Showing posts with label brownie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brownie. Show all posts

CLOSED: Spacco (Toronto)



Midtown has a group of restaurants that has operated for years, yet their appeal have diminished with all the new competition, despite having decent food and a pleasant atmosphere. Spacco is one of these restaurants, a place I recall visiting for work functions numerous years ago, dining on appetizer platters and finger foods. 

They began offering a Groupon deal for a three course meal for four for only $80 - a steal considering most of their mains are $15-$20 (prices included in the post are from the regular menu). We did have to order from condensed offerings, but still had plenty of choices and was a well curated selection off their complete menu.

Both of the calamari ($13) were fair sized portions and well executed. The battered version, the typical thin rings, were hot and fresh from the deep fryer. Meanwhile, the grilled version could be charred a bit more but had nice flavours from the lemon garlic olive oil, the vegetables on the side a great addition.


The oven baked shrimp ($13) were thankfully not overcooked and the chunky spicy roasted tomato sauce they sat in great for slathering on the soft complimentary ciabatta buns.  


Although the arancini ($12) were delicious and in my opinion the tastiest of all the appetizers, the two ping pong sized balls made the starter much smaller compared to other offerings. Typically, at other restaurants, there would be three to an order – Spacco you need to consider increasing the number of arancini or the size of each one for this appetizer. Nonetheless, the deep fried risotto stuffed with peas and mozzarella were hot and satisfying, a soft molten middle with the requisite crunchy exterior.  


For the mains, the seafood risotto ($20) was terrible – the rice extremely mushy and is questionable if it was even made with the Arborio variety. There was a fair amount of seafood (shrimp, scallop, calamari and mussels) but despite the menu describing the mussels as “fresh”, they were gritty and tasted off to me.


The penne trecolore ($18) was better, the pasta in between the al dante and cooked through state but tossed in a tasty tomato cream sauce. Mixed into the pasta was plenty of chicken, spinach and roasted red peppers to provide the “three colours” from the dish’s name.


With the wood-burning oven prominently situated in the open kitchen, it seemed like a safe bet that the pizzas would be good. We ordered two to share, the culo rosso ($16) and campagnia ($17), both delicious and prettily presented.


Indeed, the culo rosso had a very spicy kick from the hot banana peppers, so much so that it momentarily renders your tongue numb making the sausage and caramelized shallots non-existent. But, if you like the heat, it’s a great pie. On the other hand, the campagnia is much tamer topped with chicken, roasted red peppers, spinach, sundried tomatoes and a fair amount of creamy goat cheese.

The only easy decision is dessert – there are two choices, a sweet and moist tuxedo truffle mousse cake or dense and sugary iced chocolate brownie with ice cream ($7). Neither are fantastic, yet tasted fresh and since they’re both so decadent, leaves you satisfied with a few tastes.   



Overall, we were all pleasantly surprised with the quality of their food for the price we paid ($20 per person). Although there wasn’t anything outstanding, the dishes were executed better than chain restaurants and the atmosphere cheerful and conducive to sharing bottles of wine without fear of becoming too loud. Best yet, after the meal, you can always venture to their lounge area and continue the night with more drinks and a game at one of their seven pool tables.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2415 Yonge Street (behind Alleycatz)


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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:



Spacco Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Website: http://johnandsonsoysterhouse.com/#about-1
Type of Meal: Dinner


John and Son's Oyster House has a comfortable environment. Open, airy and decorated with simple wooden decor there is plenty of light and suitable ambient noise to allow for louder conversation. Yet place settings are still polished with thick linen napkins and shiny cutlery. Plus, the lovely aroma of seafood cooking just adds to the experience.

Ordering off of their Summerlicious menu, I started with the crab cake. Thankfully, John and Son did not skimp on the dungeness crab. Tender and moist it easily flaked apart. I liked that the filling was not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the crab remained. Topped with a dollop of lemon aioli and placed on topped of some lightly dressed arugula this was a good starter.


My friends’ New England style chowders arrived piping hot, a pleasure when mass produced soup can sometimes become lukewarm when left in warming pots. They seemed pleased and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t too heavy despite being cream based.


The niçoise was beautifully presented with all the fresh and vibrant vegetables. Each element of the dish was thoughtfully prepared – the tuna evenly seared with a delicately salted crust, the asparagus retaining some crunch, the roasted tomato not too acidic and even the olives fantastic as not overly briny. But my favourite component was the soft boil egg that sat upon a bacon (?) aoili with crunched crunchy bacon bits on top; it left me wanting more.


Two good sized portions of wild haddock arrived in the fish and chips along with tons of fries and a side coleslaw. The fish was moist and flakey; although the batter a bit thick and oily for my taste. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy and reminded me of the Swiss Chalet delivery fries. They could have benefited from being fried twice. 


My friend's black angus flat iron steak was a respectable size but arrived undercooked (seemed rare when ordered medium rare). But, it looked juicy and succulent with a nice char to it. The fries were sadly the same soggy variety. 


In terms of the desserts most people preferred the frozen lemon mascarpone cheese cake. Creamy and fluffy with raspberries on top, it was a lighter dessert to end the meal.


I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut. With a sweet maple butter glaze and crunchy chocolate nut bits it had varying elements of salty & sweet and soft & crunchy. The doughnut could have been fried a tad longer as the middle was a bit soft and doughy.


The brownie was moist and chocolaty but we found it lacked the oomph the other desserts had. 


Service was efficient with dishes coming out in quick succession. Overall, it wasn't bad but could have been improved with two minor suggestions:
  1.  Be more attentive with refilling water. Although each table was given a large bottle for self-refills, once that was empty it wasn’t automatically replaced.
  2. More of a personal pet peeve, but I prefer finished dishes to be left and collected when the entire table is done (or in larger tables as sections are done). This ensures that slower diners don’t feel rushed and those who are finished still retain cutlery to sneak tastes off of a friend’s plate.


Overall, my choices were delicious and it felt nice to eat fresh vegetables and seafood so that I wasn’t overly stuffed at the end. John and Son is a nice choice (for seafood) and appears to have a great closed in patio ideal for summer days.


Is Summerlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Summerlicious - $35

Regular menu - $49 - crab cake ($15), nicoise ($25) and doughnut ($9)

Savings - $14 or 29%

* The crab cake is based on their downtown menu price.



Overall mark - 7 out of 10


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____________________________
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!


John & Sons Oyster House on Urbanspoon


CLOSED: Globe Bistro (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 124 Danforth Avenue
Website: http://www.globebistro.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner 


Meals purchased off group buying sites can sometimes be a disaster, but my experience at Globe Bistro was incredible. My friend found a $149 six-course tasting menu deal for four people (the equivalent of $37 a person).  The sample menu sounded delicious so we decided to give it a chance.

Walking into the restaurant I was surprised by how spacious it was – there was a whole second dining area in the back. With its dark décor and natural wood elements, Globe has laid-back vibe. On the whole, the seats were comfortable, so much so that we didn’t realize our meal lasted three hours!

Our waitress advised the six-course tasting menu changes daily and that it would be tasted blindly (essentially, you do not see a menu ahead of time). Of course, we were gamed for anything and happy to go along with whatever Chef Ed Ho wanted to serve. Before any dishes arrived, some warm soft whole wheat sour dough bread  was brought out. Accompanied by a delicious fragrant truffle butter with black pepper it was great.



Next, an amuse bouche of crispy pork belly bites. As soon as the cube of meat hit the palate I knew I was in for a treat. Covered with salt & a spicy togarashi spice mix and topped with a pickled mustard, it was a delicious combination of varying flavours. Hot and crispy, it was a superb start to the meal.



Afterwards, the first course, a soup of zucchini purée. A brilliant green colour, it was more intensely flavoured (had almost a seafood essence) than expected. Topped with a drizzle of olive oil and crispy tempura zucchini blossoms the soup was a great use of squash.



The composed salad course was one of my favourites of the night. Rather than the typical bed of lettuce, the salad’s base was a thick tomato purée. Sprinkled over top were sweet spring peas, crunchy pea pods, sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes and a crumbly goat cheese. It was another dish that expertly combined different textures and flavours without losing the natural essence of the ingredients themselves.



For the fish course the Chef presented a pan fried pickerel with a great crispy skin and was done well. Served with a carrot purée and more sweet crispy spring peas it was a light summery take on fish. I would have liked there to be a bit more salt but all in all not a bad dish.



Before the main course, a peach sorbet palate cleanser was brought out. Creamier than expected, it was also topped with a drizzle of honey that was produced on the Globe’s rooftop … so it appears the Royal York is not the only downtown building with beehives on top.



The main was a lovely thick piece of Wellington County 60-day aged strip loin.  Done to a great medium rare, it would have been even better if it were served warmer. I thoroughly enjoyed the accompanying blanched kale, sweet corn and plump mushrooms.



Before dessert was a cheese course, a great transition between savoury and sweet. Globe served a stilton style cheese (I believe it was a Thornloe Casey blue cheese) with white balsamic macerated red currants and crostini. Normally, I’m not a fan of pungent cheeses, but this one wasn’t too bad and rather creamy. Given Globe has a rooftop of beehives, it would have been ideal if the cheese was paired with a piece of honeycomb instead (something about honey and blue cheese, what a great combination). Apologies forgot to snap a picture.

To end, a dessert of warm chocolate brownie topped with lemon custard and raspberry coulis. Again a dish that I normally wouldn’t like (I personally think chocolate and fruits do not mix) but was rather enjoyable. The brownie was a great soft dense consistency and because it wasn’t too sweet, the lemon and raspberry complemented it well.



My friends and I were very happy with the experience and appreciated the great friendly service we received. Without a doubt, we lucked out with an amazing deal on Globe’s tasting menu; regularly it would be $70 (which is still a fair price). Should you want something smaller, they also offer 4 courses for $50 or 5 courses for $60. All in all, price points for everyone – go try Globe out, I think you’ll like it. 

Overall mark - 8 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!




Remoulade (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 309 Bourbon Street
Website: http://www.remoulade.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Sometimes it’s difficult finding a restaurant opened daily and late. Remoulade is such a place, serving Creole classics from 11am-11pm every day at affordable prices. The casual sister restaurant to the more indulgent Arnauds, you’ll get traditional dishes without the high prices. 

Jambalaya ($10.95) is one of those dishes that you’ll find at many restaurants. Remoulade’s is made to order arriving hot and fresh. Although lighter in flavour than the one we had at The Gumbo Shop, it still had some heat to it. Filled with shrimp, chicken, ham, Andouille sausage and vegetables there was enough toppings, just the rice was a bit soft for my taste. All in all, a decent dish but definitely not the best of the night. 


The New Orleans-style stuffed crabs ($13.95) were delicious and resembles a crab cake with more meat and less bread crumbs. Baked in shell with tons of crab and some vegetables it arrives with a golden crispy crust, piping hot, aromatic and certainly made me want more. Creamy soft roasted potatoes accompany the dish and is a good option if you’re not feeling overly hungry.


We were all pleasantly surprised with the blackened catfish ($12.95), which was so much better than the ones I've previously eaten outside of NOLA. At Remoulade it is moist and flaky, almost the texture of tilapia, and the crust of seasonings filled with flavours but not burnt. Hints of chili, garlic and oregano shone through, another dish that left us wanting more.


Service was friendly and efficient with complementary bread brought out quickly after ordering. Staff members took the time to interact with us so we felt welcomed. Moreover, Remoulade was nice enough to send out a rich hot brownie with ice cream after learning we were celebrating a birthday (regularly $5.25).

Mom's brownie (1)

If sweets aren’t your thing than you may want to end off the meal with a shot which will only set you back $3.75. Certainly, a great way to start a night on Bourbon Street.

Shots of lemon drops (1)


Overall mark - 8 out of 10

Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - 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!

Photo Sources:

  1. Special thank you to my friend Jill for the pictures of the shots and dessert!

Arnaud's Remoulade on Urbanspoon