Showing posts with label mushroom ravioli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mushroom ravioli. Show all posts

CLOSED: Mythology (Toronto)



As Mythology’s pictures mingled their way into my Instagram feed, the gorgeous looking plant-based dishes drew me in and created a sense of excitement. When I heard the restaurant was started by Chef Doug McNish, a well-known vegan chef in Toronto, it sealed the deal… plans were made and a reservation was secured.

Mythology promises an elevated dining experience. Indeed, the esthetics of the dining room with its black, white, and gold motifs gave the restaurant a polished air. The menu’s enticing dishes, spanning multiple continents, also made the place stand out.


As an amuse bouche was presented, we knew… oh yes, Mythology wants to transcend into fine dining. Yet, this first bite also foreshadowed the meal to come: dishes that look great, contain A LOT of ingredients, and then one or two things throws it completely off.

This first bite of pickled zucchini with tomato pesto and garlic chip - it tasted fine, but the garlic “chip” was so chewy that it’d be more aptly described as garlic jerky, leaving a strong lingering taste in my mouth.


Without the menu, it’d be hard to even recite all the ingredients that are part of each dish: their crab croquette special ($21) sat beneath so many garnishes and chips that it felt fussy and confusing. Such a shame, as the actual banana blossom cake was absolutely delicious, the texture oddly like crab, and the chayote relish, when used in small doses, was great.


The zaatar cauliflower ($20) felt like a similar dish and while it also had a lot of different elements, they at least complemented each other. Fluffy falafels are shaped into pucks and deep fried, then enhanced with sweet pomegranate, citrusy tahini, and fresh quinoa taboloui. The only downfall was the actual cauliflower seems secondary… really, this should be renamed as ‘falafels and cauliflower’.


As soon as the coq au vin ($22) was presented I knew something was off. Somehow the dish that’s synonymous with slowly braised meat in red wine arrives looking like a deep fried chicken cutlet? Sure enough, the seitan chicken was cut too thickly and along with the garlic mashed potatoes made for a heavy feeling meal.


Maybe French cuisine just doesn’t lend itself to being vegan – after all, it’s a cuisine that relies so heavily on butter, cheese, and meat. If the chefs sliced the seitan thinner and reimagined the dish as schnitzel – substituting the pastrami carrots and rapini with braised cabbage – it may actually work.

Of all the dishes, the one I thought Mythology would ace was the mushroom ravioli ($24). I’ve been to other vegan restaurants that makes great mushroom pastas with cashew based cream sauces. While the porcini cream sauce was spot on, in terms of flavours, it was too gluey and the pasta forming the ravioli was also so thick that the consistency resembled leftover pasta re-heated in the microwave. Similar to the crab croquette, the dish was then further ruined by having way too much stuff on it: hazelnut crumbs, garlic chips, baby greens, and truffle lemon vinaigrette?! All things that do nothing to help the ravioli.


When we saw the avocado and tuna tartare ($13) it was stunning. The “egg” yolk, which actually oozed, was also so impressively recreated. But then we bite into it and are repulsed by the saltiness, to the point we had to send the dish back.


We’re advised that it’s because the tomato is cured in salt so the texture changes to represent tuna. In my mind, couldn’t that also be done by simply pressing the tomato? At the very least, rinse off the cured tomato before using it. It was so salty that after one bite of the dish, it threw us off on the seasoning of everything else. After the shock to the taste buds, the next dish seemed bland.

Not all the dishes were disappointing, some of the tastiest ones were also the simplest. We all loved the panisse ($8; not pictured as it came out terrible), which is listed as a side on the menu but could easily work as a starter. The deep fried wedges tasted like mozzarella sticks, but finishes lighter and left us wanting more.

Who would have thought that king oyster mushrooms could be made to look like calamari ($14)? Indeed, biting into it you can tell it’s not seafood, yet the texture is uncannily similar. Served freshly fried with the crispy garlic cornmeal crust and cooling tartar sauce, we loved it so much we got another order.


It’s then we discovered portion sizes are inconsistent: the first such a mammoth mound of large calamari pieces filling most of the board, while the second serving barely covered the middle and the pieces puny like it was made with the leftover ends.


I can’t help but feel I was tricked into eating at Mythology by great marketing – kudos to their Instagram photographer. Even with the terrible experience, I can’t help but want the restaurant to succeed. Hence, I offer two words of advice: keep it simple and restrict garnishes to three items; and if the dish doesn’t fill the initial vision, pivot and change it into something else. I sincerely hope it gets better from here, Toronto needs more meatless fine dining options.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1265 Queen 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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CLOSED: Awai (Toronto)


As a person who eats meat, a completely plant-based menu generally doesn’t excite me. While I like vegetables, and know there are many ways to prepare them, I can’t help but anticipate a boring dish or worry the chefs will rely on fat and deep frying to make it taste good. At Awai, every dish is vegan and can be made gluten-free by request. After sampling eight, they were all flavourful without depending on fats. In fact, Awai’s whole cooking philosophy aims to use an ingredient’s natural flavours without manipulating it heavily.

A flatbread seems to always makes its way into the meal, thanks to their prominent wood burning oven. Ours was topped with babaganoush incorporating a healthy dose of cumin, sour tamarind (?) reduction, dressed greens, and nuts. While the flatbread was tasty, the gluten-free version, which arrives on a potato rosti, was even better with the slightly crunchy bits.


Our table couldn’t get enough of the porcini soup ... it smells heavenly! Thick and creamy (from cauliflower purée in lieu of cream), there was also a slight kick to the broth from mountain peppers. I could have easily had three more bowls of the concoction.


Of course, there was a salad. Thankfully, it was pretty tasty with the wild mustard greens and other leafy vegetables tossed in a white kimchi dressing, sprinkled with togarashi, and mixed with the fennel pesto along the plate. While the apple confit chips were a powerful pop of flavour, it'd pair better with dessert; on the salad, the hard and chewy shards stick to your teeth and was annoying to pick out amongst the greens.


I love how the kitchen draws upon so many cultures to create the menu. From India, the khichdi was a lovely warm mixture of ground rice, lentils, and potatoes mixed with spices and a bit of heat. On top, a contrasting cold sweet and tangy root slaw, gave the dish interest and a beautiful colourful crown.


My favourite dish was the truffle mushroom ravioli: the pasta soft and chewy, filled with chopped mushrooms and sitting in a lovely cauliflower puree. Underneath was another healthy portion of roasted oyster mushrooms. Between this and the soup, our table agreed that Awai knows how to prepare fungi.


While I like phyllo pastry, as a cannelloni wrapper it doesn’t work. Perhaps there was just too much of it compared to the edamame mixture inside, every mouthful just felt like you were eating crispy phyllo. While the dish was pretty to look at and their heirloom vegetables roasted wonderfully, it was passable.


Thankfully, we requested one more savoury dish and ended off on a high note with the humita, a steamed corn cake that reminded me of a tamale but with more spices. For even more flavour, it was accompanied by a lovely rich mole and crunchy bits to contrast against the softer humita


Personally, I could have forgone dessert for another bowl of porcini soup. The elderberry oat tart was dry and mealy while the linden berry and cherry pavlova square was only a touch better thanks to some moisture and more sugar. The soup on the other hand… perfection.


The astute Gastro World reader may notice there’s no prices above. This is because Awai runs on a pay-what-you-can concept for their food (there are set prices for liquor). It’s an interesting concept where diners are encouraged to decide on a meal's worth. While I didn’t find the experience troubling, it does make the paying process a bit awkward and longer. After our waitress explained the concept, our table strategized and agreed on $70 per person. Unbeknown to the first person paying, their machine also doesn’t have a tip feature, so make sure you ask them to add it on at the same time. 

With that said, by the time this post is out, there will be prices. In early March, Awai announced they would be ending the “experiment” as many found it confusing and stressful. Instead, they will offer a prix fixe menu. It’ll be interesting to see how much the restaurant owners value their food – for a place that makes vegan dishes tasty, it may be a lot.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2277 Bloor 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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Awai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Martin Wishart (Edinburgh)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 54 The Shore
Website: http://www.restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk/
Type of Meal: Lunch



When a Michelin starred restaurant offers a 3-course lunch menu for £28.50 it’s a deal that's hard to pass up. So, we made the short cab ride out to Leith, Northwest of Edinburgh's city centre, to visit the restaurant.

Being a French restaurant, you certainly got that classic upscale French feeling when you walked into Martin Wishart with the crisp white linen, sparkly crystal and shiny silverware. Luckily, the staff were friendly and didn't appear to be snooty, albeit not nearly as friendly as the other Edinburgh restaurants we encountered. 

Not long after ordering a small dice sized horseradish beet macaron was presented meant to be eaten in one bite to wake up the palette. It was an interesting combination with the sweet macaron shell and the creamy horseradish spiked filling; a good savoury take on the French dessert. 

Following was a more substantial amuse bouche trio consisting of a haggis croquette, foie gras shavings and a parmesan cheese puff.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fried haggis ball with its smooth flavourful meat filling and crunchy exterior.  Not being a fan of foie gras, for ethical reasons, I was glad it was only a small portion. Nonetheless, it was smooth and flavourful and almost refreshing in how they prepared it – it appeared to be mixed it with something, frozen and then shaved and topped with a complementary crispy element. The cheese puff was tasty - as cheese and choux pastry generally would be, with an astonishing amount of cheese for such a small ball.

My starter, ravioli of wild mushroom, was my favourite dish of the meal.  It could have easily been a main with another ravioli and the addition of some protein. Even though the pasta dough was thin, there was still a nice chewy texture and stuffed full with diced mushrooms - the mixture being so dense that you could have sworn there was some meat in there binding it all together. The foam was delicate and allowed the woodsy mushroom flavour to shine through.  Even the sautéed cabbage sitting under the ravioli, a smart way to stop them from sliding around the dish, was delicious. 

As can be seen from the picture below, the roast cod was seared beautifully giving it a golden brown crust, which goes so well with the delicate soft fish.  The dish was a bit salty, not sure if it was from the foam, the fish or the wilted spinach on the bottom. The fish itself was good but not very memorable.  The only unexpected highlight was the thin medallions of potato boulangere dotted around the dish - deliciously flavourful with a slight herby essence, which is somewhat sad given they were an inconsequential part of the meal.

On the other hand, the navarin of Dornoch lamb my husband ordered was such an intensely flavourful dish.  This French lamb stew was a good nod to Scottish cuisine and almost like beef bourguignon.  The lamb was tender, flaked apart easily and had a rich deep sauce covering everything. This is certainly a hearty dish you want if you're hungry, Martin Wishart provides a substantial portion topped with typical stew ingredients (carrots, onions and mushrooms). Celeriac purée, served in a separate dish, accompanied the dish and added a silky, buttery and creamy touch to everything. 

French cuisine is known for their desserts and my apple tart bourdaloude did not disappoint its warm flaky crust, beautifully fanned layer of apples and dollop of chantilly cream. Thankfully, the apples were cooked well - tender throughout but still had a slight bite to it.  For me, the dessert was too sweet; I just wish the apple itself was a bit tarter so it could have cut through the sugary syrup. 

I loved that Martin Wishart has a cheese cart, which they roll over when you order the cheese plate (supplement of £10).  There are about a dozen of options available and the server asks your preference before building a cheese plate catered to your palate.  My husband, liking stronger tasting cheddars and not blue cheeses, was given a variety of French cheeses with one lone Scottish cheddar. Not pictured are some crackers and bread that is placed on your side plate when this is ordered.

Enclosed below is a picture of the chocolate macaron with black current filling ordered by another guest. I can't comment on how it tastes since I never tried it, but thought I'd share since it was so beautifully presented.



Sadly, there were a couple of slight hiccups that I found surprising for a Michelin rated restaurant.
  • Perhaps this is common in Scotland, but when we requested tea and coffee with our dessert, we were instantly charged the coffee + petit fours option with the meal (£5.95).  To make things worse, we weren't even brought any of the petit fours, despite being charged to it making each hot beverage quite costly.  I will say that I enjoyed that they heated up their teapots and milk, but still for £6 a cup it was a bit steep.  
  • The second issue was that they just couldn't remember my water choice! My guests prefer sparkling (£5.50 per bottle) while I just like plain ice water.  Both times they refilled my glass, either I or someone from my table had to stop them and state no sparkling water for me as I prefer ice.  After hearing this, they didn't offer to replace my water so I had to drink the carbonated version that I detest.  I know it’s something small, but something that easily could have been avoided – just write down the guest’s preferences somewhere!
All in all, for the price of the meal, Martin Wishart is a great value option.  For the most part the dishes were delicious and atmosphere posh, elegant and relaxing.


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
  • 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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