Showing posts with label Canadian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canadian. Show all posts

Scaramouche Restaurant (Toronto)


Yes, you’re in the right place. It seems wrong, as you pull up to an apartment building, but Scaramouche is located in the corner of Benvenuto Place. From the outside, it seems like an odd location for a restaurant, let alone one that has operated in Toronto for almost four decades. Yet, when you make your way into the dining room and are greeted with the view of the city’s midtown parklands and skyline, the residential neighbourhood is forgotten.


Tip back the shot of chilled celery and parsley soup and it certainly feels like you’re in a restaurant… slightly creamy before ending with a spicy horseradish kick. Equally refreshing are the half a dozen oysters ($30), freshly shucked with a bit of the red wine mignonette.


It’s hard to describe Scaramouche’s menu, possibly Canadian with European influences. These elements came together with the gnocchi ($25), a special for the day, combining in-season white asparagus and wild leeks. It was a fantastic starter! The creamy gnocchi well toasted in a golden crust and huge chunks of duck confit strewn throughout, enough that a larger portion can easily make this a main. Lastly, pieces of spongy morels, adding a different texture and soaking in the delicious duck jus.   


Unbeknownst to me, my order of roasted St. Canut suckling pig ($43) was replaced with a seared Nagano pork loin ($38). I wish they would have informed me of the change as when you expect something capped with crispy crackling skin, the medallion was an instant disappointment. Note to the restaurant: always inform your customers of replacements, I would have gone with the duck instead.


While the dish didn’t wow me like the starter, it’s a solidly constructed plate.  The meaty piece of perfectly cooked pork paired well with the traditional trimmings: luscious parsnip purée and lightly pickled apple. The fingerling potatoes are sautéed with bacon to give it an extra zip.

On the other hand, a taste of my husband’s lamb ($49) left me wanting more. The tender chops were crusted with an herby salsa verde to keep it light. Every element of the plate – peeled cherry tomatoes, crunchy beans, and a lemony eggplant purée was enticingly refreshing and bright, screaming of warmer weather even though Mother Nature wasn’t completely agreeing with us. Forget the typical heavy lamb with gravy and potatoes, Scaramouche’s interpretation is exactly what I want.


For dessert, their coconut cream pie ($14) is well known. Three distinct layers of sweet coconut custard, light chantilly cream, and tons of white chocolate shavings – so much that it had to be swept to the side. In comparison to the rest of the pie, the crust it thin and delicate, but still incorporated enough butter that even a bit of the crispy pastry with the cream was delicious. This is a pie for coconut lovers as the custard contained A LOT of it.


I welcomed bits of savouriness from my husband’s cheese plate ($16) to balance out the sweet dessert. The Wookey Hole cheddar is described as being aged in lime stone caves in Somerset, England, where it’s said to take on an earthy taste. Truth be told, I couldn’t distinguish any mineral elements, but it was flavourful, without being overpowering, and had a light nuttiness.


The cheddar was balanced by a lighter 12-month Manchego from Spain where you taste the dairy while enjoying the harder slightly crumbly texture of the cheese. Of course, the cheese board arrives with typical condiments – interestingly a tomato chutney (instead of something fruit based), perhaps there was already enough fruit in the pear and cranberry bread crackers.

It’s taken me a while to make it out to Scaramouche. This year’s birthday seemed like an opportune time to finally make it out to the iconic fine dining establishment. Possibly, it was even a bit reassuring, since the restaurant is older than me. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Benvenuto Place

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:

Scaramouche Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hexagon (Oakville)


It’s remarkable how many Toronto food lovers will travel out-of-country for a great meal, but when they hear a restaurant’s outside of the GTA boundaries a crestfallen “But, it’s so far!” is the typical response. Why is it that we’ll more likely hop on a plane for a Michelin starred meal than just traverse our highway system (even with the traffic) to support Canadians? Indeed, not every restaurant is worth travelling to. However, after a dinner at Hexagon, I assure you - this one is worth the drive.

Finding parking is easy in the “downtown” Oakville area, much easier than locating Hexagon. Situated in a court yard amongst other restaurants, their entrance has no signage. Therefore, look for a blue awning… you’ll then receive confirmation you’re in the right place, after opening the door and seeing their name etched into the tile floor.


Hexagon does have an a la carte menu, but it’s very small. Therefore, if you’re dining with someone that needs choice, the four-course menu ($75) is your best bet; there’s 3-4 options for each course. And don’t worry if you don’t understand the menu – even while visiting with a group of frequent diners, we haven’t heard of 20% of the ingredients listed … cascabel chili anyone? Luckily, the sommelier patiently described everything to us in a conversational manner, comparing them to items more commonly found on Canadian menus.

Starting with a warm pain au lait, this is the bread that even people who have sworn off carbs may succumb to. Soft, flakey, and buttery; it’s delicious and could go toe-to-toe with the one served at Alo.


The tendril of charred octopus is oh so tender and arrives with a palm sized black corn tortilla that makes a great two-bite taco. Dots of sauces cover the plate so you can try a bit of the seafood with something tangy, spicy, or creamy… although it’s already good enough by itself.


Torn between the onion consommé and truffle shallot agnolotti for the second dish, my friend graciously offered me a taste of her soup. As expected, the broth is flavourful and fragrant, putting French onion soup to shame. Soft plump gruyere gnocchi and caramelized onions line the bottom of the bowl, the consommé still the star.


The pasta was just thick enough to give the agnolotti chewiness while letting the creamy smooth ricotta filling come through. Even with a cream sauce, the dish wasn’t too heavy, balanced with the diced granny smith apples I was a bit apprehensive about, but added a fresh element.


Although the duck could have been cooked less, since it was dry aged, the meat remained tender and the skin was wonderfully rendered until crispy. The saltiness from the cube of duck confit on the side also contrasted nicely, tantalizing the taste buds. Overall, there was so much going on with the plate: black garlic paste, sea buckthorn jelly and even a hunk of savoy cabbage left crispy (not unlike a gigantic Brussels sprout), but it all worked together.


Hexagon’s piñata dessert is whimsical and great for people who like playing with their food. Suspended above the crème brulée was a white chocolate capsule filled with powdered sugar. I’m advised to whack the chocolate with a spoon, emitting a puff of white exploding over the dessert. Playfulness aside, the crème brulée was rich without being heavy due to the citrusy kalamansi and floral jasmine used in the dessert. A nice end to the meal.


Since we were celebrating a birthday, a special dessert arrived afterwards - a peach almond tart. The pastry was thick but crisp and buttery, the richness balanced out by a slight tropical taste from the fruit.


The meal was a delicious one - the four courses just enough food to satisfy without being stuffed. For those who are hungry and adventurous, Hexagon also offers a 9-course tasting menu option where there is no choice. After all, if you’re going to travel “all the way” to Oakville, why not make it worth it?

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Oakville, Canada
 Address: 210 Lakeshore Road East

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:



Hexagon Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Reverie at the Park (Toronto)


Amongst the city façade of College Street, Reverie’s signage stands out as a lush green garden. It fittingly presents Reverie at the Park, a place where they want patrons to feel like they’re in a “daydream”. Plus, feel like you're in a park: from the tree root sculptures hanging from the ceiling to the wrought iron gate you walk through to get to the tables. It’s like a walking through a trippy park, at night.


Behind the helm is Executive Chef Jef Edwards, who truly embodies the millennial mindset by learning how to cook, incorporating molecular gastronomy no less, through YouTube! If that weren’t a feat, the kitchen also operates without a walk-in fridge or freezer, to ensure ingredients are fresh. In the winter months, they also draw upon ingredients they’ve preserved through smoking and pickling.


Even their bread ($6) is made in in-house; a non-greasy focaccia paired with bone marrow butter and dandelion pesto. You’d think both condiments would be strongly flavoured, but they were rather muted, a light beefy taste in the butter and hint of bitterness in the pesto. Both are in serious need of seasoning.


Reverie’s menu aims to celebrate Canada’s diversity, incorporating local ingredients. It’s the new-age Canadian cuisine movement with the fusion of other cultures thrown in. The venison croquettes use deer, a Canadian game meat, and incorporates earthy spices. Get through the crispy crust and you’re greeted with a dense flavourful interior, it’s like eating a delicious deep-fried meat ball.


With the smoked beef tartare and enoki ($17), the actual apple wood smoke is faint, especially when you add the powerfully tasty fermented mushroom mustard on it. It allows the diner to really taste the beef tartare and the herbs mixed throughout. In fact, they also grow some of the herbs and produce used at the restaurant – on the roof during the warmer months and by the kitchen with special lights over the winter. 


The dish is pretty, the tartare shaped like a log in a hollowed bone with sprouts of enoki mushrooms peeking through. The “moss” is leftover dehydrated greens… I’m a huge fan of kitchens that try to reduce food waste, it’s an example that other restaurants should emulate.

I don't know what I liked better, the surf or the turf portion of the next dish. The mushrooms looks a lot like the scallop it’s paired with, except firmer and almost has a meaty taste. The sea scallops ($17) are cooked perfectly, most of the flavours coming from the thinly sliced piece of prosciutto on top. 


Both the mackerel and artichoke in the next dish is left raw. The mackerel lightly cured with salt, but otherwise you’re left with a clean meaty tasting fish; so refreshing I would have thought it’s sea bream.


The gnocchi & ricotta ($17) is a house favourite and I can see why. The gnocchi are soft but still has bite and is well toasted to give it a caramelized exterior. Mixed with spinach cream, edamame, charred heart of palm, and ricotta, it’s a hearty but not overly heavy dish. Reverie’s menu focuses on sharable dishes, to make the meal more social, but this is one I could easily have all to myself.


While the veal was slightly overcooked in our last savoury dish, it was still juicy and tender. Surprisingly, I couldn’t taste the porcini in the aligot, an ingredient that’s normally rather flavourful. Our table agreed the predominant flavour was the roasted shishito pepper, which isn’t necessarily bad, rather the dish would be more aptly named as veal with shishito.


If you like inventive desserts, try Reverie’s mushroom and honey chocolate tart with black truffle. It takes some getting used to, the taste of spongy earthy raw mushrooms with the sweet silky chocolate ganache. While I don’t like sweet desserts, even I couldn’t finish the tart. Maybe if the mushrooms were thinner, so the taste isn’t so powerful, it’d be better suited as a dessert.


Who would have thought that pop-up dinners would turn into a restaurant celebrating a one-year anniversary? Ask Chef Edwards, I’m sure he’ll think there’s a dream like quality to it.

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: 569 College 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Reverie at Weldon Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Canis Restaurant (Toronto)

From the moment the bread arrived, I knew we were in for a treat. If you’ve sworn off carbs, good luck turning down a piece of Canis’ heavenly warm sourdough. It’s the perfect combination of slightly tangy dough, airy innards, and a smoky salty crunchy crust.


I’d already be satisfied with the sourdough plain, but then swipe on the silky ricotta with an oily pool of chimichurri and the bread rises to another level. How did Chef Jeff Kang know the key to my stomach? I slather more onto the bread, trying not to be greedy, but wanting to wipe every last morsel from the bowl. What’s the other dish? Oh, a subdued garlic butter … it’s no ricotta.


Feeling particularly ravenous, we added two “snacks” while waiting for the four-course menu ($60) to start. The oysters ($12) for the evening were four creamy Malpeque with a light daikon mignonette, which added enough acidity to cut through the seafood but wasn’t overpowering.


Rather than the typical balls, the cauliflower falafel ($4) were in cylinder form so there was more crispy surface area. The chickpea mixture was nutty and fairly moist, but what brought it up a notch was the squiggle of eggplant puree and dots of pickled cauliflower on top (those cauliflower florets stole the show).


The only miss that evening was the scallop: the onion mignonette and shaved horseradish too strong, completely drowning out the delicate seafood. The dish might as well have used a cheap raw fish, I wouldn’t have taste the difference. Meanwhile, if the sauce was more subdued (perhaps a diluted yuzu and olive oil), the alternating layers of supple scallops and crunchy radish would have been delicious.  


Conversely, the beef tartare, a dish that’s normally lends itself to strong flavours, was prepared simply. The steak was cut into larger chunks and sparingly seasoned - garlic aioli added creaminess and flakes of something dark added a wonderful saltiness. In lieu of bread, crunchy julienned turnip sat on top providing the same crunchiness, but also a adding a refreshing lightness to the starter.


Included in the squid was a sizeable portion of the actual protein, cut into thick slices so there’s a meatiness to the dish. Thanks to the lonza, it became a rich appetizer, the cured pork adding a mellow smokiness. Tucking into the bottom, you’ll notice a thick but subdued squid ink sauce – infusing an umami sense to the dish, but does paint a black film onto your teeth (just remember to swish with water afterwards).


Canis likes to hide their meat, giving me the feeling that I’m digging into a salad – when really what waits underneath are flavourful strips of pork jowl, which is oh so tender but also incorporates a bit of chewiness from the collagen and fat. Yet, to the rest of the world, I’m just eating forkfuls of shredded Brussels sprouts tossed with jalapeno, pickle, and garlic flakes.   


One meat dish Canis doesn’t hide is their duck for two. In fact, Chef Kang brings the glistening duck breast tableside for patrons to admire before it’s whisked away for slicing and plating. There’s much to admire: the skin is crispy and intricately scored glossed in a caramelized honey crust; the fat is rendered but there’s still a enough left underneath so there’s a lingering richness on the tongue; and the meat is aged so the chewiness of the duck’s meat mellows out and can be cooked to a medium rare without turning tough.


The sides are equally delicious: the sunchoke purée a play between sweet and savoury; the roasted sunchoke slice perfectly done so it’s creamy inside and crispy around the edges; and for another taste of duck, a shredded duck confit cooked with wheat berries resulting in an intensely meaty risotto (I enjoyed it’s savoury taste that counteracts the sweet duck jus).



Truthfully, I’d love to try Canis’ other mains (sablefish and beef shortrib during our winter visit), but with the duck so good, it’d be a difficult decision as I’d hate to miss experiencing the meat again.

Choosing from the restaurant’s desserts is a challenge as other than three ingredients, there’s no description on what form the sweet comes in (i.e. cake, pie, ice cream, etc.) The “quince, buttermilk, hazelnut” turns out to be buttermilk snow with stewed quince and chopped hazelnuts on the bottom. It’s refreshing and could be a great palette cleanser, but hardly satisfying as a dessert.


Meanwhile, the “pear, koji, almond” was closer to my idea of a dessert.  Stewed pear, cut into small pieces and left with a slight crunchiness, is sandwiched in between crispy sheets of tissue thin pastry. Our waitress explains koji is mold commonly used in South East Asian countries for fermentation – you can’t really see it in the dish and it’s unclear what it does (I did find there was a preserved plum (chan pui mui) taste to the dessert). Whatever it does, it’s delicious and I’d like to think gets the digestive juices flowing.


At least they presented me with an espresso canelé with the bill – it has the requisite sweet sugary crust and soft airy centre . It satisfied my sweet tooth.


Canis isn’t in-your-face Canadian - the wooden minimalist décor doesn’t have a stich of plaid or a single stuffed animal in sight. Yet, dining there reminds me of our country, from the staff’s diversity to the friendly non-pushy attitude. Even their dishes are portrayed in an understated way – the pork jowl and beef in the tartare aren’t the first things you see, rather it’s the humble but delicious turnip and Brussels sprouts; once you dig deeper, you get a whole new experience.  


And you must experience Canis and their duck (assuming you’re not vegetarian or allergic) at least once. If you need an excuse, just consider it your patriotic duty. 

Overall mark - 9.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 746 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:


Canis Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato