Showing posts with label arancini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arancini. Show all posts

Nuit Social (Toronto)



Sharing is caring, oh so the saying goes. Sharing is what Nuit Social wants. In fact, create your own charcuterie “social boards” dominates half their menu where diners choose one, three, or five items from meat, cheese, and olives selections to create a sharing platter. Opting for five meats ($17) and three cheeses ($13), our board was enough for our table of five to have a taste each, the meats more so than the small bits of cheese.

Of all the items, the ones that stood out were the Tyrol schinkenspeck, the salty pork letting off that faint smokiness that’s synonymous with speck, and the bresaola (extra $1), which is best eaten plain as it’s fairly neutral and the leaner cut allows you to taste the beef. Really everything we chose – Rosette de Lyon French salami, Prosciutto, and the spicy sopressata - were all solid charcuterie.


Meanwhile, the cheeses were good but when paired with the strong meats felt a little lost. Whether it was the Vermeer gouda, Rondin du Poitou goat cheese, or the Charlevoix, the mild cheeses were flavours I enjoyed but couldn’t hold up against the bolder meats.

The last third of the menu is dedicated to “social plates”, which could be renamed to “social bags” given many arrive in a rolled down brown paper sack. Some items like the crispy frog legs ($12) and arancini ($14) are understandable, since the paper helps weep away the extra oil. But, for the Buffalo Brussels sprouts ($11) it’s a little strange as you can’t really get to the pool of hot sauce settling on the bottom.

If you can get past the image of a frog looking at you as you bite into the frog legs, it really does taste like  tender chicken or, with its small size, sort of like a less gamey quail leg. They were lightly dusted and mildly salted, but I would have liked them fried a bit longer.


Both the arancini and Brussel sprouts are dishes I’d avoid – the risotto balls so crumbly and dry that it tasted like fried dirty rice rather than a creamy porcini base. That bit of melted fontina cheese in the centre helped a bit, but could hardly save the dish. As for the Brussel sprouts, it’s a personal choice as the tangy harsh Buffalo sauce drenching the vegetable is something I normally don’t like anyways.


Items that were actually served on plates (or some case bowls) were the highlight of the meal and should be featured prominently rather than being relegated as the last things on the menu. I can still taste the sweet maple soy glaze on the pork ribs ($17) giving it a bit of stickiness but thin enough that it didn’t feel like you’re biting through a heavy sauce to get to the tender ribs. And the bed of smoked macaroni & cheese it sat on was equally delicious.


Normally, I find ricotta gnocchi ($16) a little too soft, but Nuit Social’s consistency was perfectly balanced with a light fluffiness and a bit of chewiness. The cheese and cream sauce could have been really really rich, but a bit of citrus, sweet peas, and smoky bits of chicken (oddly tasted like bacon) helped to temper the decadent dish just a little. Aside from the ribs, this was my favourite of the night.


The seared sushi steak ($17) is really a flat ironed steak done rare so that the meat has a thin ring around it like Albacore tuna. For being so underdone, the beef was surprisingly tender and the liberal amounts of chimmichurri gave the Japanese sounding dish an Argentinian flavour instead. Well roasted Brussels sprouts (thankfully, without Buffalo sauce) and fingerling potatoes finished off the plate making this one of the better-rounded dish for those who don’t want to share.  


But then sharing is Nuit Social’s mantra, they “are all about social gatherings, sharing great food and conversing over delicious drinks with old friends and new friends.” Their ambiance is set up for the mission as the music’s volume is kept at a low enough so you can actually converse with your friends (new or old). This is quite different for being a west Queen West restaurant where places like Drake Hotel is a neighbour.

Since it’s opened until midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends, it’s also a great place to gather after a night of drinking. Nuit Social definitely doesn’t serve the typical post bar eats. It’s not every day that after a night of drinking you can tuck into amazing ribs with a side of ricotta gnocchi.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1168 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:


Nuit Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Amano Pasta (Toronto)


Amano consists of a pasta bar, café, and market. Within their small footprint in Union Station (in the concourse area close to York street) there’s a bit of everything: the “market” is really a shelf with cans and jars for sale; the café, a coffee bar, includes some takeaway items at the front; and the most sizeable portion of the establishment, the pasta bar, a sit-down dining area at the back of the restaurant.


While the menu isn’t overly long, there are enough tasty sounding options that makes deciding difficult. Their starters are relatively simple Italian staples. The arancini ($9; actually arrives with three) were decent, the best part was the molten smoked cheese centre. Yet, I found the risotto and in need of salt, so that the most prominent flavour doesn’t end up being the honey on the plate.


Nonna’s salad ($7) is a very lightly dressed pile of spring mix with cucumbers. A better salad option is the stuffed squash ($11), which also arrives with greens but also has an entire roasted squash with stracciatella, which makes it soft and savoury. Unlike the other starters, the squash doesn’t lack flavour thanks to the miso brown butter dressing, bread crumbs, and pomegranate sprinkled around.


Amano’s menu, not surprisingly, goes back to Chef Michael Angeloni’s Italian roots while blending in Canadian new world flavours. You’ll find this blend the most in the “not your nonna’s” options. The addition of the crispy shallots really makes the little ears ($19) dish pop, giving the pasta extra crunch and a zip of interest. Of course, the orecchiette is cooked perfectly and tossed with bite-sized roasted broccoli florets and plenty of cheese (white cheddar, aged gouda, and pecorino). It was a delicious main.


While you can’t taste the Dungeness crab or pancetta in the black trumpets ($22), the flower like campanelle pasta has a chewy al dante doneness and is vividly black from cuttlefish ink. Personally, I’d like the dish to have stronger seafood flavours, but realize it’s not everyone’s preference. In fact, with the healthy sprinkling of chives and mustard seeds, the dish has a surprisingly light taste.


For a more traditional option, Amano’s rigatoni is cheekily called fat tubes ($18). The beef Bolognese with parmesan is simple and not earth shattering, but hits the spot if you want a traditional hearty tomato-based pasta.


In terms of drinks, the Sophia Loren ($13) goes down way too easy thanks to the cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and red wine, which covers the Pike Creek whiskey. It’s like grown-up sangria and works great as an after-meal cocktail.


Personally, I’d just go with another cocktail, in lieu of dessert. The leaning puff tower ($9) is really two profiteroles stacked on top of each other … that don’t even lean. They’re at least tasty cream puffs, stuffed to the brim with chocolate cream. It’s a dessert for chocolate lovers, with disks of it topping the cream puffs. It’s much better than the sweet cream ($7) or panna cotta, which tastes like Greek yoghurt - with the almond butter crumble and raspberry pieces, it’s like eating a parfait. Not terrible, but more breakfast than dessert.


I can overlook the disappointing dessert, it means more calories for delicious fresh made pasta.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 65 Front 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:



Amano Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Francobollo (Toronto)

Francobollo Toronto

While there are tons of Italian restaurants in the York Mills/Lawrence area in North York, Francobollo stands out with their fancy contemporary décor … it’s the place to go to for a nice date night or a swanky evening with the ladies. The restaurant is also about the little touches - like the soft focaccia accompanied by a mini bottle of warmed olive oil. While storing the oil in a warm place causes it to spoil faster, this wasn’t a problem at Francobollo as the golden oil tasted bright and vibrant.


Sitting by the kitchen we could smell the arancini ($16) as it was prepared, how intoxicating the aroma can be for deep fried, smoked provolone smothered products. The arancini’s coating was thin and after breaking through we're greeted with soft risotto rice flecked with wild mushrooms and laced with truffle oil. The starter was good, especially with the hearty tomato sauce that’s thick enough so the crispy balls don’t get soggy.


The burrata ($23) was a sizeable portion, the cheese’s lovely creamy consistency going well with the juicy heirloom tomatoes dressed with basil, thickened balsamic, and olive oil. However, I could have done without the plum pieces, which were hard and somewhat sour and detracted from the dish.


First introduced as a special of the day, the lobster pappardelle ($29) has become a permanent fixture. I can see why the dish was popular: the thick egg noodles are done perfectly and the spicy rose sauce adding just a hint of heat and the perfect consistency to completely cover each noodle. Moreover, Francobollo doesn’t skimp on the lobster; with the concave dish, it’s sizeable portion of pasta as well.


Assuming the restaurant has access to fresh fish daily, they should consider adding the grilled whole orata ($39) to the menu as well.  While the kitchen will filet the fish for you, there’s something about having the meat stay intact on the bone that makes it juicier and more flavourful. So, I asked for it to be left whole and did the work myself.


The orata was nice and flaky, but since the plate was very hot, the bottom of the fish became overcooked by the time I got to it. To be fair, the kitchen already placed it on top of garlic smashed potatoes, roasted parsnips, asparagus, and rapini (to keep it from directly touching the plate). Short of removing the fish and putting it another plate when served, it’d be difficult to stop it from becoming overdone – something that would happen if you’re sharing the fish, especially since it’s a significant portion.

While my husband and I were both stuffed, we continued with dessert to keep the evening going. The mille-feuille ($9) crispy pastry and custard layers were well-balanced, but the dessert could have forgone the raspberry coulis. Meanwhile, the tiramisu ($12), although very creamy, was too sweet and didn’t incorporate enough espresso to balance out all the mascarpone.


Despite the average desserts, the rest of the meal was delicious and Francobollo has now joined the rotation for date-night dinners in the neighbourhood.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1959 Avenue Road

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:



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

Power Up Bar (Toronto)


I don’t know why, but I felt the need to warn Christopher Venutolo, owner of Power Up Bar, that the last console I owned was a Super Nintendo. He immediately puts me at ease, explaining that Power Up Bar is all about socializing: everything is out in the open (you can even play while sitting at the bar) and they don’t have headsets to encourage people to actually interact with each other.

Immediately, his statements of playing together brings back childhood memories. Every Saturday, I’d go over to my cousin’s house and between causing mischief and running Camp Caribou in her backyard, we’d stop and play Double Dragon, Super Mario, or Zelda – depending on our mood. The games had pixelated graphics and there was little to no storyline, but what made them fun was playing with someone, being able to cheer or throw your hands up in frustration together.

Venutolo has had this idea for eleven years! What if people can just come into a bar, enjoy quality drinks and food, but then get to play video games (something they may do at home alone) as well? Why play by yourself when you can challenge your neighbor to Mario Kart, or compete at something more obscure like Runbow (from Canada’s 13AM Games) where I became the Color Master?

Unlike some lounges where it resembles a meat market and people are standoffish, at Power Up Bar patrons arrive with open minds. Even I met someone new that evening, playing a couple rounds of Runbow together and exchanging wings – chicken and duck wings that is.

And their food is good – decently sized plates that can easily be shared. The aforementioned chicken wings ($14) are lightly coated in a salt and pepper dredge before being deep fried until crispy. Something that’s a little messier (have a wet nap ready) are the duck confit wings ($18) – tender and flavourful covered in a sticky rosemary orange honey glaze. These are decadent and satisfying, my favourite dish of the evening.


The mini bacon cheese burgers ($15) are sure to be a crowd favourite, the sliders’ patties thick and juicy slathered with melted cheddar, bacon, and horseradish mayonnaise; arugula and a pickle adding a touch of crunch and freshness.


While the crispy bocconcini and rosemary risotto balls ($14) could stand to be hotter (the cool tomato sauce really chills it), the mild cheese inside remains molten and gooey (a great contrast against the crispy crunch). With a tad more salt or parmesan cheese mixed into the risotto itself, these would have been fantastic.


When there’s big sporting events, such as the finals of the World Series, Power Up Bar will be showing the games amongst their various screens. During these nights you’ll want to score a seat at the bar where you can watch the game and still grab a controller and play amongst the other television sets. Playing MLB Baseball while watching the Jays win? What a great combination.


If you have a group of five or more people, they also have a second room with booths that are generally first-come first-serve. Each one is set up with a Wii, Playstation and a large screen so you can battle your friends and neighbouring booths on any of those two consoles.


For me, my favourite area is the huge screen to the right of the bar. A place generally opened to everyone (or can be reserved for very large groups), it’s for those who like to move rather than smash buttons. With plenty of songs, Just Dance is a great option to let loose and party, especially with the help of some liquid encouragement.


After a few cocktails ($9 each until end of October and $12 thereafter), I felt ready to showcase my moves. Not being a fan of overly sweet drinks, mixologist Jess explains that they’re careful to create balanced cocktails. She was right, despite the descriptions incorporating strong spirits, there were no harsh flavours – rather you get a taste of something and then it’s replaced by another.

The Dark Sign, a concoction of made with Old Mount gay rum, Averna and Chartreuse sounds and looks like it’d be bitter, but is sweetened with raspberry syrup and ends with an interesting hickory smoked bitter. Even the Maker’s Mark bourbon in the Snake Eater is neutralized but a crème de cocoa and a splash of Ancho Reye adding a light spiciness in the background.

As pink as they come is the Fan Boy, the hue from a muddled watermelon cube mixed with Boodles gin; a drink that’s sweeter on account of the Aperol and Campari, but balanced with lemon and topped with creamy egg white.


Cosplayer Holly Wolf and notable YTV personality DJ Phil, will be attending Power Up Bar on October 15 for the Unplugged Expo after party. I’m more interested to visit on Friday to Monday of the Halloween weekend to see who else will be dressing up – what a perfect excuse for people to bust out their best Marvel or Sailor Moon costume.

Just imagine the fun you’ll have watching Superman dance to Soulja Boy and if anyone’s going to be Ariel from the Little Mermaid, here’s a dare for you – try Just Dance’s Under the Sea.

Overall mark - 7.5 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: 38 Wellington Street 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!


Power Up Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Ardo (Toronto)



Ardo isn’t flashy. The décor reminded me of someone’s kitchen, the tables neutral and sparse.  Even as the tin of bread arrived, the thick slices looked rather plain. Yet, one bite into the salted soft chewy bread and a dunk into the rich olive oil, I knew the restaurant doesn’t need pomp … using fresh ingredients and seasoning dishes just enough is their calling.


Take the carpaccio ($16), the dish incorporated a nice selection of flavours and textures with the leafy peppery arugula, salty preserved mushrooms, and a slight crunch from roasted pistachios. Sure there was cheese, but unlike other places that shave copious amounts of strong parmesan on top, Ardo showed restraint with smaller pieces of ragusano instead.  My only grievance was the cut of beef: perhaps it was sliced too thickly or cut with the grain, but they were a tad chewy for carpaccio.


Seeing arancino ($7) written in its singular form on the menu, I should have realized we may need more than one for a table of three. Nonetheless, the risotto starter was a decent size and could adequately satisfy two. Inside the cone shaped coating was the traditional creamy rice … but stuffed meat ragú, green peas, and a light caciocavallo cheese! One of the best arancino I have ever tasted, it would even pair nicely with a salad to make a light meal.


Yet, it’d be a shame to miss Ardo’s pasta. The anatra ($18) was fantastic: the fettuccine chewy and emitting a lovely egg flavour.  Although I couldn’t decipher the five secret spices in the duck ragu, it was delicious and with the sauce on the bottom added a buttery meaty essence to the dish. Even the crispy kale on top was a good touch – just eat it quickly before the heat starts wilting the kale and rendering it chewy. 


You really can’t go wrong with pasta; my friend’s salsiccia ($17) showcased soft chewy pieces of orecchiette. The house made Sicilian spicy sausage added a hearty richness to the dish but it was balanced with rapini and cherry tomatoes.


As much as I enjoy Neopolitian pizza, I’m glad restaurants are starting to branch out to other regions as well. Ardo’s Sicilian crust is crispy with huge air pockets – oh that lovely yeasty aroma that escapes as you bite through the pizza. The speck & ‘shroom ($19) incorporated copious amounts of prosciutto and the same salty preserved mushrooms used in the carpaccio. The thin layer of tomato sauce was enough to flavour the dough, but more fior di latte is required for creaminess.


Despite being in a Sicilian restaurant, we didn’t order the cannoli for dessert, instead settling on the torta all’arancia ($8) to share. I didn’t think I’d like the dish after reading there’s orange incorporated into the creamy mascarpone. But, it wasn’t bad. With the lady fingers, amaro liqueur and sprinkling of cocoa powder, the cake is essentially a tiramisu with fruit. It’s okay, but I’ll take the tried and true espresso any day.


Another thing I like about Ardo’s low key environment is the quieter setting. With all the loud music blasting at the “trendy” places, I’m delighted to find a place where the ambient noises are subdued and I don’t have to shout to catch up with friends. So yes, Ardo isn’t fancy … but that’s just the way I like it.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 243 King Street 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:



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