Showing posts with label sea bass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sea bass. Show all posts

CLOSED: Splendido (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 88 Harbord Street
Type of Meal: Dinner


Splendido has been a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time but never had the opportunity; my first chance to try their food came on the second last day of this year’s Summerlicious.  From the outside, Splendido is an unassuming restaurant that you may pass by if you don’t notice.  Inside, the dining room, although not very large, looks surprisingly spacious with its open layout and clean lines. A feature wall of pickled vegetables is a bit cliché but reminds you of its Italian roots.


The most interesting sounding appetizer on their menu was the perfect hen’s egg.  After having some amazing slow cooked eggs at Yours Truly and the Guild, I was eager to see how Splendido will accentuate the regular chicken egg and make it “perfect”.  Sadly, I think the entire dish was a miss and the egg wasn’t showcased at all.  A copious amount of foam arrived in a short tumbler with instructions to really dig in and get to the bottom.  Not being one to not follow instructions, I dug in expecting a perfectly cooked egg but found nothing but mushrooms, croutons, parley puree and TONS of foam… in fact, way too much foam.  Foamy parsley spoon after foamy parsley spoon didn’t reveal the anticipated egg, so the dinner started off disappointingly.
 


Luckily, the Mediterranean sea bass was much better.  The skin was pan fried to a lovely crispiness and presented on top of warm caponata and a cold fennel salad.  Caponata is a traditional Italian dish consisting of cooked eggplant and other vegetables (usually celery, carrots, peppers, etc.) in a sweet acidic sauce.  It added a good flavour to the mild fish and also worked well with the bread they served.  The dish could have been improved if the fish was cut a little thicker as it ended up being slightly overcooked and lacked the moist flakiness you normally expect.  But, overall was still an enjoyable dish.
My friend’s hangar steak was cooked well and arrived beautifully presented with large colourful wedges of tomatoes, a thick red pepper sauce and leaves of basil.  With droplets of balsamic around the dish, the hanger steak was certainly pretty to look at as much as it was tasty to eat.
Splendido offered on their Summerlicious menu side dishes (each a supplement of $5) including fries, brussel sprouts and a last dish I can’t remember.  We opted for some fries to share.  They were freshly made arriving hot and crispy, but the chef needs to lighten up on the seasoning as the fries on the bottom half were unbarably salty so we couldn’t finish them.
Surprisingly, the normal sounding dessert – strawberry lemon mille feuille - ended up being one of their most inventive.  Simple pieces of puff pastry was surrounded by pickled strawberries, macerated strawberries, raspberry sorbet, a lemon cream and plenty of toasted poppy seeds.  I loved the different flavours you got from the tarte pickled strawberries, sweet sorbet, light lemon cream and nutty poppy seeds.  The dish was one of those mix and match desserts you tried out to find what combination you liked best.   



Overall, two of the three dishes were good and delicious, yet nothing outstanding.  Toronto is filled with high end Italian restaurants, and for the same price point there are many tastier options out there.  Perhaps where they offer some advantage is their friendly and professional staff which are simply a pleasure to be around. When we made a bit of a mess they graciously cleaned everything up and even brought an extra napkin to cover the stain so no one would get dirty.  The down to earth attitude really helps to take the snootiness from the restaurant and makes you feel comfortable to just be casual and enjoy.   


Is Summerlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Summerlicious - $45

Regular menu - $60 - hen's egg* ($15), sea bass* ($32) and mille feuille ($13)

Savings - $15 or 25%

* All the items aren't on their regular menu; prices based on the lettuce salad, sea bream and mousse




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!








Ad Hoc (Rome)

Location: Rome, Italty
Address: Via di Ripetta, 43
Website: http://www.ristoranteadhoc.com/inglese/home.htm
Type of Meal: Dinner

 Interior of Ad Hoc (1)

Due to the restaurant’s popularity on TripAdvisor, I suggest you make reservations as we heard many people being turned away as we visited that night. Ad Hoc is a quaint restaurant filled with bottles and crates of wine on every wall which is befitting of an Italian restaurant - if you're a wine connoisseur I'm sure you'll love it!

We were started off with a complimentary amuse bouche and basket of assorted bread. The amuse bouche consisted of bread topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese mixture, it tasted much like what you’d receive on finger food platters.  I liked the bread basket more; there were so many small bites to try flavoured with paprika, olives, walnut, pesto or nothing at all. The best ones were sticks of pesto bread with a crispy and salty top and bottom with a fluffy centre.


Bread basket (1)
My warning is do not fill up on bread as the portions are big!


When I saw they had pumpkin blossoms as an appetizer I was excited – I love these delicate flowers that are wonderfully crispy and light when done right.  Ad hoc’s version of the Pumpkin Blossoms (14.90€) were fried and then stuffed with three ricotta cheese fillings - black truffle, asparagus and honey mushrooms.  As you can already see in the picture of the dish below, the blossoms were anything but light and crispy.  The blossoms were enormous and overly battered and stuffed.  The ricotta fillings were bland, the only one which had even a hint of flavour was the black truffle.  All the delicateness of what could have been a crispy blossom was gone. Instead, I felt I was eating an unseasoned pumpkin burrito.

Pumpkin blossoms (1)



My husband had the Tasting of Salami (14.90€) which consisted of generous portions of salami done four ways – whole cured (?), spicy, blood (?), and the typical fashion. Accompanying the salami were two crostinis topped with a thin slices of melted fat.  Personally, I’m not a fan of salami as the fattiness tends to be over powering but, the spicy and whole cured ones were good.  I would have liked the spicy one to incorporate more heat.  My husband, a cured meat lover, really enjoyed the dish.

 Tasting of salami (1)



My main, not pictured as unfortunately it’s a seasonal dish, was gnocchi with prawns and black truffle.  This dish redeemed the restaurant as the gnocchi was cooked perfectly (not too soft with a hint of chewiness) and well-seasoned with the black truffle butter sauce.  It’s really hard to go wrong when you’re mixing butter and truffles!  The prawns were cooked well; the prawns were a good size, fresh and had a hint of sweetness. The gnocchi was topped with a generous helping of freshly shaved black truffle which added to its decadence.


My husband's main of sea bass (24.00€) was beautifully presented with two fare sized portions of sea bass were wrapped with zucchini ribbons. The honey mushrooms accompanying the dish were delights – tasting like straw mushrooms with hint of sweetness and complimented the light sea bass fittingly. The dish also came with average mashed potatoes which by itself were bland but with the honey mushrooms were great.

 Sea bass (1)


We were too full for dessert but they presented us with some petite fours – licorice candy and soft almond, orange and gingerbread cookies. The gingerbread cookie topped with a drizzle of chocolate was the highlight, in my opinion.

The service was good, but they could have been more attentive with the wine.  Since the wine was not left at the table on ice, there were times our glass was empty and we wouldn’t be served more until the following course. The bill took a long time to arrive, but this could have been due to us receiving a 10% discount for booking online (a pleasant surprise I didn’t know about).

The bill totaled 114€ with a bottle of wine and still water after receiving the discount, but before service charges.


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!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html


Photo Sources:

  1. All pictures - Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d1381800-Reviews-Ad_Hoc-Rome_Lazio.html)