Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Brunch at Splendido

Splendido is one of Toronto's finest restaurants.  It's where people often go to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. It's highly regarded for its outstanding dishes, excellent service, and oh yeah, a hefty bill at the end of the night.
But with a major focus shifting away from high end restaurants to more casual ones Splendido is shaking things up.  This February Executive Chef Victor Barry offered a Winterlicious menu for the very first time and on Sunday served its inaugural brunch.  Barry joked that Sundays were his day off, so why not!

For $35 a person and in true Splendido style, the brunch is extremely generous and filling, making every bite worth the dough.  Trust us, you'll be full for days.

'The spread' (included in the $35) is sent out first with freshly baked croissants and pain au chocolat, scones, preserves, whipped cream cheese, manchego cheese, Westphalian ham, a potted chicken liver and foie gras mousse parfait with rhubarb jam, terrine and pickles.
After notifying the staff of a gluten allergy at the table, they brought out a separate tray of gluten free pastries - also made in house.  

(gluten free)   

The mains range from lighter dishes (granola parfait with a fruit compote, a smorgasbord with burrata, french bread, tomato jam, avocado and salad, and an open face lobster sandwich) to heavier ones (the must try decadent brioche french toast, flank steak and eggs, and a croque madame topped with pork belly).

There are a number of sides for $6 each including bone marrow, pork belly, baked beans, breakfast sausage, frites with aioli, a quinoa salad, boston bibb lettuce with poached pears and a fruit salad.      
They also have East coast oysters for 3 bucks a pop and of course some brunch cocktails (including fun non-alcoholic options).

(brioche french toast with lemon mascarpone, bananas foster and vanilla anglaise) 
(egg white omelette hidden under Boston bibb salad) 
(VB's Splendido burger with red pepper and onion relish, braised beef short rib and fontina cheese) 
(Cumbrae's flank steak and eggs) 
(eggs benedict with brown butter béarnaise, avocado and pancetta)  
(side of baked beans) 

If you even have room for dessert, be sure to get the peanut buster parfait.  The caramelized peanuts, chocolate sauce and salted caramel mousse form an intoxicating combo that's hard to stop eating until it's completely gone.  

(peanut buster parfait) 
(coconut milk parfait with dulce de leche, pineapple chutney and brown butter crumble) 

The restaurant also offers a pre-order menu.  Reserve by Thursday for your Sunday brunch.  Check out the menu by clicking here.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Red Bench

The cafe which opened its doors earlier this year is a welcome addition to the Yonge Street strip between Bloor and Wellesley, mostly known for its seedy shops and random restaurants.

The Red Bench specializes in cookies, frozen yogurt and 25 different types of loose leaf tea, all of which are organic and said to be made with 'nothing but the good stuff this earth gives us.'
The cookies are baked on the spot and handed to you in a small bag (warm and chewy) around 5 minutes after you pick the cookie dough and toppings.  
The fro yo counter also has a wide variety of toppings including fresh fruit and candy.

And if you were wondering, yes there is a red bench outside.    

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tartine & Cafe Minerva - NYC

Head to these two West Village staples to feel like a New York local.

On the corner of 11th St. and West 4th, this french institution has been open for 20 years and is loved by West Village natives morning, noon and night.  Arrive early on the weekend to grab a prime spot by the large windows to people watch, or a seat outside during patio season.  Keep your eyes peeled for the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and the city's fashion glitterarti.
As for the menu, the apple pancake is baked to crisp perfection and is perfect to share while everyone indulges in their own egg entrées.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Tartine is this adorable cafe, and we don't use that word lightly.  Sit at the bar and make friends with the waiter.  Ours told us he once visited Toronto and all of his clothes were stolen from his band's van.  We promised our city would be kinder on his next visit. 
Minerva's menu offers anything you could be in the mood for, including fresh fruit and honey, french toast, and plenty of variations on poached eggs.  Or if you're just in need of a small walking break, stop in for a coffee, and enjoy all of the adorableness.              

Acting like a local tip #3 - book an apartment in the West Village (or any area of New York) on Airbnb

Monday, March 4, 2013

SLURP Noodlefest

Noodle lovers of all kinds came together for the first SLURP Noodlefest at the Great Hall in Toronto on Sunday.  Restaurants like Richmond Station, A-OK Foods, The Hawthorne, and Skin and Bones set up shop offering (you guessed it) lots and lots of noodles, and also some savory snacks to a sold out showing.

For us the standout dish wasn't actually slurpable.  Splendido's steamed bun pork belly 'Big Macs' with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and their interpretation of McDonald's 'secret sauce' stole the show.  The Harbord Street resto also put out a rich black truffle ramen, with impressively large shavings of truffle.  Good on them!
We should also mention Skin and Bones famous chicken tails.  Deep fried in a crispy coating they're a must try for even the most apprehensive eaters.      

And shout out to the folks at Tromba Tequila who made some wicked lavender margaritas.

(Splendido's Black Truffle Ramen) 
(Splendido's Pork Belly 'Big Mac') 
(Skin and Bones' Chicken Tails) 
(Coconut Sticky Rice)