MichelinStarChaser's Profile

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London - please help with my list

Thanks, bat, that was very helpful! I'm sort of elbowing in on their topic because I'm looking for some London recommendations as well. I've been to Maze a few times, and it was fine, but I'm looking for something different. For myself, it doesn't have to be a celeb-chef place, I just want top-notch. (Loved the "Big Sweary" moniker, BTW!) Haven't been to Pied a Terre in a few years, maybe that's worth another visit.

Best of the New Bistro Bunch?!

Out of these, my top 3 would be Grace, Harbord Room and Deluxe. (It almost pains me to say this because they're all small-ish places and if they become too popular, I'll never be able to get in!)
Honorable mention to Black Hoof which I absolutely adore, but I don't want to eat charcuterie too often.

Dining in Cambridgeshire

Hi Douglas, this is a very late reply, but thanks for mentioning Alimentum. I wanted to make it there but didn't get a chance - hopefully next visit!

London - please help with my list

Forgot to add that I loved The Square when I dined there some years ago, so you might want to add that to the big splurge celebration meal list. However, I would love to have some local London fine-diners weigh in who have been to some of the top restos recently and can give us a more current review.

London - please help with my list

Hi, I've been to Maze a couple times, and although it's not the best food I've ever had, it is quite delicious and inventive and a really nice experience. The resto is always really buzzy, so you feel quite at the centre of the universe when there. I even saw the "man himself" on my last visit in November (I'm sure he was just visiting, not cooking).

But, no poster has commented on Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road, and I would like to have some opinion on that as well. I'm heading to London soon, and I'd like to know if that restaurant is worth my time when I only have a few days to dine, and if it's not the "absolute best" in London these days - what is?


North 44 closing?

Understood - that's a fair point. Sorry 'bout that, folks.

North 44 closing?

I heard a rumour that North 44 is closing or has been closed. It looked pretty dark and dead when I drove by there the night before last, but it was sort of late. Does anyone know anything? %$#@! I have a gift certificate for it!

Terroni - Mediocre food and BAD Sevice

I'm agreeing with your post, Brennius. I lived in Italy for 3 years (both Milan and Rome), and Terroni is the most similar place I've found in Toronto to the kind of food and experience you would get in Italy - while dining out at your local pizzeria or bistro (not haute cuisine). Just last night at the Adelaide location, I had a gorgeous warm octopus salad - simple and lovely. Have to say though that a few nights earlier, I had bad service at the Yonge St. location and I was pretty ticked off, since I go there fairly often and some of the people there at least recognize me by now. But, I still think it's a great concept and I always feel "good" after I eat there - I use it as my "healthy choice" when dining out.

Dining in Cambridgeshire

Found myself in Cambridgeshire for several weeks recently, and I want to laud two of my favorite places I discovered while there:

The Old Bridge Hotel, Huntingdon: fabulous food sourced from local farmers, interesting wines by the glass, great ambiance. Owned by John Hoskins, Master of Wine.

The Cock pub in Hemingford Grey: would drive miles for this place (and did!). Gorgeous food, simply and beautifully prepared.

le castor a disastor

Hi all,

Thanks to marktheshark for the hilarious post and for the ensuing witty replies – this is one of the most amusing threads I’ve read in a while!

Funny, I’ve been on a long hiatus due to being out of the country, and upon my return, I noticed that, oh, maybe 80% of Shinan’s recent columns have mentioned Le Petit Castor, along with other assorted “buzz” flying about. And, it actually has made me want to check it out! Pathetic, I know!

I love the discussion of dress / appearance / manner and getting into restaurants. I find that yes, it does matter sometimes, especially in how you’re treated once you’ve sat down. And especially in Europe, dressing well is more important, and implies a respect for yourself, the other diners and the people who will be serving you – so it’s not always a snobbery thing, it’s just cultural. (Although I have to admit, rather ashamedly, that I recently ate at both Nota Bene and Lucien in hoodie sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes – I didn’t mean to under-dress, each time I just happened to be in the ‘hoods and wanted some good food, sartorial readiness be damned!) But also – and I’m sure this is similar for the other illustrious participants in this thread – to me it’s not so much about how I look or how I’m dressed – it’s about confidence. I never walk into a restaurant without acting like I own the place. I didn’t really think about that until now – it’s not something intentional – I’ve just dined out a lot, here in Toronto, and all over the world. And I do believe, that as a guest of a restaurant, you DO own the place in a matter of speaking – or you should, if they’ve got their service right.

Was just in London 2 weeks ago and decided to go to Maze, after reading how you can't get in, impossible, blah, blah, blah. Called them around 9:30 just to make sure the kitchen was still open before heading over. They started telling me, “Not possible, we’re fully booked” and I ignored that and told them I was on my own and wanted to sit in the bar, so I quickly said I was just going to pop by anyway and have a look. Of course, I got there, and there were several seats free at the bar. Had a great dinner, the Man Himself was there (not that I approached him to speak, of course), my waiter took me on a kitchen tour, and I had a fabulous evening. This is (supposedly) still one of the hottest restaurants in London, so it will be amusing to see if Le Petit Castor is actually harder to get into. Anyway – now I view it as a (tongue-in-cheek) challenge! (Then again, estufarian mentions that he was turned away from the bar, which is my usual M.O., so I might be foiled!)

Great Italian with a patio downtown

Hi Cat. Love Tutti Matti, but was there last night and although they have all the doors open, they don't have a patio - otherwise I would have suggested it. I must check out Biagio - I've never even heard of it!

Great Italian with a patio downtown

Thanks TorontoJo, I've been to the Terroni on Adelaide numerous times, but I didn't know they had a patio!

Great Italian with a patio downtown

Hi! Suprisingly, there aren't a whole many Italian choices in that area that also have a patio. I am thinking maybe Romagna Mia on Front, but I can't remember if they put tables outside or not in the summer - can anyone help me out here?

The only other option I can think of is Vagabondo on Wellington, which is nearby too. I know they have a nice patio, I just can't vouch for the food there, because I've never been.
Vagabondo Italian Ristorante+Lounge
32 Wellington E (416) 862-1999

If you could only eat at one restaurant every night, which one would you choose?

This is a thought that came to me as I was dining out tonight, and was contemplating separating the critically adored and hyped places from the ones that simply have damn fine food, where I could eat every night if I had to do so, and feel good doing it. Naturally, the highly praised places are the ones that are doing things that are perhaps more rarified and avant-garde, but once you pare all that away and get down to the basics, and if someone told you, "OK, for the rest of your life, you can only eat at one retaurant in the GTA" -- what would it be?

(I know what mine would be, but I hate to influence the convo...)

rice cooker

Thanks Kagemusha - I may just take a drive out there and check it out! (I've also always wanted one of their very cool portable bento box thingies...but I digress!)

rice cooker

Funny, I was just researching rice cookers myself, and although I am planning to get a Zojirushi, I am sure that some of the Asian stores that carry them may also carry Sanyo, so you can call to check:

Korean Central Market, 675 Bloor St. West Tel: (416) 516-3966

Mei King Company, 337 Broadview Ave. Tel: (416) 463-0442

Sanko Trading Company, 730 Queen Street West Tel: (416) 703-4550

Tap Phong Trading Company, 360 Spadina Ave. Tel: (416) 977-6364

Tiger Electro Utensil Centre, 311 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON Tel: (416) 340-1986

and also, you can check with Ashley's:
William Ashley LTD., 55 Bloor st .W. Tel: (416)964-2900

DINNER for 20

Hi, here are a few places off the top of my head. Will add more as I think of them. I am pretty sure that they can cater to a group that size, but restos get crazy-busy during the festival, so best to call and book now! Sorry I don't have time to include links, but all can be found doing a google search:
The Gladstone Hotel (Queen West)
Czehoski (Queen West)
Terroni on Adelaide (this may be a great choice actually - upscale pizza and pasta, it's fun, hip, young crowd, interesting decor, I know they have a couple of neat private dining areas - one is called l'ufficio - the office)

Also, to give you an idea on price, it seems moderate is getting harder to come by these days. Terroni is considered an inexpensive place to eat, but even so, went with a girlfriend last week, we each had an app and a main, shared a dessert, a couple glasses of wine each, and at the end, incl. tax and tip, we each threw in 70 bucks.

Will send more as I think of them...

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

Thanks, Maria. I have to say that her reply caught me totally off guard so I didn't react as I normally would. Often the problem at trendier restaurants can be inexperienced staff. The staff at most of my other favorite restos love and know wine, and would have immediately tried to address my concerns. A lesson learned! And at least I have it now verifiably confirmed, by several sane and oeno-knowledgeable sources, that I'm not crazy! Cheers!

Aug 26, 2008
MichelinStarChaser in Wine

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

Many restaurants serve wine too warm, so I guess it makes sense that it would be stored too warm as well. Thanks to everyone for your replies!

Aug 26, 2008
MichelinStarChaser in Wine

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

OK - thanks for your answer! (And I know "going bad" is probably not a good choice of words, but that was all that came into my head at the time!)

Aug 26, 2008
MichelinStarChaser in Wine

Application Error when trying to access my CHOW > My Posts

I am having this problem now. I can't access my posts or my profile. If you click on my icon in "Who's Talking", it goes to an empty page.

Aug 26, 2008
MichelinStarChaser in Site Talk

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

I was dining at a "trendy" Toronto restaurant on the west side last night.
I was drinking wines by the glass with dinner. I had one glass of Pinot Noir and then wanted to switch. The bartendress opened a new bottle of a different Pinot Noir for me (but one I had had before - Six Foot Six from Victoria). From my first sip, it just smelled bad and tasted bad. When I mentioned this to her, I was surprised at her reaction - she said, "Oh, this is a screw-top and it's a new bottle, so it couldn't possibly be bad." What ever happened to "the customer is always right?!" Ha-ha. I was surprised, because I hinted that perhaps my taste buds were be-fuddled by my meal and someone there should give it a sip, and that's what I would have done if I were working behind the bar, just to check!
I left the $14 glass unfinished (a BIG hint that somehow went unnoticed), paid my 100-dollar tab plus a nice tip, and left.
So...if it's possible, it must be quite rare, but can screw-top wines spoil, oxidize or go bad?

Aug 26, 2008
MichelinStarChaser in Wine

Late Night Dining

This is a very tardy reply, but I am always interested in late-night eating options in Toronto since I too often go out to eat after the opera or ballet, and I'm dressed nicely and therefore I want a nicer ambiance and more upscale meal. Besides, I'm just a night owl! I can't tell you how many times I show up at restos around town, and am told the kitchen is closed!
Besides the places you mentioned (Michelle's, Flow, Le Select), these are others I frequent -- not all are always guaranteed, so I've learned it's always best to call on the way over.

- beerbistro -- mentioned before, but worth another mention. The bar area looks very casual but the restaurant part is nice.
- All the hotels (and hotel bars) of course: One, Avenue. I sat down to a complete dinner at One one night this winter at 11 pm, and I think it was during the week.
- Sassafraz -- I find the food here has vastly improved
- Lee on King - will stay open if busy
- Thuet on King - will stay open sometimes if busy or weekend
- Sotto Sotto on Avenue Road -- often open late on weekends
- Czehoski and Coca on Queen West (although does draw a bit of a young-ish crowd)
- The Drake Hotel on Queen West
- Barberians Steakhouse (Elm St near young) - they will try to accomodate you if they can - the staff there are fantastic
- Trattoria Vatticano in Yorkville. They seem to be always open! The food isn't always exactly the level I would prefer (but I'm ultra-picky, I am sure for others it would be fine), but the staff there are lovely -- always welcoming.
- The new Terroni on Adelaide (ex-Courthouse) may be open late on the weekends, and although the food is simple, it is delicious, plus great decor and dramatic ambiance
- Biermarkt on the Esplanade stays open late but part of it morphs into a bar later, so although the restaurant area is separate, it can be a bit noisy

- I have not tried these late on the weekend yet, but plan to -- I'm thinking that some of the restos in the Wellington St. area may stay open later if they're busy, such as Lucien or Six Steps.

If I run into any new discoveries, I will post them here!

Mark Bittman's Pudding Recipe--Delicious!

I tried to make this just last night and my attempt was the same -- seemed rather thick in the pot, but today in the ramekins (after overnight in the fridge), it is runny. I followed the instructions exactly. I appreciate the posting about common errors when using starch, but I don't think I did any of those. How thick should it be by the end? Perhaps I took it off the heat too soon...

1 Night in Sobe - drinks at S&W then where?

What is S&W? Curious, since I'll be heading down to SoBe soon. Thanks!

Feb 22, 2007
MichelinStarChaser in Florida

Miami (SoBe) Saturday night...

Visiting Miami this weekend, staying in SoBe, and don't have a car so want to stay in the area. Need a dinner suggestion for Saturday night: What's the best place to go for great food and lively atmosphere on a Saturday night? Thanks!

Feb 09, 2007
MichelinStarChaser in Florida

Cava Cave-in?

That's good to hear, Non Doctor...this one case where I would prefer to be mistaken!

Cava Cave-in?

Went to Cava a month or so ago and I am sorry to admit we had a rather disappointing experience – mostly where service was concerned. They admitted they were short-staffed that evening, so I am hoping it was a one-off. Perhaps we simply had the misfortune of arriving on a bad night.

I went with a few friends – one of whom is a wine lover from out of town – so I really wanted to make sure this person had a great evening. We were hoping to try some interesting/out of the ordinary Spanish wines and we were quite carefree about prices. When we asked the servers at the bar for advice, one person said (very kindly) that he was new and so really couldn’t help us. There seemed to be no one else who could assist us. I turned to the end of the bar and happened to see the (or one of the) proprietor(s). Apologetically, I asked for some help. We did get assistance with choosing and drank two lovely bottles of wine, but a comment was made to me of the effect that it was his night off and he was hoping to relax a bit. (Note: if you want to relax and be left alone, better not to try to do it in your own restaurant, where you will be recognized!)

The food was good but not particularly memorable and no one in our party seemed terribly impressed.

I contrast this with a visit to the tapas bar at Chiado last week (or Senhor Antonio to be exact). Delightful service and wonderfully wine-savvy staff. Stunning wines (at a cost, but there are wines to be enjoyed there at any price range).

I enjoyed Cava on previous visits and I am a fan of the chef, like the concept, and want to see them succeed, so I am hoping this is just a temporary rough patch. Any thoughts?

New Years Eve..dinner and dance where to go in toronto

We did something at the Hilton one year...dinner, party and we got rooms overlooking Nathan Philips (sp?) square. We enjoyed it, so that's another option for you.

zeppole at fritelli's?

Great, thanks!