Showing posts with label steak and frites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steak and frites. Show all posts

CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Type of Meal: Dinner


John and Son's Oyster House has a comfortable environment. Open, airy and decorated with simple wooden decor there is plenty of light and suitable ambient noise to allow for louder conversation. Yet place settings are still polished with thick linen napkins and shiny cutlery. Plus, the lovely aroma of seafood cooking just adds to the experience.

Ordering off of their Summerlicious menu, I started with the crab cake. Thankfully, John and Son did not skimp on the dungeness crab. Tender and moist it easily flaked apart. I liked that the filling was not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the crab remained. Topped with a dollop of lemon aioli and placed on topped of some lightly dressed arugula this was a good starter.


My friends’ New England style chowders arrived piping hot, a pleasure when mass produced soup can sometimes become lukewarm when left in warming pots. They seemed pleased and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t too heavy despite being cream based.


The niçoise was beautifully presented with all the fresh and vibrant vegetables. Each element of the dish was thoughtfully prepared – the tuna evenly seared with a delicately salted crust, the asparagus retaining some crunch, the roasted tomato not too acidic and even the olives fantastic as not overly briny. But my favourite component was the soft boil egg that sat upon a bacon (?) aoili with crunched crunchy bacon bits on top; it left me wanting more.


Two good sized portions of wild haddock arrived in the fish and chips along with tons of fries and a side coleslaw. The fish was moist and flakey; although the batter a bit thick and oily for my taste. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy and reminded me of the Swiss Chalet delivery fries. They could have benefited from being fried twice. 


My friend's black angus flat iron steak was a respectable size but arrived undercooked (seemed rare when ordered medium rare). But, it looked juicy and succulent with a nice char to it. The fries were sadly the same soggy variety. 


In terms of the desserts most people preferred the frozen lemon mascarpone cheese cake. Creamy and fluffy with raspberries on top, it was a lighter dessert to end the meal.


I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut. With a sweet maple butter glaze and crunchy chocolate nut bits it had varying elements of salty & sweet and soft & crunchy. The doughnut could have been fried a tad longer as the middle was a bit soft and doughy.


The brownie was moist and chocolaty but we found it lacked the oomph the other desserts had. 


Service was efficient with dishes coming out in quick succession. Overall, it wasn't bad but could have been improved with two minor suggestions:
  1.  Be more attentive with refilling water. Although each table was given a large bottle for self-refills, once that was empty it wasn’t automatically replaced.
  2. More of a personal pet peeve, but I prefer finished dishes to be left and collected when the entire table is done (or in larger tables as sections are done). This ensures that slower diners don’t feel rushed and those who are finished still retain cutlery to sneak tastes off of a friend’s plate.


Overall, my choices were delicious and it felt nice to eat fresh vegetables and seafood so that I wasn’t overly stuffed at the end. John and Son is a nice choice (for seafood) and appears to have a great closed in patio ideal for summer days.


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 - $35

Regular menu - $49 - crab cake ($15), nicoise ($25) and doughnut ($9)

Savings - $14 or 29%

* The crab cake is based on their downtown menu price.



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
  • - 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!



Bodega (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 30 Baldwin Street
Website: http://www.bodegarestaurant.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner


Bodega is a quaint bistro situated in Baldwin Village. The dining area, split into two rooms, is more spacious than it appears; swathed with traditional dark woodwork and white linens. Despite the hushed surroundings, service is surprisingly friendly and boisterous putting diners are ease to let loose.

Of course, their cocktail hour from 4 to 6:30 also helps. What a great deal of $5 pints, $6 cocktails and $7 wine. You’re allowed to choose from anything on their menu. I tried the strawberry tonic (regularly $9) a refreshing concoction with gin, muddled strawberries, grapefruit bitters, thyme and tonic water. It was delicious and I’d highly recommend.


Bodega has a fairly extensive menu with even a few Spanish dishes thrown in the mix. Their affordable $35 prix fixe dinner is hard to turn down, so the majority of our table ended up ordering from that. The rabbit terrine appetizer was a generous slab (much meatier than expected for a lean animal). It wasn’t overly gamey and went well with the pommery mustard, gherkins and plenty of pieces of crostini.


Most of my friends opted for the grilled flat iron steak for their main. Adorned with shallot butter and crispy Yukon gold frites it was a satisfying portion for everyone. My friend thoroughly enjoyed the frites, but the crispy coating (perhaps from being tossed in flour?) wasn’t how I generally prefer fries made.


The grilled salmon I had was a big portion covered with rosemary, mustard and maple glaze. The maple syrup definitely stood out, to the point that it was a tad too sweet for my taste. The menu notes the dish is accompanied with fingerling potatoes and vegetables (roasted carrots and snow peas). But, it made no mention of the creamy sauce covering the sides. Personally, I could have done without it as found the creamy cheesiness mixed with the maple’s sweetness to be an odd combination. But, the salmon itself was cooked nicely.


My friend ordered the roasted pork tenderloin ($24) off of their a la carte menu. As with all their dishes, it was a hearty portion. The pork was tender and I enjoyed the sage vinaigrette accompanying it, although I must agree with my friend who found it a bit strong.


To end we shared the lemon tart and crème brulee. The tart was delicious – sour enough to taste the lemon but with some sweetness to remind you it’s dessert. The shortbread crust was also excellent, buttery enough without covering up the lemon.


The vanilla crème brulee was a deep dish portion so you get plenty of the creamy custard. The sugar crust on top was a tad thick but well bruleed and caramelized.


All in all, Bodega has the old fashioned charm synonymous with traditional restaurants. It’s an ideal location for date nights or somewhere to bring the parents (unless they of course love blaring music and sharing small plates). I’m just glad it’s a good balance and also not too stuffy.

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
  • - 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!