Monthly Archives: February 2009

EAST! and Cafe Crepe

Went to EAST! yesterday, a spin off of Spring Rolls because Fressen was full, filled with reservations from the day before, so we walked down Queen street scouring for another place to eat. After skipping a bunch of really dead spots, we ended up at EAST!, it felt very much like Spring Rolls, even the menu seemed identical, I actually didn’t realise they were the same place until I saw Spring Rolls website on their menu. Now, I’m quite biased against Spring Rolls restaurants since their food is usually rather bland and not authentic at all, but I felt my dish felt the same here as well.

Vegetable & Tofu Green Curry

Vegetable & Tofu Green Curry

I ordered the vegetable and tofu green curry, and was asked by the waiter if I could handle the spiciness. The dish came with a little pyramid of rice. The curry was barely spicy, and tasted rather starchy, the texture of the curry reflected this by being thick and gooey. The tofu tasted rather old and did not appear appealing at all. It definitely left a large hole for something else…

After our meal, I dropped by David’s Tea a newly opened tea shop next to Le Chateau on Queen St W. and picked up some tea to add to my infusions, which I will write about in another post.

Nutella & Banana Crepe

Nutella & Banana Crepe

We then headed back to where EAST! was and stopped at Cafe Crepe to fill the void we had. Although I wanted a savoury crepe I decided to go with a sweet one due to peer pressure and price. I ordered a Nutella and banana crepe. Although delicious, barely halfway through the Nutella got to me. The crepe was very sweet and heavy where it got to the point that it felt like I was eating peanut butter. Regretting the fact that I did not order the savoury crepe. The crepe was indeed delicious, just not something I would be able to eat so much of.

(sorry for the cellphone photos, the batteries on my camera were dead)

Winterlicious: Biagio

One last Winterlicious spot, on the last day, before they raise the prices ready to gouge people for Valentines day!

I’m not going to write too much about Biagio, the food was pretty good.  I went with my coworkers during lunch, it was one of the few places nearby our workplace.  My favourite part of the experience was our waiters, they were completely different from what I was used to i.e. the typical friendly spunky female waitress.  The waiter reminded me of Alfred from Batman, but I suppose that is the type of people they would hire there, since it was a more classic style restaurant.  I’d say this would be a really good place for a date, since the food is alright, nice and fancy and the waiters aren’t checking up on you all the time.  Reviews say that this place has really good risotto, so I’ll have to go back there and try some of that sometime!

  • Rosemary Bread
    Rosemary Bread
  • Panzarotto filled with ricotta cheese, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes on a spinach salad
    Panzarotto filled with ricotta cheese, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes on a spinach salad
  • Veal escalopes, simmered in tomato sauce served with rigatoni
    Veal escalopes, simmered in tomato sauce served with rigatoni
  • Butternut squash filled ravioli with a butter and sage sauce
    Butternut squash filled ravioli with a butter and sage sauce
  • Bavarian cream mousse with chocolate and hazelnuts
    Bavarian cream mousse with chocolate and hazelnuts

Winterlicious: 93 Harbord & Gossip

This Winterlicious I had the opportunity to visit two restaurants (so far), 93 Harbord and Gossip.  For those who don’t know, Winterlicious is a two week event where certain restaurants in Toronto have a fixed price menu consisting of at least an appetizer, entree and dessert.

Went to 93 Harbord on Tuesday. For starters we had hummus with pita bread, which was slightly burnt but the hummus was delicious, appetizer was eggplant which the skin was also quite heavily burnt. The entree was delicious with figs in it.  My drink was a fig infused vodka martini, which tasted like more like a dirty martini, not the sweet fig taste that I expected. The waiter was nice, offering to replace my drink, surge  overheard me saying I didn’t like it, but I stick with it, since it was my decision to order it. Decent price, if only the does was not burnt, which is kind of surprising considering they should have made the dish a ton of times by now.  Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera for this outing, so there are no pictures.

The next place was Gossip, which is located in the back of the CNE.  The venue is apparently quite a popular patio/club spot during the summer. Finding the place in the winter was quite difficult, since it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and the exterior of the restaurant did not stand out at all, the only indication the place was there was the sign which was behind trees.  The interior on the other hand was beautifully decorated and furnished and since we were in a large group, we were seated in a private room.

I wasn’t too impressed with the drinks menu, so our table had a bottle of Riesling.  For starters, crisp warm bread served with three different types of dip, some sort of fish tapenade, balsamic vinegar with olive oil and hummus. There were really small proportions of spread for the amount of bread that was served.  My appetizer was winter vegetable zupa, with what tasted like butternut squash puree and a crispy piece of pastry on top of the puree served with fresh cream foam on a chinese spoon.  The presentation was simple and beautiful and the zupa was creamy and delicious.  The entree was a portabello wellington, with carrots. The dish itself was quite simplistic, essentially a wrap of mushroom, vegetables, cream and dough, but tasted pretty good as well.  While we were all waiting for Pauline to finish her entree, the servers got tired of waiting for her to finish and began to serve our desserts.  I ordered the flourless chili chocolate torte.  I’ve always wanted to try the combination of chili and chocolate, so I wasn’t too sure of what to expect.  The cake which tasted normal, not much chili flavour and somewhat cheap looking pastry puff thing on top.  The waitress was friendly and the manager even dropped by and made sure everything was ok, although it did feel like they were paying a little too much attention as pointed out by a few of my friends.  The price of the food was not worth $35 but perhaps somewhere worth going in the summer to check out the patio parties.

  • The sign outside Gossip
    The sign outside Gossip
  • Bread with fish tapenade, balsamic vinegar + olive oil and hummus
    Bread with fish tapenade, balsamic vinegar + olive oil and hummus
  • Zupa Baked Winter Vegetable Puree with Crème Fraiche and Puff Pastry
    Zupa Baked Winter Vegetable Puree with Crème Fraiche and Puff Pastry
  • Zupa, after the pastry was broken
    Zupa, after the pastry was broken
  • Portobello Mushroom Wellington
    Portobello Mushroom Wellington
  • Layers of Sun dried Tomato Pesto, Goats Cheese, Spinach with Roasted Baby Carrots and Vegetable Gravy
    Layers of Sun dried Tomato Pesto, Goats Cheese, Spinach with Roasted Baby Carrots and Vegetable Gravy
  • Chili Chocolate Torte
    Chili Chocolate Torte
  • The blurry interior of the restaurant
    The blurry interior of the restaurant

Fressen

Went to Fressen with my parents for dinner today, Fressen is a Vegan restaurant on Queen St. W, between Spadina and Bathurst.  After being seated, the waitress described the menu to us, telling us that the dishes are meant to be shared, which is quite welcome to us, since that’s how Chinese food is usually served and makes it easier to try everything.  The dishes were all priced at $9 each, which is a pretty good price for any sort of upscale resturaunt.  I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the decor, but the interior was very cozy, albeit rather dark (resulting in the poor photos :( ).  It was a welcome change to actually be able to choose absolutely anything from the menu.  My parents and I decided to try 5 things from the menu, so my mom and dad chose one dish each, the Mushroom Filo and the Taro Dumplings, respectively.  I chose two more items: the Spinach Blinis and the Tempeh Fish and asked the waitress to recommend the last one, the Gluten Roast.

First came the bread, which was absolutely delicious.  The bread had something cooked into it, the exact ingredients I couldn’t make out but it tasted of flax seed and chestnut, it was fragrant enough that the dip wasn’t even necessary, but still a welcome compliment.  The taro dumplings were also delicious, I actually expected dumplings that were wrapped in dough, but they were more like fried balls of taro, the outside was crispy and inside was moist and soft.  I wasn’t a fan of the spinach blinis, as they were more spongy than fluffy, but I did enjoy the avocado salsa that was served alongside.  The tempeh fish was unfortunately rather dry and did not taste very special.  The texture of the gluten roast was very interesting, crispy and crunch like you would expect the skin of real meat.  My favourite dish was the final dish, the mushroom puff which was basically a combination of all the textures of the previous dishes, crispy skin, smooth sauce and inside the puff was soft moist mushroom, simply put this dish was awesome!

The entire restaurant is vegan, meaning no animal derived products at all which made for a funny situation when my dad ordered coffee and my dad wanted milk with it, but the waitress explained to him that we had no milk and offered him soy milk instead, which my dad reluctantly accepted.  The service was perfect as well, friendly, not pushy and dishes were cleared at all the right times.  My only problem was that the dishes all came out much too fast, which left some of our dishes sitting on the side of the table while we finished the dishes we were working on.

Overall, I’m quite impressed with my experience here and hopefully I can convince some of my non-vegetarian friends to come with me, so I can visit again :)

Delicious bread and white bean sauce

Delicious bread and white bean dip

Taro Dumplings with Mango Chutney

Taro Dumplings with Mango Chutney

Warm avocado and corn salsa sandwiched between fluffy spinach blinis accented with pepper purées.

Warm avocado and corn salsa sandwiched between fluffy spinach blinis accented with pepper purées

Beer battered deep fried tempeh fish and a tangy tahini cucumber tartar sauce on dandelion greens

Beer battered deep fried tempeh fish and a tangy tahini cucumber tartar sauce on dandelion greens

Seared home made gluten-roast on candied potatoes with a red wine and shiitake glaze.

Seared home made gluten-roast on candied potatoes with a red wine and shiitake glaze

Sliced shiitake and crimini mushrooms mixed with shredded spinach in cashew cream wrapped in a filo pastry puff.

Sliced shiitake and crimini mushrooms mixed with shredded spinach in cashew cream wrapped in a filo pastry puff