Saturday, January 29, 2011

Luma

Oliver & Bonacini restaurants dominate a large part of Toronto's Bell Lightbox.  There's Canteen on the street level, and Luma on the second floor over looking King and John.  Luma is the more upscale of the two, with a more expensive and sophisticated menu.  


Before getting into the details of the regular menu, they have a special two course fixed price inspired by Tim Burton, and his exhibit featured one floor below.  One of the standouts includes the 'Big Fish' - seared tuna on bibb lettuce, green beans, tomato and chick peas.  The chick peas were almost blended into a delicious hummus.  The Tim Burton dessert is a must order, especially because it's called 'Willy Wonka.'  It consists of a dark valrhona chocolate delice, caramelized bananas, peanut butter ice cream and cocoa nib crisp.  So good.  We also enjoyed the drink called 'drink me' - wiser's shaken with fresh lemon and ginger-pear juice.



Off the regular menu we found it difficult to narrow down appetizer choices, so we ordered a main to share.  The tagliatelle with confit duck, butternut squash, toasted almonds, sage and parmesan, sounded too good not to try.  The restaurant even split the dish in half for us on two plates.  Points.  Then an unexpected surprise - four small appetizers came to the table - the grilled octopus (which photographed beautifully), scallop sashimi, caesar salad, and the very rich burrata (fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant and pine nut vinaigrette).  The tagliatelle was the most memorable, so I say go with the main.  


We were full but not done yet.  The mains included the free range chicken with cornmeal polenta and the steak frites with northern woods mushrooms and truffle butter.  The crispy and perfectly cooked fries, soaked in the truffle butter is ridiculous.  Other desserts we tried were the opera cake - almond sponge cake with layers of mocha buttercream and chocolate ganache with popcorn ice cream and caramel popcorn, and the lemon tart.  Even though the opera cake is visually pleasing, it's a bit overwhelming.  Also the popcorn flavour isn't strong enough in the ice cream.  The lemon tart is well balanced, not overly tart, not overly sweet. 


On our way out we took a look at the menu in the blackberry lounge, just next door to Luma.  Fun things like angus beef sliders, steamed pork buns, crispy tempura shrimp and the list goes on. Mmmmm ok, need to stop.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Giancarlo

Pasta, pasta and more pasta at Giancarlo on Clinton at College.  My desk buddy Sasha raves and raves and raves about this place, to everyone, and convinced me it needed to appear on this blog.  And it lived up to the hype, for a few reasons.  The staff is friendly, the room is homey and the most exciting thing, you can get 2 different pastas on your plate.  The waiter did however mention that they don't always allow it, mostly on busy weekends.  

We started with the basic bruschetta, which to be honest I found a little too basic, and would have preferred it with tomatoes.  Next, to the pastas!  Sasha said the limone dish was a must try. Parmesan, butter, lemon and cream, what's not to like!? Yes it's heavy but worth it.  We also tried the bolognese veal ragu and the lobster gnocchi with leek pesto cream.  The pairing of the creamy gnocchi and the creamy lemon pasta was way too intense, but the ragu and lemon combo worked much better.  Sadly there was no way we were going to order dessert but Sasha (her name has now been mentioned 3 times) says the molten chocolate cake with salted caramel is the bomb, and that I missed out.  Sad face.             

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tofu Village

Another day, another bibimbap - this one at Tofu Village on Bloor Street West.  It wasn't as flavourful as the one at Seoul Restaurant but here the staff were friendlier and more attentive (it was less busy though).  Where is your favourite bibimbap?      

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chicken and Waffles

Wasn't sure about this particular item on The Drake's brunch menu but after being persuaded by my work colleague Tanya, as well as two Drake waitresses, it was time to just do it.  Thinking about and even seeing the combination of fried chicken and waffles, seems off putting but after digging in, it was delicious - heavy, but delicious.  Try it too, I dare you.  Or just get the breakfast burrito.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frankly Eatery

There's not much to say about Frankly Eatery.  It's a cute space with average food and slow service.  The place was rammed on a snowy Saturday morning, with only one server, who even though was very sweet and apologetic, still slow.  The slice of blueberry loaf we ordered should have came first before our food, but it didn't.  I almost went up to the counter and sliced off a piece myself.  The indian inspired twist to the menu is interesting enough to check out (especially if you're into Indian food), but just be prepared to wait.      

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dlish

After digesting the pies from The Canadian Pie Company, it was time to check out Dlish - the new cupcake store on Queen Street West and Niagara.  Even though the cupcake trend is apparently on the outs, it didn't appear that way at Dlish, infact most of their supply was gone.  It was towards the end of the day, but owner Verge Manuel happily stated it was the stores second bake. 

With a look (the store, the cupcakes and even the colour coted dots on top) similar to LA's Sprinkles, it doesn't really matter because Dlish's treats are sure to satisfy the sweetest sweet tooths.  Check out their massive flavour board and drool over their 16 different cupcakes including peanut butter chocolate, salty caramel and nutella.  Not all of them will be available though, as the flavours rotate day to day.  The cupcakes are $3 each, $17 for half a dozen and $33 for a dozen.  They also offer a birthday box, where they place a cupcake into it, and tie it up with ribbon and a fork.  Daniel and I tried the red velvet and the chocolate marshmellow.  We both felt the red velvet icing was a tiny bit too sweet, and that's saying a lot coming from my own crazy sweet tooth.  The chocolate cupcake was fun because of the marshmellow hiding in the centre but again wasn't overly blown away by the icing.  Be sure to keep an eye on their facebook and twitter page as they regularly offer free treats.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Lobster Feast with Anthony Rose

It's a lobster lovers dream come true at The Bonnie Stern Cooking school tonight, as The Drake Hotel's head chef Anthony Rose stuns with the following recipes.  Photos below are in the same order.

Lobster and Bacon Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Poached Lobster Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado and Green Peppercorns
Lobster and Sweet Potato Chowder with Tarragon
Veal Cheeks with Lobster Butter
New England Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding, Salted Cookie Crumble