Showing posts with label meat balls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meat balls. Show all posts

Paese Ristorante (Toronto)


If you’re looking for a foolproof patio, Paese’s set-up is fully covered from the elements. It’s also surprisingly large housing over a dozen tables with ones able to accommodate six people, a hot commodity in the patio world.

And if you also like hearty Italian cooking, Paese has also got you covered – just fresh ingredients presented simply and without fuss. Their creamy buratta ($23) arrives on top of a bed of vibrant ripe tomatoes that make a great salad. The pool of olive oil is jazzed up a bit of pesto and is really all the flavouring the appetizer needs.

When having meatballs as a starter, I want them nice and large. The size of tennis balls, the menu describes polpette di manzo ($16) as being made from ground beef, but it’s surprisingly delicate for beef. Sitting in a lovely tomato sauce, it pairs so nicely with the complimentary salty oily focaccia.

I had doubts when I first laid eyes on the thick crust on the parmigiana ($22) pizza – did I make the wrong choice? The crust is deceiving as once I bit into it, it is surprisingly light and airy, and nicely toasted on the bottom. This main combines my love for eggplant parmigiana and pizza and Paese doesn’t skimp on eggplant or cheese. While they augment flavours with basil, chili, and oregano; I would have liked more salt to seep into the neutral eggplant and dough as the tomato sauce isn’t applied as liberally, rightfully so, on the pizza versus the traditional dish.

Overall, Paese makes some good sauce – not too acidic and fresh tasting. Interestingly, their bolognese di tacchino ($25) incorporates turkey instead of the traditional beef, pork, and/or pancetta mixture, which makes it taste lighter. So even though it arrives as a huge plate, the men at our table were able to get through the entire dish. This would have been even better if there was some chili sauce thrown into the mix.

What a good dinner. Pizza, patio, and prosecco… who needs anything other than these three Ps during the summer?  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3827 Bathurst Street


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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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Potman Hotpot (Toronto) 锅匠火锅

If you’re lucky enough to live in Toronto, you’re probably experiencing the cold touch from Mother Nature like the rest of the city. Of course, you could complain and hibernate, or rather embrace the Canadian mantra and go out there and have fun! Alas, me and winter activities requiring balance will never align, so I take the opportunity to indulge in hotpot instead.

Potman Hotpot is a new entrant and thanks to a BlogTO video has attracted a host of visitors – arrive before 6pm or make a reservation to avoid standing uncomfortably in their non-existent waiting area. The video showcases the meal to be a feast, which of course is possible, but you’ll pay for it as Potman is not all-you-can-eat.

Take the time to thoroughly go through their two-page menu as there’s a lot to choose from, starting with a choice of nine broths. If you’re indecisive, the split pot allows you to choose two flavours ($5.99 for small or $9.99 for large); financially, the large one doesn’t necessarily save much unless you’re sharing amongst more than two people.

For my first visit, I split the pot between homemade pork bone soup, which surprisingly incorporates a host of Chinese herbs resulting in a smooth creamy finish, and sweet tomato ox bone soup. In the future, I’ll stick with just the tomato broth (by itself $4.99 for small or $8.99 for large) as it adds a lovely flavour to all the ingredients so sauces aren’t even necessarily required.


Nonetheless, each person will be charged $0.49 for condiments, but allows them to mix-and-match from 19 items. Overall, what’s provided is sufficient, but Potman should consider giving the soy sauce in a pourable container (rather than the actual dipping dish) as after a few dunks the broth already starts to dilute everything.


While you can opt for a seafood platter, without a description of what comes with the dish it seemed safer to order the items we enjoy most. The shrimp ($5.99) was relatively good value with six large ones to an order… much better than the jumbo scallop ($2.99), which is essentially one scallop cut in half. Moreover, the small scallop pieces tended to get lost in the broth and became overcooked.


Most diners opted for the meat platter, but being carnivores, we stuck with single orders of the Angus beef ($6.99), pork ($4.99), and ox tongue ($6.99). My first time trying tongue in hotpot, I enjoyed the fattier cut that creates a flavourful bite – perhaps an alternative to the luxurious wagyu that costs $14-$50 a portion.


Where a platter works is for the vegetarian items ($7.49 for choice of 5 items) and the meat balls ($7.99 for a mix of 15) given Potman allows diners to choose what’s included in the mix. For the vegetarian items, you don’t get a lot with the leafy greens since they take up so much space, but for compact ingredients like wintermelon it’s a sizeable portion (these are also great for hotpot since they can be forgotten in the broth without ruining the vegetable’s texture).


For the meat balls there’s a choice of handmade or regular – I went with the regular machine-produced version and they were still very good. The cheese ball was our hands down favourite, very unique and I loved how after biting through the springy crust there’s a creamy molten cheese centre that’s enhanced with a sweet corn flavour. Their shrimp ball is also different holding shrimp roe in the centre – just be careful biting into it given the juices are hot and will squirt out.


Another one of my go-to ingredients is the fish tofu ($2.99), at Potman theirs is smooth while incorporating a rich fish flavour. The fish noodles ($1.49) isn’t the squeeze from a bag version, but rather comparable to wonton noodles with a chewier finish. While still tasty, the fish flavour is mild and somewhat lost if you add broth. Personally, I enjoyed the udon ($1.49), especially with the piece of ox tail accompanying the tomato soup base, it cooks relatively quickly without becoming mushy and goes so well with the tomato broth. On the other hand, the Korean rice cake ($1.49) breaks apart too easily and gets mushy in a matter of minutes.


While ordering a feast can get expensive - our indulgence costed $50 a person including taxes and gratuities (although to be fair we over ordered) - not being all-you-can-eat means staff have more time for service. Our food came out very quick (even add-ons) and our pots were constantly refilled to avoid it drying out. The service was excellent compared to other hotpot establishments. Moreover, there isn’t the pressure to stuff yourself silly, although with all the choices, that can still be difficult. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 633 Silverstar Boulevard

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:

 Potman Hotpot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Bon Vivant (Edinburgh)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 55 Thistle Street
Website: http://www.bonvivantedinburgh.co.uk/
Type of Meal: Dinner


Located on a small street, The Bon Vivant is a restaurant you may miss unless you know the look for it down the cobblestone laneway.  Inside the restaurant, the dining room is much larger than expected but still small enough to provide a cozy intimate feeling. With dim lighting, candlelit wine bottles and tables placed in cozy nooks this is a great date place.


The first portion of the menu offers appetizers in "bite" or "starter" portions.  The bites are for £1 each while starters range from £3 - £5.  In reality, the pricing makes no difference as the starters are just a multiple of the bites - those £3 contain 3 pieces while £4 dishes contain 4 pieces. We ordered a few starters to share amongst our table of four.   

First up were the vegetable fritters (£3) which had a great golden brown colour.  The crust was outstanding with a crispy texture without being overly hard.  The inside consisted of shredded carrots,   zucchini and salsify (?) which in itself are not strong flavours but offered some nice contrasting colours. I found the batter to be a bit lumpy - it wasn't unpleasant just unexpected. A spinach pesto topped the fritters giving it a bit more flavour. Not a bad start and a favourite amongst the table. 


My favourite tapa dish was the steak and peanut meatballs (£4) which had such a rich flavour to it.  The Bon Vivant used steak cuts of meat as the base providing a much beefier essence while still being relatively lean. The peanuts sounded like a weird ingredient but were subtle and appeared to be ground into the meat with just some small soft bits throughout.  The tomato sauce was great flavourful sauce that's a mix between marinara and gravy, nice and mellow and not too acidic.

The chorizo in cider (£4) was not my favourite, but then again I never really liked this sausage.  It’s much milder in flavour likely due to it being boiled in the cider.  The sauce was a nice mix of briny tanginess and good for dipping the bread into. Strangely, they only provided us with two wedges of bread despite there being four of us and the appetizer portion equivalent to four "bites".  It would have been nice if there was enough for one per person.  

My main was good but not my favourite.  Wanting to try something different, I opted for the seared hare loin and bridie (the leg of the hare)(£16.50).  The dish was quite a substantial portion despite the small size of the hare and the meat very tender.  The meat has a gamey flavour and is sort of like duck but stronger.  

Normally, I would have been enjoyed the dish but the accompanying ingredients, sweet potato mash and salsify, were just too sweet and similar for my taste.  Additionally the sauce consisted of chestnuts jus which also did not contrast the rest of the ingredients.  The only thing that differed was the wood sorrel but these are very light tasting mushrooms so didn't stand out.  If only there was something else - a vinegary or savoury sauce or a fresher vegetable I would have liked it much more. The empanada like pastry on top was a bit unexpected but was good with its flakey crust.  The filling, I believe was the bridie, could have been flavoured more as was sort of bland.

Without a doubt, the best dish of the night was the haggis (£9.50) which actually looked appetizing. Seriously, travel shows have done this dish injustice by showing it served in the stomach, The Bon Vivant serves theirs in a formed shape on the plate and actually looks nice.  The texture was thick and smooth but still had some pieces with bite to it.  I found it to taste like a thicker sheppard's pie mixture with richer flavours.  It didn't taste like offal at all and was actually delicious. The accompanying gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes) were amazing and rich, just the right consistency (soft throughout but still a bit a bite in the potatoes) and had a hint of horseradish in it that gave it a wonderful zing. The roast neeps (turnips) and leafy greens were a bit plain but I think that's necessary when the rest of the dish is already so heavy and flavourful.

We also ordered a side of triple cooked hand cut chips (£3) for the table that were some of the best fries I've had.  I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a fry connoisseur and have tried many throughout Toronto.  Up until now, I thought I like the thinner fries (my favourite being the ones served at Beer Bistro and One) and generally detested the thick and filling wedges.  My perception has changed as the ones in Scotland were still light and crumbly yet had such a great crunch and rich potato flavour to it.  Something about their potatoes are amazing, the flavour so pronounce without even using the skin.  In Canada, we often only get the strong potato taste if the skin is left on the spud, but the skin also leaves a metallic zing to it.  In Scotland, their chips have such a lovely essence without needing the skin. The Bon Vivant’s chips were simply salted and arrived burning hot … I couldn’t stop eating them because they were so delicious.

Being voted as one of the top bars in Edinburgh, they also offer are a variety of beers and wine at reasonable prices - approximately £6/glass for wine and £3.50/pint for beer. 
What made Bon Vivant outstanding was their service.  Everyone was welcoming and attentive right from the beginning. Knowing we were tourists, our waiter took the time to explain what ingredients were as many were named differently - "swede" for turnips and "tatties" for potatoes.  Another employee, Kyle, also took the time to offer pub and attraction suggestions even plotting it on a map for us.  Given this was our first meal in Scotland we had a great welcoming experience into the country – thank you to the Bon Vivant for showing us the “good life”.
Overall mark - 8 out of 10



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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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