Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lunch. Show all posts

El Catrin Destileria (Toronto)


Torontonians love patios during the summer and El Catrin, located in the Distillery District, has one of the best patios. It’s cheery and spacious, but best of all away from any automobile traffic given its location in the middle of the Distillery compound.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto

To really get the good times started, a bowl of guacamole ($12.95) works wonders. The menu notes it’s “made” tableside, but in reality it’s just a quick crushing of halved avocados with a pestle in front of you. It’s not exactly an extravagant tableside experience, but nonetheless the fruits resist browning.


The guacamole includes plenty of creamy avocado that’s simply flavoured with cilantro, onion, a bit of Serrano chili, and tomatoes. Dip a chip into the creamy concoction while you sip on a cold drink… what else do you need on a nice day?

El Catrin Distillery Toronto guacamole

Weekday lunches are a good time to visit as El Catrin’s not overly busy and they offer a special lunch menu ($16.95) with a choice of soup or salad and two tacos. It also includes a non-alcoholic juice of the day, which was watermelon during my visit, sweet and refreshing.


With my love of shrimp tacos, I had to try their camarones en adobo. Although small in size, the shrimp were cooked well and being tiny there were more to spread out across the taco. The hand-made corn tortilla was a key ingredient for creating an authentic taste and there were plenty of flavours from the salsa verde, pineapple chipotle adobo sauce, and pineapple pico de gallo. Despite all the condiments, I had to add on some of the habanero hot sauce, which made it even better.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto shrimp tacos

The accompanying bowl of ensalada de kiko is a quinoa based salad topped with diced cucumber, tomato, avocado, and queso fresco cheese. The smoked corn aioli dressing was more citrus than smoke and could have been saltier. Luckily, with the complimentary salsas, a few spoonful of the roasted tomatillo salsa helped give the salad interest.


In hindsight, I’d forgo the lunch special for another taco as they were the best part of the meal. The Baja fish tacos ($16.95) were your typical fried battered version with coleslaw wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. Despite there being nothing unique about El Catrin’s version, there’s nothing disappointing either: the fried fish was crispy and not overly oily; the coleslaw nice and crunchy; the tortilla fresh and soft; and the chipotle lime mayo providing sufficient flavours.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto fish tacos

When the sun is shining in Toronto, it’s difficult not to be in a great mood. Get outside and enjoy it while it lasts! With El Catrin’s colourful décor and cobblestone flooring, for a moment you feel like you’re transported somewhere foreign and exotic.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 18 Tank House Lane

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:

El Catrin Destileria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beaumont Kitchen (Toronto)


Having been a Toronto resident for over 30 years, I rarely venture west of Avenue road. When I do, it's usually for a wedding or meeting up with friends in Port Credit, but rarely does it entail going to a mall. Beaumont Kitchen, a new entrant to the Oliver & Bonacini empire, has given me a reason to visit Sherway Gardens, which is a lot nicer than I’ve been led to believe.

Connected to Saks Fifth Avenue, like their sister restaurant Lena with the Saks downtown, Beaumont Kitchen is more down-to-earth and family friendly. During a weekend visit for their Summerlicious lunch ($23), the tables generally held three generations, all sitting together breaking bread ... it’s sort of refreshing that there wasn’t a suit or hipster in sight. Their menu is modeled like an O&B Café – no real ethnicity’s cuisine being featured, but rather popular “safe” options that diverse tables can choose from.

With so much raspberry dressing on the 100km beet salad, it was too tart. Luckily, the roasted beets’ sweetness help to cut down on the acidity, so after cutting the cubes into even smaller pieces and ensuring there was a bit of beet with each bite of overdressed spinach, the salad was decent.


Most of the table agreed the chicken piccatta was one of the better mains. Despite being a thick piece of chicken breast that was thoroughly cooked, it was still moist. The capers weren’t overpowering, adding a light saltiness to the dish and when combined with butter a great topping for the smashed potatoes, which sucked in all the juices. Even the crispy grilled broccolini were delicious, a healthier  balance to the dish.


Served really hot, you have to contain your excitement when the pudding chômeur arrives or risk burning your tongue. The rum caramel sauce is light on the rum (for those sharing with children) and isn’t too sweet so nicely balances the dense fudgy cake.


Who knows, after the lunch at Beaumont Kitchen, maybe I’ll go to Sherway Gardens more often; when the traffic is moving, it doesn’t take that much longer to drive there than Yorkdale or Fairview and parking is a whole lot easier to find. Summerlicious can be a beautiful thing, it encourages people to go out and try new restaurants. For me, it encouraged me to venture west out of my comfort zone. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $23
Regular menu - $37 - salad ($12), chicken picatta ($17) and dessert ($8)
Savings - $14 or 38%
None of Summerlicious items are part of their regular menu, estimates are based on spinach salad, chicken breast sandwich, and carrot cake
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 25 The West Mall

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:


Beaumont Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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CLOSED: Food Society (Toronto)


Toronto’s 2017 summer has been a wet one; hence, when Mother Nature graces us with a sunny day, make the most of it and get out there! Seize every moment and opportunity as what’s left of the summer will be short.

For a quick weekday lunch enjoyed outdoors, Food Society has an ideal option: a $10 barbeque plate that includes a choice of protein, salad, and pop. Simply head to the patio at the back of their restaurant, grab a seat, and let Chef Joe know what you’d like.


The proteins are pre-cooked and then re-heated on the barbeque as ordered. Unfortunately, the meat isn’t at its peak juiciness, but this does allow diners to get a dish without a long wait. That afternoon I had a choice of a burger, jerk chicken, or ribs. Having had a taste of the jerk chicken and the ribs, both were well marinated and flavourful. The ribs incorporates herbs in the rub giving it a refreshing essence while the jerk chicken wasn’t overly spicy - there’s heat but it’s merely in the background.


Chef Joe hails from North Carolina, the mecca of barbeque cooking. He explains that there are three common styles: dry, wet, and vinegar-based. That afternoon he was featuring the dry rub method, which isn’t as popular in Canada given our love for sauce laden meats. It’s a style I’ve recently grown to like as my husband began experimenting on the Big Green Egg. For one, dry rubs are less messy to eat (no sticky hands and crumpled napkins) and you can appreciate the meat’s juices rather than tasting a ton of sugary sauce.

Nevertheless, Joe explains that he’s going to run through different types of recipes – so don’t worry if you like your meat smothered – and given his last stint was working as a private chef for a vegan client, he’ll likely feature a vegan-friendly option as well.

Generally, Food Society caters to those who want healthy but flavourful food. I experienced this with the barbeque plate where the salad was lightly dressed and the meat very lean. By the end of the meal, I left energized, despite the filling meal.

The adjoining cafe features an array of coffees including butter coffee (currently growing in popularity) and nitro cold brews ($3.95) that’s great for the summer. Even though I generally take milk and sugar with my drinks, the nitro cold brew coffee is full-flavoured without being bitter, so smooth I could handle it black.


Aside from all-day breakfast and mains such as soba noodles and quinoa bowls, Food Society’s café has items to satisfy your sweet tooth. From smoothie bowls (which could easily substitute for frozen yoghurt) to acai bowls, I still like the pastries sourced from La Bamboche best.

Having tried the gluten free coconut, dark chocolate, and oat cookie ($3.25) it was surprisingly good for something that didn’t have an ounce of flour. Rather than turning into cardboard, the cookie still had the chewiness and crispy edges you’d want in a biscuit. Saving it for an afternoon break, the dark chocolate was rich and satisfying, keeping me full well into the dinner hour. In the end, they want to ensure the food they serve is never frozen and free of preservatives.

While Food Society only opened in May, they continue to add on and expand. Oliver Knox, owner of Food Society, notes they’ll begin catering services later in the summer (complete with a cooler for chilling smoothie bowls) and will feature local bands on their patio starting September when they expect to receive their liquor license. Best of all, they’ll continue offering the barbeque plate in the evening, so when you go by to listen to the live music you can grab a bite to eat as well.

While the café and lounge areas are swathed in gorgeous lacquered wood and rose gold furniture. The backyard patio has a comfortable whimsical feel with tables in the sun or shade. It’s a space that can be rented for private events (complete with barbeque if you wish), holding 80 for comfort.




For me, I can’t wait until Food Society scores their liquor license. After work drinks on a patio? The requisite way to spend an evening while Mother Nature cooperates. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 650 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!
Food Society Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nami Japanese Restaurant (Toronto)

Good luck getting a day-of reservation for Summerlicious lunch at a restaurant in the Financial District. After calling two establishments, they could only do a 1:30 seating; luckily, Nami came to the rescue and allowed me to eat a decent time. 

One look around the place and I can see why they were able to accommodate us. their dining room is huge with various tables, private booths, and larger rooms situated along the sides of the restaurant. Surprisingly, for seating so many people, they’re also efficient - our meals were served quickly so lunch lasted about an hour.

The appetizer sushi contained the popular trio - tuna, salmon and shrimp – all done well with evenly cut seafood and the rice a nice consistency. Just keep in mind there’s already a fair amount of wasabi used in the sushi so go lightly with the soy sauce… my first bite was a sinus clearing experience. Two rather large pieces of spicy salmon roll were also included, with the salmon mixture made from diced pieces of fish rather than the pulverized mess mixed with tempura bits that some restaurants serve.

Nami appetizer sushi

Along with a bowl of salad covered in a creamy ginger dressing and a hot bowl of miso soup, the first course was substantial. If you’re a light eater, you can likely take the main to go.


Rather than the typical piece of thigh that's grilled than cut into strips, Nami’s chicken teriyaki are larger chunks, char-grilled with a light smoky essence, then tossed them in ample amounts of sauce. This creates a more flavourful dish and the house made teriyaki sauce nice and thick. Along with wedges of roasted potato, asparagus, boiled carrot medallions, and a bowl of sticky rice, I was thoroughly filled.

Nami chicken teriyaki

Yet, I still couldn’t turn down the matcha ice cream, the ice cold sphere of green tea dessert a refreshing ending. A blob of unappetizing looking but delicious tasting thick red bean paste also arrives, so you can swirl it into the ice cream creating another flavour profile.


After a satisfying lunch, I’m glad the other restaurants were booked. Certainly, the appetizer sushi was more fulfilling than a salad any day. If you’re looking for a day-of reservation for lunch during Summerlicious, check out Nami, they can likely accommodate your table and you’ll leave content.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $23
Regular menu - $40 - appetizer sushi* ($16), chicken teriyaki lunch ($19) and dessert* ($5)
Savings - $17 or 42%
* Based on the sashimi sampler and the dessert is a wild guess by me

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 55 Adelaide Street 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


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

Diana's Oyster Bar and Grill (Toronto)


Finding fresh seafood in Scarborough is a breeze if you drive down Lawrence. Diana’s has been servicing the area (and many hotels and restaurants across the city) for years, whether it’s for home chefs sourcing ingredients at their retail store or diners leaving the task to Diana’s Oyster Bar and Grill nearby. 

Wanting to beat the crowds, we arrived as soon as the restaurant opened on Sunday at 11:30am. Turns out, people tend to come later (our waitress noted their peak weekend lunch hour is around 1pm), so there was no big rush. However, despite being one of the first to order, the food was still slow to arrive. Generally, I don’t mind things taking time; after all, this ensures there's time to properly prepare items and food should be made-to-order arriving fresh and hot. 

Certainly, the bowls of clam chowder ($10) my parents ordered, which took long to prepare, had steam rising from it; meanwhile, the cup accompanying my sandwich afterwards was lukewarm. Thankfully, the chowder tasted good: creamy but not too rich and the bacon pieces were pronounced adding a nice saltiness. For a place wholesaling seafood, the size of the clam pieces were sadly inadequate as the chowder consisted predominantly of potatoes and little actual seafood.


On the other hand, the mussels ($17) were plentiful; the bowl just kept going on forever and ever. Although the tomato broth was good, I was disappointed with its taste. When the menu describes it as “Thai Spicy”, I'd imagine there would be heat - something like a tom yum broth. So, when it arrived with absolutely no spiciness, it was a letdown. Moreover, it would have been nice to have something to dip into the soup, the crispy lotus chips were beautiful garnishes but doesn’t augment the dining experience. 


The lobster and crab roll ($18) had a decent seafood to sauce ratio; the mixture wasn't too creamy and you could taste the crab and lobster. Moreover, the shredded lettuce and onions provided a great crunchiness along with the nicely toasted bun. 



However, going back to my initial point of not minding a wait to ensure things are done right, the experience was tarnished by a plastic wrapper corner mixed into the crab and lobster. Luckily, it was bright orange so it was spotted as soon as I cut into the sandwich, but it was still unnerving. Sure, the sandwich could have been sent back, but I didn’t want to wait another hour for a replacement to arrive.

Diana’s catch of the day lunch special ($25) consisted of rainbow trout (should have been cooked a touch less given its thin cut), vegetables, and vegetarian fried rice. The creamy spinach sauce was a tad heavy for me, but overall it was a satisfying dish.


It’s a shame that the lunch wasn't better. Diana’s could create some amazing dishes given their access to an abundance of fresh seafood. If only there was more care put into creating the dish – whether it’s ensuring there’s no unwanted additions (as with the piece of wrapper) or the right ingredients are included (as with the lack of chilli in the spicy Thai). For not being particularly busy, the food sure took long enough to arrive … if only that time was actually used effectively.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2105 Lawrence Avenue 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Diana's Oyster Bar And Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Summerlicious lunch at Azure (Toronto)


For a really good deal during Summerlicious, visit a restaurant for lunch. Most establishments offer similar options between lunch and dinner and there’s a $20 difference to merely eat at a different time. Of course, it’s not always feasible to indulge in a 3-course menu on weekdays and some places, if they offer a brunch menu, won’t honour Summerlicious on weekends. Hence, finding a weekend lunch spot can be difficult. Azure, situated in the Intercontinental Hotel downtown, is one option; their central location makes it ideal for visiting before a matinee or an afternoon Blue Jays game.

Their corn soup arrives looking like the typical smooth puréed broth. Then you have a taste and the hit of chili lime mixed with the sweet vegetable creates an interesting summery starter. In the centre, the smoked cheddar biscuit adds a soft doughy chewiness; it’s good, but something crispy or a dollop of corn, onion, and black bean salsa would be even better.


As the pan roasted rainbow trout was presented, I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful glistening skin; this is going to be a good piece of fish! I wasn’t disappointed, the skin was impeccably crispy and the meat flaky and moist. With a smear of the refreshing lemon basil pea purée or slightly spicy sundried tomato relish, the main was flavourful and delicious. Even the accompanying well-seared fingerling potatoes, lightly pickled radicchio, and crispy shaved fennel were spot on.


Although the grilled chicken didn’t look impressive, it’s still tender and tasty thanks to the creamy citrusy butter sauce on top. Despite the menu describing the dish as grilled, the chicken seemed poached, it's really juicy and tender. When mixed with the sauce, the bulgur salad is quite delicious, but on its own a tad bland.


Truthfully, I wasn’t a fan of the strawberry tart. For a dessert that sounds light and summery, the strawberry jam gummies and crunchy rosewater candy pieces in the centre were too fussy and sugary. Meanwhile, the lime basil curd filled shortbread tart was nice. If it were simply topped with strawberries and chantilly cream, it’d be more than enough.


My friend's white chocolate cheesecake was a better choice; the rich luscious cake paired with rose wine poached apricots and toasted walnuts. Yet, it’s the cardamom gelato that’s the most surprising, looking like vanilla bean, but adding such a lovely earthy essence against the fruit and cake.


While saving money on the meal, you can splurge on one of Azure’s hand-crafted cocktails. The raspberry cooler ($16), combining raspberry vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and muddled fresh raspberries, created a drink that tastes exactly like a raspberry Freezie, complete with the tangy fizz that tickles the back of your throat.

Having visited Azure previously for dinner, it felt like a completely different restaurant during the afternoon. With the dining room’s wall and ceiling glass panels, the sun shone through brightly; it was like sitting outside without the pesky bugs and traffic noise. Then, after a satisfying lunch, Toronto’s downtown attractions is but steps away, perfect for walking off those extra Summerlicious calories.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $28
Regular menu - $55 - soup ($12), rainbow trout* ($29) and strawberry tart ($14)
Savings - $27 or 49%
* Based on pickerel

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 225 Front Street West (in the Intercontinental Hotel)

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:



Schnipper's Quality Kitchen (New York)


My husband is a bit of a burger connoisseur. Whether it’s from a fine dining restaurant, diner, fast food, or homemade, he likes to try them all. Hence, during our trip to New York, I was excited to introduce him to Shake Shack, especially their flagship Madison Park location, a mecca for burger aficionados.

We headed to the park after checking into our hotel given it was a short walk away. However, after waiting 15 minutes and getting halfway through the line, only to see the mayhem that ensues at the pick-up window, we decided to abort the mission. Apparently, for my burger loving husband, if it requires waiting and shoving for, it’s not worth it.  

By this time, we were craving burgers - we had stared at a menu long enough. Luckily, just down the street from Madison Park (on 23rd) sat Schnipper, a large bright cheery diner that reminds me of a spacious Johnny Rockets.

After ordering, you’re given a large metal coaster and advised to sit anywhere in the dining room. Traditionally, these devices start flashing when your table’s ready and guests make their way back to the hostess stand. At Schnippers, it’s a tracking device so our server knew exactly where to bring the food – quite an ingenious system.

Their regular hamburger ($6.50) was good, but admittedly no Shake Shack. Nonetheless, it still hit the spot and tasted extra delicious since it didn’t require waiting in line for … I’m getting too old for lines. The beef patty was thick enough so you could savour the flavours amongst everything else. Classically adorned with lettuce, onion, tomato and a pickle, the toppings were fresh and went nicely with the soft toasted bun.


The Schnipp ($7.50) was better and true to the menu’s description was “extra-juicy”. However, I feel it has less to do with a different meat mixture or it using double the cheese, rather it was simply actually cooked to medium, whereas my regular burger was cooked through (despite requesting medium).


You need to dig to the bottom to get the really sauce-drenched cheese fries ($4.50). The sauce has a fairly strong cheddar kick to it, but the fries neutral with little potato flavours. Imagine slightly thicker McDonald’s fries with a thick creamy cheese sauce and that’s what Schnipper’s is serving.

Once again, the fries were satisfactory but didn’t leave me groaning like Crack Shack’s. Even so, where it lacked in flavours, Schnippers made up with speed, service, and the comfortable air-conditioned dining environment. Lounging or lines? Schnippers may be a good Madison Park Shake Shack alternative for you as well.   

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: New York, USA
 Address: 23rd Street and Madison Avenue

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:


Schnipper's Quality Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato