Showing posts with label queso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label queso. Show all posts

Poor Romeo (Toronto)

With a small patio at the front, Poor Romeo is a haven for those who love direct sunlight. Maybe it was how the sun was hitting the restaurant on our July visit, but even with all the umbrellas up there wasn’t an ounce of shade. Not wanting to roast, we safely seconded ourselves inside. Here I was greeted with a chill bar environment with tables so crammed together that it’d be a Tetris feat to get yourself into a chair if someone was sitting behind you.

Luckily, it wasn’t busy on a Friday afternoon, so I jimmied myself into a highchair and settled down with a Gin Lizzy ($15). It’s a good first drink since it essentially tastes like a sparkling berry lemonade. The rhubarb reduction and lime make it go down so easy that you must remind yourself it’s not juice given it contains gin and prosecco.

Personally, even with a refreshing cocktail, I like them tasting stiffer. The El Diablo ($15) hit the spot as the tequila was pronounced but mellowed with black berry concentrate and lime. The ginger beer helped to add a twinge of spiciness and bubbles. This was a favourite amongst our table.

A couple of nibbles tied us over until dinner. The queso & chips ($12) arrived with plenty of warm crispy tortillas that were seasoned making them nice to munch on solo or with a sprinkling of finely diced pico de gallo. The queso was a great consistency coating the chip without being too thick and was perfectly seasoned so that it was flavourful without being overly salty.

The wild zero wings ($16 for a lb) were hot and juicy, tossed in an apricot glaze that gave the wings a sweet and savoury element, sort of like a Thai sauce but not quite as syrupy. And if they weren’t saucy enough, a generous portion of creamy dill arrives as well.

Poor Romeo is a great place for a quick drink with nibbles or a casual date. And if you’re in the area for an after-meal tipple, their version of an espresso martini is the Night Flight ($16). It certainly tasted of coffee, from a coffee reduction and Jägermeister cold brew, but mellowed out with vodka and a bit of creaminess from the Tia Maria. I can’t help but wonder why it’s called a Night Flight, does cold brew give you wings?

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1029 Gerrard Street East

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Planta Cocina (Toronto)

You better enjoy tortilla chips if you’re eating at Planta Cocina as half of their appetizers are served with the crunchy side. Practice makes perfection as the chips are great: thin, crispy, and not overly oily.

Plenty are found in the fully loaded nachos ($17.95) arriving in a tin and poured out table side. For something that’s described as “fully loaded”, the chips were rather bare - I couldn’t find much of the queso crema, avocado crème, black beans, or pico de gallo – let alone the pulled barbeque jackfruit that seemed more like sauce than a protein.

The five-layer dip ($11.95) was equally underwhelming, served in an angular bowl so the layers were non-existent. The kitchen tried to top it with additional ingredients such as chopped olives, which were a start but not nearly a substantial layer. Even a bit more refried pinto beans would have been nice, the spoon-sized amount at the bottom of the bowl was hardly enough.

Get the queso fundido ($16.25) instead as the piping hot cashew cheese dip is gooey, packed with spinach, and absolutely delicious. The Chile de Arbol salsa and cilantro gives the queso a slightly spicy and fresh element, to balance out the otherwise hearty starter. And if the dip isn’t flavourful enough, the side of spicy adobo sauce adds another level of rich spiciness.

For a vegan restaurant, I’m surprised with the lack of salad on the menu… the lettuce shortage must be real. There was the Cocina Caesar ($15.25) a bowl of well-dressed romaine adorned with smoky mushroom bacon and black beans. One small change would be to stick with a traditional vegan parmesan instead of the almond cotija, which I found too sticky on the already wet salad.

The special for the evening was a coctel verde ceviche ($14) made with cucumber and other greens. Strangely, it was just so sweet, making the dish taste more like a fruit salad than ceviche. Adding a splash of adobo sauce gave the dish some spice, but that tangy citrus element was still missing.

I liked where Planta was going with the vegetarian Baja mushroom taco ($6.25), but the slice of king mushroom must be thicker to replace a meaty protein like fish. Currently, it tastes like you’re eating a fried batter taco rather than mushroom. With so little fungi, the taco could have benefited from a slaw to fill out the shell; something to give the pico de gallo, cilantro, and sauces a bit more interest.

The quesabirria ($15.25 for two) combines cashew mozzarella with cremini and oyster mushrooms to create a soft gooey mixture that’s tasty but challenging to dip into the mushroom consommé. In this case, there was enough fungi, but I would have preferred if they were left in larger strips to make it easier to dip and add a meatier texture. The consommé could also benefit from more seasoning.

At least the service at Planta Cocina was impeccable. Carley, our server, was a bright ray of sunshine and had me wanting to try more of their cocktails (all $15.50). The easiest drinking was probably the Casa (pa)loma, which looks prettier than it tastes as we all found it too watery.

While the Mezcal Me Maybe sounds like a tropical drink made with passionfruit and lime, the combination of bitters and ginger liqueur gives it a smoky cigar like finish. If you like an Old Fashion, this is worth a try.

Of the three, I enjoyed the Classic Margarita the most, simply made with tequila, Cointreau and their house made sour blend. I must admit, their freshly made mixer does create a tastier and more refreshing margarita.

Of all the Planta restaurants, for me, Cocina’s offering is the weakest of the franchise. I would have expected more fresh ingredients, excitement, and flavour for a Mexican restaurant. As it stands, just a queso and margarita maybe. 

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 10 Temperance 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!

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