Showing posts with label fried calamari. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fried calamari. Show all posts

CLOSED: Mythology (Toronto)



As Mythology’s pictures mingled their way into my Instagram feed, the gorgeous looking plant-based dishes drew me in and created a sense of excitement. When I heard the restaurant was started by Chef Doug McNish, a well-known vegan chef in Toronto, it sealed the deal… plans were made and a reservation was secured.

Mythology promises an elevated dining experience. Indeed, the esthetics of the dining room with its black, white, and gold motifs gave the restaurant a polished air. The menu’s enticing dishes, spanning multiple continents, also made the place stand out.


As an amuse bouche was presented, we knew… oh yes, Mythology wants to transcend into fine dining. Yet, this first bite also foreshadowed the meal to come: dishes that look great, contain A LOT of ingredients, and then one or two things throws it completely off.

This first bite of pickled zucchini with tomato pesto and garlic chip - it tasted fine, but the garlic “chip” was so chewy that it’d be more aptly described as garlic jerky, leaving a strong lingering taste in my mouth.


Without the menu, it’d be hard to even recite all the ingredients that are part of each dish: their crab croquette special ($21) sat beneath so many garnishes and chips that it felt fussy and confusing. Such a shame, as the actual banana blossom cake was absolutely delicious, the texture oddly like crab, and the chayote relish, when used in small doses, was great.


The zaatar cauliflower ($20) felt like a similar dish and while it also had a lot of different elements, they at least complemented each other. Fluffy falafels are shaped into pucks and deep fried, then enhanced with sweet pomegranate, citrusy tahini, and fresh quinoa taboloui. The only downfall was the actual cauliflower seems secondary… really, this should be renamed as ‘falafels and cauliflower’.


As soon as the coq au vin ($22) was presented I knew something was off. Somehow the dish that’s synonymous with slowly braised meat in red wine arrives looking like a deep fried chicken cutlet? Sure enough, the seitan chicken was cut too thickly and along with the garlic mashed potatoes made for a heavy feeling meal.


Maybe French cuisine just doesn’t lend itself to being vegan – after all, it’s a cuisine that relies so heavily on butter, cheese, and meat. If the chefs sliced the seitan thinner and reimagined the dish as schnitzel – substituting the pastrami carrots and rapini with braised cabbage – it may actually work.

Of all the dishes, the one I thought Mythology would ace was the mushroom ravioli ($24). I’ve been to other vegan restaurants that makes great mushroom pastas with cashew based cream sauces. While the porcini cream sauce was spot on, in terms of flavours, it was too gluey and the pasta forming the ravioli was also so thick that the consistency resembled leftover pasta re-heated in the microwave. Similar to the crab croquette, the dish was then further ruined by having way too much stuff on it: hazelnut crumbs, garlic chips, baby greens, and truffle lemon vinaigrette?! All things that do nothing to help the ravioli.


When we saw the avocado and tuna tartare ($13) it was stunning. The “egg” yolk, which actually oozed, was also so impressively recreated. But then we bite into it and are repulsed by the saltiness, to the point we had to send the dish back.


We’re advised that it’s because the tomato is cured in salt so the texture changes to represent tuna. In my mind, couldn’t that also be done by simply pressing the tomato? At the very least, rinse off the cured tomato before using it. It was so salty that after one bite of the dish, it threw us off on the seasoning of everything else. After the shock to the taste buds, the next dish seemed bland.

Not all the dishes were disappointing, some of the tastiest ones were also the simplest. We all loved the panisse ($8; not pictured as it came out terrible), which is listed as a side on the menu but could easily work as a starter. The deep fried wedges tasted like mozzarella sticks, but finishes lighter and left us wanting more.

Who would have thought that king oyster mushrooms could be made to look like calamari ($14)? Indeed, biting into it you can tell it’s not seafood, yet the texture is uncannily similar. Served freshly fried with the crispy garlic cornmeal crust and cooling tartar sauce, we loved it so much we got another order.


It’s then we discovered portion sizes are inconsistent: the first such a mammoth mound of large calamari pieces filling most of the board, while the second serving barely covered the middle and the pieces puny like it was made with the leftover ends.


I can’t help but feel I was tricked into eating at Mythology by great marketing – kudos to their Instagram photographer. Even with the terrible experience, I can’t help but want the restaurant to succeed. Hence, I offer two words of advice: keep it simple and restrict garnishes to three items; and if the dish doesn’t fill the initial vision, pivot and change it into something else. I sincerely hope it gets better from here, Toronto needs more meatless fine dining options.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1265 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!


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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


Tholos (Blue Mountain)


While dining in “resort” areas such as Blue Mountain, I don’t have high hopes for food. Restaurants are never terrible – the high rents won’t allow it – but to meet the “family friendly” requirements, establishments generally veer towards chain-like menu with pizzas, burgers and pasta reining supreme.

Hence, I was pleasantly surprised with Tholos. My first visit was years prior, a semi-forced lunch when the resort package we purchase included a $50 voucher to the restaurant. After dining on a selection of appetizers and souvlaki, the experience was tasty enough to warrant a return dinner.

Their menu is still safe, with the westernized Greek favourites like saganaki ($15), a slab of salty chewy kefalograviera cheese, pan fried in a hot pan and then flambéed table side before being finished with a squeeze of lemon. The gooey cheese lets off a fragrant aroma before being tucked into a piece of bread. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh bread and cheese.

The rings of fried calamari ($16) were too thin for my taste - I find it’s difficult to dip into the thick garlicky tzatziki without the breading coming off. But, it was still decent: lightly floured and tender.


If you’re in the mood for a comforting main, Tholo’s moussaka ($22) is a great choice. Layers of potato and eggplant are combined with a spiced lamb and ground beef mixture before being topped with a cheesy creamy béchamel sauce and baked. Oh it’s good, after sneaking a bite of my friend’s, I instantly wanted more.


Luckily, my main didn’t disappoint. One dish I love from Greek cuisine is braised lamb shank ($27), a large piece of meat slow cooked for hours soaking in the braising liquids with any ligaments turning to a soft gluey texture. Within the side options are tangy lemon potatoes, which sounds delicious, but I had to go with the simpler rice, a much better choice for soaking up the red wine and meat sauce. You don’t want to waste a drop of this.


Sure, Tholos still has elements that draw in families – such as the re-creation of a courtyard setting that aims to make diners feel like they’re eating in ancient Greece; or pasta, burgers and chicken fingers to appease finicky eaters. Yet, for us adults, Tholos offers decent appetizers and delicious mains … and the selection of $45 bottles of wine makes for a jovial night, courtyard or no courtyard.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Blue Mountain, Canada
 Address: 170 Jozo Weider Boulevard

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:


Tholos Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato