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Any users/reviews of the Chigo 96 bottle wine cellar?

Same problem.. top never goes below 65, bottom seems to stay at 52. Somewhat noisy and it vibrates a bit. Piece of crap as far as I can tell.

Nov 08, 2010
dombort in Wine

Black Hoof - very good, but limited

I had a nice evening at the Black Hoof on Dundas West.

Like everywhere else, it has strengths and weaknesses. Here's my breakdown. Hope it helps you decide:

1. No reservations. They have a bar where you can sit and drink why you wait, or they'll offer to put you on the waiting list and call when a table opens up. This is useful if you are a local, or if you enjoy spending time in the neighborhood Portuguese billiard halls while you wait, but for all others, you're out of luck.

2. Seating: Cosy place, not many tables for groups. There's a table for 4 (or maybe 6 squeezed in) at the front, there are a bunch of 2-person tables that they can put together for groups of 4 or more.. but the place is small, and caters mostly to tables of 2, so I'm seeing that it can take quite awhile to have a table for 4 or more. Jen, one of the owners, was very nice and accommodating in getting us a table, but the fact is that the place is small, and not well-suited for larger groups, unless you make arrangements with her. It is, on the other hand, a great place for a couple to have a plate of delicacies over a few pints of beer or a tasty wine.

3. Meat: In case you didn't know, the 'Hoof' focuses heavily (one might say exclusively) on Charcuterie. Charcuterie is the family of cooking that deals with dried, cured, salted, stuffed meats, sausages, hams, terrines, pates.. and other stuff like that. This makes for a fun night of food exploration, but I can't see coming back very often, since I prefer to eat more balanced meals, and last night filled my monthly quota for lard, fat, and salt . This isn't a point against the restaurant...they tell what they are all about, and the fat and salt were delicious, it's just that I can't eat like that too often. So before you jump on me and tell me "that's what Charcuterie is supposed to be", I will reiterate: the meats were delicious; the salamis, pate, sausage, fois gras, chorizo, cassoulet - all great. But don't ask me to eat there every week.

4. Wine: Decent wine list. Jen (the owner) mentioned that she might try the to get a BYOB license which would be cool. We had a Californian Syrah-Mouvedre, called Tete a Tete, which was really easy drinking, not overly jammy or oaky, for $50.. I really liked it. Many times, I've spent more on crappy wines at other restaurants.

5. Service: Very good. Our server was busy with other tables, but still filled our glasses with water, helped us with food choices, checked in occasionally, and was very friendly.

6. The Room: Casual, comfortable, not chic. It was noisy, but in a good way.. people are there for some fun, food and drinks, and there will be some carousing. I'm sure that the front area of the restaurant was pretty cold, with the front door and protective curtain swinging open to the winter tundra, but in the back we were comfortable - two of us on the wall-lining bench, and two on chairs. Bathrooms are downstairs, and kinda dingy, but that doesn't bother me. The kitchen is RIGHT there in the room, next to the bar. No wall or half wall, everything is out in the open. They have a white electric stove/oven with an ugly hacked-in fan and exhaust pipe running up from it. While there is a certain 'warts and all' honesty to their approach, it doesn't really work for me.. They have a great bar, giant mirror, and nice cosy seating area; this seems to imply they took some care in making the place comfortable and attractive, but the kitchen and aluminum fan-exhaust just clash. What those cooks accomplish, in such a small place, with so little, is pretty remarkable.. but the cooking is not what we're there to see (Charcuterie is not glamorous).

7. Price: We had a charcuterie platter, 2 small breads, chorizo with lentils, duck confit meat pie, cassoulet, green salad, cheese plate, 2 glasses of cava, 1 St. Ambroise beer, 1 bottle of red wine. Dinner for 4 - $185, tip $30. So I think you could expect about $50 - $55 per person for a full meal and drinks.

I won the fantasy hockey what?

I just ate at Delux. It was really good.

They have a lovely 6 Oysters appetizer. Duck Confit was nice, Braised Lamb was sublime. Nice wine list - $6 glass of Barbabelle.

You'll have trouble spending $200 for 2 people :)

Ask for a booth, the tables for two are kind of squished together.

Cowbell - Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Myself and three others went to Cowbell Dec 7, 2007 and were very impressed with the quality of our dishes.

Croquettes of elk and beef along with a small radiccio bundle were great.
Charcutterie plate was fine, although on the small side.

Elk Pot pie was fabulous - meaty, hearty, great puff pastry

Venison sous vide was excellent - deliciously rare, well singed on the edges, although a bit small in the portion size.

Pickerel was very good - perfectly cooked, the lentils were a bit dry and granular would be my complaint.

Apple crumble with caramel and popcorm ice cream was nice.

I'm quickly becoming a fan of restaurants that serve intelligent portions. I HATE leaving restaurants with the awful feeling that you crammed back everything they put on your plate (which I do unconsciously since I just paid good money for it). I left Cowbell perfectly satisfied.

Service was a bit slow, but friendly - I think they need a front of house attendant to take care of coats and seating rather than asking the waiters to do double duty.

Wine was on the high side for markup, but not terrible.

It seemed ready for prime time on Friday night.

Casual dinner for 2 foodie couples-excellent wine list a must

We just ate at Citizen, on Queen East (near Broadview).

It's Rodney's (of Rosebud fame) new restaurant. There were 4 of us and we had a great time, followed by a good conversation with the chef himself.

Italian leaning inspiration there these days (Bolognese Papardelle, Rabbit Gnocchi, Mixed Mushroom and Arugula salad). We had a wonderful Amarone by Zinardi for $59.. only a $16 markup Rodney informed us.

Mains range from $15 - 25

If you like rich food, but with good strong flavours, I'd recommend trying out Citizen.

ISO info on Kasumi Knifes

I just got one, and love it so far. Balance and weight feel perfect to me.. I'd go and play with one and see if it fits you right. I compared with global and preferred the balance and weight - or maybe I was just being influenced by how nice the blade looks :)

Oct 06, 2007
dombort in Cookware

Global Knives

Cheapest place for Global knives that I know of (other than online ordering maybe) is at Tap Phong in the Spadina Ave. Chinatown in Toronto.

The G16 - 10" cooks knife I believe they sell for $120.

Oct 06, 2007
dombort in Atlantic Canada

Toronto Wine Bar List?

Niagara Street Cafe has a well maintained wine list and some decent food to match.. although it's more of a restaurant than a 'wine bar'.

seriously, tom thai has made me fall in love with fish.

Me and a few friends tried to go to Foxley on Friday night...

They don't do reservations.. so we arrived at the door at 7:30. It was packed, so I left my phone number with the hostess and she explained that she would call in 30 - 40 minutes as the space opened up for us. All good so far.

Knowing about the Crooked Star, and it's general crappyness, we went down the street to some new bar (Restolados or something like that). Good tequilla and beer selection (and pints of imported beer were less than $5 each!!). The phone call from Foxley came 40 minutes later, and we went back up to Foxley. However, turns out that hostess mistakenly thought that me and my crew of 5 somehow wanted a table for 2... whoops. Yeah, that sucks. She said something else might open up in another 20 - 30 minutes. She was apologetic and wanted to help, but we were too annoyed at that point, so we declined.

So... yes, people make mistakes.. but unfortunately we wasted nearly an hour to find someplace to have dinner.

Good news is that we hopped in a cab and went to Torito where we had a great meal. The nightly specials of :
1.Gespacho or summer peach tomato with cilantro and truffle oil,
2.Peach, Arugula and fresh cheese salad
3. Spanish meatballs
4. Chantarelle Mushroom Ragout
were all really nicely prepared and tasted great with the exception of the meatballs which I found too salty. The regular menu items of Ceviche, Bravas, Quail were excellent. Service was genuine and prompt.

So, we'll try Foxley again, since the reviews are all so good, and we're in the hood.

Archeo in Distillery District?

Was there last night and had a great meal.
Mozarrella di bufala was nice opener
Gnocchi with pancetta and sage was phenomenal! Best I've ever had at any restaurant.
Other's around me had Lamb shanks, beef tenderloin, seafood linguine. All well received.

Seems like fairly standard Italian fare, but Very well executed. Portions are fair, and price is reasonable.

Apps: 7 - 12
Pastas: 10 - 15
Pizzas: 10 - 15
Mains: 18 - 25

I'd go again.

Wine for a crowd

One of my 'go-to' pizza and pasta wines is a chianti :

Straccali, made by ROCCA DELLE MACIE which is a large but well regarded producer.
for $10.55

Medium bodied, excellent food wine. Quite elegant for a cheap wine.

Apparently, these guys like it too:

LCBO link:

Apr 17, 2007
dombort in Wine

Habitat - Review (Long)

Great review Juniper.

Four of us went this recent Friday night (April 13th), not realizing that Scott Woods had left.
Overall we were rather disappointed with our meal.

Re: wine selection above, sadly we DID choose the Cotes Du Rhone (I can't recall the name, but it's the $56 bottle). It was too young, tart on the finish and not that great. After the Cotes Du Rhone, we went with the Malavoire Fochs, which was oakey, a big mouthful of fruit.. but decently balanced.. it was a better accompaniment with the beef (see below).. but really not that great either. Our waiter was very pleasant but was not particularly helpful with the wine selections.

On to the food.

Amuse Bouche - a thick mushroom soup with a couple sprinkles of truffle. Nice.

1. Scallops with prosciutto on greens and a bit of mash (I think). Quite nice, although we were initially informed that there would be three scallops, and were delivered one. They apologized, explained that it depended on the size of the scallops, but brought out two more for us anyway.. Nicely cooked scallops with prosciutto is hard to screw up...[Good]

2. Some duck and foie gras combo. I didn't try it, but I heard nothing about it, so I assume it was ok. [Average]

3. Winter greens salad with endives etc. (as Juniper notes the details above). Overly salted. I had the rest of the table sample and thy agreed. I don't know why kitchens salt salads so much... nervousness? [Poor]

1. Beef Tenderloin medallions for two of us. It came recommended by the waiter, so, looking forward to a nice piece of beef, two of us took her up on the recommendation. The dish came with a blue cheese mouse/foam which was the only the saving grace, because the beef was totally overcooked, and of poor quality (with that rough, stringy stewed texture). We had asked for Rare/medium rare (or rare plus... to be annoying). It came medium/well. I was considering sending it back, but the dinner was for my birthday, we were having a good time, and I didn't want to delay the whole process. I was ok with eating bad tenderloin for the greater good. [Poor]

2. Moroccan lamp shank. I sampled the lamb. It was prepared properly, but the dressings were not particularly inspired.. I'm not sure why it's on the menu. Look up Moroccan lamb in any cook book.. that's what you get. [Average]

3. Duo of duck.. See Juniper's review. It was quite good. [Good]

We also noted that the music was fairly crap. Over the sound system, they were playing the same ole' Jamiroquai / electro-lounge tunes that we all thought were great in the late nineties, but got tired of after a few years... Why has this style of music persisted as the 'go-to' restaurant musak of choice..? Maybe I'm being overly critical here..

The bill .. I think it came to about $330 for 4 people.

Overall, I'd say that if they hadn't ruined the beef tenderloin I would give it a slightly above average rating, however given that significant lapse, I'd have to give it a below Average value.

Why did Scott Woods leave? Where is he now?
So I looked up Scott Woods on chef db:

Not sure if this is accurate .. he does one day a week at Sushi Kaji.


Toronto's Best Food Neighbourhoods?

Yeah.. the Dip is all about the patio and cheap food. Nobody goes there for high quality grub.

College has a few good spots but sadly it doesn't make the grade as a culinary destination. Cuccina is good, Reggina Trattoria is good, Gamelle is very good, Giancarlo is good but over-priced, San Francisco's makes a great Veal sandwich ... for meat and cheese, Grace Meats is good but can be a bit expensive. As for produce, Little Italy can't be beat - at least in the summer - but you need to live in the neighborhood and either grow your own tomatoes, or live next door to an old Portugese or Italian couple that does. :^)


Sisters Birthday Dinner?

Nice report.
Sounds like Le Select was a success.
The price was certainly very reasonable .. were any of you on a prix fixe?


Drake Lounge on a Saturday Evening

Prior to 8PM.. Yeah, the Drake will be fine for drinks.
If not, go across the sidestreet to the Beaconsfield.

Sisters Birthday Dinner?

To consider:

Perigee is truly wonderful (one of my best ever meals), but I had assumed it was over the top for your price range..

La Palette wouldn't bat an eye if she were to have a glass of wine with her meal, and they have a decent set of deserts, as well as a prix fixe for $25 which includes some mains and some deserts.

Blowfish will definitely make her feel extremely hip and fashionable. No idea about their deserts.

Unless she is into cosy French Bistros in gritty-fun neighborhoods (La Palette), you might want to go for the 'slick' and hit up a place like Blowfish or Crush. They are the kinds of places that she could be justified in 'dressing up' for.

have fun.

Sisters Birthday Dinner?

It's not exactly 'Impressive' , but I always like La Palette for small birthday get togethers. I've seen some negative posts on CH recently, however the word on the street was that they had some 'issues' last summer that have been resolved. I went recently and enjoyed my meal and wine. It's got great atmosphere, good bistro fare, a great selection of wines. As long as you are willing to be friendly with the staff, I can almost guarantee that they will treat you well. It gets a bit noisy sometimes, but for me that is part of the charm..

Perhaps more impressive would be Crush, or Blowfish , down on King St. More of the beautiful people scene, but maybe your sister will get a kick out of it.

Have fun wherever you go and report back.

New Sky?

Incidentally E-Pan, a few doors up, is where one of the head chefs and some of the waiters from New Sky set up shop when they mutinied and left New Sky a number of months ago. The food is very similar, but slightly cheaper. The dining room is cleaner, the bathrooms are the nicest you've ever seen in a Spadina Chinese restaurant.

La Palette vs Batifole?

I went to Batifole for Winterlicious. This post is over a month late...sorry.

Very friendly and attentive service despite the hustle and bustle of a busy Friday night.
We had surprisingly light (but very tasty) bistro fare. A very fresh salad with endives and mixed greens. A lovely fish en Papillote (baked in a parchment paper bag) in herbs and white wine.
In general the dishes were properly portioned; if are hungry you should have an appetizer and main and you won't be uncomfortably full when you leave (which I take as a very good thing).

A very reasonably priced winelist which made up for its lack of range - I'm pretty sure we had a Marconnets 1er Cru (a nice white Burgundy ) for $65 which is a very low markup ($20 approx).

The decor at Batifole was modern, quite comfortabel, perhaps a bit bare, but certainly clean, pleasant and giving the air of a professional kitchen that is not fooling around.

La Palette has the edge on atmosphere in my mind, but right now I'd give the edge to Batifole for cuisine.

Chowhound Meet - 93 Harbord

RASOEE The Indian Kitchen (Downtown)...???

Rasoee has been hit and miss for me (mostly miss). The butter chicken was thinned out watery sauce. The Naan is ok. Rice is average. This is McDonald's/indian.. I'm not a big fan.
4 / 10

New Sky?

yeah, this certainly is not 'high end chinese'
Who knows if it's free-range? I'm guesing that if they ran out, they wouldn't mention it unless asked specifically. However, I would expect steamed chicken to be fairly tender.

I always go with the steamed fish. Generally is very well prepared. I've never waited 30 minutes for the first course there.. that's unusual.

Celebration Dinner -- Where to Eat?

I just got in from a night at Perigee. My parents and I had a kitchen side table. It really was was fantastic (and expensive).

The ladies had 5 courses, the guys had 6. Two of us had wine pairings (highlights which included a Premier cru Chablis, and a wonderful 2000 Rioja Reserva).

Out of every dish (all of which were different) there was perhaps only one slight disappointment which was my medly of three oysters in broths/sauces. Apart from that, everything else was a home run and elicited oohs and ahhs throughout the night.

My parents, who have visited a number of 1 and 2 Michelin star restaurants in Europe thought that this meal easily ranked up there with the best meals they've ever had. I wouldn't know, but it certainly beat the pants off of Thuet (which I went to a couple months ago).

Unless you are starving, you really don't need 6 course tasting.. I would have been full with 5.

Top notch. I'll be curious to compare with Susur.. next on my list.

La Palette vs Batifole?

I have not been to Batifole, but I can highly recommend La Pallete.

Shamez (spelling?) is a wonderful host and is more than happy to bring you samples of wine before you buy.. engage him or your server and be treated like family. Great beers. These people love their food and drinks.

It's noisy, packed good fun. Great apps, beautifully grilled meats, superb cheese plate to finish off.. It's my 'go-to' place during the week or for a fun friday night out.

Hip, Artsy restaurant in Toronto?

I'd vouch for Czehoskis (or call it Tschykovsky's if you want to bug your musician friends).

Upstairs is nice!
Wine by the glass is expensive there though.

Hero Certified Burgers....What the $^%#!!!!!

Yeah, I checked the website ... no burger listed.
Not sure if they removed it, or it's an old website.

I went there about a year ago for lunch... massive, massive burger.

Hero Certified Burgers....What the $^%#!!!!!

Hero burgers truly do suck. Take a bite and look at the inside..
It's horribly dense compressed beef (I hope it's beef) grilled until it's dark grey. An awful awful burger.

Where is good?

Allen's are good. Simplicity.

Jule's on Spadina and Queen is a 'French' styled burger.. lots of herbs and seasoning + dijon, in a crusty bun. Definietly not traditional, but pretty good. And the fries are excellent.

Utopia - good sized, good toppings.

Barberians - Almost obscene in it's carnivorosity (I made that one up). A great big massive, perfectly cooked burger. Expensive.

Your 'regular' middle of the week spot...

Good to know about Paese .. when I'm visiting my Grandma up in North York and want to go with her to a nice Italian joint. Thanks.

New Sky?

Yep, New Sky is the real deal.

I go there all the time with my Hong Kong girlfriend and her family. There's 6 of us, and they order the classic full Chinese dinner.. 6 or 7 courses covering soup, tofu/greens, scallops and tofu/black bean, crispy beef, lobster, and a steamed fish to finish off. If there's a group of you, get that family meal thingy.. it's cheap, plentiful and classic Chinese dinner hall fare.

Your 'regular' middle of the week spot...

I've got a couple Regulars. Not to say they are regular in quality, but that they are the kind of place I go for a 'middle of the week', affordably priced, tasty meal, with fun service and no pretention.

I'd love to know other people's choices.

I'm in and around Trinity Bellwoods, so this has an impact on my own choices but here they are:

Musa: Dundas and Euclid. Casual, fun, cheap. Steak salad, mousakka, chicken special, cheap Cotes du Rhone.

Regina Trattoria: College and Shaw. Northern italian like Nona makes it. Big delicious pasta portions cooked properly, great pizza. Funny old-school appetizers like Prosciutto and Melon.

Terroni: Queen W and Manning. Similar to Regina, but a bit more expensive, certainly more stylish and 'in'. Sometimes the cream or butter based sauces on certainpasta dishes are laddled on a bit heavy.. but overall, great atmosphere and nosh.

La Palette: Kensington Market (Augusta st.) More expensive. Great staff (if you are outgoing and friendly to them). Great wine list, really well grilled meats.