Showing posts with label white chocolate cheesecake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label white chocolate cheesecake. Show all posts

Summerlicious lunch at Azure (Toronto)

For a really good deal during Summerlicious, visit a restaurant for lunch. Most establishments offer similar options between lunch and dinner and there’s a $20 difference to merely eat at a different time. Of course, it’s not always feasible to indulge in a 3-course menu on weekdays and some places, if they offer a brunch menu, won’t honour Summerlicious on weekends. Hence, finding a weekend lunch spot can be difficult. Azure, situated in the Intercontinental Hotel downtown, is one option; their central location makes it ideal for visiting before a matinee or an afternoon Blue Jays game.

Their corn soup arrives looking like the typical smooth puréed broth. Then you have a taste and the hit of chili lime mixed with the sweet vegetable creates an interesting summery starter. In the centre, the smoked cheddar biscuit adds a soft doughy chewiness; it’s good, but something crispy or a dollop of corn, onion, and black bean salsa would be even better.

As the pan roasted rainbow trout was presented, I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful glistening skin; this is going to be a good piece of fish! I wasn’t disappointed, the skin was impeccably crispy and the meat flaky and moist. With a smear of the refreshing lemon basil pea purée or slightly spicy sundried tomato relish, the main was flavourful and delicious. Even the accompanying well-seared fingerling potatoes, lightly pickled radicchio, and crispy shaved fennel were spot on.

Although the grilled chicken didn’t look impressive, it’s still tender and tasty thanks to the creamy citrusy butter sauce on top. Despite the menu describing the dish as grilled, the chicken seemed poached, it's really juicy and tender. When mixed with the sauce, the bulgur salad is quite delicious, but on its own a tad bland.

Truthfully, I wasn’t a fan of the strawberry tart. For a dessert that sounds light and summery, the strawberry jam gummies and crunchy rosewater candy pieces in the centre were too fussy and sugary. Meanwhile, the lime basil curd filled shortbread tart was nice. If it were simply topped with strawberries and chantilly cream, it’d be more than enough.

My friend's white chocolate cheesecake was a better choice; the rich luscious cake paired with rose wine poached apricots and toasted walnuts. Yet, it’s the cardamom gelato that’s the most surprising, looking like vanilla bean, but adding such a lovely earthy essence against the fruit and cake.

While saving money on the meal, you can splurge on one of Azure’s hand-crafted cocktails. The raspberry cooler ($16), combining raspberry vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and muddled fresh raspberries, created a drink that tastes exactly like a raspberry Freezie, complete with the tangy fizz that tickles the back of your throat.

Having visited Azure previously for dinner, it felt like a completely different restaurant during the afternoon. With the dining room’s wall and ceiling glass panels, the sun shone through brightly; it was like sitting outside without the pesky bugs and traffic noise. Then, after a satisfying lunch, Toronto’s downtown attractions is but steps away, perfect for walking off those extra Summerlicious calories.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $28
Regular menu - $55 - soup ($12), rainbow trout* ($29) and strawberry tart ($14)
Savings - $27 or 49%
* Based on pickerel

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 225 Front Street West (in the Intercontinental Hotel)

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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!

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Sip Wine Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 2 Broadway Avenue
Type of Meal: Dinner

Newly opened on a quiet street close to Yonge and Eglinton, Sip Wine Bar already has quite the following as seen by the packed restaurant during a Saturday visit. Their décor is simplistic with wooden tables, exposed cream bricks and tons of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Aside from the dining room on the main floor, the restaurant offers a private dining area downstairs (with its own bar) that would be perfect for parties.

With tons of delicious sounding items on the menu, my friends and I decided to order a selection of dishes and share family style. First up was the fittura mista ($15.95) or deep fried shrimp and calamari. Arriving piping hot we couldn’t get enough of these lightly dusted nuggets of salty seafood. Of course, things that are deep fried are inherently delicious, but these shrimp and calamari were tender and didn’t feel too greasy or heavy.

On the other hand, the polpette di Luisa ($8.95) or meatballs with tomato sauce was a bit lackluster – possibly because I ate this second. Served lukewarm it didn’t have the same freshly made feel of the fittura mista; to me it seemed like they were spooned out of heating dish with spring mix tossed on the side. The meatballs and sauce itself tasted decent, but could have benefited from some cheese and/or herbs sprinkled on top.

We had to try their pizzas, given Sip’s AVPN accredited status (essentially an association that sets up regulations to ensure the standards of making Neapolitan pizza is maintained). The first was the capricciosa ($16.99) a pizza loaded with mushrooms, prosciutto, artichokes, olives, mozzarella and basil. The crust was certainly Neapolitan with the blistered pockets of dough and paper thin crust. But, the amount of tomato sauce was a bit too generous making the middle soggy and causing the ingredients to slide off when you tried to move a slice onto the plate. Nonetheless, the toppings were abundant and flavours good if you don’t mind a mushy crust.

For a white pizza (olive oil rather than tomato sauce based), we tried the funghi porcini ($18.99) which was more simplistic highlighting porcinis with mozzarella, parmigiano, tomatoes and basil. In this case there was no soggy crust but the pizza also lacked flavour. Certainly you wouldn’t want to overwhelm the pizza and cover up the porcini’s woodsy taste, but even an additional drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt prior to serving would have been appreciated.

The gnocchi alla trevigiana ($16.95) was absolutely delicious. First off, Sip nailed the gnocchi texture I covet – soft and doughy yet still hard enough to have some bite so that it resembles pasta rather than mushy dough. Tssed a light gorgonzola cream sauce the hot pieces of gnocchi had just enough sauce to flavour it without being overly heavy. This would definitely be a dish I’d order again.

Sadly, their tiramisu was sold out by the time we arrived at the desserts.  Instead, we ordered the white chocolate cheesecake ($8.99) and the crème brulee ($9.95). The cheesecake was rich and had a great flavour – a mix of caramel and chocolate. Sip’s dessert chef does need to get the chocolate cookie base thinner; at almost ¾ inch thick we struggled to break through it so the cheesecake mixture ended up falling off. Then when it was eaten together the abundance of crust overwhelmed to smooth cheese base.

However, the cheesecake was a better choice than the crème brulee which arrived cold, had an uneven sugar crust (although in the centre was nice and thin) and the crème itself fairly watery. Again it had a nice vanilla flavour, but the execution needs some improvement.

Most of the media articles written about Sip focuses on their pizzas. But from our visit, my friends and I agree their other dishes are much better; even from scoping the table beside the lamb chop and chicken dishes looked appetizing. We were advised by our helpful waitress that Sip has a patio out front in the summer so a return visit may be in order to sample their pasta and meat dishes while enjoying a lovely summer evening outside.

Overall mark - 7.5 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!