Showing posts with label strawberry cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strawberry cake. Show all posts

Toronto Beach Club (Toronto)

Thank you to Jjjiffy for this image

In high school, when I used to frequent Ashridge’s Bay, no one arrived dressed-to-impress to walk along the boardwalk. That’s all seemed to have changed now that Toronto Beach Club has opened. Walk past the bouncer and you’re transported into a well-healed tropical paradise; where the volleyball courts disappear behind foliage and it seems normal, even essential, to pop some bubbly on the beach.

You can’t go wrong with one of their hot mezze that comes with a grilled pita to start. The bread arrives hot and fresh, puffed to perfection so that it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, dusted with spices. They accompany the smoked eggplant ($16), a decent portion of warm soft legume that would have been amazing if the walnut and olive relish weren’t so sour that even the pomegranate molasses’ sweetness couldn’t balance it out. Maybe it’s me, but I prefer my eggplant savoury.

Their jamon iberico ($36) was sliced into respectable sized slices, the prized pig’s cured slightly sweet essence bursting on the tongue. Not quite a melt-in-your-mouth as what you’ll find in Spain, these were nonetheless tasty and worth a nibble if you appreciate a good charcuterie.

Of the three starters the sea bream crudo ($21) was my favourite. Thick meaty slices of white fish topped with citrus caviar (segments of finger lime) and chili sitting in what looks like a fiery olive oil but is rather delicate. The crudo was perfectly seasoned and wonderfully tasty, a lovely summery dish to enjoy while sitting outdoors.

Toronto Beach Club’s lamb chops ($45 for the half order shown) were cooked perfectly. So, it’s such a shame that they were too salty and requires some tableside knife skills. The seasoning needs to be toned down as the outer chops made me reach for water and since the marinated yogurt was also salted, together they were way too much. It’d be nice if the kitchen also considers the table size when finishing the dish: our four chops were only cut in half for a 3-top, which means you need to portion them yourself when they arrive. It likely helps the meat retain its heat and juices better, but it’s also a bit difficult to cut through the chops on a big platter with all the yoghurt and garnishes. The age-old joke of “how many people does it take to…?”, let me just say it is not one.

Thank you to Parv for this picture

Where they really excelled was the grilled seafood. Their fileted black sea bass ($36) had such a lovely, charbroiled exterior and was still delicately done inside. While it comes with a choice of sauce (we chose the harissa butter), it’s fantastic by itself.

Sides need to be ordered separately and are more than sufficient to share amongst three. The French fries ($12) are a safe choice – nice and crisp, dusted with oregano and salt and comes with truffle aioli for dipping. Yet, what really caught our attention was the grilled broccolini ($19): cooked until crisp and covered with pecorino-ramano, pangrattato, and calabrain chili creating such a lovely almost creamy sauce with a hit of heat to end. Do get yourself some greens.

Just make sure to save room for dessert as their baklava ($12-$15) is a must. I love that it wasn’t soaked in syrup, rather the perfect amount to add sweetness but still leave the puff pastry crispy and not oily feeling. The two pieces are sandwiched between a frozen cream layer. If this isn’t the ultimate ice cream sandwich, I don’t know what is. The strawberry crostata ($12-$15) paired nicely with it – the pastry a cross between a shortbread and cake and topped with ample sweet strawberries and a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream.

We all agreed that dinner at Toronto Beach Club is probably the most ideal time to visit. The temperature is not overly warm and it’s such a lovely experience to transition from evening into night. There was even a live Spanish band performing during our Wednesday visit, the women’s lovely vocals the perfect addition to the meal.

Thank you to Parv for this image

While the after-meal service can get a little backed up, the entertainment and atmosphere kept us happy while we waited for the verbal dessert menu to be presented. Wait aside, even with the pandemic you won’t feel rushed at the restaurant, the two-and-a-half hour seating times is sufficiently long enough to leisurely enjoy the meal. I certainly won’t be visiting Greece or the equator anytime soon. Until then, Toronto Beach Club will give me the tropical fix I need to transport myself out of Toronto. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1681 Lake Shore Boulevard East


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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Quatrefoil (Dundas)


For my husband and I, each summer brings a week (at least) of staycation, where we take time off work and spend it exploring Toronto and its surrounding cities. Any locality that’s a 2 hour drive or less is fair game for a visit and after four years there’s still plenty of places to see.

Hamilton and its surrounding neighbours have been a favourite haunt. A typical outing consists of driving for an hour, hiking through beautiful scenery to stretch our legs, changing as discretely as possible in the car, strolling through a quaint town, and having a lovely meal to cap off the day.

August 2019 brought us to Dundas, Ontario and dinner at Quatrefoil. Their town is made for the eco-conscious with numerous stores selling sustainable and earth-friendly products (I found some great reusable produce bags for grocery shopping).  The end of the walk lead us to a quiet side street and a house that’s morphed into a restaurant. While the outside is a historical home, the dining room looks rather modern, complete with Instagram friendly white marble table tops.

On Fridays they offer a five course tasting menu ($72 a person) with wine pairings (additional $55). Like traditional meals, it starts off with an amuse bouche, a portion of braised veal cheek situated on a light tapioca cracker with dollops of crème fraiche. It’s a tasty bite, but a tad salty even with the tangy yoghurt.  


Followed by a great selection of bread including brown sugar pumpernickel (great combination), chewy French bread, oily poppy seed puff pastry, and a decent cheese and chive puff. It’s an enticing place and I had to try a bit of everything.


Quatrefoil presents beautiful plates. The seared sea scallop arrived with a lovely golden crust and while it was starting to split, the centre was cooked perfectly remaining tender and sweet. The buttery sauce was lightened with strawberry vinaigrette and the dish kept fresh with sweet spring peas and crunchy fennel. It paired wonderfully with the Chablis.


For a sweet and savoury course, I rather enjoyed the compressed cantaloupe salad. The melon was squeezed until the juices are removed so you get its sweet essence but it doesn’t overwhelm the other elements. It went nicely with the creamy whipped ricotta and the garlicky pesto and arugula keeps the dish savoury. It’s all topped with slices of summer truffle – eat these with the ricotta as with the strong pesto its mild flavours become lost.


The apex of the night was the Arctic char where the fish’s meat was flakey and tender but the skin could be a touch crispier. Paired with a tomato vinaigrette – a popular choice - at Quatrefoil it’s seasoned beautifully so you get a fresh tomato jus that’s also flavourful. The warm quinoa base acted as a great side.


Sadly, the last half of the meal is where the menu starts to falter. Tenderloin, when left in a longer cut, can be finicky to work with given it’s thicker in the middle and tapers off at the end. This leaves the thickest part of the steak arriving medium rare while the rest of it was really overdone – the heated plate probably didn’t help.


Without a proper steak knife, cutting through the thinner portions was difficult. Yet, the passable beef aside, the rest of the dish was tasty – the red wine and shallot jus lovely and slightly thickened so it clings to the meat. All the accompaniments were also great: meaty maitake mushroom, crispy broccolini, and the scrumptious potato and cheese croquette… it was the highlight of the dish.


The strawberry crémeux looks pretty but is a really sad dessert. Our waitress takes a fairly long time explaining all the individual sorbets (yogurt cheesecake, strawberry, and strawberry cream) and describes the dish as having an olive oil cake. It took me a while to realize that this “cake” was actually the crumb that propped up the decorative leaf.


I’m done with the deconstructed dessert and wish the preparation would just go away. If this is meant to be a trio of sorbets than give a larger scoop of each and call it that. Meanwhile, if this is meant to be a cake than just create a cake. As it stands, the meagre portions and laying each element out on a dish just seems like a lazy excuse to not employ a proper pastry chef.

Sweets are definitely not Quatrefoil’s forte, even the final bites were a letdown: the cappuccino macron too sweet and while the dark chocolate and strawberry truffle had promise (well balanced flavours and good quality chocolate) the shell was too thick.



Nonetheless, the friendly service and easy going pace of the dinner is what makes dining at Quatrefoil a treat. They were also accommodating, allowing me to get half a wine pairing so that I could have a taste with every dish without falling asleep on the hour drive home.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dundas, Canada
 Address: 16 Sydenham 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!

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Dickens Cafe 迪更斯 (Richmond Hill)


While the name Dicken’s Café may paint a picture of a quaint idyllic eatery with Victorian tables and a library across one wall, the real restaurant, located in a non-descript Chinese mall, reads differently. In fairness, it’s hard for anywhere to be idyllic when during the first thirty minutes of the meal you’re serenaded by a choir of crying babies that sing at a constant falsetto. Luckily, once 8:00pm hit and the performance ended, the atmosphere calmed down and improved.

With various dinner specials, you’ll leave holding your stomach for under $30 as the meals arrive with soup, dessert, and coffee or tea. Some even include an extra course: your choice of a sizeable salad or baked escargot. Having snuck a bite of my friend’s escargot, you’ll barely noticeable the lima bean sized snails. Rather, the most prevalent flavours stem from the extremely garlicky mashed potatoes on the bottom. As for the salad… well, it’s salad.


Dicken’s does borscht well, incorporating large chunks of carrots and cabbage in a beefy tomato base. It has that light hint of spiciness in the background that seems synonymous with the Chinese version of the typical East European soup; the heat goes well with the toasted sweet dinner rolls.


From afar, the pan fried ox tongue ($20.99) looks gorgeous, but the cow’s noticeable taste buds on the sizeable slices of tongue made me a little queasy. After getting over it and trying a bite, it admittedly tastes like really tender brisket but denser and gamier - I still prefer this cut done thinner or chopped and incorporated into a taco. Perhaps the baked linguine with shredded ox tongue, ham and chicken ($19.99) would have been a better option, which mixes slivers of the ingredient amongst tons of other proteins.


I’ll just stick with the braised ox tail in wine sauce ($20.99), where there’s sizeable chunks of fall-off-the-bone tender meat, which still have plenty of the soft chewy collagen bits I love. The sauce of the hearty stew is well flavoured and there’s certainly enough of it to spoon over the large mound of rice.


Too full to even try a bite, I was nonetheless impressed with the size of their chicken steak and pork chop in onion sauce ($20.99). Trust me, you won’t leave hungry.


The dessert for the evening was a tiny sliver of strawberry mousse cake – about a quarter of a normal piece. Truth be told, we were already stuffed (some with doggy bags in tow) so we really didn’t need more than the three bites. And there’s only so much I can take of the fake Neapolitan ice cream strawberry flavour.


Although Dickens isn’t exactly a serene and picturesque restaurant, for a Hong Kong café, they have decent service and make an effort with their presentation. Overall, the food is prepared well – incorporating enough flavours and the accompanying vegetables and starches not overcooked. With their reasonable pricing and large portions, Dickens will attract many families. Take it from me, if you’d rather skip the opera portion of the evening, plan accordingly with a later reservation.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 9425 Leslie 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:


Dickens Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato