June 27, 2012

Back at Linda for a revisit

I frequent Shops at Don Mills way too often for my own good, but I haven't eaten at Linda for more than a year.
Linda offers a three-course $25 prix fixe menu that changes monthly. Two of the appetizer options included shrimp cocktail and spring rolls with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. I only tried the spring rolls and they tasted more Chinese than Thai. My favourite is still Vietnamese style spring rolls.
There were a lot of dishes that evening and unfortunately I didn't get to try every one of them. I did, however, sampled Henry's scallops with red chili paste ($20)- scallop, seasonal vegetables, home-made red chili paste and fish sauce. We were warned that this dish was "extra-spicy", but I could only taste the slightest hint of heat.
Thai-style seafood bouillabaise ($24) was one of the special offerings of the month. I didn't try any, but Kelvin didn't seem full from it. I was told that it was also not spicy at all.
Two of us ordered beef panang ($17) as the main for the prix fixe menu- crispy beef, bell pepper, peanut, Asian basil, lime leaf in a rich creamy curry made from peanut, coconut milk, and Panang curry paste. I've always enjoyed the crispy beef very much and my boyfriend almost orders it every single time he comes!
Mona ordered something decidedly not spicy- chicken with king oyster mushroom ($17)- chicken breast, carrot, king oyster mushroom, cashew, baby bok choy, goji berry in light soy sauce. She reported that she enjoyed the cashews, but the rest of the dish was pretty ordinary.
My choice of entree was the crispy duck with steamed pancakes ($20)- braised duck leg with crispy skin, sauce. From the description, I imagined that this would be like an alternate version of Peking duck, and I was right! Substitute greasy roasted duck with a crispy duck leg! The duck leg actually arrived in tact, but our waitress broke down the meat before I had a chance to snap a picture. The accompaniments were also very similar, with the exception of the celery and the mushroom. I quite enjoyed this preparation of duck as it felt less greasy (though my cholesterol level might say otherwise). The meat was moist and flavourful, but my one complaint was that the pancakes hardened considerably when cooled. Moreover, there weren't enough pancakes, though I didn't mind eating the duck on its own at all.
We had two desserts from the prix fixe deal to end off the meal- lychee ice cream and mango sticky rice. I loved the lychee ice cream, and it's a pity that I don't see many restaurants offering that. In comparison, the mango sticky rice was less popular. I was surprised that the dessert was served warm, and the warm mango was a little off-putting. However, I did like the coconut flavours in the sticky rice. All in all, we had a good meal, and the $25 prix fixe menu is pretty good if you're into that sort of thing. I just wish that they could kick up the spice level for several dishes (or at least give you the option to make it spicier, like Salad King).
Linda Restaurant on Urbanspoon

June 26, 2012

Burger Week Stop 1- Hrvati Bar

I was super stoked about The Grid's Burger Week, in which 20 participating restaurants added a special $5 burger to their menu.  I absolutely love burgers and it was really hard to narrow down my choices from those 20. Finally, I settled on Hrvati Bar since I've been hearing raves about their unique Croatian burgers. The restaurant was quite tiny with limited seating: a long picnic table in the centre, several high bar tables that seats two, and a few seats at the actual bar. Mel and I arrived relatively early at 6 pm and managed to grab the table by the window.
Hrvati Bar also offered a special beer and burger pairing ($5 for the beer), featuring Muskoka Brewery beer. We were also gifted with a Burger Week beer glass to take home! Unfortunately, the beer was a little too strong for me and I could only finish half of it.
And finally... the burger!!! Hrvati Bar's offering was a variation of their famous Pljeskavica with Ontario beef, smoked mozzarella and caramelized onions, all surrounded by a Croatian lepinje (steamed bun). The stand-out component was undoubtedly the steamed bun. I loved, loved, loved its chewy texture, and that was what made the burger so unique as a whole. In addition, the patty was super juicy, and the caramelized onions added a perfect tinge of sweetness. I also loved the use of mozzarella for its gooeyness! It was quite a substantial burger, but I enjoyed it so much that I couldn't help devouring the whole thing! It may not be the most attractive burger, but it was certainly a uniquely delicious one.
What a great start to Burger Week! By the time we left around 7 pm, the place was packed and people were waiting out the door! Next time, I'll be sure to make a reservation before I come.
Hrvati Bar on Urbanspoon
After dinner, we swung by Acadia for some drinks.
I had a non-alcoholic black tea sour and Mel ordered a cocktail called Nectar of Life. Even though her drink was a lot more visually appealing, we both agreed that mine tasted a lot better.
We also snacked on some Acadia cornbread, served with sweet potato and bourbon butter. We've been on a hunt for good cornbread for awhile and sadly these did not live up to our expectations. Perhaps we're not very good judges of cornbread, but we would've liked them to be slightly sweeter. These weren't remotely sweet at all.
Acadia on Urbanspoon

June 25, 2012

Brunch @ Table 17

It has been more than a year since my last trip to Table 17. Considering how much I enjoyed my dinner last time, I'm surprised that it took such a long time for me to come back for their brunch (and I was only motivated by the imminent expiration of my voucher). I'm used to long waits for brunch, so I was delighted that there was no wait at all at 11:30 am on a Saturday morning! Table 17 might just have become my new favourite brunch spot!
We started off with some brunch drinks- from left to right: Blanche de Chambly and OJ ($5), grapefruit juice ($4), and mimosa ($5). Next time, I'll probably stick to coffee.
Mona ordered the quiche of the day ($10), featuring porcini mushrooms, spinach and piave, served with cherry tomato salsa and fresh greens. We all enjoyed the quiche very much, and I particularly liked the earthy mushrooms! The side of green salad was lightly dressed and balanced out the heaviness of the buttery crust. Furthermore, the portion was perfect for a girl's appetite!
My brunch choice was the Cuban sandwich ($10) - Black forest ham, roast pork, mustard, pickles and Havarti cheese and I chose the side of green salad over fries. I'm obsessed with grilled and pressed sandwich of any kind, really, but this one was fantastic! I loved the crispiness of the grilled bread and the tangy mustard! Normally I'm not a pickle-lover, but they work perfectly well here with the mustard and cheese.
Mel has a big sweet tooth so she opted for pain doré ($10) - brioche French toast served with cinnamon crème anglaise and fresh berries. I could've used a bit more of crème anglaise, but all in all, it was still very tasty.
I finished the meal with a latte ($4) so that we could use up the $50 voucher value. On the whole, it was a lovely brunch and the food was excellent! The prices are very reasonable, and I appreciate that they don't overload your plate. A lot of brunch places really go big on the portions, but I felt comfortably full after this meal. I will return very soon for dinner again!
Table 17 on Urbanspoon

June 20, 2012

BTS Cafe (Adelaide)

Cupcakes are all the rage around the world, even in Australia. After brunch, we ventured to an adourable cupcake shop called BTS cafe.
I loved the classy pink and black decor. I would love to have a room like this!
And of course, we had to check out the cupcakes too! They come in two sizes.
Since we were really really full from lunch, we ended up sharing two mini cupcakes between the three of us- salty dolls and farm boy. The names were pretty hilarious.
The bite-szie cupcakes were adorable! I preferred the farm boy (spicy pumpkin cake with maple frosting), but both were moist and delicious. I can't really recall anything else about the cupcakes since I only had half a bite to sample from each one.
Cupcakes make great Mother's Day gifts, don't you think? Too bad mine doesn't like cupcakes!
BTS Cafe on Urbanspoon

June 18, 2012

Glow Fresh Grill @ Shops at Don Mills

Since I've exhausted all the restaurant choices at Shops at Don Mills, I finally decided to give Glow a try. It's not that I shy away from healthy food, since I usually eat extremely healthy at home. But I just never really found tasty healthy food away from home. I had hoped that Glow would change my perception of that, but unfortunately, it simply affirmed my bias.
I started a fresh pear juice ($5), which turned out to be the single most flavourful item that I ordered.
But the meal didn't start badly at all. We were served three types of complimentary dips- (from left to right) artichoke, tapenade and sundried tomato.  The artichoke was my favourite, and I almost wanted to use the leftover dip to flavour the rest of my food.
Melissa ordered a gourmet turkey burger ($16) topped with dried fruit chutney, served bunless with maple sweet potato wedges and grilled asparagus. I think she had the best entrée out of all of us. The sweet potatoes and the fruit chutney were both very flavourful. I'm not quite used to having a burger without the bun, but all in all this was a relatively enjoyable dish.
Admittedly, it took a lot of effort on my part to convince my boyfriend to give Glow a try. He flinches at the very thought of "healthy food". He went with a safer choice- Wagyu beef burger ($22) featuring Paradise farms naturally raised beef burger on a kaiser with chopped lettuce, horseradish mayo, and homemade ketchup. The burger was served with a side Caesar salad and BBQ chips. Honestly, his burger wasn't that bad. The bun was a little dry, and the patty could use a little more seasoning, but on the whole it was passable. But at $22, I felt that it was vastly over-priced. I could've gotten a much tastier burger for half that price!
Mona ordered shrimp pesto linguine ($19)- tiger shrimp with whole wheat linguine noodles tossed with basil pesto, roma tomatoes, olives, red onions and topped with feta cheese. I have no idea how they could render pesto so flavourless. The entire dish could be summed up in one word- bland.
As for myself, I was lured into ordering a bowl of black bean soup ($7) by the promise of guacamole. But to my utter disappointment, there was only a small dollop of guacamole in my soup. The soup itself was decently flavourful, but I'm not the biggest fan of black bean and I only wanted half the bowl. I wished they could just let me order a side of guacamole!
The other part of my dinner was Lobster Mac & Cheese ($14) with tender pieces of Atlantic lobster baked with aged cheddar and gruyère cheese (no cream or butter). I should've known better when I read "no cream or butter". Despite the appealing presentation, the mac & cheese was bland and the sauce was extremely watery. I felt like Kraft Dinner might've tasted better than this rendition. In conclusion, next time I want to eat healthy, I'll save some money and eat at home.
Glow - Fresh Grill and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

June 15, 2012

The Arkadia House Restaurant

After spending a good morning under the sunshine at the beach, my friends and I were craving for Greek food. A friend recommended The Arkadia House near Eglinton and Warden, so we decided to give it a try. I was quite surprised that there was such a fancy restaurant in the middle of a mostly industrial strip.
Once we settled down, complimentary garlic bread was served, along with a plate of pickles and olives. I was a little over-excited about the garlic bread and admittedly ate one too many pieces. They were so good that we asked for a refill of the basket!
All the entrees also come with a complimentary plate of Greek salad, which was big enough to fill me up for lunch! The salad was quite delicious, albeit a little on the heavy side with all that feta cheese. Seriously, I didn't need to eat my entree at all after the garlic bread and salad.
Stuffed chicken breast ($18.95)- butterflied chicken breast rolled with spinach and feta, topped with light cream sauce. I tried a bite but wasn't really a big fan of this one.
Roasted leg of lamb ($19.95) was one of the specials of the day. My friend who ordered it loved it.
Gyro ($14.95)- slices of lamb and beef. I really enjoyed the gryo, but it was difficult to distinguish between the lamb and beef slices (I don't eat lamb). The two pieces of beef that I tried were very flavourful. Sandy couldn't finish even half of this and had to pack the rest home.
Beef souvlaki ($19.95)- definitely not as good as the gyro, as the meat was tougher. The portion was also less generous, not that there wasn't enough food to go around.
Chicken exohicko ($16.95)- fresh filet of chicken wrapped in filo pastry, stuffed with romano and feta cheese. This was also one of my favourite bites of the meal.
I ordered the mousaka ($16.95) layers of pan-fried eggplant, potatoes and ground beef, topped with béchamel sauce. The potato component was really interesting, almost had an egg-light texture to it. Although I enjoyed it on the whole, I felt that there was too much meat and not enough eggplants. My overall impression of this restaurants is that there is a lot of food. The food is generally tasty, and we were all stuffed to the brim! I wouldn't come back unless I was super hungry next time!
The Arkadia House on Urbanspoon

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