Tagged kosher, Pasta, pizza, Seafood, Toronto
Bistro Grande 416.782.3302 lunch and dinner Sun-Fri http://www.bistrogrande.com/main2.html
I’m always up to try anything and everything and when I found out that May is kosher restaurant month in Toronto I just had to try Bistro Grande. There are 34 restaurants participating in this event and you can find them listed here http://cor.ca/kosherrestaurantmonth.html along with a 10% off your meal coupon. Regretfully, being the klutz that I am, I forgot my wallet at home with the coupon inside of it! Hopefully I can just show them the coupon on my phone and get the discount foundon COR’s (Kashruth Council of Canada) website.
The menu is on the pricey side, entrees are between $24-$38; that said, everything is kosher sourced as locally as possible and the portions are large. The room is warm and homey, family oriented and softly lit. Our server on the other hand was brusque and gave us that hurry-up-and-order feeling (I’m assuming she wants to turn the table quickly). After telling her to give us a few minutes I order a carafe of house red and when I asked our server “What is your house red?”, she gruffly replied “whatever is open” (sounds like funs cancelled) – it was a lovely wine none the less.
Housemade bread baked fresh daily is grainy and warm, the perfect platform for a garlicky-rich hummus. The creamy Caesar salad ($14) is lavish, dusted with freshly grated parmesan and textured by thick housemade croutons. Poached salmon is diced and mixed with vibrant greens and ruby coloured sugary beets creating a “big salad” ($20); the only miss is the strange aftertaste – seasoning is needed.
Catch of the day: sea bream roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables ($39). Served whole the fish is moist, easy to de-bone and flakes apart. Farmed Atlantic salmon ($32) tastes like creamy butter and melts in the mouth – I’m really impressed.
At first glance I was a little taken aback at the prices, however, as we started tasting the food I can understand why: the food is worthy of appreciation, it’s the service that needs a few minor adjustments. Oh, and I almost forgot to let you know that the manager would NOT give me the 10% off the bill even though I explained to him what happened and showed him the coupon on my phone. Verdict: food is great but the service isn’t.
Tagged fresh, Seafood, sustainable, Toronto, video
The Happy Hooker 647.769.4243 http://www.happyhookerfish.ca/ open daily lunch & dinner, closed mon Cash Only Unlicensed
Among a sea of browns and beiges, The Happy Hookers stands out like a sore thumb. Once inside the calming aroma of freshly cut wood and unique decor sends out a different message: its all about the food. After ordering at the counter, we find a nice table overlooking the trendy Trinity Bellwoods stretch of Dundas Street West. After a few short moments the lovely, lone server delivers the first up from our order.
The buttermilk oyster slider is plump and juicy breaded with a light dusting of cornmeal, nestled with greens, mayo, pickled onions, cheddar cheese, and lemon aioli between the most perfect spongy bun from Golden Wheat Bakery. Fish and chips are hit and miss; the grouper incased in a wonderful golden crust is moist and flaky, sadly the scorched chips are a disappointment. I did, however, enjoy the housemade Adobe sauce made from Chipotle peppers which start with heat and slowly fades into smoky sweet.
Today’s menu includes three colourful and tasty tacos. The Baja Taco is earthy, topped with guacamole, diced tomatoes, lettuce, cool sour cream and creamy cheddar. Batter fried grouper with diced onions, pickled red cabbage, and cilantro is a delight. My favorite out of the trio is the grilled, lightly charcoaled shrimp taco drizzled with chipotle hot sauce, diced tomatoes and thinly sliced white cabbage.
Love it, love it! Can’t wait to come back and try the blue marlin burger.
Click on me to watch my Happy Hooker Video
Tagged Entertainment District, Italian, Seafood, Steakhouse
Michaels on Simcoe http://www.michaelsonsimcoe.com/home 416.260.5100 lunch and dinner Mon-Sat, closed Sun
I have been to Michaels once before for a champagne tasting, and have always wanted to come back to try the full dining experience. But before I really get into things let’s just say I loved everything about this place except the food. The cool coloured room is alive with an attractive crowd and a long gorgeous bar.
The drinks are excellent: a dirty burnt martini shaken with Tanqueray 10 gin and olive juice, burnt with single malt Scotch (just a few drops in the glass) and garnished with stuffed olives is the right way to start an evening. To amuse, savory baked-in-house bread arrives with a silky roasted red pepper spread.
Note to the kitchen: a little salt doesn’t hurt anyone. Beef Carpaccio with fried kale, dried shallots and truffle oil resembles a work of art, full of colour and texture, however lacks seasoning. Another miss is a drastically overcooked veal chop plated with Gnocchi and sweetbreads; drastically overcooked is an understatement, it tasted like eating sawdust. My server was quick to notice (since I ordered it rare) and took the dish away.
Sides are always a necessity at a steak house so naturally we ordered some. Sadly the short rib poutine was dry and tasteless, the forest mushrooms were nothing more than a bunch of sliced cremini with an oyster thrown in, and the double baked potato is plain and unexciting. The only redeeming factor is the tender charcoal crusted 12oz filet USDA Prime Black.
Tagged Little Italy/Portugal Village, Portuguese, Seafood, Toronto
Quinta (416) 534-0407 http://quinta.4ormat.com/ Closed Monday and Tuesday, Open Wednesday through Sunday 11-3, 5:30-11
Nestled in the heart of Toronto’s Portuguese Village, Quinta is one of the newer spots on the strip. The decor inside is the biggest drawback looking very commissary with bright ceiling lamps and an eighties-like coffee shop ceiling that could use an update. The simple menu which focuses mostly on seafood is hit and miss.
Aromas of spicy herbs and rich garlic announce the arrival of the Seafood Cataplana. When the copper lid is removed an array of snails, buttery shrimps, savory clams, and flaky white fish make this dish an instant addiction. Next an order of the white wine and garlic Periwinkle snails is a disappointment, leaving a odd monosodium glutamate taste on the palate. Even though my evening wasn’t completely perfect, I still believe the kitchen shows promise and would definitely give them another shot. Servers though charming, need to be schooled on the menu.
Tagged Canadian, Farm-to-table, Seafood, Toronto
Rock Lobster 416.533.1800 www.rocklobsterfood.com closed Mondays, open late night for dinner
Sandwiched between Dundas and Queen on a stretch of Ossington that many Torontonians have grown to love, this genuine Canadian restaurant serves up some of the freshest seafood in the city. Having opened in mid December Rock Lobster is packed late into the night almost every night of the week. The softly lit wood coloured interior has a happy, caffeinated energy that’s loud and enjoyable. Eighties rock-n-roll beats belt out of the speaker. The bar is lively and one of the best seats in the house. The menu is sourced mainly from Canada’s East coast and its freshness is addictive.
The Rock Lobster Caesar ($12) unites two of my favourite ingredients: Nova Scotia lobster and savory Clamato. An order of Mallet and Malepec oysters ($2.25 each) join buttery sweet Canadian snow crab legs ($10) – so delicious not a condiment is needed. Vanilla poached lobster surf and a coarsely chopped steak tartar lacks seasoning and punch ($12).
Every time I see a lobster poutine on a menu I order it, and every time I’m disappointed and this was no exception ($13). Jerk crab and shrimp ($13) is aromatic with cilantro and zesty mouthwatering spices. I find the serpent’s fang cocktail ($10) pairs nicely with this dish.
One the best dishes on the menu is the lobster roll ($14). Sour briny pickles and creamy lobster on a freshly buttery grilled toast earn this sandwich one of the best around. And you can’t go wrong with beautiful peel-n-eat shrimp ($12).
Even though the drink prices match those of the food, this crab-and-lobster-focused seafood bar is a worthy addition to the trendy Ossington strip.