Showing posts with label pork ribs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pork ribs. Show all posts

Taris on the Water (Welland)


When Doug Ford announced restaurants could open for dine-in guests on their patios, I was elated. It had only been about three months since the quarantine began, but as someone who ate out three times a week, it seemed like a year had passed.

My first meal out also took me outside of the city to Taris On the Water in Welland, about an hour and a half drive outside of Toronto. My dad lives in Welland so a belated Father’s Day lunch was an optimal excuse and the quieter town meant I could avoid the Toronto frenzy that seemed to ensue on the opening weekend.

I knew that something deep fried would be ordered that day - we never fry things at home and delivered versions are never great. Taris’ fried chicken ($16) satisfied the craving and despite being boneless white meat was surprisingly moist and the breading oh so crispy.

Having difficulties trying to decide between buffalo or honey mustard sauce, our server offered to put both on the side. What a great call as I probably would have gone with buffalo, but the honey mustard was the tastier of the two. Served with perfectly fried shoestring fries and their crunchy vinegary coleslaw, it was exactly what I was wanted.

The smoked pork ribs ($25) seemed more like the boiled then grilled variety as there wasn’t a visible smoke ring and most of the flavours came from the barbeque sauce. Nonetheless, the sweet smoky sauce was tasty and the ribs tender.

With a choice of sides, grilled vegetables helped to balance out the heavier dishes and arrived on a skewer, the bite-sized pieces easy to eat on a patio.  

Taris’ was properly prepared for the opening: the tables well-spaced apart, all staff were wearing masks, and they even disinfected the payment terminal before each use. Their patio is also located at the back of the restaurant, away from cars or people walking, so it’s idyllic as you dine and take in the people kayaking across the canal. Thankfully, we have been blessed with gorgeous weather this year, we’ll need it for all the patio dining to come. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Welland, Canada
 Address: 25 West Main 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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Nuit Social (Toronto)



Sharing is caring, oh so the saying goes. Sharing is what Nuit Social wants. In fact, create your own charcuterie “social boards” dominates half their menu where diners choose one, three, or five items from meat, cheese, and olives selections to create a sharing platter. Opting for five meats ($17) and three cheeses ($13), our board was enough for our table of five to have a taste each, the meats more so than the small bits of cheese.

Of all the items, the ones that stood out were the Tyrol schinkenspeck, the salty pork letting off that faint smokiness that’s synonymous with speck, and the bresaola (extra $1), which is best eaten plain as it’s fairly neutral and the leaner cut allows you to taste the beef. Really everything we chose – Rosette de Lyon French salami, Prosciutto, and the spicy sopressata - were all solid charcuterie.


Meanwhile, the cheeses were good but when paired with the strong meats felt a little lost. Whether it was the Vermeer gouda, Rondin du Poitou goat cheese, or the Charlevoix, the mild cheeses were flavours I enjoyed but couldn’t hold up against the bolder meats.

The last third of the menu is dedicated to “social plates”, which could be renamed to “social bags” given many arrive in a rolled down brown paper sack. Some items like the crispy frog legs ($12) and arancini ($14) are understandable, since the paper helps weep away the extra oil. But, for the Buffalo Brussels sprouts ($11) it’s a little strange as you can’t really get to the pool of hot sauce settling on the bottom.

If you can get past the image of a frog looking at you as you bite into the frog legs, it really does taste like  tender chicken or, with its small size, sort of like a less gamey quail leg. They were lightly dusted and mildly salted, but I would have liked them fried a bit longer.


Both the arancini and Brussel sprouts are dishes I’d avoid – the risotto balls so crumbly and dry that it tasted like fried dirty rice rather than a creamy porcini base. That bit of melted fontina cheese in the centre helped a bit, but could hardly save the dish. As for the Brussel sprouts, it’s a personal choice as the tangy harsh Buffalo sauce drenching the vegetable is something I normally don’t like anyways.


Items that were actually served on plates (or some case bowls) were the highlight of the meal and should be featured prominently rather than being relegated as the last things on the menu. I can still taste the sweet maple soy glaze on the pork ribs ($17) giving it a bit of stickiness but thin enough that it didn’t feel like you’re biting through a heavy sauce to get to the tender ribs. And the bed of smoked macaroni & cheese it sat on was equally delicious.


Normally, I find ricotta gnocchi ($16) a little too soft, but Nuit Social’s consistency was perfectly balanced with a light fluffiness and a bit of chewiness. The cheese and cream sauce could have been really really rich, but a bit of citrus, sweet peas, and smoky bits of chicken (oddly tasted like bacon) helped to temper the decadent dish just a little. Aside from the ribs, this was my favourite of the night.


The seared sushi steak ($17) is really a flat ironed steak done rare so that the meat has a thin ring around it like Albacore tuna. For being so underdone, the beef was surprisingly tender and the liberal amounts of chimmichurri gave the Japanese sounding dish an Argentinian flavour instead. Well roasted Brussels sprouts (thankfully, without Buffalo sauce) and fingerling potatoes finished off the plate making this one of the better-rounded dish for those who don’t want to share.  


But then sharing is Nuit Social’s mantra, they “are all about social gatherings, sharing great food and conversing over delicious drinks with old friends and new friends.” Their ambiance is set up for the mission as the music’s volume is kept at a low enough so you can actually converse with your friends (new or old). This is quite different for being a west Queen West restaurant where places like Drake Hotel is a neighbour.

Since it’s opened until midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends, it’s also a great place to gather after a night of drinking. Nuit Social definitely doesn’t serve the typical post bar eats. It’s not every day that after a night of drinking you can tuck into amazing ribs with a side of ricotta gnocchi.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1168 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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Nuit Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Noorden (Toronto)



Noorden Food Bar brings “modern Dutch” to Toronto: street food style dishes from the Netherlands combined with Indonesian influences for an extra boost of flavour. The restaurant’s hip and has a Queen West vibe, except it’s in Midtown and the music is kept at a reasonable volume.    

Described as their “most popular dish”, the patatje oorlog or war fries ($7) were a disappointment. While I appreciate crispy fries, Noorden double (perhaps even triple) kiss with the hot oil was too much, rendering the fries hard, dry and hollow. In lieu of ketchup or gravy there’s sweet soy mayonnaise and peanut sauce, creating an interesting sweet and salty combination with scallion and bird’s eye peppers for freshness.


If you’re squeamish about raw beef, Noorden’s beef tartare ($14.75) is a safe introduction. There’s plenty of sweet soy glaze that drowns out any beef flavour; the sweet pickled Asian pear and aromatic crispy shallots will cover anything else. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a good dish – it wakes up the taste buds and the krupuk (thick crunchy shrimp chips) really holds up against the saucy tartare.


Five pieces of stick-to-your-ribs ribs arrives with the pork ribs ($15), each slathered in a sweet and tangy sambal cobek sauce. The fermented shrimp used in the condiment adds an umami essence to the meat; they sure are tasty, but also fairly salty so you wouldn’t want a full rack. Don’t forget about the small pile of slices cucumber and radishes on the side, it’s a salad and works so well at cutting against the grease and heaviness.


The sambal matah ($7.50) could be the next answer to roasted cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. The charred broccoli concentrates the vegetable’s flavour while adding a smoky nuttiness to the florets. Bringing the tried and true broccoli to the next level of tastiness, the crunchy shallots are a great pairing, but the lemon rind needs to be picked out as the bitter chewiness can be a bit of a shock.


Noorden also offers dishes like the sweet potato glass noodles and vegetable salad ($10.95) that don’t appear to have a touch of Dutch influence at all; the chewy noodles are popular in South East Asian countries and even the dressing (a white miso sambal vinaigrette) weighing heavily to the Asian contingent. Nevertheless, it was one of the better dishes. Refreshing and satisfying, the crunchy salad is tangy, spicy, savoury and sweet all at once.


After hearing the name of the Dutch beignets, oliebollen ($6), the dish already sounds cheerful. Indeed, one bite into the warm yeasty dough studded with currants and ginger and a smile spreads across my face. Their milk chocolate buttermilk pudding ($6) is the consistency of crème caramel and ever so slightly sweetened. Keeping the pudding neutral, the dessert’s flavours predominantly stem from the dark chocolate ganache layer on the bottom and the airy whipped cream. I particularly liked the crunchy cocoa nibs pieces sprinkled on top, which goes so well with the smooth pudding.


Chef Michael van den Winkel and Jennifer Gittins also operates Indonesian restaurant Little Sister, just a few doors south on Yonge. With the sambal, chillies and peanut sauce touches, there are similarities between Noorden and Little Sister. Up until dining at Noorden, I didn’t even realize Dutch cuisine gels so well with Indonesian ingredients.

As a warning, portions are rather small; heed the restaurant’s advice of sharing five to six dishes amongst two people. Nonetheless, the strong robust flavours lends itself to being served as small plates … I can only imagine the gluttonous feeling if I ever consumed a full-size portion.

What is most memorable about Noorden is the laid back Dutch hospitality - the smiles, attentive service and even the bartender steps up to offer an extra seat when we bumped into others. As blogTO reported, the restaurant’s lease ends mid-2018. So, if you want a taste of Dutch friendliness, you better oliebollen over there soon.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2110 Yonge 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:






The Carbon Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 99 Queen Street East
Website: http://thecarbonbar.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



You won’t find gingham tablecloths, tin foil platters or uncut hunks of meat here. The Carbon Bar is refined with linen napkins, plate changes and meat cut into fork friendly portions. Between courses the table is wiped clean so all evidence of dripped sticky sauce is erased with it.

The dining room is surprisingly spacious with soaring ceilings, adequately spaced tables and minimalistic décor. Want to throw a “family” BBQ without messing up your home? The Carbon Bar offers a private room on the second floor that can hold 30-50 people.

Without a doubt, beer goes with BBQ and the Carbon Bar has plenty of that. But for the refined BBQ aficionados, fancy handmade cocktails are also available to swig back with meat platters. A refreshing spring soother ($16), tequila based with an elderflower syrup (?) and splash of citrus was a lighter drink complementing our appetizer. The C2 colada ($16) was the better choice. With a hefty portion of rum it’s stronger tasting but finishes nicely with a creamy coconut water.


With the sheer amount of meat to come, we decided to start with something lighter. The Hamachi ($14) fit the bill with cubes of delicate cool fish, sweet clementine, crisp pear and cherry tomatoes all melded together with kombucha vinegar and sesame oil. The dish was flavourful, simple and energizing; a great choice for the warmer months. I thoroughly enjoyed the sesame oil added to the dish that gave it a nice finish on the palate.


The pit master platter ($27 per person with a minimum order of two people) seemed like too much food for us. Instead, we shared an order of the pork ribs ($19) and beef brisket ($19). Both were delicious, but for me the beef brisket stood out just a bit more. It started off with a great cut of beef; in between the meat was a thin cap of fat that soaked into the beef to keep it moist throughout the cooking process. Although it had been slow smoked (same as the pork ribs) the smokiness wasn’t overpowering, just enough for you to get the essence of it. Served with a sweet molasses (?) BBQ sauce it was a good plate.


The pork ribs were equally tender but didn’t seem as smoked as the brisket. I have to commend the Carbon Bar’s butcher because the meat was another great cut. Too often ribs are either too fatty or lean, this one had just enough fat to add flavour but not too much that you felt the need to cut it off. Additionally, you could taste the pork but it didn’t have a strong “hog” smell to it, which can be such a turnoff. The rib’s sauce was much tangier; a bit sour for my taste so I opted to use the brisket’s sauce instead.


Some reviews from other diners had noted their meat was dry and/or bland. Our ribs and brisket were definitely not dry, but as for the taste? I wouldn’t say it’s bland, perhaps not as saucy as other ribs, but this is due to the Carbon Bar’s cooking style. Their menu warns about the simplicity of the preparation - that meat is rubbed only with salt and black pepper and then placed in the smoker, no sauce is applied through the cooking process.

Admittedly I’m not a huge BBQ connoisseur but when the cut of beef or pork is this good, shouldn’t you want to actually taste the meat? Afterwards, if you want to douse it with sauce than that’s what the sauce on the side is for. Of course, since the meat wasn’t basted during the cooking process, you won’t find a thick barque around it (there’s no layer of hardened caramelized sauce). So, as a warning, if you like sticky ribs and well crusted brisket then the Carbon Bar may not be the place for you.

We really enjoyed the collard greens ($5) which helped stave off the meat sweats. The sauce was tomato based but had a great zing of spice that hits you at the end. Not being a fan of mushy vegetables, I was glad that the stalks of the collard greens retained some level of crispness.


To end we shared the banana toffee cream pie ($16) and it was delicious. Comprised of a crispy shortbread crust, softened bananas pieces and light whipped cream, the dessert was satisfying but not too heavy. Interestingly, the toffee was cut into thick cubes and sat on the bottom of the crust; it wasn’t sticky or overly sweet and almost had a rich ice cream like consistency. All in all, I was quite happy with the reduced sugar levels and abundance of banana, you could almost trick yourself to think it was healthy if it were not for the buttery crust.


Kiri, our server, was extremely friendly and attentive. Consequently, you still get that small town charm despite the cloth napkins and real cutlery. The crowd also has a jovial atmosphere to it; as the night went on the groups got a little rowdier and soon cheers and laughter rang throughout the restaurant. But, the noise level was always bearable given the well regulated music level and the large space. In the end, my experience at Carbon Bar was enjoyable and perhaps will round up a larger group of people to try their pit master platter.

Since the above visit I've returned to the restaurant and tried some other items. Read about it at my other post.

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
  • - 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!

The Carbon Bar on Urbanspoon


The Praline Connection (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 542 Frenchman Street
Website: www.pralineconnection.com
Type of Meal: Dinner



The Praline Connection has been serving good ole’ Cajun-Creole style soul food for almost 25 years. True to form the portions are gigantic with each entrée accompanied by corn bread and two sides (greens, beans, macaroni & cheese or potato salad). The cornbread is likely the healthiest part of the meal, likely lacking oil in the batter it tasted a bit dry. Of course, there were pats of butter on the side so you could slather on extra moisture and flavours if you wanted.


Sharing three entrees and an appetizer between a table of four there was still too much food! As we were waiting for the entrees we decided to get some fried pickles ($5.95) to munch on. Cut into circles rather than lengthwise, the pickles were crunchier given the higher batter ratio. Overall, they weren’t bad but could benefit from being dried longer (as they were getting soggy near the bottom) and being dusted with cornmeal as well. 


When I think of soul food, fried chicken ($13.50) often comes to mind. So, we had to try an order. Praline Connection’s had a light coating - similar to what you'd find at KFC except crispier. Although the chicken meat was very tender and moist, the breading needed a bit more flavour in terms of salt and/or spices. However, it did go nicely with the thick and creamy potato salad. The salad had hints of mustard and something tangy in it (perhaps vinegar) which helped to round out the flavours of fried foods nicely.


The barbeque ribs ($17.95) had a wonderful thick tangy sauce slathered all over them (albeit no smokiness). Also very tender, this was the sole dish of the evening that left me wanting more. The collard greens were decent with a hint of spice; if only they weren’t as mushy it would be even better but I understand they are generally served this way.


Lastly, the fried catfish ($15.95) was another moist and freshly made dish. The fish, lightly dusted with a thin crispy crust, was a fair portion. The lackluster tartar sauce did need more relish in it as it resembled mayonnaise more than tartar. The macaroni and cheese was fairly cheesy with two types of cheese used throughout, yet wasn’t too heavy. Additionally, the macaroni noodles were quite long so that you could almost twirl it around a fork. Unfortunately, it was under seasoned and could have used a bit more salt.



The Praline Connection is ideally located on a busy corner of Frenchmen Street. Indeed, during our visit upon leaving the restaurant we were greeted with an impressive live jazz performance street side. So, if you’re looking for a place to start the night, The Praline Connection may be a good choice. But, you may want to share to avoid feeling overly stuffed for the rest of the night. 



Overall mark - 7 out of 10


Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!

Praline Connection on Urbanspoon