Showing posts with label hamachi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hamachi. Show all posts

Myth (Toronto)

If you’ve ever frequented Danforth in the 1990s, you might have eaten at Myth. Flash forward to 2021 and the restaurant was revived with a beautiful facelift on King West by Matty Tsoumaris, the son of the family. The warm gold, wood, and cream tones made me feel I could be lying in a chaise lounger by an indoor pool. The restaurant is buzzy but in a calm way. At least, until the fire dancers performed, and the energy really picked up.

As a Toronto Life Insider member, I was there to check out Myth with a tasting menu ($125 before taxes and gratuities) offering several courses complete with wine pairings and an espresso martini. If I was feeling tired, that jolt of vodka and caffeine provided the start I needed to the meal. Ground pistachios are dusted onto the espresso martini ($20) for an interesting texture against the smooth foam, it’s different but I’m not sure if I prefer it. Note: regular menu prices are included in the post for informational purposes. Serving sizes will likely differ from what is pictured given the tasting menu format.

Beginning with an off-menu item, Matty explains it’s customary for Greek people to offer guests (even if they are strangers) something to eat when they enter a home as there’s a belief that Gods may be visiting the Earth… and you would never want to not feed a God! Our divine offering was a creamy compressed roe in a buttery tart shell. It tasted of the sea, hinting at the Mykonos inspired menu to come.

We then moved into the actual tasting menu, starting with a bite of soy-laced beef tartare served in a cone. I wasn’t expecting the amuse bouche to be sweet, but it gave the tartare a teriyaki feel that worked, especially when paired with the crispy cone that is reminiscent of eating ice cream.

Myth’s mezze platter ($35) consists of a collection of dishes, and I love that it showcases some lesser-known dips. Of course, there’s the popular hummus, which was thick and filling, but the mezze also featured a silky smooth taramasalata that has an umami saltiness to it from the cured roe. Warning to vegetarians, if I hadn’t been told there was fish in the dip, I would have never known. The roe adds a brininess to the dip without any fishiness.

If you enjoy feta, try the tirokafteri dip that uses the cheese as the base but has a hit of peppers that creates an unexpected spiciness. It goes great with the soft warm pita or smeared onto the crudite given it had such a flavourful salty kick.

While a bit cheesy (pun intended), the cheer of “opa!” before setting the ouzo on fire is what makes saganaki ($22) such a staple. The kefalograviera cheese was oh so gooey, salty, and lightened with just a hint of lemon. I just wished there was more than one piece of toasted bread to go with it.

It’s not everyday you find raw fish at a Greek restaurant. Myth uses slices of yellowtail hamachi in the magiatiko ($28) adorned with an olive tapenade that was too overpowering. If anything, the dollop of creamy taramasalata (the same fish roe dip featured in the mezze) was more than salty enough. Still, it was beautifully plated and a great light starter.

The arancini was good… less creamy than an Italian version, but also didn’t leave me feeling as full. It was smartly paired with a feta mousse, which added a touch of sauciness to the risotto but didn’t detract from the crunchy crust.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the beetroot carpaccio, so much so that I’d prefer it to the beef counterpart. The sweet thinly slice beets were enhanced with tangy yogurt and a yellow beet mousse. Because there were so many creamy ingredients, the roasted pecans worked nicely to add a contrasting texture. Sadly, the dish isn’t on their regular menu, which really should be included as it’s a hit.

Another off-menu item was the youvetsi, a bed of plump fragrant orzo topped with an extremely tender beef cheek. The meat could use more seasoning, but the pasta was delicious and well flavoured. If anything, the olive tapenade that was too harsh for the hamachi would go nicely on the beef here.

While the lavraki ($65) was cooked adequately, it didn’t look very appetizing. I’d recommend the chef keeping the skin on and crisping it up to give the fillet a more aesthetically pleasing structure and texture. As fish goes, it tasted fresh and the main was a nice lighter change after the beef cheek. I just found the lemon in the thyme oil heavy handed in the stewed wild horta, dandelion greens that tastes like spinach, so it was a bit harsh against the neutral fish.

In retrospect, the lemon thyme oil would have gone nicely with the roasted potatoes ($16) as these were dense and would have benefited from a bright element. Too bad the sides were served after all the mains so there wasn’t really anything to go with them. If you’re a fan of roasted Brussel sprouts, the broccolini ($23) is a side with the same feel - the crispy roasted greens topped with hot pepper sauce, lemon oil, and cheese.  

For the tasting menu, Myth chose to feature a rizogalo as dessert. While the rice pudding was decent, it was too dense, so it felt like you’d eating a clump of rice versus a creamy saucy pudding. It also needed to be sweeter to satisfy. As it stands, the dish is more brunch than dessert.

Despite being opened for over two years, Myth is still going through some growing pains. Even though service was friendly, the wine pairings and sides just weren’t keeping up with the food coming out. Maybe because it’s such a big restaurant, but the various stations weren’t communicating to make the meal a fulsome experience. Who knows, maybe with some time the restaurant will eventually become a feast for the Gods. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 522 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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The Carbon Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 99 Queen Street East
Type of Meal: Dinner

You won’t find gingham tablecloths, tin foil platters or uncut hunks of meat here. The Carbon Bar is refined with linen napkins, plate changes and meat cut into fork friendly portions. Between courses the table is wiped clean so all evidence of dripped sticky sauce is erased with it.

The dining room is surprisingly spacious with soaring ceilings, adequately spaced tables and minimalistic décor. Want to throw a “family” BBQ without messing up your home? The Carbon Bar offers a private room on the second floor that can hold 30-50 people.

Without a doubt, beer goes with BBQ and the Carbon Bar has plenty of that. But for the refined BBQ aficionados, fancy handmade cocktails are also available to swig back with meat platters. A refreshing spring soother ($16), tequila based with an elderflower syrup (?) and splash of citrus was a lighter drink complementing our appetizer. The C2 colada ($16) was the better choice. With a hefty portion of rum it’s stronger tasting but finishes nicely with a creamy coconut water.

With the sheer amount of meat to come, we decided to start with something lighter. The Hamachi ($14) fit the bill with cubes of delicate cool fish, sweet clementine, crisp pear and cherry tomatoes all melded together with kombucha vinegar and sesame oil. The dish was flavourful, simple and energizing; a great choice for the warmer months. I thoroughly enjoyed the sesame oil added to the dish that gave it a nice finish on the palate.

The pit master platter ($27 per person with a minimum order of two people) seemed like too much food for us. Instead, we shared an order of the pork ribs ($19) and beef brisket ($19). Both were delicious, but for me the beef brisket stood out just a bit more. It started off with a great cut of beef; in between the meat was a thin cap of fat that soaked into the beef to keep it moist throughout the cooking process. Although it had been slow smoked (same as the pork ribs) the smokiness wasn’t overpowering, just enough for you to get the essence of it. Served with a sweet molasses (?) BBQ sauce it was a good plate.

The pork ribs were equally tender but didn’t seem as smoked as the brisket. I have to commend the Carbon Bar’s butcher because the meat was another great cut. Too often ribs are either too fatty or lean, this one had just enough fat to add flavour but not too much that you felt the need to cut it off. Additionally, you could taste the pork but it didn’t have a strong “hog” smell to it, which can be such a turnoff. The rib’s sauce was much tangier; a bit sour for my taste so I opted to use the brisket’s sauce instead.

Some reviews from other diners had noted their meat was dry and/or bland. Our ribs and brisket were definitely not dry, but as for the taste? I wouldn’t say it’s bland, perhaps not as saucy as other ribs, but this is due to the Carbon Bar’s cooking style. Their menu warns about the simplicity of the preparation - that meat is rubbed only with salt and black pepper and then placed in the smoker, no sauce is applied through the cooking process.

Admittedly I’m not a huge BBQ connoisseur but when the cut of beef or pork is this good, shouldn’t you want to actually taste the meat? Afterwards, if you want to douse it with sauce than that’s what the sauce on the side is for. Of course, since the meat wasn’t basted during the cooking process, you won’t find a thick barque around it (there’s no layer of hardened caramelized sauce). So, as a warning, if you like sticky ribs and well crusted brisket then the Carbon Bar may not be the place for you.

We really enjoyed the collard greens ($5) which helped stave off the meat sweats. The sauce was tomato based but had a great zing of spice that hits you at the end. Not being a fan of mushy vegetables, I was glad that the stalks of the collard greens retained some level of crispness.

To end we shared the banana toffee cream pie ($16) and it was delicious. Comprised of a crispy shortbread crust, softened bananas pieces and light whipped cream, the dessert was satisfying but not too heavy. Interestingly, the toffee was cut into thick cubes and sat on the bottom of the crust; it wasn’t sticky or overly sweet and almost had a rich ice cream like consistency. All in all, I was quite happy with the reduced sugar levels and abundance of banana, you could almost trick yourself to think it was healthy if it were not for the buttery crust.

Kiri, our server, was extremely friendly and attentive. Consequently, you still get that small town charm despite the cloth napkins and real cutlery. The crowd also has a jovial atmosphere to it; as the night went on the groups got a little rowdier and soon cheers and laughter rang throughout the restaurant. But, the noise level was always bearable given the well regulated music level and the large space. In the end, my experience at Carbon Bar was enjoyable and perhaps will round up a larger group of people to try their pit master platter.

Since the above visit I've returned to the restaurant and tried some other items. Read about it at my other post.

Overall mark - 7.5 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!