December 20, 2010

W Burger Bar

I had always meant to try W Burger Bar, and so I bought online coupons from Wagjag for a peer beef burger combo (that comes with fries) for $5 only. I must say, it's an incredible deal for a lot of (extremely greasy and unhealthy) food!
Complimentary carrot and celery dip to start. Since I hate both, I didn't have any of this. But it's nice that they give this for free! It's almost like they're trying to be healthy.
A  delicious strawberry milkshake to wash down our meal. It was creamy and very thick, and I found it really hard to restrain myself from having too much of it before my actual burger arrived!
My pure burger, with mixed greens, tomatoes, sauteed onions, cranberries, roasted red peppers, chipotle ketchup, honey mustard, garlic herb mayonnaise and tzatziki sauce. I tend to go crazy with condiments and toppings, so I was absolutely thrilled that W Burger Bar offers 37 complimentary ones! The burger was really big and I couldn't finish it The beef was slightly overcooked (I asked for it to be medium), and a little dry. I loved the combination of all of my toppings, the roasted red pepper being particularly excellent. I think they might've forgotten to put cranberries on it though. Overall, a very tasty and satisfying burger, but not without flaws.
My friend's pure burger, with Monterey Jack cheese, mixed greens, pickles, red onions, ketchup, chipotle mustard, and horseradish mayo. He's a little less adventurous than I am when it comes to toppings, but at least his patty was not overcooked. The fries were also very good, but we barely got to touch it because there were so much food!
I forked up a little to substitute my fries for Panko Breaded Onion Rings.
They cut their onions quick thick and the batter is very heavy. In spite of this, I couldn't stop eating it because they were just so darn scrumptious! I was extremely full by the end of the meal and I could feel my arteries clogging up. I don't think I can eat at W burger bar more than once a year...
W Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Quaff Cafe

Quaff Cafe is a very charming and rustic little place that I happened to stop by for lunch one Saturday. I really enjoyed the atmosphere here but I wasn't overly impressed with the food.
I ordered a simple latte and it was pretty good, but not extraordinary. But then again, I'm not an expert at judging coffee (although I love drinking it)
The spinach pie didn't blow my mind but tasted generically good, as most spinach pies do. I mean, I even enjoy the supermarket-bought frozen ones.
I was very intrigued by their featured item- egg and cheese boat. It looked so cool that I just had to try it. The crust tasted like pizza crust, and the egg and cheese filling was slightly under seasoned (a little more salt would be good). But points for creativity and putting a smile on my face!
Ending off with a dessert, I couldn't resist getting the dulce de leche cheesecake, since I fell in love with the one at my birthday dinner. However, this cheesecake was simply too dense and rich. I usually love rich cheesecakes, but this one was just overboard. I only wanted to eat a quarter of it (but had to eat half since I shared it with my friend).
Quaff Cafe on Urbanspoon

December 14, 2010

Ding Tai Fung Shanghai Dim Sum + Ten Ren

I love Ding Tai Fung just a little too much so I always go there for reliable food that will make me very very happy. I'll just shut up now and let the pictures do the talking. First up is an irresistible order of 小籠包...
We don't usually get noodles but wanted to try something new this time. The 炸醬麵 (Noodle with minced pork, shredded cucumber, sprouts in a Peking sauce) was decent but not outstanding. Probably won't get it again.
紅油抄手 (wontons in spicy peanut sauce) was delicious! I would've loved for even more heat but I'll definitely be getting it again in the future!
生煎包 (pan-fried pork bun) here is always my favourite. Some may complain that it's too doughy but I think it's perfect (because I like plain buns a lot). Can't get enough of this!
My sister introduced me to 牛肉餡餅 (pan-fried beef patty) and ever since then it's been one of my favourite items to order here. Incredibly juicy and flavourful, I really can't rave enough about it.
Decided to get a drink and dessert later in the night and ended up in Ten Ren. Their taro milk black tea is one of my favourites and I love being able to pour my own tea hahaha!
Green Tea Doughnut with Taro Filling: this was a new item, so I wanted to try it. I like the green-tea flavoured whipped cream because it actually (surprisingly) tasted like green tea and kept the doughnut from being too dry. As for the doughnut... it just tasted like Chinese egg snacks, but there's tapioca inside. I thought that was kinda cute.
Ding Tai Fong - Shanghai Dim Sum on Urbanspoon

Thanksgiving Dinner @ Globe Bistro

I was in search of a hearty, elaborate Thanksgiving meal. After all, the holiday is a time to feast. But upon considering my options, Globe Bistro’s $35 prix fixe menu intrigued me. Despite the narrow dining room, the elevated ceilings give a great sense of spaciousness.  I read that the restaurant was a former bowling alley, and the distinctive wooden flooring still remains. It's an interesting touch that adds charm to the otherwise modern and upscale décor.
The place has a sort of haunted beauty that's strangely entrancing.
Before entering the main dining area, I stroll past the open kitchen and catch a glimpse of the magic inside it. Already, I am excited for what is to come, as everything smells and looks wonderful.
Soon after getting seated, our waiter promptly presents the amuse-bouche for the evening. Unfortunately, I was too hungry to remember the server's description of what it is. Regardless of what it is, the thick and creamy pâté-like topping is delicious, but hardly enough to satisfy my appetite. Nevertheless, it is a great start to the meal and leaves me desiring more.
For my appetizer, I opt for the local cellar vegetable salad. Local 100 Mile greens is tossed with squash chips, toasted walnuts, Lankaaster cheese and Niagara canola oil. Globe Bistro’s faithfulness to local, high-quality ingredients is admirable, and the efforts definitely pay off—  freshness is evident in every element that compose this salad. The crunchy walnuts and crispy squash combine to achieve just the perfect texture. The salad, on the whole, is light and tasty, albeit perhaps too small.
But in the battle of the appetizers, the real winner is the thai pumpkin purée. The thick, creamy soup has an earthy quality that makes me just want to slurp the whole thing down. The flavour is a rich blend of sweet and savoury goodness, accented with a dollop of ginger scallion cream and chili roasted seeds. My salad was good, but I wish I got this instead.

The star of the night—Blue Haven Farms Heritage Turkey—arrives amidst great expectations. The dressings include sage and pearl barley risotto, red fife currant stuffing, green beans and last but not least, smoked bacon gravy. The gravy is appropriately light enough not to overwhelm the turkey, but adds a great flavor to the incredibly juicy and tender meat. I really wanted to try turkey with cranberry sauce, but the currant stuffing is a competent substitute that fills the void. Sweet, dense, and delightfully chewy, it is the perfect counterpart to the savoury gravy. In place of the traditional mashed potato, we have the barley risotto, which conveniently soaks up the all the delicious sauce.
Since everything was so small in portion, we asked for more bread. Unfortunately, the second time around, we didn't get the butternut squash dip that goes with it.
Dessert presents me with a dilemma. Both the apple and cranberry crumble and the local “Pumpkin Pie” tart sound deliciously enticing. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I go with the pumpkin tart, and I am glad that I did. The tart, presented in a simple and straightforward manner, is well executed. The pumpkin flavour is more intense than the average bakery tart and leaves a pleasant, lingering aftertaste.
The apple and cranberry crumble is decent, but not as good as the tart. I've had better crumbles before. But all in all, I was extremely impressed with Globe. I think I'll definitely be returning for winterlicious or another holiday meal!
Globe Bistro on Urbanspoon

December 8, 2010

Disappointing meal @ Milestones

Milestones is usually one of my favourite chain restaurants, but on this occasion, it was very disappointing. We started with one of my favourite appetizers-Calamari steak strips with andouille sausage ragu: served with spicy sausage tomato caper sauce and preserved lemon aioli. There was nothing wrong with the flavour but the portion was so much smaller than what I usually get here. I'm a bit confused, do they give smaller portions on Thursdays?
Kobe style classic meatloaf: premium kobe style beef topped with lightly fried onion strings over garlic mashed potatoes. Shiitake mushroom au jus and seasonal vegetables. I thought this was actually quite good, and I particularly enjoyed the onion straws. However, I've had better meatloaf in the past, so I probably won't get this in the future here.
Braised Beef Papardelle: pasta tossed with tender braised beef, roasted trio mushroom, Roma tomatoes, and baby wild Arugula in a creamy Fontina cheese sauce. Paired with a toasted herb and garlic Focaccia breadstick. This was horrible! The papardelle had an awful, almost flaky texture and tasted like a cooking experiment gone wrong. I guess the toppings and the meat were alright, but the pasta was just so bad that it overwhelmed everything. The Focaccia breadstick also did not impress me as it was too dried. Maybe I won't get any of Milestones' seasonal items in the future.

December 7, 2010

Linda Restaurant @ Shops at Don Mills

Since Salad King is still closed after that wall collapsed, we have to settle with Linda to satisfy our thai cravings. Linda is the more upscale sister restaurant to everyone's favourite thai cheap eat spot downtown. Located at Shops at Don Mills (my new favourite mall for dining), it's really quite a lovely place to enjoy a nice dinner, but the prices are considerably higher.
The decor is very elegant, featuring a large classic Thai temple centerpiece. The restaurant itself isn't that big, but the high ceilings give a sense of spaciousness and adds to the grandeur of the place.

Red wooden panes separates the space into sections. It's an elegant touch that kind of gives the illusion of having some privacy in an open space.
We ordered the pad thai: rice noodles, carrots, peanuts, tofu, green onions, bean sprouts, coriander, egg, fish, and tamarind sauce with chicken. I'm not a fan of the chicken, but loved every other component in it. This is a refined version of my favourite Thai dish, and the flavours are spot on- perfectly sweet and sour. I found it extremely hard to stop myself from having more.
Beef Panang: Tender beef with crispy coating served in Panang Curry
with peanut and coconut milk. I couldn't get enough of the scrumptious curry sauce in this dish. It's hard for curry to stand out for me because I've tried so many variations of it in my life, but this one certainly did. The crusted beef was just so perfect with the incredible sauce. I loved the contrast between the crispy exterior and the tender meat. The curry is moderately spicy, but I wouldn't mind if it had even more heat (I love spicy food).
It was a very enjoyable meal and despite the steeper prices, I would definitely come back to eat the curry beef again.
Linda Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Birthday Dinner @ Spuntini

Spuntini at Yorkville was such a lovely place to celebrate a special occasion. The surprisingly tiny restaurant is a celebrity favourite and has got a wall of pictures to prove that. The inside was dimly lit and elegant, but we hardly had enough room to seat ourselves. Upon arrival, we were chastised by the staff for not calling in to tell them that we were going to be 15 minutes late. I know that we shouldn't be late, but it's not really our fault that there was an accident on Bloor! I wasn't that impressed with this attitude, but thankfully service didn't have any other problems for the rest of the evening.
Finally, we got our seat and had some bread to temporarily satiate our hunger. The hummus dip was delicious with the Italian bread, but I'm not one to judge, since I usually love any kind of bread.
We went with a pasta feast, starting with the linguine frutti di mare: linguine tossed with sautéed mussels, calamari, shrimp and baby clams in a white wine and fresh garlic sauce with green onion & cherry tomatoes. I had one bite of it and it was quite good.
The daily special was some sort of butternut squash ravioli with goat cheese. I totally missed our server's description of the dish because I was taking a call, but of course, I hate goat cheese so I didn't think I would like this. However, it turned out to be surprisingly good, and I couldn't taste the goat cheese at all. Too bad I won't get a chance to order this again.
Rigatoni Portabello: Rigatoni tossed with red onions, sun dried tomatoes in a Portobello mushroom pesto cream sauce. The sauce tasted like cream of mushroom soup, but in a very good way. I couldn't get enough of the creamy, scrumptious sauce and I love the bite of the rigatoni. An overall winner!
Penne alla vodka: penne tossed with Italian cured bacon in a tomato cream sauce and a splash of vodka. I love tomato cream sauce with any type of pasta and the addition of vodka is just a cherry on top! The bacon bits were delicious, and this sauce is more intense than the other pasta dishes. I would've liked more heat to it, but all in all, I enjoyed it a lot (despite the fact that it wasn't my order)
My choice of the night was the Risotto Funghi: Arborio rice with porcini mushrooms in natural broth topped with a truffle essence and grated fresh Parmigiano Regiano. I love the chewy texture of risotto, and the mushroom sauce was quite aromatic. However, I thought that the Rigatoni Portabello had a better mushroom sauce, so with that comparison, it made the dish less desirable. I just kept mooching off everyone's pasta and ended up packing most of this home.
A good meal always ends with dessert! What better to get than Tiramisu at an Italian restaurant? I remember that this tiramisu was pretty good and definitely satisfied my sweet craving.
Crème brulée with mango sorbet: I only had two bites of this, but the mango sorbet was very light and tasty.
Dulce de leche cheesecake: this is one very decadent and delicious cheesecake! I absolutely adore dulce de leche and it's a match made in heaven with the rich cheesecake. Definitely my favourite dessert of the night! Thanks to all my friends for a wonderful birthday dinner!

Spuntini Italian on Urbanspoon


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