Showing posts with label tuna crudo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tuna crudo. Show all posts

Core Restaurant (Toronto)


Some time ago, I've lost my desire to go out for Summerlicious and Winterlicious meals. Once an exciting time of pursuing menus, gathering groups of friends, and securing reservations, some later experiences were disappointing and seemed too commercial. Yet, after seeing Core show up on two "Summerlicious menus you have to try" lists and actually seeing the tasty sounding dishes the $43 dinner had to offer, I rounded up a group of girls to give Summerlicious another chance.

Walking into the restaurant, things felt different. Core is smaller, so it felt warm and intimate. Service was definitely not a problem as they even paid attention to my always there request on Open Table and tried to accommodate to the best of their ability. Everyone we encountered that evening - hostess, sommelier, and waiter – were warm, friendly, and inviting. They also didn't leave anything out of the experience, still providing diners a large slice of their very airy and crusty house made sourdough bread.

Within the appetizers, the pork belly certainly sounded enticing, and having had a taste of my friend's, did have crispy well-rendered skin and moist meat. But, it’s the B.C. Albacore tuna crudo I ultimately ordered. Interestingly, the fish was cut in thick chunks, rather than thin slices, which helped retain its flavours against the mildly tangy citrus ponzu. The tuna was tender and flavourful and when combined with the chunks of sweet baby radishes and crunchy cucumbers made for a satisfying summer starter.


The duck two ways included two delicious pieces from the fowl:

  • Roasted breast cooked to about medium with crispy skin. While it could have been done a touch less, it was nonetheless moist and easy to cut through.
  • A large chunk of braised duck leg terrine, which was a tad salty with the duck jus but oh so tender. It’s like having a cube of pulled duck confit, just as amazingly tasty as it sounds.

If you’re fond of duck, it’s definitely the dish to order. Even though the braised cherries and heirloom carrots accompanying the dish sounded like it'd be two sweet sides, the saltier duck jus kept everything savoury and the sides went well with the fowl.

Dinner ended with the espresso panna cotta served tiramisu style, a rich espresso jelly topping the creamy base so you really get a hit of the coffee flavour. I wasn’t a huge fan of the crumble used as a garnish, but it’d be nice for those who want a contrasting texture.


Thanks to Core, I have a renewed interest in the Summer/Winterlicious series. You just have to be selective and try the less known restaurants. The little guys sometimes does it best. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $43
Regular menu - $56 - tuna ($16), duck duo ($30) and panna cotta ($10)
Savings - $13 or 23%
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 896 Queen Street East

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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!

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Labora (Toronto)


In the evenings, the back of Campo Food Hall transforms into Labora, a tapas restaurant. With the rest of the stalls closed, there’s a sense of calm as you enter the space, like walking through a short alley to get to the restaurant.

While Labora isn’t as laid back as a small shop in Barcelona, it does have a casual vibe, which is why when our waiter asked if we like olives (before we glanced at the menu), my husband answered yes (even though I’m impartial to them). Soon a large plate of them arrived with a $7 charge to match. I’ve dined in countries where a snack charge is added to everyone’s bill. Usually, this means a plate is already sitting on the table and the menu generally calls out the cost. To have someone ask if you like olives, like if you want bread, and then charge you for it feels misleading.


Maybe if it was only $3 (and a smaller portion) it would be less noticeable. What arrives is a sizeable plate with four different types of olives marinated in citrus so makes it less pungent and almost sweet. As olives go, these aren’t bad. Just not my first choice for adding to the meal.

A dish like the Joselito lomo ($13.50) is what I would have preferred to snack on with beer. Sourced from an Iberico pig, it’s cut from the loin instead of the leg, so the meat is leaner but still melts on the tongue and has that lightly salted sweetness found in jamon. It’s also a good introduction to Iberico products, if you’re not sure if you want to shell out $30 for jamon.


The menu describes the pan tumaca ($6) as tomato rubbed ‘Cristal’ bread. What is Cristal bread? From what I deduced, the moniker likely references all the air pockets formed in the well-toasted airy bread that’s drenched with olive oil and so crunchy, it tastes deep fried. The thin layer of tomato paste is rather neutral, most of the flavours stem from the olive oil.


For something spicy, the bocata del calamari ($9.50 each) will have you reaching for a cerveza. Rings of lightly dusted deep-fried calamari are sandwiched in a brioche bun with tons of aioli, drizzled in hot sauce, and a pickled pepper is skewered through the squid. The pepper adds a juicy freshness to the sandwich but with the siracha was really spicy. Luckily, you can always pull it out and take small bites to temper the spice. The sandwich was delicious and one of my favourite dishes of the evening.


Another was the rubia gallega ($19.50) a cured Ontario ribeye that’s prepared like Iberico, thinly sliced then topped with honey mushrooms and truffle oil. The truffle oil was a bit overpowering when eating the beef on its own, but with crostini the flavours balance out. What a genius idea to use ribeye as the protein, the cut has enough fat for that lusciousness, like ham, and lends itself to taking on the lightly sweetened flavour.


After some heavier dishes the tumet ($19) was a welcomed contrast. The oven-roasted terrine made with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, and potato was a fairly big portion. Aside from the potato, the other vegetables became lost in the thick zesty tomato sauce so more of the zucchini and eggplant would make this even better.


Some dishes could have been good if only there wasn’t one overpowering ingredient added. Sometimes it just pays to keep it simple with seasonings like oil and salt.

The BC striped shrimp pintxos ($16), a special for the evening, takes the tiny shrimp and lines them onto whipped roe on toasted bread. These ingredients would have been more than enough: the roe salty with a rich seafood essence; the shrimp a little sweetness; and there’s even chives, adding a taste of the herb and colour. But then, a liberal sprinkling of paprika is added, completely overpowering the shrimp and giving a slightly bitter finish to the dish. 



Similarly, the sour grapefruit used in the serviola crudo ($18.40) covered the delicate yellow tail tuna. Maybe it has something to do with our waiter urging us to spoon the marinating liquid over everything, to get the coffee flavours. 


In all fairness, our waiter was extremely friendly and warm, I know he was just trying to make sure we had the best experience possible. However, I couldn’t taste any coffee and the sour grapefruit so pungent I coughed. Alas, the poor tuna no match for the citrus. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 433 King Street West (in the Campo Food Hall)

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:



Peche Seafood Grill (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 800 Magazine Street
Website: http://www.pecherestaurant.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Earlier in May 2014, Pêche Seafood Grill was presented with the James Beard Award for best new restaurant. It’s quite the accolade beating out three establishments in New York City and one in San Francisco for the title. Good news seems to travel fast as Pêche was definitely the busiest and buzziest restaurants we visited on the trip. Locals and tourists alike eagerly awaited for their tables with over a dozen individuals with no reservations sitting at the bar.


The dining room has a noticeably casual vibe with minimalistic wood tables and fisherman themed walls. Seafood is what Pêche is known for but does have skirt steak and chicken available for those who prefer ‘turf’ to ‘surf’. Being a seafood lover, I of course stuck to the surf based dishes which all sounded delicious and enticing.


Despite having gumbo twice during the week-long trip already, I gave it one last chance at Pêche to see if there’d be an improvement over the previous ones which I tried and found subpar. The verdict is I do enjoy seafood gumbo ($9) … but only to a point. Indeed the rich thick flavourful soup filled with seafood and spices is wonderful, but the pieces of oyster, shrimp and crawfish themselves are not the best after being stewed for hours - they develop a mushy powdery texture. It may help if chefs try using dried oysters and shrimp (often found in Asian cuisine) to develop their soup base first and then add fresh shellfish just before it's served. I'd imagine the soup would still have that wonderful essence but leave the fresh seafood cooked well. Nonetheless, the gumbo at Pêche was by far the best of the three I’ve tried so if you’re going to have it anywhere it should be here.



A dish that’s a phenomenal value was the gulf shrimp from the raw bar ($12). We were surprised how many came with it (believe there was a dozen) and each were such a large size. Simply boiled and served cold with horseradish laced cocktail sauce it's nothing extraordinary but for the price a great dish to share amongst the table. 


One of the special dishes for the night was the chili tuna crudo ($10). The tender fish was cut into thick squares and served sashimi style.  To jazz it up, it was topped with chili oil, a lovely chili salt (which I wish there was more of) and diced crunchy jalapeño. All this may sound dominating but it was actually well balanced and didn’t overpower the tuna at all. Pods of edamame added crunch and freshness to everything. Overall, it was a decent dish. 


The best dishes were the hot ones. The first, crawfish and jalapeño capellini ($14), contained many pieces of sweet crawfish cooked in a simple garlic butter sauce with a bit of jalapeño for heat. I easily could have eaten a whole bowl of this myself! Admittedly, the pasta could have been more al dante but even when soft was still delicious. 


Another good dish was the smothered catfish ($16). Two thick fillets were breaded and pan fried than smothered with a gumbo like gravy and served with rice. Despite being smothered in sauce the dish wasn't too salty and had just the right amount of flavour. You do want to eat this quickly as once the catfish sits in it too long the crust gets mushy, but really this is a matter of taste.


All in all, Pêche was the best meal of the trip and didn't disappoint. Our neighbouring table ordered a whole grilled fish which looked and smelled amazing. Alas, not for us as it was a fairly large portion and with only two of us and one visit we wanted to try more items. But worth a try on a return visit. The seafood was fresh and the staff laid back and attentive. A definite stop for those who are living or visiting the city. 


Overall mark - 8.5 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!

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