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

Scaramouche Restaurant (Toronto)


Yes, you’re in the right place. It seems wrong, as you pull up to an apartment building, but Scaramouche is located in the corner of Benvenuto Place. From the outside, it seems like an odd location for a restaurant, let alone one that has operated in Toronto for almost four decades. Yet, when you make your way into the dining room and are greeted with the view of the city’s midtown parklands and skyline, the residential neighbourhood is forgotten.


Tip back the shot of chilled celery and parsley soup and it certainly feels like you’re in a restaurant… slightly creamy before ending with a spicy horseradish kick. Equally refreshing are the half a dozen oysters ($30), freshly shucked with a bit of the red wine mignonette.


It’s hard to describe Scaramouche’s menu, possibly Canadian with European influences. These elements came together with the gnocchi ($25), a special for the day, combining in-season white asparagus and wild leeks. It was a fantastic starter! The creamy gnocchi well toasted in a golden crust and huge chunks of duck confit strewn throughout, enough that a larger portion can easily make this a main. Lastly, pieces of spongy morels, adding a different texture and soaking in the delicious duck jus.   


Unbeknownst to me, my order of roasted St. Canut suckling pig ($43) was replaced with a seared Nagano pork loin ($38). I wish they would have informed me of the change as when you expect something capped with crispy crackling skin, the medallion was an instant disappointment. Note to the restaurant: always inform your customers of replacements, I would have gone with the duck instead.


While the dish didn’t wow me like the starter, it’s a solidly constructed plate.  The meaty piece of perfectly cooked pork paired well with the traditional trimmings: luscious parsnip purée and lightly pickled apple. The fingerling potatoes are sautéed with bacon to give it an extra zip.

On the other hand, a taste of my husband’s lamb ($49) left me wanting more. The tender chops were crusted with an herby salsa verde to keep it light. Every element of the plate – peeled cherry tomatoes, crunchy beans, and a lemony eggplant purée was enticingly refreshing and bright, screaming of warmer weather even though Mother Nature wasn’t completely agreeing with us. Forget the typical heavy lamb with gravy and potatoes, Scaramouche’s interpretation is exactly what I want.


For dessert, their coconut cream pie ($14) is well known. Three distinct layers of sweet coconut custard, light chantilly cream, and tons of white chocolate shavings – so much that it had to be swept to the side. In comparison to the rest of the pie, the crust it thin and delicate, but still incorporated enough butter that even a bit of the crispy pastry with the cream was delicious. This is a pie for coconut lovers as the custard contained A LOT of it.


I welcomed bits of savouriness from my husband’s cheese plate ($16) to balance out the sweet dessert. The Wookey Hole cheddar is described as being aged in lime stone caves in Somerset, England, where it’s said to take on an earthy taste. Truth be told, I couldn’t distinguish any mineral elements, but it was flavourful, without being overpowering, and had a light nuttiness.


The cheddar was balanced by a lighter 12-month Manchego from Spain where you taste the dairy while enjoying the harder slightly crumbly texture of the cheese. Of course, the cheese board arrives with typical condiments – interestingly a tomato chutney (instead of something fruit based), perhaps there was already enough fruit in the pear and cranberry bread crackers.

It’s taken me a while to make it out to Scaramouche. This year’s birthday seemed like an opportune time to finally make it out to the iconic fine dining establishment. Possibly, it was even a bit reassuring, since the restaurant is older than me. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Benvenuto 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:

Scaramouche Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salt ソルト バイ ルークマンガン (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 1-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda (Shin-Marunouchi Building, 6th floor)
Website: http://www.pjgroup.jp/salt/

Type of Meal: Dinner

Salt Tokyo is an overseas outpost of Chef Luke Mangan’s Australian restaurant from Sydney. Of course, the Tokyo location also features a fusion of Japanese ingredients on account of Chef Koji Fukuda’s influence.

With a limited selection on their a la carte menu, most diners seemed to be ordering off their three course menu (¥4,800 with supplements for certain items). If you are really hungry, they also offer a five or eight course tasting menu. But, we found the three courses more than enough, especially when there were two smaller amuses thrown in and frequent refills of bread. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to choose your meal, especially since many things on the menu sounded delicious.

Before the appetizer arrived the first amuse was presented, a piece of bacon infused corn bread which had been lightly grilled and topped with a cool crème fraîche.  Although it wasn’t anything spectacular, it was a nice addition to the complimentary bread. 


The prawn rolled in kadayif resembled a tornado spring roll, consisting of a shrimp wrapped in thin wisps of crispy coating. Kadayif, similar to shredded wheat, is generally found in the Turkish dessert baklava so was interesting to taste it in a savoury form. Paired with a sweet chili jam it was good but then it’s hard to mess up deep fried shrimp. I was intrigued when the menu describes this dish coming with "beer air"; unfortunately I didn’t get a whiff of ale so still unsure how it ties into the prawn.


My husband's Tasmanian ocean trout sashimi was absolutely delicious made up of fresh thinly sliced trout topped with ginger, shallot and soy. This was then combined with some creamy avocado, spring greens and dollops of goat cheese so it became a substantial salad. Out of two, this was the better choice in my opinion.  


Next, a second amuse arrives, this time an upscale take on a deep fried mozzarella stick. I’m not quite sure what type of cheese it was, but had a nice crust and soft molten centre complete with a creamy sauce for dipping. I can’t recall what the crispy bits topping the sauce were but overall liked the dish.


Taking a gamble, I ordered the roasted "sawara" which turned out to be a white fish (still unclear why the menu describes it in quotes). The skin was nicely crisped while the fish tender and flaky, but this was a fairly delicate so relied heavily on the other ingredients to give it oomph. Combined with chunks of softly boiled potatoes, bacon and mushrooms, the dish certainly had a rustic feel and is good if you’re in the mood for something simple.


Once again, although my selection was good, I found my husband’s dish was superior. The grilled beef fillet (¥800 supplement) with potato puree sounded uninspired – beef and potatoes? But, it was beautifully seared and tender with just the right amount of saltiness from the au jus. As the slice of chili compound butter started melting the rich heat also start permeating the meat and smooth mashed potatoes.  


To end, the yakiimo (roasted sweet potato) soufflé (¥300 supplement) for me, which although started deflating was still fluffy and moist on the inside. Underneath the shell was a beniimo (purple sweet potato) ice cream; such a brilliant colour and a nice thick creamy texture. The addition of crunchy cookie bits (likely also derived from sweet potato) scattered around the ice cream added a nice contrast. All things considered, it was a delicious dessert.


The cheese plate (¥600 supplement) had a varying selection consisting of Roquefort (a blue cheese which generally isn’t my favourite but wasn’t quite as pungent so bearable; I’ll admit the drizzle of honey always helps), Ossau-Iraty (a smooth sheep’s milk based cheese) and a triple cream brie (always a delight!).



In general, Salt’s dishes were well executed and delicious. While offering pristine French linens, silver and service; Salt nonetheless charged affordable price points. Located in central Tokyo close to Tokyo Station, Hibiya and Ginza it’s an easy place to drop into for a nice dinner that’s not painstakingly long.


Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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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!

Chikappa (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 4-3-6 Chuo-ku, Ginza (Nagoya Chamber of Commerce Hall 1F)
Website: 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/%E3%81%8A%E5%8F%96%E3%82%8A%E5%AF%84%E3%81%9B%E3%83%90%E3%83%BC%E3%83%ABChikappa-GINZA/325180354274159?id=325180354274159



We wandered into Chikappa by chance after walking around Ginza and wanting to stop for a break. With its cheerful exterior Chikappa seemed welcoming and hence we entered and found a charming Italian restaurant. With reasonably priced craft beers and wines from around the world – I had a decent cabernet sauvignon for ¥500 – there’s great options for anyone.


On their other hand, their food tended to be pricier in relation to drinks. We ordered some appetizers to tide us over before dinner, the first dish a cheese plate (¥1,200). Containing a luxurious black pepper goat cheese, creamy brie and salty cheddar there was a nice combination of textures and flavours. If only there were more than just two slices of bread for so much cheese.


Wanting some vegetables, we ordered a simple cucumber and tomato (¥680) with a thick miso dipping sauce. Although it was plain, the vegetables were fresh and a great quality. For some reason it tasted really good to me after not having many North American type vegetables.



Overall, even though we just stopped by for a snack and drinks, my husband and I were happy with the experience and would recommend it if you’re looking for a resting place in Ginza.

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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!


CLOSED: Nota Bene (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 180 Queen Street West
Type of Meal: Dinner


Not having visited the restaurant for years, Summerlicious seemed like a great opportunity for a return visit. For one, it would be more affordable (normally mains can easily cost upwards of $35) and their Summerlicious offering sounded great. Plus, they even had great drink specials with $8 cocktails and $7 wine glasses.


At first, I was worried the restaurant’s quality had gone down as the starters differed from my fond memories of Nota Bene. Don't get me wrong, they were still decent; but, the ingredient combinations and tie into the restaurant itself seemed off. My albacore tuna sashimi was seared beautifully with a thin even ring around every piece. However, the accompanying ingredients (Caeser aoili, fried onion frizzles, bonito flakes and grilled peppers) were all so powerful that it drown out the fish. Personally, I thought the condiments described on the menu (citrus soy sauce, ginger and coriander) would have been more than enough. The additional elements were tasty but, in my opinion, would have worked better with beef carpaccio. 


Sanagan’s pulled braised goat was a dish recommended by Toronto Life’s picks. So, it was one I was interested to see and arrived more put together than expected. My friend described it perfectly – it tastes like chili except with shredded goat. In hindsight, after reading the menu’s description (black beans, pico de gallo and goat cheese espuma) it should have tipped us off to the potential Tex-Mex flavours. And it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – the chili was good - just not something you’d expect at Nota Bene (but could work well at The Carbon Bar). The creamy fried croquettes (perhaps polenta?) were delicious and went well with the tangy goat cheese.


As the mains arrived all fears were calmed - this was what I remembered and loved about the restaurant! Normally, I always go for the meat or fish option but something about the pea and ricotta ravioli was calling my stomach. It was every bit as delightful as it sounded. There were plenty of plump ravioli stuffed with a fresh sweet pea and ricotta. The creamy sauce helped to flavour the pasta but wasn’t too strong as to cover the subtle pea. A soft runny poached egg in the middle mixed into everything to add another element of creaminess. Plus, nothing goes better with shaved truffles than a well-cooked egg! Crisp kale chips were scattered on top adding texture and extra pops of flavour. This is a great dish that you should order off their regular menu.


Indeed, the peppercorn-crusted steak frites tempted me and those who ordered it were happy. Between our larger group, there were requests for rare, medium rare and medium well steaks. The accomplished chefs successfully served everyone simultaneously (despite the varying doneness) and each came out correctly.  And the parmigiano and rosemary topped fries were wonderful – I may have snuck my fare share off of the plates around me.

My husband, a burger fanatic, went with their dry-aged beef burger. He noted it was very juicy (likely on account of using beef brisket) and had good flavours. He only wished there was a bit more sauce to the burger but was nonetheless satisfied.


To end, my friend and I split a hot sugared doughnut and cheese plate. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the cheese plate; it had three great pieces of different and delightful offerings. With crostini and a piece of dried fruit this would have been a sufficient ending.


But, the doughnut was absolutely fantastic! We were astonished by the size (the equivalent of two Krispy Kremes), yet everyone polished off their plate. The doughnut was hot, soft, light and not too sugary. It went so well with the hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream and the light blueberry sauce.  My only regret of the evening was not having a full order of this.




Needless to say, we left the restaurant stuffed. Of course, our attentive waiter could have something to do with this. As we were waiting for a friend, he continuously brought out bread and our drinks were never empty.  All in all, the return visit was great (albeit much busier than the non-Summerlicious weeknights visits). So, although this post is coming out a little late in the Summerlicious cycle, go while you still can! And if you don’t get a reservation, go back and splurge on the ravioli and doughnut, you will not be disappointed. 


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 - $45

Regular menu - $58 - tuna sashimi ($17), ravioli ($29) and doughnut ($12)

Savings - $13 or 22%

* All the items offered during Summerlicious were part of their regular menu, fantastic!



    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!



    Envers (Morriston)

    Location: Morriston, Canada
    Address: 42 Queen Street
    Website: http://www.enversofmorriston.ca/
    Type of Meal: Dinner



    Envers is a popular restaurant near Guelph that has been in business for over 30 years. During our return visit, the restaurant has expanded to include a patio (unused as we went in the winter) complete with a new dining room and bar area downstairs. Located in a historic house, Envers has charming surroundings, with a cozy warm fireplace if you eat in the basement. Despite its antiquated dining area, its menu is rather eclectic with a mix of offerings from all over the world.
    My starter of grilled octopus ($13) incorporated Mexican spices and a creamy Thai inspired sauce. The wedges of tentacles were very tender and resembled the texture of chicken. I enjoyed the spicy rub and grilled smokiness of the octopus that contrasted well against the cream coconut sauce on the bottom.

    In my opinion, the dish would have benefited from something lighter than sweet potato fries sitting at the bottom as it was a bit heavy for an appetizer. Maybe a typical but delicious corn salsa or vinaigrette based slaw would have helped. The cornbread was dry and tasteless so needed something mixed into the batter (such as corn or roasted peppers) and/or a brush of compound butter on top. All in all, a decent start but not something I’d order again.
    Italian and French influences made up my husband’s gnocchi with duck confit ($14). Soft pillows of ricotta gnocchi were flavoured with duck jus to keep it light. Pieces of tender duck confit, shaved foie gras and crisp brussel sprout leaves made this a pretty substantial starter and really could be a great main in a larger serving.


    We both ordered the braised beef shortrib ($32) as we didn’t want to risk the other not sharing in the event it was as delicious as it sounded. As expected, the short rib easily broke apart from being cooked for hours in a red wine sauce. Sitting below, soaking up all the rich meat juices, were roasted carrots & parsnips, more ricotta gnocchi and crisp rapini. Chef Ken Hodgins should be commended for adding the shavings of pickled fennel on top which went so well with the dish; the otherwise stick-to-your-ribs meal really helped get a fresh punch from them.

    To end, we shared a fairly large cheese board ($14), which was beautifully presented with
    tons of fixings – nut and fruit crackers, tart apple slices, sweet black berries and rehydrated apricots that were moist but not syrupy. The four cheeses we received consisted of blue cheese, parmesan and two softer ones (perhaps gouda and swiss)? If only there was a drizzle of honey for the blue cheese it would have been perfect.

    Envers continues to be a good place to dine at while making visits to Guelph. I’m sure their patio would be beautiful in the summer time that it may warrant a return meal.


    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!




        Enver's of Morriston on Urbanspoon



        Restaurant Martin Wishart (Edinburgh)

        Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
        Address: 54 The Shore
        Website: http://www.restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk/
        Type of Meal: Lunch



        When a Michelin starred restaurant offers a 3-course lunch menu for £28.50 it’s a deal that's hard to pass up. So, we made the short cab ride out to Leith, Northwest of Edinburgh's city centre, to visit the restaurant.

        Being a French restaurant, you certainly got that classic upscale French feeling when you walked into Martin Wishart with the crisp white linen, sparkly crystal and shiny silverware. Luckily, the staff were friendly and didn't appear to be snooty, albeit not nearly as friendly as the other Edinburgh restaurants we encountered. 

        Not long after ordering a small dice sized horseradish beet macaron was presented meant to be eaten in one bite to wake up the palette. It was an interesting combination with the sweet macaron shell and the creamy horseradish spiked filling; a good savoury take on the French dessert. 

        Following was a more substantial amuse bouche trio consisting of a haggis croquette, foie gras shavings and a parmesan cheese puff.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fried haggis ball with its smooth flavourful meat filling and crunchy exterior.  Not being a fan of foie gras, for ethical reasons, I was glad it was only a small portion. Nonetheless, it was smooth and flavourful and almost refreshing in how they prepared it – it appeared to be mixed it with something, frozen and then shaved and topped with a complementary crispy element. The cheese puff was tasty - as cheese and choux pastry generally would be, with an astonishing amount of cheese for such a small ball.

        My starter, ravioli of wild mushroom, was my favourite dish of the meal.  It could have easily been a main with another ravioli and the addition of some protein. Even though the pasta dough was thin, there was still a nice chewy texture and stuffed full with diced mushrooms - the mixture being so dense that you could have sworn there was some meat in there binding it all together. The foam was delicate and allowed the woodsy mushroom flavour to shine through.  Even the sautéed cabbage sitting under the ravioli, a smart way to stop them from sliding around the dish, was delicious. 

        As can be seen from the picture below, the roast cod was seared beautifully giving it a golden brown crust, which goes so well with the delicate soft fish.  The dish was a bit salty, not sure if it was from the foam, the fish or the wilted spinach on the bottom. The fish itself was good but not very memorable.  The only unexpected highlight was the thin medallions of potato boulangere dotted around the dish - deliciously flavourful with a slight herby essence, which is somewhat sad given they were an inconsequential part of the meal.

        On the other hand, the navarin of Dornoch lamb my husband ordered was such an intensely flavourful dish.  This French lamb stew was a good nod to Scottish cuisine and almost like beef bourguignon.  The lamb was tender, flaked apart easily and had a rich deep sauce covering everything. This is certainly a hearty dish you want if you're hungry, Martin Wishart provides a substantial portion topped with typical stew ingredients (carrots, onions and mushrooms). Celeriac purée, served in a separate dish, accompanied the dish and added a silky, buttery and creamy touch to everything. 

        French cuisine is known for their desserts and my apple tart bourdaloude did not disappoint its warm flaky crust, beautifully fanned layer of apples and dollop of chantilly cream. Thankfully, the apples were cooked well - tender throughout but still had a slight bite to it.  For me, the dessert was too sweet; I just wish the apple itself was a bit tarter so it could have cut through the sugary syrup. 

        I loved that Martin Wishart has a cheese cart, which they roll over when you order the cheese plate (supplement of £10).  There are about a dozen of options available and the server asks your preference before building a cheese plate catered to your palate.  My husband, liking stronger tasting cheddars and not blue cheeses, was given a variety of French cheeses with one lone Scottish cheddar. Not pictured are some crackers and bread that is placed on your side plate when this is ordered.

        Enclosed below is a picture of the chocolate macaron with black current filling ordered by another guest. I can't comment on how it tastes since I never tried it, but thought I'd share since it was so beautifully presented.



        Sadly, there were a couple of slight hiccups that I found surprising for a Michelin rated restaurant.
        • Perhaps this is common in Scotland, but when we requested tea and coffee with our dessert, we were instantly charged the coffee + petit fours option with the meal (£5.95).  To make things worse, we weren't even brought any of the petit fours, despite being charged to it making each hot beverage quite costly.  I will say that I enjoyed that they heated up their teapots and milk, but still for £6 a cup it was a bit steep.  
        • The second issue was that they just couldn't remember my water choice! My guests prefer sparkling (£5.50 per bottle) while I just like plain ice water.  Both times they refilled my glass, either I or someone from my table had to stop them and state no sparkling water for me as I prefer ice.  After hearing this, they didn't offer to replace my water so I had to drink the carbonated version that I detest.  I know it’s something small, but something that easily could have been avoided – just write down the guest’s preferences somewhere!
        All in all, for the price of the meal, Martin Wishart is a great value option.  For the most part the dishes were delicious and atmosphere posh, elegant and relaxing.


        Overall mark - 7.5 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
        • 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!


        Martin Wishart on Urbanspoon