Showing posts with label Brussels sprouts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brussels sprouts. Show all posts

Nuit Social (Toronto)



Sharing is caring, oh so the saying goes. Sharing is what Nuit Social wants. In fact, create your own charcuterie “social boards” dominates half their menu where diners choose one, three, or five items from meat, cheese, and olives selections to create a sharing platter. Opting for five meats ($17) and three cheeses ($13), our board was enough for our table of five to have a taste each, the meats more so than the small bits of cheese.

Of all the items, the ones that stood out were the Tyrol schinkenspeck, the salty pork letting off that faint smokiness that’s synonymous with speck, and the bresaola (extra $1), which is best eaten plain as it’s fairly neutral and the leaner cut allows you to taste the beef. Really everything we chose – Rosette de Lyon French salami, Prosciutto, and the spicy sopressata - were all solid charcuterie.


Meanwhile, the cheeses were good but when paired with the strong meats felt a little lost. Whether it was the Vermeer gouda, Rondin du Poitou goat cheese, or the Charlevoix, the mild cheeses were flavours I enjoyed but couldn’t hold up against the bolder meats.

The last third of the menu is dedicated to “social plates”, which could be renamed to “social bags” given many arrive in a rolled down brown paper sack. Some items like the crispy frog legs ($12) and arancini ($14) are understandable, since the paper helps weep away the extra oil. But, for the Buffalo Brussels sprouts ($11) it’s a little strange as you can’t really get to the pool of hot sauce settling on the bottom.

If you can get past the image of a frog looking at you as you bite into the frog legs, it really does taste like  tender chicken or, with its small size, sort of like a less gamey quail leg. They were lightly dusted and mildly salted, but I would have liked them fried a bit longer.


Both the arancini and Brussel sprouts are dishes I’d avoid – the risotto balls so crumbly and dry that it tasted like fried dirty rice rather than a creamy porcini base. That bit of melted fontina cheese in the centre helped a bit, but could hardly save the dish. As for the Brussel sprouts, it’s a personal choice as the tangy harsh Buffalo sauce drenching the vegetable is something I normally don’t like anyways.


Items that were actually served on plates (or some case bowls) were the highlight of the meal and should be featured prominently rather than being relegated as the last things on the menu. I can still taste the sweet maple soy glaze on the pork ribs ($17) giving it a bit of stickiness but thin enough that it didn’t feel like you’re biting through a heavy sauce to get to the tender ribs. And the bed of smoked macaroni & cheese it sat on was equally delicious.


Normally, I find ricotta gnocchi ($16) a little too soft, but Nuit Social’s consistency was perfectly balanced with a light fluffiness and a bit of chewiness. The cheese and cream sauce could have been really really rich, but a bit of citrus, sweet peas, and smoky bits of chicken (oddly tasted like bacon) helped to temper the decadent dish just a little. Aside from the ribs, this was my favourite of the night.


The seared sushi steak ($17) is really a flat ironed steak done rare so that the meat has a thin ring around it like Albacore tuna. For being so underdone, the beef was surprisingly tender and the liberal amounts of chimmichurri gave the Japanese sounding dish an Argentinian flavour instead. Well roasted Brussels sprouts (thankfully, without Buffalo sauce) and fingerling potatoes finished off the plate making this one of the better-rounded dish for those who don’t want to share.  


But then sharing is Nuit Social’s mantra, they “are all about social gatherings, sharing great food and conversing over delicious drinks with old friends and new friends.” Their ambiance is set up for the mission as the music’s volume is kept at a low enough so you can actually converse with your friends (new or old). This is quite different for being a west Queen West restaurant where places like Drake Hotel is a neighbour.

Since it’s opened until midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends, it’s also a great place to gather after a night of drinking. Nuit Social definitely doesn’t serve the typical post bar eats. It’s not every day that after a night of drinking you can tuck into amazing ribs with a side of ricotta gnocchi.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1168 Queen Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Nuit Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aloette (Toronto)

Aloette Toronto


If dining at Alo, Canada’s top restaurant for 2017, is unattainable (either financially or due to lack of reservations), their more affordable counterpart has opened on the first floor of the building. While Aloette looks like a diner, you’ll still experience luxurious touches such as the never-ending water glass, plush triple-ply toilet paper, and cloth towels in the washrooms. It’s a diner… with Chef Kriss’s touch.

You can’t visit a diner and not expect them to serve burgers. Aloette’s version ($18) is probably the most reviewed item from the menu. Post City informs us about the months of testing the team used to come up with the main, Amy Pataki lets us in on the aged beef fat added to the patty, and BlogTO raves about the soft toasted bun. Indeed, the bun is good: well toasted, even on the outside, and that soft sweet version that doesn’t have a grain in sight.


During our dinner, the beef patty was not the typical medium, but still tender, juicy, and so flavourful on account of the beef fat. The fixings were of course refined: a thick layer of buttery Beaufort cheese, finely shredded lettuce, stringy onion, and a thick Russian mayonnaise. I only wish it came with tomatoes to balance out the salty richness of the burger.

For a real treat, upgrade to the Aloette fries ($6 with the burger or $9 on its own), which is smothered with smoked Gouda, hot sauce, and jus. There aren’t many fries that can compete with poutine in my books, but I love the spicy smoky kick of these.  


Despite all the press for their burgers, it’s the roasted pork ($20) that really impressed. The pork belly is cooked so beautifully that with every bite the creamy fat and juices covers the month, while the meat has a nicely grilled crust without being hard. While other restaurants tend to pair pork belly with a sweet glaze, I loved the stronger savoury flavours used at Aloette: spicy ‘nduja, briny olives, and grilled lemon to help cut the fattiness.


With a side of Brussels sprouts ($9), you could really make a complete meal of the roasted pork. Here there is the sweet element from the maple syrup, and the added walnut pieces and mustard kick makes for interesting touches to the side. They were a bit soft for my taste and since all the other dishes are already so well-seasoned, it would have been nice to have a dish that’s plainer to balance the heaviness. Even if it weren’t the Brussels sprouts, a simple tossed olive oil and balsamic spring mix salad would be nice.


Not surprisingly, their mac & cheese ($14) is delicious. Within the hot skillet are long tubes of pasta that holds the creamy cheddar sauce and is covered with melted parmesan. If you can hold off on devouring the complimentary toasted cheese brioche, you can use the bread to wipe up any of the remaining heavenly béchamel sauce.


The menu contains plenty to munch on including a cone of fried smelts ($11). If you’re afraid they’ll be fishy, at Aloette they’re well-cleaned, headless, and deboned. The light flour batter is relatively well-seasoned on its own and for extra flavour there’s a jalapeno, artichoke, and lemon aioli dip that could use a bit more heat.


Dessert includes two options with the lemon meringue pie ($10) having a take-home version as well. The height of the pie is certainly impressive, but with the larger size you really need to make sure every bite contains both elements. Together it makes for a decent dessert, but on its own the super sugary meringue and tart lemon curd can be a bit jarring.


Unlike most diners, the portion sizes at Aloette is fairly small. However, since everything is rich you’ll feel full and it’s best to share dishes to avoid having too much of a good thing. Just don’t think about going with more than four people, with their no reservation policy and limited seating arrangements (diner booths and bar stools), it’d be difficult to find a table.

Even if there’s a wait, tables turn over fairly quickly – our “three-course meal” still had us out of there in just over an hour. Plus, with a glass of wine, my portion of the tab was just over $50 (inclusive of taxes and gratuities); Aloette is affordable enough that I can keep returning to, for more roasted pork, of course.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 163 Spadina Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Aloette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Azarias (Toronto)


If you’re trying to satisfy a picky eater or a crowd with varying tastes, Azarias is a good choice for an Etobicoke restaurant. Although the establishment sounds Greek (on account of being named after the owner), their menu has a diverse array of dishes to choose from. Most are shared plates, but if you’re over the trend, you can easily pick and choose salads and larger plates to create a traditional meal as well.

Stumped on what to order? Azarias provides a top ten list to guide you through the process. The first half of this post will focus on these popular dishes.

Topping the list is the spicy shrimp tacos ($15), a let-down unless you enjoy overly battered seafood that hasn’t been drained properly. The only saving grace was the shrimp’s large size, lending itself to stay plump and juicy. But then it’s laden with oil and a “spicy” sauce that’s surely just Frank’s Red Hot out of the bottle. Plain cabbage with a bit of corn lines the bottom of the flour tortilla, hardly the salsa fresca you’d expect as described on the menu.


Go with the #2 option instead: Montreal smoked meat sliders ($10). Overlooking the dense bun, the thickly sliced meat was tender incorporating enough fat for taste without getting heavy. Served warm, you get a bit of spice with each bite and despite being full flavoured, the smoked meat wasn’t too salty and went well with the mustard. Paired with a juicy pickle wedge, it’s a dish that could make a Jewish deli proud.


When Brussels sprouts ($9) are done right, they are so good. Azarias’ version is fine but runs into the pitfall of relying too heavily on other ingredients – in their case, sun dried tomatoes and bacon. Since both are such strong flavours, the actual sprouts get drowned out. If I want bacon, I’d order bacon. For a vegetable, I want Brussels sprouts!


Their Kung Pao chicken ($14) was a popular dish that many tables order. The sauce has a wonderful spicy kick, a sweet chili Thai enhanced with garlic sauce, so it’s a shame that the miniscule chicken pieces were so overly battered. Personally, I’d prefer the chicken to be simply tossed in flour (rather than a full-on batter) and cut into larger pieces so that you can actually taste the meat. The jalapenos, on the other hand, were a nice touch.


Surprisingly, their short ribs ($18) were only #7 on the top 10 list. It was certainly one of the better dishes I tried that evening and deserves a top three ranking. The large bone-in rib is braised until tender and glazed in a wonderful reduced beef jus. With the roasted carrots, this could easily be a main dish for those who don’t feel like sharing.


Bacon seared jumbo scallops ($15) was the last top 10 dish we tried. With a lovely caramelized crust and their large size, the scallops remained tender and meaty. Instead of being wrapped in bacon, it was nice that the meat was on the bottom so you can break chunks off with the scallop or have it as a crispy meaty chip to end.


In terms of the dishes that didn’t make the list, there were some hit and misses. The Caprese salad ($11) was heavily slathered with pesto but needed more salt. Interestingly, the kitchen tosses the cheese and tomato slices in the sauce (rather than pouring over top), which is a good idea allowing every bite to get an even coating of flavour.


Although the macaroni and cheese ($9) looked watery, the flavours were spot on and the light dusting of buttery gratin on top was fantastic. Pair these with the short ribs and you can easily build a decadent plate.


The green beans ($8) were fantastic and much better than the Brussels sprouts. Since they were cooked on a grill, they retained a great crunch and the roasted garlic and dusting of parmesan added enough flavours without taking away from the actual vegetables.


For the low price, you get a hefty portion of potatoes with the sea salted fries ($5). They are piping hot and have the essential freshly cut potato essence. Combine the fries with the Montreal smoked meat sliders and you have a great meal.


Despite already having an extensive menu, Azarias also offers daily specials. Having tried two of the dishes, they’re definitely worth ordering. The osso bucco with penne ($18) could easily be a pasta main dish given its large size, but since the garlicky cream sauce is pretty rich, it also ideal for sharing. Dollops of goat cheese combine with plump mushrooms and chunks of soft lamb to make a great meal, I would have been happy with just a plate of this to myself.


They baby back pork ribs ($14) where glazed in honey garlic and very tender and meaty. They’re sticky and messy, everything you want ribs to be.


Azarias resourcefully uses pots of herbs as décor on tables, while also including a pair of scissors so diners can actually use the herbs. Our waiter suggested we cut up the basil to infuse the olive oil for dipping bread into. What a delicious idea that enticed me to devour two slices of soft crusty bread – much to the demise of stomach for the rest of dinner. Let that be a warning when you visit… just one slice.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3058 Bloor Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Azarias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Fring's Revisited (Toronto)


My last visit to Fring’s was shortly after it opened. After hearing all the hype about the restaurant, I had to experience it in person, secretly hoping to get a glimpse of Drake. Since that first weeknight visit was so busy and loud, I readied myself for a night of drinking and music. Strangely, this return Friday visit was much quieter: we were seated at the bar (surrounding areas had some empty tables) and there was no live performance. Alas, there was still no Drake.

The menu has completely changed and now offers more items. Arriving as crispy golden spheres, the crab cakes ($24) were delicious with plenty of lump crab meat and not much other filler. The sweet seafood was the dominant taste with an herby tomatillo verde and cooling sour cream for contrast. It’s a great starter to share or something to nibble on even if you're there just for drinks.  


In fact, they have a few good options for sharing. The beef short rib tacos ($16) also arrive four to an order and incorporate a fair amount of juicy tender beef held in a crispy wonton shell. Unlike other tacos that tend to be messy, Fring’s was easier to devour as it relied less on sauces for flavouring and more on ingredients like creamy avocado, spicy mango pineapple salsa, sour cream, and a slice of red chili.


While the actual grilled skirt steak ($28) was merely decent – unfortunately, the meat was overdone and the flavours somewhat covered by the chimichurri and thick slices of red pepper - the accompanying Parmesan polenta “croutons” were delectable like a traditional crispy polenta but much creamier and cheesier. 


We had added a side of quinoa crusted onion rings ($10), thinking they’d go great with the steak. At first glance, they looked good – plenty of crispy crust and not overly oily. Then when you bite in and are met with the mealy tasteless crust, the perception changes. When I slathered enough chilli mint yogurt chutney on the onion ring it was a bit better, too bad there was so little of the condiment. Note to self: quinoa and onion rings do not mix.


Thankfully, the tried and true roasted Brussels sprouts ($12) didn’t disappoint. There was enough bacon to make it sinful while still keeping the dish predominantly vegetables, the pearl onions providing a bit of sweetness, and to cut through the typical sweet maple glaze was a generous sprinkle of fresh thyme.


One dish that just wouldn’t arrive was the grilled octopus ($26). Unlike my previous dinner experience at Fring’s, our waitress kept an eye on the dish, coming by to provide us with updates. In the meantime, she provided complimentary truffle fries ($20) and another order of crab cakes (likely from hearing our moans of deliciousness) to keep us placated. Upon receiving the fries, I realized why a side of spuds would cost $20. In lieu of truffle oil, the chefs dust on real black truffles instead. Along with the Parmesan cheese, it makes for flavourful fries!


In the end, we decided to replace the octopus with fried chicken and waffles ($26); plate after plate kept whizzing by so they seemed popular and looked tasty. Although the chicken were pieces of boneless chicken breast, they were still tender; the batter spiced enough for taste, but could still handle the sweet and spicy maple syrup glaze.


The Hong Kong egg waffle was cold and soft, not terrible but definitely doesn’t do the accompaniment justice. Note to restaurants: if you’re going to use the bubble waffle, these need to be made-to-order as it really doesn’t lend itself to sitting around.

As a nice gesture, due to the long wait for the octopus, Fring’s also gave us the replacement chicken and waffles on a complimentary basis. Needless to say, we left terribly full (the walk back to a car a welcomed exercise to help start digest the mass of food), since the one octopus dish was replaced with three heavier items.

Compared to the first dinner, service has improved – staff were more attentive and there were no delays at clearing dirty dishes. Of course, due to waiting around for the octopus, dinner wasn’t a shorter affair (the meal still lasted three hours), but on a weekend I don’t mind hanging out over another drink … with or without Drake.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 445 King Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Fring's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato