We know. It’s been longer than usual since our last post. There has been a lot of excitement with Jess getting engaged and a few less restaurants. We’re on a short hiatus, but we’ll be back soon. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @not_foodies
It felt so good to be back. I’ve had take-out a few times recently, but hadn’t been back to the restaurant in a long while. There’s something about scoring a last-minute reservation and then finding a friend to eat with that is so satisfying.
In terms of drinks, I love the playa paloma. It’s my go-to and favourite cocktail (aside from some of the delicious concoctions I’ve had at Toronto Temperance Society – but that’s for another day). Grapefruit and tequila. The best margarita. So smooth. Not too boozy tasting, but very boozy. I just wish they made it in a pitcher…
I love Mexican food, but I’ll confess, I hate guacamole. I’m not the best sharer for some of my friends. I started with the nachos a la plancha. They aren’t conventional nachos. Fried tortillas topped with beans and crema and some Mexican sort of bbq sauce (no clue at all what it is). They come with a little pile of pickled hot peppers that might be one of my favourite condiments ever. I also really like their chicken quesadillas – not your typical quesadilla, more like a pulled chicken pizza pocket covered in corn and crema. Some other great apps I’ve had are the super spicy chicken wings, or the crazy addictive shrimp in a bucket. My friend had the ceviche which she loved. It comes with their fresh, housemade tortilla chips. These are the real deal. Straight out of the fryer, covered in salt. Perfect for eating plain or with any combination of guac, salsa, ceviche…
For mains, I had my #1 favourite restaurant item right now. I can’t get enough of the braised short rib-brisket tacos! They come in a crispy tortilla shell with crema, a little salsa and a wedge of lime. It’s perfection. The meat is so juicy, tender and falling apart, the perfect contrast to the crispy shell. Mmmm. Mouth foaming. Thinking about when I can go again. If I’m hungry, I’ll go for a side of rice and refried beans. I don’t always need it (I didn’t this time because I had the “nachos”). My husband always offers to pick these up for me if I’m having a bad day (it helps that we live 2 minutes away).
My friend had the fish tacos, they were halibut on the day we went. She gets them grilled – sinful. I thought about ordering them myself that day, fried of course, but am happy I stuck with my favourite menu item. One day I’ll try them, but I never even want to give up one of my three tacos for a trade.
Best: Short rib-brisket tacos. Have all three yourself or order them to share.
Not the best: Trying to get a reservation! It’s getting easier now that they have 3 locations, but still… I don’t like to plan 2 weeks in advance.
Check out Playa Cabana. It’s on The List.
111 Dupont St (near Dupont and Davenport)
I’m a huge Oliver & Bonacini fan. I had my wedding at an O&B venue (shout out to Arcadian Court) and have eaten my way through their restaurants. I know some people aren’t a fan of chains, but I hardly consider these (mostly upscale restaurants) to be a chain. Still, I have restaurants that I prefer and would love to go back and others that I’m not as much of a fan of. This visit to Canteen wasn’t a knock out.
We went to try out a new special they are having #eatwhatcookseat. On Sunday night, for $16 they serve a “staff meal” with a main and a dessert. For the price, it seems like you can’t go wrong. After eating it, I think this is an amazing concept, but needs a little extra focus on execution (maybe we were just there on an off night?). On the night we went it was fried chicken with corn bread and a blondie. My friend and I were both going to order it, but luckily we didn’t. She had the fried chicken, I went with shrimp and grits. The shrimp and grits were well done. There were 5 large shrimp cooked very well, wonderfully pink, not over cooked. It came with grits covered in hot sauce and bacon. Now I have a question… what are grits? I tried to ask on twitter, but didn’t get a response These were big pieces of hominy. My understanding of grits was that it was like polenta. Someone please take me out of my misery – what is it supposed to be (see poll below)? Either way, my meal was the favourite of the two.
The fried chicken was somewhat of a miss. The crust was very crispy, but fell off when we were eating it. It seemed like it was fried when the oil was too hot and we weren’t sure if the chicken was cooked through (never a good sign). The cornbread was almost too moist (who ever says something is too moist) and didn’t have the crumbly texture I look for in cornbread, but it did have a nice crust. We asked for BBQ sauce and hot sauce and both were excellent with the chicken. We also got a side of BBQ fries. They were sold to us as fries covered in the same kind of powder as BBQ chips and that’s exactly what they were. They had quite a lot of sugar, but were great with the sauces we had with the chicken and the house-made ranch they came with.
We ended the meal with the second half of the staff meal – a delicious blondie with caramel sauce. It was moist, rich and would have been worth it if we just came for that! I hope it gets added to the regular menu.
Even though this wasn’t my best meal at Canteen, I will definitely be back. The staff are friendly and have been trained with the perfect O&B manners. They are courteous and problem solvers and will make any situation right.
Best: the blondie – a great little square
Not the best: the over/under fried chicken. I don’t even want to think about it anymore…
330 King St West (inside the Bell Tiff Lightbox, between Spadina and University)
Ashley and I decided to go for an impromptu brunch and shockingly both of us were stumped on where to go. I am not ashamed to say that I use Google every so often to find places to eat at and even less ashamed to say that they are usually good suggestions. On this day, Google pointed us towards Emma’s Country Kitchen. I had heard good things about it from friends so we decided to give it a shot.
The space has a large takeout counter where you can purchase some of their delicious bakery items. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday they have fresh doughnuts which looked yummy, but sadly I was too full to try!
The dining area isn’t that large, but it can fit a good amount of people. It seems like it is a popular spot to take children as we were seated beside two families with small kids. If you want to avoid this, I would suggest going a little later in the morning.
I ordered the Emma’s Benny (obviously). A warm and fluffy buttermilk biscuit topped with house cured peameal bacon, poached eggs and smothered in mousselline sauce. Served with a side of griddled red skin potatoes. What intrigued me most about this dish was that it did not have the traditional hollandaise sauce. I had never heard of mousselline but after doing a little research I have learnt that it is very similar to hollandaise and has many of the same elements, but has whipped cream added to it. Needless to say, it was delicious!
Ashley had the B.L.T. which comes with house cured bacon, heirloom tomato, baby arugula and lemon basil aioli. She held off on the aioli, but enjoyed the dish and loved the bacon! She also ordered a hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. It was good, but not as good as Bobbette and Belles. She also had a tiny glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. It was the perfect amount when you are just feeling like a little juice to go with your breakfast.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the brunch was delicious. I will definitely be going back and hopefully I can save room for the fresh doughnuts.
The best: Emma’s Benny
Not the best: The griddled red skin potatoes. I don’t love home fries unless they are deep fried so these just didn’t do it for me, but it’s a personal preference
1108 St Clair Ave W
This might have been the 4th birthday in a row we celebrated at House of Chan. Yes, it’s overpriced, but it certainly is tasty! I understand steak, lobster and Chinese food seems to be a strange combination, but here, they get it right.
The crispy noodles they start you with are addictive in their dark plum/sweet and sour sauce. You can eat a whole bowl and spoil what is about to be an amazing meal.
The staff are incredible. You are never low on anything, they refill your water when it’s half full and are never far if you need to ask for something.
My group always starts with barbecued ribs and sometimes egg rolls. I’m not a big rib fan, but they always get devoured. The egg rolls are standard, but important for me to have something while I wait (and watch everyone else eat the ribs). This time we also tried the Taste Sensation – butterflied shrimp, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. If you are looking for something extra decadent, they are worth a try. I won’t even try to explain them because I’m sure you can guess how delicious they are.
For mains, we get a mix of everything – Chinese food with steak and lobster. For Chinese food we usually get chop suey and lemon chicken. Both are good, standard Chinese dishes. Sometimes we get beef and broccoli. I’ve never been disappointed. If we stopped there, it would be a good meal, but the star of the show comes next.
When the butter warmers, shell crackers and tiny forks come out, I know we are ready for the main event. There’s a lobster tank where you can select the lobster you want (too sad for me) or choose by size. They cook it based on your preference – steamed, broiled, Cantonese style… The lobster is tender and amazingly buttery (my pieces swim in the butter for an extra long dip). Plus they bring out sides like crispy onions, roasted potatoes and a huge plate of raw vegetables (tomato, onion, green pepper rings and celery). Ok, the vegetables I find a little odd. And we still get a huge 16 ounce steak which is cooked to perfection and sliced in the kitchen for sharing. The steak is charred on the outside, but pink in the centre, tender, juicy, mmmmm.
The meal ends with fortune cookies and small almond cookies. They also give you a moist towelette. You walk out of there with a smile and a very full tummy.
Best: The surf and turf combo. Just looking at the container of melted butter makes me smile.
Not the best: the price. eek.
Note: with the new Eglinton subway/LRT on its way, it may not be around too much longer. Try to get there before it’s too late!
876 Eglinton Ave W (at Bathurst)
Over the holidays, my boyfriend AG and I booked a last minute trip to New York! Having lived in that amazing city for a little while I will take any chance I get to go back. Over time my trips have changed from girls weekends to couples vacations, but one thing remains the same, I eat… A LOT! The last time I was in New York my step-father (the NYC based food photographer) told me I had to try RedFarm. I loved it so much I took AG back for a second try.
RedFarm is the creation of owners, dim sum master chef Joe Ng and Chinese food expert Ed Schoenfeld. They have created an amazing menu and the atmosphere isn’t bad either! Since my last trip in August, it has become so popular they opened a second location.
It is recommended that you share 4-5 dishes with the table. AG and I went a little over board and ordered 6 so we ended up taking one dish home and having it for leftovers.
The décor of the restaurant is very industrial chic, with a few large communal tables and some booths, the space is not large, but can fit a lot of people. We arrived around 9:30 on a Saturday night and were told the wait would be 45 minutes (you can’t make a reservation at Red Farm), but only had to wait around 30 minutes.
We chose to sit at the bar. The bartender was very helpful and even suggested a few dishes that I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. When he took our drink orders, I told him I wasn’t sure what I felt like, but I liked drinks with basil in them. What he brought back was the most amazing concoction of mulled blueberries and basil I have ever tasted, I might have had one to many… it was worth it.
Now for the food-
For starters we ordered the Spicy Crispy Beef – one of the most popular dishes at RedFarm and we understand why. The beef was cooked perfectly and the crispiness was just right. There was just enough sauce that it didn’t over power the beef, but you could taste the flavours and get the kick of spice.
The soup dumplings are one of my personal favourites and on this trip they had Black Truffle & Chicken Soup dumpling on their specials menu. I don’t know what they put in their soup dumplings that make them so amazing, maybe it is the broth or the small truffle they put on the top, but I could eat these little bites of heaven every day and not get sick of them.
We then moved on to the Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll – another interesting dish that I had to have a second time. The saltiness of the pastrami and the crunchy egg roll coating are the perfect combination and they don’t skimp on the meat! There is enough that you get some in every bite you take. This dish had a delicious dijon mustard dipping sauce that I dipped my chop stick into to eat on its own (don’t judge me).
Next up, the ‘Pac Man’ shrimp dumplings- a suggestion the from bartender. The presentation alone was unique and cute, but the dish was even better. 4 different types of shrimp dumplings with a yummy sauce and a yam tempura shaped pac man. It was simple and hit all the right notes!
For our mains, we had the three Chili Chicken and the Wide Rice Noodles with BBQ Duck. I’m not sure what it was about the chicken dish, maybe I was already full from everything else but it didn’t do it for me. This dish was good, but not great. I felt like I could get it anywhere, but AG seemed to like it a lot! By the time the Duck noodles came I was bursting at the seams. I am not a huge duck fan so I opted not to try it but I did have some of the noodles and they were magnificent.
New York is filled with some amazing restaurants and chefs who spend their entire lives practising their craft. Red Farm is a great example of food done right! The next time you visit New York I HIGHLY recommend RedFarm.
It was a pretty huge week of eating. My husband just celebrated a milestone birthday and to us that means a lot of dinners. We hit a couple of our favourite special occasion spots. First we went to Scaramouche Pasta Bar and Grill. This restaurant is very close to our place (less than 5 minutes) and a place we go for special occasions, but sometimes just for a date night. If you don’t know about Scaramouche, there are a couple of things to point out. When you pull up (to complimentary valet), the first thing you see is a condo. You wouldn’t think a restaurant this great would be in a spot like this. There are two restaurants in one – the Restaurant is very high-end, and apparently one of the city’s best (I’ve never been ) and the Pasta Bar which is slightly more casual with pasta as the focus. The views are spectacular. You can see all of downtown and when we went, it was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Now to the food…
Sometimes I get the soup special, it is usually not a combination you would ever guess. I can almost promise it’s never a basic tomato. That night, we shared a composed Caesar salad. The romaine hearts are beautifully plated with a little chopped egg (we opted for no egg) and delicious Parmesan.
For mains, we always get pasta. It’s fresh and homemade and incredibly interesting combinations that I haven’t seen anywhere else. My husband’s (and mom’s) favourite is the peppercorn fettuccine. This is a staple on the menu. It’s a cream based sauce with beef tenderloin, mushrooms, pine nuts and bread crumbs. The pine nuts and bread crumbs add a great texture. The meat is always juicy and perfectly cooked. It’s super peppery, but that’s what you need to expect when you order a dish like this. I always sneak a couple bites.
The menu here is constantly changing with very few items that are always on it. I usually go for the gnocchi. They are bigger than most, but very light and airy. Like eating little clouds with interesting and different sauces. This time it came with mixed wild mushrooms (no button mushrooms to be found), crispy shallots, wilted (not bitter) greens and duck confit. Sometimes I find duck to be too gamey, but this was tender and not too intense. There wasn’t a lot of duck meat, but the mushrooms made up for it. The sauce was more of a jus and believe me, I wasn’t leaving a drop.
The star of the show is always the dessert. They have an amazing pastry chef, who I’m sure makes delicious pastries, but we keep going back for the coconut cream pie. The crust is flaky and tender. The filling is creamy, dense and rich. It’s topped with white chocolate curls. It’s really quite beautiful. They also make it special for birthdays by writing ‘Happy Birthday’ in chocolate on the plate. Even if you think you don’t like coconut, try it. You won’t be sorry. Whole pies are even available to go!
1 Benvenuto Pl (Avenue and St Clair)