Showing posts with label doughnut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label doughnut. Show all posts

Spoonful (Brampton)


It’s been years since I’ve been to a traditional buffet, where there are food stations to select to your heart’s content. As a child, we’d visit them for large family dinners - our parents were glad there were enough options to satisfy picky tastes and we could leave the table to walk around without them being judged. Somehow, we stopped going as my cousins and I became better behaved and our parents’ appetites shrunk.

Hence when Spoonful invited me out to try their buffet and my eyes swept across all the food, a pang of nostalgia ran through me. The layout feels familiar - the buffet area in the middle with various rooms of seating surrounding it – but the amount of choices were remarkable, figuring out where to start can be a challenge!

There’s of course an array of salads, but I steer clear of these at all costs. There’s no way I’m filling up on salad, even if there is an area that you can customize with Japanese cold noodles, edamame, and more. Soups are kept in domed heated pots that give an intergalactic feel to the restaurant - I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t my go-to hot and sour soup, but there was lobster bisque, Chinese bone broth, mock shark fin, and wonton.


Beside all this was a sushi bar that had SO many maki, sushi, and sashimi choices. As pretty as they are to look at, sushi is never good at buffets… sitting on ice causes the rice to get hard and dry. A piece of dynamite roll confirmed my suspicions. But boy, do they look tempting.  


With the plethora of seafood options, my first plate was dedicated to crustaceans and fish. A lady stands guard overly freshly shucked oysters, cold sea snails and chilled crab legs, ensuring items like the raw oysters are kept sanitary. From the hot section, the baked garlic scallops in shell were tiny but delicious. 


I had all this before realizing there was another seafood tower on the other side of the room, filled with mussels, snail, octopus tendrils, and cocktail shrimp! The restaurant is a place for seafood lovers, offering even more choice on weeknights when there’s also crawfish and baked oysters (on Wednesday), and stir-fried BC crab (on Thursday).


From the Brazilian churrasco grill, the steak was surprisingly good, a perfect medium rare when taken from the middle. I only wish they left off the sweet teriyaki sauce to preserve more of the beef flavour. Generally, most of the meat items I had were delicious: the roasted duck well marinated and the skin of the roasted pork giving off a lovely crispy crunch.


While Spoonful offers a variety of stir fried noodles and rice (smartly kept in domed heated plates to resist getting dry), I went for the made-to-order pad Thai – the same station offers an array of freshly made Italian pasta dishes as well. I was happy to see the pad Thai sauce was brown instead of the bright pink meaning it's made with ketchup. It tasted pretty authentic, but less sauce could be used as the tamarind was overpowering and it could be stir-fried longer to give it more wok hay. If you like heat, you’ll also want to opt for the “very spicy” pad Thai sauce, I could barely taste any chili with the “spicy” one.


Spoonful invests in specialized equipment to keep things heated as optimally as possible. Like the domed heating plates used for the noodles, deep fried items are kept as a single layer in hot boxes and there are flat top warming grills for items like taquitos.


I barely made a dent into trying everything. Just to name a few more items they also offer lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, a variety of savoury tarts, beef ribs, the traditional choy suey buffet items (spring rolls, fried chicken wings, etc.)… *deep breath* … grilled teriyaki items, duck rolls, grilled pineapple … it goes on and on! Surprisingly, the thing I missed most were hot stir-fried vegetables. The stir-fried green beans were ignored and dry, so I stuck with the plain broccoli and Shanghai bok choy.


For those with a sweet tooth, Spoonful has TWO huge dessert stations containing a variety of cakes, tarts, cookies, Jello, and custards. There’s of course a waffle station and a soft serve ice cream machine that’s great for topping the waffles.


As if this weren’t enough, they also have a cascading chocolate fountain with marshmallows, fruits, and bubble waffles for dipping. A rotating ice cream station is also a cool feature and since there’s someone there to scoop it for you, I didn’t have to worry about sticky hands getting into it or the ice cream becoming too soft as the freezer lid is left open.


By the entrance are candy pod stations with a variety of chewy candies - just looking at them made my teeth hurt!  Needless to say, Spoonful dominates in the dessert category - any sweet lover would be in heaven.


The coolest feature has got to be the doughnut machine where you can see the automated spout pipe the batter into the hot oil and the doughnuts conveyor through until the end. Talk about nostalgia, the station reminded me of Tiny Tom doughnuts from the CNE.

I’ll admit, the doughnuts smell better than they taste as they’re oily. Perhaps it’s my fault, I had to get the freshly fried ones that just dropped off the conveyor belt. Maybe if I took them from the basket and gave them a chance to drain it would be drier. Nonetheless, adding some red bean ice cream to it and forming a doughnut ice cream sandwich made the oiliness less noticeable.  


For all the options, their prices are very reasonable: for adults, lunches are $17.99 and $23.99 and dinners are $27.99 and $33.99 for Monday to Friday and weekends and holidays, respectively. They also offer a host of specials to seniors (60 years + of age), birthdays (50% for the individual on the day of their birthday or 10% for the whole table during the month), and if you promote them on social media (10% off after posting on Wechat, Facebook, or Instagram).

As an affordable buffet, Spoonful is one of the better ones I’ve been to. If only we visited the restaurant as a child … it’s like a magical AYCE Willy Wonka world.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Brampton, Canada
 Address: 499 Main Street South

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:


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

Celebrating birthdays at Buca Toronto


Before getting into the birthday post, I have to highlight Buca’s sopresini alle vongole ($32), which is one of my favourite pastas - good ol’ spaghetti with clams. At the restaurant, they swap out the long strands of noodles for beautiful calla lily shaped pasta from Emilia Romagna, which are great for capturing the citrusy tomato sauce. Without a shell in site, large pieces of tuatua clams are strewn throughout for satisfying meaty bites.


Now, back to the post…

Some restaurants will have staff sing you Happy Birthday, while most simply stick a candle into a dessert to commemorate the occasion. At Buca, they outdo themselves by giving the birthday person a gift: a chef presents a box of ingredients for capacite pepe spaghetti, a black pepper pasta topped with pecorino.


Along with a quick three-step recipe, you can treat yourself (and perhaps a friend) to an Italian meal in the days to come. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful gesture that makes me wonder why I don’t go to Buca for my birthdays.

Of course, they also have a variety of desserts to ensure the party ends sweetly. A glowing candle arrives in the tiramisu du Buca ($14). While the dessert incorporates the traditional zabaglione and mascarpone mixture, it also contains a generous dollop of chocolate mousse and substitutes tapioca biscuits for lady fingers. The tiramisu is too creamy and sweet for my tastes, but if you enjoy a budino, this has a similar feel.


Give me the frittelle ($14) any day, little bite-sized deep fried buffalo ricotta fritters, paired with zabaglione and blood orange tasting quince. Compared to other desserts it’s simple and safe, but great for balancing out the heavier pasta and pizza combination from earlier in the meal.


Aside from the Italian fare, Buca is known for their use of blood and offal. Pork blood makes its way into the torta di sanguinaccio ($14) where it’s mixed into dark chocolate to create a luxuriously creamy concoction that would put a flourless torte to shame. It’s then doused with liqueur table side and set on fire, perhaps to help melt the chocolate, but unfortunately causes the tonka bean gelato to run as well. I did enjoy the boozy taste it adds to the dessert – trust me you won’t taste a drop of pig’s blood.


Overall, it was one of the better meals I’ve experienced at the restaurant. Thank you Buca for the capacite pepe, a brilliant gift for the birthday girl. What a great idea, so much so that I’m enticed to return in May, for my celebration. 

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 604 King Street West

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


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


La Palma (Toronto)


La Palma’s bright white building with neon sign looks completely out of place in the neighbourhood. Amongst the other dated shops and cozy restaurants, their airy vibe is sleek - you won’t have a problem locating it.

To match their Miami-like décor, the menu’s lighter while still incorporating the Italian classics. La Palma’s definitely a trendier restaurant - there was a fair share of tables downing pink rose – you almost feel like you have to drink something pretty against the white and pastel backdrop.

While sipping on wine, an order of the saucisson sec and gruyere ($12) is an ideal nibbler. Pieces of cured not overly oily sausage, creamy grueyere, and roasted peppers, it’s that pre-dinner aperitivo that makes you sit back and slow down.


You can continue on a tapas journey with their selection of crostini. The stracchino, cured tomato, and oregano ($8) version is that delicious combination of oily crunchy bread and creamy cheese that’s mellowed out with fruit and herb. La Palma’s certainly generous with the chewy cheese, which forms a blanket of its own over the bread.

La Palma Toronto crostini

As for the mains, the carb-based dishes are a hit. The 100 layer lasagna ($18) may be exaggerated, but there definitely plenty of sheets of the fresh silky pasta. Having had lasagna at an Italian friend’s place numerous times, it definitely tastes authentic. Firstly, the restaurant uses plenty of sauce so the cheese doesn’t get overly crusty; there’s a coloured crust, but the dairy should stay relatively hydrated and gooey. Moreover, the ingredients are simple: fresh pasta, a meaty bolognese, milky mozzarella, and some basil for garnish is all you need.

La Palma Toronto lasagna

The potato gnocchi’s’ ($17) consistency is the perfect soft chewiness that’s delicate but not mushy. The trick must be to keep them small so they’ll cook quickly and allows each bean-sized pasta to be covered in plenty of the braised oxtail sauce, creating a well-flavoured dish.

La Palma Toronto gnocchi

La Palma’s zucchini pizza ($15) is a must. The thin slices incorporate creamy ricotta cheese and a bit of texture from chanterelles. A zip of lemon really wakes up the pizza and the chewy dough with crispy edges makes you want to inhale slice after slice.

La Palma Toronto zucchini pizza

The flat iron steak ($17) could be cooked a touch less (we were advised it’d arrive medium rare, but it was definitely medium); nonetheless, the beef was nicely seared and there was a fair portion to go around. The chermoula sauce adds an earthy freshness with a garlic, coriander, cumin, and lemon base. For those who like chimichurri, it has a similar taste without the acidity of vinegar.


For a well-balanced meal, the restaurant offers plenty of vegetables. I would have thought the graffiti eggplant ($13) would be a favourite – baked charred eggplant with raisins, picked chili, and mint… sounds heavenly already. Yet, it was so salty that all other tastes were non-existent. Sweet raisins? Heat of the chili? Refreshing mint? Forget it.

La Palma Toronto eggplant

With so many restaurants featuring cauliflower ($11) on the menu, it’s becoming difficult to standout. La Palma uses the typical grilled florets and adds roasted grapes (their famous addition to Campagnolo’s burrata), but somehow grapes and cauliflower really don’t have the same iconic pairing as fruit and cheese.

La Palma Toronto cauliflower

Of the vegetables, the corn and beluga lentils ($12) was my favourite, the mixture further enhanced with chick peas, salty feta, and an arugula pesto that’s a great alternative to the stronger basil. With parmesan shaved on top, the dish could be a hearty salad as well as a side.


For those who have visited their sister restaurant, Campagnolo, how does this compare? La Palma certainly has a more extensive menu with tons to choose from. However, with the wider net there are some hit and misses. However, their menu is definitely more vegetarian friendly and goes with the airy atmosphere of the place.


Thinking the peach crostata ($10) would be a lighter fruity end, the dessert was surprisingly sweet… perhaps a bit too much honey drizzled over everything? The fruit itself was enjoyable, but the sugary shortbread with equally sweet pastry cream was a bit much.


So much so, that I actually enjoyed the caffe corretto mousse ($10) more – when chocolate desserts are normally not my thing. Yet, it was well-balanced with the bitterness from the espresso taming the chocolate. For a small portion, it’s still a rich dessert that’s best shared.

La Palma and Campagnolo shares equally friendly and hospitable staff. When my friend asked whether they had any doughnuts left for dessert, our waitress noted these are made daily in the morning and once they’re sold out it’s not replenished. However, she’d check with the kitchen to see if there’s any remaining and would set them aside.

La Palma Toronto doughnutsIndeed, three of them came out with dessert, so we could taste the grilled hibiscus honey doughnut ($3.25) they’re known for. In the end, although yummy, it’s just a traditional honey dip that’s grilled. Of course, the dough is more flavourful with a lovely sweet yeasty scent, but it’s also really dense. If they were only airier it’d be fantastic … although to be fair, if we had them fresh in the morning it could be completely different.

The salted caramel-filled doughnut ($3.50), on the other hand, was heaven. The pastry cream light and flavourful and the doughnut oh so soft. To be able to shove one into your mouth and just let the cream erupt … now that’s living the Italian dream.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 849 Dundas Street West
 Website: www.lapalma.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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


La Palma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Type of Meal: Dinner


John and Son's Oyster House has a comfortable environment. Open, airy and decorated with simple wooden decor there is plenty of light and suitable ambient noise to allow for louder conversation. Yet place settings are still polished with thick linen napkins and shiny cutlery. Plus, the lovely aroma of seafood cooking just adds to the experience.

Ordering off of their Summerlicious menu, I started with the crab cake. Thankfully, John and Son did not skimp on the dungeness crab. Tender and moist it easily flaked apart. I liked that the filling was not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the crab remained. Topped with a dollop of lemon aioli and placed on topped of some lightly dressed arugula this was a good starter.


My friends’ New England style chowders arrived piping hot, a pleasure when mass produced soup can sometimes become lukewarm when left in warming pots. They seemed pleased and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t too heavy despite being cream based.


The niçoise was beautifully presented with all the fresh and vibrant vegetables. Each element of the dish was thoughtfully prepared – the tuna evenly seared with a delicately salted crust, the asparagus retaining some crunch, the roasted tomato not too acidic and even the olives fantastic as not overly briny. But my favourite component was the soft boil egg that sat upon a bacon (?) aoili with crunched crunchy bacon bits on top; it left me wanting more.


Two good sized portions of wild haddock arrived in the fish and chips along with tons of fries and a side coleslaw. The fish was moist and flakey; although the batter a bit thick and oily for my taste. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy and reminded me of the Swiss Chalet delivery fries. They could have benefited from being fried twice. 


My friend's black angus flat iron steak was a respectable size but arrived undercooked (seemed rare when ordered medium rare). But, it looked juicy and succulent with a nice char to it. The fries were sadly the same soggy variety. 


In terms of the desserts most people preferred the frozen lemon mascarpone cheese cake. Creamy and fluffy with raspberries on top, it was a lighter dessert to end the meal.


I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut. With a sweet maple butter glaze and crunchy chocolate nut bits it had varying elements of salty & sweet and soft & crunchy. The doughnut could have been fried a tad longer as the middle was a bit soft and doughy.


The brownie was moist and chocolaty but we found it lacked the oomph the other desserts had. 


Service was efficient with dishes coming out in quick succession. Overall, it wasn't bad but could have been improved with two minor suggestions:
  1.  Be more attentive with refilling water. Although each table was given a large bottle for self-refills, once that was empty it wasn’t automatically replaced.
  2. More of a personal pet peeve, but I prefer finished dishes to be left and collected when the entire table is done (or in larger tables as sections are done). This ensures that slower diners don’t feel rushed and those who are finished still retain cutlery to sneak tastes off of a friend’s plate.


Overall, my choices were delicious and it felt nice to eat fresh vegetables and seafood so that I wasn’t overly stuffed at the end. John and Son is a nice choice (for seafood) and appears to have a great closed in patio ideal for summer days.


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 - $35

Regular menu - $49 - crab cake ($15), nicoise ($25) and doughnut ($9)

Savings - $14 or 29%

* The crab cake is based on their downtown menu price.



Overall mark - 7 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!



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!