Showing posts with label lamb chops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lamb chops. Show all posts

Toronto Beach Club (Toronto)

Thank you to Jjjiffy for this image

In high school, when I used to frequent Ashridge’s Bay, no one arrived dressed-to-impress to walk along the boardwalk. That’s all seemed to have changed now that Toronto Beach Club has opened. Walk past the bouncer and you’re transported into a well-healed tropical paradise; where the volleyball courts disappear behind foliage and it seems normal, even essential, to pop some bubbly on the beach.

You can’t go wrong with one of their hot mezze that comes with a grilled pita to start. The bread arrives hot and fresh, puffed to perfection so that it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, dusted with spices. They accompany the smoked eggplant ($16), a decent portion of warm soft legume that would have been amazing if the walnut and olive relish weren’t so sour that even the pomegranate molasses’ sweetness couldn’t balance it out. Maybe it’s me, but I prefer my eggplant savoury.

Their jamon iberico ($36) was sliced into respectable sized slices, the prized pig’s cured slightly sweet essence bursting on the tongue. Not quite a melt-in-your-mouth as what you’ll find in Spain, these were nonetheless tasty and worth a nibble if you appreciate a good charcuterie.

Of the three starters the sea bream crudo ($21) was my favourite. Thick meaty slices of white fish topped with citrus caviar (segments of finger lime) and chili sitting in what looks like a fiery olive oil but is rather delicate. The crudo was perfectly seasoned and wonderfully tasty, a lovely summery dish to enjoy while sitting outdoors.

Toronto Beach Club’s lamb chops ($45 for the half order shown) were cooked perfectly. So, it’s such a shame that they were too salty and requires some tableside knife skills. The seasoning needs to be toned down as the outer chops made me reach for water and since the marinated yogurt was also salted, together they were way too much. It’d be nice if the kitchen also considers the table size when finishing the dish: our four chops were only cut in half for a 3-top, which means you need to portion them yourself when they arrive. It likely helps the meat retain its heat and juices better, but it’s also a bit difficult to cut through the chops on a big platter with all the yoghurt and garnishes. The age-old joke of “how many people does it take to…?”, let me just say it is not one.

Thank you to Parv for this picture

Where they really excelled was the grilled seafood. Their fileted black sea bass ($36) had such a lovely, charbroiled exterior and was still delicately done inside. While it comes with a choice of sauce (we chose the harissa butter), it’s fantastic by itself.

Sides need to be ordered separately and are more than sufficient to share amongst three. The French fries ($12) are a safe choice – nice and crisp, dusted with oregano and salt and comes with truffle aioli for dipping. Yet, what really caught our attention was the grilled broccolini ($19): cooked until crisp and covered with pecorino-ramano, pangrattato, and calabrain chili creating such a lovely almost creamy sauce with a hit of heat to end. Do get yourself some greens.

Just make sure to save room for dessert as their baklava ($12-$15) is a must. I love that it wasn’t soaked in syrup, rather the perfect amount to add sweetness but still leave the puff pastry crispy and not oily feeling. The two pieces are sandwiched between a frozen cream layer. If this isn’t the ultimate ice cream sandwich, I don’t know what is. The strawberry crostata ($12-$15) paired nicely with it – the pastry a cross between a shortbread and cake and topped with ample sweet strawberries and a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream.

We all agreed that dinner at Toronto Beach Club is probably the most ideal time to visit. The temperature is not overly warm and it’s such a lovely experience to transition from evening into night. There was even a live Spanish band performing during our Wednesday visit, the women’s lovely vocals the perfect addition to the meal.

Thank you to Parv for this image

While the after-meal service can get a little backed up, the entertainment and atmosphere kept us happy while we waited for the verbal dessert menu to be presented. Wait aside, even with the pandemic you won’t feel rushed at the restaurant, the two-and-a-half hour seating times is sufficiently long enough to leisurely enjoy the meal. I certainly won’t be visiting Greece or the equator anytime soon. Until then, Toronto Beach Club will give me the tropical fix I need to transport myself out of Toronto. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1681 Lake Shore Boulevard East


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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Xango (Toronto)


To see Chef Claudio Aprile in real life is a treat. To get to preview Xango’s menu before it opens made the occasion even more special. By being a Toronto Life Insider Member, I had the opportunity to dine at the restaurant before dinner service commences on September 18th and know that Claudio was actually inside the kitchen. My mouth would taste the food his hands touched!



For someone who’s about to showcase a whole new menu, he’s calm and collected. Claudio explains that he loves the opportunity to cook food his own way and with his own flavours. Having dined at his other establishments - Colborne Lane, Origin, and Copetin – Xango certainly differs from the rest and is perhaps closest to Uruguay cuisine, the Chef’s native country.


Of all his restaurants, he felt this was his “riskiest” as Peruvian flavours are relatively under represented and through Xango he hopes to push Torontonians to try new things. While it’s a noble thought, I’m don’t necessarily agree as there are already tons of mainstream Peruvian restaurants (Kay Pacha, Mira, Baro, and Chotto Matte). Plus, being part of the Liberty Group means there’s a lot of financial and corporate muscle behind the restaurant, not exactly risky. Regardless, if it helps expand the culture palette of the city, I’m supportive.

Family style dishes came out in quick succession following the short opening speech. We’re warned that not all these items will make the final menu and that we should vote for our favourites of the evening. Ask and you shall receive. Here are some of the top picks from each category for me:

Starter – The crispy thin tostones topped with black bean and salsa with a drizzle of crema and silky queso fresco was delicious. A quick two bites that works great to warm up the taste buds or for passed nibbles. With a bit more seasoning, it’d be even better.


Raw + Salads – I loved the big chunks of tuna in the ceviche. Along with watermelon, avocado, and daikon, it’s a great dish showcasing the mix of Latin and Asian flavours that’s popular with Peruvian cuisine. And those nori chips, yum! Such a good idea.


Even the simple tomato and avocado salad impressed. Intuitively, I wouldn’t have thought seaweed would work with tomato, but it actually sets off the fruit nicely and the kalamansi dressing adds a bit of acid without things becoming too sour.



Robata – We all swooned over the lamb chops that were cooked to perfection, simply seasoned with sweet chili. This has to be a keeper. Their octopus was also delicious brushed with a sweet soy so the meaty tender pieces has a wonderful balanced smoky flavour.



Large Dishes – Sadly, one of the dishes, the scallop, never made it to our table, despite numerous follow-up attempts. So, if I had to choose between the beef and chicken, beef generally is a top choice.  Like the lamb, the striploin is cooked to perfection – whoever is manning the meat grilling station is amazing. But, the fishy flavour from the encebollado really threw me off and doesn’t work with the steak unlike surf and turf. At the same time, I appreciate Xango’s attempt to push people out of their comfort zone and introduce an atypical combination of flavours. Maybe fishy beef is something I’ll grow to love.



Extras – In my haste to get some vegetables into the system, I forgot to snap a pic of the grilled and wokked gilan. The leafy Chinese green is elevated with a quick grill before being tossed with chili crisps. This works nicely as a side with the large dishes.

Sweet – To be fair there was only one dessert for the evening, yet it was all the table needed. A shallow dish of luscious coffee and milk chocolate pudding arrives with cinnamon dusted buñuelo (a fried tortilla) to dip into it. It’s a lighter alternative to churros, but still has that same satisfying end that you want with the meal.



There were some dishes that could be great, it just needs a tweak:

Overall, I really enjoyed the flavours in the spring rolls filling, which combined sweet shrimp and light maitake mushrooms. Yet, the filling’s paste consistency means the spring roll wrapper has to be crispier to provide a better contrast. Perhaps the more fluid filling is causing the wrapper to get soggy, so a layer of nori between the shrimp paste and wrapper may help to keep things crunchy.



While the halibut ceviche is such a pretty dish, arriving in halved coconut, it tastes bland since it’s really just a combination of mild fish with coconut milk. I’d imagine a hit of chili and something with texture, like Inca corn kernels, would help add pizazz to the dish.



The chimmichurri goes nicely with the whole roasted hen, but the actual fowl was overcooked. It could come down to the piece chosen or the difficulties with serving a whole bird to so many tables within a short time frame, but after the impressive lamb chops and steak, a dry bird is not how you want to end the night.



Most shishito peppers are grilled; at Xango they’re battered and fried like tempura. So while it’s tasty, I wouldn’t classify it under the “extras” sections, which to diners may seem like side dishes. It’s simply too heavy to be an accompaniment, but as a “starter” it works.



Lastly, if these dishes never made it to the final menu, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

For a dish the menu describes as being garnished with a caramelized peanut sauce, the crispy squid is oddly sour and lacks nutty flavours. I get it, calamari is a safe corporate option. But, it’s also on so many menus across the city that if it’s not fantastic, why even bother.



While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the skewer of chorizo, shitake, and pickled peppers, there’s nothing exciting about it as well. Literally, if tastes like you’re eating a mushroom, than chorizo, a pepper, and ending off with another mushroom. Is the progression of ingredients or combination really memorable or important? Not really.




In the end, it feels a little strange to be judging a Master Chef judge. After all, he’s the one that critiques the creations of so many hopefuls and offers suggestions in his calm friendly manner. Here’s hoping my thoughts came though as rationally as Chef Claudio himself. And to Master Chef Canada, if you ever need a judge, my services are always available. 
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Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 461 King 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!

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Ottoman Taverna (Washington)


While researching interesting restaurants to dine at in Washington DC, Ottoman Taverna came up as the place where Michelle Obama and her friends visited for a dinner. Not too shabby if you’re an establishment where political royalty decides to break bread.  

Every Turkish meal should begin with the smoked eggplant salad ($10), which is really a dip and not the boring lettuce bowls we typically think of as a salad. Instead, it’s a flavourful thick spread made from roasted eggplant, Anaheim peppers, garlic, onion, parsley, and has a zippy lemon-pomegranate molasses drizzled on top.


A bit tangy, smoky, and spicy, it’s overall refreshing thanks to all the herbs and is great for smearing on warm pita. A great alternative appetizer that’s lighter than babaganosh without sacrificing flavour.

While the lamb and beef kibbeh ($12) seemed like they would be heavy and dense, after breaking through the thin crispy crust, the ground meat mixed with bulgur wheat breaks apart easily and is rather moist. Flavoured with aromatic onion, garlic, and parsley with some walnuts for texture, it’s even better when you wrap it in lettuce with some pickled vegetables.


Where exactly did I get this lettuce? It was part of the complimentary bite for the day, so sadly you may not always have this option. The amuse bouche contained a piece of chewy soft paste made from rice, tomato, and spices. It’s interesting, but definitely not something I would want again.


Ottoman was also my first experience tasting lahmacun ($12.75), a thin crispy flatbread topped with a spread made from lamb and spicy tomato paste. With the onion and cilantro on top, it’s a surprisingly light and refreshing starter.


It was a smart idea to keep the appetizers less meaty as when the Chef Mixed Grill for two ($57.50) arrived, there was more than enough protein to go around. The pucks of kofte – one beef with lamb and the other chicken – were both loosely packed making it moist and you could taste the herbs mixed throughout. Ottoman’s adana kebab was also really good and the lamb perfectly seasoned and also not overly strong.


Yet, the lamb chops were my favourite part of the platter: cooked medium well so that there was just a bit of pinkness remaining and oh so tender. If all the other options weren’t enough, there was also a heaping pile of shaved doner. If we had any pita remaining, this would have been delicious sandwiched with the onions. It also paired nicely with the rice, which must have been augmented with melted fat as the white rice was so flavourful and had a lovely silky texture.  

With all the appetizers, the meat platter for two was more than enough for our table of four. We really didn’t need another main, but the char-grilled branzino ($27.95) seemed like a good idea to balance out all the other proteins.

 

Since it arrived after the Chef’s Mixed Grill, I didn’t try the fish until later and by then it seemed overdone. Nonetheless, there was a solid meaty portion of the branzino and the silky herbed mashed potatoes it came with was delicious. The medley of sautéed vegetables was also refreshing and greatly appreciated after all the beef, lamb, and chicken!

There’s something about the décor at Ottoman Taverna that also makes the experience memorable. Even though the dining room is open and airy, there’s a sense of coziness at the banquettes with chairs that seem to hug you. It’s a modern atmosphere but the food is comforting and tastes like it’s steep in tradition. I can see why it’s where the First Lady decides to nosh with her pals.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Washington, USA
 Address: 425 I St NW

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:


Ottoman Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tabule (Toronto)


Mezze are to Middle Eastern cuisine what tapas are to Spain: small plates generally accompanying drinks. They’re nibbles to start on or could be an entire meal in itself. They’re the dishes that draw me to Middle Eastern food and are ideal for sharing amongst friends.

Tabule has a variety of hot and cold options to choose from. Most tables share their sampler platter ($15.95), which gives diners a choice of three cold mezze from four options. Their hummus is thick and lightly laced with garlic, the babaganuj incorporating tons of roasted eggplant but could use more spices, and the tabule fantastic with a zippy lemony kick that’s goes well with meaty mains or tossed into hot rice.


To eat the dip, you will need an order of their regular pita bread ($0.50) or the gluten free laffa ($3.75 and pictured below). The latter is worth the extra money as it’s made-to-order, arriving hot, giving off a lovely smoky aroma, and incorporates a lovely chewiness in the dough.


For a vegetable that’s known to be a sponge, the fried eggplant ($7.95) isn’t overly greasy. In fact, get through the lightly crisped coating and you’re greeted by a soft almost creamy eggplant. Our dish arrived without the lemon garlic dressing, but it was still tasty and I ate my plain, not wanting the vegetable to get cold.


The sole disappointing mezze was the warak enab ($10.95), the layers of grape leaves too thick and the inside a plain lemony rice. Where was the tomatoes, garlic, and spices that were promised on the menu? Moreover, the yoghurt dipping sauce, reminding me of the Indian raita, didn’t exactly go with the dish. A warm spicy tomato sauce may be better suited.


Tabule’s falafel salad ($11.95) is hearty enough to be a main with a third of the plate occupied by crispy fluffy falafels. Generally, I shy away from these chickpea nuggets as they’re often dense and dry – Tabule knows what they’re doing, they’re one of the best I’ve eaten!


While the lamb chops ($30.95) were cooked way beyond the requested medium rare, the aged lamb was still tender and moist. Each piece had a great charbroiled flavour and arrives with plain chunks of sautéed vegetables. Sadly, the rice wasn’t substituted with müjaddara (extra $1.50), as ordered, instead in its plain form topped with onions – fine, but nothing special. Lucky for me there was still some of the tabule and babaganuj left, both went wonderfully with the rice.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2901 Bayview Mews Lane (at Bayview Village)

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:


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

The Manse (Prince Edward County)


If you’re fortunate enough to score a room at the Manse while staying in Prince Edward County, consider paying the extra $55/person to experience a private meal, which is only available to the inn’s guests. Served in the dining area on the main floor or outside by their water feature when the weather’s nice, it’s an opportune way to enjoy a four-course meal without leaving the comfort of the inn. If you’ve picked up a great bottle of wine while travelling around the County, they also offer corkage for $15/bottle.

The website describes the experience as “going to Gramma’s house”. No offence to my grandmothers, but aside from the generous portion sizes, I would never get the intricately plated dishes that Chef Christopher Wylie creates. The salmon gravlax arrives formed into a rose with apple slices for leaves. The rim of spices along the edges of the lightly cured fish added interest above the typical sweet and salty taste.


A simple but refreshing citrus arugula salad followed dressed in house poppy seed dressing. Kathleen, inn keeper of the Manse, explained that they strive to buy local whenever possible. In this case, the sheep’s milk feta used in the salad was sourced from Black River Cheese, a local cheesemaker, and was salty and creamy.


The rack of lamb was a substantial portion with four pieces along with plenty of braised carrots, roasted sun chokes, and roasted potatoes. The lamb was cooked wonderfully, rare enough without being bloody and the “lamb condiment” (a thick date, mint and horseradish paste) was fantastic … how does something start out sweet and innocent, only to end with a sharp kick? My only suggestion is to go lighter on the salt with the roasted starches, as after having a sun choke your taste buds become numb to the subtleties of the port shallot beef jus.


After so much food, the lighter rhubarb crisp was a good choice for dessert. However, since I didn’t receive much of the buttery cinnamon crumble the overall dessert was pucker inducing given there wasn’t much sugar in the rhubarb. Luckily, after letting the vanilla ice cream melt and mix into the warm rhubarb, the dessert became tastier.


Dinner arrives at a leisurely pace and exudes County charm. It’s fancy but friendly and being able to walk back to your room after too much food and wine is a plus. If you can stop yourself from eating all the lamb or steak, save a piece for Baxter (the Manse’s friendly four-legged friend). After all, you receive enough of it, and seeing the excited wag of Baxter’s tail makes for such a great ending to a meal.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Picton, Canada
 Address: 10 Chapel Street
 Website: http://themanse.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!

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