Monday, December 28, 2015

Bar Begonia

If you're wondering what that huge lite-brite smiley face floating above Dupont and Spadina is all about, well, it means Bar Begonia is now open.
This is Chef Anthony Rose's latest and it joins his other spots on Dupont including Rose & Sons, Big Crow, Fat Pasha and Schmaltz Appetizing (plus Rose & Sons Swan on Queen Street West).  Begonia, open 7 days a week, is housed in an odd shaped white building that's been vacant since 2005.  Chef Rose has painted the outside dark grey and done wonders to the interior giving it major Parisian/Brooklyn vibes.  Those vibes are also reflected in the drink menu with classic cocktails, others that are inventive and fun, Manhattans and Negronis are on tap and there's a well curated wine selection.  As for the food menu, it's made up of 8 different sections including - petites bouches, raw (oysters, steak and trout), tartines, foie gras, cured + confited, le fromage,  'after 5pm' and sucree.  All of the dishes are meant to be shared.
Come Spring Bar Begonia's back parking lot will transform into a grassy oasis.  Until then though, cozy up inside, and be sure to smile.        

(Blinker - Canadian rye whisky, grapefruit and raspberry) 
(The Sun also Rises - gin, grenadine, clementine, pastis and sparkling wine) 
(Gougeres) 
(Radish with Quebec butter) 
(Potted Brandade - whipped cod and potato) 
(Pomme frites and aioli) 
(Boeuf bourguignon) 
(Squash and potato gratin with herbs) 
(Creme Brulee) 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Wickson Social

The talented folks behind The Queen and Beaver and The Oxley have opened up a third spot in Toronto called The Wickson Social.  The 3,500 square foot restaurant is on the ground floor of a historic building (below a new condo tower) on St. Joseph Street, a few blocks South of Yonge and Bloor.  Inside there's a lot of design and a lot of different colours but magically it all works.  
Unlike The Wickson's sister British gastropubs the menu here is more contemporary and really has something for everyone.  Our visit was during their Saturday brunch which is offered between 10am-3pm (also on Sundays). The eggs benedict with peameal bacon was on delightfully soft scones and the scrambled eggs (slow cooked to creamy perfection)  was served on toasted sour dough with smoked salmon.  If you're looking for something sweet, the stack of buttermilk pancakes and maple butter is what you need (we ordered 1 pancake as a side).  And if you want a more hearty brunch there's the 12 hour lamb shoulder on sour dough or the dry cured venison and tarragon risotto. Most of the same dishes are available for brunch, lunch and dinner, but they'll be changing things up from month to month.          

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Figo

Byblos, Patria, Weslodge, Nao Steakhouse, La Societe, America and now comes Ink Entertainment's latest - Figo.  Located at John and Adelaide, the Italian inspired eatery brings even more bustle to the already busy intersection (home to La Carnita, Sweet Jesus, Montecito, Ravi Soups, Flock, Khao San Road and of course Hooters).  Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Figo is a great option before taking in a movie at the TIFF Bell Lightbox or a Mirvish show.
The cocktails are fun and fresh, especially the punch Americano (Figo's take on sangria).  Ordering one (or three) of the house ricottas to start is a must.  We tried the one with red grapes, speck and chili oil but on our list for next time is the honey truffle and black pepper. The other must order appetizer is the zucchini friti.  The spirals of fried zucchini are made deliciously sweet with honey and lemon crema fresca.  There are plenty of pizza and pasta options.  Warning: only try the rapini pesto pasta if you are really into the bitter flavour of rapini.  The goat cheese and lemon zest that come on top of the dish don't cut the bitterness much.  The lamb was grilled perfectly and served with a pine nut and artichoke puree.
We also really enjoyed the restaurants atmosphere and décor.  From the floral painted ceilings, to the open concept kitchen and colourful tiles in the restrooms, Figo's small details in its food and design definitely don't go unnoticed.
 
(Punch Americano) 
(Zucchini friti with lemon crema fresca & honey)
(Ricotta with red grapes, speck & chili oil)
(Sea bream crudo with chili & basil)
(Soppressata pizza with preserved tomato, mozzarella, black olive & honey)
(Casarecce pasta with rapini pesto & goat cheese) 
(Lamp chops with pine nut & artichoke puree) 
(Tiramisu with chocolate, coffee & mascarpone) 
(Chocolate bonet topped with sponge toffee) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cactus Club Cafe opens in Toronto

Cactus Club Cafe brings its West coast vibes out East opening at First Canadian Place in Toronto's financial district.  Celebrity chef Rob Feenie (well known for his past restaurants Lumière and Feenies in Vancouver and for becoming the first Canadian to win Iron Chef America) is behind the menu.  A few stand out dishes include: the tuna stack, the Szechuan chicken lettuce wraps, the trio of mini burgers and the butternut squash ravioli with prawns (served in a truffle butter sauce!!!).  

With over 15,000 square feet, three floors and 500 seats, there's plenty of room to spread out and options where to sit.  On our Sunday afternoon visit we were put on the rooftop patio called 'The Deck' which for the winter months is enclosed and heated.  It's very easy to spend a few hours up there - DJ spinning, cocktails flowing, delicious food...perfect weekend activity if you ask us.  

Cactus Club is open everyday of the week.

(Tuna stack with albacore, citrus tamari vinaigrette, nori, sesame, avocado, cilantro and wontons) 
(Sangria) 
(Mini burgers with cheddar, smoked bacon and red pepper relish) 
 (Szechuan chicken lettuce wraps with peanuts, wontons, Korean chili sauce and spicy yogurt)
(Butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli, truffle butter, crispy sage, pine nuts and prawns) 
(Caramel Chocolate Mousse with crunchy sponge toffee and warm caramel foam)