Showing posts with label lasagna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lasagna. Show all posts

LOV (Toronto)


LOV looks like your typical vegan hipster restaurant – sparkling white everything with hints of greens and natural contrasts. Just looking at the dining room makes you feel healthier. For a moment, you wonder if you should skip the wine and order kombucha instead… then you remember how terrible it tastes and order a bottle of Prosecco instead. They’re both carbonated - same same, but different.

Once you start with the wine, it goes downhill from there. Somehow, two orders of fries end up at the table. The LOV poutine ($11) looks great smothered with plenty of miso gravy and vegan mozzarella but tastes like fries covered with a flavourless thick sauce. Stick with the kimchi fries ($8) instead, which at least has the fermented cabbage and a creamy sesame dressing for interest.


Perhaps an order of Brussel sprouts ($9) to keep everything healthy? They’re deep fried and smothered with way too much of that tangy buffalo sauce.  


And then the Zen salad ($16) arrives and the guilt momentarily washes away. It’s a tasty combination of konjac noodles, shredded vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, daikon, carrots), and the extras thrown in for flavour and contrast (chilis and cashew). Maybe healthier options are better at LOV as this was the best of the starters. I thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing cilantro and mint elements. What? Am I a secret healthy eater?


Then I take a bite of the mushroom risotto ($19) and taste my favourite dish of the night. Done traditionally, the creamy rice and peas would have been good, but is made even better with the roasted oyster mushrooms. Okay, so perhaps I haven’t turned into nutritionist.


Yet, the LOV lasagna ($19) didn’t really excite. While the pasta looked delicious smothered with the vegan mozzarella and cashew cream, it tasted bland. The best part of the plate was perhaps the Caesar salad.


The gnocchi di casa ($20) was an interesting take on the classic Italian dish, except at LOV it’s made with sweet potato and buckwheat so there’s antioxidant and fibre strewn throughout the dish. The sweetness did help balance the hemp, basil and arugula pesto, which by itself could have been too strong.


Aside from the risotto, it’s the coconut curry ($18) that impressed. Who would have thought cubes of squash and carrots with a blanched kale could be so delicious when smothered in a cashew and coconut milk curry?


You should definitely heed the advice of those working at LOV, they know what’s tasty. Our choice of desserts, the crème brûlée ($8) and cheesecake ($7) were both good, for vegan alternatives, but run-of-the-mill.


Our waitress highly suggested the chocolate carmelita ($5), a dessert I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but had me reaching for another bite. It’s like having a chocolate butter tart bar but with the texture (and lack of stickiness) of a date square. Our table can certainly sing it praises.



For a place that looks so healthy, LOV’s menu does have its fair share of comfort foods. But perhaps what’s most surprising is how much I enjoyed and even preferred the “healthier” options. Maybe the surroundings were rubbing off on me. Could it be, one day I may actually order kombucha? 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 620 King Street West
 Website: https://lov.com/en/

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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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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Planta (Toronto)


As an animal and food lover I feel torn: indulging in food seems to mean harming my other love. While I admire those who are vegetarian, it’s a dietary change that swings too far to the left for me. For now, my concession, to alleviate some guilt, is to go meat-less Monday to Thursdays, with some exceptions. Having done it for a few weeks now, it’s not difficult to accomplish. Especially since Toronto has been graced with several meatless restaurants over the last few years. 

Planta opened back in 2016, making news as it was started by Chef David Lee, who’s other restaurants Nota Bene and Carbon Bar (the later he has since split ties), don’t exactly scream vegetarian. It was one of the first of the first meatless restaurants that was trendy, with the higher price points to match. Their menu consists of sharable options, also main plates and salad bowls for those who want their own meal. Most dishes are very small, so for a table of two, you’ll want two mains plus a couple smaller dishes.


To get to the citrus soy used in the watermelon poke ($13.95), you really need to dig to the bottom; without the sauce the dish merely tastes like you’re having watermelon salad with avocado. Even with a bit of the soy it doesn’t seem poke-like - ours arrived missing the shredded nori, a pretty but stale rice paper chip substituted instead. Perhaps with crispy shredded nori, some seaweed salad, and sesame seeds the dish would be more reminiscent of poke. For now, it’s best described as a refreshing watermelon salad.


Having had coconut ceviche ($14.25) at a second location now, it seems strange that no one cuts it into cubes, which would be closer to how actual ceviche is made. Instead, the young coconut is served in slices making it difficult to combine with other ingredients. While I enjoyed the restrained acidity and dusting of corn nuts in the dish, there was way too much cucumber on top that it felt like I was eating a cucumber and coconut salad versus ceviche.


A must-order dish is Planta’s cauliflower tots ($10.50). They are fantastic crispy hot nuggets of cauliflower mixed with a truffle nut “parmesan” with a truffle almond cream on top. If you’re a fan of arancini, these are similar bite-sized tastes of creamy heaven.


The heart of palm used in the “crab” cakes ($20.50) gives the dish that flaky consistency you’d expect from crab cakes. Of course, they didn’t have the seafood essence of real crab, but still delicious with the light crispy panko crust and delicate texture. A lovely creamed lentil mixture sits at the bottom, infused with coconut milk for a hint of richness.


While the smoked tofu ricotta sounds interesting in the eggplant lasagna ($22.95), the smokiness throws the entire dish off. Moreover, it had a strong licorice flavour along with an earthy spice (perhaps cinnamon or cloves) that wasn’t called out on the menu. Having a distain for licorice, this is one dish I’ll pass on in the future.


The awful seasoning aside, the lasagna could have been good, the dish switching out noodles for thinly sliced eggplant and the tofu does mimic the ricotta texture with cashew crema added to smooth out the texture. I also enjoyed the tendrils of zucchini noodles, providing a refreshing crispy texture to the dish.

A healthy brunch calls for a healthy drink. Sadly, I think I went too far with the fields of green ($8.95) cold pressed juice. The menu notes it contains apple and lemon but the entire mixture really tasted like a salad in drink form – one that has tons of celery and could even pass as a Bloody Mary. Next time, I’ll stick with the suggested Planta punch instead.


With plant-based dishes as good as Planta, I could make do without meat. Alas, it’s impossible to eat at the restaurant for every meal; but at least it makes Monday to Thursday (and even an odd weekend) much tastier and saves an animal friend.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1221 Bay 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:

Planta Toronto 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