Showing posts with label Cafe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cafe. Show all posts

CLOSED: Food Society (Toronto)


Toronto’s 2017 summer has been a wet one; hence, when Mother Nature graces us with a sunny day, make the most of it and get out there! Seize every moment and opportunity as what’s left of the summer will be short.

For a quick weekday lunch enjoyed outdoors, Food Society has an ideal option: a $10 barbeque plate that includes a choice of protein, salad, and pop. Simply head to the patio at the back of their restaurant, grab a seat, and let Chef Joe know what you’d like.


The proteins are pre-cooked and then re-heated on the barbeque as ordered. Unfortunately, the meat isn’t at its peak juiciness, but this does allow diners to get a dish without a long wait. That afternoon I had a choice of a burger, jerk chicken, or ribs. Having had a taste of the jerk chicken and the ribs, both were well marinated and flavourful. The ribs incorporates herbs in the rub giving it a refreshing essence while the jerk chicken wasn’t overly spicy - there’s heat but it’s merely in the background.


Chef Joe hails from North Carolina, the mecca of barbeque cooking. He explains that there are three common styles: dry, wet, and vinegar-based. That afternoon he was featuring the dry rub method, which isn’t as popular in Canada given our love for sauce laden meats. It’s a style I’ve recently grown to like as my husband began experimenting on the Big Green Egg. For one, dry rubs are less messy to eat (no sticky hands and crumpled napkins) and you can appreciate the meat’s juices rather than tasting a ton of sugary sauce.

Nevertheless, Joe explains that he’s going to run through different types of recipes – so don’t worry if you like your meat smothered – and given his last stint was working as a private chef for a vegan client, he’ll likely feature a vegan-friendly option as well.

Generally, Food Society caters to those who want healthy but flavourful food. I experienced this with the barbeque plate where the salad was lightly dressed and the meat very lean. By the end of the meal, I left energized, despite the filling meal.

The adjoining cafe features an array of coffees including butter coffee (currently growing in popularity) and nitro cold brews ($3.95) that’s great for the summer. Even though I generally take milk and sugar with my drinks, the nitro cold brew coffee is full-flavoured without being bitter, so smooth I could handle it black.


Aside from all-day breakfast and mains such as soba noodles and quinoa bowls, Food Society’s café has items to satisfy your sweet tooth. From smoothie bowls (which could easily substitute for frozen yoghurt) to acai bowls, I still like the pastries sourced from La Bamboche best.

Having tried the gluten free coconut, dark chocolate, and oat cookie ($3.25) it was surprisingly good for something that didn’t have an ounce of flour. Rather than turning into cardboard, the cookie still had the chewiness and crispy edges you’d want in a biscuit. Saving it for an afternoon break, the dark chocolate was rich and satisfying, keeping me full well into the dinner hour. In the end, they want to ensure the food they serve is never frozen and free of preservatives.

While Food Society only opened in May, they continue to add on and expand. Oliver Knox, owner of Food Society, notes they’ll begin catering services later in the summer (complete with a cooler for chilling smoothie bowls) and will feature local bands on their patio starting September when they expect to receive their liquor license. Best of all, they’ll continue offering the barbeque plate in the evening, so when you go by to listen to the live music you can grab a bite to eat as well.

While the café and lounge areas are swathed in gorgeous lacquered wood and rose gold furniture. The backyard patio has a comfortable whimsical feel with tables in the sun or shade. It’s a space that can be rented for private events (complete with barbeque if you wish), holding 80 for comfort.




For me, I can’t wait until Food Society scores their liquor license. After work drinks on a patio? The requisite way to spend an evening while Mother Nature cooperates. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 650 Bay Street

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!Food Society Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HCafe Japanese Cafe and Daifuku Fruit Mochis (Toronto)


As the Uncle Tetsu chains expands across the GTA, their menu continues to multiply as well. The latest location, HCafé Japanese Café, is situated in the Emerald condominium at Yonge and Sheppard. The small retail store not only offers all the cakes (Japanese cheesecake, no-bake cheesecake, and zuccotto) and smaller pastries (rusks and madelines), but also a new line of mochi as well.


There’s the traditional mochis ($3.10), the wrappers made of sticky rice and filled with a flavoured paste and rolled in spice. You have to really like the herbal tastes of green tea to get the matcha one as the unsweetened dusting on the mochi is the first ingredient to hit the tongue. Instantly, the golden bitter green tea essence floods the mouth before you get to the sticky rice and finally the sugary red bean paste that mellows out the dessert.


For something sweeter, the black sesame incorporates ground seeds on top and a sizeable hunk of sweetened paste in the middle. It’s a safer bet for Japanese mochi newbies.


If you’re looking for a unique sweet, their daifuku fruit line ($3.54) of mochis are something to behold. The shell is made from sweetened glutinous flour, so the soft chewy cover is much lighter. Inside each lies a fruit:

Delicate cubed fresh peaches with whipped cream that’s the messiest to eat, but nice and light.


Frozen slices of bananas with the same cream, which if you leave half an hour starts to defrost and turns creamy. Whereas, the frozen kiwi takes a bit longer to melt, so if you’re like me and can’t wait long enough, it’s like biting into a fresh fruit popsicle - rather refreshing during the summer.


Finally, my favourite, a sweet strawberry encapsulated in a thin layer of red bean paste, which goes so well with the chewy mochi exterior.



Individually wrapped, they’re great for bringing to a pot luck or snacking on. The daifuku fruit ones are also surprisingly light, so good luck sticking with just one.


Disclaimer: The fruit mochis were provided on a complimentary basis. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4750 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


Is That It? I Want More!

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HCafe Japanese Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Chabrol (Toronto)

Chabrol Toronto


Ruth Reichl writes in Garlic and Sapphires, “Restaurants free us from mundane reality; that is part of their charm. When you walk through the door, you are entering neutral territory where you are free to be whoever you choose for the duration of the meal.” Dining at Chabrol provides this illusion, suddenly I’m transported to Southern France, stepping into a quaint café, sipping wine as I joke around with a handsome tattooed French man.

The smell of melting butter and cooking shellfish is intoxicating, I was marveled by Chef Penfold’s ability to produce such delicious creations from two induction burners that makes my four top range at home look palatial.


Although the cool riesling poached foie gras ($19) had a silky smooth consistency that simply glided across the tongue, its slightly gamey after taste threw me off. I tried to mute it by using the refreshing black currant sauce smeared on the plate.

Chabrol Toronto: foie gras

Baked in parchment paper, the papillote of whitefish ($29) steams in its own juices and leeks infuse their aromatic essence into it. Cooked to perfection, the light fish was flaky and moist. The fish was accompanied with sea asparagus (like thinner French beans) and swiss chard before being topped off with vermouth beurre blanc at the table.

Chabrol Toronto: white fish

The ballotine of chicken ($29) was the sole disappointing dish. To be fair, my dinner companions enjoyed it and perhaps it’s because I tasted the chicken last and received an end piece but found the meat dry and tasteless. Trying to revive the chicken by dipping it into the vibrant green watercress soubise was no help as my taste buds have a heightened sense for bitter flavours. At least the roasted fennel and apple were good, but these sides can hardly save an entire dish.

Chabrol Toronto: chicken

All can be forgotten as Chabrol’s ttoro ($29), a bouillabaisse from Southern France, is simply sublime. The rich seafood broth is infused with green peppers, garlic and such a well-rounded feel from saffron. As the soup is dispensed at the table, the fragrance is so tantalizing that it took immense self-control to not dig in while the pouring continued. Of course, the seafood was well executed: the fish flaky, the mussels juicy and shrimps sweet.

Chabrol Toronto: Ttoro

Best yet, with the dish, the sommelier gave us a lesson as to what Chabrol means: essentially adding a splash of wine to dilute the remaining broth, bringing the bowl to your lips and finishing everything off straight from the bowl. We didn’t gulp the remnants, instead using it to dunk more of the great in-house baked crusty bread into. Forget letting the alcohol burn off, the remaining concoction tastes of wine, a dish straddling between food and drink.

Chabrol Toronto: chabrol

Do yourself a favour and get an order of the potato gratin ($12); not only does it smell amazing, the taste rendered me speechless. The thinly sliced potatoes are covered with a rich cantal cheese mixture (a semi-hard cheese that’s similar to aged cheddar) and thyme. Getting an order of this with a side salad would make for a perfect meal in itself.

Chabrol Toronto: potato gratin

After hearing so much about Chabrol’s apple tarte ($13), I couldn’t leave without trying it. Chef Penfold painstakingly stands over a double boiler whisking together eggs, sugar and calvados (an apple brandy produced in Normandy) until it becomes a smooth luscious sabayon. Indeed, it takes a while, but it’s well worth the wait and if you’re in a rush just order the dessert before the mains are complete.

Chabrol Toronto: apple tartThe large disc of puff pastry is airy and crisp; despite the strong buttery essence it wasn’t greasy. Ample amounts of paper-thin apples rests on top and the liberal dusting of sugar sweetens it just enough. It’s a fantastic dessert, the best I’ve had over the last year.  

Normally, I’d prefer sitting at a table, but gathering around the bar makes for such a jovial atmosphere. Where else can you joke with the handsome sommelier and converse with other diners? Even Niall McCotter, co-owner of the restaurant, swung by a few times to chat with us. He informed us that in the summer Chabrol will be expanding outdoors with an additional 20 seats, an outdoor kitchen and a champagne cart (which may or may not be manned by McCotter himself).

Thank you Chabrol for the delightful dinner and for a couple of hours freeing me from the cold Toronto winter … instead transporting me into a warm and welcoming French café.  


Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 90 Yorkville 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:






Aroma Espresso Cafe (Toronto)


Aroma Espresso Bar


Aroma Espresso Bar is a franchise that’s been quickly taking over the quick service food market. Their sandwiches may seem a tad pricy ($5.95 for a half or $9.95 for a whole), but for $4 a relatively large salad can be added to any of them; with a full sandwich it becomes sufficient for sharing.

The Aroma A.C.E. (avocado, chicken and egg) is a heartier version of a B.L.T. with the cool creamy avocado and fresh arugula warmed with a thin chicken breast and cooked through egg. 


If you want something meatier, the steak sandwich is the better choice. A hot satisfying sandwich packed with sliced beef, sautéed peppers and onions and gooey mozzarella cheese, it’s delicious and full of flavour. When the steak’s juices soak into the bread’s crust, there’s even a beef dip quality to the sandwich.  


There are plenty of vegetarian options as well. My husband tried the fig and goat cheese croissant ($5.95), which he found was a tasty combination of sweet fig jam, creamy goat cheese, red onion and peppery arugula and balanced with balsamic vinegar.


Any meat or cheese filling can also be replaced with grilled tofu. I substituted this firm protein in the grilled chicken sandwich and it went rather nicely with the red pepper, arugula and creamy aroma sauce. I only wish they didn’t turn the sandwich vegan as some mozzarella on the tofu would have helped provide more flavour and interest.


Aroma’s quinoa salad (part of combo or $6.95 a la carte) is packed with diced tomato and cucumbers (it easily fills a third of the container). Additionally, it contains fluffy quinoa, thinly sliced roasted eggplant and crunchy raw onions. It’d be ideal if the herb dressing was saltier, given all the other ingredients are rather neutral.


The freekah ($7.95), an Arabic wheat recently added to Aroma’s menu, is a filling salad to have solo. The blend of grains, including black quinoa and sprouted brown rice, is nutty and has a satisfying chewiness to it. Paired with baby kale, tomato, cucumber, carrot, pickle, red onion and parsley there is tons of flavours and textures. There’s even a hefty dollop of thick labneh cheese, which is closer to yoghurt, adding a tangy creaminess to the salad.


In the winter, a bowl of their hot comforting soup may be in order. Their chicken chipotle (part of combo or $5.25 a la carte) had plenty of chicken, corn, pepper, celery and wild rice, ending with a kick of heat that’s rather tasty. The soup is thick and filling; for the lactose intolerant it should be described as chowder given its creamy base. 


Have visited during dinner service, I’ve stuck to their food options. But, Aroma does have an extensive drinks menu with options such as Turkish coffee, London Fog tea and hot apple cider rarely found at other cafes. The sole drink I’ve tried is the kale and mango smoothie ($4.95) and it’s absolutely delicious – the juicy mango most prominent and a great thick consistency.


Although it’s a self-serve restaurant, Aroma uses real cutlery if you’re eating in their dining room. Additionally, locations tend to have a decent amount of tables so most diners tend to stay and eat. The chain has become a great inexpensive way to catch-up with companions over quick healthy meals.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meals were complimentary, but rest assured as noted in Gastro World's mission statement, I will be honest.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 797 College Street
                 8 Park Home Avenue
 Website: http://aroma.ca/

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:


Aroma Espresso Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saving Gigi (Toronto)



Saving Gigi Toronto

Saving Gigi, a cozy coffee shop, is the antithesis of Starbucks. Although there’s plenty of people with laptops using free Wi-Fi or others pouring over books, Saving Gigi’s environment is calmer and its mishmash of eclectic furniture homey, in a hipster sort of way. Indeed, the two employees that don’t expect an order the moment you walk up and allow you to pursue the menu, indicates the restaurant’s not about efficiencies and getting people out the door.


The dinner menu is a one pager of soups, salads and sandwiches. A new menu item, the solar bowl ($10.95), sounded ideal for my hot summer visit. Not knowing what to quite expect, the colourful salad of mixed greens, peppers, green onions, beer slivers and carrots, got my attention. Topping the crisp combination of vegetables was a healthy portion of creamy avocado, hot spicy chicken (marinated tofu available as an alternative) and roasted pumpkin seeds.

solar bowl

I wasn’t expecting the chicken to be spicy but the flavour was great and gave the salad interest. Some organic brown rice greeted me at the bottom of the bowl, which helped make the salad heartier and soaked in the chicken and vegetables’ juices.

Saving Gigi is popular for their coffee, which is organic and fair-trade. Even while visiting in the evening, people were still stopping by to get one to go. At first, I was going to abstain from caffeine for, fear of not being able to sleep, but the intoxicating aroma got the best of me. The iced coffee ($3.25?) was strong and rich with a nice smooth finish.

iced coffee


If you’re in need of something stronger, they’re also licensed for a selection of wines, cocktails and beers; the pints seemed to be popular amongst the patio. As a warning, there is one other thing that differs between Saving Gigi and Starbucks – air conditioning or the lack thereof. So, while visiting on a hot humid day, the patio with a tall cold drink is definitely where you’ll want to be.  

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in Gastro World's mission statement, reviews are still my honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 859 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: