Showing posts with label creme brulee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creme brulee. Show all posts

LOV (Toronto)


LOV looks like your typical vegan hipster restaurant – sparkling white everything with hints of greens and natural contrasts. Just looking at the dining room makes you feel healthier. For a moment, you wonder if you should skip the wine and order kombucha instead… then you remember how terrible it tastes and order a bottle of Prosecco instead. They’re both carbonated - same same, but different.

Once you start with the wine, it goes downhill from there. Somehow, two orders of fries end up at the table. The LOV poutine ($11) looks great smothered with plenty of miso gravy and vegan mozzarella but tastes like fries covered with a flavourless thick sauce. Stick with the kimchi fries ($8) instead, which at least has the fermented cabbage and a creamy sesame dressing for interest.


Perhaps an order of Brussel sprouts ($9) to keep everything healthy? They’re deep fried and smothered with way too much of that tangy buffalo sauce.  


And then the Zen salad ($16) arrives and the guilt momentarily washes away. It’s a tasty combination of konjac noodles, shredded vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, daikon, carrots), and the extras thrown in for flavour and contrast (chilis and cashew). Maybe healthier options are better at LOV as this was the best of the starters. I thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing cilantro and mint elements. What? Am I a secret healthy eater?


Then I take a bite of the mushroom risotto ($19) and taste my favourite dish of the night. Done traditionally, the creamy rice and peas would have been good, but is made even better with the roasted oyster mushrooms. Okay, so perhaps I haven’t turned into nutritionist.


Yet, the LOV lasagna ($19) didn’t really excite. While the pasta looked delicious smothered with the vegan mozzarella and cashew cream, it tasted bland. The best part of the plate was perhaps the Caesar salad.


The gnocchi di casa ($20) was an interesting take on the classic Italian dish, except at LOV it’s made with sweet potato and buckwheat so there’s antioxidant and fibre strewn throughout the dish. The sweetness did help balance the hemp, basil and arugula pesto, which by itself could have been too strong.


Aside from the risotto, it’s the coconut curry ($18) that impressed. Who would have thought cubes of squash and carrots with a blanched kale could be so delicious when smothered in a cashew and coconut milk curry?


You should definitely heed the advice of those working at LOV, they know what’s tasty. Our choice of desserts, the crème brûlée ($8) and cheesecake ($7) were both good, for vegan alternatives, but run-of-the-mill.


Our waitress highly suggested the chocolate carmelita ($5), a dessert I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but had me reaching for another bite. It’s like having a chocolate butter tart bar but with the texture (and lack of stickiness) of a date square. Our table can certainly sing it praises.



For a place that looks so healthy, LOV’s menu does have its fair share of comfort foods. But perhaps what’s most surprising is how much I enjoyed and even preferred the “healthier” options. Maybe the surroundings were rubbing off on me. Could it be, one day I may actually order kombucha? 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 620 King Street West
 Website: https://lov.com/en/

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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:



CLOSED: Brickyard Bistro (Toronto)


Brickyard Bistro is that neighbourhood restaurant I wish was part of my area. Opened by four friends, after their coffee shop hangout closed, one of the owners (Jesse Hughes) was actually there during our visit and I felt his passion. Upon entering, he greeted us warmly and seated us at an Instagramer’s dream table: the coveted marble tabletop adorned with a small vase of flower buds and situated in plenty of natural sunlight. Indeed, it made my Neil the designer cocktail ($10), a light gin and tonic with orange and juniper bitters, look extra refreshing.

Next time, I would order a glass of Ontario wine instead (not that the cocktail wasn’t good) - it turns out Jesse grew up in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, so I’d imagine he has a keen sense of knowing what’s great. Moreover, the wine is reasonably priced from $9-$14 a glass and are even available in 2oz pours if you want to pair by the course.

Starting with their bread board ($10), it featured an in-house kale and cheese loaf made by Chef Jason Corey, warmed baguette, and a chipotle and a white bean dips. The warm cheese loaf smells heavenly and although the kale and cheese and flavours were prevalent, the dough needs more salt. Sure, you can add bean dip for flavour, but it’s a shame the bread can’t stand on its own.


Sorry there’s no picture, but I didn’t think it’d be worth featuring the bowl of leafy greens ($9). I was wrong, the seedy mustard vinaigrette used to dress the spring mix, cherry tomatoes, and radish was surprisingly tasty. Given it’s not an overly large portion, you could add on an order for some extra vegetables with the bread board. 

The daily fish ($20) for the evening was an Ontario pickerel – its skin could be crisper but, the fish retained its succulent meatiness. A thick tomato sauce with chunks of bacon topped the pickerel providing an extra richness to the dish. Yet, pairing the protein with all the vegetables kept the dish light.


Brickyard Bistro certainly doesn’t skimp on the fries in their steak frites ($21); the plate was covered in them, dwarfing the 6oz steak. Normally, I prefer the frites in a separate pile so they don’t turn mushy, but the coating on these were well done and being soaked in the beefy red wine reduction certainly added extra flavour.


Being a French restaurant, I was ready for some rich desserts. The peanut butter crème bruleé ($6) is fantastic, the peanut butter flavour is prominent while the bruleé sugar crust nice and thin, simply adding a caramel essence. Although by itself the chocolate Amaretto mousse ($6) was too sweet, when combined with the crème bruleé you end up with a fantastic peanut butter and chocolate dessert. Thanks to my friend for suggesting this ingenious idea – make sure you get both.



It’s a shame Brickyard Bistro isn’t located uptown or I’d definitely visit on a regular basis. Neighbourhood dwellers, you’re lucky to have the restaurant in your neighbourhood – with reasonable prices, tasty food, and warm service, perhaps it will become a favourite jaunt of your own.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1289 Gerrard 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:


Brickyard Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sip Wine Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 2 Broadway Avenue
Website: http://www.sipwinebar.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner

Newly opened on a quiet street close to Yonge and Eglinton, Sip Wine Bar already has quite the following as seen by the packed restaurant during a Saturday visit. Their décor is simplistic with wooden tables, exposed cream bricks and tons of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Aside from the dining room on the main floor, the restaurant offers a private dining area downstairs (with its own bar) that would be perfect for parties.

With tons of delicious sounding items on the menu, my friends and I decided to order a selection of dishes and share family style. First up was the fittura mista ($15.95) or deep fried shrimp and calamari. Arriving piping hot we couldn’t get enough of these lightly dusted nuggets of salty seafood. Of course, things that are deep fried are inherently delicious, but these shrimp and calamari were tender and didn’t feel too greasy or heavy.


On the other hand, the polpette di Luisa ($8.95) or meatballs with tomato sauce was a bit lackluster – possibly because I ate this second. Served lukewarm it didn’t have the same freshly made feel of the fittura mista; to me it seemed like they were spooned out of heating dish with spring mix tossed on the side. The meatballs and sauce itself tasted decent, but could have benefited from some cheese and/or herbs sprinkled on top.


We had to try their pizzas, given Sip’s AVPN accredited status (essentially an association that sets up regulations to ensure the standards of making Neapolitan pizza is maintained). The first was the capricciosa ($16.99) a pizza loaded with mushrooms, prosciutto, artichokes, olives, mozzarella and basil. The crust was certainly Neapolitan with the blistered pockets of dough and paper thin crust. But, the amount of tomato sauce was a bit too generous making the middle soggy and causing the ingredients to slide off when you tried to move a slice onto the plate. Nonetheless, the toppings were abundant and flavours good if you don’t mind a mushy crust.


For a white pizza (olive oil rather than tomato sauce based), we tried the funghi porcini ($18.99) which was more simplistic highlighting porcinis with mozzarella, parmigiano, tomatoes and basil. In this case there was no soggy crust but the pizza also lacked flavour. Certainly you wouldn’t want to overwhelm the pizza and cover up the porcini’s woodsy taste, but even an additional drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt prior to serving would have been appreciated.


The gnocchi alla trevigiana ($16.95) was absolutely delicious. First off, Sip nailed the gnocchi texture I covet – soft and doughy yet still hard enough to have some bite so that it resembles pasta rather than mushy dough. Tssed a light gorgonzola cream sauce the hot pieces of gnocchi had just enough sauce to flavour it without being overly heavy. This would definitely be a dish I’d order again.


Sadly, their tiramisu was sold out by the time we arrived at the desserts.  Instead, we ordered the white chocolate cheesecake ($8.99) and the crème brulee ($9.95). The cheesecake was rich and had a great flavour – a mix of caramel and chocolate. Sip’s dessert chef does need to get the chocolate cookie base thinner; at almost ¾ inch thick we struggled to break through it so the cheesecake mixture ended up falling off. Then when it was eaten together the abundance of crust overwhelmed to smooth cheese base.


However, the cheesecake was a better choice than the crème brulee which arrived cold, had an uneven sugar crust (although in the centre was nice and thin) and the crème itself fairly watery. Again it had a nice vanilla flavour, but the execution needs some improvement.


Most of the media articles written about Sip focuses on their pizzas. But from our visit, my friends and I agree their other dishes are much better; even from scoping the table beside the lamb chop and chicken dishes looked appetizing. We were advised by our helpful waitress that Sip has a patio out front in the summer so a return visit may be in order to sample their pasta and meat dishes while enjoying a lovely summer evening outside.

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!

Sip Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

CLOSED: Ryu's Noodle Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 33 Baldwin Street
Website: http://www.ryusnoodlebar.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Baldwin Village just keeps getting more diverse with every visit making me want to go back for more. For this occasion, my friends and I checked out another Toronto Common event - the Tokyo cafe style ramen tasting at Ryus Noodle Bar for $20.

There’s not much to say about Ryu’s interior – it’s small and sparse, has a fair amount of seating and decent enough conditions. Before the ramen came out we each got a platter containing various meats with sauces, gyozas and a chicken sunomono salad. Essentially, a condensed portion of items normally offered on their regular menu – the meat platter and gyozas priced at $15.75 and $4.95, respectively.


We were treated to sous-vide beef & chicken and slow simmered pork belly. Indeed the beef had a beautiful pink centre while not a speck of blood thanks to the tempered water bath it was cooked in. Yet, the meat itself was a tad tough and not as tender as you’d expect. The chicken was nicely cooked but the star was the pork belly (or cha shu) which had a decent flavour even without any sauces. Otherwise, on the side were XO sauce, sweet & spicy ginger paste, yuzu pepper paste and truffle oil allowing us to personalize what we wanted with each meat. For me all were a delight with the exception of the truffle oil; although it smells very aromatic it really didn’t add much to any of the meats.

The middle bowl contained a pork and a vegetable gyoza, both had thin wrappers and a fair amount of filling. Juicy on the inside and a nice developed crust on the outside, they were what you’d hope for with pan fried dumplings.

Lastly, the chicken sunomono salad was filled with chunks of sous-vide chicken and thick seaweed. Conceivably it was due to having so much of the sauces accompanying the meat but I found the salad itself quite bland, especially the chicken. However, with the condiments on the side I was able to flavour it myself and possibly Ryu’s didn’t care to highlight this dish given it’s not a part of their regular menu.

Onto the main event. In succession a miniature bowl of each noodle (typically $10 a bowl) was brought out and to begin the traditional shio ramen. Immediately what stuck out was Ryu’s soup, it is thick and intensely flavoured! Ryu boasts that dried various seafood (scallop, shrimp, clam, cuttlefish and bonito) are boiled for 50 hours to develop this umami filled broth. You can definitely taste the essence and thankfully wasn’t salty at all - just enough to balance against the thick springy noodles, white fungus, bamboo shoots and meat accompanying the ramen.


Although the shio was good, my favourite was their new cold noodle salad that will be offered in the summer months. Although not the most beautiful looking, the taste is delicious. Cold al dante noodles are tossed within a sweet & spicy sesame sauce, topped with more pork, chicken and crunchy black fungus. The sauce hits you in succession – first the sweetness, then the nuttiness and finally ending with a hit of heat. I can see this being a hit during the hot months when hot steaming broth isn’t appealing.


The edamame potage noodle arrived next, another summer addition. In this cold version the noodles are sitting in a thick tofu milk with blended edamame giving it some texture and a beautiful light green colour.  One for the vegetarians it simply contains sweet corn and white fungus. For me, the natural sweetness of the corn and edamame almost made it seem like dessert (yet still having a bit of a savoury element). Although light and refreshing at first, as I ate more of it the taste became a bit flat. I’d suggest offering it in small portions as an ending or marketing it as a “healthy” choice for those who’d rather watch calories than indulge in taste.




Lastly, a hot spicy miso ramen which flooded our mouths with a mix of chili and spices. Using a spicy bean paste the broth had a real depth to it – although personally too spicy for me to really drink on its own. Yet, when combined with the chewy noodles, diced tofu and minced pork it was delicious. If you like the Chinese dan dan noodles or the Korean ja jang myeon, you’ll likely also like this offering.


To end, a miniature mason jar containing Rieko's Japanese style creme brulee. There’s a thin layer of brulee made from large crystals of raw sugar, some still intact adding a crunchiness to the dessert. The custard is cool and creamy with a nice vanilla flavour to it. All in all, not a bad way to end the meal.


Overall, the ramen tasting was quite enjoyable and I love trying different types of noodles so you never actually get sick of having too much of the same thing. Perhaps Ryu should offer it as an ongoing menu item (or even just a cold and hot offering) as I’m sure it’s something other customers would love to try.



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
  • - 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!

Ryus Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Nola (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 534 St. Louis Street
Website: http://www.emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant
Type of Meal: Lunch



Shortly after hopping off the plane, we went over to Nola for lunch, one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant that takes the latest reservation. It was going to be our first taste of Creole cuisine and would set the benchmark for meals to come. Indeed the bar was set high as the classics we ordered were great and left us wanting more.

Nola’s rustic exposed brick dining room is opened and laid back. Despite arriving late into lunch service, many tables were still occupied with glimpses of dishes to come. To begin, we couldn’t help but order a mint julep ($10) a quintessential Southern drink, made with sweet bourbon, simple syrup, water and muddled mint. Nola definitely doesn’t skimp on the bourbon!


Shortly after ordering we were brought a selection of warm breads. The first a jalapeño cornbread was delicious with specks of jalapeño and soft without being oily. The simple ciabatta was fluffy and soft, great for wiping up the appetizer's sauces.


The first to arrive was the pork cheek boudin balls ($10) and is what I’d like to think of as Southern risotto balls. Rice and sausage meat are mixed together with a variety of spices. Deep fried so that it has a crispy exterior and soft moist interior these were very good. Topped with sweet marinara and a slightly spicy creole mustard aioli each ball packs a burst of flavour.


While the shrimp in Emeril’s barbequed gulf shrimp ($12) were only average (a bit small when it’s supposed to be the star ingredient) the sauce shines through. It’s sweet but has a hint of spice at the end, it was enjoyable with our ciabatta bun or the soft doughy rosemary biscuit which accompanied it.


The shrimp and grits ($19) was amazing and a must try in my opinion! Certainly, the grits were so well done that I was sadly disappointed when they were ordered a second time with breakfast at another restaurant. Nola’s grits were thick and creamy with dollops of smoked cheddar melted throughout to make the grits rich and decadent. The dish was further topped with pieces of toasted applewood bacon (adding salt & smoke) and small pieces of crimini mushrooms. The slightly spicy red chili butter glazed shrimp were also delicious, its plump meat going well with the smooth grits.


The duck confit pizza's ($12) crust was light and airy almost like naan mixed with Neapolitan dough. For a dish with duck confit topping it the pizza wasn’t too strong with just a bit of oil on it. It was also surprisingly flavourful, from the addition of truffle oil and parmesan cheese, despite looking sparse and bland when first brought to the table. Nonetheless, I would have liked more duck on it as there wasn’t much on each slice. The egg was satisfactory but really didn't add much in this case except for a nice pop of colour.  


To end we shared a trio of crème brûlée. It was a number of desserts in one as each brûlée had another mini dessert topping it - fresh sweet berries with the vanilla, a chocolate almond biscotti with the mocha and a coconut truffle with the coconut. Normally, the mocha would be my favourite but this one was too strong and reminded me of Reisin candies (something my grandmother always had at her house and I detested). Meanwhile, the vanilla bean, made with real vanilla pods, was nice and flavourful my favourite of the three. The coconut added to the last brûlée is something I normally wouldn’t like but actually turned out to be quite delicious. All in all, a good dessert for sharing.



Service at Nola was friendly and efficient; our waitress Fallon was a pleasure bringing out sharing plates as required. Overall, Nola was a great introduction to Creole cooking and made us look forward to the bold rich flavours to come. 

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!


Nola on Urbanspoon


Bodega (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 30 Baldwin Street
Website: http://www.bodegarestaurant.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner


Bodega is a quaint bistro situated in Baldwin Village. The dining area, split into two rooms, is more spacious than it appears; swathed with traditional dark woodwork and white linens. Despite the hushed surroundings, service is surprisingly friendly and boisterous putting diners are ease to let loose.

Of course, their cocktail hour from 4 to 6:30 also helps. What a great deal of $5 pints, $6 cocktails and $7 wine. You’re allowed to choose from anything on their menu. I tried the strawberry tonic (regularly $9) a refreshing concoction with gin, muddled strawberries, grapefruit bitters, thyme and tonic water. It was delicious and I’d highly recommend.


Bodega has a fairly extensive menu with even a few Spanish dishes thrown in the mix. Their affordable $35 prix fixe dinner is hard to turn down, so the majority of our table ended up ordering from that. The rabbit terrine appetizer was a generous slab (much meatier than expected for a lean animal). It wasn’t overly gamey and went well with the pommery mustard, gherkins and plenty of pieces of crostini.


Most of my friends opted for the grilled flat iron steak for their main. Adorned with shallot butter and crispy Yukon gold frites it was a satisfying portion for everyone. My friend thoroughly enjoyed the frites, but the crispy coating (perhaps from being tossed in flour?) wasn’t how I generally prefer fries made.


The grilled salmon I had was a big portion covered with rosemary, mustard and maple glaze. The maple syrup definitely stood out, to the point that it was a tad too sweet for my taste. The menu notes the dish is accompanied with fingerling potatoes and vegetables (roasted carrots and snow peas). But, it made no mention of the creamy sauce covering the sides. Personally, I could have done without it as found the creamy cheesiness mixed with the maple’s sweetness to be an odd combination. But, the salmon itself was cooked nicely.


My friend ordered the roasted pork tenderloin ($24) off of their a la carte menu. As with all their dishes, it was a hearty portion. The pork was tender and I enjoyed the sage vinaigrette accompanying it, although I must agree with my friend who found it a bit strong.


To end we shared the lemon tart and crème brulee. The tart was delicious – sour enough to taste the lemon but with some sweetness to remind you it’s dessert. The shortbread crust was also excellent, buttery enough without covering up the lemon.


The vanilla crème brulee was a deep dish portion so you get plenty of the creamy custard. The sugar crust on top was a tad thick but well bruleed and caramelized.


All in all, Bodega has the old fashioned charm synonymous with traditional restaurants. It’s an ideal location for date nights or somewhere to bring the parents (unless they of course love blaring music and sharing small plates). I’m just glad it’s a good balance and also not too stuffy.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Bodega Restaurant on Urbanspoon