Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stratford

About 2 hours outside of Toronto sits Stratford - a quaint and quiet town, perfect for a weekend getaway. For more than half a century, and still today, Startford's main draw is the world famous theatres. Running from late April until October, there are a production of at least 12 different shows. Some are Shakespeare, while others are of the musical variety. On this seasons roster - Kiss Me Kate - which combines both. But with its cute coffee shops, small boutiques, funky restaurants and cozy bed and breakfasts - it's not just the theatres bringing in the crowds.

Oh and it's also the birth town of one of the biggest pop stars in the world (right now) - Justin Bieber (cue the screams...oh wait, tween girls aren't reading this, never mind). If you are a fan though, then you'll probably want to check out 'Justin's Stratford," where you can download a map of his favourite haunts including - the Stratford skate park, the Avon theatre where he used to busk, and King's Buffet - where he apparently had his first date and spilled spaghetti all over himself.

But on to the spots we enjoyed, and thanks to Julie D for all the suggestions.

Balzacs -
Located right on the main drag - Ontario Street, Balzacs succeeds in making you feel like it's your home away from home. With two open in Toronto's distillery district and liberty village, the Stratford location was actually their first. Oh and that peanut butter marshmallow square was crazy good.


Down the Street -
Walking into this restaurant felt like we'd left Stratford and wandered into the Moroccan desert. Ok maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the decor was pretty funky. And the food, really delicious. We shared the poutine and one of their pizzas to start, as well as one of their daily soup specials. After a day of driving, theatre watching and walking around - everything was devoured. Two of the mains ordered were fish - black cod and pickerel. I have to say the way they plated the pickerel is pretty stunning. I ordered the Moroccan short ribs which were a tad too spicy for my liking. For dessert the rhubarb shortcake was the big winner - as the rhubarb wasn't too tart and the cookie crusts were crunchy and crispy. Chocolate molten cake was the same as it always is, and I don't mind that.


Fosters Inn -
And before the drive back to Toronto, brunch was had at The Fosters Inn. No complaints about the french toast with bacon, but I have to say they lost points with my poached eggs. They were over cooked and not runny! Still, a happening place to test out, especially if you're in Startford multiple times over the summer months.


BBQ Season Begins

A few snaps from Fara's birthday BBQ celebration.
On the menu - hummus with an olive tapenade, buffalo ricotta with pesto, grilled asparagus, steak, Miami short ribs and caramel carrot cupcakes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ruby Watchco

It's a Tuesday morning and I randomly check Ruby Watchco's website to see their menu of the day. Ok, maybe it wasn't so random. I knew I was going to be in the area that night and I'd been wanting to go for a while. This is the menu that appeared -

Dinner at Ruby Watchco
Tuesday May 25th

Crispy West Coast Fish Cakes - Chick Pea & Black Bean Salad, Watercress Leaves, Creamy Kozlik's Triple Aioli.

J.C.'s Meatloaf with Ruby's Steak Sauce - Lobster Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto Crisps, Truffle Button Mushrooms Ragout, Oyster Mushroom Fritters.

Upper Canada Cheese Company's Comfort Cream - Ginger Rhubarb Chutney & Grilled Country Bread.

Joey's Favourite Devil's Food Cupcakes - White Chocolate Shavings.

$49

I was in. So in. I made a reservation for 9pm - the earliest I could get, and convinced a friend to try it out.
Ruby is definitely not for your average restaurant goer. It's a new dining experience - so bring people with an open mind. The way it works is - you get a four course dinner, but the menu changes every day. So if you make a reservation ahead of time, you have no clue what you might get. At the helm though, the talented Lynn Crawford, planning her detailed and creative menus a week in advance, with every ingredient incredibly thought out. But if you really aren't feeling the menu on the night you're supposed to go, 'call in sick'. You'll be opening up the table, making someone else's night better.

Everything we consumed at this cool new Queen Street East eatery was delicious. The portions, so big, we had to take a lot home. The first course consisted of the light and summery bean salad, along with a cake made up of a mixture of fish. They also brought cheddar biscuits to the table - fresh and salty. The meatloaf, also a mixture (beef and veal, I think), not too heavy. But by far the best thing was the lobster mashed potatoes. There was no skimping on the lobster meat! Huge chunks were to be discovered and devoured. We were so full, we hardly touched the truffled mushrooms. The cheese course was next and it was served with sweet spreads. Finally, the cupcake - moist, chocolaty and the perfect way to finish off dinner. And yes, I had room for the entire thing.

P.S. if you're wondering about the name Ruby Watchco, it was named after the sign hung up inside, that Lynn discovered in a junkyard 3 years ago.

B.T.W. It may be hard to book a last minute reservation. I seemed to get lucky, but just be patient and if you want to play it safe, book ahead of time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Fat Belgian

Quickie post on The Fat Belgian at John and Richmond. Lots on the menu, but went for their specialty - mussels, which are served two sizes and brought out right in the pot. Fries and mayo - a must too. The service was pretty spotty. It took forever to get anything, but we overheard they were short staffed that night. I would only recommend it if you needed a restaurant in that immediate vicinity, otherwise no need to go rushing there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet Bliss Baking Company



Sweet Bliss Baking Company on Queen Street East was next on my cupcake list. Inside, I was surprised to see the cupcakes kept in a fridge off to the side, rather than front and centre like they're usually displayed. Maybe it keeps them more fresh?
Choosing a carrot, red velvet, vanilla, and chocolate, the amount of icing dolloped on was just about right, and I was happy it was the sugary kind (butter cream, ick). Trying them out right away, I wasn't so into them cold. But after waiting an hour or so and letting them thaw, they were much better - so if you can wait, wait. I liked the chocolate one best.