Eating Out

Birthday Surprise!

image

A couple weeks ago was my 22 birthday and boy did I get spoiled!! Besides the gifts, and a wonderfully relaxing day, the food was the real treat. On my actual birthday, I went to Morton’s Steakhouse with my family, Jonty, and my brother’s girlfriend, and the next night Jonty surprised me and took me to Harbour Sixty! Check it all out below…

For starters at Morton’s I ordered a simple, yet satisfying Caesar salad, topped with buttery crouton-like garlic bread. Next was time for the steaks, with a side of crab cake. It’s title on the menu of “Jumbo Lump Crab Cake” really does it justice, since it is just that, large lumps of crab combined together into a rather large crab cake. Jonty ordered a side of shrimp which had a light crisp coating, and were incredibly flavourful. We shared both the shrimp and the crab cake.

image

image

image

As for sides, we ordered a bunch for the table to share since they are quite large. Our picks were Lyonnaise Potatoes, creamed spinach, Parmesan Truffle fries, and onion rings. They were all to die for!! The fries were incredible and the parmesan truffle really added a nice touch. The onion rings had a thick and crispy coating which is just how I like it.

image

As full as we all were, I couldn’t help but have room for dessert. I ordered Key Lime pie, which came with a candle for my birthday. I have tried many of the desserts at Morton’s and they are literally all incredible!

image

I also had some wonderful treats after dinner with some friends of mine. Jonty’s sister-in-law baked me a delicious cookie cake with an “S” on it, Jonty ordered custom made caramel cupcakes that said “Happy Birthday Shelby”, and my parents got me my favourite white Loblaws birthday cake! I was sooooooo full I could have exploded by the end of the night.

image

I think I ate enough on my birthday to last me quite a few days, but then again, calories don’t count on your birthday, right?!

Jonty told me he had a special dinner planned for me for the night after my birthday since we were with my family on my actually birthday. He knows I have always wanted to go to Harbour Sixty but never expected him to take me there because it is quite pricey. He told me that he made a reservation at some new restaurant I probably haven’t heard of. Next thing I know, we are pulling into Harbour Sixty!!! I could not have been happier, but still worried about the prices in the back of my head!

I absolutely loved the elegant and classy, yet warm and inviting ambiance of the restaurant. We were seated in a lush, comfy booth and immediately greeted by the most friendly, knowledgeable and efficient waiter. I started off with some fruity vodka cocktail that he created for me, while Jonty opted for whiskey. As for appetizers, we chose a warm mushroom salad on a bed of arugula which was a nice, light start to the meal. We also ordered the shrimp cocktail. Large, succulent shrimp arrived at our table with a side of house made tomato chili sauce.

For the main course, we ordered the Filet Mignon, along with several sides such as a jumbo Lobster tail (and I mean JUMBO), truffle mac and cheese, sugar snap peas, lobster mashed potatoes, and parmesan truffle fries. The mac and cheese and lobster mashed were my favourite of the bunch, although I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite of everything I ate.

Last but certainly not least was the homemade  Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with caramel sauce and Dulce de leche ice cream. Literally every word of that excites me and makes my mouth water. It was warm, creamy, buttery, and everything else that it’s supposed to be. What a sweet ending to a sweet birthday! I am incredibly lucky to have such amazing family, friends and of course boyfriend who treated me like a princess on my birthday!

Momofuku Takes Toronto

New York, Sidney, and now Toronto have been graced with the Momofuku goodness. This Asian style restaurant recently opened a noodle bar in the Shangri La Hotel in downtown Toronto. I have been eager to try Momofuku in New York, and was super excited for the opening in my hometown. The open concept, floor to ceiling windows, and communal seating really add to the simple yet sleek atmosphere of this unique restaurant. My friend Cassi and I decided to go on a Momofuku lunch date.

Upon arrival, the manager was extremely friendly and outgoing and recognized my friend from a previous visit. As soon as we were seated, he brought over a mini size of the Seven Spice Sour Slushie which was a blended mixture of yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit), togarashi (chili pepper), lime and sake. The spiciness from the togarashi and zing from the other ingredients took my taste buds on an interesting journey with a kick.

As for the main course, we shared a bunch of dishes to ensure we would try a little bit of everything. The ginger scallion noodles were our first choice, complete with shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, and cabbage. The noodles had a slight stickiness and al dente texture to them, which made for a mouthwatering experience.

Next were the shiitake buns, stuffed with hoisin sauce, scallions and cucumber. The buns were heavenly. They were as soft as a cloud and paired perfectly with the sweet, tangy shiitake filling.

Lastly, we tried the chicken and egg rice which was smoked chicken combined with scallions and topped with an egg.  The rice was cooked to perfection, the chicken had a crisp, smoky flavour, and the gooey yolk brought the whole dish together. I have to say this was my favourite dish of the day and can’t wait until the next time I taste this!

Make a Wish

I think I found a piece of heaven at Wish nestled on Charles Street just East of Yonge. By the looks of it, one could easily have mistaken it for a house. Once I opened the doors to the heated patio, I instantly fell in love. White, wooden panelled walls surrounded comfy white couches, pillows, country chairs, fur blankets and candles. It was an extremely chic, yet cottagey atmosphere, where I could just plop myself down with a few cocktails and never get up! Jonty and I then entered the actual restaurant, where again I was blown away, as it was equally comfy, with a little more glam. The all white, country-like interior was the perfect setting for a romantic dinner. It was extremely warm and inviting. We were seated at a corner booth on a couch, adorned with comfy pillows.

Our waitress approached us with a friendly and welcoming attitude. She then brought us a variety of wines to sample. Eventually I was set on the Pinot Grigio, while Jonty chose the Reisling. We also had difficulty choosing our food because everything on the menu sounded insanely delicious! Our helpful, efficient and pleasant waitress gave us some recommendations and adivce, which allowed for us to choose some dishes.

Soft, warm bread was brought to the table with a side of hummus with a hint of garlic. It was an impeccable start to our meal.

image

(Sorry, not the greatest picture!)

For an appetizer, we went with the Fried Calamari with a chili honey drizzle. The crispy batter perfectly coated the calamari, while the chili honey drizzle added a wonderful sweetness with a kick. I fell in LOVE with this dish and have been dreaming about it ever since.

image

As for the main course, we first ordered the gnoochi with basil pesto, butternut squash puree, cherry tomatoes, and toasted squash seeds. Unfortunately our waitress came back and informed us that because they are made in house, they had run out. We then chose the Lobster Ravioli with asparagus and snow peas in a citrus tarragon butter. The pasta was cooked to an al dente perfection, with a generous amount of lobster in each bite. The lobster tail on top was a nice touch. I was quite a fan of the citrus tarragon butter which paired well with the lobster.

image

We also ordered the Black Angus Beef Burger with aged cheddar, caramelized onions, and grainy dijon mustard, which was so juicy and flavourful. The fries were just how I like them, thin and crispy.

image

Wish also serves lunch and brunch, which I am DYING to try. It will be the perfect place for a cozy weekend brunch, and I cannot wait until that moment!

The Food & Wine Expo

Year after year I have heard advertisements for the Food and Wine Expo, yet never attempted buying tickets. My curiosity and eagerness to attend was at its peak this year, so I decided it was time. Jonty and myself ventured down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this past weekend to sample some incredible wine,  and of course, food.

Since it was Saturday night, the venue was quite packed, as we presumed. However, I think this added to the ambiance of an exciting, fun filled evening. Hundreds of booths filled the room, ranging from wine, vodka, beer, whiskey, and different cuisines.

To start things off, we chose a brisket sandwich from Barque Smokehouse.  It was incredibly sweet and smoky. We polished it off rather quickly.

After this, although very similar, we chose the Prime Rib slider from the Windsor Arms Hotel. The sweet BBQ sauce, paired with tender meat, red cabbage and horseradish was a wonderful way to get our taste buds going. To be honest though, Jonty and I both commented on the overload of horseradish which was a little too overpowering.

Next we moved onto Food Dudes, a Toronto based food truck which is all the rage these days. The white wine mac and cheese with lemon zest panko and smoked tomato ketchup immediately caught our eye. It was so creamy and cheesy with the perfect amount of crunch and lemony zing that we went back for seconds later on in the evening.

Maritime Lobster caught our attention next. Simple, yet mouth-watering and extremely fresh, we wolfed down a shrimp skewer, and some lobster pieces smothered in butter.

The trendy Kultura restaurant was serving up some delicious dishes, and we chose the Mushroom Orecchiette with Pinot Noir Pear Chutney and Aged Cheddar. It was soooo tasty that I think I barely left any for Jonty. The sauce was sharp and creamy with a hint of sweetness from the pears which made for a delightful dish. We also made a second stop here a little while later to try some of the other dishes they were offering. The Tuna Cornets seemed light, which is what we needed between all of the food and wine. Tuna sashimi, mayo and avocado mousse all sat in a nori shell, which is another word for seaweed. It tasted exactly like sushi, without being too fishy, which was a nice light bite. The lamb shank also looked too yummy to resist so we got just one to share. I couldn’t get over how tasty it was. Cooked to perfection, with a hint of sweetness, this lamb shank was on the top of my favourites list of the night.

Every time we visit the Mad Italian, it is always for gelato. However we have been itching to try the Zazzu pizza cones. Lucky for us, they were being sold at this event, so we naturally picked one up. We chose the simple Margherita Zazzu with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, tomatoes, tomato sauce and basil. It was just as tasty as we had imagined.

As for the wine, we sampled a variety, and had an incredible time doing so. Neither Jonty nor I are wine experts, so we just enjoyed wandering freely while tasting a bunch of different wines and having a lovely time together. I also sampled a few different vodkas, while Jonty tried some whiskey. After about five hours, YES FIVE HOURS, we decided to call it a night. It was an enjoyable and out of the ordinary way to spend a Saturday night instead of just going out to a restaurant like usual. I plan on attending the Food and Wine Expo for many years to come!

 

P.F. Changs

The long awaited Canadian debut of the American chain has finally graced Toronto with it’s presence! P.F. Changs opened at the Shops at Don Mills at the end of July. Now I know that this post is a little late, considering I did visit the restaurant a couple weeks after opening…and then again a couple weeks later. All that aside, let’s get to the good stuff.

An obvious appetizer choice, and staple in my opinion are the Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps which include “wok-seared minced chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks and served with cool, crisp lettuce cups”. They pretty much speak for themselves and if you’ve been to P.F. Changs then you’ve most likely had them and know what they are all about-straight up goodness!

Next we knew we wanted a shrimp dish, so we decided on the Crispy Honey Shrimp. They were lightly battered and smothered in a sweet honey sauce and topped with green onions. The tangy sauce combined with the crispy coating made for a wonderful dish.

Since this post is combining two trips to P.F. Changs, I will include the two chicken dishes. First we went for the Almond and Cashew chicken combined with onions, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, peppers and water chestnuts in a garlic soy sauce. To be honest this dish was a little bit boring. I would like to try something different next time. As for our other chicken dish, we ordered the Sesame Chicken which included broccoli, onions and peppers in a spicy sesame sauce. The sauce was actually a little bit too sweet for me, but tasty nonetheless.

The next dish was classic beef with broccoli, in which you can’t go wrong. As for noodles, we chose the chicken lo mein stir fried with mixed vegetables. It was a nice balance to the meal with just the right amount of flavour. On the side we each had our own bowl of brown rice to mix with all the goodness on our plates.

I recommend you make a reservation well in advance, as the restaurant is quite busy with Torontonians eagerly waiting to visit P.F. Changs without crossing the border.

Vegas!

My friends and have I always planned on taking a girls trip to Vegas. With everyone home from University and their world travels, we decided this summer was the perfect time. Our choice of hotel was The Cosmopolitan, which was pretty much the best place ever. The trendy, chic decor, three beautiful pools, dayclub and nightclub, the most friendly staff, and great food was all we needed to feel right at home in this crazy city.

We arrived in what seemed like a fake world, something you only see in the movies. It was only 9:00 am when we checked into our hotel. Each one of us STARVING and in search of something wonderful to eat. Because of the three hour time difference in Toronto, it was already lunch time for us. We decided to head upstairs in our hotel to a buffet called The Wicked Spoon. When I think of buffets, I think of sub-par, mass-quantity, not-so-great food. However, in Vegas, this is definitely not the case! For only $24 we entered paradise. None of us could contain our excitement. We didn’t know where to begin.

image

The large buffet spread had everything imaginable, with most things in single size servings. There were individual pastas including mac and cheese, gnocci, lasagna. There was a meat carving station, sushi and Asian station, make your own omlette, individual egg dishes, yogurt parfaits, bagels, french toast, potatoes, vegetables, pizza, assorted breads, and basically everything you could ever want in any meal all in one buffet. To top it off, mimosas were also included.

image

The aftermath.

image

As if I didn’t eat my own body weight in EVERYTHING, there was no way I was missing out on dessert. Surrounding me was a gelato bar with flavors such as salted caramel peanut, strawberry balsamic, cookies and cream, among many others. There were also cases of little pastries and tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, individual molten lava cakes, peach cobbler, apple pie, as well as a ton of other sweet treats! By the time we finished, we could barely breathe, but it was a fabulous start to an unbelievable trip!

image

After changing into our bikinis we headed down to the pool. Since it is Vegas after all, I decided to indulge in an alcoholic popsicle. The Neapolitan is a poolside ice cream shop serving up alcoholic frozen treats. They offer popsicles, ice cream, smoothies, and shakes which use liquid nitrogen and unique ingredients. Another “since it’s Vegas” sentence, the bartenders wear an open lab coat with their bikini peeking through. My popsicle of choice was the Watermelon Margarita with Cucumber Segments dipped in Chile Salt and topped with pop rocks. It was pleasantly refreshing, and not too strong, but it was a little too heavy on the salt for my liking so I tried to wipe some of it off. One of my friends ordered their spin on a pina colada, which was a coconut popsicle spiked with Don Q Coconut Rum and chunks of pineapple, and topped with shaved coconut. She thoroughly enjoyed her selection.

image

After lounging by the pool, we decided to take a walk down the strip and do some sightseeing. Of course a pool side day really works up an appetite so I was excited to see that the famous Pink’s from Los Angeles was right across from our hotel. They serve a variety of hot dogs and toppings. We ordered one plain beef dog, one veggie dog topped with veggies and guacamole, and one beef dog topped with chili and onions. The fries were just as delicious, as they were thin and crispy, just how I like them.

image

image

image

image

Later on in the night we visited Tao for dinner. I started off with a berry martini which was quite enjoyable. I love sharing a whole bunch of dishes, which is how Asian food usually works, so I was quite pleased that we could all agree on our selections. We ordered the spicy tuna roll, sweet potato tempura, bamboo steamed vegetable dumplings, and chicken dumplings. These were all quite tasty. We continued our ordering with the delicious soy ginger glazed salmon with udon noodles and spinach. The salmon was cooked perfectly and was not too fishy, and the noodles had the perfect amount of bite and saltiness to them. The Roasted Thai Buddha Chicken was incredibly moist, yet had a nice sweetness to it on the outside. To keep things a little healthy, we ordered a side of asparagus. My favourite of the night was the jumbo coconut shrimp in a Thai curry sauce. The shrimp were so juicy on the inside, yet crispy on the outside with the creamy curry sauce melting in your mouth at every bite. This says a lot since I am not a huge fan of coconut or curry, but somehow the combination was out of this world. Our last dish was the Lo Mein with chicken and vegetables. I have to say this dish was a little bit boring, but we still managed to polish it off.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

After a night out, we woke up pretty hungry and ready to start our day. The concierge suggested we try Cafe Bellagio which was right beside our hotel in the Bellagio, of course. I ordered corned beef hash which came with a huge pile of corned beef, some potato hash, and topped with two over easy eggs. It was a great start to the morning. Everyone else ordered standard breakfast foods such as bagel with lox, and omlettes. We were all pleased with our selections.

image

After hearing great things about N9ne Steakhouse, we instantly made a reservation. Our dishes of choice were the filet mignon, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, Kobe burger with fries, and the penne pasta with chicken, broccolini, heirloom tomatoes, sweet onions, and pesto. Each entrée was delicious and satisfying. Although we were pretty full, we did save a little room for something sweet. The warm powdered sugar donuts with a side of chocolate and caramel sauces were truly a delicious end to a wonderful meal.

image

image

image

image

image

For our last night we figured we would go somewhere rather fun and unique, so we chose Sugar Factory at the Paris hotel. This restaurant is known for their crazy desserts and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The menu is filled with different cocktails which come in a large glass and are meant for sharing. For some reason we picked the gummy worm one which was overly sweet and almost undrinkable. I would not recommend this drink, although the alcohol infused gummy bears were a nice treat. As for the main course, we ordered spaghetti with shrimp in a garlic olive oil sauce, Chinese chicken salad, Ahi tuna sliders, savoury crepe with vegetables and goat cheese, and a veggie burger. The food was pretty mediocre. I would suggest visiting this restaurant for late night food, breakfast, or dessert. However, the star of the meal was the dessert. A piece of chocolate, banana, peanut butter cake was gone in no time. Each one of the desserts sounded incredible such as milkshakes, cakes, sundaes, fondue, crepes, and waffles.

image

image

image

image

image

Breakfast the next day, and our last meal of the trip was enjoyed at Society Café at Encore hotel. Everyone’s meal was up to par, but I only took a photo of my dish because it was to die for. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes topped with berries. It sounds so simple, which it was, but the smooth, fluffy hotcakes were truly something special.

image

So sorry for such a long post. It sounds like we ate a lot more than we did. While we were there we felt like we didn’t really overdo it with the food. My next trip to Vegas will focus on trying new restaurants and maybe eating even a little bit more!

 

 

Buster's Takes it to the Streets

The ever popular Buster’s Sea Cove which I have featured in the past now graces us Torontonians with our first ever seafood truck. This truck was born in May and offers a few seafood staples such as fish tacos, shrimp tacos, lobster roll and crab roll. Although the menu may seem quite limited, it leaves room for the chefs to perfect these popular dishes. You can find this truck lined up at the corner of Queen and Jarvis on most days.

As I am a huge fan of the actual restaurant in the St.Lawrence Market I was overly excited to try out the truck. My friend Cassi and I decided to share the fish tacos and the lobster roll. At our first bite we knew we made the right decision. The lobster roll was complete with Nova Scotia lobster, celery, chives, mayo and lemon juice on a toasted, buttery bun with a pickle and Miss Vickie’s chips on the side. The chunks of lobster mixed with the creamy sauce all between the buttered bread was the perfect pick me up during a long day at work!

As for the fish tacos, hand battered basa, cabbage, pico de gallo, crema, and roja salsa were all stuffed into a corn tortilla. This too was incredibly tasty with perfectly battered fish being surrounded by fresh, wholesome ingredients.

Chicken n' Donuts

The newest food pairing comes to you from Leslieville at Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken. This tiny Tiffany-blue, vintage style restaurant serves up double-fried naturally raised, free-run birds, and delicious, unique cake donuts.

Open for about 3 weeks now, this place is booming with line-ups, and sells out on most days before their 7:00 PM closing time.

The menu ranges from snack size (2 pieces of chicken) with choice of dipping sauce or salt, and 4 dots (mini Timbit-like donuts rolled in Garam Masala sugar). You can also order a half chicken (4 pieces) with choice of dipping sauce or salt. The choice of sauces are Graham’s Burnin’ Hot Sauce, Maple Chili Dip, and Honey Mustard and Herb dip. As for the salts, there are Garam Masala Salt, and Sumac Oregano Salt. On the side you can choose from Mac and cheese, corn bread, or coleslaw.

Now I will get to the goods and share what Jonty and I indulged in, as we were super excited to give this place a try!

We went for the half chicken combo, with a side of mac and cheese. The chicken was lightly fried, which I was pleasantly surprised about. Although a good, thick coating is always delicious, it was refreshing to bite into the juicy, tender chicken without having to tear through inches of batter. It was crispy and not overly greasy which makes it feel just a little healthier; FEEL being the key word! Regardless, it was delicious. The side of mac and cheese was incredibly creamy but had a slight tang to it which was not my favourite. The topping of crispy chicken skin however was a nice touch.

None of the sauce choices excited me, but it comes with two so we chose the hot sauce, and honey mustard and herb dip. They both were quite tasty, but the chicken was yummy enough on it’s own that we barely touched the sauces.

All I could think about while chowing down on my chicken (besides how “mmmm” it was) was tasting the donuts! After taking my last bite of fried goodness I immediately pulled out my D’oreo donut. It was a moist, cake donut dipped in white icing which tasted exactly like the middle of an Oreo! It was also sprinkled with of course, Oreo cookies. I loved every second of it.

Jonty’s choice was the Root Beer Float. I am not a fan of root beer but it was still quite delicious. The flavour of root beer was not too over-powering and the donut itself was very tasty.

Just when I thought I loved fried chicken and waffles, Paulette’s entered and stole the show.

Playa Cabana

To say that Playa Cabana has been highly recommended would be an understatement. I have heard from numerous friends and family that this tiny Mexican joint is a must-try. You would never guess that among a residential area on Dupont just East of Davenport sits this hidden gem. On any given night, this place is packed from open until close. Somehow, Jonty and I called around 6:00 PM on a Saturday night and got a reservation inside for 9:00 PM. We did want to sit outside however, but figured we would take what we could get. We have tried multiple times to get a reservation but have never been lucky, so I’m sure you could guess how excited we were.

When we arrived at the booming restaurant, we asked if there was any way we could sit on the back patio. The hostess said she would see what she could do, and before you knew it, we were seated outside. I absolutely loved the ambiance back there. I felt like I was in someone’s backyard. Although it was pretty cramped, the warm summer night and candlelit table made for the perfect backdrop to this highly anticipated dinner.

The staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating, regardless of their busyness.

All of the food is fresh, local and made from scratch, which truly allows for the full flavour to shine through. We started with drinks, and I ordered red wine sangria, and Jonty chose a Mexican beer, Dos Equis. As for the food, we were so overwhelmed by the menu. The fish tacos, as well as chips and guacamole have been recommended to us, which are right up our alley. For appetizers, we ordered the homemade guacamole and tortilla chips made from simply corn and water. The guacamole was incredible smooth and creamy, and I think it is the best I have ever had. The chips also had a wonderful crunch to them and weren’t too oily. The “Cubeta de camaron” also caught our eye. It was a bucket of shrimp tossed in an arbol-garlic butter. Arbol is a type of chili pepper, which added a tiny bit of heat to the buttery shrimp. These shrimp come with the shell and legs on in order to preserve the flavour. We couldn’t take our hands off of these and can’t wait to go back for more.

As for the main course, we shared the fish tacos. The fish of the day was Atlantic cod, and we chose them battered instead of grilled. It was pretty dark outside so I could barely see what I was eating, but all I know is that it tasted pretty darn good!

We are already planning on making another reservation at this goldmine in the very near future!

Coquine

Nestled on Yonge St. just south of Eglinton lies Coquine. You can usually find this adorable French Bistro pretty packed with patrons lingering by the bar, lounging on the patio, or simply dining inside. I have eaten here before so I was eager to return for some memorable dishes, this time for my father’s birthday.

The heat wave we are currently experiencing in Toronto led us to a quiet table in the back room where it was a little bit cooler. Unfortunately they are lacking in air conditioning, so the back is where you could feel the least heat. Nonetheless, it was still a gorgeous experience.

We started off with a simple green salad, presented ever so nicely, wrapped in thin cucumber slices.

Being a French Bistro, it is a no brainer that we ordered the Steak Frites. This medium flat iron steak was served alongside truffle oil and parmesean frites, which were to die for. They were thin, crispy and absolutely delicious.

Since Jonty and I love sharing a couple dishes, we also ordered the Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Now I know this doesn’t sound like anything special, but I can guarantee it is like nothing you could ever imagine. These mushroom stuffed pasta are served surrounded by sundried tomatoes and spinach in a white wine truffle cream sauce. I remember ordering this dish last time and recall it being amazing, but wow, I was literally shocked at the flavour. It was so tasty that it is almost indescribable. The truffle really shines through the creaminess, as well as the pasta and mushrooms being perfectly cooked. This dish is a must-try!

1 2 3 4 5