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What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? New Year's 2013 edition! [old]

I received two of Yottam Ottoleghis' books as xmas prezzies ( Jerusalem & Plenty) how he cooks and the very fresh herbs, fruit and veg thats integral to his cooking.

Jan 06, 2013
Grazor in Home Cooking

The Alex, Brant Street in Burlington, Ontario

Oakville & Burlington foodies have something to celebrate.

The Alex on Brant Street.

A good friend (thanks Krunch) suggested to me a few weeks back over brunch that I had been missing out on excellent dining in my own backyard.

'The Alex' on Brant St. in Burlington near Lakeshore Blvd proved an excellent surprise last evening.

As we pull up outside 480 Brant on New Years eve, with another couple visiting from London, I am less than impressed. In fact I think, wtf? The sign says please access via our patio door.

I walk in tio a hearty welcome and find myself inside a long room, which possibly sits about 40-45 if you include the 5 bar seats/chef's table equivalent and the 3 high chairs facing the patio.

I am understandably dubious; but my welcome by James one of two servers ( who knew the other Rick would provide that dubious combination of Rick/James).

My worst fears are realised on New Years eve with nary a glass of Prosecco or any other type of bubbly available.

Still the menu is presented and my interest is immediately piqued.

I order an easy drinking reasonably priced Sancerre, and one of my guest wishes to try the Lailey Canadian red. It arrives and on first taste its evident from his reaction that its not to his taste. I take a sniff and share my opinion that I believe it to be corked. The resulting response from James and how he deals with the situation is stellar and provides promise on what ends up being an outstanding evening of dining.

As with many of these places that deliver small plates they are exactly that.

Its enough as a small course for one and a bit; but from the perspective of getting a taster of what's being presented it works.

I look up and down the menus and decide the plan of action should be the lobster& shrimp mac and cheese, the pork belly with spicy sauce and the white fish tacos (x2) as the opening salvo.

The pork belly is excellent, its has been seared to excellence for a crisp exterior, yielding deliciousness, when cut, its succulent and juicy interior reflects a perfect braised piece of pork belly that has been worked to harmonious goodness.

The mac and cheese is ok, something is not quite there in the flavour profile and while reasonably tasty, I have had better, still its good.

The fish tacos are superb. They come rolled in the almost anaemic looking white flour taco shell that we have come to love, but enclosed inside is delicious pan fried white fish with a crunchy slaw as a taste and texture counterpoint of deliciousness. We order 2 though 1 order might have sufficed.

The evening is starting to take off, I am getting comfortable and its time for round two, which will include one of the night specials, which is the rabbit risotto, with shaved truffles and a little foie gras, we also order the confit of lamb, the superb mango slaw with butterflied shrimp, and the braised short rib with mushroom lasagne.

Of this set of dishes, I am torn as which should have pride of place, the short rib or the mango slaw. Two such very different dishes that are both quite superb in their own right.
The mango slaw with its rich crunchiness off set by very tasty and tender butterflied seasoned shrimp represents all you could want in your mouth in one forkful; yet the the tender, braised and off the bone short rib meat set on a piece of mushroom lasgna surrounded by an incredible rich veal stock reduction, has all the aspects and flavours of rich unctuous meatiness one could imagine.

James is on his game. My respect for him as someone who enjoys what he does, his service provision and his knowledge and repartee has its impact. In short order the shits and giggles are going large and the game is on.
Belly space is at a premium and its time to pick final dishes.
Of the three picked, two of the dishes are evening specials.

That is the lamb rack that comes with 2 chops on a bed of basic vegetables of small potatoes chunks and crunchy green beans;but with a mustard sauce and sprinkles of goats cheese, delivers a substantial flavour boost as the goats cheese melds with the hot veg and mustard sauce. It delivers huge in its evident simplicity.

Skate wing with lardons, quail egg (though the size would suggest a hens egg) and a house made sauce tartar with lemon is simple and delicious (we need to appreciate skate wing more, its delicate and delicious and brown butter sauce and capers has been my preferred accompaniment); however its always nice to be surprised with new and delicious approaches.

The final piece of the main meal is the hanger steak, with bacon wrapped bacon reflecting I suspect the mentality inherent in the very large "I love bacon" wood board that sits atop the wine cabinet.

While I didn't partake in the final dish, it was deemed worthy by my dining companions.

I will certainly be back in short order to try some of the small plates i didn't manage to get friendly with.

The Alex rate a very solid 4 forks out of 5 in my opinion.

Jan 01, 2013
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Location in Downtown Vancouver for Stand Up Mix n Mingle

Thanks Reiney will check into it.

Sep 06, 2012
Grazor in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Location in Downtown Vancouver for Stand Up Mix n Mingle

Thanks Peter, the liquor law piece which i was completely unaware of might explain why it has been such a challenge. appreciate the response.

Sep 06, 2012
Grazor in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Location in Downtown Vancouver for Stand Up Mix n Mingle

Want to do a 5pm mix n mingle with 12 people, drinks and snacks in Downtown Vancouver; but finding it very difficult to find somewhere that could accommodate. thoughts/suggestions most welcome.

Sep 05, 2012
Grazor in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

SoBe Hell Hole

Within the restaurant industry I suspect nothing irks me more than bad or superior attitudes ( with the exception of bad food of course).

South Beach is an interesting area, in that you find a lot of the beautiful people and quite often the not so pretty people happily spotting beautiful people.

Prime 112 is a perfect example of scene over substance.

I had previously eaten there 3 years ago and I guess my memory was that of a good though expensive evening eating outside on a beautiful Florida night with a few mates, which invariably makes the evening. Good food and service will elevate one's enjoyment and experience always.

The two latter items are seemingly missing in action at this overpricey, loud, resto, with some serious attitude problems with its front desk greeters and the quality of its food.

We arrived for our 7:30 dinner appointment for 4 on time. It took a while to get the attention of the attractive bald headed young black woman at the desk, notwithstanding the fact that I was standing directly in front of her. There were at least 4 other people with and around her behind the front desk, and yet the greeting was perfunctory at best, and once it was established that we had a reservation, we were summarily shunted around the corner to the extremely crowded and narrow bar to wait.

I am immediately reminded of a time when I was a lot younger when this sort of thing was somewhat cool, the difference being that back then everyone was of similar age. Prime 112 attracts all sorts, with the large breasted under-dressed women taking up equal room as the toupeed septuagenarians and the groups of young men clearly out for big steaks and a touch of talent spotting.

We waited for 25 minutes before we were provided a table along the corridor with great access to the toilets, this would become an issue later as folks hovered nearby awaiting their tables making the already noisy place almost impossible to carry on a conversation without shouting at my fellow diners, and the occasional waiting punter becoming almost part of our group of four based on how close they hovered.

We managed to get our orders in eventually and our first course arrived an hour and ten minutes after we had arrived at the resto. Both my wife and I had the crab cakes as appetiser, my good friend had the tuna sliders and his wife the a half dozen oysters.

The crab cakes were mediocre, and despite having asked before I ordered if it was just crab meat and being told yes, it was evident that wasn't quite true. The largish hockey puck on a bed of corn and sweet peppers topped with what I assumed was some sour cream and a piece of spring onion as garnish that was placed in front of me, was tediously bland and luke warm to boot. We washed that down with a bottle of chardonnay and that was probably for me at least the best part of the first course.

For our main course it was an 8oz fillet for me and the 12oz for my buddy while our wives had the crab stuffed grouper on a bed of creamed spinach and the swordfish with greens and salsa.

We ordered sides of rapini, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, sweet potato fries, and a potato with sour cream and bacon. With that we ordered a La Crema pinot noir from anderson valley, again probably the star of the main course.

The side dishes were enormous as was everything else. I honestly didn't know that one could grow single potatoes as large as was presented (though charging $14 for a potato notwithstanding it was the size of the state of Idaho, is still a rude way to laugh at the idiocy of one's clientele)

The sweet potato fries were limp having clearly been cooked in oil that badly need changing. The slight aftertaste confirmed that.

The roasted brussel sprouts with bacon was the best with the rapini a close second.

My steak was mediocre at best and lukewarm too boot. I ordered medium rare, and got medium, something that I suspect is a function of an overworked kitchen with a management that is focused on cycling as many unsuspecting suckers through Prime 112 in a night as possible.

That was evident on the number of times that our server came by to try and get us to order and more likely to get us the hell out of the hell hole of a restaurant that is more scene than anything else.

The only substance the place has is reflected in the enormous portions and if that's your thing then go right ahead; but I have eaten in a variety of high end steak houses throughout the US and Canada and I don't believe either the standard or quality that they deliver is met by what Prime 112 chooses to offer. I say that only because I suspect they are capable of better.

Having eaten at the various Smith and Wollenskys around the US that might have been the safe bet as one location is only stones throw from Prime 112, if you are looking for good steak. At least you feel as though you are going to get kissed before they leave the teeth marks on your back.

In closing thank goodness for great company; but an overpriced, easily forgotten dining experience, punctuated by way too much attitude at the front desk, in a frenetic and noisy hell hole, that is undeserving of even being ranked near the top of good restaurants I have dined at in South Beach.

Prime 112 Restaurant
112 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Chowmeet in Hongkong in March 2012

Definitely interested as I will be visiting for the first time and arriving March 21st.


Jan 30, 2012
Grazor in China & Southeast Asia

Good times in the Vilage

Thansk kathryn< i will do when I am back in NY next month.

Sep 28, 2011
Grazor in Manhattan

Good times in the Vilage

Well I guess as is quite often the case it depends what you are looking for and sometimes its what comes looking for you and on this evening, it was just amazingly good food.

L'Artusi sits on W10th between Bleecker and Hudson in the Village.

An interesting place with darkened windows that you would walk past without knowing that inside there is a fab restaurant on two levels, with amazing food, fabulously friendly service, with an interesting wine list that is delivered by regions reflecting Italy, with way too many bottles in triple digit prices as probably my only real criticism.

The menu is broken out into four sections that represent appetisers, pasta, fish and some mains.

We chose to dine in my particular fashion, which was to share plates and graze.

We ordered 4 plates and the first two that arrived excelled.

A simple wagyu beef carpaccio, beautifully marbled, expertly sliced, with a lovely dressing of olive oil and a very light horseradish cream, with a sprinkling mix of extremely finely diced scallions which provide some nice textural difference and even more so the crunchy tiny pieces of crispbread.

We received that dish at the same time as an heirloom tomato salad with a variety of both beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes and cubes of watermelon, with crispy croutons and pieces of basil leaf, drizzled with a very tasty first press EVOO, all sitting on what I initially believed to be slices of toasted bread. Surprise, its slabs of nicely braised pork belly that one assumes has then crisped up to provide another layer of texture and taste. Sweet tomatoes, salty delicious pork belly, sweet watermelon cubes.... there I was thinking it would be nice to have burrata with my heirloom tomato sald and instead I get blown out of the water by a totally unexpected combo.

Next up was the bucatini with a pomodoro sauce with crispy pancetta.
I love bucatini and its not served in restaurants as often as I would like to see, so we had to have it and what a joy of beautiful al-dente goodness served with a nicely reduced, slightly spicy tomato sauce with just the right amount of diced crispy pancetta and onions.

Thus far we were doing so well, I was getting concerned. The Barbera we had ordered, a wonderful red chosen by my dining companion was an excellent complement and we didn't have to wait long before our final dish was delivered.

A very nice medium rare flat-iron steak, sliced into chunks of perfectness, served with oven roasted potatoes (almost roast potato heaven) and a new condiment for me in their salsa bianco. On first blush, I had thought maybe it was that beautiful ricotta that they had served us at the very start of the meal with salty brown soft crackers; however it was a mixture of creme fraiche, horseradish, finely diced pickled shallots and salt, that was the perfect accompaniment to those sublimely fabulous roast potatoes.

The combination is just an amazingly good one that had us thrillled and truly impressed.
Again what a wonderful combination.

We decided not to have dessert despite the very attractive choices; however we were delivered a single scoop of an intensely flavoured lemon gelato with an amaretto cookie that had aspects of a chewy macaroon; yet still cookie like, providing a lovely finish.

Eating out with regularly, its pretty easy for one's palate to get jaded; however the choices at L'Artusi as simple as they seem are so well executed, and delivered with such poise that their simple elegance, as served will speak very clearly for themselves. It didn't harm the overall experience to have wonderful service delivered by a young pleasant part time dancer that served us.

This place receives 4.5 forks out of 5! Why not 5, you might ask, quite simply they need to offer more well priced wines, rather than the large number of triple digit dollar bottles on offer.

228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

Sep 13, 2011
Grazor in Manhattan

Where to find smoked fish?

@Charles Yu - I agree Krsitapson is overpriced and overrated. Funnily enough Starsky on Dundas West has excellent, vodka cured and applewood cured products, which i enjoy.
Today I happened to be in the East end of town near Eglinton and Vic Park and remebered that someone had suggested I visit Diana's Seafood on Lawerence East. Wow, very impressive with the range of fish they have available; but they also have an excellent beetroot and orange cured gravlax and their hot smoked product is one of the most deliciously moist and tasty products I have come across in along time.

IMHO opinion, east coast or west coast, nothing however beats the simple and elegant salt cured and smoked lox from J. Willy Krauch in Tangiers , Nova Scotia. Try it at Rodney's on King West or Rodney's by Bay on Temperance. A far superior product thats very consistent and very very tasty.

Diana's Seafood
2101 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

2040 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4X, CA

Nov 27, 2010
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ELEVEN, Strip District, Pittsburgh

Yes that was our experience; but they seem to arrive always inside of 10 mins once called.

Aug 26, 2010
Grazor in Pennsylvania

Hate that fishy fish smell when you cook that fish?????

It aint fresh if it smells fishy!

Aug 19, 2010
Grazor in Home Cooking

ELEVEN, Strip District, Pittsburgh

Situated in the very heart of downtown Steeltown- Pittsburgh, ELEVEN restaurant describes it s food as contemporary American. What they don't tell you however is that the menu is especially well thought out. The food is excellent with matching service and the execution almost flawless.
We had a large group of three couples plus one and having made a booking for only 6, they were quite helpful in trying to provide us with our seating at the correct time. The resto is quite large on two levels with the downstairs and upstairs, both having bar areas an outside patio section in the upstairs, where we were seated.
As previously mentioned the menu had something for everyone.
The appetizer section had some of the standards such as tuna tartare which was fresh, light beautifully seasoned and quite delicious. The lump meat crab cakes were as one would expect if you were in the Chesapeake area, large pieces of lump blue fin crab meat lightly seasoned and pan fried resulting in a nice crunch on the outside with moist tasty crab meat inside served on bed of tossed chopped new potatoes in a lovely creamy vinaigrette adorned with pea shoots
My wife had an interesting choice of a smoked lamb tacos, which essentially was slow cooked shredded lamb mixture stacked in between very small tacos, sitting on a bed of lentils in a sauce made with goats cheese and avocado. As a person who is generally indifferent to lamb, her reaction said it all and I had to try the dish. It was quite delicious.

One of the ladies in our party had the heirloom tomatoes which was a couple of generous slices of very big beefsteaks with numerous smaller varieties which looked delicious and which I was told was delicious, other appetizers eaten included mussels in a tomato broth(again described as very good), and a nice fresh linguini, with pieces o fresh buffalo mozzarella. Some of the other appetizer dishes sounded exactly that, appetizing and I suspect I could have as easily decided to graze the appetizer menu for my whole meal ( something I have been known to do in the past)

For the main, our group broke down almost evenly into the men who ate meat and the ladies who ate fish.
At least two of the ladies had seafood samplers, which consisted of a sizeable piece of tuna seared at high heat and sliced on the bias showing of a beautiful deep hued interior of moist flesh, this was accompanied by one of the previously described crab cakes and a piece of salmon also seared at high heat done to a delicious medium. One of the other ladies and the single guy in the group had the Halibut which was very tasty and generous in the portions.

The men had meat. A striploin which came sliced on the bias served on a bed of what looked like agnolotti stuffed with potato and cheese ( i got to taste the meat; but not the agnolotti) with a gorgeous carmelized onion sauce reduction, which I suspect might have been tasty enough to consider as a new cologne for men! :) The strip loin was cooked to perfection.

We also had the tenderloin and while they messed mine up (medium rare on occasion sounding like medium well when I speak) they corrected that and eventually brought me a piece of meat with a beautiful charred outside that one assumes could only have only been achieved with a 1500F grill and my medium rare perfected. This was served with a dollop of herb butter and beautiful roasted veg, such as tasty fingerling potatoes, and what seemed like heirloom carrots beets and the like. Very very nice.

The manager came over an apologized for what had happened to my dish and made it compliments of the house. While unnecessary it was nonetheless appreciated.

Dessert was generally passed on, because we had all eaten so well, though one couple had the molten chocolate lake( the hubby has a sweet tooth) which they described as heavenly and which the others tasted, I went for some of the cheese with some port to finish off my evening.

For a group of 7 we drank 3 bottles of wine all very reasonably priced, though the wine list is large and replete with offerings well outside my pocketbook. Two whites of a mixed varietal blend ( chard- vigionier and I think chenin blanc) to start the evening (not to mention the cocktails we had already consumed while working out where and what we should have from the menu).. And a nice Croze Hermitage to compliment our steaks.

ELEVEN probably gets FOUR and a HALF FORKS our of FIVE.
Great food, well executed, reasonably priced, fantastic service.

1150 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Aug 16, 2010
Grazor in Pennsylvania

A South Beach Visit - Places I ate and Places I hate

@ LargeLife _ Please see some of my comments below. Maybe you are right and I shouldnt have ordered the steak. Remember its a singular opinion from one visit versus your numerous visits where you had no issues. I am reminded of film critics...I love sci-fi and fantasy and the majority of those films get panned: but generallly I still attend and make a decison based on my personal prefernce.

("With regard the steak, note I complimented the taste and quality and it would have been quite fab if I had orderer rare, sans sauce or things untop of it :).

I noted the redfish and if I am not mistaken, two of my dining partners ordered it and had no complaints.")

A South Beach Visit - Places I ate and Places I hate

@LargeLife Thanks for the response its always interesting to hear of ther folks experiences. I fully agree with some of your statements. As noted I have a notion of what Nawlins food should be only from restaurants here in Toronto (Southern Accent) that I have eaten in that claims so and food shows that I have watched, where the show was filmed locally. One of my dining companions had the gumbo soup, which he claimed was delicious. What little i know of gumbo suggests a main course generally served over rice, which certainly doesn't mean numerous variations doesnt exist ( the true joy of food).

Again, having never travelled to Nawlins, I go by what i have read seen or been told.

With regrad the steak, note I complimented the taste and quality and it would have been quite fab if I had orderer rare, sans sauce or things untop of it :).

I noted the redfish and if I am not mistaken, two of my dining partners ordered it and had no complaints.
all the best

Emeril's Restaurant Miami Bch
1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

A South Beach Visit - Places I ate and Places I hate

This is a review of a visit t see friends in SoBe during March Break. i ate with mates and then mates and their family and then my family.

Emerils at the Loews Hotel

From a service perspective I can honestly say that it was quite good, very attentive and immensely professional deserving of high marks, something I cannot say about the majority of the food.
It was a wobbly and very expensive experience for five adults, coming in at about $200 a pop.
With a couple of bottles of wine.
Let's start with the first surprise, which is the lack of anything that might be Nawlins style food. While I really don't know what that is I had certain expectations (where are the crayfish dishes, dirty rice, estoufade, alligator tails) and was sorely disappointed. The menu is pedestrian at best with execution that can only be called unbalanced. I start with the lobster gnocchi, that well known Nawlins favourite (yes) and I am immediately pleasantly surprised and horrified, soft pillowy gnocchi in a lobster cream sauce folded in with sweet lobster meat works nicely; however I immediately notice to my horror that someone's hair seems to have been an unrequested addition ( i am bald, i mean completely shaved head bald).

The very professional waiter removes my plate with apologies and in short order my dish is replaced with another. Quite tasty. My main is an 18oz bone in rib eye, which I order cooked medium rare. Two things disappoint on this tasty cut. They serve it to me very rare and they plaster it with gloopy sauces galore that hides the meats lovely flavour. So two strikes right there. We order sides including the ubiquitous truffle mac and cheese and the creamed spinach.
It’s completely uninspiring. Not that either should be inspiring necessarily; however to have 2 side dishes where you could not distinguish one from the other because they are not only served in similar dishes ; but represents a glutinous mess topped with layers of cheese so deep as to be challenging to slop out of the giant ramekins in which they are presented. All rather disappointing and what's with a 34 oz steak for $155 on the menu?
It says a lot about the lack of imagination of the restaurant and the menu in general. Give it a miss, you won't be missing anything. No forks of appreciation here. It’s expensive and the food is totally lacklustre and uninspiring. Actually if anything it’s no forking good. Sorry.

$$$$ 5 forks out of 10.

MEAT MARKET (Lincoln Road)

My host in SoBe wasn't sure if he should bring me to this spot, simply because he has had mixed experiences there; but he decided to chance it and I am glad though the outcome was as he had surmised.....mixed.
Three of us including another friend who works in Barbados sat down for dinner and started with a trio of shared appetisers as recommended. We had ceviche three ways, the Sockeye ceviche (though the very competent waiter mangled the name, that as Canadians we all looked at each other thinking for all these years we had mispronounced it and it was possibly Japanese)
Was incredibly fresh and very tasty and was served as a sashimi style ceviche. The blend of flavours while clever has some overpowering aspects in particular I thought the sesame seed oil (if I am not mistaken). The next one was the tuna, which was served in small cubes with an Asian influenced marinade which was quite delicious. The final ceviche was a more traditional style with lime etc in bit sized chunks, the fish if I remember correctly was dolphin and while from a texture standpoint quite delish was overcooked in the lime which seemed to be the primary takeaway. I had to take a large swig of my Albarino to get away from that one. Our main was an excellent steak served sliced for 3 ($68) and a good value. We also ordered lobster tails and their version of surf and turf, which was from the description 2 braised short ribs topped with snow crab meat. In my dear little head I had visions of two large bones with succulent fall away braised meat sitting astride each other with lashings of crab meat untop. Well while tasty it was a real disappointment, I suspect the shredded meat from the short rib while rather tasty was likely not even one full rib far less two. We enjoyed the meal. The service was flawless, the sommelier extremely good in his helpfulness and all round a good meal, though not an excellent one.
Would most definitely go back.

$$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Sushi Samba Dromo (Lincoln and Pennsylvania)

Being a lover of things Japanese and especially the use of other ingredients married with Japanese ones or a Japanese style applied for non Japanese ingredients, I was all up for the suggestion of dining with my buddies and one friend that was about to embark on a cruise from my Miami with his lovely daughters and wife.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience that when my son and wife joined me a couple of days later I took them there; but two very different experiences. A capable waiter with the right attitude can easily help ameliorate food not being up to what one might expect and that was so evident from 2 visits 3 nights apart.
On the Saturday night we sat outside and 5 adults and 2 kids dined and it was a wonderful experience. My three mates had previously eaten here and knew the drill, so they decided after much haranguing of moi, to go 7 course omakase, while I decided that the menu while overwhelming had a number of things that caught my eye, including the rock shrimp, the antichuros skewers of both beautifully marinated beef and delicious fish on Peruvian corn (its forking huge, the Peruvian corn that is, and has a slight sweetness and the texture of a boiled Yukon gold) and then my piece de resistance the Chilean sea bass marinated with miso That was cooked to perfection served with a few sautéed al dente vegetables and was a wonderful way to finish off my meal; but the beautiful marriage was the wonderful different plates that our waitress kept on selecting and bring to the table (which I naturally got to try in most instances- that tempura sisho leaf with the finely chopped and marinated tuna was quite divine). The food atmosphere and service was great and an enjoyable evening. Was had by all. With my wife and son coming in to meet me the next day - decided that I would treat them to dinner there on the Monday night and there-in lies the rub. The service from a balding and good looking and what I took to be a gay man was indifferent at best. The food wasn't as good though we enjoyed everything we ordered with the exception of the beef skewers and we finished of sharing the lovely sea bass with rather unusual coconut rice.
I would definitely go back.

$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Other places visited during my stay.

Larios on the beach.
Cuban influenced food. Relatively cheap and cheerful. Decent service and for what they provide. Two thumbs and 6 forks.

$$ - 6 forks out of 10

Big Pink on Collins and 2nd,

which I would have to say the jury is out. The service was indifferent on the two occasions we went for brunch (first occasion the waiter even wrote out for me what 18% tip equivalent was and what 20% was for indifferent service. Ha, farking cheek!). The food is ok to indifferent. My son who loves his burgers found his tasteless.
It’s convenient and you can order in and the menu is HUUGE and therein might be the problem I suspect; though the local Fire Marshals that frequent the place I suspect would not agree with me.

$ - jury is out with a tentative 4 forks out of 10

Smith & Wollenskys (at South Pointe)

We had to do steak; however walking back to our friend’s condo we could have tried Texas de Brasil which was much closer
My 18 ounce bone in rib eye was done to my exact specifications with that wonderful charred look and smell one can really only ever achieve from I assume a 1300 to 1500 F grill; but the first cut with my steak knife reflected my request for medium rare to perfection. Hell I had to take some back which was sliced and made ready for bagels for my journey back to Toronto the next morning. Ordered way too many sides and knew that.

$$$$$ 7 forks out of 10

News Cafe
Ah the ubiquitous all day breakfast joint. Guess what it never seems to fail to deliver and quite often after walking down Oceanside after dinner and way to many drinks we would slip into the bar and have final cleansing ale.
Its cheap, it’s cheerful, the quality of the breakfasts is always good and the service excellent.

$ - 8 forks out of 10 (why? because it does what it does extremely well ,and continues to be dirt cheap)

Nikki Beach (at the end of Oceanside)

I love the house music and despite the invariable wait, its a great spot for people watching and the brunch while at $35 is hardly cheap, is all you can eat> So despite not being big on buffets, the French folks have got a decent formula on the go. I make a point of going on any Sunday I find myself in SoBe

$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Bentleys in Islamordora - Middle Keys

ovverrated,.....quite simply! Why would you slap a piece of grilled cheese on a nicely cooked and seasoned piece of fresh snapper for gawds sake.

$$$ 4 forks out of 10

Best Indian in Toronto - where is it?

I have ate at Amaya when it first opened and for more interesting Indian food it is some of the best certainly in Toronto: though it is not as good as Vij/Rangooli in Vancouver, whose fare I believe to be superior. ( ialso ate at Amaya of the same name in London a couple of years back and was blown away. it picked up a Michelin star a short while after i had been there).

Oct 14, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO bamboo cutting boards

Currently Costco at Dundas and Winston Churchill have a two pack(different sizes) bamboo cutting board for $12.99. I had purchased a pair myself quite some time ago; but I believe mine are larger and cost a tad more.

Sep 06, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer?

I just bought my Cusinart from Kitchen Stuff Plus after taking back my Kitchen Aid Professional back to Costco ( Christmas prezzie). I would say just go buy it at Kitchen Plus. they have a wide range of colours from what I saw and if thats what you want then i suspect by the time you go through all the hassles etc, the exchange rate, the savings will be negligible.

Jan 04, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best Smoked Salmon

Also on Saturday I went to Bayland Seafood at Burnhamthorpe and Dixe on the South East corner in the Eastern European mall there. It seems that the portugese couple that had owned Bayland for probably 30 years retired and sold the business to a couple of folks that used to be at Mike's Fish on Vansco in Etboicoke.

Got chatting to one of the proprietors Angelo and the subject of lox came up. We started sharing approaches whereupon he went out back and came back with a huge tray with a side of lox on it. he proceeded to slice a few pieces for myself and my friend. He said he had cured it with vodka and it was dressed with lemon zest cracked blacked pepper and dill. It was quite delicious and I would certainly purchase it; but let me underscore that this is lox that has been cured in the fridge rather than anything that has been smoked.

Its now called Waterfront Seafood Market and the quality is still extremely high and the new owners obviously know and care about quality seafood.

Jan 04, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best Smoked Salmon

Sumashi, I order and send as Christmas gifts each year as a thank you to some of my clients that are foodies and that has included folks in Regina, in California, Toronto, Montreal and New York, so i dont see BC as a problem. i would highly recommend that you try it. I suspect that you will be pleased.

Jan 04, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best Smoked Salmon

Kristapsons is highly overrated in my opinion and pricey for the product they they produce, BC salmon. I drove there recently on a recommendation and must admit my utter dissappointment. My wife concurred and paid me the biggest compliment by telling me that i put out a better product. At $58 a Kilo, that just darned expensive.

I can order smoked salmon of the highest quality (Atlantic), custom smoked and delivered to my door within 2 days via FEDEX and come inside of that price.

The best smoked salmon I have ever had is from J Willy Krauch in Tangiers, Nova Scotia. Danish Style, which from what i understand is a simple salt cure for one day then lightly smoked for a day, packaged and on its way by overnight FEDEX

. Its simply one of those cases of once you have had some J Willy, well you just can't go back. :) We have it normally twice a year (Easter & Christmas), unsliced and the texture and smoke flavour is quite wonderful and the fish simply melts on the tongue. At something like $38 a kilo its almost half price. Its more than worth the money and I have been ordering since 2002.

A more balanced review can be found at teh link below.

Jan 04, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Paella Pans

Mila you are the absolute best> I picked up a traditional carbon steel pan for a song today. Really appreciate the help on that one.


Jan 03, 2009
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Canoe - Summerlicious 2008 Menu

I have never had a bad meal there. They have been around all these years and you are getting the food at a discount. Whats your real question :)

Jul 08, 2008
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

NYOOD - opening tonite?

When Nyood first opened earlier this year I had the good luck to get two different invites from the charming Hanif Harji to come by and experience the new spot and so with many months having elapsed and one friend suggesting it was so, so, I was pleasantly surprised with my experience last evening.

Having said that, my caveat is that it would be "rood" (hahahahah sorry I am writing this in the cab on the way home with decent booze in me) not to mention some of my objections, that I was more than happy to share with anyone that was willing to listen. In this case one of the Maitre'd from Kultura and another young gentleman (maybe the Manager) that also impressed me with their willingness to listen to my assertions of what would take for certain of the dishes to move up a notch.

Let me start with my objections which are relatively speaking, small against the fabulous service from the bar where we initially sat, with truly generous service from a handsome young chap, to our seat for two near the open front that allowed me to observe life and be sometimes engaged by our wonderful and always attentive server Erin !

The first dish was the lychee shrimp ceviche, which was somewhat different from what I had imagined as I didn't know or believe that there was sufficient astringent/acidic content to cure anything in lychees, so was surprised at the wonderful texture of the shrimp and the delicate flavouring of the sauce with slices of lychee and I believe cucumber.

In fact the shrimp was not really cevicheed (?) but obviously quick fried to retain their plumpness and then cut up and mixed with the lychee and cucumber; very tasty though miniscule in terms of portion. Its even more apparent how miniscule when we received our order of olive oil cured/marinated beef, which was about 5 generous slices of wonderfully tender beautifully marbled beef.

This was followed by beautiful Frito Misto with an airily light very tasty non greasy batter, which illustrated that its only the Japanese that know how to do good tempura. Juicy pieces of courgette, oyster mushroom and aubergine done to perfection with two lovely sauces that beautifully complimented the dish. This was quickly followed by a grilled flatbread topped with a variety of sautéed mushrooms, gorgonzola and sweet roasted garlic, which was quite delicious. Our final savoury dish was the lamb which was quite tasty; but was also the dish I had the most problem with.

Let me explain. Our lovely waitress had pointed out that the menu is based on small plates to share and as such we would probably require 5 or 6, which seems reasonable enough. At around $12-14 for most of the plates it seemed reasonable enough; however you knew silly season was in when you are being charged $28 for three lamb chops described as rack of lamb.

I sunk my teeth into the lamb and had no compunction (or at least didn't feel sheepish) about complaining that not only had they chosen to mislead in their description "rack", but had they expected me and my dinner companion to arm wrestle for the third chop.

This is where sillingness creeps in. For gods sakes put 4 lamb chops on the fricking plate or reduce the price from $28 to $14 and put two on the plate; but not three.

While not a desert or cocktails fan, I was sufficiently impressed with the descriptions of the many champagne cocktails that both my dinner partner and I tried the Chandon Bellini as well as the Jacobian caiparinha. Both fell short on too little alcohol and too much fruitiness/sweetness.

Likewise a desert that came close to being really good, a very good (square) of chocolate mousse, that for some strange reason had another square of what tasted like a squishy tiramisu type sponge base that had no reason to be on the plate. The mousse square/cake and the couple of pieces of flambéed banana might have sufficed, though texturally one might have been better off with maybe pecans sprinkled over the mousse rather than the dreadful dried banana pieces.

I suspect that Nyood is only a couple of steps away from being a consistently really good spot with some longevity, with a little tweaking.

All in all the room is very attractive, open and simple but attractively decorated with a nice bar (great service there too) an open kitchen and some great tunes played all evening long.

I did note some very attractive young ladies in the kitchen, who I was told were Mexican and who were here on some type of exchange program.

All in good stuff and I would give Nyood 8/10 to include service, ambience, quality of food and value for money.

Jun 25, 2008
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Spice Route--feedback?

Wow ......what an unfortunately challenging name to give yourself to live up to.

Not sure where I should start to try and provide what might be deemed a sufficiently balanced review of my experience without seeming as bitter as Hilary; however its difficult to be balanced with execution and service as deeply flawed as this.

They not only missed the Route but in particular completely avoided the Spices.
Its a cavernous room, that from a clinical aesthetic is pleasing. The whole bar area reminds me of Ki actually.
Great furniture near the front entrance to look at; but less comfortable as everything is wide and low and again the aesthetic seems more important than comfort.

The bathrooms are also interesting if you don't mind taking a pee while looking out a large window with a view to what I suspect is meant to be a Zen type enclosed space outside the widows with wooden fountains piping water and lots of green grass to look at. I kept wondering if someone was going to walk by any minute and wave.

Ok back to the food and service.

There were 5 of us on a walk-in basis last evening. Three disinterested young gals at the front desk who did not look old enough to be out of grade school greeted us and I suspect that none had any previous experience and if they did they hid it well.

We didn't get a table but we were placed in the lounge area so ordered from there. We ordered 6 dishes to start
The first dish that arrived was the lettuce cups/wraps, the fact that we then had to request plates, napkins etc was the obvious first indication of what was to come. It was very average; but both the fillings (ground duck & ground chicken) were lacking in any spicing and can only be described as bland and so was the rest of the meal to follow.

It was the very last dish that we ordered after consuming 4 bottles of a reasonably priced Albarino,that had any flavour and that was the spicy shrimp and calamari plate. Unfortunately the batter on both deep fried items was totally lacking in any seasoning. Its only redemption being dusting of red chilli powder on the calamari.

I have seen this food executed substantially better in many places and I am deeply disappointed if the Chef is in fact Wai-Lei Wong once of Monsoon.

How best to convey this......ATROCIOUS FOOD.....BAD SERVICE (though I must say it was first night for our waitress and she did well all things considered)......interesting space though nothing I haven't seen before.

COLD would be highly appropriate.

I will give this place 15 months before its on it knees. In the meantime if you are interested in people watching then the lounge area near the entrance is where you should park yourself as this is obviously the "it" spot for young larger breasted women to show their wares. I must admit that I wondered if it had anything to do with the proximity of the local strip club. My female colleagues also made the same observation, so it wasn't just my wondering eye looking for alternative pleasure to the rather tediously unspiced food we were presented with over the course of the couple of hours we spent there.

I will not be going back unless its strictly for drinks. The place makes the food at KI shine and seem as though it might be of true gourmet quality.

Jun 05, 2008
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

notl wineries and eats

I spent a weekend in NOTL a couple of weeks ago and while I didn't get the opportunity to eat out (apart from a great bakey place In Virgil - just before you enter town NOTL that does outstanding pies and bread); my friend that has a spot in NOTL absolutely insists that REST (Stoneroad Grill) is very good as is the Hillebrand Estate Restaurant.

So pinestripeprincess your review are quite helpful. I traipsed around a couple of the wineries and must admit to being horrified at the prices for grape juice in NOTL these days :) So sorry couldnt help that one; but at Stratus; I did a flight of tastings ( they charge for it) and while I though the white was pretty good, the red in my opinion certainly required some maturing ( I dont know that much about wine). I was horrifeid at the prices. These were blends ( i think the red was 4 or 5 blends), and while I might not taht much about wine I knew enough not to pay $45 even for the white that I liked.

By the way for those that like a good pint and deecnt pub-grub, the Angel Pub sells lots of good British beer ( plus many more). I got a couple of very tasty black and tans in after my wine tastings ( cleansing ale)!

May 20, 2008
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

IBERIAN Ham in (or coming to) Toronto?

That was most excellent Moh. Good looking spread too.

I had the pleasure of two slices of a bellota a month or so ago, purchased from St. Lawerence Mkt and I must say, that the taste was extarordianry. This was presented to me by a foodie friend, who had popped there at lunchtime and purchased a few slices. We had planned to go to Panagae on Wednesday April 9th to enjoy slices of this prouct with some spanish white ; but then we were informed that there was infact an official launch of the jamon iberica and that was taking place the Friday of that week so it could not be sold prior, so our eagerly awaited trip was cancelled.

The jamon iberica that i tasted was quite exquisite and infact the fat tasted not unlike cream cheese, and the meat was just a silken texture with some nutiness and was quite sublime.

Bloody expensisve; but I would certainly buy some everyone once in a blue moon. By the way we met at the bar of Jump in the middle of the afternoon in front of the Easter weekend ordered a glass each of a north Spain ablerino/albuerino white and gosh....quite delish!

May 20, 2008
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)


Nice one chileheadmike!

I own a BGE, a Bradley Smoker and and Weber gas BBQ.

I love my smoker and will smoke a varierty of meats on it. However I have always chosen a to use my Weber to crisp up any meats (turkey and chicken in particular after smoking them).

Where Ribs are concerned I rarely bother to use the smoker and just put them on the BGE, get my temp to about 240 get some wet wood chips in there and leave that sucker alone for about 4 or 5 hours and get a great product everty time. I think the rubs or marinades that one uses is equally important in he determination of th result. I have had to play with my basic combo of kosher sault and brown sugar to get the appropriate balance and texture; but very happy with how it goes.

I have never had any real problem wih my Bradley ( have had it for about 6 years now); though the red switch to push the briquettes forward will get stuck sometimes; likely a function of me keeping it outside, even though its covered most of the time when not in use.

May 14, 2008
Grazor in Cookware

Best Roti in TO?

{Ghandi's is good, but again, its an East Indian take on a West Indian dish catering to Queen St. whities (sorry my white bretheren)}

goodcookiedrift everything I know about roti and dhalpuri would suggest that its an Indian dish that was adapted by those that moved from India to the West Indies. My mother being half Indian and having been originally brought up in the Islands and watching her make roti and puri's ( two differnt things that folks tend to use interchangeably); I believe that I am not incorrect.
Nonetheless will check you suggestion for Ali's ( as well as Ghandi)

Oct 01, 2007
Grazor in Ontario (inc. Toronto)