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

Antler (Toronto)



When I hear a restaurant’s doing “Canadian” food right, they peak my interest; not only to support my national cuisine, but also to develop a deeper understanding of what it’s about. Certain items that are synonymous with Canada: tourtière, poutine and lobster are distinctly Quebecois or from the Maritimes. Antler’s menu incorporates numerous Ontario offerings from the large province’s forests and lakes.

The wild mushroom tarte tatin ($10) looked beautiful, the dark foraged mushrooms lightened with a vibrant sorrel walnut pesto and frisee salad. If only the mushrooms were softer, rather than having an almost deep fried quality, to set it apart from the already flaky and crisp puff pastry.


When meat is fresh and of high quality, preparing it simply is the way to go. Skewers of charcoal grilled chicken thigh and duck heart ($9 for two skewers) were tasty – the chicken oh so succulent and the duck heart much lighter than expected.


Reviews have praised Chef Hunter’s handling of venison and it’s certainly well deserved. The spice ash crusted rack of deer ($39) was fantastic, the thick chop well seared but left rare so the lean meat remained tender and moist. Sitting underneath was a hefty portion of flavourful braised pulled shoulder meat and a smooth parsnip purée: delicious even by itself. For those who are worried about the venison being gamey, it’s no stronger black angus.


The skin on the pan seared rainbow trout ($28) was done to perfection – crackling and lightly seasoned. Despite being a thinner cut, the trout was succulent: Antler cooks fish right. To balance the other heavier dishes, the charred kale, wilted swiss chard, celery root purée and bright salsa verde were a blessing.


I had my doubts about the chestnut gnocchi ($21), not being a fan of sweet mains (the dish contains brown butter and almond brittle). Yet it was scrumptious, the earthy fluffy gnocchi each having a well seared crust. Diced roasted squash, brussel sprout leaves and shaved parmesan kept the dish savoury.


The daily special, a duck duo ($35), incorporated a decently prepared duck breast – a large portion but the skin could have been further rendered. Yet, it was missing an important part to the dish: the duo. We even double checked to see how we’d expect the aforementioned leg to be served (incorporated into the lentil mixture on the side). Despite every one of us combing through it meticulously – squash … brussel sprout … lentil … kale … not an ounce of leg was found.


Ely, our server, was so funny and charming that I’ll begrudgingly look past the absent duck leg and incorrectly charged bottle of wine ($60 on the menu vs. $75 on the bill that wasn’t discovered until the writing of this post). Antler’s atmosphere is laid back and friendly, not unlike the Canadiana persona.  

I was hoping to try Canadian geese – through following Chef Hunter on Twitter realize these large waddling traffic inducing fowls are approved for hunting. Unfortunately for me (but luckily for the geese) it was out of season and not available on the winter menu. Oh, and ladies, Chef Hunter is certainly not hard on the eyes; if you’re in luck (like we were) he may just make an appearance to the front of the house.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1454 Dundas 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!


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


Canoe (Toronto)



Canoe Toronto

Since September 1995, Canoe has been showcasing Canadian cuisine and this year the Toronto fine dining restaurant turns 20! Their menu goes beyond poutine and apple fritters, taking our country’s fare to a prominent level. In celebration of their birthday, a special 7-course tasting menu was developed ($100 or $150 including wine pairings).

Dishes are also offered a la carte; in the post, I’ve included their individual prices should you just want certain ones. Certainly, the tasting offered dishes from coast to coast: grains of the prairies, rabbit & fruits of Ontario, venison of Quebec, and seafood from the coastal provinces. Only the territories seemed to have been neglected, maybe for their 25th celebration Canoe can make it up to them.

Here I thought mason jars would only be showcased in hipster restaurants, only to find Canoe’s amuse named after it. Inside laid a thin layer of luscious chicken liver and foie gras mousse, which incorporated a sweet and savoury element. The spread tasted equally delicious on the accompanying crunchy pita or slathered on the house pancetta bread.


Not quite sashimi nor poached either, the lobster carpaccio ($28) was quickly sous vide before being finished off on a hot plate. The result: a sweet delicate lobster that was sublime and makes you yearn for more. The pickled daikon, crunchy hurricane roll wrapped lobster claw and the snap from the black sesame shrimp chip were satisfying as well, but all could be replaced by just another bite of the delicious crustacean.


After the lighter dishes, the woodsy forest lasagna ($22) was a nice transition. The slice was packed with morsels of wild James Bay rabbit, which paired well with sautéed matsutakes (a meaty mushroom) but could have left out the heartnuts (the child of a walnut and macadamia). The dense forests of Canada were also showcased using caribou moss, crunchy pieces of spruce and a deep fried maple leaf.


A fruity bubbly concoction of Muskoka cranberry cream soda made its way quickly, to avoid deflation, for us to cleanse our palettes.  


The only decision you’ll need to make is fish or meat for the main. Not drawn to the dried grapes (isn’t that a raisin?) and ice wine jus described in the Cerf de Boileau venison ($48), I opted for the fish. Though, if you’re in the mood for something richer - get the venison – it was flavourful, succulent and for such a lean cut very tender.


Being a lighter fish, Canoe did a good job with pairing the Fogo Island cod ($40) with a strong savoury broth. Moreover, the crisped caramelized skin was a treat to get to before it was softened by the soup. The Tanner crab (also known as snow crab) boudin, although tasty, could have been stronger… I was expecting the texture to be more sausage and less mousse. Slivers of pickled seaweed and soft creamy diced potatoes finished the dish and left me comfortably full and satisfied.


For dessert, rather than relying on popular soft fruits or apples, Canoe decided to highlight the 100km company’s squash ($12). It’s a daring love it or hate it choice and the dish ended up being a bit of both for me. I really enjoyed the sweet side of the dish: pureed squash wrapped in crepe and mixed with cold white chocolate ice cream and crunchy Prairie seeds and grains. However, the cubes of salty squash on the side was just such an extreme contrast, even covering it with Birch honey didn’t help.


Not to disappoint, they did showcase the beloved Niagara apple to end: a sphere of poached apple on a crunchier disc that’s balanced on a sweet apple gelee. It was a pleasing last bite.

As a warning, the tasting menu progresses slowly – the first two dishes alone took an hour. After politely asking if they could speed up the progression (whenever possible), they kindly accommodated and in time came quicker. Overall, the meal was almost a three hour affair. If you don’t mind taking your time, the Canoe Twenty menu is available until November 20, 2015 – happy birthday Canoe and celebrate with them while you still can!

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 66 Wellington 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:



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

Rasa (Toronto)



Rasa’s eclectic menu showcases Toronto’s diversity at its best – distinct dishes each with their own origin, yet working wonderfully as a meal. With the onslaught of tourists expected to hit our city for the Pan Am Games, this restaurant is worth checking out.  

Their industry menu ($35) offers some regular items at a great price. But, in case you’re unable to visit on Mondays, the regular menu prices are listed below.

To whet our appetite, hot bite-sized corn muffins arrive sitting in a pool of melted lime and honey butter. What’s not to like about the mixture of corn, cheddar cheese and smoky poblano peppers? But, that hit of tanginess from the citrusy butter is delightful bringing it to another level.


A large bowl of chopped salad ($14) is brought out for sharing. With all the hearty ingredients, this can easily work as a main. The quinoa and kale base is further amplified with crunchy cucumbers, sweet tomatoes and grapes, creamy feta, then topped with crispy harissa laced chickpeas and refreshing mint. The oil and vinaigrette dressing isn’t overly heavy, tying everything together nicely. 


We ended up getting all the appetizers to share (the best way to eat in my books):
  • The fried jerk chicken wings were well balanced with spicy heat, tanginess and the tropical sweetness from the diced pineapples topping it.
  • If you’re looking for something healthier, the veg slate ($15) of asparagus, cauliflower, fiddle heads, smoked sunchokes, ramps and lentils is plain but allows the diner to enjoy the summer vegetable’s natural tastes.
  • Unquestionably, it was the po boy that left me wanting more. A fat crispy shrimp sits on pickled slaw and is then topped with creamy remoulade, fresh tomatillo and bird’s eye chilies. The filling-to-bread ratio is more than adequate with the slaw helping to cool down the piping hot shrimp while I devoured the sandwich.
Rasa

Rasa really knows how to make a good salad. Normally, I refrain from ordering them as a main (perhaps it’s Homer Simpson’s taunting, “You don’t make friends with salad,” the haunts me), but was glad I had the Bangkok bowl ($24).


There was not one but two proteins to make the salad substantial: slices of lightly seared black sesame and pepper crusted yellow fin tuna and lightly dusted fried calamari. The tropical salad had tons of flavours and textures with green mango, crispy jicama, carrots, mint and cilantro. This was all finished with crushed smoked peanuts and chilies.

Pieces of peanut butter and chocolate fudge accompanied the meal as the “sweet surprise”. It simply melted, coating the tongue with a great peanut flavour without being overly sweet. 


However, once we heard about the rocky road waffle ($5), a special dessert for the night, the immediate answer was “yes”. The warm waffle had a wonderful eggy smell and taste. The condensed milk ice cream was rich with an added caramel-essence yet light enough to balance the melted chocolate, chocolate chips and crushed peanuts. Pieces of toasted marshmallow studded the tips of the waffle. Overall, a wonderful combination with each element working well together.


This first taste from the Food Dude’s empire was a successful one. My taste buds made their way through the Middle East, Jamaica, New Orleans, Canada, and Thailand. Chef Adrian Niman, dude, you make good food.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 196 Robert Street
 Website: http://rasabar.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:
Or check our #Parv's post on the meal.


Click to add a blog post for Rasa Bar on Zomato

CLOSED: Boralia (Toronto)


Boralia, wine

Boralia features Canadian cuisine without being kitschy - there's no wooden log or beaver in sight.  Instead, the Canadian theme is focused on the menu which is composed of dishes from the 18th and 19th centuries. From delicious wild game that the Aboriginal enjoyed to the pigeon pie of early settlers, the dishes are different but still approachable. Boralia also celebrates Canada’s diversity by featuring Chinese chopsuey croquettes, Polish pierogies and the Austrian linzer torte; reminding us of all the cultures that contributes to the Canadian landscape.

Their l’eclade ($15) is probably the most photographed given the impressive presentation of being brought tableside in a cloche of smoke. As the lid is lifted, the pine needle smoke slowly escapes permeating the table with a forest smelling smoke.

Boralia e'clade or mussels

When the smoke dissipates what remains is a delicious bowl of mussels. Its meat is tender and silky, while the broth has a hint of creaminess from the butter but is relatively light and tangy. Despite being encapsulated in smoke, there’s no char taste in the mussels so its natural sweetness comes through.

Boralia e'clade or mussels

On the side, they suggest ordering some of the red fife levain bread with cultured butter ($3). The slightly warm spongy dense bread is perfect for soaking up the cooking liquid.

Boralia bread

One of my favourite dishes of the night was the pan roasted elk ($15). The lean meat was prepared rare to allow it to retain its tenderness. There was no gaminess to it, yet doesn’t remind you of beef … after all, its elk and should taste different.

Boralia elk

In the centre sits a wild rice crusted egg, which when cut through oozes onto the plate and mixes in with the cranberry gastrique and burnt onion puree. The crust goes quite nicely with the liquid yolk and has a sweet nuttiness to it. Crunchy paper thin radish slices and a pieces of tender braised turnip round out the dish.

Boralia elk

Their pan roasted trout ($17) was moist with a thin crispy skin. Being a milder and less fatty fish it went well with the sweet Iroquois popcorn grits. The salad of thinly sliced heirloom carrots and parsnips dressed in birch syrup vinaigrette was also light and refreshing. This is a wonderful dish for the warmer weather.

Boralia trout

Thankfully, the lighter trout came before the rich pigeon pie ($23). The golden brown crust was so flaky yet rolled thinly enough that it didn’t become too heavy. Chunky pieces of tender pigeon, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables were packed into the pie within a light gravy.

Boralia pigeon pie

But what stole my tastebuds were the succulent pieces of lean roasted squad breast on the side. Boralia seriously does meat well with a quick sear and light seasoning so that the meat's flavour profile shines through. In all, dishes are artfully presented and constructed to offer different tastes and textures while relying on natural ingredients.

Boralia pigeon pie

The caramelized onion and potato pierogies ($13) were large and a great combination of thin outer crispy crust and a generous filling. The crispy onions topping it went so well with it that I wish there was more of it to balance out the smooth stuffing. After the heavier pigeon pie and pierogie the crispy sauerkraut on the bottom contained just the right amount of sourness to provide a refreshing quality to everything.

Boralia pierogies

At Boralia, there’s no maple syrup with snow desserts. But, their Louisbourg hot chocolate beignets ($9) sure did hit the spot. Unlike other beignets that tend to serve the sauce on the side, at Boralia the ganache is piped into the centre and oozes out like a molten lava cake. The darker chocolate, paired with the beer batter dough and lemon sugar ensures the dessert isn’t overly sweet.

Boralia beignets

But, it could have been flipped in the fryer more liberally as I found for a couple of pieces, although mostly golden and crispy, contained spots which were pale and doughy.  

Boralia beignets

So, what will I say next time someone asks what Canadian cuisine is all about? It’s about the abundance of delicious proteins we have from the elk and squab found on land or the fish and mussels of the sea. Or the wonderful dishes that gets invented when different cultures collide. And although our climate doesn’t provide any tropical fruits, there are many delicious root vegetables and corn which is just a juicy and sweet.

Boralia is a place you should bring out-of-country visitors who appreciate good food. Although they won’t be eating in the former tallest free standing building, they will learn that Canadian cuisine is filled with delicious fresh ingredients and goes beyond beaver tails and poutine. After all, isn’t the diverse offerings and approachable nature of our cuisine which really represents the Canadian culture so well?
As an aside, you may notice in the title photo that their name is spelt “Borealia” and on various sites such as Urbanspoon and Instagram that’s also how it’s found. There’s no confusion amongst the community. Originally, the restaurant was opened as “Borealia”, which happened to be the name of another restaurant. So, to avoid trademark issues they have had to drop the “e” and the name morphed to “Boralia”. So, if you’re searching “Boralia” and there are no results, try the first spelling and you may find what you’re looking for. 
Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 59 Ossington 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
  • - 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!
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Borealia on Urbanspoon