Showing posts with label clams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clams. Show all posts

Padella (Toronto)


Like any good Italian restaurant, you won’t leave Padella hungry. Even as we sipped on wine, a basket of freshly toasted bread and a small bowl of delicious pickled beans arrived, something that even people waiting by the bar were nibbling on. 


To avoid sounding repetitive, I found Padella best suited for people who enjoy under seasoned dishes, which allows an ingredient’s natural flavours to shine, but was too plain for me. Some restaurants add a lot of toppings to their beef carpaccio ($16), the only garnishes at Padella were well-drained capers and shaved parmigiano; even the greens were left undressed. Indeed, we could taste the beef, it just doesn’t taste like much without seasoning.


Similarly, the pan seared octopus ($16) and cannellini bean salad barely had a lick of salt so the flavours were derived from the herbed olive oil. I just couldn’t get used to the octopus’ texture, which was too soft. Sure, you may be thinking tender octopus is a good thing. Yet, when the seafood flavours disappear and the springy texture almost becomes mushy, it no longer tastes like octopus.


The clams to linguine ratio in the vongole ($19) was impressive: equal amounts of seafood to pasta. Moreover, both ingredients were prepared to perfection – the clams just cooked through but still juicy and the pasta retaining that lovely chewiness. If only the sauce wasn’t so acidic – it’s like the chef forgot he added lemon and did a second squeeze, then the person at the pass added a third helping – rendering everything so sour that even the garlic and white wine were masked. This could have been an amazing dish with a quarter of the lemon and double the salt.


Only the spaghetti carbonara ($18) had a decent amount of saltiness from the guanciale, pecorino, and parmigiano. If you like bacon, this dish is for you as Padella doesn’t skimp on the guanciale. Combined with the egg yolk, the cured pork’s fat creates a rich smoky sauce that covers the fresh spaghetti. For me, I would have like more pepper to balance out the flavours.


Padella’s tiramisu ($8) was equally rich with generous amounts of mascarpone cream, making for a moist and decadent dessert. If only it had a stronger espresso flavour it would be even better, but still left us satisfied.


The cozy restaurant was packed on our Monday evening visit. From the number of people speaking to the staff, I could tell there are a lot of repeat customers and this is a neighbourhood joint. The friendly environment and respectable portions were great, I only wish the flavours were better. Luckily, aside from the vongole and octopus, the others are an easy fix with a dash of salt and pepper, something that can easily be accommodated by asking for some shakers. 

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1967 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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Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Padella Italian Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Putien 莆田 (Hong Kong)


Chinese cuisine, due to the size of the country, varies in tastes and ingredients amongst the regions. Putien showcases dishes from Putian (yes, there’s a vowel difference in the name), a coastal town part of the Fujian province. With its proximity to water, there’s of course a choice of seafood dishes, the menu also incorporates a variety of meat (mainly pork), tofu, and grain offerings as well.

From the picture, I thought the steamed Putien clams with garlic ($99) were razor clams, but they’re actually Duo Tou clams, named after the village they’re raised. The clams are bred in coastal soil that’s rich in nutrients (adding to its flavours) without the gritty sand. Smaller than razor clams (about a third of the size), they’re also meatier and much sweeter. Very tasty. The kitchen smartly purées the garlic so you can taste the ingredient without the harsh bite. Imagine our luck, visiting Hong Kong in April, so we could try them – there are only available from April to August.


Putien’s wonton soup stands out due to the fried garlic used in the broth and a light vinegar note in the background. The wontons were thumbnail-sized and filled with pork and chives, decent but the flavours largely coming from the soup. Just be careful to only order the per person amount ($28 a person). Our waiter insisted we get a small bowl ($79), making it sound like it’s a better deal, but it ended up being way too much for two and would only be suitable for a table of three or four.


While the flavours in the sesame deep fried bao with stir fried shredded pork ($52) were tasty, we had to add a lot of the stuffing to make it taste good as the bao was rather thick. It’s also overly greasy so is best after you blot the wrapper with a napkin.


Aside from the clams, the dish that impressed me the most was the homemade bean curd ($68) … yes, tofu! The centre was silky incorporating a mellow taste that’s almost like steamed eggs. Deep fried and braised, the end product is delicate, barely resisting a spoon, but deliciously flavourful. Overall, the vegetarian dish was tasty, even better if the green beans were cooked a touch longer.


Thankfully, we had the oyster sauce from the tofu as the cabbage rice ($68) was bland and sorely needed it for flavour. While a decent portion, it is nothing like the fragrant concoction my grandmother used to make; we would have been better off with regular steamed rice.


Putien certainly trains their staff to upsell, to the point that it borders on annoying. Indeed, I understand the need to increase bill totals, but when it happens during every step of the ordering process, it can get irritating. For example, they don’t offer wine by the glass, so when my husband switched to beer and me tea ($9 a person regardless of it you have it), our waiter tried to convince me that a bottle, the standard 750ml variety, was small and wouldn’t be too much for us to share. This is on top of a bowl of overly oily seaweed at the table, which is automatically included on the bill ($9).

Regardless, I can live with all the above as I know “sauce” and “tea” charges are common in Hong Kong. Even convincing us to order more soup than necessary can be forgiven. What I was most appalled with was the outright lying for gratuities. At Putien, the bill only arrives in Chinese (despite us requesting English menus). With all these miscellaneous charges, I wasn’t sure if gratuity was already added and didn’t want to risk not including anything. Therefore, I stopped one of the staff members to ask, and she said that their bills do not include tips. It wasn’t until I looked back later and used Google translate to find a 10% gratuity line item. For a restaurant who has such sweet Duo Tou clams, all the nickeling/diming and outright lying sure had me leaving with a bitter taste in my mouth.   

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 
 Address: 99 Percival St (Lee Theatre Plaza, 7th floor)

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!

Fishman Wharf Seafood 漁人碼頭 (Markham)


When your restaurant’s named Fishman Wharf Seafood, there shouldn’t be customers wandering in hoping to get an amazing sweet and sour pork or sizzling beef plate. Indeed, the establishment’s focus is seafood, but in particular, Alaska king crab, which was a bit of a letdown as I really had a hankering for a lobster tower, without the added expense of the crab, and there little options for the tower without the aforementioned crab royalty.

Moreover, many set meals also includes shark fin and when asked if they can substitute it with something (perhaps crab meat?) the answer is no, but they can serve it on the side so those who would rather not have it can have their rice plain. Substitutions are definitely not encouraged.

You really need a group of at least six people to fully enjoy the restaurant – if you can round up a table of ten, even better. They’re known for their set meals and do offer a la carte dishes, but a tower can easily cost $100 on its own, so purchasing everything piece meal is definitely an expensive choice. Also, the restaurant assumes everyone at the table is a hungry teenager as our lobster seafood set for six ($258) was more than sufficient for seven of us; if we didn’t stuff our faces, the dinner could have even accommodated an eighth, despite the waitress urging us to add on a chicken.

The soup and dessert are the slow boiled varieties, both not overly exciting – pork with leafy dried vegetables for the soup and a papaya with white fungus for dessert - but at least flavourful and hot enough.


What I was there for was the eight pound lobster tower, for an extra $10 we changed the preparation ‘fried garlic’ to ‘Hong Kong style’ having heard it’s much tastier. The later still had tons of garlic, but also incorporated deep fried small whitebait fish and a bit of spice. Overall, a decent dish: the lobster not overdone, enough flavour without completely overpowering the seafood itself, and piping hot.


With a salted egg yolk batter covering the deep fried Vancouver crab, it’s different. At first almost offending, the oily powdery crust grew on me and the rich yolk contrasted well against the sweet crab – not unlike a less salty sharp cheese with seafood.


Despite being named deep fried eel, the ingredient likely only underwent a quick flash fry and then was stir fried with chilies and green onion. Normally, the eel has a gamier taste, but the stronger sauce helped mask this and was a tasty sauce.


Although the clam cooked in wine was rather plain (generally I prefer them stir fried with black bean sauce), after all the heavier deep fried dishes, it was nice to eat a less oily one. It’s a shame you can’t really sip the cooking broth – unless you like the taste of pungent Chinese cooking wine.


The steamed grouper was done in the “traditional” method with Chinese wolfberries (adds a light sour element) and black fungus. Also executed affably, but could use a little more soy sauce.  
Even Fishman’s vegetables incorporate seafood, the boiled yu choy incorporating slivers of dried cuttlefish (?) on top. It’s fine, but didn’t actually help enhance the dish.


To end, a large platter of shark fin fried rice. It wasn’t what I expected - a pyramid of fried rice in a pool of crab meat laced shark fin soup. Despite being morally against the shark fin, I have to admit the dish was delicious. However, with so many other elements, the shark fin really isn’t required; personally, I believe slivers of the spongy soft and crunchy bamboo innards (or jook sun) would be even better with the rice.  


Some things to keep in mind: they take reservations but only for large groups and payment is debit or cash only… not abnormal for Chinese establishments. After the meal, I certainly felt I had my fill of seafood.  Lobster, crab, eel, clams and fish … satisfied.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 4080 Steeles Avenue 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:


Fishmen Wharf Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Au Pied de Cochon (Montreal)


Get ready for excess. You’ll leave feeling like a glutton, or if you’re a foie gras lover, marvel at how one menu can contain so many renditions of a fatty goose liver. Au Pied de Cochon has been covered so intensively that if you go expecting a light salad, you must be living under a rock. With that in mind, I steeled myself for a rich dinner, albeit one that doesn’t include the fatty liver and their duck in a can.

Even though their menu isn’t a “small” plate format, it certainly lends itself for sharing. Trust me, the portions are huge and each dish so heavy that you’ll need a helping hand. Take their cured ham from the shack ($16), the wispy slices of fragrant salty meat delicious, but the plate so filled that it’s best split amongst at least four.


Served with half a loaf of their warm toasted baguette and a liquidity sweet maple smoked mustard, the sandwich you could make from the ham would be first class. The mustard such a great touch that I even left with a jar ($6.99).

Would you be surprised to hear the duck carpaccio ($14) was the lightest thing we ate that evening? The large slice of fowl so tender that even a toothless senior could plough through the dish. If only they served this before the cured ham, the duck wouldn’t haven’t been overpowered by the charcuterie’s saltiness. The carpaccio tasted bland, even though there was tons of differing flavours and textures from the sriracha, creamy egg yolk, and parmesan shavings.

I have to give Au Pied credit for their showmanship: the hot can opened tableside with its juicy contents presented with a flourish or an entire pig’s head stuffed with lobster. You can’t help but stare at the table beside you and wonder what they ordered. Even a simple dish of bacon gnocchi ($30) starts with a giant parmesan wheel.


Oh, how the heads turn as the gigantic block of cheese is wheeled on a trolley and stops tableside. First, slices of parmesan is scrapped into the centre. Then, a pan filled with gnocchi, huge chunks of bacon and peas is added and slowly tossed and mixed so the pasta’s heat melts the cheese. Just imagine how you’d react to the intoxicating scent.


Yet, it doesn’t stop there. Afterwards, a small jug of jus is presented and you’re told that they’ll add that into the mixture so the gnocchi isn’t dry. Really, it’s an unnecessary step and renders the dish a watery mess… all that creaminess I watched them cox into the dish was ruined. Another liberal sprinkling of parmesan and a healthy dollop of fresh ricotta - the dish is finally done.


After all that, it’s a shame that the gnocchi is way too salty, drowning in a pool of oily broth, and feels like you’re eating chunks of pork belly as opposed to fluffy pasta. Disappointing to taste, but man how you salivate as you watch it being prepared.

Sadly, everything thereafter wasn’t any better. The duck fat fries ($5.75) were bordering on burnt, but somewhat salvaged by the lovely house-made aioli incorporating a great citrus twist.


A special for the evening, the steamer clams and corn ($16), was perhaps the worst course of the dinner. The cream sauce and bacon much too heavy for clams; only to be made worse by adding maple syrup so everything’s also sweet. Perhaps the chef was simply trying to cover the gritty rubbery clams. Why did I order seafood at a restaurant known for meat?


Despite thinking we showed restraint while ordering (to save room for dessert), our table of three could not get through everything. So, the lone sweet incorporating the popular maple syrup came in a cocktail form. The gin guay ($12.50) is a gin and tonic spiked with maple syrup and topped with champagne and soda water. The first few sips, while the cocktail was nice and cold, was tasty. But, once it warmed a tad, the drink tasted like ultra-sweet cough syrup.


That’s a lesson for me: you don’t go to a place known for excess and try to drink in moderation. Perhaps, if I downed the gin guay and followed the cocktail with beer for the cured ham and wine throughout dinner, the tone would have changed. 

You need to be a little inebriated and carefree to enjoy the rich overpowering dishes. Otherwise, you’ll leave like me, and wish you merely stuck with an awesome cured ham sandwich.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Montreal, Canada
 Address: 536 Avenue Duluth 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:


Au Pied de Cochon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jamie's Italian (Edinburgh)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 54 George Street
Website: http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/edinburgh
Type of Meal: Dinner 
 



I first knew Jamie Oliver as the Naked Chef, a cute looking blond British chef recognized for his down to earth shows and later his stance against processed foods in the American school system. So, although I’ve never had a desire to eat at one of his restaurants, when the opportunity presented itself I thought “his Italian food must be good, let’s do this!”  Unfortunately, I was dead wrong and eating at Jamie’s Italian was a disappointing experience.

Perhaps it all started with our dismal experience with being seated – yes something so simple left a bad taste in our mouth.  We walked in on a weeknight, after a couple of minutes of reviewing the computer system the hostess brought us to a table in a fairly empty dining room.  After settling in, another hostess approaches the table to tell us that we were seated in the wrong spot and had to be moved. So, we were ushered into the downstairs area with a more casual vibe.  Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but the situation was just handled so abruptly and awkwardly without an apology.

As we had a heavy multi-course lunch that day, everyone wanted smaller dishes.  My husband started first and requested the vegetable plank appetizer in which our waiter answered “is that all?” in a somewhat dissatisfied manner.  Certainly, I agree restaurants should sometimes try to up-sale customers to add extra items to their meal, but to be off putting about it is another story.

Usually, I could have overlooked these faux pas if it weren’t for the substandard dishes Jamie Oliver chooses to serve.  Honestly, my experiences with chains like Olive Garden and Alice Fazoolis was far better than what I had that night.   

To begin, the vegetable plank (£6.85) was pretty mediocre and something I could whip up at home.  The slices of grilled zucchini and eggplant topped with pickled peppers in the middle bowl were cold and uninspired tasting despite being “marinated”. A small piece of buffalo mozzarella was also bland despite being described as having “chilli, mint, pecorino and an amazing chilli jam”. 

Strangely, nothing came with the vegetables so he decided to order the Italian bread selection (£3.75) as an accompaniment.  Although the basket looked impressive, the bread was cold and unexceptional. Especially the focaccia which is normally known to be soft airy bread saturated with olive oil – how could it be so mealy and dry? Sadly, this is when I reminisced about how good the Olive Garden bread sticks could be.

Luckily, the vongole tagliolini (£11.25) I ordered was better.  The house-made pasta was nice and al dante and the olive oil sauce providing a decent flavour (mix of garlic, white wine and hint of chilli).  But, the clams were just so small and poorly cooked - to put size into perspective the red things you see are grape tomato halves.  They were overcooked and shrivelled into the shell so the meat ended up being the size of a caper and difficult to taste.  To make matters worse there were remnants of sand at the bottom of my dish likely as the clams were soaked long enough. 

In the end, if I were just having a dish of linguine with garlic olive oil it would have been palatable, but the fact that it’s marketed as clam pasta was disappointing.  The clam linguine I generally order at Alice Fazoolis, a Toronto chain, is loads better than the mediocre fare served at Jamie’s Italian.

But, my husband and I should have counted ourselves lucky as my mother-in-law complained her dish of free-range chicken (£13.25; not pictured) was so dry and overcooked that it half of it could not even be cut into.  Normally, she’s a person who’s quite forgiving in her expectation with dishes, so a basic grilled chicken should not be what stumps a kitchen.

I’m very disappointed to review Jamie’s Italian this poorly as I can’t begin to comprehend how the delightful Naked Chef shown on TV can serve something so mediocre.  Sadly, this experience has ruined my perception of Jamie Oliver as a chef and his brand in general.  As for his philosophy about chefs feeding the masses at reasonable prices, I will happily pay a few extra pounds to not eat such substandard quality food again.   

Overall mark - 3 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!



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