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

Agua (Grand Cayman)

Auga Grand Cayman

Agua’s menu sounds like the United Nations of the food world: tons of Peruvian specialties, European influences, dishes incorporating Asian ingredients and comforting Italian pastas. The all-encompassing commonality between the selections is the predominantly seafood-based choices, which isn’t surprising for a restaurant named as ‘water’.

Their ceviches (CI$13.50 each) are popular, it seemed every table was graced with one. With five choices, the two we selected were pretty similar: you would think a classic Peruvian (clasico Peruano) and Thai recipe would be different, yet both incorporated the classic lime juice base, red onion and cilantro. The coconut milk added to the Thai version did give that dish an edge, resulting in the ceviche having a lovely creamy finish.

Auga Grand Cayman: cevicheAuga Grand Cayman: ceviche

Both were good: tender large cubes of fish incorporating enough flavour without being overpowering – you could taste the citrus without a lingering burning sensation. The lackluster wonton chips could use some improvement: not crispy enough to really withstand scooping and much too oily leaving a sheen on your tongue that detracts from enjoying the ceviche’s tastes.

I had my doubts when reading the description of the tuna tartare (CI$14.50) … sweet and sour sauce AND truffle oil? Two very different ingredients that in my mind had nothing to do with tuna. Admittedly, the truffle oil was a tad overpowering, but overall everything worked. The tuna itself was left in large enough pieces to not drown in sauce and the mixture ended up being slightly sweet with a mild chili finish.

Auga Grand Cayman: tuna tartare

The tower was also pretty, the tartare perched perfectly on a bed of diced creamy avocado. If only there was a taro chip for scooping; with all the flavours something salty and crunchy to tie everything together would have been nice.

We moved into warmer waters for the mains, my Peruvian mixed grill (CI$28.50) consisting of a perfectly cooked fillet of mild white fish topped with shrimp and calamari rings. Yet it was the buttery aji panca pepper sauce that made the dish: the Peruvian pepper offering a mellow heat, smokiness not unlike chipotle and a slightly sweet finish. If I weren’t feeling full from the rather large appetizers, I would have eaten every drop of the sauce with the steamed rice.

Auga Grand Cayman: Peruvian mixed grill

I was glad to see that Agua’s lobster and shiitake ravioli (CI$27.95) was more than a handful of pasta. There were about a dozen, each filled with a mushroom mascarpone and also containing broth so the stuffed pastas had an almost dumpling quality. On top was a healthy portion of cubed lobster finished with a chive butter sauce.

Auga Grand Cayman: Lobster and shiitake ravioli

The first meal of the Cayman Island’s trip was delicious and the restaurant’s prime location along Seven Mile Beach a convenient draw. Thanks to our host for introducing us to the place, Agua set the bar high for the other meals to come…

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
 Address: West Bay Road (in the Galleria Plaza)
 Website: http://www.agua.ky/

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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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CLOSED: Vertical (Toronto)

Seated in the quiet dining room of Vertical, located on the third level of First Canadian Place, the overlooking view of the elevators provided an interesting people watching vantage point: a glimpse into their lives before rushing off to other destinations following work.

The last time I’d been to the restaurant was years earlier, for lunch, a failed pomegranate kale salad that was too seedy and tart to be satisfying. If it weren’t for That’s The Spread and winning a gift card from their online contest, I may have never returned. And that would be a shame as the dinner menu by Chef Pasquini is good – Italian based dishes that are a far cry from the salad of the yesteryears.

Plenty of thinly sliced finocchina, capicollo, and 24-month aged prosciutto di parma were given in the assorted salumi ($20), a starter that’s great for sharing. The finocchina, a Tuscan salami, was a tad fatty for me but was luckily my husband’s favourite. The leaner neutral capicollo was a better bet and we both enjoyed the prosciutto, which was flavourful without relying on salt.


Accompanying the meat was a small bowl of crunchy pickled vegetables and great grainy mustard, though what it really needed was bread or crostini. After referring back to the menu for the post, I now realize you can request complimentary ciabatta; a reminder from our server would have been nice as I’d certainly would have benefited from one.

My main, a beef tenderloin ($42) was a thick chunk and well prepared – a good sear and left medium rare inside. The splash of salsa verde studded with Jerusalem artichoke, over salted swiss chard and cubes of deep fried polenta made for a beautiful spring-coloured presentation.


Although their mains do have garnishes, it’s not substantial so you’d likely need a supplementary side. We shared the brussel sprouts ($9) which were simply tossed with a good quality olive oil, lemon and a hefty portion of garlic.


The ravioli ($25) were deliciously filled with a smooth parsnip puree mixed with shredded braised short rib and then garnished with a dusting of scorzone black truffle, which goes so well with the creamy sauce.


Given the main courses were rather small, we certainly had room for dessert. The warm doughnuts ($10) were a great way to end: six plump soft pastries that were thankfully not oily. The coffee dipping sauce was rather weak and could benefit from a bit more espresso, but the doughnuts had enough cinnamon sugar coating them that they were tasty on their own.



As a warning, the portions at Vertical certainly don’t follow the Italian tradition of abundance. Nonetheless, after the dessert, we were satisfied without feeling overly stuffed. The dinner was much better than my last visit. After all, I’ve finally learnt Homer’s lesson – you don’t make friends with salad. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 King 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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



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


Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (London)

Location: London, England
Address: 68 Royal Hospital Road
Website: http://www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad/
Type of Meal: Lunch



Since Hell’s Kitchen aired in 2005, I’ve wanted to eat at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.  The show portrays a chef that’s committed to excellence with kitchens churning out traditional but delicious looking dishes.  Hence, during our visit to London, I knew I had to visit his namesake restaurant – Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.  It’s no easy feat to earn a Michelin star accolade, let alone receive three of them and hold the standing for over ten years (started in 2001). If there was ever a place to experience Mr. Ramsay, his Royal Hospital Road establishment would be it. Of course, with his busy celebrity life, he doesn’t actually cook there anymore; rather, he’s left Chef Clare Smyth in charge.  But, he must have some hand in designing the menu and this would be my chance to try his brilliance.


So, as quickly as I could, I signed up online for a reservation at this 45 seat restaurant months in advance. Although I wouldn’t have dreamt of missing the sitting, you’re required to provide them with a credit card to secure the spot and be charged a hefty fine if you don’t show up.

On the day of the meal, we show up 15 minutes early and found the door locked with several other patrons waiting outside.  For a restaurant that specifies we must be ready to be seated at the time of our reservation, it’s a bit strange that they wouldn’t open up a little earlier to let people in.  About five minutes from our reservation time, the door finally unlocks and we’re greeted warmly and whisked in the intimate dining room. 

The dining area is small with all the tables situated in a square room and fairly close together - to the point that the staff need to move tables for some guests to get in and out which is unexpected for fine dining.  The chairs were plush and cozy but I could only imagine if a heavier set person were to sit in them they may find it fairly snug.

Not long after being seated, the manager arrives asking our table who is hosting.  Finding this to be a strange question, we offered up my husband’s father nonetheless.  It wasn’t until reading other blogger experiences that I realized they only print prices in the host’s menu, with the thought of allowing the other guests to order without apprehension.  The manager also came by later to speak to us and brief us on a bit about the restaurant’s history and answer any questions we may have, a great personal touch.

Gordon Ramsay’s lunch menu offers two three-course options – a set lunch (£55) or an a la carte (£95).  The set lunch’s choices are more limited, but our waiter advised that we could mix and match as we wanted with a slight supplement if we ordered the set lunch and wanted to substitute with something off the a la carte. This freedom is certainly appreciated with one guest substituting his dessert (no extra charge) and another substituting the main for the truffle pasta special of the day (supplement of £35).  The extra charge for pasta may seem steep, but Gordon Ramsay did provide a generous portion of the white truffle, which arrived in a box and freshly shaved on top of the creamy linguine with mushrooms.  Although I didn’t try the dish, my mother-in-law noted that the pasta was great with the truffle blending deliciously into the decadent creamy sauce.

We were first offered a selection of breads so I selected the sourdough and bacon brioche which other reviewers seem to rave about. Honestly, it was pretty run-of-the-mill bread, for a delicious bread basket Scarpetta is by far still my favourite.

Our amuse for the day was a cold refreshing tomato consommé laced with delicate pieces of tomatoes, frozen nitrogen cream and little dots of dill oil. It was a simple but invigorating way to wake up the taste buds.

My husband and I ordered off of the different menus with me getting the lunch (£55) and him the a la carte (£95) to allow us the ability to compare.  Mine began with the tartlet of confit salmon. Upon its arrival, the dish looked anything but a tartlet with it being so big.  The crust was wonderfully delicate and crispy made from phyllo dough rather than pastry. Cool shavings of fennel lined the base adding a fresh salad to the dish.  Numerous pieces of perfectly poached salmon sat on top along with sweet grilled peppers, thinly slice radishes and a soft boiled quail egg. Dots of basil dressing decorated the dish and added further flavour to the lightly seasoned tart. This was my favourite dish from my menu and this easily can be offered as a standalone main at any of Gordon Ramsay’s other restaurants.

After such a flawless start the miso glazed cod was a bit of a let-down. Don’t get me wrong, all the individual ingredients were cooked perfectly – the fish flakey, squid tender, shitake mushrooms meaty and Shanghai bok choy crispy. Rather, the black quinoa and lapsang souchong broth were throwing me off.  I didn’t realize that black quinoa isn’t fluffy but rather harder, more granular and has a nutty flavour; in the end, resembling sesame seeds.  Somehow, I just didn’t like the grainy texture with the cod. Lapsang souchong is essentially a Chinese smoked black tea which in itself doesn’t have much flavour – in Chinese cooking it’s often mixed with soy sauce or other ingredients rather than being by itself.  The dish did have some miso with it, but I didn’t find it pronounce enough so the fish just seemed like it was sitting in a strong tea broth which was slightly bland.

On the other hand, my husband’s experience with his menu was the complete opposite. His appetizer of seafood ravioli certainly looked promising when it was presented - a single oversized plump ravioli sitting in a sorrel velouté and bisque sauce with a dollop of expensive oscietra caviar on top. The ravioli was wonderful with its thin pasta dough barely containing a hefty mixture of lobster, langoustine (aka prawns/shrimp) and salmon. But the sorrel sauce, a leafy herb, has an acquired taste and personally we found the acidic tang slightly off putting.  I know Michelin star chefs need to be inventive and use little known ingredients, but really, I would have much rather the ravioli just be paired with a simple cream sauce, maybe laced with some truffle oil.

But, his main of pig done five ways more than made up for the lackluster starter.  Distinct portions of each are laid out on a white plate with a simple jus connecting everything.  Starting from left to right was a roasted loin/chop? very tender and went well with the smooth, thick and caramel like apple sauce.  The cute cabbage roll was another traditional but tasty portion to the offerings.  Where the dish shone was suckling pig, so crispy yet light it can certainly stand up to the Chinese and Catalonian versions I’ve had in my life.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten much about the next style other than it having a squashed potato underneath it. Lastly, was a sausage which was plump and juicy having just a hint of spice (this also went well with the smashed potato).

Before dessert was brought out, we were treated to slim glasses of passion fruit milk shake to cleanse the palate. I especially enjoyed the glass straws sitting within the thick liquid.

My dessert, a take on the classic banana, peanut butter and chocolate mixture, was delicious.  Each part of the dish was unassuming but went well together and allowed you to mix and match the sweetness of the caramelized bananas with the paper thin dark chocolate sheets.  The middle log appeared to be a banana and vanilla ice cream rolled into a nutty toffee mixture.  Lastly, a scoop of rich peanut butter mousse rounds out everything having a slight saltiness to it.  

The apple tarte tatin my husband and father-in-law shared was much more impressive arriving table side still warm in the pan.  It’s cut in half and then placed onto a caramel drizzle decorated plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  The flakey pastry was soaked with butter and sweet thin caramel with a generous portion of soft apples in the middle. This was my first taste of the dessert and I love this indulgent take on the apple tart / upside down cake.

Before we moved onto coffee, a silver dish was brought out and when the dome lifted truffles of white chocolate strawberry ice cream sat amongst billowing dry ice. The sweet in itself really isn’t anything spectacular – cold strawberry ice cream encased in a crisp white chocolate crust – but the presentation is certainly exhilarating.  Gordon Ramsay was nice enough to bring another dome just so the one guest who away from the table when the first was brought out could experience it for themselves.

Rosewater Turkish delights and chocolate truffle squares were the petit fours accompanying our coffee and tea. Since I was stuffed by this point, I only tried the Turkish delight which was delicate yet had such a powerful rosewater taste… it’s an acquired taste that I liked.  Thankfully, they weren’t too sugary and were a great last bite.

 

Visiting Restaurant Gordon Ramsay was one of the most anticipated parts of my trip. So much so that I planned this restaurant last so that its magnificence wouldn’t overshadow everything else we tried. Regrettably, I really didn’t need to worry about this happening; overall, Gordon Ramsay was good but really not as magical as I had built it up to be in my mind. But, at least a foodie dream has been satisfied! Although, if anyone can tell me how to get a reservation for the one of Hell’s Kitchen’s final episodes, I can be enticed to try Mr. Ramsay’s creations again.     

Overall mark - 7 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!

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Urbanspoon





CLOSED: Spuntini (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 116 Avenue Road
Type of Meal: Dinner

Spuntini’s atmosphere is pretty stereotypical of a posh Italian restaurant – dim lighting supplemented with candles, a dark wood motif and walls upon walls of wine bottles.  It’s cozy and comforting, much like the food, and date night friendly if you can score a spot along the walls away from the other tightly packed tables.

Despite the romantic environment, coming here with 2+ people is recommended due to large portion and sharing appetizers are a must if you want a chance at eating your main.  On our visit, we went with five people and chose two dishes to share as starters:
  • Burrata with prosciutto ($14.95) a big hunk of soft and creamy burrata arrives on top of a toasted crostini with a pile of tissue thin prosciutto and peppery arugula salad.  Without a doubt, the one slice of bread is not enough, but Spuntini does provide a bread basket so everyone could easily grab a piece from there.  The fresh burrata was fairly neutral so did require some cured prosciutto to give it flavour.  For someone who does not eat meat and is sharing this with others it would be nice to have more of the condensed balsamic vinegar on the plate to complement the cheese.


  • Although the gnocchi quattro formaggio ($15.95) is actually a main, we all wanted to try it without having an entire portion as it sounds so rich. So, we asked for it to be brought out as an appetizer instead and shared amongst the table. The gnocchi were plump and soft (believe due to adding ricotta to it); I favor the regular potato mix resulting in a harder pasta but this really is a matter of preference as the rest of the table loved it.  The four-cheese sauce made with asiago, gorgonzola, parmigiano and bocconcini was absolutely delicious and a good combination of strong, creamy and mild cheeses so it wasn’t overpowering.  Added cream made this even more decadent and certainly made us glad we decided to share this.

The ravioli di soraia ($18.95) contained five squares of ravioli filled with a delicious seafood mousse (tasting more of crab than lobster).  Perhaps I've been spoiled with my recent UK ravioli experiences but found the dough too thick and filling too sparse; I’d much rather the dish be shrunk down to four smaller raviolis and have more of the crab/lobster mixture in each one.  The sauce of sage, butter and white wine was nice and the slivers of fennel and peppers on top were also good.


My friend's osso bucco, a daily special, was amazing!  Although it was soft from being braised in red wine, the veal shank still held its shape and looked appealing.  Served with the bone, the marrow was left intact and could be easily pushed out and smeared across a piece of bread.  Having only started eating it over the last three years, bone marrow is still a hit or miss (with most experiences not that great).  

This may sound gross, but if you’ve never tried it, it’s the consistency of fat but doesn’t actually taste like it.  The flavour is pretty mild and normally takes on whatever it’s seasoned with, but the jelly like texture can sometimes be off putting. Generally, I like it when it’s been braised for a long time so that all traces of blood are gone and the marrow is able to absorb some of the braising liquid’s flavour. Overall, Spuntini’s was one of my better experiences with bone marrow and the lamb itself also delicious.


Some other dishes I had a bite to try included the rigatoni portobello ($15.95), which had intense mushroom flavours; something other than Portobello mushrooms had to be added to this to make it so earthy.  The pasta was done well and the addition of a bit of pesto and cream balanced everything quite nicely.  Another rich dish made for sharing.


The angonoltti alla California ($16.95) was another filled pasta except using a ricotta & spinach mixture and the pasta being half-moon shaped.  My comment on the filling to pasta ratio remains the same with this dish but I did enjoy the flavourful rose sauce.



If you’re looking for a lighter choice, the spaghetti alla chitara ($14.95) would be perfect.  It’s simply dressed with a garlic, lemon and olive oil mixture but still packs a lot of flavour.  The pasta has more bite and taste to it, on account of being made with whole wheat, and went well with the wilted rapini and roasted cherry tomatoes.



By the end of the meal we were STUFFED, with some having to take their mains to go.  But, we did order a scoop of the hazelnut gelato ($9?) to share. It was deliciously home-made tasting with small pieces of hazelnuts adding a great nutty texture against the smoothness of the ice cream.  Also, it was sweet enough to satisfy without being overpowering.


Spuntini was certainly busy during our Friday visit with all the tables filled and a constant stream of turnover.  I can see why they are so popular – good flavours, huge portions and an unhurried environment that allows for wine and conversation.

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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this: