April 21, 2011

O & B and Marble Slab Creamery

I haven't been to the O&B at Waterloo for awhile, so after a brutal round of exams, I decided to come here for a nice dinner. On a Monday night, the restaurant was pretty quiet. In fact, we stood at the door for a few minutes before anyone came to greet us.
Recently, I've had a strange craving for ribs, and I just want to eat it all the time. Since I haven't had ribs for 2 whole weeks, I jumped right at O&B's Fire Roasted Baby Back Ribs, with jalapeño cornbread pudding, creamy coleslaw, seasonal vegetables and campfire maple baked beans. The ribs were pretty good, but not the best that I had. There were hits and misses with the sides. I enjoyed the coleslaw and baked beans a lot, but the jalapeño cornbread pudding was just weird! I'd expected it to be slightly sweet, but whole thing just resembled a dense, savoury muffin. I didn't like the texture at all, and the flavour combination of jalapeño and corn was not a party in my mouth.
I can't remember how many times I've had the Beer Battered Atlantic Haddock, with Yukon Gold fries and creamy coleslaw. As usual, the fish was very good, but the fries were overly salty for my taste. I needed it with a lot of ketchup or malt vinegar to balance out the saltiness. All in all, I wasn't overly impressed with the service we received for the evening. Our waitress wasn't attentive at all, and I had to personally ask for bread. Perhaps it was a slow night, but I don't think I'll be coming back to this location anytime soon. For restaurants in the similar price range, I much prefer Wildcraft. 
After dinner, I wanted Marble Slab for dessert! We chose birthday cake ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough mixed in. I wouldn't say the ice cream tasted particularly like cake, but it was delicious nevertheless. Can't wait till summer when I can indulge in more ice cream...

Marble Slab Creamery on UrbanspoonOliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill on Urbanspoon

Vincenzo's @ Waterloo

Even though I was stuffed, I wanted to check out the desserts over at Vincenzo's. It was certainly a good feast for the eyes.
Of course, I couldn't resist trying a mini-sized dessert! They have so many varieties of cheesecakes, and they all look delectable! I was sorely tempted by the chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, but my mom is not a fan of cookies.
In the end, we opted for a cappuccino swirl cheesecake with walnuts, because my mom loves coffee. We also picked up a couple macarons, and these were a lot cheaper than the ones from Nadège! The cheesecake was super rich and cheesy, just how my mother likes it. The macarons were tasty as well, although not as refined as the previous ones I had. However, given the price (it's twice as cheap!), I'd gladly eat these instead.
Vincenzo's on Urbanspoon

April 20, 2011

Lunch @ Bauer Kitchen (again)

I wanted to try the sandwiches at Vincenzo's next door for a final, nicer lunch before my exams start. Unfortunately, we came at a bad time, and the grocery store was jam packed. We hopped over to the Bauer Kitchen, which was pretty filled up at this point as well. Luckily, we were able to snag a spot at one of the bar tables.
The Bauer Kitchen features a wide assortment of sandwiches on their lunch menu and I want to try them all! But so far, I haven't been able to tackle any one of them, because I'm always won over by their sandwich of the day.
On this day, the feature was a slow roasted pulled pork sandwich with coffee BBQ sauce and coleslaw on house-made cheddar ciabatta. As soon as I heard "pulled pork", I was sold! The meat was incredibly tender and moist, and the BBQ sauce was just to die for! The coleslaw provided a great crunch against the meat and dense bread. The combination resulted in one very rich and heavy sandwich! Eating a quarter was enough to fill me up! I packed half of the sandwich for a very delicious dinner that night.
We opted for a side romaine salad, with garlic anchovy dressing, Heidelberg double-smoked bacon, olive oil croutons and Parmigiano Reggiano. Loved the big slap of bacon on top!
The daily lunch special fish and chips, with house-made coleslaw, sweet potato frites and lemon tartar sauce. The fish was nicely fried, tender inside and crispy outside. We got more of the same wonderful coleslaw from the sandwich, which I loved even more on its own. I was really full from the meaty sandwich, so I only managed to eat very little fries, but it was very tasty. However, I didn't particularly care for the lemon tartar sauce.
All in all, I had another delicious lunch at the Bauer Kitchen! But next time I'd really like to try some of the sandwiches on their permanent menu.
The Bauer Kitchen on Urbanspoon

April 13, 2011

Nadège Patisserie @ Queen West

Nadège is a French patisserie that specializes in exquisite, gourmet pastries. The space is elegantly decked with simple, white walls and a display case with the most glorious assortment of goodies.
The cakes all look beautiful, and I especially love the bright, vibrant colours on all of them. I was tempted to try some cake, but we had our minds set on one thing...
...macarons! Look at all the colourful choices! I was curious to see how macarons in Toronto would compare to the ones I sampled from Ladurée in Paris.
Look how beautiful the packaging is. In fact, it's so nice that the girl refused to give us an extra box because they're "expensive" (my friend and I were splitting a dozen macarons). Seriously, it's just a box! I find it appalling that a high-end patisserie like this one would cheap out on giving boxes, especially since we had a need for one.
And while I was snapping pictures, the girl informed me that she "doesn't recommend customers to take photos". I think Nadège should invest more in training employees when it comes to customer service.
The six beauties to the left were mine to devour! From left to right, the flavours were: rose, cassis, chestnut, pistachio, salted caramel, and coffee. My favourite was definitely the salted caramel. All in all, I still prefer the macarons from Ladurée, as they were lighter in texture. In comparison, these ones are sweeter and denser. I'm not sure I'll be returning to Nadège, but I look forward to trying other macarons in the city!
Nadege Patisserie on Urbanspoon

April 10, 2011

Guu Izakaya Take III

With the recent opening of Guu Sakabar, we reasoned that people would flock to that new location instead. Turns out, our logic was flawed. The izakaya was just as busy as ever (and bustling with chaotic energy)! What ensued was one of the longest wait that I've ever endured for a meal - 2 whole hours in the cold outside! We were told that the wait was only going to be an hour, which I was fine with. But in the end, because they kept seating parties of 2 and we were a party of 3, the wait time doubled. In fact, after realizing that there were other parties of 3 waiting impatiently as well, I had to gently prompt the poor guy who was seating people to "concentrate on fitting in parties of 3's".
This was the first time that I got seated at the bar side. Too bad I drove that day, so I couldn't drink at all.
The daily menu specials. Unfortunately, there weren't that many overly interesting items to order. They ran out of the toro carpaccio that we wanted to try. Incidentally, toro (fatty tuna belly) is my favourite sashimi!
Gyu carpaccio: lightly seared marbled beef sashimi with wasabi mayo. I appreciate that the flavours were kept very clean and light, with a touch of creaminess from the mayo. However, I couldn't chew through the rare beef. The wasabi also didn't have a very strong presence.
I'm a big fan of uni (sea urchin), so I obviously enjoyed this very much. I loved that subtle hint of sweetness and the creamy texture of the sashimi. My friends thought otherwise, though.
Kabocha korokke was something that I've had before: deep fried kabocha pumpkin croquette with a boiled egg inside. My pumpkin-obsessed friend has never had it before, so of course, she couldn't resist ordering this.
 I would've loved this even more if the egg inside was only half-cooked. Surely, a runny egg yolk would take this creamy concoction to a whole new level!
Kinoko cheese bibimbap with garlic sautéed mushrooms, cheese and seaweed sauce. Hands down, one of my favourites of the night! Of course, I've had this before, but I just can't get over how the cheese elevates the bibimbap to a whole new level of deliciousness! For any rice items served in a hot pot, I usually wait for the rice to form a crunchy crust in the bottom, which I absolutely adore. However, this proved too irresistible and we gobbled everything right up before any crust had a chance to form.
Kaki Furai: Deep fried oyster with three kinds of sauce. I wished the oyster could've been bigger. Predictably, I enjoyed the pink tartar sauce the most and I was not really a big fan of the tonkatsu sauce pairing. I don't think I'll be ordering this again, for it really paled in comparison to the fried oyster that I had at Tonkichi in Hong Kong. Just thinking about that meal makes me hungry...
Kakimayo was another re-order item. In fact, I've had this twice already! But tonight, it was particularly fantastic: grilled oysters with spinach, garlic mayo and cheese on the top. Perhaps the  long wait altered my perception of certain dishes.
Honestly, I don't know how I can ever order unagi rice at another restaurant after sampling Guu's unagi doria: BBQ water eel on mixed mushroom, rice, and topped with cheese. Lesson of the day: add cheese to anything and it'll taste better, even if it doesn't make sense at all! That cheesy crust on top of the rice and eel was just so unbelievably tasty and so perfect with BBQ flavour! Once I took a bite, it was like a sudden revelation inside my head duh! cheese + jap food makes perfect sense! Maybe I should start encouraging my mom to add cheese to her Chinese cooking...
Enoki hotate bacon: Enoki mushroom and scallop wrapped in bacon with soy sauce and mustard mayo. The liberal use of mayo everywhere seems to be a recurring theme in Guu's food, but no complaints from me about that! This was another tasty treat. The meat had a lot of bold flavours, which was a nice contrast to the lightness of the soy sauce.
Calpico and orange cheesecake was, in truth, a little strange for me, because I don't like the use of orange in desserts very much (I only like eating the fruit as it is). Still, it was a satisfying two-bite dessert, since we shared the tiny cheesecake between the three of us.
In the end, I couldn't decide whether the two hour wait was worth it. I generally love to eat, but it's not often that I truly feel inspired by the food, and I certainly felt that genuine excitement at various points of my meal. On the other hand, I feel like I should be doing something more productive with my life than to wait two hours for dinner. Food, in the end, is still just food. Next time, I shall wisely avoid weekend crowds at all costs.
Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon

April 8, 2011

Jack Astor's @ Scarborough Town Center

Jack Astor's at Scarborough Town Center always holds a special place in my heart. Back when I was young, it was one of those fun restaurants that I'd always look forward to going with my friends. We'd always childishly draw on the table with crayons, and to this day, I still do the same. Even though I'm not very inclined to patronize chain restaurants these days, I still go back to Jack Astor's for nostalgic reasons. One of my all time favourite items to order is the Jack's Garlic pan bread served in a pan. It's super buttery, greasy, and garlicky! Unfortunately, on this occasion, the bread wasn't straight out-of-the-oven hot.
Our entrée came with a side of Caesar salad: crisp romaine lettuce tossed in creamy garlic dressing topped with grated Parmesan Romano cheese. The croutons were kind of burnt.
Topless Steak Sandwich, a top Sirloin steak, grilled to order and topped with sautéed button mushrooms, three-peppercorn mushroom sauce and crisp onion straws. Served open-face on a slice of toasted baguette. I'm a fan of the onion straws and the mushroom. On the other hand, I don't like how the bread becomes all soggy from the juice of the steak.
Lobster and crab dip, with lobster, crab meat, cream cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onions. Oven-baked until bubbling, served with warm pita bread triangles (I requested for pita bread only and no nacho chips!) This "appetizer" was my meal, and just eating all that pita bread was enough to fill me up. The dip itself was cheesy and creamy, but rather generic. Eating too much of this makes me sick, but it tastes good in moderate doses.
I usually come here for their Apple Pie, but this time, I wanted to try something different. So I took a chance and ordered the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie sundae, a large white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie topped with blackberry sauce, fresh bananas and French Vanilla ice cream. It was topped with caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream (which I dislike). The dessert was good (how can a cookie sundae not be?), but not outstanding enough to make me want to order it again in the future. Next time, I shall stick to the apple pie.
Jack Astor's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

April 7, 2011

Red Lobster @ Thornhill & Dessert @ Destiny

I like to go to Red Lobster once or twice a year JUST for this: cheddar bay biscuits! I just can't get enough of the soft and buttery goodness! I would be so happy to eat this for my entire meal... well, we got so many refills that I did practically eat it for half of my meal.
Our entrée came with a Caesar salad, which was pretty ordinary.
The Red Lobster Signature Pizza, topped with langostino meat, melted cheese, fresh tomatoes and sweet basil, looked a lot better on the menu than in actuality. It was passable, but after having Pizzeria Libretto's pizza very recently, it didn't quite measure up. The lobster meat did nothing to elevate the pizza, since all I tasted was the tomatoes.
Lobster Lover's Dream: a succulent rock lobster ail and sweet spit Maritime lobster tail, roasted and served with shrimp, lobster, and langostino linguini Alfredo. Perhaps lobster is not in season right now, but I wasn't that impressed with the quality of the meat. In contrast, I rather enjoyed the linguini with cream sauce, even though it was very commercial. I feel like I could make it at home with Classico pasta sauce.
After dinner, we went for dessert and bubble tea at Scarborough's Destiny. I like their New York Style Cheesecake here, because they give you a huge slice for a reasonable price. I can't get enough of cheesecakes, and this one is perfectly creamy and cheesy! I've since gone back multiple times just to eat cheesecake!
Destiny on UrbanspoonRed Lobster on Urbanspoon

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