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

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

CLOSED: Bacchanal (Toronto)



While Bacchanal translates to “an occasion of wild and drunken revelry”, the actual restaurant is calming - in a chic French manner. On my weekend visit, diners were sipping on wine and devouring sauce-laced dishes, yet remained in their seats. I guess the wine induced dancing-on-tables happen afterwards.

I was quite happy to tuck into the warm crispy baguette; their house-made red fife wheat loaf was legitimately delicious and full flavoured.


What was left of the bread was great for dipping into the paprika and sherry vinegar broth from the moules escabèche ($10). Served cold, the mussels are plump from the garlicky sauce it soaks in.


Oh the heavenly gnocchi Parisienne au sarrasin ($15), it’s as if the French borrowed the Italian potato pasta and the South’s mac ‘n’ cheese and turned into a molten love child. The creamy comté sauce smelled fantastic and the cheese was strong enough without overpowering the gnocchi. Don’t leave without trying it.


Steak and duck are two dishes I attempt to try at every French restaurant; my benchmark dishes for judging the mains at the place. Bacchanal’s steak frites ($24) were respectable, the 8oz flatiron steak done medium rare and relatively tender for the thick slice. Thankfully, the fries were actually thin (thick chip cuts aren’t meant for steak frites – leave that for the fried fish) and when hot ever so slightly melts the aioli.  


While the Magret de canard ($31) was cooked the requisite rare doneness and the rendered skin crispy, the duck breast could have been cut thinner so wouldn’t be as chewy. The plum glaze was on point to give the dish that traditional sweet and savoury flavour, and with a smear of the whipped foie gras heightened the taste even more.


Surprisingly, it was the sablefish sauce Gamay ($37) I liked the most. Not for the actual fish (properly flakey but under seasoned), rather it was the beluga lentil that impressed having soaked in the cooking liquid. Plus, the leafy colourful kale and trumpet mushrooms did make for an impressive looking presentation.


Bacchanal’s baba au rhum ($15) was an eye catching take on the classic dessert, thanks to the carefully piped white chocolate whipped cream. While the cake was delicious (the hint of spice enjoyable), the rum syrup needed more alcohol … after all, how will the restaurant live up to its name of creating wild and drunken occasions?


French restaurants seem to be the choice du jour for openings and Bacchanal is joining the masses. With more choices comes tougher competition… Bacchanal creates respectable dishes, but not good enough to make me want to travel out of my way for. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 60 Sudbury 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:



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

CLOSED: 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


CLOSED: Doma (Toronto)


Doma offers an array of dishes they describe as "Korean with French inspiration or French with Korean influences". To keep things fresh, their menu changes monthly and only a few favourites from the previous month are carried forward. It’s a pretty democratic way to create a menu; as staff ask diners about their favourite dishes, the menu should be curated around the taste of customers.

Most people partake in their tasting menu where for $65 a person you try everything. In reality, for the sake of fairness, it’s really your democratic duty to sample it all so you can give a well-informed opinion on your favourite dish. If you’re not up for the task, the prices per dish have also been included in this post.

Within a short while of ordering, an amuse bouche is brought out. Being an acorn jelly, the actual jelly is neutral, so you’re greeted with a hit of spice from the finely diced kimchi and pickled onions with a slight saltiness added by the soy dashi. A refreshing summery start.


Meanwhile, the yook hwae ($18), a beef tartare that’s spiked with the spicy gochujang, is filled with flavours: of course there’s a bit of heat, but this is fairly delicate and balanced with sweet pear gel and pickled honey; black garlic aioli adds a lovely savoury creaminess. 

The long strips of beef, instead of the customary diced pieces, takes getting used to as it’s difficult to scoop the tartare and causes the entire pile of meat to come off in one bite. Hence, you’ll need the aid of a fork and it’s best to break the rice and seaweed chips into smaller pieces to create one-bite portions. Nonetheless, the tartare tastes good and I enjoy the little pieces of cauliflower and broccoli mixed in for crunch. The chips are also kept neutral so they add texture without competing on flavours.

More than one staff member told us their grilled octopus ($20) is the sole dish that’s been on every menu since the start. In my opinion, this needs to be tweaked or retired. Sure, the slaw of cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, pear jelly, and seaweed is good – it’s that mix of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours that’s synonymous with Korean flavours. Even the pickled grainy mustard on top really adds a pop to the salad. But then, the actual octopus, although meaty and tender is just SO sweet. If octopus can be rendered into a chewy candy, it’d resemble what Doma serves.


Instead, they should keep the sam gye tang ($24), a great rendition of the French chicken roulade where medallions of dark meat is stuffed, rolled, and then baked until the skin crisps up. The Asian flavours are brought in with the stuffing: a mix of ginseng, dates, and more meat. It’s tender and flavourful, and with a dollop of fragrant ginger and scallion paste even better. White and black fungus is added for crunch and also helps to soak up the oriental herb infused chicken veloute sauce in all its crevices. Of all the dishes, this was the greatest at amalgamating the French and Asian flavours in one plate.


If Doma doesn’t keep the uhsun mandoo ($26) forever on their menu, I’ll be seriously mad. What a seafood lover’s delight with a piece of wonderfully cooked white fish (could be pickerel), a large sweet prawn, and the best part, a mandoo, which is a Korean dumpling filled with crab encapsulated in a ravioli pasta. Each of the individual proteins already have sufficient flavours, but then you smear on onion or pea puree and the ingredients change again.


While the sweet potato rice cakes ($16) were good – a base of chewy Korean rice cakes filled with a creamy sweet potato puree - it could have been the dish that French flavours are featured more prominently. The European influence was in there with a light sprinkling of parmigian, but it didn’t really add much and everything else was more Korean focused. The tofu and pork belly ragout spooned onto the rice cakes is similar to the sweet bean paste sauce found in ja jang mein. In lieu of the ragout, it would be interesting to pair the rice cakes with a creamy sauce or replace it with a thicker beef bourguignon instead.


For being glazed in gochujang, I would have expected the pork belly ($26) to be spicier. Instead, it merely tastes sweet and savoury, especially with the grilled nectarines accompanying the dish. Overall, the flavour that was missing from Doma’s dishes is something spicy. Indeed, there was a bit of it from the kimchi in the amuse bouche, but afterwards everything else was void of the taste that is so popular in Korean cuisine. The pork belly could have been the opportunity to showcase spice, even if it was merely incorporated into a side dish with the meat. 


Nonetheless, I’m glad Doma invested in using a premium part of the pork belly where the meat and fat alternates in layers (rather than having one thick piece of each), it makes the pork belly less heavy and the flavours better-rounded.

When it came to dessert, the Korean influence flew out the window. The first dessert, an ode to corn ($10) wasn’t even French and instead best described as North American. Sweet corn ice cream is combined with salted caramel popcorn, sponge cake, and corn kernels. The sweet and salty dessert was good and the honey truffle sponge cake an interesting pulled fluffy texture. Nonetheless, it was a bit disappointing that it had nothing to do with Doma’s vision.

While the apple tarte tatin ($10) is definitely a nod in the French direction, it once again has no Korean influences (unless the country loves marshmallows). The dessert was just so sugary ... when there’s caramel sauce one doesn’t need marshmallows on top. Despite looking decent, it was just too sweet and even the fruit was overpowered.


While Korean cuisine isn’t known for desserts, there are still some notable dishes. Chewy glutinous rice creations, similar to mocha, could have been filled with fruit and topped with Chantilly cream to make a Doma appropriate sweet. With so many renditions of red bean paste encapsulated desserts (whether it be pan fried, baked, or deep fried), surely something French could have been incorporated into the pastries to give it a fusion twist.

Don’t get me wrong, with the exception of the octopus and apple tarte tatin, I was pleased with the taste of Doma’s August menu. If our waiter didn’t feel the need to explain that restaurant is known for French and Korean inspired creations, I could have just accepted the dishes as presented. But, if they really want to be known for marrying the two cultures, more dedication is required at ensuring every dish (not sure some) really showcase the spirit of each culture’s cuisine. Otherwise, it’d just be another mixed continental restaurant , which are a dime a dozen.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 50 Clinton 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:



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