. The pasta, a simple spaghetti dish, was also delicious. Nothing outstanding, just good cheap food. Albeit, the pasta was approximately 4 portions. It was an enormous dish. Could have used some cheese as well.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Fooding

 

Womp Womp

Womp Womp

Sushi Kaji had been on our list for a long time- years, years that it had been on best of lists. Having been to Shoushin and Yasu, we were psyched guessing what we had in store for us. Those two were relatively new on the scene compared to Sushi Kaji.

We went with the third option, assuming we would get the best of the best from the kitchen. Plus you can’t go wrong with wagyu beef. Or so we thought. Things were off to a great start, the plum wine was sweet and delicious. I enjoyed the beef carpaccio, but I agree, the meat on its own was bland. You needed a bite with a piece of the arugula and grainy mustard. There were bites with too much arugula. It was not a well-balanced dish overall. Things only went downhill from there. The sashimi was unremarkable, the best part of it being the wasabi. The wagyu beef was a total letdown. It was boiled and served hot-pot style with a soft boiled egg on the side. We were to stir the egg, mixing the yolk and white… and then dip the beef in it. It was too rich and I opted for no egg, leaving with me with salty but tasteless beef. The best part of the dish being the mushrooms.

Why were we served all these dishes before the sushi?! By the time it came to sushi, I was getting full. And I was not happy. My mood soon turned, can’t go wrong with soft shell crab. But after that it was just another series of hits and misses. The mackerel was good, the eel was bad. I was so confused. Eel is always good! This one was unevenly cooked, bony and mealy. Were we in an upside-down reverse world, where I prefered mackerel to eel?! Adding to the dour mood, for some of the sushi pieces we were told to eat them WITH soy sauce. Obviously we refused.

Dessert was better than expected. For some reason we were each given a different dessert, even though we ordered the same menu. The yuzu sorbet was way better than the fruit with vanilla ice cream.

All in all it was quite the let-down. One of our worst meals of 2019. And so shocking given our previous experiences with this culinary style and all of the accolades. What happened?!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

I Spose I’ll Be Eating My Hat Now

I Spose I’ll Be Eating My Hat Now

I did not have high hopes for Actinolite, #4 on Toronto Life’s Top 100 Restaurants of 2018. I looked up the menu online and thought rutabaga?! ugh!  Boy was I in for a surprise. It was a small unassuming restaurant on a corner, we almost walked right by it.

Apparently the amount of food between the full tasting menu and the truncated version was about the same, you just got to try less. We went with the full option. Dinner came with information: all about the restaurant and the concept, and then little bits of info about each dish. From the get-go it seemed we were in for a culinary adventure. The first dish was a broth with BC mussels and wild foraged greens. They lost Brent at the first part and me at the second. That is, until I had a spoonful of broth. My hatred of veggies and greens is slowly being chipped away. My worry came back when the dish was rutabaga with walnuts. Once again, we were both pleasantly surprised. The bread with miso butter was another standout, who knew you could improve on butter. BUTTER! Come on! Another dish featured wild mushrooms and broth, I was all for it and it tasted like Christmas.

Another dish was just a potato, with some sauce and fried kale (with flower sprouts). As the chef, yes the chef was there all night, talked about it we both felt like dinner was losing its zeal. One bite and again we were wrong. It was incredible. Seeing how passionate the chef/owner was about the food as he talked, it really came through in the dishes. Towards the end we strongly debated if Actinolite was better than Yasu and Alo, two of our top eating experiences. The debate has not been formally settled. But the fish with a fried young onion sprout and bulb dish really made us question the ranking. With our bill we were given mini-desserts of sponge toffee lightly tossed in mushroom powder (not a typo)… they were so freakin good. As was the regular dessert (berries and tart cream). Well that part, the mini do’ughnuts fell a little flat compared to everything else.

Man was I ever wrong to judge a restaurant based on it’s menu and options.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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