Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

CLOSED: Batch (Toronto)

Located in the former Beer Academy, Batch is bright and airy, transforming the previous event venue into a casual restaurant. The new space has a Scandinavian woodsy feel to it, as if you’ve stepped away from the city and entered wine (err.. beer) country. Owned by Creemore, they continue to brew on site with a rotating selection to match their beer friendly menu. The Lombard lager ($7) was a refreshing crisp drink with a hint of lemon and went nicely with the first two courses of the Summerlicious lunch menu ($23).

The light beer was a nice contrast against the Cornish pastry, a flakey dough stuffed with shredded lamb and potatoes that’s bound together with a thick brown gravy. It’s a starter that’s reminiscent of pub food, a larger slice with salad or vegetables would be a satisfying meal.

On the other hand, the roasted chili prawns main was completely different from regular bar fare. The Thai and Vietnamese style dish was a bit unexpected at a brew pub but a great example of a brighter dish that still went well with beer - not everything has to be greasy and heavy. My first shrimp was mushy, a sign that it was past it’s prime, but the other two were much better pairing nicely with the cooling slaw topped with crunchy peanuts. There was a light heat from the nam prik (a Thai chili sauce) scattered amongst the mango and melon salad. Luckily, I still had the Lombard lager to help tone down some of the spice.

Although we visited during Summerlicious, the restaurant wasn’t too busy. Nonetheless, the succession of the meal was completely wacky. The mains arrived so quickly that a companion had to quickly finish off her starter, so they could take away the dish. But then it took FOREVER for the desserts to arrive when the longest thing to make is perhaps the glazed apple fritter.

After such a long wait it was disappointing that the fritter didn’t even seem freshly fried – although warm they weren’t hot. The batter had a nice yeasty property but needed more air, so it wouldn’t be so dense and chewy. Moreover, it could use more sugar, especially since the sour cream glaze and shortbread crumble toppings weren’t overly sweet. In the end, it didn’t taste like much since even the apples were rather muted.

Toronto and its downtown core has been graced with the opening on many gastro brewpubs and restaurants over the last two years. And while I enjoy the reservation friendly Batch, the restaurant may be best for an after-work visit. When timing doesn’t matter as you’re on beer o’clock.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $23
Regular menu* - $ - Cornish pastry ($11), shrimp ($16) and dessert ($8)
Savings - $12 or 34%
* None of the items were on their regular menu the above based on sausage roll, smoked salmon, and sticky toffee pudding
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 75 Victoria Street

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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:

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

Get ready, Craft Beer Market opens on December 6! #GrandOpening

It’s not often the most photographed item from a craft beer restaurant are the pipes. Yet, one look on Instagram’s geotagging of Craft Beer Market and you’ll see more than your fair share of these gleaming silver contraptions. There’s a Willy Wonka factory feel to the place, except instead of transporting melted chocolate these metal pipes move cold brew from the keg room to bars on both levels.

I can understand the need for the high tech setting: with over 150 beers on tap, who would want to be responsible for lugging the heavy brew to the bars? There wouldn’t even be enough real estate at the bars to hold all the kegs. This is what it takes to offer the largest selection of craft beers in Ontario.

Making my way through a few brews, Old Tomorrow’s Light’er Up lager ($6.75) helped quench my thirst and prepare my taste buds for more beer.

There was plenty of drinks to be had at Craft Beer Market’s opening event. Collective Arts Brewing brought in ten beautifully designed cans, perfect for those who want something beautiful to behold other than a frothy cap. Their Lunch Money brew also reminded me of the lovely summer months. Meanwhile, Barrie’s Flying Monkeys served up a delicious crisp Antigravity concoction that really helped cut the saucy food.

If you’re into something different, choose from their “anomalies” section, the tangy Bandit Wizard of Gose ($6.75) had a lovely sour taste that finishes savoury that paired oh so well with the freshly shucked oysters. While these mollusks aren’t served on their normal menu, they can be ordered for larger functions - make sure to ask for the tasty jalapeño mignonette.

In fact, it’s all these crisp light beers that pairs well with the Ocean Wise seafood dishes on their menu: the Baja fish tacos ($14.50 for three) are grilled to alleviate any fried-food guilt (to allow for another beer, of course) and packed with tons of cabbage slaw. Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Ahi poke ($16) incorporated tons of tuna, but could use more garlic and sesame soya vinaigrette.

I can tell already the BBQ beer can chicken sliders ($14.50) will be a popular pick for a small bite amongst the after work drinks crowd. While it’s a typical slider, the house made BBQ sauce isn’t too sweet and the meat isn’t too oversaturated so you can actually eat the sandwich cleanly. 

The gaucho chicken flatbread ($17) has a light heat from the jalapeños and chipotle aioli. Unlike some of the other beer market type restaurants that tend to over season their foods (possibly to encourage more drinking), Craft Beer Market’s dishes are less salty with flavours stemming from the spices and ingredients incorporated into the food.

Thankfully, there seemed to be an endless supply of the Maui ribs ($14); I had more than my fair share. Glazed in a black garlic miso BBQ sauce, it’s an interesting savoury flavour, the coating in between a sticky glaze and dry rub. Paired with a stout beer, the ribs would make for a great hearty meal.

Craft Beer Market will be opened soon – December 6, right in time for all the holiday parties. For beer lovers, this restaurant is one you don’t want to miss. You can also join their CRAFT Club, where aside from getting exclusive access to special events you can also rate and share beers with their likeminded community. After downing 100 different ones, they’ll emblazon your name on a keg on their Alumni Wall. As if you need another reason to drink.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Adelaide Street East

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CRAFT Beer Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

King Taps (Toronto)

Walking into King Taps I got a sense of déjà vu. Especially on the second floor, where the bar area seems to be a replica of another popular downtown Toronto hang out, both restaurants top choices for after work drinks. By 5:30 it’s packed. Despite it being early for dinner, I still had to wait about five minutes for the reserved table to be set-up - others are told it’ll be an hour wait.

I can see why King Taps is so popular - the atmosphere is casual, drawing in people of all ages, and their food is tasty but moderately priced.

There is of course a host of shareable plates for those who want to nibble. The poke ($16.50) is really tuna tartare, a stack of chunked Albacore tuna, mango, and avocado dressed with delicious miso sesame-ginger vinaigrette. Tempura bits are placed on top but most of the crunch comes from the deep fried wonton chips, which is light enough to not detract from the fish.

The steak frites ($27) is a good complete meal since it comes with a side of lemony Caesar salad. King Tap sources their steaks from PEI, the 7oz sirloin cooked to a perfect medium rare, tender and juicy. If you’ve never had beef from PEI, it's said that if the cow grazes outside, you can taste the minerals and salt in their meat due to the island’s proximity to the ocean. At King Taps, the steak was properly seasoned and the saltiness well balanced.

While I would have preferred the frites to be the thin variety, the chunky fries were nonetheless hot and crispy. The only oddity was the abundant side of horseradish that arrives with the meal; a condiment rarely seen outside of prime rib and there’s a reason – it’s too strong for such a lean meat. A side of au jus or aioli would work better.

If you like seafood, the salmon and prawn risotto ($26) is a great choice – there’s a large piece of salmon that’s moist and flakey and at least four fair-sized prawns mixed into the rice. The risotto’s consistency is spot on, creamy with enough broth so that it’s not overly watery or dry. The dish was also flavourful, perhaps a touch salty if that bothers you, but the chunky mushroom pieces helped tone the seasoning down.

Aside from the atmosphere and food, King Tap’s service is also commendable: staff members are friendly but are also great at managing the experience – our waitress advised that if she put our entire order into the system, the food would arrive together. Hence, she proceeded to enter our appetizer first and then when she saw it was received inputted the mains. For such a busy restaurant it’s a shame this is something staff need to look after, especially when it can be prone to errors; surely someone should look at the ordering system and have it set-up for a two stage firing from the kitchen.  

Thankfully, the dessert order isn’t something they need to remember as well. King Tap’s sweet offerings consist of a number of sundaes. The strawberry shortcake ($8) was a nice light sharable ending with a fair amount of soft serve-vanilla ice cream, layered strawberry compote, a few pieces of fruit, and crispy graham cracker crumb sprinkled over top. Not overly fancy, but executed well and priced decently, much like the rest of their menu. 

Oh and for beer aficionados they also have 50 selections on tap, some are even special collaborations with local breweries. Being a wine drinker, I didn’t crack into the tap, but nonetheless left with a happy buzz.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 King Street West (in First Canadian Place)

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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:

King Taps Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Craft beer lovers, Northern Maverick Brewing Co. is Now Opened!

In Ontario’s carefully controlled liquor industry, it’s hard to imagine how one can actually be a maverick and fully become a free-spirited company. One way to inch free of the chains is to open a brewery, where there are still rules and taxes, but creations can be freely shared without the threat of being hidden in the back or requiring expensive listing fees, since the Beer Store is actually owned by three large global beer manufacturers (and not our government).

Hence, it’s no surprise that with the rise in popularity of craft beer, there has also been an increase in craft breweries. The newest entrant is Northern Maverick Brewing Co. a sprawling 11,000 sq. ft. establishment that includes a restaurant (complete with huge patio), beer store, beer school, and of course brewery.

Their menu focuses on Canadian sourced casual eats. With the gleaming red slicer, their house made charcuterie arrives paper thin, making you want just one more slice. Everything is cured perfectly so it’s not too dry nor overly salty. Although truth be told, the savoury spices didn’t go well with the Vienna lager as it brought out so much of the beer’s bitterness. Sticking with one of their wines may be a better choice.

You could really create a nibbling feast for your party by adding a cheeseboard as well. With seven different cheeses available (sourced across Quebec and Ontario), there everything from a gooey brie to a harder cheddar, these go much better with the bubbly beers.

In a heartbeat I’d return for another Jamaican oxtail patty ($6), the flaky pastry is filled with tender braised oxtail incorporating habanero heat to have you reaching for a cold drink after finishing it.

Five seasonal beers are offered on tap; during the opening there was a dry hopped sour, Vienna lager, American pale ale, Indian pale ale, and a hefeweizen. What Northern Maverick strives for is to create aromatic brews that focus on flavour and smell, but is still balanced and delicious.

Having sampled a few of the craft beers, my favourite was the Heart of Tartness ($8.50) that contains strong refreshing notes of citrus and fruit – after something heavy, it’s a great way to cleanse the palette. The Gosezilla ($8.50) is also interesting having a lighter tartness but ending with a savoury element thanks to the hint of coriander.

Northern Maverick makes a mean cocktail as well – taking a traditional concoction and giving it a twist. The Travellers Mojito starts with the typical rum, mint, and lime juice, but then adds rose water, cardamom, and honeydew to give it an exotic tropical spin. Meanwhile, the Dry Hopped Daiquiri contains plenty of Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, but is mellowed with orange blossom water and a slightly bitter hops syrup.

Reading the blog write-up posted by Northern Maverick’s founder Jason Kaptyn, you can feel the passion and the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get them to the opening. I can’t wait until their beer school opens and I can learn more about beer and food pairings – for those who are especially gung ho they’ll even teach you how to create something at home. In the end, Jason just wants to share his love of craft beers with everyone else. As he sums up, “In short, we will do our best to provide the learning experience that, once upon a time, captured our hearts and led to our brewery in the first place.”

Disclaimer: The above drinks and food were sampled on a complimentary basis at their grand opening event. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 115 Bathurst Street

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Visit Destination Thailand at Yonge Dundas Square

Destination Thailand’s third anniversary means another huge festival at Yonge Dundas Square. One of the largest in Canada, the Royal Thai Embassy transforms downtown Toronto into the friendly warm country with traditional dances, exotic fruits, crafts, massages, Muay Thai, entertainment, and of course authentic cuisine!

The Royal Thai Embassy also operates a worldwide certification program, Thai Select, which grades restaurants on their authenticity. Aside from using traditional ingredients, chefs are also judged by their cooking method and how closely that matches actual approaches used in Thailand. In Canada, the 88 restaurants that meet their requirements are given a premium or red status. At the festival, eight local establishments will be featured:

  • Bangkok Garden
  • Golden Thai
  • Linda Modern Thai
  • Pai Toronto
  • Patchmon’s Thai Dessert
  • Soi Thai
  • Stratford Thai Cuisine
  • Thai Noodle
Having sampled eats from six of the eight vendors at a media event, I can say attendees are in for a treat. Although these will likely be the dishes served at the festival (ranging from $5-$10), the selection may change depending on ingredient availability.

Pai’s gai ping is the most flavourful and tender grilled chicken skewers I’ve ever had. Chef Nuit Regular freely shared that the meat is so succulent due to being marinated in coconut milk. Meanwhile, the rich flavours are derived from a paste of tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and chilies.

For something different try their moo nam tok, slices of grilled pork jowl mixed with a spicy sweet and sour tamarind sauce that goes perfectly with steamed sticky rice. The dish smells a good as it looks, just be sure you can handle the heat as the chili and herb sauce on top is surprisingly spicy.

With the success of the Regulars’ restaurants (Khao SanRoad, Pai, Sabai Sabai), it’s not surprising that Chef Nuit is Thai Select’s ambassador of Canada where she’ll promote the program and encourage fellow restaurateurs to uphold authentic standards. Having dined at their restaurants, there’s no doubt that they serve the best Thai food I’ve ever had – as I write this I’m wistful for another skewer of gai ping.

If you enjoy sauce drenched rice like myself, try the massaman lamb curry from Golden Thai. The lamb is melt-in-your-mouth tender without any gaminess and the flavourful curry goes so well with rice. Vegetarians, Golden Thai will also be serving tempeh or grilled tofu and vegetable satay skewers (served with peanut, sweet Thai, or hot sauces).

The second non-meat offering at Destination Thailand comes from Bangkok Garden who will be featuring a golden vegetable curry. If you’re a carnivore, try their spicy cashew chicken, which although looks innocent has a flavourful punch.

Linda Modern Thai has been experimenting with their menu to ensure it can be reproduced with their high standards. At the media event, they were showcasing the likely contenders:

  • An interesting Thai beef salad consisting of flank steak marinated with Thai basil coconut syrup, which has a sweet tartness to it not unlike balsamic vinegar.
  • Traditional grilled lemongrass chicken is elevated with a seafood sangwa sauce that the chef explains is like a salsa verde with fish sauce and lemongrass. It’s salty and sour against the smoky grilled chicken and the dots of homemade sriracha are spicy without being overpowering.  

Soi Thai, based on College Street, generally sells dishes reminiscent of the street foods in Thailand. At the festival, they will be offering a hearty complete meal: khao kha moo or succulent braised pork hocks stewed in a flavourful soy sauce broth studded with star anise, cinnamon, cilantro root, garlic and white peppercorns to give it an earthy and slightly sweet seasoning.

If you find it overly rich, dip it into the spicy chili-vinegar on the side that helps cut the grease. The pork hock arrives shredded over steamed jasmine rice and is served with blanched gai lan (Chinese broccoli), pickled mustard greens, and half a hard-boiled egg … you’ll leave full after this dish, so share it!

My first taste of Thai desserts was an introduction with Patchmon’s, a family run eatery that concocts a wide variety of sweets. I love the kha-nhom chun, a chewy glutinous coconut layer cake – you can actually peel each layer apart. Put together with coconut cream, pandan juice and tapioca flour the dessert is light and delicious. It’s normally served at special occasions and wishes a person good luck as they travel up the layers.

For those who like savoury and sweet combinations, the kha-nhom sai-sai is a dumpling stuffed with a savoury shredded coconut filling, lightly sweetened with palm sugar and coconut cream, and then steamed in lotus leaf. Their ta-goe is another surprising dessert, starting off as a luscious coconut cream on top but below a slightly salty tapioca layer with young coconut and corn studded throughout.  

With tons of desserts, Patchmon will be offering a mix-and-match plate. Arrive early and try their gleeb lum duan cookies shaped like a flower. The shortbread like cookies are finished with a food safe candle that adds a light charcoal taste and fragrance, but it can dissipate as the day advances so won’t be as pronounced for later customers.   

Judging by the hot sunny weather Toronto has been graced with this year, it’ll likely be a beautiful warm day. So, you’ll likely want a cold drink to wash down all the spicy eats. Luckily, Singha beers will be on hand selling their brews for $6; head to their special seating area for a refreshing cold drink.

Don’t forget to pick up a free passport and have it stamped at each vendor. Visit at least five of the restaurants and you’ll receive a free t-shirt and be entered into a contest to win meals for two for one year (limited to two visits per month)!

Visitors can even get a relaxing massage at two places: Shivaga Thai Massage and Traditional Thai Massage Association of Ontario. They’ll offer services with varying timing, but a massage is about $65. After an afternoon of eating and drinking how relaxing would a massage be? Just try not to fall asleep. 

How To Find Them
 Date and Time: Sep 10, 2016 from 11am - 8pm
 Address: Yonge and Dundas Square
 Pricing: Free entrance; extra for food, crafts and services

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