Showing posts with label French onion soup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French onion soup. Show all posts

CLOSED: The Burger Cellar (Toronto)


Tucking into a burger is much easier during the summer – there’s always the option to make them myself on the barbeque. With the mercury dropping, the smell of charred meat brings me back to the warmer months. So, when I need a burger pick-me-up, I head to Burger Cellar, a purveyor of high quality customizable burgers with a variety of toppings to choose from. Aside from the fixings, the restaurant also allows diners to select the:
  • Protein: Black Angus (prices below), turkey (additional $2), prime grade beef (additional $4), or organic bison (additional $6); and
  • Bun: the classic soft brioche, whole wheat, pretzel bun, or gluten free.
Their ultimate burger ($11.95) is a bit messy to eat, but the fresh garlicky kick from the bruschetta really makes the sandwich. Along with generous dollops of creamy goat cheese, a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction, roasted garlic aioli, plenty of salty crispy onions, and the traditional fixings (tomato, lettuce, pickle, and onion), it makes for a great burger. Even when the beef patty is cooked through, it still tastes juicy thanks, in part, to everything else.


Surprisingly, the duck dynasty ($11.95) isn’t as heavy as it sounds. While there’s a decent helping of barbeque duck confit on the beef patty, the coleslaw, crispy onions, and traditional garnishes helps keep it light. Don’t get me wrong, with melted cheddar, chipotle mayo, and duck confit, it is a richer burger but won’t leave you feeling sick.


While the toppings on the angry burger ($12.95) sound very spicy: jalapeño havarti, sherry peppercorn bacon, crispy jalapeños, and buffalo sauce laced mayonnaise, the heat isn’t overwhelming. If anything, the peppercorn crusted bacon is the most sting inducing. I love how the flavours work together and makes for a flavourful sandwich.


Sides are purchased separately and there are plenty of options. The tried and true fries ($4.95) appeared as long slices of skin-on skinny potatoes, but on both visits were lukewarm and bordering stale. Their sweet potato fries ($7.45) were much fresher, arriving crispy and hot with a side of chipotle mayo.


The Burger Cellar does make excellent beer-battered onion rings ($4.95), each a manageable size with enough coating for crunch but not overly heavy. Cut into thicker slices, it gave the onion rings a nice sweet flavour so the vegetable doesn’t get lost in the batter. 


During the winter, I like their French onion soup ($6.95). While it could be a touch hotter, the beef stock is flavourful thanks to the red wine and herbs and incorporates huge chunks of caramelized balsamic onions. Moreover, with the hefty portion of melted cheese on top, the soup hits the spot.  


For something lighter, their Caesar salad ($5.95) is always a good option. The dressing is a bit light on the garlic, but with some fresh cracked pepper it’s nonetheless a decent salad.


While the menu promotes the house-made flaky buttery crust used in the chocolate pecan pie ($6.95), what arrives has very little crust and is so flat that it can hardly be classified as flaky. Burger Cellar doesn’t skimp on the pecans; the nuts dominate the dessert so it’s more like eating sticky pecans doused in a caramel chocolate sauce than really a pie. I would have liked a better balance of pastry, but if you love nuts, this is the one for you.


Winter doesn’t need to be a barbeque-free season. Thanks to Burger Cellar, I can still get my juicy burger fix.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3391 Yonge 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:

The Burger Cellar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Cancan (Toronto)


¯Can you, can you do the cancan?¯ That’s the song running through my mind after hearing Café Cancan replaces the former Harbord Room. I’m half expecting to see a raised bar looking like a stage flanked with velvet curtains and the staff wearing hot pants with fishnets. The reality couldn’t be further - clean cut white furniture and a pastel motif that feels familiar, similar to a host of Italian restaurants opening over the last two years.  

Their menu is fittingly French and filled with the classics including a small foie gras selection and baked escargot. With the cold weather, I start with a hearty French onion soup ($16). Café Cancan’s version tastes surprisingly light even though it incorporates pieces of pulled beef shank and plenty of gruyere, thanks to healthy dose of sherry and vinegar. While it was satisfying, I would have liked the broth to incorporate more onion as I found it predominantly tasted like slightly sour beef soup.


The duck confit ($24) was great, the skin crispy and glistening while the meat fork tender and flavourful. It was smart of the chef to keep the accompanying farro porridge less salty (since confit always has quite a bit of seasoning); the risotto-like side was flavoured with duck jus with a hint of creaminess from the gruyere.


While the size of the tenderloin used in the steak au poivre ($34) is pretty small, the thicker cut allows the beef to stay medium rare. The velvety peppercorn sauce was what you’d expect with the dish and the hot frites nice and crispy.


Café Cancan’s beef cheek bourguigon ($26) is delicious and hearty thanks to thick cuts of pork belly included in the dish. With two fair-sized chunks of beef cheek, you’ll be full afterwards. The sauce did seem a little light on the red wine, but could be due to all the other rich ingredients overpowering it, including the buttery pommes puree.


Only the skate wing a la meuniére ($25) remained unfinished at the end of the meal. Perhaps there was too much going on with the sauce: a tremendous amount of lemon, but then also grapes, apples, and hazelnuts. Moreover, being a thinner fish with distinctive gelatinous muscle layers, the texture can be weird - decreasing the sauce would help with the consistency, allowing the fish to remain crispy. 


Unlike restaurants that are trimming down dessert menus to less than a handful, Café Cancan has plenty of choose from.  If you’re in a rush, put in an order for the Northern spy apple tart for two ($18) earlier as it takes fifteen minutes to prepare. The extra time is well worth it as you’ll be treated to a hot cinnamon apple dessert with relatively crispy pastry. While it’s not nearly as good as Chabrol’s version (there's not enough pastry and the crème anglais is a bit thick), it’s nonetheless satisfying.


The opera cake ($12) also arrives doused in a silky coffee sauce, which I wish was more bitter to help balance out the sweetness of the chocolate and cream layered cake. Regardless, it was still a good dessert, just not a great option for those who don’t like rich sweet items.  


It’s great to see Toronto’s French bistro scene continue to expand. While Café Cancan’s aesthetically looks modern, their menu is refreshingly traditional and for the most part, well executed. It’s not the greatest option for vegetarians or those who want a healthy meal, but is that really what French cuisine is known for? Give me the molten cheese topped soup! I'm eating for winter.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 89 Harbord 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:

Cafe Cancan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Patisserie Sebastien (Toronto)


From the outside, Patisserie Sebastien, a neighbourhood French bakery, doesn’t seem too Parisian. However, once you open the oversized door (perfect for strollers and assisted walkers), the smell of tantalizing buttery pastries and comforting espresso mixed with milk instantly greets you.

Sebaastien’s is busy but not in an overwhelming manner: there’s always someone occupying the handful of tables situated around the windows but I’ve never had to wait. If you’re there for just a sweet and drink, a row of stools by the coffee bar entices you to stay and enjoy the concoctions in their full glory. In fact, I highly recommend you stop and eat the pastry there as certain ones are not nearly as magnificent once suffocated in a paper bag and left sitting around at home.

At the restaurant, the canale ($2.95) has a wonderfully caramelized crust and airy sweet cakey custard centre… the ideal two bites of sweetness with a hot frothy cappuccino. Once they’re brought home and especially if they’re left overnight, they’re still good but becomes chewy.


Go early on Saturday for your best chance at getting one of their French doughnuts ($2.95). Even then, sometimes they can quickly run out when families run in to grab a dozen for the cottage and there won’t be another batch on Sunday. Sebastien’s take on a cronut, these doughnuts are sinfully delicious with layers of flaky buttery pastry with a crispy sugary crust. By far my favourite doughnuts in the city.


Their butter croissant ($2.25) incorporates the same airy dough but really needs some condiments as it’s not really flavourful. For those who like croissant sandwiches, this is ideal for stuffing with cheese, vegetables, and meat. Similarly, the chocolate croissant ($2.50) is not nearly decadent enough. With only two slivers of chocolate along the middle of the pastry, you don’t always get some with each bite – if there was a bit drizzled on top the pastry would be better.


I prefer the apple Danish ($3.10), topped with numerous thin apple slices and a sweet earthy almond paste underneath. This is a pastry you generally can’t find everywhere else.


For a light lunch, Sebastien also offers sandwiches, soups, and quiches. The baguette used as the sandwich’s base is delicious – soft, chewy, and has a lovely bread aroma; it’s a crusty bread that’s not hard so you won’t have the jagged shards that can cut your mouth.

Meanwhile, the sandwiches’ fillings can be improved. The Parisian ($9.50; half order pictured below as they thoughtfully split it for us) uses French style ham, gruyere and mustard. Nothing is strong enough so the flavours sort of just meld together: the ham isn’t smoked and the gruyere also fairly mild. The only saving grace is the lovely mustardy creamy vinaigrette on the salad … if devil's egg can be made into a dressing.

The legume sandwich ($9.50) could be good if the eggplant was hot. Maybe it’s me, but biting into a bun and being greeted by an ice-cold vegetable is a letdown, no matter how creamy the goat cheese.


Sebastien’s French onion soup ($8.95) has all the elements to satisfy without the guilt factor. In lieu of the cap of cheese and bread, a few slices of gruyere is laid on top so it slowly melts without leaving a pool of oil. Baguette croutons are served on the side so you can add them gradually to the soup to help retain some crispiness. Given the accompaniments are lighter, the broth gets a chance to stand out - it’s not overly salty so you can enjoy the sweet onions.


Of all the brunch dishes, my favourite is their individual quiches – combining a bite of flaky crust and savoury egg with each bite. Their quiche Lorraine ($9.50) incorporates plenty of ham and cheese so is flavourful and creates nice gooey bites with caramelized onion for sweetness. The quiche’s crust is flakey but still light enough to not feel heavy, especially when balanced with the same mustardy aioli vinaigrette salad that’s served with sandwiches.


What I like most about Patisserie Sebastien is that there really is a Sebastien. When it’s busy, he’s generally in the kitchen, preparing the baked goods, sandwich, quiche, and soup orders. Once in a while, he’ll make his appearance in the dining room, bringing over the food in a quiet non-opposing manner. It’s impressive the number of confections one person can create for a bakery. Splitting a soup and French doughnut with my own quiche, that’s my go-to weekend lunch treat. 



Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3306 Yonge 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:

Patisserie Sebastien Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato