Showing posts with label roasted eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label roasted eggplant. Show all posts

Es Ventall (Ibiza)

While Es Ventall is set within the city limits of Sant Antoni, walk into the restaurant and you’re transported into an idyllic oasis especially while dining al fresco. Sitting in the courtyard is oddly calming, amongst nature and the enormous fig tree, giving the establishment a charm that’s difficult to replicate elsewhere.  

For diners who aren’t familiar with Ibizan cuisine, Es Ventall’s menu is descriptive listing out the individual ingredients and eliciting a sense of excitement to see how things tie together. The Ibizan tomatoes salad (19€) starts with a bed of ripe chopped tomatoes and tops it with a full burrata, which when broken creates a creaminess to the dish. Strawberries and basil add an interesting refreshing element, but I would have skipped the crunchy pistachios that detract from the silkiness of the salad.

I can’t turn down trying a roasted aubergine (17€), which when done well takes the spongy eggplant and turns it into a creamy concoction. Es Ventall whole roasts the vegetable until it’s soft but still holds its shape and smears a sugary praline and fruit mixture on top. The dish is too dessert-like for me, I wish the praline spread was replaced with something savoury that would go better with the basil cream.

Our waiter describes the tomato and grilled prawn salad (26€) as being smaller, which is an understatement as the dish is truly skimpy. To call the crustaceans on the plate as grilled “prawns” is misleading, the thumb sized items are spot prawn sized, which are generally served by the half cup than individually. These Ibiza prawns are equally sweet, but given their petite size, the chef really needs to give more of these on the plate or at least leave them in the shell.

At the very least, serve the “prawns” with more than a scant quartered tomato, crème fraiche, and an oil sorbet that while adds a lovely richness, melts into nothingness. For the price, this dish needs more tomatoes, other vegetables, and a helping of grilled crostini to swipe up the sauces.

We didn’t order the cuttlefish and Ibiza prawns’ paella with aioli (24€ per serving; a three serving portion pictured below), but the kitchen mistakenly mixed up our order with another table, so we ended up having it as our main. While the dish had a lovely aroma, the rice was awfully salty reminding me of the soy sauce tasting concoction I had in Barcelona a decade earlier. Perhaps this is the traditional way of preparing paella, but the saltiness is so pungent that it detracts from the seafood and the rice becomes saturated in sauce that there’s no crispy bottom. This paella was a bust.

It's a shame, as I had really wanted to try the fideua, a dish that’s made paella style but switches out the rice for pasta instead. For one, it’s rarely seen elsewhere, and I love trying new creations. Alas, the humid August heat was getting to us and despite the miniscule starters our hunger simply went away. Sitting al fresco may be idyllic and romantic but give me air conditioning instead. 

Overall mark - 5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Ibiza, Spain
 Address: Carrer de Cervantes, 22

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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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Cafe Landwer (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

There are some dishes that do better as takeout than others and sadly the items from Café Landwer are best eaten at the restaurant. Landwer recognizes this fact, as their menu has morphed to include more travel-friendly offerings like sandwiches, pastas, and pizza. Luckily, it’s always been an eclectic mix of ethnicities and choices, so these new additions don’t seem out of place.

The sinia kebab ($19) was almost like a hearty pizza anyways, a base of their soft chewy pita that’s slathered with tahini and then topped with a full charbroiled eggplant, large hunks of roasted tomato and red onion, and chickpeas for added texture. Of course, there’s cubes of the namesake beef kebab topping everything - they a bit tougher, but still has the nice balance of spices and flavours. It’s something the rest of the flatbread ingredients lack, relying merely on the tahini, which isn’t powerful enough to flavour the dish. It’s something a crack of salt and pepper at home helps to improve.

With all the juicy vegetable toppings on the flatbread, it does get soggy in the middle. Do yourself a favour and cut it into quarters and give it 8-10 minutes in a hot oven. This really helps make the flatbread handle better and gives the ingredients a chance to heat up. If you’re hungry, just start with the chopped salad it comes with to tide you over (another thing a crack of salt doesn’t hurt).

In fact, 6-8 minutes in the oven is what all their pizzas need. It does melt the cheese on the burrata pizza ($16.95) so that it pools out over everything, but cold tomato sauce isn’t really my thing. Next time, I’m going to remove the cheese from the pie before reheating and add it back afterwards. It’s a dish we’ll certainly re-order - a simple pizza like a margherita but creamier and more decadent thanks to the burrata.  

Even Café Landwer felt something was amiss with the feta and eggplant pizza ($18.95) as I now see it’s been removed, and the feta’s been swapped with mascarpone cheese instead. It’s true, the big cubes of soft feta cheese were a bit jarring to have in one bite and should have been cut into smaller pieces; a spreadable mascarpone would be much easier to combine with everything.

Let’s hope the replacement also takes the black olives and cuts them down a bit. Indeed, Café Landwer doesn’t skimp on ingredients, but adding so many olives simply overpowered everything, including the delicate roasted eggplant. In my mind a ratio of 40% eggplant, 40% cheese, and 20% olives would work the best.

It might seem strange to order a burger ($18) from the restaurant – my poor husband, who must get a weeknight burger from Café Landwer, just so there’s vegetarian options for my flexitarian diet. Needless to say, I didn’t try it. He notes that while the bun could be refresher, the burger isn’t bad. It not as good as a gourmet burger found elsewhere but does remind him of the ones you used to get in the 80s/90s at neighbourhood joints.

In fact, one bite of the fries accompanying the burger and I get what he means. They’re likely the mass frozen variety, but I’m transported back to Van Horne plaza where I’d tuck into an order of these same flour laced spuds at the fish & chips place. Strangely, these lukewarm not fully crispy fries were what we spoke about the most and finished completely. The taste of nostalgia.

If all else fails, the chicken shawarma hummus ($16) is always a safe bet. It’s perhaps a tad waterier than having it at the restaurant, but the chickpea base is just as smooth and luscious and there’s just as many tender pieces of chicken on top. The tightly wrapped flatbread is perhaps the hottest thing in the order and perfect for ripping apart and tucking into while waiting for the other items to reheat.

Like most people, I can’t wait until we can eat out at restaurants again – spring patios, please arrive soon! Café Landwer’s outdoor dining is where you’ll find me, tucking into dishes like the shaksuka that definitely isn’t made for delivery. Until then, kudos to Café Landwer for hustling and creating new options to weather the COVID takeout needs. While it doesn’t live up to your regular menu, I appreciate the tenacity. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Various locations
 Delivery: Uber and Skip the Dishes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!

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