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

Miss Likklemores (Toronto)

For me, a restaurant’s a hit when I’m already planning on who I can return with during my first meal. Such was the case with Miss Likklemore’s, one spoon of the sock-you-in-the-mouth rice from the crab XO ($62) and I was hooked. If risotto made sweet love to a tropical gumbo, perhaps this is would be their love child. To say it’s flavourful is an understatement: there’s a rich savouriness, hits of tangy spice from pickled chilis, a sweet tropical essence from pineapple (?) and toasted coconut chips, and a hit of freshness from the occasional cilantro.

If this weren’t enough, pea sized chunks of crab are strewn throughout with a whole cluster nestled on top, slathered in butter, and topped with a mild XO sauce. It’s messy to eat but there’s something exhilarating about grabbing onto a crab leg and cracking it opened with your bare hands. If only there was some wet naps to deal with the after math… I feel sorry for the restaurant’s cleaners, no one should have to witness the state of my cloth napkin.

If Miss Likklemore’s was a real person, I sense she wouldn’t care about etiquette. The jerk chicken ($35) is carved but served bone-in so that those who are dainty can stick with the hunks of tender breast meat, but the real chicken fans will gladly grab onto the drumstick, thigh, or the ultra-flavourful wing. There wasn’t a dry portion on the bird and the flavours were bang on – a subtle spice that builds and lingers on the tongue but not overly pungent. If you want an extra boost of flavour, more gravy is included to douse and dip.

I would suggest tucking into the jerk chicken as soon as it arrives as it’s delicious when it’s piping hot. Because the dining room is heavily air conditioned, the protein cools down quickly and while it’s still tasty, the last bites are not nearly as good as the first.

Given the oxtail ($65) is swimming in gravy, it somewhat resists getting cold. Yet, you’ll want a few friends to order this sizeable dish as the pieces of beef are huge and meaty, the size of a short rib, cooked just to the point of tender without being overly soft. Still, after some of the more flavourful dishes, I did find the oxtail blander in comparison… ideally, this would be served with a hot sauce so diners could amp up the flavour on the gravy. And it’s a sauce you won’t want to waste so make sure to order a side of fragrant coconut rice ($12).

Even their rock shrimp ($26) surprised us. What looked like the typical battered nuggets – found in modern Japanese restaurants like Ki and Kasa Moto - have such a nuanced flavour at Miss Likklemores. The aioli is spicy but balanced with freshness from the finely chopped mint, and an almost citrusy finish that I can’t quite place (like lemongrass but not quite).

The doubles ($11 for two; $6 for additional) was another popular starter, the bara is fluffy and warm and filled with a savoury chickpea curry. It’s accompanied with tamarind chutney to give it some tanginess if that’s your thing.

Of all the dishes, only the fried snapper ($75) disappointed. While it was beautifully presented and the deboned fillets were cooked to flakey perfection, it was so heavily seasoned that the saltiness gave it a bitter tone. Ultimately, I had to scrape the snapper’s flesh out of the breading to enjoy it. Even then, I hardly needed the escovitch dipping sauce, the fish’s flesh already salty enough, indicating how much seasoning was used on the batter that it’d seep through so thoroughly.

On both weeknight visits, the service was attentive and top-notch, dishes arrive at a good clip without feeling overly rushed. If I had one complaint, it’d be nonchalant attitude to criticism. After each dish was presented, our server would give us ten minutes then stop by to see how things were tasting – us raving about how good it is, of course. Except for the fried snapper where I commented how overly salted it was that it’s barely edible. Disappointingly, there wasn’t a reaction… no “sorry to hear about that, I’ll let the chef know”, no offer for a replacement, nada. In my opinion, if a restaurant’s not ready to right a wrong, they shouldn’t bother asking for feedback to start.

The one slip up aside, I really enjoyed the dishes and even the snapper would have been an incredible dish if it weren’t double seasoned. I sense I’ll be seeing Miss Likklemores again. If she was personified, she’s certainly someone I’d love to become good friends with. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 433 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!

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CLOSED: La Creole (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 810 St. Clair Avenue West
Type of Meal: Dinner

La Creole, a new restaurant to land in St. Clair West, brings the taste of Haitian Creole cuisine to Toronto. Given my friends and I are visiting New Orleans soon, La Creole sounded like the perfect way to introduce ourselves to the Louisiana food culture. After viewing the menu and doing some research, it appeared I was a bit misinformed – Haitian and Louisiana Creole are influenced by the same French and Latin flavours but not identical. Hence, you won’t find jambalaya, gumbo or shrimp & grits here.

The ceilings are draped with white linen while booth seats contained accent pillows, giving the restaurant a toned down Sultan’s Tent feel. Lively music was played throughout the restaurant, but alas no one started dancing in the stage area at the back. However, the relaxed jovial atmosphere certainly put me in a good mood for the food to come.

Almost everyone gets a plate of their le plate fritay (small for $12 and large for $18; large portion pictured below).  Essentially, it translates into a plate of assorted deep fried items. La Creole’s arrives with numerous pieces of malanga root fritters, codfish fritters, marinad (deep fried dough) and tostones (fried plantain patties).

Although they look similar, each offers its own unique flavours and textures. The malanga root fritters were the crunchiest given the little slivers that come through the batter and fry on its own. Although the starch look like taro, its texture is lighter and reminded me spaghetti squash. The taste of dried cod shown through in the codfish fritters but the consistency a tad mushy for my taste. Meanwhile, the marinad were surprisingly flavourful despite only being fried pieces of dough; not oily at all they were light and fluffy with a great savoury taste. Our table agreed the fried plantain were dry and bland, I had to put a fair amount of pikliz on it to make it edible.
Accompanying the fritay was a light refreshing watercress yoghurt dip and pikliz (a spicy vinegar based coleslaw). 

For the amount of food, there was way too little dip and upon asking for an extra portion were charged $4. Certainly, the price isn’t astronomical, but why the large fritay has the same helping of condiments as the small to begin with was baffling.

Every main came with a helping of black bean rice, tostone and a handful of spring mix. Ben, the owner of the restaurant, had suggested we order the fried snapper ($23). Indeed, the dish looks impressive with a whole snapper arriving upright and showed promise with a tomato and spicy heat coming from the creole sauce. But, the fish needed more sauce as it was a bit overdone and dry. I’d imagine the stewed version would likely taste better (at the very least more flavourful and tender), but perhaps not as exciting looking.  

The ratatouille ($12) was a complete miss, in my opinion. Perhaps it’s because the creole sauce on the snapper and chicken were so packed with spices, but the ratatouille seemed extremely bland in comparison. Despite the menu proclaiming it containing spinach, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage and carrots, all I could taste were carrots (for those who know me, these are one of my least favourite vegetables). In the end, the dish just tasted like unseasoned stewed carrots, which personally wasn’t appealing. What I liked most was the side of black bean rice, which was quite delicious (a sticky consistency, but each grain of rice still defined).

Lastly, was the creole roasted chicken ($14), the best of the mains. Packing the most flavour of all the dishes and the meat nice and tender, we should have just ordered the larger version which feeds two for $23.

Opened in mid-March, by mid-April more training is required for staff members. Despite having only 15 items on the menu, our waiter couldn’t point out what each item on the plate of fritay were. When asked what pepper was used to spice the pikliz, that question couldn’t be answered as well. Of course, not every staff member may know all the ingredients, but at the very least they should offer to ask the chef and find out. Don’t get me wrong, service was friendly and attentive, but as a curious minded patron the lack of knowledge wasn’t helpful and doesn’t give me much confidence.

Perhaps my taste buds have been westernized by the Louisiana styled dishes, but I was expecting bold flavours and tendered stewed meats. Aside from the pikliz and creole chicken none of them really reached that level. All in all, I found the food decent but not something I’d want to have again.

Overall mark - 6 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!