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Monthly Archives: December 2018

It’s The Final Countdown

We finished off our year of fooding at Edulis, listed on Canada’s Best 100 restaurants and Toronto Life’s Top 100 of 2018. It took us months to get this reservation and I could not understand why. We didn’t have this much trouble with other double-listed restaurants. What the heck? When we got there I saw one reason why: it was tiny. There was seating for under 50 people. But when we got there, only two tables were filled. The rest sat empty and only filled up over the course of the night. Once things got going I totally understood why the long wait to get a table. This was it. There was no way they would have another seating at our table that evening, the dinner took three hours. There was no turn-around, no one else would be taking our place for the next round.

We decided on the 7 course dinner, figuring we were probably never going back there. Had we known how long dinner was going to be, we would have probably opted for the 5 course option. It started out at a good pace but as the restaurant got busier, the service got slower. Towards the end we were getting antsy and I wanted to go home. Finally the dessert came and we were like YES we can get out of here! Except while Brent was in the bathroom, I was supposed to ask for the cheque, except as the server was clearing our table, I missed the opportunity as I was finishing off my 2008 Matilda vintage port (so good). Crap. I would have to wait. Except she came back… with another dessert!!! We looked at each other and laughed, any chance of us leaving soon was out of the question. It was a giant slice of pound came with a side of chantilly cream. She said it came with a rum syrup and then proceeded to douse the cake. It was funny because she had implied just a hint and then proceeded to drown the cake. It was really good though.

All of the food was really good, it just took so long it kind of soured us. Great food, meh experience. Weird people all around us. Two drunk co-workers, one of whom was trying to convince the other that they should have a girls-weekend-away and refusing to clink glasses because the other said she was only some-number percent sure (the other was ready to book tickets right then and there). There was the couple on the other side who were regulars at Edulis. How do they have the time we wondered?! And also: a three hour dinner with the guy seemed insufferable. He kept talking about home renos and the shows he was watching. At one point he talked about building a bathroom in the closet space under stairs. Over Brent’s shoulder there was a touchy-feely couple. The girl grabbed the guy’s face with both hands and kissed him aggressively.

The food was amazing. All night, with every dish, we debated if it was better than Yasu (the other contender for best of the year). They made me like olives! I didn’t know olives could actually taste good, but there I was, having just eaten a bread cube soaked in olive oil, mentally preparing myself for a pepper-stuffed green olive. Had I been wrong about olives all along? Probably not. I do not have the time nor the expertise to prepare them such that they become edible. What we found across all of the dishes were the harmonies between flavours and textures. It was not something we notice often, but when you are presented with a fish dish that has cashews, grapefruit juice and jalapenos you can’t help but wonder what?! how is that going to work?! followed by OMG this is so unbelievably good. Even the granny smith apple sorbet with coconut and tapioca cubes. At first bite it was alright, but as I kept eating it I noticed that the tapioca and coconut added the lost texture of the apple.

It was only by a fraction of a margin, and partly based on overall experience, but Yasu still wins for 2018. With Edulis a solid 2nd, where all of the dishes were still in the A-range.

Up next: I will attempt to slow-cook a turkey breast for a holiday meal.

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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

I’m Just Here for the Bacon

White Lily Diner appeared on another BlogTO best list, this time for best meat loaf. I was super psyched to go back, who can say no to their bacon? I was rather skeptical about the prospect of meat loaf. But then again, White Lily Diner was so good. To start, Brent had ordered a salad. As a side to my beef patty melt, I ordered a plate of bacon. Our server suggested if I wanted bacon, it could be added to the sandwich with a fried egg (making it a breakfast patty melt). I politely declined. I wanted to share my bacon with Brent (it’s called true love, look it up). As she approached with our mains I was momentarily taken aback. All I saw on the plates was a pile of greenery. Excuse me, I ordered a side of bacon with my sandwich- no need to guilt me with the lettuce. I laughed at Brent who had just eaten a rather large salad. Now he had to eat a second one. One bite in and already there was a growing rivulet of grease running down my ring finger. I foresaw this. Any time I sit down to an even remotely greasy meal, I take off all my rings and roll up my sleeves. There is nothing worse than grease in the crooks of your rings, periodically bugging you until you clean it out thoroughly. Both sandwiches held up pretty well and we were able to easily trade halfway (as opposed to times when we have to give instructions on how to grab it and it’s a rush to finish it before it falls apart completely). The patty melt was pretty good. The meatloaf was what you would expect. BUT the meatloaf sauce was something else. It was so good, I kind of wish I had it on the patty melt. Now that would have been an exceptional sandwich!

Nothing on the drink menu really stood out to me. There was a nice-sounding cider but it was a 750ml bottle. I eventually settled on a 5-spice sour. The cherry bitters is what pushed the drink over into amazing, it was already a really good cocktail but that just made it. We ate as much side salad as we could, so we would not look like total gluttons when we ordered a donut for dessert. Alas, the donuts were all sold out and our only options were pudding or apple pie a la mode. No thank you. Donuts or bust.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding

 

It Was A Compromise Alright

Neither of us could remember why Hungary Thai was on our fooding list. Regardless, it got there somehow, meaning we had to eat there. We eventually figured (based on the decor and the proximity to Thirsty & Miserable, both in Kensington) it was a recommendation from Anthony Bourdain’s show The Layover. What else could it be? It’s not because one of us was craving Hungarian food and one of us was craving Thai food- that’s for sure. I was expecting an interesting combo of the two, not an either/or situation. I was a little disappointed.

The Hungarian side lived up to one aspect: it was cheap and plentiful. I ordered a mulled wine and was given a giant, veritable goblet and it was piping hot. It was also not that good. Following on the heels of that, the beef paprikash was also not that good. Maybe I should have had the chicken option. Who can say? I tried some of Brent’s dishes (coconut chicken curry soup and green curry shrimp). Both were too spicy for me. He had extra rice from his main, I would have happily thrown it in the soup for next day’s lunch, but it was way too spicy. The dessert I had intended on ordering, was no longer even offered. I was not pleased with the meal. All the moreso on the walk home. Oh man did it make my stomach hurt. I kept getting hit with waves of nausea. The pickles were the best part, if you can call it that, they were just grocery store pickles. But who doesn’t like pickles. We disagreed on our rating, Brent rated it higher (I agree, his dishes were better BUT I never got to really enjoy them so it doesn’t factor into my rating).

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding

 

It’s Got TWO Top 100 Ratings

As the end of the year grows near, we started wondering: what were some of the best meals of the year? It’s no surprise that we struggled to nail down a top list. We’ve eaten at so many places! And a year is a long time! Next year we will be keeping an on-going ranking to prevent this in the future.

I had walked by Lena a few times before and always been intrigued by it. Now I was more intrigued: one of Canada’s best 100 restaurants AND one of Toronto Life’s top 100 restaurants of 2018? My interest was piqued. We had a dinner reservation at the busiest possible hour it seemed, which incidentally did not coincide with happy hour. Why the grumbling? Because it took so long before our drinks arrived. We got our first app before we got our drinks. Brent tried to blame it on my fancy mixed cocktail. I protested that I did not like anything on the wine list. It was also an embarrassing drink to order, the “pink fairy armadillo,” who can say that with a straight face? Brent ordered it for me, stating that I was “too embarrassed” to order it. Only making me more embarrassed in fact.

Our first app was the 24 month aged ham that sat at the bar and we walked by it on our way in. I had to have some of that, they carved it right there! No bread, no side plates, just a small plate with thinly sliced Spanish Serrano ham. I was a teensy bit miffed, no bread? No pickles? At least give us some plates. The drinks arrived soon after we finished off the ham. It had been a last minute impulsive add-on. I couldn’t resist it once we walked by it. We had one more app coming: mini empanadas. First bite, it was ok. Second bite, with the “chiminasty” sauce, it was amazing. The sauce was so good and it was what made the dish.

When I first looked at the menu my eyes alighted on the squid-ink pasta. It sounded so good! Apparently Brent thought so too, that had also been his first pick. He went with his second pick, the 7oz steak. Both dishes were amazing, it was impossible to say which was better. I really liked how black the noodles were from the squid ink. It didn’t alter the taste and it was not off-putting in the least. The sauce was spicy and the squid was delicious. The steak was perfect and the shoe-string fries were an amazing compliment. By now I was on to cocktail number 2: one of their classics, named after the restaurant, the Lena. The service was kind of slow. By the time the server came by to clear our plates, they were empty, making his “are you all done here?” question super awkward.
As we perused the dessert menu I was torn: there was a dessert wine from Provence I wanted to try. The slow service worked to my advantage, I was able to finish my cocktail by the time we ordered our desserts. Brent had the chocolate mousse and I couldn’t resist the burnt cheesecake. The wine was awkwardly named Rinquinquin which I butchered the pronunciation of. It was a delicious peach-y dessert wine. The peach flavour was obvious in retrospect given the second half of the name: a la peche. The desserts were good, but nowhere near as blow-away as the rest of the meal. It was one of the best of the year.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding

 

I Need A Pronunciation Guide Please

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a spectacular, knock-out dinner. Constantine had recently been voted best hotel restaurant AND it was on Toronto Life’s Top 100 list. To top it off, it was so close to our house- making this week’s dinner plans easy to decide on.

It proved a little difficult to find but eventually we found our way. To start we split a flatbread dish with three toppings: hummus, a meaty-tomatoey one and a Greek yogurt one. It was close but the meaty one came in first with the hummus ac close second. Overall, the dish was excellent and we got to try something from the wood-fired oven.

We traded one bite of mains to see if we wanted to swap halfway. Brent had the grouper with octopus and red chermoula (another item from the 1000 Foods book). I had the house-made noodles (cavatelli) with braised venison. One bite and we both wanted to trade halfway. Both dishes were outstanding.

For dessert we split a sesame mousse and it was the perfect end to an amazing dinner. Constantine was by far one of the most memorable meals of 2018 and some of the best food we’ve had in a while. It should definitely be higher up on Toronto Life’s Top 100. For some reason they have it listed as #63, below Cafe Cancan. Unless the list is not ranked? Either way, Constantine ranks above Cafe Cancan- at least in our books.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

I *CAN* Never Remember The Name

In the summer I saw a post on Instagram about a new restaurant in Toronto that featured a really pretty interior decorated with pastel blue and light pink and a somewhat tropical motif. I wanted to go. My case for the Cafe Cancan only got stronger when Toronto Life recently released their Top 100 restaurants in Toronto list for 2018. We have already cleared a large swath of it and with our dinner we crossed another one off the list.

It was hard to enjoy the interior decorating because it was evening and the lights had been dimmed for the all-important “atmosphere.” No worries, because rosé wine was on tap and I was far more excited for that. Except when I ordered it, I had failed to read the menu carefully. It was sold by the ounce, it was totally up to me how much I wanted! I went with the standard 5oz, leaving room to try the non-tap other rosé option. That is how I ordered it later, the rosé that was not on tap.

You cannot go to a French restaurant and not order the escargots. I was leaning towards the French onion soup but I decided against it as it is almost an entire meal in and of itself. I needed room for dessert, according to Toronto Life that is. The amuse bouche was a butternut squash soup with maple. It made me seriously rethink my recipe collection. Brent had the roasted bone marrow. Both of our dishes came with sourdough bread. That bread was miles above everything else. The bone marrow and escargots were delicious, don’t get me wrong. But that sourdough bread was truly something else. It was smothered in butter and perfectly toasted.The mains were not as great. The peppercorn steak had way too many peppercorns and after just a few bites we traded right back. Brent was not a fan of the duck. I liked it, I just didn’t taste any of the tea marinade. The rice and mushrooms, soaked with the juices from the duck, were awesome.For dessert we split a slice of the opera cake because i had read about it in Toronto Life. It was amazing. Once the plate had been set down on our table, the server poured caramel sauce over it with candied walnuts. It was the perfect end to a delicious meal, even if we disagree on our rating of it.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Fooding

 

Chabrol? Chab-oui!

We finally got around to rescheduling our dinner at Chabrol in Yorkville. It had been over 2 months since we had last been out fooding and were way overdue. Chabrol had been on a list of top 100 restaurants in Canada that I found who-knows-where at this point.

The restaurant itself was tucked off the main street, down a small alley. It was tiny. There were maybe 4 tables for a total of 8 people and then another 8 or so seats around the bar. The patio was not open as it was November in Canada.

One group of ladies came in with a reservation, saw that they were to be seated at the bar, and promptly left. It’s too bad the people with no reservation didn’t come in after them.

Brent ordered a salad because it had kohlrabi in it, which is in his 1000 Foods book. I opted for the tartine of cured trout. Mine was so much better, it wasn’t even close. The kohlrabi tasted like beets with even more dirt flavour. The trout was delicious. Neither dish was outstanding though.

For our mains, Brent had the whitefish cooked in parchment paper. I preferred my dish, the galantine of chicken. I was expecting chicken in gelatin. Not softly cooked chicken. It was good, but again, not outstanding.

Given that it was just a few days after Halloween, thoughts of dessert turned to thoughts of deeply-discounted mini candy bars instead of creme brulee. Given the meal so far, we did not feel like we were missing out on much. The standout of the whole meal was the little mini cookie macarons made with lavender and orange that were presented with the bill.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 
 
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