Showing posts with label bone marrow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bone marrow. Show all posts

Prime on Avenue (Toronto)


Kosher steakhouses are rare in Toronto. So, when the legendary Barberian opened Prime of Avenue, a Cor certified kosher eatery, along the suburb stretch of uptown Toronto, it’s large gleaming black sign and swanky interior certainly caught my attention. Just be mindful of their operating hours: in keeping with Shabbat customs, Prime is closed on Friday and Saturday, days that are generally busy days for other restaurants.

Their page of appetizers enticed; indeed, diners can easily mix-and-match these smaller plates to make a full meal. The pulled brisket tacos ($26) are ideal if you’re in the mood for beef but in smaller portions. Two flour shells were stuffed with chunks of flavourful and tender brisket, pico de gallo, guacamole and pickled onions. Pieces of smoked potato chips, placed on a top, were an excellent addition enhancing the otherwise soft savoury tacos with some crunch.


Although the eggplant ($20) sounded like a lighter dish, the roasted eggplant was roasted with so much oil that it became so crispy you’d swear it’s deep fried. Regardless, if you don’t mind the oiliness, the starter has fantastic flavours: the creamy eggplant layered with nutty tahini, crunchy pine nuts, and sweet pomegranate. These were all roasted together so the tahini was warm and the flavours melted into the eggplant.


With such a strong start to the meal, the execution of our main, a cote de boeuf ($85), was a letdown. At first glance, the huge 22oz bone-in rib steak looked impressive, with beautiful sear marks and a nicely caramelized surface. It was also a wise decision to share the main, as the actual bone was not overly thick so we were left with a substantial portion of beef. However, upon cutting through the “medium rare” steak, it’d be better classified as a poorly done blue. While the outer ring was seared and cooked through, the centre was very rare, to the point that it was difficult to cut through and I could smell and taste the rareness. Note to Prime: the metallic taste of half-cooked beef is awful and the slightly off smell is even worse.


Rarely do I return dishes to the kitchen, but in this instance it was inedible. Steak is only good when it’s prepared correctly, so I politely asked for it to be re-fired. In about 10 minutes it was returned and nicely re-plated. At that point, it was an actual medium rare steak. Sadly, even with it cooked correctly, it wasn’t great. The steak was barely seasoned and lacked flavour. Perhaps it’s because Prime provides sauce on the side and I should have told them I wouldn’t actually be using any of it. My personal preference is to keep it simple with a nice piece of meat – salt and pepper is all you need to avoid covering up the meat’s natural flavours. It was especially disappointing since Barberian is known for their great rub. Surely, this can be shared with Prime?   

Moreover, the 28 days aged Black Angus tasted pretty young - if that's the proper way to describe aged meats – and didn’t have that depth of flavour you’d expect from the cut. While it was still good, it was nowhere close to the Barberian fame; if I closed my eyes, I’d swear I’d be eating at the Keg.

Steaks do arrive with a small portion of bone marrow, which also needed more seasoning but was thankfully cooked through. It went nicely smeared on a piece of toasted baguette that comes with their complimentary bread and pickle starter, such a staple at traditional steakhouses. In an effort to reduce food waste, Prime should consider decreasing the portion size of the platter and simply ask diners if they’d like a re-fill if it’s been picked clean.


The sides ($10 each) were good, especially the onion rings, which were nice and chunky with a lovely crispy coating. The sautéed green beans, spinach, and swiss chard with scallions puree was a great combination and cooked nicely so the vegetables retained their freshness. Our table had mixed thoughts on the French fries. Generally, they’d be better if the potatoes were cut thinner and then double fried (as they weren’t overly crispy and tasted almost baked).


While Prime on Avenue doesn't tout itself as a steakhouse, its connection to Barberian can’t stop me from judging it as one. It makes the average cote de boeuf seem worse, which is such a shame as everything else was actually very tasty. Nonetheless, the restaurant is a welcomed addition to Avenue and I’ll likely return to try their burger, salmon, or perhaps a collection of appetizers. But, the steak, no thanks.  

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1960 Avenue Road

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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!


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Reverie at the Park (Toronto)


Amongst the city façade of College Street, Reverie’s signage stands out as a lush green garden. It fittingly presents Reverie at the Park, a place where they want patrons to feel like they’re in a “daydream”. Plus, feel like you're in a park: from the tree root sculptures hanging from the ceiling to the wrought iron gate you walk through to get to the tables. It’s like a walking through a trippy park, at night.


Behind the helm is Executive Chef Jef Edwards, who truly embodies the millennial mindset by learning how to cook, incorporating molecular gastronomy no less, through YouTube! If that weren’t a feat, the kitchen also operates without a walk-in fridge or freezer, to ensure ingredients are fresh. In the winter months, they also draw upon ingredients they’ve preserved through smoking and pickling.


Even their bread ($6) is made in in-house; a non-greasy focaccia paired with bone marrow butter and dandelion pesto. You’d think both condiments would be strongly flavoured, but they were rather muted, a light beefy taste in the butter and hint of bitterness in the pesto. Both are in serious need of seasoning.


Reverie’s menu aims to celebrate Canada’s diversity, incorporating local ingredients. It’s the new-age Canadian cuisine movement with the fusion of other cultures thrown in. The venison croquettes use deer, a Canadian game meat, and incorporates earthy spices. Get through the crispy crust and you’re greeted with a dense flavourful interior, it’s like eating a delicious deep-fried meat ball.


With the smoked beef tartare and enoki ($17), the actual apple wood smoke is faint, especially when you add the powerfully tasty fermented mushroom mustard on it. It allows the diner to really taste the beef tartare and the herbs mixed throughout. In fact, they also grow some of the herbs and produce used at the restaurant – on the roof during the warmer months and by the kitchen with special lights over the winter. 


The dish is pretty, the tartare shaped like a log in a hollowed bone with sprouts of enoki mushrooms peeking through. The “moss” is leftover dehydrated greens… I’m a huge fan of kitchens that try to reduce food waste, it’s an example that other restaurants should emulate.

I don't know what I liked better, the surf or the turf portion of the next dish. The mushrooms looks a lot like the scallop it’s paired with, except firmer and almost has a meaty taste. The sea scallops ($17) are cooked perfectly, most of the flavours coming from the thinly sliced piece of prosciutto on top. 


Both the mackerel and artichoke in the next dish is left raw. The mackerel lightly cured with salt, but otherwise you’re left with a clean meaty tasting fish; so refreshing I would have thought it’s sea bream.


The gnocchi & ricotta ($17) is a house favourite and I can see why. The gnocchi are soft but still has bite and is well toasted to give it a caramelized exterior. Mixed with spinach cream, edamame, charred heart of palm, and ricotta, it’s a hearty but not overly heavy dish. Reverie’s menu focuses on sharable dishes, to make the meal more social, but this is one I could easily have all to myself.


While the veal was slightly overcooked in our last savoury dish, it was still juicy and tender. Surprisingly, I couldn’t taste the porcini in the aligot, an ingredient that’s normally rather flavourful. Our table agreed the predominant flavour was the roasted shishito pepper, which isn’t necessarily bad, rather the dish would be more aptly named as veal with shishito.


If you like inventive desserts, try Reverie’s mushroom and honey chocolate tart with black truffle. It takes some getting used to, the taste of spongy earthy raw mushrooms with the sweet silky chocolate ganache. While I don’t like sweet desserts, even I couldn’t finish the tart. Maybe if the mushrooms were thinner, so the taste isn’t so powerful, it’d be better suited as a dessert.


Who would have thought that pop-up dinners would turn into a restaurant celebrating a one-year anniversary? Ask Chef Edwards, I’m sure he’ll think there’s a dream like quality to it.

Overall mark - 7 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: 569 College 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:


Reverie at Weldon Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

East Thirty Six (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 36 Wellington Street East
Website: http://eastthirtysix.com/home
Type of Meal: Dinner



To clarify, East Thirty Six is not affiliated with Lucien or the Oyster Bar which previously resided at the space. The menu and ownership is completely new. Indeed, when you walk inside, the dining room has been updated with a large illuminated bar and more size appropriate furniture. It actually feels airy and spacious compared to the former supper club.

The large bar works well as East Thirty Six wants to be known as a place for cocktails. For the after work crowd, on weekdays from 4-7 there are happy hour specials - $5 for a Mill Street beer or mixed drink and $8 for a martini. Alas, despite a tall refreshing looking cocktail being displayed on the happy hour menu, there are no deals for these. However, their martinis are a nice substitute, my French martini was deliciously made with vodka, Chambord raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.


Drinking the night away could get messy without food, so two friends and I opted to share several of their offerings. The bone marrow ($16) was our favourite. It was well-done, smooth and even had some excess oil for dipping. Some may find it overcooked but I personally prefer marrow cooked through so there's no bloody pieces. Flavoured with an herb mixture and salt it was great to spread across the grilled bread. On the side, a dish of smooth chicken liver parfait to include a slightly sweet element to everything.



The smoked sweetbreads ($15) was another great find. Tender pieces of battered sweetbreads were cut into nuggets and deep fried crispy. On the side a great smoky and vibrant poblano and romesco sauce that went well with the neutral sweetbreads. On the bottom a simple slaw with some pistachio mixed throughout. A great easy to share plate for large groups.

 

Generally, we found their larger "mains" were good but the small plates which arrived earlier were better. Overall, the mains had great flavours and were artfully composed but, with the exception of duck confit, were a tad overdone. The shortrib ($21) needed a jus drizzled over top to give it more moisture as we found it dry for a shortrib. The accompanying spicy potato, arugula pistou (similar to pesto made with garlic, olive oil and arugula), sweet corn and turnips were nice and gave the dish an Argentinian flare.


The Berkshire pork belly ($20) was beautifully presented with a ricotta salata (a salty ricotta cheese which has been pressed and dried) topped fried egg. I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy pan fried gnocchi and broccoli sides, which with the egg were the dish highlights. The pork belly, while nicely flavoured, was tough to cut through. The skin could be thinner or rendered more as it was a bit chewy. Perhaps even just blow torching the top prior to serving would help to crisp up the skin.


One of my favourite dishes is duck confit ($23)… but it does mean I've had many versions of it throughout my lifetime. East Thirty Six's was decent and delicious - the duck tender, hot and flavourful. The sous-vide cooked duck egg was a great touch, adding a silky, creamy sauce over the pecorino semolina "grits". On the side were plump maitake or hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. Overall, the best of the three meaty dishes, in my opinion.


Our fellow diners also ordered a variety of dishes. Some of the interesting ones I snapped pictures are below. The octopus ($23) looked great and was served with smoked potatoes, a creamy tonnato sauce, olives and red mustard.


The cauliflower ($8) could be a great side with the meaty dishes with it slightly toasted and flavoured with capers, preserved lemon, brown butter, hazelnut and parsley.



I welcome East Thirty Six to the neighbourhood. They take reservations, service was great and there’s plenty on the menu to meet all desires. And of course their happy hour menu doesn’t hurt as well.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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!

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