Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. 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

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

Recap of the Taste Canada Awards Gala


Celebrating its 20th year, the Taste Canada Awards gather food lovers and professionals to present silver and gold awards to Canadian culinary writers (both French and English), primarily in the cook book and recipe realm. Held at the Ritz Carlton Toronto, it was a gorgeous venue with twinkling lights hanging from windows and a rare opportunity to see food celebrities and notable Ontario chefs all in one place.


The evening began with a wine and cheese reception where guests could peruse the nominated books and taste lovely savoury cheeses donated by Monforte Dairy and the Forno Cultura Bakery. Niagara College Teaching Winery also provided enough wine to get everyone in the mood for celebrating (and likely calm the nerves of any nominees).


Before the awards gala, nominees made their way down the red carpet holding their book (in the case of printed writers). While some exhibited the nervous “take a quick picture and get out of here” attitude, many took the opportunity to let loose or showcase their gorgeous outfits.


It couldn’t have been an easy decision choosing the victors: there were 33 judges going through 147 submissions to finally narrow it down to 24 gold and silver winners. I was happy to see food bloggers represented as well; especially Chu On This, a blog by Annie Chu that I personally read. For a full list of winners head to their site.


Hosts Noah Cappe (stars in Carnival Eats) and Claire Tansey (who seems to have dabbled in all things food over 20 years) kept the awards distribution going at good pace, while keeping the audience laughing and engaged. A memorable moment happened after Samuel Joubert, whose cookbook Le Coup de Grace won silver in the general cuisine French category. Perhaps Quebecois slang became little lost in translation, but Noah had to point it out … keep it tight!


Luckily, after hearing so much about food, by 8pm we could actually eat! There were plenty of food stations to choose from, most presenting a generously-sized dish.

The chocolate station by Cacao Barry and Chef Jason Bangerter was the most stunning, using chocolates and other confectionaries to replicate a forest floor as a nod to the “terriors” noir and au lait. Like the chocolates I’ve sampled at Langdon Hall, where Bangerter normally presides, they have this rich depth that makes them special - it’s about the ingredient’s natural tastes, not something merely creamy and sweet.


My favourite dishes include:

1) Chef Dan Craig’s foraged mushroom consommé, the beaker apparatus concentrating the broth’s flavour with other ingredients and emitting such a cozy aroma around the station. Simply adorned with an agnolotti stuffed with ricotta and chanterelle mushroom and a surprising garnish of pickled apple, I could have easily devoured a full bowl of the soup.


2) A lovely elk terrine made by Chef Jaret Flannigan of The Wooly Pub. It was meaty and had just the perfect balance of spice without completely covering the elk’s flavours. Topped with bits of crunchy brown butter crumb, sweet roasted tomato jam, pickled onions, and a donair sauce it would have even worked as a burger. I wish saved Chef Jonathan Gushue’s foraged mushrooms with red kuri squash and sweet corn puree to pair it with. The dishes would have complemented each other well and their booths were situated in the same area.


3) While the beef in Chef Trevor Lui’s tataki was a bit chewy, the sesame chimichurri sauce and crispy root chips were spot on. I love the vibrant flavours; similar to the offerings found at Lui’s from Kanpai Snack Bar.


Chef Robert Mills’s smoked salmon macaron with salmon roe jelly was inventive and my first foray into savoury macarons – really something people should dabble into more. The squid ink macaron was lightly sweetened and contrasted against the salty salmon roe and smoked salmon.


While the Singaporean crab and corn fritters presented by Chef Matt Basile could have used more time in the oil, the line forming in front of the table certainly caused pressure to mount. In fact, this was also a problem that plagued Chef Vanessa Yeung whose steamed pork and shrimp dumplings with Asian chili jam was undercooked so had an odd mushy texture. Note to future chefs: if you need to cook food at the gala, choose something that has a very quick cooking time – something sous vide would work well.


There was also Chef Tawfik Shehata’s shrimp ceviche that incorporated full-sized prawns instead of chopped pieces. The ceviche’s tart coolness was a great balance against the other dishes, just not the easiest to eat standing trying to get the ceviche onto the cassava chips with a fork.


Most guests were excited to sample Chef Trevor Ritchie’s Rougie foie gras piped onto a wild rice brioche. There was a Thanksgiving taste to the bite thanks to the cranberry compote added.


Aside from the chocolate forest display, there was also a decadent macadamia, honey, and citrus chocolate bar from Chef Amede Lamerche and culinary students from Contestoga College … what a large piece of smooth chocolate studded with dried fruits and nuts.

 

Chef Dufflet Rosenberg also brought full-sized pumpkin, carrot, and chocolate Sammy cookies. Imagine soft pillowy cookies sandwiching that rich buttercream Dufflet pastries habitually use. If only I weren’t so full I would have wanted one of each flavour – the pumpkin was delicious.


All the while, we continue to sip on more wines from the Niagara College Teaching Winery. A group of food lovers, writers, and professionals – gathering to break bread (topped with foie gras of course).

Disclaimer: I attended the event on a complimentary basis. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 181 Wellington Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

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

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


Auberge Du Pommier Revisited in 2017 (Toronto)


After a positive and negative experience at Auberge du Pommier a couple years back, a return visit was in order to see if the exemplary service continues. Glancing into the private event room at the entrance, there wasn’t an occasion on the Friday night visit, good news for us already. We were greeted promptly at the door and shown to the table right away. Service was attentive and unhurried, what you’d imagine a fine dining restaurant to exude.

With spring came a lighter menu. The poured-at-table bouillabaisse ($24) was thick and silky, with an ingenious addition of crispy ginger for an expected zip. The actual seafood was surprisingly scant but well prepared: pieces of barely cooked Fogo Island cod, sweet flakes of crab, delicate mussels, and a couple of sweet petite shrimp. The piece of toasted pita with saffron aioli on top was a tad dry, I just stuck with the delicious baguettes that arrive with the bread basket instead.


For those who like cheese and fruit combinations, the camembert royale ($22) is an interesting appetizer - half a baked apple stuffed with a creamy camembert custard gives the dish a sweet, savoury, and tart combination. Adorned with asparagus, artichokes and black truffle, the starter has a light but rich quality.


While the homard thermidor ($55) was barbecued, the lobster wasn’t overly smoky. Additionally, despite incorporating a variety of aromatic ingredients such as leeks, morels, Dijon Mornay and hollandaise, it didn’t feel overdone and you could still taste the plump crustacean. Typically, this dish is part of their tasting menu, but you’re advised every dish can also be ordered a la carte. In this instance, Auberge should consider augmenting the sides as the lobster really didn’t feel like a main with the meagre spears of asparagus and cubes of potato.


The fletan ($45), part of their a la carte menu, was a more fulsome dish. The butter-poached halibut was a hefty portion and cooked wonderfully so it remained moist and meaty. Aside from the fish there were so many other elements: a beautiful garlicky razor clam; a tasty but overcooked tomato spätzle that went surprisingly well with everything; and a buttery gasconne sauce that paired wonderfully with the fish. All the flavours were great with the halibut, which is normally such a neutral fish.


None of the desserts were enticing so we stuck with the tried and true cheese course, which arrives with plenty of crostini, a berry compote, and cube of sweet sticky honeycomb. 



Choosing three French cheeses ($18), the selection had various firmness for interest: a soft Brillat-Savarin, a triple cream cow's milk cheese from Normandy that simply melted on the tongue; a semi-hard abondance that's stronger, but still not overpowering from Haute-Savoie; and the firmer comté that has an interesting almost spicy finish to it. The generous portions of each were perfect for sharing amongst two.  


The petit four selection, arriving with the bill, is such a satisfying finish. The soft and fudgy chocolate macaron was delicious, the lemon poppy seed madeleine decent, and a chocolate truffle with a crisp shell that breaks a part to release a whipped ganache with the consistency of butter cream frosting. Tasty to the last bite.


I’m glad to see Auberge’s service level hasn’t faltered. In fact, staff were so friendly that I couldn’t help but watch interactions between a waiter and table of three older women beside us. As they were having difficulties reading the menus in the dim lighting, being tech savvy they took out their phones and shone the screens on the menu. Seeing this, the waiter introduced them to the flashlight function, much to their delight. He took the time to show each of them how to use it and later when they stopped him again, he helped them navigate to the light once again. A great above and beyond example, demonstrating why Auberge continues to impress.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4150 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:


Auberge du Pommier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato