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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

 

I Trust You Chef

I Trust You Chef

I was excited about going to AkiraBack for a unique reason (beyond just FOOD!), the chef apparently had some Michelin-stars. And also, the restaurant featured a sushi dish that had poprocks (!) in it.  AkiraBack was also on Toronto Life’s Top 100 of 2018. The restaurant also featured tamagoyaki: an omelette on top of sushi. It was in the 1001 Foods book but I really did not know what to expect. I liked the premise that you ordered a bunch of little dishes and shared them. The table was set up for sharing, we each had our own little plate that basically acted as a bib catching all the droppings from our messy eating. They didn’t even try to take away both of our menus.
Overall the dinner was excellent. The cocktails were also excellent (making up for the over-priced beer?). Neither of us was expecting Brent’s cocktail, old fashioned, which came in a stoneware mug with a bamboo lid, to have smoke rising out of it. Equally unexpected was that the drink was cold. It was tasty but not as good as mine. The omelette dish was weirdly really good. When it was placed in front of us I gave it an odd look, a piece of spongy cheesecake (think Uncle Tetsu’s) was wedged over a ball of rice. It was difficult to eat but oh man was it good, it was only slightly sweet but that was off-set by the rice. The scallops with kiwi (Brent;s choice, I dislike scallops) was also a surprise hit. Turns out not all scallops are bad. And they go well with kiwis. I would never in a million years have found that out for myself. The eel was good, as always, it is a good and reliable dish and one of my favourites. The seaweed salad had a whopping three (!) types of seaweed in it, and was drizzled with a tangy vinaigrette. It was one of the best seaweed salads I’ve ever had. The waygu beef tacos were a bit of a disappointment. We were expecting shredded chunks of beef, not ground beef. They were tiny which made them super cute and the spices were perfect so it balanced out in the end.
We had room for more, so we ordered a second smaller round: the soft crab roll and the poprocks roll.You would think poprocks, as in candy, with sushi?! How could that ever work?! It does, it somehow just does. Yes, it is gimmicky, but I had so much fun chomping down on it and hearing the poprocks explode. Heck, even when they placed the dish in front of us, we could hear them quietly popping. The softshell crab was easily the stand out winner. Even if it was super unruly to eat on account of the size, I had to eat it in multiple sad pathetic messy bites.  I was really unnerved about eating the tiny little legs of my half crab, I had to look away. You forget how good real good crab is.

It was a fun night out, capped off with drinks at Bar Hop down the street. I was desperate for a new West Ave cider with maple (alas I think I tried searching for it too soon, they only just announced it).

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Well That Worked Out Nicely

La Rose Bakery, voted best Italian bakery*, is just a few blocks away from my work. And seeing as our kitchen is still (!!) out of commission, it totally made sense to go there after work and get some evening snacks. According to the internet they are known for their panzerotti’s so that took care of our dinner plans. I also got a ciabatta bun and a tray of charcuterie meats. The panzerotti was huge and we would split it, but just in case anyone was still hungry. Else, I had lunch covered the next day (when my kitchen would still be down for the count): delicious sandwiches.

I also got an assortment of baked goods: a chocolate biscotti, some almond cookies, a chocolate donut, some horseshoe shaped cookies. All were very good but I think the chewy almond cookie just barely edged out the donut for best. The panzerotti was delicious. My only regret was not having a soda with it, so salty! It was stuffed with cheese and mushrooms and just the right amount of sauce. Even the next day, the ciabatta bun was really good and made for an epic sandwich.

*it has since been dethroned, San Remo is now voted best Italian bakery, it was on our list for that long and I agree, La Rose paled in comparison to San Remo and Forno Cultura, it was still good but nowhere near as good

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Second Time’s A Charm

We set out one Wednesday evening to Alexandros, voted best late night souvlaki and gyros. Turns out their location on Church St didn’t get the memo. We got there around 8pm (which counts as late night for me) and it was closed. We ate donuts and chips from the nearby Loblaws for our late-night snack/dinner that evening.
The following week we set out for the Alexandros on Danforth Ave. Surely they would be open?

What can I say other than: the chicken souvlaki was far and away the best souvlaki I’ve ever had. I did not know souvalki could be that good. I was expecting the usual fare: seasoned dry chicken on a stick. It was fried, well-seasoned and so juicy. It didn’t even need the generous dollop of tzatziki sauce on the side. The porky gyro came in a close second. Oddly the chicken gyro faltered. There we found the dry, poorly seasoned chicken we’d been expecting. The meal was better than we had expected. And the fries on the side were the perfect accouterments, diner-style and so damn good. I only wish I had gotten a drink.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Well That Was Convenient

I’m all for novelty, so when I heard that there was a pizza vending machine, Pizza Forno,  in Toronto I was a little too excited. I did not feel like walking far, so when I heard that they opened one in Yorkville my mind was made up. We made a date of it. A Valentine’s Day date to be exact. There’s nothing quite as romantic as meeting your husband on a busy street, he’s arrived from the airport, and walking up to the side of a building, for all the public to see as you order a pizza. Four minutes later a little cardboard box pops out and the air fills with the smell of pizza. It was a rather small pizza. It was also not pre-cut. So much for devouring it on the walk home. I would have to wait. It was actually quite good, a step above a frozen pizza. It tasted like the very essence of pizza with no bells and whistles. I would have like more cheese though.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

I Ate So Much Salad!

Up next in our fooding rotation was Ruby Watchco from the Toronto Life and Canada’s Top 100 restaurants lists. I was a bit unsure about it, online it said it was served “family style” and I had no intention of sharing my dinner with strangers (even though it means eating less salad). Turns out it was “family style” but it kind of works out nicely when it’s for a table of two. The salad was surprisingly good- this coming from someone who not only hates veggies but Feta cheese as well. I am pretty proud of myself, having eaten a solid 25-30% of the salad. I was even tricked into eating a broccoli floret. It did taste like broccoli, I had been bamboozled. I laughed when I saw that the main was a pork loin. The weekend before I had sous-vide cooked a pork loin and we had been eating it for days. This pork loin however, had a crispy skin and it was oh-so-good. Things kind of dipped with the cheese plate, the cheese was boring and unremarkable. Dessert won us back over with individual little cheesecakes that were the perfect balance of tart and sweet. It was also nice to have a Collingwood cider, sorry Blue Mountain, cider that is not available in the LCBO. It is just a small apple orchard. Brent confirms this.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

The Fry: It Lives Up To Its Name

Best Korean-style fried chicken had recently been voted. Already my mouth was salivating. A quick perusal of the menu online and I was super excited (multiple chicken emojis were texted). Would it live up to the hype and allure? We decided to do one green-onion fried chicken and one spicy sauce fried chicken. I had briefly considered getting a side order of corn but the portion size looked enormous. Turns out we got three little sides (pickled radishes, pasta and something else that clearly was not all that memorable) and a small plate of corn. So it worked out in the end. To drink I had a plum sake cocktail. It came in at a whopping $17, kind of unexpected for such a fast-food casual place. Until it arrived. It was a sizeable bottle, 375ml(?), at 13%. And it tasted like candy. I really wish the drink was sold at the LCBO.

On the side we had fried seaweed rolls and honestly- they were the best part (not counting the drink). The two small orders of fried chicken were enormous. Alas, the chicken was alright but nothing outstanding. I preferred the (not so) spicy one. I am a sucker for saucy chicken. But it wasn’t any more special than regular fast food chicken. It was good yes, but the best? I still think the fried chicken at Rose & Sons was far and away better. The fried seaweed rolls were wacky, as it’s texture is soft and gelatinous, it we went well with the crispy coating.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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