Showing posts with label chocolate cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate cake. Show all posts

Alobar Yorkville (Toronto)


After opening the best restaurant in Canada and one of the fanciest diners in Toronto, what else can Chef Patrick Kriss do? He’s stepped out of their Queen West building and into Yorkville where the newest edition, Alo Bar, resides. Somewhere in between the tasting menu and casual eats spectrum, Alo Bar offers an a la carte menu with fancier dishes in a cozy dark environment.

As with all of their restaurants, you’ll be served fantastic bread. At Alo Bar, a cube of buttery brioche that’s so fluffy and aromatic that no condiments are needed. Even the hunks of sourdough that comes with the burrata ($16) is dangerously delicious, well grilled so it gives off a lovely smokiness amongst a liberal drizzle of olive oil. It’s so good that it almost steals the show. 



Nevertheless, the burrata is comforting, sitting in a pool of vibrant olive oil with figs done two ways – fresh and preserved in mustard oil, which is a delicious compliment with the neutral cheese and toasted bread.


For a dish that’s normally lighter, Alo Bar’s tuna tartare ($24) can hold up against beef any day. The delicate fish is chopped into small pieces and when mixed with the seasonings, copious amounts of grated truffle, and chanterelles becomes a rich spread against the thin rice chips. 


With a variety of sides, many could work as starters. I could barely make out the shishito peppers ($10) under the salty cotija cheese and creamy garlic sauce with a dash of tajin (a Mexican pepper seasoning)… there’s seriously more toppings than peppers. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, I can see this side being a great option. For me, it was too overpowering. 


The French fries ($10) were thin and crispy and would have been perfect if they weren’t SO salty. The only way to neutralize the flavours was to dip it in the aioli to form a barrier against the salt and my tongue. If only I could actually taste the potatoes. 


Even the cauliflower ($12) was heavy, despite the menu describing it as being accompanied with grape, mint, and almond. The combination was covered with a sweet syrup and the cauliflower cut into such small pieces and so well roasted with oil that it almost seemed deep fried. By the middle of the mains, I was seriously craving something fresh.

Something like the wedge salad ($18) that came at the beginning of the meal would be nice. The fourme d’ambert dressing brings a taste of blue cheese, but it’s sweeter and milder. Bits of bacon are mixed into nutty grains that goes surprisingly well with the crunchy iceberg lettuce. For a seemingly simple salad, it tastes surprisingly complex.


Maybe it was just our menu choices, but we ordered everything that’s sinfully opulent. By itself, the agnolotti ($28) is already a fairly flavourful pasta - stuffed with a sweet potato, parmesan, and piquillo pepper mixture so there’s a sweet, savoury, and spicy element. This is then covered with a cream sauce that’s undeniably rich, reminding you why the dish is more French than Italian.


It seems like the Muscovy duck ($42) is dry aged, so the meat is gamier than normal. Yet, you almost need a stronger flavour to hold up against the star anise flavour, which gives it an earthy licorice taste. Personally, I preferred the duck plain since the breast was cooked beautifully with a crispy skin. Save the bites of salty confit leg with poached plum for the end.


Be sure to save room for dessert. Alo Bar’s chocolate cake ($14) arrives as a slab with beautiful layers, each bite dense, creamy, and chocolatey. It would be nice if the caramel ice cream was replaced with something stronger ... a coffee based ice cream with a hint of bitterness would be great with the chocolate cake.


The menu’s description of the cheesecake ($14) doesn’t do the dessert justice… after all, does one get excited over cheesecake with cherries? Yet, when the Basque-style cheesecake arrived, the brûlée exterior was so dark that we thought it was chocolate. Upon cutting into the sizeable cake, we're greeted with a white creamy interior. It’s a luscious cake that’s sweet and cheesy, the caramelized sugar crust going nicely with the sour cherry jam. If you only have room for a single dessert, I highly recommend this one.


After experiencing the magic of Alo and Aloette, it’s difficult not to have high expectations. While Alo Bar is good, I didn’t leave with that same sense of excitement. Nonetheless, it’s a good option in Yorkville and Alo Bar’s lounge atmosphere is ideal for a night out. Consequently, if you’re looking for a quiet romantic meal, the loud music with bass vibrating through the banquette may not be the best option. Of course, it’s Yorkville and the neighbourhood parties. Now, with rich indulgent dishes, Alo-style.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 162 Cumberland 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:



Oretta (Toronto)


A scroll through Oretta’s Instagram tags and you’ll see it’s a beautiful restaurant with a lavish dining room. Sure, it’s gorgeous, but there’s also something eerily familiar about it. Looking around, there’s the airy high ceilings and blush pink colour scheme of Figo, the art deco brass accents from La Banane, and in the centre of the room, a huge round bar that also sits in Lena. 

Indeed, there’s nothing wrong with having elements similar to other restaurants, but the sense of déjà vu kept sneaking in as I sipped on the tasty a la nonna ($13), a spiced pear puree and Prosecco cocktail, that could replace a mimosa any day. 

As I thought about the meal, I couldn’t help but see how the experience followed the popular “hamburger method” of providing feedback – start positive, give the hard meaty truth, then end positive. To begin, the fried parsnip polenta ($5) was fantastic with the ultra-crispy golden crust, creamy interior, and sprinkles of thyme and honey. A small slip may be how the cook sprinkles on salt, likely after the sticks are intricately stacked, as I found the ones on the bottom didn’t have quite enough seasoning leaving the last bite not nearly as good as the first.


Torontonians are spoiled with the quality of Italian establishments in the city. All the sudden, serving freshly made pasta is just table stakes for most restaurants. Oretta’s tagliatelle ($19) arrives as a large mound of pasta tossed in Nonna Lea’s ragu and a generous sprinkling of parmigiano. All in all, it’s a pasta Nonna Lea can likely stand behind, the red sauce was really hearty and meaty. If only there was more of the tasty ragu, as I did find it a tad sticky and difficult to untangle the long strands of pasta.


In lieu of the traditional creamy liquid rice dish, the risotto al salto ($22) pan fries a squash risotto pancake to create crispy exterior. With plenty of castelmagno fonduta incorporated into the rice, the dish is fairly cheesy, so it almost tastes like deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls with a creamy plump mushroom sauce over top. Overall, it’s a good dish, but works better as a shared appetizer. As a main, it’s a bit heavy and not quite satisfying on its own. 


From the moment the spalla d'agnello ($28) arrived I knew the lamb shoulder was overcooked … looking like slices of thick pork chop, there wasn’t an ounce of fat, let alone pinkness in the meat. One bite into the lamb confirmed my suspicions, it was tough and the well seared crust so hard it was scratchy on the way down. Even the medley of creamy baby potato pieces, salty lamb bacon, and crunchy cauliflower didn’t help. Sure, these would have been good as a side, but not nearly saucy enough to save the terribly dry lamb.


Thankfully, the chef’s selection of sweets in the assaggi dolci ($16) saved the meal from a dreadful ending. It included the freshest cannoli I’ve ever tasted - the shell presumably freshly fried as it was still extremely crispy and distinct from the creamy ricotta filling. Even the pistachios were left in larger chunks, so there was an intense crunchiness to the cannoli, which finished much too quickly.


Make sure you dig into the rich dark chocolate cake while it’s still hot and gives off a lovely cocoa aroma. Although the ice cold vanilla gelato would pair with the cake, it’s equally enjoyable on its own since it arrives on a bed of chocolate cookie crumbs, which when mixed into the ice cream gave it a lovely cookies and cream taste. What a great selection of desserts including wonderfully thin and nutty peanut brittle dipped in dark and white chocolate, sweet stick-to-your-teeth honeycomb candy (the honey toffee inside a Crunchie bar), and moist squares of almond cake.

All in all, another decent, but not excellent Italian restaurant has joined the fold. My parting thoughts of the restaurant: a pretty but dry hamburger.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 633 King Street West
 Website: http://oretta.to/

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:


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

CLOSED: Ruby Watchco (Toronto)


The younger me tuned into the Food Network and consumed shows such as Pitchin’ In, which enlightened me about the many food purveyors throughout Canada – not the constant barrage of “competitions” that now plagues the station. With every episode, I started liking Chef Lynn Crawford’s laid back funny attitude even more; I want to travel with her and eat her creations … oh why can’t we be friends? 

As luck with have it, Torontonians can experience her cooking at Ruby Watchco. Together with Chef Lora Kirk, they create a menu that changes daily and is truly a tasting menu ($54) as there’s only one option – take it or leave it. With the appetizer and main course, the restaurant does offer add on items (a chicken liver parfait and bacon sliders, during our visit), so if you truly detest one of the dishes, you can leave more for your guests and buy something else.  However, if you’re not a picky eater or tend to be indecisive and agonize over all the choices, this is the restaurant for you.

Although a wine pairing is available ($39), if you’re visiting on Tuesday to Friday before 7pm, there are drink specials available including $5 cocktails, $5 beers, and $8 wine (including a bubbly option)! Cheers to that!


With the exception of dessert, the dinner’s served family style and on this evening consisted of a large bowl of Ruby’s Greek style salad. For me, a salad seems like such a boring start. But, the thick creamy pickled jalapeno aioli on the bottom, turned the typical greens, tomatoes, olives and feta into a dish that I had seconds of. After demolishing the hot salty cheddar buttermilk biscuit, of course. Where are your priorities?


Make sure to leave room for the main, the thick piece of Fogo Island cod was cooked perfectly, remaining moist and flaky with the requisite crispy skin. The slightly spicy and refreshing green onion relish helped add tons of flavour to the neutral fish. So good, I bet it’s a main that even people who normally don’t like fish would enjoy.


I commend the kitchen for their perfect timing on the vegetables: the sweet heirloom carrots just starting to soften and meld into the aromatic leek marmalade; the lightly charred broccoli incorporating a bit of smoke, yet still fresh and crunchy; and the fingerling potatoes cooked through but firm enough that the starchy creaminess remains.


This evening, Ruby Watchco showcased the Big Brother cheese from Lancaster Ontario’s Glengarry Fine Cheese. A firmer varietal, it was accurately described as a cross between parmesan and cheddar. The Big Brother is relatively mild and reminds me of a younger Beemster – a semi-firm texture, slight formation of crystals, and smooth finish.


After dining at Ruby Watchco, I can see how Chef Lynn’s creations on air translates into the restaurant. The menu sticks with the tried and true favourites – a chocolate cake to finish – and elevates the recipe with tasty, non-fussy finishes.

Dark chocolate and espresso is incorporated into the cake’s batter to balance out the caramel sauce and sweet meringue topping. As you enjoy the moist cake, there are so many flavours and textures that start to peek through … and just like that, the dessert’s done.


Ruby Watchco gets polarizing reviews - you either love it or hate it. Not knowing what you’ll be eating until the week of is either exciting or an annoyance; and being served family style either means getting more of what you like or more work. It’s not a restaurant for everybody. 

For me, I have an opened mind and opened stomach, hence, it’s a meal I thoroughly enjoyed. Now Chef Lynn: can we be friends?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 730 Queen Street East
 

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:


Ruby Watchco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Shibui Robata Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 230 Adelaide Street West
Type of Meal: Dinner


Shibui Robata Bar shares space with Copacabana – it’s on the bottom while Copa’s just above. Upon entering, the welcome desk was abuzz with a model-like midriff baring hostess who seems like she’d be working for a nightclub than a restaurant. Yet, upon descending the stairs and entering Shibui, the atmosphere changes. Although still much loungier than your typical izakaya, with its round booths and glowing artwork on the walls, the vibe at the bottom starts to calm down.

Of course, breaking into the sake could have also helped the situation. For Summerlicious, Shibui offers a four-glass sake tasting for $20. It’s not a pairing, as you’re given them all together and only have to drink the pink one first. It provides a variety of tastes from sweet plum, crisp & dry, bitter and sparkling. My favourite was “Mio” the sparkling one – with the happy face smiling back at me and drinking it right after the extremely bitter Genshu, it ended the tasting off on a high.


My friend had recommended we visit Shibui for their Summerlicious menu and I’m so glad she did. For $25 we were astounded by the amount of food received and had a great experience! With all the delicious choices we broke off into pairs and shared each course. I highly recommend sharing as there’s plenty to go around and some dishes are rich so you’ll appreciate the variety.


To start, a helping of the Chilean sea bass dumplings and crispy rice with tuna. The dumplings contained a good helping of black pepper spiced fish in a delicate wrapper. It was light and a good start. The accompanying sesame vinegar dipping sauce (?) was subtle and hard to distinguish so neither added nor took away from gyozas.


The crispy rice with tuna is like a cross between sushi pizza and pressed sushi. Chopped tuna is mixed with spicy mayo then garnished with a fried garlic chip and sliver of jalapeno packing tons of flavours. We chose wisely starting with the dumplings first or may have found them bland after eating the flavourful crispy rice. The combination of creamy tuna, soft warm rice and crispy base was delicious and definitely worth ordering.


Next, we each received an eight-piece maki roll (four orders pictured below). As they brought out these dishes heads turn and eyes light up when you realize YOU GET THE ENTIRE ORDER!


The Shibui salmon maki, pictured first, seemed like a classic spicy salmon roll based on the menu’s description. Indeed, the ingredients are typical consisting of salmon, spicy mayo and tempura flakes. However, their execution is what differs. Rather than mixing the tempura bits into the spicy salmon (causing it to get mushy) or sprinkling it on top (so that it’s the first thing to hit the tongue) Shibui puts it beside the salmon in the middle of the roll. The outcome is that as you bite through the roll you get distinct textures and flavours rather than one mushy clump. The salmon maki was a table favourite.


The pirikara ebi maki looks amazing with the battered shrimp skewered onto purple pickled plum (?) rice. And has promise to taste good with the crispy asparagus and julienned cucumber inside. Together each item stands on its own but also compliments well (the heaviness of the fried shrimp with the freshness of the maki). However, the downfall was that the over battered shrimp was cold and also caused the spicy mayo to congeal.

Of course, I understand the stresses of serving so many diners during Summerlicious – when you’re pumping out this much food certain items need to be prepped ahead of time. Unfortunately, the pirikara ebi maki was a bad choice to include on a Summerlicious offering as it really detracted from an otherwise delicious meal.

Finally, onto Shibui’s claim to fame - robatayaki style cooking. With their open concept kitchen you’re able to see the chefs at work as they move skewers across various levels further from or closer to the hot coals. In the beginning, I expected the food to taste like yakatori but because the skewers are cooked further away from the direct heat it stayed juicier, fresher and crispier.

The pork belly was one of the moistest I’ve ever had. Literally when you pick it up and squeeze oily juices drip off of it. Covered with shichimi pepper there’s some heat to the pork and a welcomed change from the sweet and salty concoctions. But, these are still heavy and one skewer is enough – even my pork belly loving friend agrees. So, you should definitely share! The sesame and teriyaki asparagus on the side was good, crispy yet cooked through.

 

If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know I love miso marinated black cod. I pretty much try it everywhere and couldn’t pass up sampling it at Shibui. Although it wasn’t the best I’ve had (Yuzu No Hana and Blowfish still hold these titles) it was still delicious - flaky, tender and well flavoured. The side of corn glazed with yuzu butter was fine. But, I actually found the middle garnishes more intriguing with the zucchini topped with sesame oil pickled carrots and the pickled daikon flower – all devoured despite the abundance of food already consumed.


To end, we shared amongst the table the passion fruit mousse (extremely sweet but one friend really liked it), mango gelato (creamy and devoid of the dreaded fake mango taste) and petit gateau (a rich dense dark chocolate cake). Honestly, none of these wowed me, but I don't have a sweet tooth so it really has to be good for me to want more. My fellow diners enjoyed them and all were polished off by the end.


From the savings calculated below, you’ll get a sense that Shibui’s Summerlicious menu is a great deal. Certainly, it’s one of the highest calculated savings I’ve had as a Licious dinner. So, based on the numbers – this is a steal! I highly suggest you make a reservation and try it now as Shibui’s normal prices can be a bit steep. But, if you can’t make it out by July 20th, have no fear, as they do offer a fixed price lunch with many of the same items for $20.



Let’s be clear, Shibui isn’t a traditional Japanese restaurant; their dishes have been modified for the North American palette. But, we need a bit of each. Slap more spicy mayo on those rolls I say because the Shibui salmon maki was just as great as a plain piece of fresh salmon any day. 

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 - $25

Regular menu - $60 - crispy rice with tuna ($14), pirikara ebi maki ($12), grilled black cod ($22), grilled asparagus ($7) and petit gateau* ($5)

Savings - $35 or 58%

* The dessert isn't part of their regular menu; the price based on a wild guess



    Overall mark - 7.5 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!