Showing posts with label risotto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label risotto. Show all posts

Le Petit Chef (Richmond Hill)


When visual artists Antoon Verbeeck and Filip Sterckx got together to create animation projects in 2011, little did they know they would develop Le Petit Chef, a 3D projection dining experience that features a little non-speaking clumsy chef that finds himself facing hairy situations while creating dishes for his diners. If the Three Stooges were two inches tall and had any culinary talent, they might have become petit chefs as well.

In 2015, the duo developed Le Petit Chef as part of their Belgium company Skullmapping and created a video to showcase to potential clients. Posted on YouTube, the video was picked up by mainstream viewers and went viral. Since then, Le Petit Chef has stumbled its way onto tables worldwide in over 50 countries and even travels the world with Celebrity Cruises. 

The little guy finally made its way into Canada at Jokers Theatre and Comedy Club in Richmond Hill, where an intimate room hosts the dinner with two to three seating daily. At $129.99 (plus taxes and gratuities) for a 5-course meal, it’s probably not something you’ll visit regularly. Still, it is an interesting technology to experience and something you can bring children to as well – note, they suggest children be 6 or older and offer a ‘Junior Chef’ menu ($64.99) for those 10 and under. 

Without giving too much away, you enter the space and tables are already set with plates precisely placed for the projection. In case you fidget with the plate, when the animation begins, the video shows you where to move your plate back to. Before each course, a ~3-minute video is shown where Le Petit Chef creates a dish in a slapstick manner and when the projection stops your dish is presented in real life.


Despite having to serve over 30 people in short succession, the dishes were prepared well. The bouillabaisse arrives hot and the tomato saffron broth great to the last spoonful, even though it looked a little watery. Studded with a piece of fish, calamari, shrimps, and a mussel, the squid stood in for the octopus featured in the video, so while not necessarily accurate was close enough. 


It would be nice if Jokers creates something closer to the dish just seen in the video. The little chef throws lettuce leaves onto his caprese salad di bufala, but our plate is leafless, the bulb of fresh buffalo mozzarella simply adorned with wedges of tomato and a basil leaf. Not exactly screaming of a fulsome salad. 


Similarly, Le Petit Chef roasts an entire chicken for the third course, but when the smoked chicken and wild mushroom risotto was served it was merely a mound of rice with miniscule mushrooms to boot. Jokers could easily smoke a handful of chicken breasts and include one or two slices on top of the truffle-laced risotto to really enhance the experience. 


After the first three courses, I was a little worried: the portions were really small, I was already thinking of where we could go afterwards. I recommend Jokers add some easy and inexpensive ingredients to the dishes to make them look a bit more substantial: spinach or arugula for the salad, a piece of toasted baguette with the bouillabaisse, and smoked chicken slices for the risotto. 

Luckily, the filet mignon au poivre was much larger, the palm-sized steak cooked to the requested medium rare and covered with a lovely peppercorn sauce. The main also includes a host of sides with the roasted potato and parsnip purée being a little more substantial. 


Our French meal ended with a sizeable crème brûlée that was superbly done with a silky vanilla custard, a thin sugar crust that easily cracked on impact, and some fresh berries to create a colourful ending. In the end, we all left satisfied but not stuffed.


Indeed, the videos are a little cheesy, but the adults in the room laughed and enjoyed the experience as much as the younger guests. I liked the sense of whimsy created and was even disappointed when Le Petit Chef didn’t make his way back to say goodbye in the wrap-up video. I guess hospitality isn’t the strongest amongst the French. 

It would have also been nice to give something to the children to take home after the meal. Even a small token like a sticker decal would work wonders at enhancing the user experience and could also create word-of-mouth advertising if they’re stuck somewhere prominent. 

With the option of a 6pm or 8pm seating, we opted for an earlier dinner. It worked out well as we were invited to stay for the live-comedy show that was starting in an hour and could skip the normal $25 cover charge – not sure how long this perk will last. The entertainment line-up changes depending on the day, Jokers also features magicians, hypnotists, and live-band karaoke during the week. 

As a plus, for those who are still hungry, you can order more food from Jokers normal menu and the dishes look huge. Just look at the size of my Spanish coffee!


All in all, not a bad way to spend $200 and five hours on a Saturday night. It was a night full of laughs – first with a cartoon chef and afterwards through much racier jokes from local comedians. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 115 York Boulevard


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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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Great Room @ The Long Beach Lodge Resort (Tofino)


My expectation for hotel restaurants is guarded – they’re generally adequate but rarely outstanding and tend to be overpriced. Still, after a long drive into Tofino from Victoria, all we wanted to do was take in the beach, eat, and go back to our lovely quaint cottage at the Long Beach Resort. Food wasn’t a top priority; we took what we could get in terms of a last-minute reservation at the Great Room restaurant situated in the resort.

Then a plate of beef tartare ($21) was presented and one bite in I knew the Great Room would impress. The steak was cut into perfectly sized pieces that were small enough to let the condiments permeate the meat but not become a minced meat texture. The seasonings, despite the variety of herbs, sauces, and shavings worked together and didn’t detract from the vibrant high quality olive oil. The dish was great, but their service could rise a notch if someone warned the kitchen we were a four-top, so that they could adjust the appetizer to include eight crostini to make it easier to share. 


Our dinner at Long Beach kicked off consecutive days of eating halibut and their halibut for two ($89) was one of the better versions we sampled. The fish was cooked until flaky and properly seasoned, not an easy feat for such a large thick piece of meat. The platter could have fed three people with all the sides that was included: smoked kelp butter roasted potatoes (tasty but could be cooked longer to create a crispy crust) and kelp and cabbage coleslaw (the kelp creates a unique twist and was cleaned well so that it was refreshing against the meaty halibut). 


I was thoroughly impressed with the well caramelized crust on the scallops ($43), which didn’t leave the shellfish overcooked. You won’t leave the Great Room hungry as the dish included a hefty portion of the charred corn risotto and six sizeable scallops. For the risotto, the kitchen uses corn in lieu of butter and cheese so while the grains seem decadent it wasn’t heavy. My friend and I agreed that while we love corn, it did start to overpower the dish so a bit more rice wouldn’t hurt. 


We ended up having such a great meal that we stayed longer at the Great Room, transitioning to the couches by the fireplace to converse rather than going back to our cottage. A wonderful way to start the Tofino trip and to allow us to take in the beach from a comfortable and dry space. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Tofino, Canada
 Address: 1441 Pacific Rim Hwy


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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LOV (Toronto)


LOV looks like your typical vegan hipster restaurant – sparkling white everything with hints of greens and natural contrasts. Just looking at the dining room makes you feel healthier. For a moment, you wonder if you should skip the wine and order kombucha instead… then you remember how terrible it tastes and order a bottle of Prosecco instead. They’re both carbonated - same same, but different.

Once you start with the wine, it goes downhill from there. Somehow, two orders of fries end up at the table. The LOV poutine ($11) looks great smothered with plenty of miso gravy and vegan mozzarella but tastes like fries covered with a flavourless thick sauce. Stick with the kimchi fries ($8) instead, which at least has the fermented cabbage and a creamy sesame dressing for interest.


Perhaps an order of Brussel sprouts ($9) to keep everything healthy? They’re deep fried and smothered with way too much of that tangy buffalo sauce.  


And then the Zen salad ($16) arrives and the guilt momentarily washes away. It’s a tasty combination of konjac noodles, shredded vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, daikon, carrots), and the extras thrown in for flavour and contrast (chilis and cashew). Maybe healthier options are better at LOV as this was the best of the starters. I thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing cilantro and mint elements. What? Am I a secret healthy eater?


Then I take a bite of the mushroom risotto ($19) and taste my favourite dish of the night. Done traditionally, the creamy rice and peas would have been good, but is made even better with the roasted oyster mushrooms. Okay, so perhaps I haven’t turned into nutritionist.


Yet, the LOV lasagna ($19) didn’t really excite. While the pasta looked delicious smothered with the vegan mozzarella and cashew cream, it tasted bland. The best part of the plate was perhaps the Caesar salad.


The gnocchi di casa ($20) was an interesting take on the classic Italian dish, except at LOV it’s made with sweet potato and buckwheat so there’s antioxidant and fibre strewn throughout the dish. The sweetness did help balance the hemp, basil and arugula pesto, which by itself could have been too strong.


Aside from the risotto, it’s the coconut curry ($18) that impressed. Who would have thought cubes of squash and carrots with a blanched kale could be so delicious when smothered in a cashew and coconut milk curry?


You should definitely heed the advice of those working at LOV, they know what’s tasty. Our choice of desserts, the crème brûlée ($8) and cheesecake ($7) were both good, for vegan alternatives, but run-of-the-mill.


Our waitress highly suggested the chocolate carmelita ($5), a dessert I didn’t think I’d enjoy, but had me reaching for another bite. It’s like having a chocolate butter tart bar but with the texture (and lack of stickiness) of a date square. Our table can certainly sing it praises.



For a place that looks so healthy, LOV’s menu does have its fair share of comfort foods. But perhaps what’s most surprising is how much I enjoyed and even preferred the “healthier” options. Maybe the surroundings were rubbing off on me. Could it be, one day I may actually order kombucha? 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 620 King Street West
 Website: https://lov.com/en/

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!


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Coppi Ristorante (Toronto)


Coppi’s dining room is a tribute to Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi and you’ll notice elements of the sport throughout: from trail posters; spokes on the wall; to, my favourite, a whimsical fish made from bicycle parts. It’s an interesting choice of décor for a restaurant whose menu and overall ambiance is nothing like a sports bar. Rather, diners should expect classic Italian dishes that have a heavier focus on seafood.


Their signature dish, the pesce al sale ($43), takes a whole fish and bakes it encrusted in salt. Wheeled out still in the salty tomb, the fish is quickly filleted and dressed in a light lemon butter sauce. 


While the dish looks huge, after fileting the meat what’s leftover is smaller than you’d expect, but nonetheless sufficient as a main for one. The sea bass was remarkably moist and tender with such a clean taste that even someone who doesn’t like fish could be converted.


The risotto frutti di mare ($44) serves two, but with a few appetizers this could be stretched for three people (pictured below is a single portion). Dotted throughout the risotto were bits of clams, shrimp, squid, octopus and bay scallops all evenly disbursed so each bite had a couple of seafood items and helped to thoroughly scent the rice. Tuck in as soon as it arrives as it’s a lovely consistency but a tad more cooked than normal; should be it left longer, it may become too soft.


Coppi offers a variety of appetizers but truthfully the choices are rather safe and nothing seemed overly exciting. Their Caesar salad ($15) is heavy on the anchovy and light on garlic, making the flavours subtler and ideal for those who want a lighter tasting version of the salad. The burrate caprese ($19) is simple combination of quality ingredients: a decent portion of burrata mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and rich and bright olive oil that went especially well with the warm heavily salted baguette.


Personally, I rather have an appetizer portion of pasta instead. The pappardelle in the mare d monte ($18) arrives as silky slightly chewy ribbons and the sauce a light combination of shrimp, mushrooms, and tomato. It’s a great blend of sweet seafood, earthy fungi, and just a hint of something fresh.


The spaghetti used in the chitarra tirreno ($26 for a main portion) is interestingly square-shaped and could be a tad more al dante. Regardless, the san Marzano tomato sauce mixed with all the seafood tastes wonderful and is that lighted umami-laced tomato sauce I love with seafood pasta.


Seeing the baba di ricotta ($13) we were instantly intrigued to try an Italian version of rum baba, a traditional French dessert. A funnel of sponge cake is wrapped around sweetened ricotta, which is a great addition. However, the cake is hardly “soaked” in the rum syrup mixture as described on the menu and any rum flavour is non-existent. When I order this dessert, I want that hit of alcohol against the tongue before the sugar shines through! This is better described as sponge cake filled with ricotta and drizzled with sugar water.


Coppi’s tiramisu ($13) uses most of the typical ingredients (lady fingers, espresso, and mascarpone cream). Yet, seems to leave out the zabaglione layer so the dessert is creamy and sweet but doesn’t have that rich egg custard that really makes the dessert. It’s a bit disappointing when tiramisu at an upscale Italian restaurant is only a touch better than one found at the supermarket.


There are a number of Italian restaurants to choose from around the Yonge-Lawrence neighbourhood. Coppi’s menu trends towards being an upscale establishment and offers excellent mains and decent appetizers but passable desserts. What truly sets Coppi apart is the ambiance: space exists between tables and the table itself is also larger (where they sit two people, in other restaurants it’d hold four). The timing of dishes is also well-paced to allow a brief pause between dishes, but still quick enough to keep things under two hours. It’s a place that you’ll want to stay and catch up longer with guests. Just load up on the delicious pasta, maybe you won’t even need dessert.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3363 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:


Coppi Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Fare Bistro (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1097 Queen St East
Type of Meal: Dinner

The dark, jewel-toned candlelit restaurant certainly resembles a classic bistro and makes a great date location. However, with limited seating, you should make a reservation to avoid disappointment.  On the night of my visit with girlfriends, we found a similar crowd - groups of friends catching up over glasses of wine and traditional French cuisine.

We decided to start with their appetizer of the day, pork belly with tempura shrimp ($14). The shrimp was the better of the two proteins but I wouldn't consider it to be tempura - more like lightly battered. The pork belly, although crispy, was too lean for my taste; a thin layer of fat would have given it more flavour and contrast to the crisp skin.

I ordered the duck confit with a black current glaze ($26). It was refreshing to have a confit that wasn't overly salty so that the taste of duck could still be enjoyed. The meat was very tender and went well with the black current glaze. The skin could be rendered more as most parts of it were slightly soggy. Surprisingly, the crisp green beans accompanying the dish were one of the most enjoyable parts - perfectly cooked and flavoured.

You can't be at a bistro without trying the steak frites ($27) which is what one friend had. The frites were exactly what I like - fresh potatoes fried until they are crisp on the outside but still dense and flavourful in the middle, only lightly salted. The strip loin (?) was a generous portion and tender but lacked the stronger "black Angus" flavour I prefer.

My other companion had and the daily risotto ($25), on this day was with lamb and goat cheese. Keep in mind I'm basing this review on only one bite - I must say it's not what I like. The tangy goat cheese didn't merry well with lamb and risotto in my opinion. Its slightly grainy texture ruined the creaminess of what I enjoy about risottos.
Given I don't have a sweet tooth, I rarely order desserts. But, my friends are very different from me, so we ordered two things to share. If anything, I thought their desserts were the highlight in the meal.
  • The chocolate terrine was a cross between a ganache and mousse and was a melt-in-your-mouth creamy texture. It also went wonderfully well with the raspberry and vanilla custard sauces that decorated the dish.
  • The blackberry upside down cake was my favourite. Cooked in a skillet, the dish was served warm and topped with generous amounts of sweet black berries which baked right into the cake. I thoroughly enjoyed the plump blackberries popping in your mouth and combining with the sweet warm vanilla cake.

Dinner for three with a bottle of wine and three cafe au laits came to $199.
 
Overall mark - 7 out of 10

____________________________
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!