Showing posts with label fish and chips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fish and chips. Show all posts

CLOSED: The Berlin (Kitchener)


My first time seeing garlic scapes was at the St. Jacob’s farmer's market earlier that day. Imagine my delight when they were on Berlin’s menu later that evening. Using as many fresh and local ingredients as possible is what Berlin is all about. The menu changes daily and despite the German sounding name, their dishes draw inspiration from around the world so you’ll experience flavours and ingredients from various cultures.

Going back to the garlic scapes, after coal roasting the tendrils ($9) they’re chopped and topped on smooth ricotta cheese. The ingredient is like an amalgamation of green beans and asparagus, in terms of texture, with a sweetness augmented with a garlic essence that’s surprisingly light. Of course, it could have been somewhat neutralized by the strong pecorino cheese and dash of lemon juice, combining to create a flavourful crostini.

The grass-fed beef tartare ($14) were cut rather largely so I had to get over the fleshy chewy texture. Nonetheless, the diced smoked beets mixed with the beef were a good compliment, adding contrast to an otherwise soft mixture (even better once piled onto a thin crispy taro root chip). The beef itself could benefit from more flavour, as the toasted nori and sauce verte were lighter flavours; this dish is best suited for someone who likes a mildly flavoured tartare. 


Berlin’s menu has two starter sections: “to start” and “appetizers”. Surprisingly, the first two dishes ordered from the “to start” section are actually larger and heavier than the following appetizers. Perhaps it’s best to think of the “to start” selection a shared plates, great options for light bites. 

Our waiter explains that the chopped marinated tuna belly ($16) is actually pieces of fish sliced off in large chunks so there’s a pulled texture to the fish. With plenty of meaty pieces tossed in sweet soy with nori, there's an Asian essence to the dish along with toasted seeds and wild arugula.


The grilled squid and cucumber salad ($15) was fantastic with the squid just cooked through resulting in a tender and sweet dish. Crunchy cucumber slices tossed with olive oil, dill, and a hint of cream dressing makes it light and refreshing – great for the summer and the sauce perfect for dipping bread into. 


For risotto, Berlin’s pearl barley and lentil version ($26) was refreshing: the grains more nutty than sticky and the sauce, while cheesy, is lightened with tons of vegetables. At least half of the plate consisted of radish pods, which although looks like dried pea pods have an interesting radish essence. They take some getting used to ascertain pods were dry while others crisp and sweet – each bite is a hit or miss. Overall, for risotto, there’s a surprising amount of greenery built into the dish, giving it a light and bright finish.



In fact, even the fish and chips ($24), a special they offer every Tuesday, had a generous handful of mixed summer greens. By the end of the meal, I was rather pleased with myself... I thought we made indulgent choices but actually consumed a lot of vegetables! The Lake Erie white bass was a great for fish and chips since its dense and meaty, holding up against the crispy batter so there’s still fish flavours. The celeriac remoulade sauce was thick and filled with herbs, great for the fish or dipping the hot crispy fries into.


For a restaurant that has so many sharable plates, the staff needs to pay more attention to what customers are telling them - despite informing our waiter while ordering and as each course was presented that we’d be sharing, we still had to follow-up to get side plates after they were cleared between courses.  

Regardless, it’s a small slip and in other aspects our waiter was attentive and friendly. We could certainly sense his passion for the city and the redevelopment going through the Kitchener downtown core, where Berlin is located, thanks to Waterloo’s expansion. Although I haven’t visited a lot of restaurants in the KW region, Berlin has certainly topped the list as my favourite; brunch or dinner, the food continues to impress, perfect for feeding the technology boom.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Kitchener, Canada
 Address: 45 King Street West

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

The Abbot Pub and Fare (Toronto)


Having recently moved, the change in location means a new local watering hole and a whole slew of fresh establishments to dine at. In the area, there’s a fair number of casual eateries and regardless of the evening, pubs such as The Abbot are filled. Rain, snow, cold weather … nothing will stop North Yorkers from getting a cold glass of ale (or in my case, wine).

As the calamari ($12) was presented, the tell-tale perfect rings signified frozen seafood. Get ready for the shriveled insides and coating that falls off, I thought to myself. Surprisingly, my worries didn’t materialize and the appetizer was decent – the calamari relatively plump and the light crispy coating adhered just fine on the seafood.


It doesn’t seem fair to write about a pub without trying a couple of their staples: fish and chips or a burger. Sadly, the staples are also what the Abbot seems to rest on their laurels with.

I’m told the thick oily batter on their fish and chips ($15) is a typical English style. For me, it’s too heavy and despite the pieces of fish actually being quite thick, still remained buried in coating; especially the ends that were so mummified I had to peel them off. Perhaps if the batter actually incorporated enough of the “Abbot Ale” or there was some other flavour incorporated into the coating it’d be better. Unfortunately, each piece of fish simply tasted like oil … the only respite was once I doused it with a liberal splashing of malt vinegar or added the respectable coleslaw to the mix.


The beef burger ($14 with an extra $2 for cheddar and caramelized onions) looked impressive with a thick patty, colourful garnishes and a fluffy buttered bun. Looks can be deceiving as upon biting through the bun everything was just… so … plain. Aside from the liberal squirt of ketchup, I really couldn’t taste much else. Despite being warned that their burgers are cooked to medium (the proper way any real burger should be prepared, in my mind), the actual patty arrived completely cooked through.  


Maybe it was an off evening and the cooks simply forgot to dip into the spices. Somehow, both dishes were so bland – even the tartar sauce could only add so much interest to the fish and chips. I know what you’re thinking, there’s salt on the table, just sprinkle it on. Sure, this helps a bit but I’m a firm believer that what makes a dish good is the layering of flavours (i.e. having spices incorporated into the beef patty and sauce on the burger bun) so that everything works together. Moreover, making a dish taste good relies more than just salt … that’s just table stakes.

Another visit yielded tastier meals. The chicken and waffle ($20), a special for the evening, had an amazing side: the bacon and Brussels sprouts hash was bang on in terms of flavours as the slivers of vegetable and soft bacon melded together into a wonderful accompaniment. I could have easily had a large plate of the hash as a meal.

Although showing promise, the chicken and waffles just wasn’t executed very well. The coating on the chicken was nicely seasoned (the saltiness pairing nicely with the maple bourbon glaze) and the meat was juicy, yet the breading fell off as soon as the knife pierced through. Chicken meat with hard crispy shards of coating anyone? The buttermilk waffle was made with a delicious batter, but so dense it could have been pancakes; the soft cake-like texture good on its own, but much too heavy for fried chicken.

The sole dish I’d order again is the beef brisket ($22). Each thick slice of meat so tender and flavourful, having been braised in beer. It’s a real "stick to your ribs" comfort dish paired with buttery scallion mashed potatoes. Mmm… meat and potatoes, perhaps this is what pub fare is all about.


The Abbot does offer a great rendition of sticky toffee pudding ($8), served hot in a ramekin that keeps all the buttery syrup soaked into the soft cakey cinnamon bread. Yet, the syrup isn’t overpowering – just sweet enough to bring justice to the dessert, but balanced out by the neutral whipped cream on top that adds a creaminess to everything.


What I’ve learnt from attending the local restaurant: forget about the fried dishes, go for the meat and potatoes. And by all means, save room for dessert!

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3367 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

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


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


The Abbot Pub & Fare Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The Uptown Pub House (Toronto)


Sometimes pubs are dark environments where their carpet stinks of stale beer. At other times, their dining room is like The Uptown Pub House: brightly lit and the carpetless. Their menu still has the typical pub fare – burgers, wings, Shepard’s pie and the like.

The batter on the haddock used in the fish and chips ($14.95) was thin and light, albeit a tad soggy in the centre. Thankfully, the tartar sauce isn’t the packaged Heinz variety, instead thick and zippy but would be even better with more pickles. Even though the chips weren’t the thick cut version of Scotland, they were hot and crispy … I couldn’t help eating one more.


You really can’t go wrong with anything deep fried. The crispy shrimp ($11.95) arrived blistering hot in a crunchy shell and a tangy horseradish laced homemade cocktail sauce. Similarly, the sweet potato fries ($5.50) must be some of the best in the city – keeping their length with a really light dusting of flour so the sweet starchy flavour was the most evident.


The only disappointment was the pub house chicken curry ($14.95), which didn’t hold up to its British counterparts of making excellent thick creamy curries. Instead, it’s as if the chef merely took the chicken, pea and potato mixture used in the pot pie and added curry powder. Indeed, the dish had a vibrant colour, but lacked any heat or flavour. Even the curry aroma was non-existent, it’s a passable dish.


I’d just go with the chicken pot pie ($15.95) instead. Although I didn’t taste it, at least the crust appeared flaky and as the steam arose from the chicken and gravy, it smelled like something.


Despite its gloomier exterior, The Uptown Pub House is surprisingly family friendly inside. This may be a tad disappointing for a lonely soul who wants to knock back a few at the bar and be miserable in a shadowy silence. But for those who want to eat, at least it doesn’t smell like rank beer.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3185 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

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


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



The Uptown Pub House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cadet (Montreal)


Despite sitting in simple tables that resembled cafeteria seating, there’s something buzzy about Cadet. It could be that every table was filled with smartly dressed patrons laughing over cocktails and shared plates. Sipping on the overly sweet West coast spritz ($8), thanks to the liberal pour of orangey Aperol, the trendy restaurant made me feel hip … cool even (what do the kids say nowadays?)

With their small plates format menu there’s bound to be hit and misses - the worst offenders the meat-based offerings. The beef tartare ($14) was flavourless and mushy; the dish certainly could use something crunchy and zippy like chopped pickles to give it bite. The presentation could also be improved: if it weren’t for the radish slices and snippets of chives, the bowl of loosely cubed meat would feel like eating Alpo.

The pork shoulder ($14) was better, the meat tender and juicy, pairing well with the mustard. Even the edamame beans were fine – adding a bright splash of green and crunch. It was the sweet grapes and dry mealy falafels mixed into everything that threw me off, it simply didn’t work together.


Of all the meat dishes, the chicken wings ($12) were best, smothered in a sweet and sour glaze with crunchy peanuts and scallions for interest. They’re good, but hardly inventive, and rather salty so you’ll want these served last or it’ll take away from the other dishes.


So, all the carnivore based selections were passable. It’s all right - Montreal already has so many restaurants dedicated to beef and pork that Cadet can focus on everything else. The broccoli ($10) was fantastic: small roasted florets mixed with crispy pan fried speatzle and smooth tangy lebenah. Everything from the textures and flavours worked together so nicely; even the bits of pistachio threw in for crunch.


Incorporating a light jalapeno yogurt and sweet melons, the scallop ceviche’s ($18) flavours were well balanced and refreshing. I liked that the ceviche didn’t rely on the typical lime juice, which can overpower delicate seafood and changes the scallop’s texture. In fact, the dish was closer to sashimi than ceviche, the scallops remaining soft like silken tofu.


Soft and meaty, the cubes of octopus ($17) paired perfectly with the earthy king oysters mushroom. Between the octopus, mushrooms and the soft plump romano beans, this is a hearty dish that could substitute for a meat one any day.


The crispy coating on the fried halibut ($12) was a nice change from all the other saucy dishes. Cadet’s batter was oh so airy, filled with tons of pockets for crunch. What a great vessel for dipping into the creamy gherkin laced tartare sauce.



Don’t leave without trying the clams ($14) – for a table of four you’ll need two orders as they’re that good! The light curry was fantastic, full of Thai flavours and not too thick as to overpower the clams. I wish there were more pieces of dried bread thrown into the dish, which soaks up the sauce. Even better, a bowl of steamed rice … *sigh dreamily* ... that would have made the night complete. 


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Montreal, Canada
 Address: 1431 Blvd Saint-Laurent

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:


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


The Oar & Paddle (Gravenhurst)


Aside from an endless supply of baked goods, a cottage vacation usually means taking a break from buying food and preparing it ourselves. After being in the sun and relaxing, it’s nice to take time to cook and not abide by schedules. Nonetheless, one evening we gave the barbeque a rest and made our way into the quaint main street in Gravenhurst for dinner.  

When a menu proclaims something as the restaurant’s “famous” dish, I’m intrigued and will give it a try - an order of the deep fried chicken wings ($12.99 for 10 pieces) started us off while waiting for the mains. With thirteen sauces and seasonings to choose from, the Oar & Paddle has a decent selection. The sweet and spicy Thai lived up to its name in terms of flavour and the wings were good – juicy, crispy, freshly out of the fryer, and covered with an ample amount of sauce. Certainly not the best wings I’ve ever eaten, but would likely be a top 20 contender.


For a city by the water, I thought their bouillabaisse ($19.99) would be equally satisfying. To be fair, it had the beginnings of being a promising dish with a nice selection of seafood: perch, shrimp and mussels. Except for the shrimp, which were slightly overcooked, the others arrived flaky and plump.

However, what makes a bouillabaisse nourishing is a hot hearty broth – something aromatic that hits the nose as soon as the dish arrives and a depth that makes you want to drink every last drop. Somehow, the lukewarm lackluster tomato and clam broth just didn’t cut it. At first excited to see the bouillabaisse would be served with both rice and grilled baguette (more vessels to soak up the broth), the rice was probably a poor choice as the hunk of cooled made-hours-ago starch ultimately left the soup tepid.

My husband was smart and stuck with the steadfast fish and chips ($16.99), a popular choice amongst the diners. The haddock was encapsulated in a crispy beer batter - although it could stand to be harder in the centre, the crunchy edges I tried were wonderful. The fries were also hot, plentiful and satisfying. And thankfully, the restaurant made their own tartar sauce so had plenty of gherkins and flavour – I’m amazed at the number of places that ruin fish and chips by giving the packaged Heinz variety.


The Oar & Paddle is a Muskoka favourite and the place was full (both in the dining room and patio) during our Thursday evening visit… you’ll want to make a reservation. Laid back and homey, you don’t feel judged arriving in whatever you’ve been wearing at the cottage that afternoon (covered up of course). Just heed my advice and stick with the pub favourites, anything not grilled or deep fried may result in disappointment.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Gravenhurst, Canada
 Address: 530 Muskoka Road North

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:


Oar and Paddle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ginza Lion 銀座ライオン (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 7-9-20 Ginza, Chuo
Website: http://www.ginzalion.jp/shop/brand/lion.html
Type of Meal: Lunch


Off of the busy street of Ginza the restaurant is hard to miss with its large entrance and display case filled window. As soon as you enter get ready to experience a bustling beer hall where small tables are crammed together and chattering permeates throughout. But, that is expected; after all, with any beer hall you'd expect a jovial informal atmosphere. 


Beer is available if four sizes with the small (slightly less than a pint) and a large (about 750 ml) shown below. Luckily, despite the large dining room size, drinks arrive quickly to satisfy thirsty customers. 


Lion Ginza's menu combines German beer hall classics and UK pub favourites. My husband and I ordered a choice of both with him getting the Weisterhurst with sauerkraut (¥1,029). Not being a fan of sausages I didn't try the dish but must admit the breakfast sized sausages sitting in an oily skillet couldn’t tempt me. 


Meanwhile, my fish and chips (¥892) were also quite small consisting of three stick sized pieces of fish and about six thick cut fries. This certainly didn't come close to matching my experience at Anstruther's Fish Bar which is disappointing for a country which normally prepares fish so well. The biggest drawback is it's coated in bread crumbs rather than battered so made me think of eating the frozen Highliner variety I purchase at grocery stores. 



In the end, I realize Ginza Lion is not a place to go to for good food. But, if you are looking for a central place to rest, where they always have a table available and offer inexpensive (but small) dishes than this is place to for you. 

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CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Website: http://johnandsonsoysterhouse.com/#about-1
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


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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!


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