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Mid-range dinner in Yorkville; No steak, no sushi

Reporting back...

Went to Carens Wine & Cheese Bar pre-dinner and had a blue cheese fondue with what the waiter described as a "huge" old-vine Zinfandel. Both were divine! We ate in the back patio area, which had a great atmosphere. I thought the fleece blankets draped over the backs of chairs for customers' use was a really nice and creative touch. We found our server very friendly and knowledgeable but his manner was a tad too informal for our taste.

For dinner we went to L'Unita and it was FANTASTIC! Very intimate, romantic setting with great lighting. Classic rock music playing in the background contrasted with the upscale setting in a very pleasing way. Our wine choice was the Syrah Exordium (very good). For dinner we ordered two pasta dishes, which the waiter kindly offered to split for sharing without us having to ask. First up was the Squid Ink Troccoli 'Al Nero'. It was so good I ate with my eyes closed. It had a slightly tangy flavour with lots of umami and the texture was spot-on. Next up was the pasta special which was hand-made farfalle with walnuts and morels and hard-ripened cheese. It was also absolutely delicious. For dessert I had the chocolate truffle cake made by the in-house pastry chef. It was rich and only slightly sweet with a silky yet substantial texture. So good. We found the service at L'Unita excellent. Our waiter was warm and personable while still being professional. He was very attentive and did a great job describing the dishes. Loved this place.

Last and most definitely least...Lola's Kitchen. We ate breakfast at Lola's this morning and were very disappointed with the whole experience. The chairs didn't work with the tables - the legs bang into each other and make it very awkward to "tuck in." Our waiter was a nice guy but had no skill whatsoever. It took at least 20 minutes for our coffee to arrive, for one thing. When he did finally bring the coffee he managed to spill sugar all over me and the table but he was so frazzled he didn't even notice. The coffee wasn't hot, and when he refilled our mugs he didn't bring more milk. My husband had the eggs benny and I had the mushroom benny. We both ordered "Lola's homefries," which turned out to be cubed sweet potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I like sweet potatoes, but when I order homefries I expect fried potatoes. My English muffin was absolutely waterlogged from all the liquid seeping down from the mushrooms and spinach. My husband's English muffin was just plain stale. It wasn't until we were finished eating and wanting the bill that we were visited by another staff person (the manager?). He asked how everything was, and we were polite but honest. He just said, "really?" in total disbelief, which gave the impression that the problem lay with us rather than the restaurant. No apology or anything. We wish we had gone for the $3.99 special at Sunset!

Overall we were very happy with our dining experiences this weekend. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Here's the report card:

A+ L'Unita
A Japango
A Carens Wine & Cheese
F Lola's Kitchen

BTW for late-night we just went out to a random bar and drank Corona, so nothing to report.

Mid-range dinner in Yorkville; No steak, no sushi

Arrived in Toronto a little earlier than expected. We were both feeling peckish and I managed to convince hubby to go for some sushi. I checked the chowhound boards and decided on Japango. It was great! We had the crunchy spicy tuna roll and the spicy salmon roll. Both were perfectly fresh and so tender - great mouth feel. Restaurant is tiny. Feels authentic and not pretentious at all. I thought the row of regulars' chopsticks boxes mounted on the wall was pretty cool. Enjoyed the flavour of the complimentary soup but wished it was served hot instead of warm. Prices were very reasonable. Bathroom was clean but in need of a reno' or at least some finishing. I would definitely eat a Japango again. Next stop...Caren's.

Mid-range dinner in Yorkville; No steak, no sushi

Thanks for catching that bluefirefly.

Mid-range dinner in Yorkville; No steak, no sushi

Thank you so much for all the responses. I will let you know how it goes!

Mid-range dinner in Yorkville; No steak, no sushi

Hubby and I are having an overnight date in Toronto this weekend. We are staying in Yorkville. We are big walkers so we a) would prefer not to drive or cab it anywhere, and b) we don't mind walking a few kilometres.

We are pretty adventurous eaters with regard to exotic spices and such, but we are definitely not into eating brains or hooves or whatever. Hubby doesn't like sushi and I don't like big slabs of meat (although I'm not a vegetarian). Dessert isn't really important to us.

Dinner:
-Price range: $15-25 per entree
-Ambience: romantic, but we define that term pretty generously (i.e. no need for candlelight necessarily)

Late night:
-Live music
-Good quality beer
-to-die-for bar snacks

Breakfast:
REAL 100% maple syrup, smoked salmon, eggs benny...

Options I'm wondering about:

-93 Harbord
-Ciao Wine Bar
-Dynasty (but this would be our first dim sum experience so please provide suggestions!)
-Over Easy (breakfast, obviously)
-Panorama (late night)

Many thanks in advance!

BREADED wings: I know it's sacrilege, but...

Good to know - didn't realize that's what they were called. Thanks.

May 02, 2012
kataboon in Home Cooking

BREADED wings: I know it's sacrilege, but...

I'm referring to texture mostly, as I like my wings hot. I like just a bit of sweetness to round out the flavour.

May 02, 2012
kataboon in Home Cooking

BREADED wings: I know it's sacrilege, but...

Re: "The only difference between a breaded chicken wing to be pooh-poohed and Southern fried chicken to be drooled over is marketing." That makes me feel better! Read some of the Buffalo wings threads and you'll understand why my tail was between my legs when I posted this inquiry.

Good idea re: adapting a buttermilk SFC recipe. I'll try that!

May 01, 2012
kataboon in Home Cooking

BREADED wings: I know it's sacrilege, but...

Yes, kind of like a sticky Chinese-American wing in spirit (well-put!), but with a wing sauce rather than an asian sauce. And breaded, of course.

May 01, 2012
kataboon in Home Cooking

BREADED wings: I know it's sacrilege, but...

My taste buds are holding me hostage. They want breaded, deep-fried, and sticky-goopy-saucey-spicy wings. I'm well aware that these are not Buffalo wings in any sense of the term. I'm well aware that breading interferes with crispness of the chicken skin and that the sauce dominates the flavour of the chicken etc. etc. But I like them! At least, I like them when they are FRESH (to minimize sogginess setting in, which I know is an issue with this preparation), STICKY, and SPICY :-)

I want to make these at home because ordering them at a pub or restaurant is such a crapshoot. Sometimes they are delicious (and that tantalizing possibility keeps my craving alive), but the risk of disastrous results is so high with this preparation (for the myriad reasons described by hard-core Buffalo aficionados) that more often than not I am disappointed.

Any advice or recipes?

Please don't preach the gospel of the Buffalo wing. I get it. I've eaten them at the Anchor Bar and my mom makes authentic fried Buffalo wings with butter & Frank's. And I do see the appeal. They just aren't what I find myself craving.

Thanks in advance.

P.S. To give you an idea of my taste, this recipe looks yummy wrt flavour, but they look dry rather than sticky (and obviously they are not actually wings but tenders). http://www.chow.com/recipes/10831-buf...

May 01, 2012
kataboon in Home Cooking