Showing posts with label flat iron steak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flat iron steak. Show all posts

Nuit Social (Toronto)



Sharing is caring, oh so the saying goes. Sharing is what Nuit Social wants. In fact, create your own charcuterie “social boards” dominates half their menu where diners choose one, three, or five items from meat, cheese, and olives selections to create a sharing platter. Opting for five meats ($17) and three cheeses ($13), our board was enough for our table of five to have a taste each, the meats more so than the small bits of cheese.

Of all the items, the ones that stood out were the Tyrol schinkenspeck, the salty pork letting off that faint smokiness that’s synonymous with speck, and the bresaola (extra $1), which is best eaten plain as it’s fairly neutral and the leaner cut allows you to taste the beef. Really everything we chose – Rosette de Lyon French salami, Prosciutto, and the spicy sopressata - were all solid charcuterie.


Meanwhile, the cheeses were good but when paired with the strong meats felt a little lost. Whether it was the Vermeer gouda, Rondin du Poitou goat cheese, or the Charlevoix, the mild cheeses were flavours I enjoyed but couldn’t hold up against the bolder meats.

The last third of the menu is dedicated to “social plates”, which could be renamed to “social bags” given many arrive in a rolled down brown paper sack. Some items like the crispy frog legs ($12) and arancini ($14) are understandable, since the paper helps weep away the extra oil. But, for the Buffalo Brussels sprouts ($11) it’s a little strange as you can’t really get to the pool of hot sauce settling on the bottom.

If you can get past the image of a frog looking at you as you bite into the frog legs, it really does taste like  tender chicken or, with its small size, sort of like a less gamey quail leg. They were lightly dusted and mildly salted, but I would have liked them fried a bit longer.


Both the arancini and Brussel sprouts are dishes I’d avoid – the risotto balls so crumbly and dry that it tasted like fried dirty rice rather than a creamy porcini base. That bit of melted fontina cheese in the centre helped a bit, but could hardly save the dish. As for the Brussel sprouts, it’s a personal choice as the tangy harsh Buffalo sauce drenching the vegetable is something I normally don’t like anyways.


Items that were actually served on plates (or some case bowls) were the highlight of the meal and should be featured prominently rather than being relegated as the last things on the menu. I can still taste the sweet maple soy glaze on the pork ribs ($17) giving it a bit of stickiness but thin enough that it didn’t feel like you’re biting through a heavy sauce to get to the tender ribs. And the bed of smoked macaroni & cheese it sat on was equally delicious.


Normally, I find ricotta gnocchi ($16) a little too soft, but Nuit Social’s consistency was perfectly balanced with a light fluffiness and a bit of chewiness. The cheese and cream sauce could have been really really rich, but a bit of citrus, sweet peas, and smoky bits of chicken (oddly tasted like bacon) helped to temper the decadent dish just a little. Aside from the ribs, this was my favourite of the night.


The seared sushi steak ($17) is really a flat ironed steak done rare so that the meat has a thin ring around it like Albacore tuna. For being so underdone, the beef was surprisingly tender and the liberal amounts of chimmichurri gave the Japanese sounding dish an Argentinian flavour instead. Well roasted Brussels sprouts (thankfully, without Buffalo sauce) and fingerling potatoes finished off the plate making this one of the better-rounded dish for those who don’t want to share.  


But then sharing is Nuit Social’s mantra, they “are all about social gatherings, sharing great food and conversing over delicious drinks with old friends and new friends.” Their ambiance is set up for the mission as the music’s volume is kept at a low enough so you can actually converse with your friends (new or old). This is quite different for being a west Queen West restaurant where places like Drake Hotel is a neighbour.

Since it’s opened until midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends, it’s also a great place to gather after a night of drinking. Nuit Social definitely doesn’t serve the typical post bar eats. It’s not every day that after a night of drinking you can tuck into amazing ribs with a side of ricotta gnocchi.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1168 Queen Street West

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:


Nuit Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

La Banane (Toronto)


Most restaurants tend to feature an in-your-face bar: at Lavelle, theirs gleams and at Lena it takes up half a floor. La Banane replaces theirs statement bar with a cold seafood station instead – oysters, shrimp, and crab are displayed prominently and as enticingly as any bottle of alcohol.

In the end, it’s the Alaskan king crab ($52) we settled on, which takes a bit of work, but the crab’s salty tang is a succulent treat. In terms of condiments, the tried and true cocktail sauce was good, but the thick helping of crème fraiche needed an extra boost of herbs to stand up to the crab.


Covered with a thick paste of dill, brown butter, and caper tapenade, the topping on the albacore tuna ($16) was tasty but the thick layer excessive against the ratio of fish. After scraping some off, the briny bite goes wonderfully with the delicate fish, the rest I used to dip pieces of complimentary pretzel bread into.


Having seen pictures of their Eurobass en croute ($32), an entire fish wrapped in a salt pastry, it’s a dish I wouldn’t miss. First presented fully intact, the fish is then whisked back to the kitchen to have the top layer of pastry and skin removed before being re-presented with an ample boat of tangy yuzu beurre blanc.


Wow, can you taste the salt that permeates all the meat. Really, you don’t even need the citrusy butter sauce, although it was delicious. If only there weren’t strange orbs of zucchini dotting the fish.  Personally, I’d imagine using zucchini ribbons to replace the lattice of pastry would look and taste better.


At La Banane, seafood dominates the menu. To balance out the sea, we opted for the duck breast ($28), a protein that the French does so well. Hence, when I cut through what looked like well rendered skin to find it soggy and chewy, the dish took a dive. Another taste with the bitter grilled endive didn’t improve my perception.  


I’d stick with the flatiron steak ($25), the beef wonderfully tender and the soubise sauce incorporating an unexpected kick of grainy mustard that compliments the rich beef beautifully. The bar of pommes Anna (think scalloped potatoes but using ultra-thin slices of potatoes and butter in lieu of cream) was perhaps the best part of the meal. Why isn’t this a side that you can get more of?!


Rather, everyone seemed to get a pot of their pommes aligot ($12), the mashed potatoes incorporating so much mozzarella that its stringiness was taller than a supermodel’s legs. Think you can simply lift your spoon higher to get the cheesy potatoes out of the dish? Good luck.


Indeed, the molten fondue nature of the aligot is impressive, but you really have to love cheese. Aside from the gooey mozzarella, there’s something stronger (gruyère and emmental perhaps), just a few spoons and I had to tap out.  

We couldn’t bring ourselves to shell out the $50 to try to Ziggy Stardust disco egg. As a person who generally doesn’t like chocolate, after seeing the chocolate egg filled with truffles being presented at a neighbouring table, I’m glad we opted for the gateau à la banane ($12) instead. In spite of the cake looking like something a child makes in an Easy Bake oven, the flavours are spot on (a wonderful vanilla base with a creamy banana finish) and the slightly caramelized crust along the outside was fantastic.


For an almost healthy dessert, La Banane offers a roasted ananas ($10), the pineapple encapsulated in a lovely sugary crust that turns the fruit into dessert. It really didn’t go with the tofu pudding, but I rather enjoyed the beany hit from the tofu, which could have been a touch sweeter.


For the most part, La Banane’s food is good and the atmosphere is glitzy while still welcoming and comfortable. It’s their service that needs fine tuning. By no means are they unfriendly or inattentive, if anything, it might be too attentive.

Working in pairs, rather than a person per section, it seems like everything gets repeated – being asked if I wanted water when there’s already a glass in front of me or wondering if I needed a drink while waiting for dining companions. Moreover, I understand the importance of ensuring people are happy with their food, but when a group’s deep in conversation and dishes are relatively clear, I’d rather not have someone interrupt at each course. If anything, a touch point in between the appetizer and main course and at the end of the meal would be sufficient.

Perhaps I’m being nit-picky. After all, I’d rather enter a French restaurant without the Parisian snobbery. As for the overall experience, La Banane’s seafood is fresh and their sauces très délicieux, but all these best new restaurant accolades? I don’t get it. For me, they’re like a banana: dependable, but common.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 227 Ossington Avenue

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