August 30, 2011

Lobster Summer @ The Keg

I recently went to the newly opened Keg at Richmond Hill. Or rather, they moved the old location to another new building in the same plaza, so technically it's "new". But the new building is indeed a lot bigger and nicer.
The bread at the Keg never disappoints me, especially when it's freshly baked.
French onion soup- hearty beef broth, Spanish onions, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses. I enjoyed all that gooey, cheesy and savoury goodness! Also paired great with the bread!
Side Keg Caesar- crisp romaine and aged Parmesan cheese in a creamy dressing. Not much to write about, as this was just an ordinary Caesar salad that came with our steak dinner. The croutons were a little burned, however.
Crab cakes- sweet Jonah and lump Dungeness crab, hand formed and served with a dill caper mayo. I generally love crab cakes, and this was not an exception! There were chunky pieces of sweet crab meat packed into pan fried patties, and the creamy dill caper mayo was a great accompaniment. No complaints here. However, I thought the portion was pretty small, even in my standards.
Seafood Sirloin- grilled top sirloin steak, topped with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a chive velouté sauce, with grilled vegetables and double baked potato. I found the steak itself mediocre, and the seafood topping didn't have that wow factor that I was expecting. However, I  enjoyed all the grilled veggies, and the double baked potato was a comforting delight. Next time, I'll stick with my preferred prime rib or filet Mignon cut of steak.
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar - Richmond Hill on Urbanspoon

Dinner @ The Left Bank

Although I wanted to try a new restaurant in Buffalo, I was too lazy to read reviews. So in the end, I stuck with my favourite restaurant- The Left Bank.
We were 1.5 hr early for our reservation, but we figured that we could probably snag a spot anyway given that it was a random Thursday night.  We were wrong! The place was absolutely packed and a lot of people were hanging by the bar area while they waited for a seat. Even though the bar looks almost empty in this picture, there were actually a lot of people in the restaurant. We had so much trouble finding parking.
After awhile, we were seated in the patio since we didn't want to wait for another hour. The patio was quite charming, and thankfully there wasn't a lot of bugs.
The bread was cold and mediocre, but the roasted red pepper dip was delicious and addictive!
Bruschetta of the day was topped with grilled chicken, roasted garlic and romano cheese spread, balsamic marinated tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. The last two times that I dined here, the bruschetta was simply outstanding. Unfortunately, this version was not as good as the previous ones that I've had at this restaurant. The flavour profile was missing a kick and I was somewhat disappointed.
On the other hand, I really loved the hot banana pepper baked in San Marzano tomato sauce with asiago cheese and shredded basil. I enjoyed the heat in the banana pepper. It was incredibly aromatic and the hot banana pepper and cheese made a heavenly match. Although the dish was very heavy, it was simply scrumptious and I couldn't stop eating it.
Lastly, the carrot papardella was also excellent. Tossed with lobster, shrimp and crab meat, the pasta was slathered in a shellfish-brandy cream, with julienne vegetables, arugula and tarragon. The shellfish sauce was delectable and rich with lobster flavour, which I absolutely loved. I felt that I could have drank the sauce like a cream soup. The pasta, cooked al dente, was coated with chunks of sweet crab meat, and the julienne vegetables added some freshness to this rich and delicious concoction.
My mom and I are really not big eaters, so we had a lot of leftovers to pack home for an excellent meal the following day. Once again, I had a delightful meal at The Left Bank, and I highly recommend anyone going to Buffalo to check this place out. However, the restaurant is incredibly popular, so keep in mind that reservation is a must!
Left Bank on Urbanspoon

August 28, 2011

Lunch @ Cheesecake Factory

Can't resist stopping by Cheesecake Factory for lunch whenever I shop in Buffalo.
Delicious pumpernickel bread is always a highlight of my meal. This time, I resisted the temptation to ask for more.
To save room for dessert, my mom and I shared a Cuban sandwich: slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and mayonnaise on a grilled and pressed Cuban-style roll, served with a green salad. I'm not sure how authentic this Cuban sandwich is, but I wished that the bread had been pressed and grilled more to achieve a better crunch.The combination of pickles and mustard reminded me of flavours from a burger. Overall, the sandwich was pleasant, but not mind blowing.
Finally, it was dessert time! After considering all the choices, I chose the Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake with baked apples, caramel and brown sugar cinnamon walnut streusel. It was a wonderful combination of two of my favourite sweet treats: cheesecake and apple pie. My mom found the cinnamon overpowering in the streusel, but I absolutely loved it. However, I must say that everything together was exceedingly sweet, even when I only ate half of it. Next time, I'll consider have lunch elsewhere and coming here just for the cheesecake.
Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

August 21, 2011

Dinner @ Sen5es

My sister left me a Groupon for Sen5es Restaurant so I decided to go for a nice dinner with my mom before the Groupon's expiry. The restaurant was definitely smaller than I expected, but luckily, we managed to snag a spot despite the place being booked full for the night.
The bread was really nice, but sadly it was served with goat milk butter. Since both my mom and I hate goat milk, we left the butter untouched. 
After some bread, we shared a French onion soup with sweet onion tart. I found the deconstructed presentation interesting. Instead of placing the pastry on top of the soup, it was served on the side as a sweet onion tart. But I prefer having the pastry soak up all the savoury goodness, so I immersed the entire tart into the soup. The soup was delicious and not overly cheesy, as French onion soups often can be.
My mom and I also split the entrée- prime beef tenderloin and foie gras with truffled mash, green asparagus, and truffle veal jus. Altogether, this was a very rich dish. The beef tenderloin was juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare. I particularly enjoyed the aromatic truffled mash, which was ridiculously creamy and rich. The only disappointment was the asparagus, as they were amazingly salty to the point of being inedible. It really was a shame, for both my mom and I love asparagus. I'm really glad that we split the entrée, for the beef, foie gras and mashed potatoes were all exceedingly rich (albeit delicious) and finishing the entire plate would have put me in a coma.
For me, dessert was truly the highlight of the meal. We opted for a quartet of crème brûlée. From left to right: vanilla, chocolate, ginger and mocha and they were all divine! The texture was velvety smooth and creamy with a perfectly caramelized top. I expected to love the mocha, but it turned out to be my least favourite. I thought that the coffee flavour was a tad overpowering, whereas the chocolate and ginger were subtle complements to the natural flavour of the crème brûlée. My mom and I really enjoyed this dessert.
All in all, it was a lovely meal, although I'm not sure that I'll be returning without a Groupon due to the steep prices. The quartet of crème brûlée definitely made a strong impression on me, and I'll most likely come back for the desserts.
Senses on Urbanspoon

August 18, 2011

Lunch @ Caplansky's Delicatessen

Stopped by Caplansky's for lunch one day to use a Groupon that I purchased. I was craving for something with eggs, so I opted for the smoked meat hash: griddle fried with Caplansky's own lean smoked meat, potato, onion, and brisket seasonings, served with two sunny eggs and rye toast. The meat hash, on its own, was a little too dry, but tasted delicious with the runny egg yolk. I constructed my own version of a breakfast sandwich with the rye toast, smoked meat hash and egg, and it was really satisfying.
From a yelp offer, we got a side of fries for free. These were possibly some of the greasiest fries I've ever seen and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I loved it. With every bite, I could almost feel my arteries clogging up, but it was really quite addictive.
After a greasy meal, I was still craving for dessert. Despite looking very promising, the blueberry cheesecake was not cheesy enough for me. I'm still looking for the best cheesecake in the city!
Caplansky's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

August 16, 2011

Lunch @ Etsu

I've heard a lot of good things about Etsu in Baldwin Village, so I was quite excited to finally come here for lunch one day. I thought the place was super cute, particularly the swan shaped chopstick rest.
Lunch combos come with miso soup and salad. The salad was tiny and dressed with a light vinaigrette that I didn't really enjoy. On the other hand, Etsu served iced water flavoured with a blend of fruits and vegetable, which I found very refreshing.
Etsu offers many lunch combos and I have difficulty choosing one. In the end, I opted for a spicy combo with 8 spicy salmon rolls and 6 spicy tuna rolls. It was pretty good, but not the best that I've had.
The other combo featured 6 avocado rolls and 8 dynamite rolls, both of which I enjoyed more than my spicy rolls. The avocado roll, although simple, was creamy and delicious. 
Etsu is a great lunch spot, and I would definitely come back again to try out other rolls. I spotted some delicious-looking tempura on another table, so I'll definitely be ordering that next time as well.
Etsu Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

August 11, 2011

Eating in Waterloo (Day 2)

I've been to Village Crêperie before for dinner, but this time I came for lunch. 
I thought the salt and pepper shakers were very cute.
Of course, we ordered galettes (buckwheat crêpes) for lunch. My friend opted for poulet chimichurri: garlic balsamic roasted organic chicken breast, with aged white cheddar, mozzarella, red onion, lettuce , chimichurri dressing and topped with house-made chili sauce. I had a couple of bites and the flavours were very Mexican to me. The galette was huge and she struggled to finish it.
For myself, I chose saumon avec le dressage de pomme, de Dijon et de citron: wild pacific salmon filet in a crêpe topped with an apple, grainy Dijon and citrus dressing. Strangely enough, I couldn't detect any hint of apple in the galette, not in its actual form nor in the sauce. Nevertheless, I loved the grainy Dijon sauce and the buckwheat crêpe was really tasty. However, the salmon was slightly overcooked for me, and the side salad was also under dressed.
All in all, a very filling and delicious lunch. Everything tasted healthy and wholesome, and we were pleased with the food.
Village Creperie on Urbanspoon
For dinner, we went to Wildcraft because it was close to where I live.
I love Wildcraft's flatbreads, so I'm excited to try a new variation- pear and stilton with fontina cheese, prosciutto, caramelized onion, roasted garlic and watercress. This is possibly my favourite flatbread that I've tried so far. I just loved the combination of the savoury prosciutto and sweet pear. I normally am not a big fan of prosciutto, but that intense flavour really worked here with the intensely sweet pear. The roasted garlic added an incredible aromatic dimension and everything was absolutely delicious!
My friend ordered the pan seared Atlantic salmon- fennel-spiced with butternut squash purée, roasted endive, caramelized leeks, Brussels sprouts, heidelberg double smoked bacon, roasted potatoes and fresh chili yogurt. The fish was well-cooked, but above all, the veggies were outstanding, particularly the caramelized leeks and Brussels sprouts. I didn't care for the smoked bacon and chili yogurt, but other than that, all the elements worked really well together. I usually don't like having fish at a restaurant, but I would actually consider re-ordering this plate of food.
Wildcraft on Urbanspoon

August 2, 2011

Eating in Waterloo (Day 1)

A very dear friend of mine was visiting me at school from Toronto, so I tried my very best to take her to some good places to eat. Our first stop was lunch at the Bauer Kitchen, one of my favourite lunch spots in Waterloo.
There wasn't any sandwich specials for the day, so I had a chance to order from their regular menu. I opted for an indulgent Croque monsieur with black forest ham, Emmental cheese, Gruyère cheese and Dijon crème fraîche on grilled egg bread. Compared to their other sandwiches, this one was a lot smaller, but I didn't mind at all since it was very rich. All in all, the sandwich was very enjoyable, other than the fact the the bottom piece of bread was slightly burned. I paired my sandwich with a side Caesar salad in an attempt to eat healthier (although I'm painfully aware that Caesar salads are anything but healthy!)
My friend loves salmon, so she chose the smoked salmon sandwich with dill cream cheese, asparagus, red onions, frisée and champagne vinaigrette on multigrain bread. Her sandwich was a lot bigger than mine, and she had to pack half of it home. I took one bite out of this sandwich and it did not disappoint! The vinaigrette had a nice tang that complemented the smoked salmon and cream cheese. I would definitely consider ordering this sandwich the next time I come. My friend commented that she really enjoyed the spongy bread. I also gladly helped her finish her side of sweet potato fries.
The Bauer Kitchen on Urbanspoon
For dinner, my friend expressed a desire for pasta, so I decided to try out Casa Rugantino after doing some research online.
The family-owned restaurant was small and charming.
The bread wasn't very good. It tasted like the ones that I can buy at the grocery store and then warm up in my toaster oven.

I took a picture of the pizza from another table because it looked really good! I would definitely return to try their pizza.
We went with lasagna layered with ricotta, romano and mozzarella cheese, ham and a meat sauce baked in the oven. My friend commented that there weren't enough layers of pasta, and I would agree with her. The ham was also nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, the flavours were authentic and delicious, even though it wasn't the best lasagna that I've had.
The other pasta that we tried was the sacchetini alla gorgonzola cheese: tiny shell like pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese tossed in melted gorgonzola cheese. The pasta were really cute and reminded me of wontons stuffed with ricotta cheese (which I love). The sauce was absolutely scrumptious and perfectly cheesy, but unfortunately it was also overly salty. Nevertheless, we finished both of our pasta and enjoyed it wholeheartedly.
By the end of the meal, we were pretty stuffed and couldn't get any desserts. All in all, it was a great day of eating and I had a lot of fun!
Casa Rugantino on Urbanspoon

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