Showing posts with label steak tartare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steak tartare. Show all posts

Lavelle (Toronto)


As you enter the stairwell off King West, doubts creep in about the legitimacy of Lavelle’s supposedly swanky entertainment space. Sure, the stairwell has been jazzed up – there’s colourful walls and even artwork - but it still leads to a somewhat dank basement elevator. Rest assured, if you follow the signs and push the right button in the elevator, you’ll soon be whisked up to the rooftop that opens viewing the spacious rooftop pool. Walk along the brightly lit corridor and you’ll soon find the dining area.

Should you arrive early, take the opportunity to sit at the bar and enjoy the view - the outdoors consists mostly of cranes and developing condo buildings, but inside the bar’s copper elements pratically gleams and sparkles. Albeit pricy (a single cocktail can cost up to $30), they concoct them right – the glass is chilled with ice cubes beforehand, certain ones shaken versus stirred. 

The Puritan ($17), a classic strong drink from the 1890s, is made up of three types of alcohol: gin, green chartreuse and vermouth. Oh you’ll taste the alcohol, especially the herbal properties of the chartreuse. The only respite is the bit of ice that’s melted into it, orange bitters, and the lemon rind that lets off a lovely aroma as you take each sip.

Despite discrepancies between the menu prices and actual charges for their appetizers (actual prices shown in post), they’re a fair sized portion and could work as a light meal when paired with salad. The steak tartare ($21) is a flavour bomb with a zesty kick from the spicy ketchup and horseradish. Finely chopped hazelnut and cucumber add a bit of crunch and bite that’s a nice contrast against the soft beef. Luckily, Lavelle doesn’t skimp on the crostini so there’s enough pieces to get through the heaping portion of tartare.


I’m torn about the cod cheek & leek ($19) starter. On one hand, it’s beautifully plated and certain elements on their own are delicious: the baby purple potatoes so creamy, the lightly dusted fried smelts a nice touch, and the nori cured duck egg a lovely custard consistency … oh wonderful salty yolk jelly. But then the smoked buttermilk foam sort of detracts from the dish and the cod cheek is seriously over salted. Although it looks like a pretty breath of spring air, for me, the elements together is more compost than bouquet.


A better seafood option is the Fogo Island cod ($29). The flakey neutral fish went nicely with the thick flavourful squid ink risotto (it stains the teeth, but tastes so good). Unlike the cod cheek starter, the other decorative elements actually enhance the dish – the small matane shrimp adding a contrasting sweetness and the pea shoots a refreshing element. For what seems like a light dish, it has a rich creamy finish that’s just as satisfying as any meat dish.


Although I was a little disappointed with the “frites” accompanying the steak frites ($29) – where are thin crispy stringy fries and why have they been replaced with these dense hunks of potatoes? - the flat iron steak was cooked perfectly and the rub on the outside already flavourful enough that the red wine jus wasn’t even required. For such a lean cut of meat, it was also surprisingly tender (probably on account of being aged), while retaining the full beef flavour.


Another fitting spring plate is the lychee and hibiscus dessert ($12). Pieces of cake soaked in a flavourful hibiscus syrup, a cool refreshing lychee sorbet, and crispy hibiscus meringue pieces have enough sweetness to be satisfying while still remaining light. I can see the citrusy floral fruit elements being a hit-or-miss with some guests, but the dessert is different and more interesting than just another cheesecake.


On weekends, Lavelle is party central. However, on a weeknight, it’s an oddly serene and calming environment - the half full restaurant offers a lot of personal space and service is attentive but not pushy (feel free to sit for three hours and chat, no one will bother you). It’s nice to go earlier and watch the sun set: from the dining room the view improves and soon the sky glows and the CN Tower lights up.


The restaurant was right to describe the rooftop as an “escape” from the city. High above the bustle you start to forget about the traffic and commotion. “What schedule?” you start to think, for now that doesn’t matter and another glass of bubbly is all you need.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 627 King Street West

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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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



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

CLOSED: Chantecler (Toronto)



Even as Chantecler completed a transformation in 2016 – their menu evolving from Asian fusion small plates to French traditional mains - its popularity hasn’t waned; a dinner weekend visit was just as busy as two year’s prior. In terms of décor, little has changed: the dining room is still cozy and dimly lit, the vintage stove still going strong.

Their gougères ($5) have taken a dive – the puffs need to be warmer and incorporate more cheese. Whereas previously it had a molten centre, the innards for these is like a buttery bite of brioche, hardly the bite-sized treat I was expecting.


With the first taste of the soft almost mushy steak tartare ($12), I was on the fence. But, once it was scooped onto the crunchy crostini and the hits of chopped gherkins came through, there was enough texture to balance out the meat. Incorporating tons of spices and a large raw egg yolk, the tartare is rich. With its hefty portion, this starter is made for sharing.


The half duck with crepes ($32) arrived with a pan seared duck breast and salty confit leg. Both were cooked wonderfully, the skin extremely crispy and well rendered while the meat remaining juicy and tender. 


If only the chive crepes weren’t ice cold the dish would be excellent. When wrapping the duck, having your first taste be a chilly foamy shell isn’t appetizing. Really Chantecler, if you’re not going to at least re-heat the crepes … just leave them out.


Their roasted cauliflower ($6) is made for people who normally don’t eat vegetables. Slathered in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with chopped almonds for crunch, the side could easily stand in for mac ‘n’ cheese.


Surprisingly, Chantecler has a boring dessert menu consisting of two choices that really don’t elicit excitement. What a disappointment given there are so many French pastries to choose from and we saved room for a sweet ending. Nonetheless, what they lack in choice, they compensate by executing the two options very well.

The custard in the lemon parfait ($8) was luscious and smooth, its tartness balanced by the cookie crumble and vanilla whipped cream. You don’t get that hit at the back of your throat that makes you squint, instead after a taste I instantly wanted another spoonful.

Despite not being a fan of flourless chocolate torte ($12), Chantecler’s was delicious. The espresso cream added interest against the rich smooth ganache and the blackberry with cassis (a red current liqueur) lightening the dessert a bit.


Chantecler’s laid back vibe makes the restaurant ideal for catching up with friends (although a small group suggested as the loud music makes it impossible to speak to more than four). You can even dine alone, grabbing a seat along the bar. Their open concept kitchen will keep you entertained or have you wondering if you should swap out the stainless steel gas range for a cute old-fashioned electric stove instead.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1320 Queen Street West


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:





The Shore Club Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 155 Wellington Street West
Website: http://www.theshoreclub.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Having recently returned to the Shore Club (read about Winterlicious experience here), one thing is for sure - their impeccable service has not changed. Once again our waiter, John, was extremely friendly, service was always attentive and our courses served in unison. They have done away with the black vs. white napkins, but this is likely due to switching to a lint free supplier. In terms of their environment and attention to customers there are no complaints here. 

During this visit I ordered off their regular menu and decided to go with the fish options given the restaurant is named the Shore Club. Alas, they may not be adequately named as my husband's meat-based dishes were definitely the better choice of the evening.

To start, I had the fish tartare trio ($19), which from left to right consisted of tuna, sea bass and salmon. The tuna was my favourite given it had the most taste from being marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil with chopped green onions mixed throughout. The salmon, combined with mayonnaise and dill, provided traditional flavours and was decent but did require some added salt table side.


My husband and I both agreed that the sea bass needed improvement – being such a neutral fish it had the opportunity to take on great flavours! Yet the chef did nothing so that it was essentially chopped up pieces of tasteless fish. It would have been nice to build on the fish's profile with citrus, chili and/or fresh fruit to give it a ceviche feel (a nice contrast to the other two offerings). The highlight of the Shore Club's fish tartare was the abundance of crostini provided; an adequate a number of pieces accompanied the dish so there was plenty of bread for the fish in the order.

In contrast, my husband's steak tartare ($18) was one of the better versions I've had in Toronto. Traditionally made with pickles, horseradish and onions it was well flavoured and a great consistency. Made with a good cut of tenderloin the tartare became soft and creamy, but the horseradish and maybe mustard mix throughout really deepen the taste nicely to complement the beef. As a warning, this is a fairly heavy dish so consider sharing it.  Combined with a salad it could have been a meal in itself! 


Continuing with the fish theme, my main was the stuffed rainbow trout ($31). I was flabbergasted with the portion of fish received; seriously, it was an entire deboned fish. If only it was cooked less it would have been better as I found the fish was starting to become dry. Additionally, it needed more stuffing as I really couldn't taste much of the dungeness crab or shrimp within the fish. Perhaps, the Shore Club should consider adding vegetables into the stuffing to provide moisture when cooking the fish as well as some contrasting textures and flavors. All in all, I enjoyed the deboned fillet and piping hot temperature the fish arrived in, just the doneness and flavours need to be tweaked.


My husband kept it simple and went with the bone-in rib steak ($42). I have to admit it's hard to go wrong with meat with plenty of fat marbleization and a bone to add flavor. My suggestion, if you go to the restaurant, is to stick with meat as they seem to prepare it better. Unlike our previous visit, the steak was cooked evenly so whatever problems the cooking surface was experiencing before seems to have been fixed. The meat could've been cut thicker, but it’s a personal preference (I'd rather have a thicker than wider steak) and could have been a better quality as we did find there was a fair amount of it that was simply too grizzly and hard to cut into.


Sorry but forgot to snap pictures of the sides. As a table we ordered green beans ($10), the steakhouse fries ($8), scalloped potatoes ($10) and mashed potatoes ($9) to share. You can refer to my previous post for thoughts on the green beans and fries. Of the other potato dishes the mashed definitely had the better flavour profile and was fluffy and well salted. The scalloped potatoes showed promise, they were cooked to a nice consistency, but was bland as it seemed the cream sauce didn't have much salt in it at all.

It's fairly surprising that the Shore Club seems to do better with Winterlicious. For the amount paid for the meal, I was disappointed with the offering as many dishes simply lacked much flavor or interest. Admittedly, the portion sizes are much bigger, but I would much rather have a smaller but better tasting dish.

Sadly, my opinion of the restaurant actually decreased since coming back for the regular menu (awarded a 7 for Winterlicious but only a 6 for this visit). Thankfully, the attentive and friendly service was still alive and that is something (along with portion sizes) that the Shore Club will always have going for it.

Overall mark - 6 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!


The Beverley Hotel (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 335 Queen Street West
Website: http://thebeverleyhotel.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



The Beverley Hotel is located on a busy stretch of Queen West with the restaurant centrally located on the ground floor. While visiting in the evening, I almost missed the simple glass doors embossed with their name if it weren’t for the point-of-sale signage located out front.  The dining room is a narrow but long set-up with one side dedicated to a large bar and tables and banquettes along the other side and the back. Its décor is reminiscent of a steak house with the dark wood accents and leather clad seats; the dim lighting makes it a good place for a date or drinks.

The French Kiss 75 ($13?) was a fair sized cocktail made from pink prosecco, gin (?) and grapefruit.  A bubbly concoction with a citrusy twist and just a hint of sweetness, it’s refreshing and a nice sipping drink.  I also enjoy the whimsical lemon rind twist adorning the glass.

Not hungry that night, I opted for the mussels + brussels appetizer ($10) which was a surprisingly large portion.  Cooked in a beer based garlicky broth the mussels were done well but would be even better if there was more cooking liquid to dip them into.  I thoroughly enjoyed the variation on frites using brussel sprouts instead; they were slightly charred and crispy adding sweetness and smokiness to the dish. I would have liked an empty bowl to discard shells as it was difficult to eat until one of my friends could offer me their finished plate to use.

Beverly Hotel’s steak tartare ($14) is the first I’ve seen that sits upon a disc of cold herbed mashed potatoes.  Made from hanger steak, the tartare has a bit more bite to it and generally a decent flavour.  Thankfully, they give enough pieces of pumpernickel toasts (what’s with restaurants now a days giving a huge portion of tartare and then 3 small pieces of crostini?). To top everything off there’s a quail egg, pickled green beans (sadly I didn’t try but heard pickled vegetables is one of Chef Wood’s specialties) and micro greens.



 
My husband’s Beverly burger ($16) was cooked to a medium doneness so that patty was still soft and juicy.  Sitting on top of a soft sesame bun with a heavy dose of fried Guernsey cheese there was certainly a barrage of flavour.  As if the hollandaise sauce, in lieu of mayonnaise, was not enough, my husband also added a fried egg (additional $1) making it a saucy and messy burger.  I tend to like firmer charbroiled burgers so this one was a bit mushy for my taste; but, my husband liked it and rates it top 10 on his list (although still behind the Harbord Room’s rendition). 



Unfortunately, my favourite part of the dish, the fries, was lukewarm and stale – what a disappointment.  There was hardly even a full portion of them when they arrived so perhaps the kitchen ran out and didn’t feel like making another batch.

The Beverly Hotel is a nice classy destination on the Queen Street West strip.  The cocktails are delicious and appetizers a considerable portion at reasonable prices. Overall, I sense the restaurant will do well as a drinks and shared plates place, which may just work in the trendy neighbourhood.

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!





Ja Bistro Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 222 Richmond Street West
Website: www.jabistro.com
Type of Meal: Dinner
  


This post is my second visit to the restaurant where I've had enough new dishes that I felt an update was warranted.  To read about my first experience and general thoughts of the restaurant please head over to my first review.


At last, we return to JaBistro to visit their new rooftop patio.  Although not very big, the layout isn’t crowded with tables so the patio feels rather spacious.  Additionally, we went for a late dinner so the after work drink crowd had already left leaving the middle bar stool seating area empty.  Given the surroundings were dark; I didn’t want to take pictures and annoy tables around us with large flashes of light.  So, for this post I’ve sourced the pictures from the internet and thus may not look exactly like the dishes we ordered.

Given my love for the JaBistroll ($22) on this visit we had to get the full order of it.  Luckily, they didn’t stock out of the snow crab again and by the time it arrived we were salivating!  Although still delicious, it wasn’t as good as the last visit.  Likely, it’s due to our proximity to the sushi chef on the first visit where we sat right at the sushi bar. When you sit on the patio, it takes time for the food to be brought up, so the JaBistroll lost the heat and smokiness from the blowtorch.  So, if you’re going for the taste - ask for sushi bar seating.  However, if you rather enjoy eating outdoors, be prepared to sacrifice the essence of the dish.

JaBistroll (1)

During this visit, the focus was more on the bistro side of the menu.  After noting they updated the kani ($15) to use coconut curry sauce we decided to try it again.  The soft shell crab was just as fresh and delicious as our last visit, but I did notice they have shrunk the dish and it now only includes 3 pieces (1.5 crabs) rather than the 5 pieces (2.5 crabs) we had the first time.  To be fair, the pieces were larger so perhaps the amount of soft shell crab is the same, it just makes sharing in large groups harder.

Kani (1)

The coconut curry sauce was an improvement to the chili and complimented the seafood well.  Unlike the curry crab dishes you may have at Malaysian restaurants, JaBistro’s sauce is a bit thicker and creamier.  Instead of pita chips our dish included fried shrimp chips.  Sadly, they were the regular run of the mill Chinese restaurant variety.  Rather, the chef should consider using the Thai/Malaysian version instead which is thicker (to help pick up the sauce) and is more flavourful.

My husband’s a huge fan of beef tartare so we decided to try their yukke ($11), which is essentially beef tartare with a quail egg on top. I was interested to see how they would add the Japanese twist to this normal steakhouse appetizer.  JaBistro’s adapation was served with pieces of toasted nori, in place of bread, and flavoured with ponzu and gochujang (a Korean red chili powder) to give it tons of flavour and heat. Topped with sprouts and green onion this was the best beef tartares I’ve had (although to be honest I’ve only had three so that doesn’t mean much).

Yukke (1)


Lastly, the gindara ($22) had to be tried given black cod is normally one of my favourite Japanese dishes.  I’ll admit I was turned off by the description on the menu, which noted the dish had bacon in it.  Unlike most individuals, these pieces of crispy smoked pork are sometimes good on its own with eggs but not something I like added to dishes it can be overpowering.  Fortunately, it was used in moderation and only speckled into the coating that crusted the cod and offered an interesting smoky saltiness to the fish. 


The fish itself was a nice thick piece and cooked well so that it flaked apart.  Thin pieces of crispy salty shrimp toast accompanied the cod; they were okay but didn’t really complement the fish.  In the end, there were just too much heavy ingredients and flavours used with the fish and just not my cup of tea. However, it’s a matter of preference, because my husband loved the gindara. But then again he loves bacon and I don’t so this dish is meant to be enjoyed by bacon lovers.  Alas, JaBistro, when will you make a version to suit people like me?!

All in all, the second visit was still a good experience and solidifies the 9 being given to JaBistro.  It’s good to see their quality hasn’t gone down and there continues to be a changing menu to provide some new excitement.

Overall mark - 9 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!
For further general discussions about this blog please refer to http://gastroworldblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/welcome-to-gastro-world.html


Photo Sources:
  1. JaBistroll, kani and yukke - JaBistro's Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/jabistro222)