Showing posts with label dining outdoors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dining outdoors. Show all posts

Stock Bar at Stock T.C (Toronto)

There is pent up demand within households – that’s what’s frequently being said about the torrent of money that’s about to flow through the Canadian economy once the flood gate opens. I can see why they’re predicting this: once my friend scored a reservation at the new Stock Bar, the roof top and street-side patios at Stock T.C, we wouldn’t bail even though Toronto was hit with a day of rain. Under normal conditions, we would have rain checked the patio and gone for an indoor dining experience. But since that wasn’t possible in June, and we had already been relegated to takeout and delivery for months on end, we were going anyways.

We saw umbrellas over the tables in photos and thought we’d take a chance. It’s a bet that paid off as we scored one of the last tables where everyone would be properly shielded from the elements. I bet Stock T.C wished they invested in more umbrellas to ensure more tables could get the full coverage – despite the plethora of umbrellas, when they’re placed only to protect from sun, it means few tables are usable.

So, was the risk worth it? Under normal conditions, the food would be a disappointment. The tagliatelle all’astice ($45) was so over seasoned. It’s perplexing why the chef felt a dish with lobster and marinara – two fairly flavourful ingredients – would need so much salt and pepper. The crustacean became lost, they could have thrown in any protein, a neutral chicken would have worked better. And for a high price point, the pasta had a lot of cherry tomatoes and probably a claw-worth of lobster. I’d pass on the pasta.

The Stock steak frites ($26) was decent – the beef was a little chewy, but that’s also expected from a lean sirloin that’s cooked perfectly to medium rare. If I were Stock T.C, I’d leave the steak uncut. Sure, the presentation will not look as nice, but it will help the protein retain it’s heat more as a common complaint is the steak arrives cold and dry. I wouldn’t say it was dry, but the temperature was a problem.

Perhaps the best dish of the night was the funghi e burrata ($26) pizza, but even this wasn’t something I’d rave about. I enjoyed the ingenuity of pairing burrata with mushrooms (typically it arrives with basil or prosciutto), as the earthy fungi gives an interesting twist with the creamy cheese. Yet, since I had this last, the pizza had two things going against it: 1) it tasted bland… after the salty pasta anything would seem tasteless; and 2) the crust, while nice and thin, had become hard from the cold.

If people are sharing dishes amongst a table, the restaurant should recommend having the pizza come between the appetizers and the main, or even act as the starter if the table isn’t getting anything. That would help ensure people are eating the pie at its peak.

The pizza would have made for a nice interlude between the prosciutto con gnocco fritto ($17) and the steak and pasta. Even the fritto, fried pieces of puffed dough, had cooled by the time they reached the table. Nonetheless, they had a lovely aroma, and the prosciutto was shaved thin enough that even the heat of your hand starts to warm the fat enough to stick to the pastry. Since it was my first bite of freshly prepared food since 2020, that fritto was freaking fabulous.

Eating outside always presents the chefs with challenges and deteriorates the taste of a dish. And with restaurants trying to recoup lost revenue, survive with limited occupancy, and deal with rising ingredient costs, menu prices will be higher than the historical norms. In the end, expect to pay more for dishes that aren’t at their best.

Which brings me back to the point of the pent-up demand. Sure, I paid a lot for a subpar meal, but I still loved it.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2388 Yonge Street


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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:


The Beach House (Dubai)

I have a love-hate relationship with outdoor dining. Being able to enjoy nature and its beautiful views are certainly the elements I love, but the bugs and pollution are things I’d rather avoid. In Dubai, al fresco dining seems to be everywhere. The most idyllic setting of the trip was at the The Beach House, an ocean-side restaurant inside the Anantara The Palm Resort.

As I gazed into the crystal blue man-made waters on the shaded patio, in a comfy cushioned chair, the environment is so calming – ah… relax… and breathe.

A plate of the linguine allo scoglio (AED110) just adds to the whole experience – seafood pasta while by the ocean – can you eat anything else?

The al dante linguine was well tossed in a light marinara sweetened with sundried tomato and incorporates a bit of heat from chilis. White wine broth thins the sauce to keep the tomato from getting too tangy. Chunks of shrimp, calamari, mussels, fish, and scallops gets tangled into the pasta, so you get a bit of seafood with every bite. Just swirl and enjoy.

In lieu of a boring green salad, we added a side of roasted vegetables (AED30) that arrives hot and in a pool of peppery olive oil that’s great for dipping leftover focaccia into. Can lunch be more wonderful?

What a perfect January meal. The weather, an ideal temperature, and not a bug in site. It makes me want to stay longer and not rush into the afternoon and evening of site seeing we have set out. This is what luxurious vacations are all about! 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: In the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

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!

The Kasap Turkish Cuisine (Dubai)


As you’re sitting on The Kasap’s patio and taking in the man-made views of The Pointe, it feels like you’re somewhere Mediterranean, maybe even Turkey, just somewhere far from desert life. The restaurant should be thankful there’s such a great outdoor atmosphere as sitting on the lowest level of the patio also means you’re forgotten and service is slow at best.

Once we were able to get an order in, the food arrives at a quick pace; in no time a dish of vibrant babaghanoush (AED22) arrives with soft toasted pita. While the dip was refreshing, the eggplant flavour was masked by the other vegetables and it could really use more salt.


In general, most dishes were under seasoned. The minced beef Turkish-style flatbread (AED49) screamed for spices – parsley, salt - anything to cover the meat’s gaminess that was so off putting I couldn’t have more than a slice. How is beef even gamey, surely this must have been mutton?


If anything, what impressed me most about the dish was the presentation: the long plank placed on can so other dishes could be placed underneath. Such a genius idea for efficient space use that must make city planners swoon.

Thank you to J for this photo

The most flavourful dish was the adana kebab (AED58), the tender and juicy skewers have a hit of spice that really sneaks up on you. We used our fair share of the yoghurt and pickled cabbage to help calm the heat.


It also went well with the kale and pomegranate salad (AED34), which was tossed with bits of bulgur and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. The kale just needed a good massage to break down the tough fibers.


Where I was happy with The Kasap’s restrained flavours was with the baklava (AED32). Normally, it’s a dessert that’s so sugary it makes my teeth ache – figuratively, not literally. The Kasap’s was still infused with plenty of honey but it was sticky without being too sweet. I also liked the liberal sprinkling of pistachios, which adds such a nice nuttiness to the dessert.


If all else fails, eat elsewhere and visit the restaurant for a drink. They offer a wide selection of juices, the Kasap special (AED29) a fruity blend of passionfruit with apple and orange. All our drinks tasted great, if only they arrived colder.



That’s when we could have really gotten the tropical experience of icy drinks, blue waters, and tons of sunshine. After all, with the Atlantis in the background, you could even daydream about being transported to Bahamas. Desert, what desert?

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: The Pointe
 Website: http://thekasap.ae/

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:



Laveanne (Campbellcroft)


Looking for a photo op amongst flowers and disappointed to hear the sunflower farm is now closed? Luckily, you can still nestle yourself amongst the lavender fields of Laveanne. About an hour outside of Toronto in Port Hope, Laveanne is a small farm with no admission charge containing a little store and open-air bistro. Unless you’re a photo fiend, you likely won’t spend more than an hour and half at the facility, but a visit to the goat farm and Port Hope marina can help fill the day.


They’re only opened for July when the lavender flowers. By the time we visited at the end of the month, the peak of the lavender bloom was over, but the purple flowers remained on the plants. Perhaps not as vibrantly coloured as mid-month, we could still smell the distinctive scent as we walked amongst the field.


A local restauranteur/caterer also takes over their open-air bistro for lunch. During 2018, it was On the Side Gourmet where they offered a simple menu with four sandwiches, a larger salad, soup, dessert, and sides. The bistro consists of a dozen tables under a tent attached to a gazebo where the kitchen resides. While the food was mediocre, at best, there’s something about eating amongst a lavender field that makes everything taste better.


The steak on baguette ($17) is better described as roast beef on a sausage bun. Everything was too soft for me – the beef so thinly sliced against the grain that it almost crumbles, which would have been okay if the bread also wasn’t doughy. Moreover, it needed seasoning - even with grilled onions and cheese sauce there wasn’t much flavour. While the French potato salad was a vibrant combination of cherry tomatoes, green beans, carrots, celery, onion, and olives, like the sandwich it needed something more than just herbed oil to give it interest.


Still, the “steak” was a better option than the grilled chicken kabob ($16), which had been precooked, left in a warmer, then re-heated on the grill. By the time it was served, the chicken was dry and hard. Perhaps if there was more sauce to rehydrate the protein it’d be better, but the wrap barely contained any tzatziki and the tabbouleh was really chopped tomatoes and not the flavourful Middle Eastern parsley and grain salad you’re expect. Luckily, I paired this with the garden salad, so when added into the wrap there was at least some flavour and crunch. Otherwise, the best part of the sandwich was the warmed flatbread.


While I’m not normally a huge fan of lavender in food, being at Laveanne convinced me to try the punch with lavender syrup ($3). Not surprisingly, there was no lavender flavours; I couldn’t even smell the aroma. To be fair, maybe it was because we had just walked through the field of flowers that had such a strong fragrance. For fruit punch, it was fine.


Disappointing lunch aside, Laveanne is worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing and low-key drive. Sometimes you just need to get out of the city and be amongst nature. In July, why not make it fragrant purple lavender? 

Overall mark - 6 out of 10 



How To Find Them
 Location: Campbellcroft, Canada
 Address: 8667 Gilmour Road
 Website: http://laveanne.ca/

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!

Get Ready to Dine Under the Stars!



On for its third year, the Feast of St. Lawrence kicks off on Friday, August 10th with a huge outdoor dinner. 250 guests will dine together on Front Street (between Scott and Church Street) rain or shine! Don’t worry, if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, guests are protected under long beautiful tents to ensure the 5-course meal is comfortable regardless of the climate.
With the number of notable restaurants in the St. Lawrence area, diners will be well fed. A glimpse of the menu suggests:
  • Hors d’oeurves to start including an oyster station from Pearl Diver, Biff Bistro’s chicken liver parfait, and falafels from the Sultan’s Tent;
  • Cool appetizers of chilled melon soup from the House House and pickled watermelon salad from Farmr;
  • Tagliata di Spada from ARDO, which is Nova Scotia swordfish with their signature sourdough bread;
  • A main of seared petit tender beef with roasted summer vegetables (a vegetarian alternative of squash blossoms also available) made by The Omni King Edward Hotel; and
  • Two desserts courtesy of George Brown College: a tonka pavlova with peaches and a s’mores tart with smoked chocolate.
This is all paired with every alcohol you can imagine including whisky from CC Lounge, beer from Creemore Springs Brewery, and wines from various Prince Edward County producers (Stanners Vineyard, Broken Stone Winery, Rosehall Run, K. J. Watson, Karlo Estates, Keint-he). While dining, guests are serenaded by the 18-piece JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band.
Yours truly was lucky enough to get a preview of some of the items from this year’s menu. We started at Pearl Diver where Chef Malycha taught us how to shuck an oyster – he makes it seem so easy with a wiggle, pry, and wiggle motion. For me, I’ll leave it to the experts, especially if they’re going to make a refreshing onion mignonette to go with it. The oysters will go perfectly with CC Lounge’s Toronto cocktail, which mixes J.P Wiser’s Deluxe whisky, Triple Sec, Lillet liquor and tons of fresh lemon. Bright and citrusy, it’s an easy-going drink.
In fact, everything we sampled was season appropriate. Farmr’s salad combines watermelon and tomatoes, two things that normally aren’t served together but works. Chef Benny Chateau aims to showcase produce at their peak in August, allowing the ingredients to shine. The watermelon is pickled in its own juice with red wine vinegar, the tomatoes getting a similar treatment with lime, and it’s all tossed together with micro basil and cucumber ribbons. The watermelon’s sweetness is balanced by pickling and the vinegar’s acidity neutralized by the cucumber and tomato.

Even Omni King Edward’s beef is lightened by using a petit tender cut (from the shoulder of the tenderloin) so it’s lean. In lieu of the traditional heavier red wine sauce and potatoes, the steak is paired with a bright chimichurri crema and tons of roasted summer vegetables sourced from Urban Fresh at the St. Lawrence Market. Ancient grain and hazelnut clusters add a bit of carbs to the plate and some crunch as well.


Tickets are available online or by calling 416-410-9242. A portion of the $200 ticket will go towards Second Harvest, the largest food rescue organization in Canada. The charity prevents surplus food from farmers and retailers from going to the landfill by picking it up and distributing the items to over 250 social service agencies across Ontario. It’s a great organization that not only provides 30,000 meals a day, but also makes a positive impact on our environment.
Organizers note that Dinner Under the Stars is a well-staffed event - even with 250 guests everyone is served in about 5 minutes. Moreover, speeches are kept to a minimum… they know people are there to eat, drink, and mingle! If dining alfresco with a group of people to support Second Harvest sounds amazing, get your tickets before they sell out and in no time, you’ll be eating under the stars.
Disclaimer: The above tasting of select dishes from this year's event was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Front Street (between Scott and Church Street)

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