Showing posts with label sharing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sharing. Show all posts

Kinship (Washington)


Kinship is a restaurant where they want diners to feel connected. There are aspects to the environment that help: a quiet atmosphere so you can actually have a conversation; and the tables are narrow enough that you’re physically closer to each other. Of course, the act of breaking bread already creates a connection. Especially, if dishes are shared amongst the table - there’s a “for the table” section of the menu dedicated to this.

It’s also a Michelin starred restaurant that doesn’t feel stuffy. You feel welcomed in jeans and they actually offer an à la carte menu with enough choices that you don’t feel forced into a tasting option. They’ll walk you through the menu’s layout, the dishes arrange into sections such as ingredient, indulgence, craft, tradition, and for the table. Truthfully, I don’t remember the nuances of the segments other than tradition is the historical favourites.

The best dish of the night was a “craft” selection. The short shell crab tempura ($24) was stuffed with a bit of herb puree, delicately battered and cooked to perfection. The batter was crispy but seasoned with just enough flavour to not cover the crab. With the seafood being so hot, the coolness of the relish made from garlic chives, shiitake, chili pepper and jicama was such a great contrast – refreshing and spicy. 


Having worked at the French Laundry and Per Se, Chef Eric Ziebold is no stranger to sauces. You’ll find a variety of them used in the spring chickpea falafel ($16) dish: a light yoghurt lebneh, rouille mousee, and a bright cucumber vierge. You’ll need these sauces as the falafel itself, albeit a fluffy texture, doesn’t stand out much in terms of taste.


Meanwhile, the cauliflower terrine ($15) is thick and remarkably tastes like chicken liver mousse. Yet, the accompanying crunchy carrot and fennel salad was much too sweet and didn’t really add to the dish. A long lentil cracker covers the plate, but with the richness of the terrine you really needed more than one.


The chilled ponzu braised celtuce ($16) is a love it or hate it dish, which for me fell into the later camp. The main ingredient, the celtuce (a celery lettuce) was sparse and so fried that it could have been any leafy green. The crunchy daikon slices were the most prominent taste and sadly the rice cakes were hard cubes of rice (not unlike a stale sushi pizza) instead of the chewy Korean rice cakes I was expecting.


Luckily, the meal ended off strong with a huge slab of grilled piri piri beef ($74). With different thicknesses along the tri tip, it naturally creates a selection of meat with varying doneness. Like it medium? The middle piece is for you! A bit more well done? Go for an end piece. While the cut of meat is a bit leaner than I normally like, it’s nonetheless flavourful and tender.


It’s stunning to look at as well, sitting on a bed of bright braised yucca studded with sweet peppers and carrots. For some extra flavour apply a liberal spoon of the red chili chimichurri, it’s delicious. A bowl of creamy polenta also come with the dish – silky and creamy it’s made even better with, you got it, more chimichurri.


If that isn’t enough, warm house-made Parker house rolls sits on the side. They are soft and buttery, eat them while they’re hot.


As my first dinner in Washington, Kinship was decent but lacked the well-rounded impressiveness of other Michelin restaurants. The soft shell crab was absolutely delicious, but then the celtuce is such a bipolar dish that didn’t really excite the table (except with one guest). Yet, Kinship is centrally located and as Michelin starred restaurants go, offers an affordable menu with a fair number of options. And that first meal, did make me feel more connected with my colleagues before the start of the conference. I guess Kinship achieved its purpose.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Washington, USA
 Address: 1015 7th Street NW

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

Grey Gardens (Toronto)

With all the buzz about Grey Gardens, Jen Agg's new co-owned restaurant, I knew I'd have to go. Having never been to Black Hoof, due to their no reservations policy (Grey Gardens, thankfully, accepts them), it’d be my chance to experience the creations of a restauranteur I’ve only heard about for so long. I admire her do-things-my-way attitude and outspokenness of the gender inequality issues within Toronto’s hospitality industry. Finally, I’d taste what people wait in line for.

Browsing through their whimsical website, where the staff descriptions are so candid and funny, I thought for sure this would be the place for me. I like restaurants with good food, but skip the frou frou I’m-too-fancy-for-you attitude; Grey Garden’s laid back jokiness seems like they would welcome all walks of life. But then, after one dinner, I'm not so sure that they really care about their diners' comfort ... sure they’re not snobby, but it's definitely not a place that makes you want to sit and stay (I’ll expand at the end of the post).

Thankfully, the kitchen makes good food. The chefs really know how to combine flavours and textures to create an interesting dish that’s not fussy. Indeed, I was glad to see co-owner Chef Mitchell Bates at the pass of the open kitchen, commanding in a quiet and serious manner. These dishes are coming out right.

Although the chips in the smoked fish chips ‘n’ dip ($13) looked overdone, when combined with the rich fish, the stronger earthy potato flavor of the chip went so nicely with the creamy fish, it certainly didn’t get lost. To balance out the stronger flavours were bits of red onion and chives - each bite ends with a lovely zippiness.


Dig into the sea of crunchy vegetable bits and you’ll find cubes of delicate raw scallop ($16) sitting in a silky crema on the bottom. The dish is crunchy and smooth, slightly spicy but mellows out with the creama, and overall refreshing. A similar contrast exists with the snow pea ($16) salad where slices of squid lay throughout combining the soft oceany meat with crisp raw peas. Eat it by itself and then add a bit of the citrusy aioli on the side, the creamy sauce completely changes the taste of the slightly peppery salad. 


Grey Garden’s seafood focused menu continues to impress with the shrimp and spinach ($24), which is surprisingly strong compared to the simple menu description. The large sweet shrimp are tossed into a lovely buttery sauce that has a hint of garlic but not as overwhelming as scampi. Whereas the previous seafood starters were light and refreshing, this dish is rich and comforting.


Even the sunchokes ($22) incorporate large flakes of salted cod giving the well roasted root vegetables interest. Given the sunchokes have a more full-bodied flavor, it’s also paired with a creamy sauce and pieces of black olive, which can hold up against the starch.


The noodles in the alkaline ($24) were fresh and chewy, covered in a wonderful salty yuzu kosho sauce. An abundance of clams and diced octopus helped to add a meatiness to the dish. For a pasta, it’s a rather small portion so you can easily have a bowl of the alkaline and smaller plates to make a full meal. It was delicious and I could have easily devoured a bowl to myself.


Compared to the other dishes, the pickerel ($28) was the most “normal”. The filet was simply seared and arrives with a lovely golden crust, while the sides are well balanced - English peas a bright spring addition compared to the earthiness of the morels and fingerling potatoes.


If you couldn’t tell already, the food is wonderful, there wasn’t anything I didn’t enjoy that evening. Therefore, it pains me to say I can’t recommend Grey Gardens as its environment was just so uncomfortable.

Despite making reservations two months in advance, our table of five was squished into a table of four – if we weren’t petite there’s no way we’d fit. To make matters worse, the tables are already so close together that it was even difficult to have our purses on the bench with us. 

Moreover, if everyone’s going to be packed like sardines, at least invest in adequate air conditioning - it was sweltering with the open kitchen. Who knows, maybe it’s Grey Garden’s way of giving diners a taste of the conditions their chefs endure. Believe me, I know your jobs aren't easy and respect and admire everything it takes to create such tasty dishes. I don’t need to sweat through my dress to appreciate your craft!

The search description on their website notes, “You can never be all things to all people, but you can make a restaurant that meets all your needs, and maybe other people's too.” I’m not demanding person, but focusing on a restaurant’s need to generate revenue (by packing seats into small real estate) and lower operating costs (by skimping on air conditioning), doesn’t create something that will meet other people’s needs too.

Who knows, maybe if  I went under different conditions - in the winter, with only a table for two, and reserving a seating as soon as the restaurant opens (so the heat and crowds haven’t built up) - I may have glowing reviews about Grey Gardens. However, without ideal conditions, the food isn't good enough to warrant eating in such an uncomfortable environment. In this day and age, there are tons of great Toronto restaurants where I can get fantastic fare and not subject myself to being cramped and sweaty.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 199 Augusta Avenue

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:


Grey Gardens Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bar Buca (Toronto)

When a restaurant doesn’t take reservations, you learn to arrive early to avoid the wait. Visiting Bar Buca earlier has its perks: from 4pm to 7pm diners who order a drink receive an aperitivo platter to munch on. During our visit, it consisted of cubes of mortadella & fontina, small soft olives, focaccia toasts and deliciously tart pickled dandelion leaves. The original “tapas” bar of the neighbourhood, aperitivo is the practice of having drinks and nibbles before dinner. The fact that you can continue dinner in the same establishment? That’s the ideal Canadian way. 


Their Winterlicious menu sounded delicious and thankfully included their regular offerings. Although the sardella looks simple - like some sort of spread on toast - the vivid flavours are a far cry from simple. The fermented smelts paste on the bottom has a wonderful brininess, while the hits of chili is slightly calmed by the creamy burrata on top.


Bar Buca’s crudo uses thick slices of Guelph arctic char topped with a liberal sprinkling of squid ink salt and fennel fronds. The Chef suggests eating the fish first and reserving the crostini to sop up the remaining smoked olive oil. We happily obliged, who am I to question someone that can make such a tasty dish?


The barbabietole should have been served first, as after two stronger dishes the salt baked beets topped with pistachio seemed plain and non-memorable. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty dish and if you enjoy beets they were prepared nicely.


Crisp bits of pig ear, cheek and other facial features followed, lightly dusted with salt and chili slices should you want the heat. All the greasy crunchiness would have gone wonderfully with beer… not horrible with wine either.


What will have me returning to Bar Buca are their schiacciata, fragrant oily Tuscan flatbread with the richness of focaccia but slightly denser. Cut into quarters, it’s great for sharing and given their heaviness, you’ll likely want to split with a friend.


The porchetta contained plenty of pieces of plump roasted pork drizzled with an herby aioli. I would have liked the apple mostarda to be cut into smaller pieces as the large chunks of sweet fruit was too much for me.


Meanwhile, the salsicce version made with slices of grilled pork and fennel sausage was better balanced. Along with the lean sausage there was roasted bell peppers, sweet cipollini onions, arugula that helped cut through the greasiness and a thin layer of soft scamorz cheese. The sandwich was molto delizioso!


After so many indulgent dishes, the caponata di romanesco, a roasted cauliflower and eggplant mixture in a vinegary tomato sauce, should have been a great ending. But, something about the spices (could have been nutmeg or anise) gave the vegetables a Middle Eastern taste that didn’t go with the meal.


To end, we shared a plate of pastries. The cannoli was tasty with plenty of ricotta cream studded with chocolate chips. I also enjoyed the chewy amaretti cookie dusted with powdered sugar. The torta cioccolatino is extremely chocolaty (imagine a flourless chocolate cake with extra unsweetened cocoa powder) and should be shared. While the jam filled shortbread should not as it turns to dust if you attempt to cut through it.  


I rather enjoyed Bar Buca’s small plates experience. In an era when menus in restaurants are swinging towards the tapas route, I find some dishes are really not most conducive for sharing (is a hunk of short rib really the best thing)? But all the items work at Bar Buca. Add some wine and special friends, then you’re in for a wonderful evening.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Is Winterlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Winterlicious - $25
Regular menu - $31 - sardella ($6), crudo ($6), porchetta ($14) and dessert* ($5)
Savings - $6 or 19%
* Dessert based on a wild guess from me

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 75 Portland 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:



Bar Buca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato