July 11, 2011

Summerlicious @ Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill

My first Summerlicious dinner was with a group of friends at O & B Café Grill at Bayview Village. Thus, I was able to take pictures of many courses.
O & B Cobb Salad - iceberg lettuce, avocado, bacon, boiled egg and Roquefort. I found the deconstructed presentation to be quite interest, as each component was on its own. I was surprised that the head of lettuce came entirely intact. But mash it all together and you've got a tasty salad. I actually didn't try any of this, but was told that it was pretty good.
For myself, I chose sweet chili BBQ baby back ribs with crushed peanuts and mini corn bread pudding as my appetizer. I liked the Asian twist on traditional BBQ ribs, and the flavours actually worked together quite well. The meat was adequately tender. I would also prefer the corn bread to be sweeter. This version was overly salty and buttery for me.
Many of my friends opted for chilled Yukon gold potato and leek soup smoked trout and garlic chips, and I was able to sample this one. I wasn't a big fan of the chilled soup, because I didn't enjoy that congealed texture. I suppose chilled soups are supposed to be refreshing, but this one was not. In addition, the fish had an unpleasant flavour when served cold.  I did, however, like the crispy garlic chips. I think the soup would have been a lot more enjoyable had it been served hot.
The steak frites with caper and tomato brown butter sauce was also quite disappointing. The steak was nicely charred, but it needed more seasoning, perhaps just a little more salt. The fries, on the other hand, were overly salty.
Many of us chose the steak frites, but the cut of the meat was not that big.
I was undecided between steamed mussels and the pasta course. In the end, I opted for the braised beef short rib rigatoni with Marsala, rosemary and green apple. The flavours were Asian-inspired, particularly the beef short rib. Personally, I prefer my pasta to taste Italian rather than Chinese, so I wasn't entirely impressed. The slithers of green apple didn't really add much to the dish, and I could do without that pretty garnish. I really regretted my choice, because the steamed mussels smelled really good from the table behind.
Luckily, desserts scored some points for the meal. I opted for Oliver's famous carrot cake with cinnamon Chantilly. Normally, I wouldn't go for a carrot cake, but this one was moist and delicious. The cinnamon Chantilly was really tasty with the cake. Of course, the portion was very small.
The other dessert that I tried was the chocolate marquise, which is a milk chocolate torte with hazelnut praline crunch. I also enjoyed this one a lot. The torte had an intense, chocolate flavour, and that hazelnut praline bottom was a delightful crunch. I also appreciated that it wasn't overly sweet.
The mini lemon meringue pie was very adorable, and I was told it was also very good.  Overall, I was disappointed with the meal. I had higher expectations for O & B, and I wished that they could have executed some of the dishes better. I imagine that it isn't terribly hard to make a good steak frites. Although the desserts were solid, they weren't enough to redeem the meal. 
Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill on Urbanspoon

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