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Category Archives: Adventures around T.O.

&Co

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This past Friday, I was invited (this is a sponsored post) to come and try the new recently launched menu at &Co, a resto bar located in Mississauga an area 30 minutes west of Toronto.  I’m going to be honest, when I was first asked to attend I had never heard of &Co so I did a bit of online research and although the comments I’ve read were good, I haven’t been a fan of these types of establishments that bring food and nightlife together (think Brant House).  To my surprise, the food and even better, the service exceeded my expectations!  Y, our server, was great at recommending cocktails and dishes.  My favourite dish of the night was the Ontario Vegetable Curry.  Typically curries are made with cut veggies and served with rice, what I loved about this was the vegetables were kept whole, like they weren’t cooked with the curry.  It was sitting atop a bed of israeli couscous with thai green curry poured over – it was delicious!  The idea or theme for the menu is “fine familiar”, taking familiar dishes and elevating it with flavours that aren’t expected.  This is definitely evident in the crispy thai calamari, the usual breaded and deep fried squid but then served sitting in a pool of green thai curry; or the salmon wellington, instead of beef and beef jus its made with salmon served with a “teriyaki” jus.  We finished the meal with a plate of beignets to be dipped into a chocolate espresso sauce.  All in all, it was a successful revamp of the menu and a great night, and I found out that they are renovating their rooftop patio so I’ll definitely be back in the summer.

The entrance to &Company.

The entrance to &Company Resto Bar.

Inside &Co - view of the restaurant and bottle service area.

Inside &Co – view of the restaurant and bottle service area.

Starting the night with cocktails - the &Co Lychee Martini and Manhattan.

Starting the night with cocktails – the &Co Lychee Martini and Manhattan.

Appetizer 2 - Smoked Pork Nachos.

Appetizer 2 – Smoked Pork Nachos.

Appetizer 1 - Crispy Thai Calamari.

Appetizer 1 – Crispy Thai Calamari.

Main course 2 - Salmon Wellington.

Main course 2 – Salmon Wellington.

Main course 1 - Ontario Vegetable Curry.

Main course 1 – Ontario Vegetable Curry.

A closer look at the salmon baked inside the puffed pastry.

A closer look at the salmon baked inside the puffed pastry.

Dessert - Espresso Vanilla Beignets.

Dessert – Espresso Vanilla Beignets.

A closer look at the sizeable and fluffy beignets.

A closer look at the sizeable and fluffy beignets.

Wine Club: Pinot Noirs From France

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In December my friend H started a wine club.  We all sat together at one of her many dinner parties she loves to throw and brainstormed themes for each “club meeting” (aka an excuse for us to eat and drink wine).  Last weekend was our second wine club dinner and the theme was Pinot Noirs from France so we decided to do a wine & cheese.  I’m not a huge wine connoisseur and in fact, when I find a wine that I like, I typically stick to that wine and rarely try something else.  So this is a perfect way to challenge my taste buds.  I’m into Beaujolais which is a lighter red wine so you would think that I would love Pinots as well but I wasn’t crazy about these.  Of the four wines we tried, the Louis Jadot 2012 was the best.  It could be that we didn’t have food that accompanied well with pinot noirs, perhaps the cheese were too strong – I don’t know.  All I can say is these weren’t at all overwhelming but always great to catch up with great friends and company.  I can’t wait for our next wine club dinner party – sparkling wine & brunch, the perfect combination!

Wine #1 - Morey Saint-Denis 2012.

Wine #1 – Morey Saint-Denis 2012.

Wine #2 - Domaine de Hermitage de Nantoux 2011.

Wine #2 – Domaine de Hermitage de Nantoux 2011.

Wine #3 - Domaine Faiveley.

Wine #3 – Domaine Faiveley.

Wine #4 - Louis Jadot Bourgogne 2012.

Wine #4 – Louis Jadot Bourgogne 2012.

A platter of cheese from France to accompany our wines.

A platter of cheese from France to accompany our wines – including Port Salut, French Gouda and French Blue.

Super soft cheese made with truffle.

Super soft cheese made with truffle.

Warmed brie with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.

Warmed brie with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.

My full plate of cheese, baguette, crackers and fig preserves.

My full plate of cheese, baguette, crackers and fig preserves.

A classic French dessert of creme brulee to have on our France-themed dinner.

A classic French dessert of creme brulee to have on our France-themed dinner.

Winterlicious: Luckee

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Most major cities these days have restaurant week, where restaurants prepare fixed prix menus for lunch and dinner at reasonable prices giving us an excuse to try new places.  In Toronto, we have it twice a year and for this Winterlicious week my friend S suggested Luckee, a place she’s wanted to try for awhile.  One of the more recent restaurants by Susur Lee, is located in Senses’ former space in SoHo Metropolitan hotel.  Beautifully decorated inside we sat in the front dining room and as you can tell by my photos were seated in front of the large neon red sign.  I’m a big fan of Susur Lee and his food has always been so innovative and beautifully presented.  Luckee was no different.  The best course of the night was my appetizer – sliced duck served with wrappers, waldorf salad, fruit relish and a black bean dipping sauce.  I love food that you somewhat have to work for so this course is totally me.

Luckee

Luckee by Susur Lee

Luckee - inside

Inside the very red lit Luckee restaurant.

Luckee - art

Some of the art on the walls at Luckee.

Luckee - wonton

Crispy shrimp wontons.

Luckee - duck

My appetizer – Luckee duck.

Luckee - cocktails

Some cocktails to start the night.

Luckee - chicken

One of the main dishes, 5 Spice chicken.

Luckee - cod

My main dish – Soya marinated baked black cod.

Luckee - dessert

The dessert course – a trio of sesame ball, chocolate sponge roll and vanilla ice cream.

Luckee - close up

A close up of the sesame ball.

 

The Burger’s Priest

Over the December holidays, I finally had a chance (it took me awhile) to try out the much talked about Burger’s Priest.  The Burger’s Priest lovers are not going to like what I’m about to say but my order of the classic cheeseburger really reminded me of “In-N-Out Burger“.  Everything from the soft bun, fresh toppings of lettuce, tomato, pickle and packaged in a paper bag.  The only difference, and pretty big one, is the better quality meat and the fries – I really did love the fries.  I don’t know what oil they use but they were crisp and so tasty.  The Priest even has a secret menu – I’d go back just to try the blue steel cheeseburger.

The famous Burger's Priest.

The famous Burger’s Priest.

Inside the most recent outpost of the Burger's Priest.

Inside the most recent outpost of the Burger’s Priest.

My order - the classic cheeseburger and fries.

My order – the classic cheeseburger and fries.

A close up view.

A close up view.

The classic cheeseburger.

The classic cheeseburger.

The many layers of the Priest cheeseburger.

The many layers of the Priest cheeseburger.

Cluny

Ever since I went to New York City and dined at Balthazar’s for the first time (dare I say, back in 1998), I hadn’t found a local equivalent until NOW.  Hello, Cluny!  Oh how I have waited a long time for you!  A French bistro through and through, just check out the interior – gorgeous with a view into the kitchen.  And the food, well I can go on and on.  My seared tuna sandwich topped with a sunny-side up egg on a buttery toasted brioche bun was just delicious.  The starters were tasty as well, salted cod donuts and the cauliflower salad were light, the perfect way to start the meal.  But I have to admit, I was really looking forward to dessert.  I mean, when you see souffle and macarons on the menu how can you not.  Well, the souffle was definitely worth another bite – I would order it again and would recommend it to anyone.  But ultimately, I think the reason why both the Balthazar and Cluny experiences stick out so much in my memory is because of the company – I’m very lucky to have so many great friends!

The entrance to Cluny.

The entrance to Cluny.

The beautiful interior of Cluny.

The beautiful interior of Cluny.

Salt cod donuts and smoked potato dipping sauce.

Salt cod donuts and smoked potato dipping sauce.

Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad with a pomegranate vinaigrette.

Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad with a pomegranate vinaigrette.

My cocktail for the night - Aviation made with gin.

My cocktail for the night – Aviation made with gin.

Veal meatball tomahawk with braised tomatoes and gnocchi.

Veal meatball tomahawk with braised tomatoes and gnocchi.

Moroccan inspired couscous with vegetable and almond tagine.

Moroccan inspired couscous with vegetable and almond tagine.

My seared tuna steak sandwich with tomato, fried egg on a house-baked brioche bun.

My seared tuna steak sandwich with tomato, fried egg on a house-baked brioche bun.

Breaking the yolk on my tuna steak sandwich.

Breaking the yolk on my tuna steak sandwich.

Kombucha cleansing tea.

Kombucha cleansing tea.

Delicious passion fruit souffle with a pistachio financier and creme anglaise.

Delicious passion fruit souffle with a pistachio financier and creme anglaise.

Look at that height on the passion fruit souffle!

Look at that height on the passion fruit souffle!

Macaron ice cream sandwiches, all made in house.

Macaron ice cream sandwiches, all made in house.

Dumpling King

When it comes to dumplings and China town, my friend M always knows where to go.  This time she took me to Dumpling King, an unassuming joint on Dundas Street a few blocks East of Spadina.  They do a couple of things different here.  Their pan-fried dumplings have a unique shape and the skin is a bit thicker than most dumplings I’ve had.  Rather than the pinched closing that is typical in dumplings, these are just folded over and somehow it holds the filling in.  Although the dumplings were good, and so reasonably priced, I would come back just for the cucumber dish.  This was M’s recommendation and I was definitely skeptic, cold spicy cucumber, how can that be good?  Well, it was delicious!  So refreshing with a bit of spice!  I’ll be going back.

Pork and Chive pan fried dumplings and Cucumber with flavour.

Pork and Chive pan fried dumplings and Cucumber with flavour.

Pork and napa steamed dumplings.

Pork and napa steamed dumplings.

Dipping the dumpling in hot sauce.

Dipping the dumpling in hot sauce.

Shrimp and chicken fried rice.

Shrimp and chicken fried rice.

The view from Dundas street.

The view from Dundas street.

Inside Dumpling King.

Inside Dumpling King.

Dumpling King.

Dumpling King.

Carbon Bar

This past weekend I had dinner at a new restaurant, Carbon Bar, sister restaurant to Nota Bene located seven blocks west on the same street.  The occasion: a long overdue girls night out and somewhat a reminder of our night out to Stanton Social in Lower East Side in NYC two years ago.  Located in an old building with exposed brick/concrete walls, high ceilings and large round booths, it was very much a New York City vibe.  The menu is very much pit-fire inspired with a number of platters and snacking plates to encourage sharing.  A very interesting item to be found – crispy fried chicken skins and of course, I had to try it!  Great in theory, you really can only have a small piece without getting the feeling that you’re eating pure oil and salt.  I ordered the pit fired pork tacos which were chock full of pulled pork so much so that you really don’t need to order sides especially if you’re going to be having dessert :) The cheddar ice cream sandwich with maple syrup was delicious – I loved the tuile cookies, it was just enough cookie to satisfy you.

Carbon - cocktails

Two of Carbon Bar signature cocktails – the Nota Bene (Absolut, Lillet Blanc, ginger beer and spiced cherry) and Carbon Bar Julep (Bourbon, lime, mint and simple syrup).

Carbon - chicken skins

Crisp chicken skins.

Carbon - fritters

Split pea fritters.

Carbon - shishito

Shishito peppers with pit fired eggplant dip.

Carbon - raw salad

Carbon’s raw salad made with bibb lettuce, avocado, pear, shaved coconut, coriander and a lime vinaigrette.

Carbon - brisket

Prime beef brisket.

Carbon - ribs

St. Louis cut pork ribs.

Carbon - grits

Mushroom & grits with hen eggs, kale and quebec fontina cheese.

Carbon - sides

Two of Carbon’s sides – collard greens and delicious shoestring fries.

Carbon - tacos

Pit fired pork tacos with charred salsa, mango crema, coriander, chili and lime.

Carbon - banana pie

Banana toffee cream pie made with a graham cracker pie crust, a dulce de leche-like filling, sliced bananas topped with whip cream and chunks of bittersweet chocolate.

Carbon - chocolate bar

The Carbon chocolate bar – pecan ganache and bourbon caramel sandwiched between two thin bittersweet chocolate wafers.

Carbon - ice cream sandwich

Cheddar ice cream sandwich with shredded coconut sitting in a pool of maple syrup.

Carbon - inside

Inside Carbon Bar.

Carbon

Carbon Bar

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