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DC trip review 2014 (long)

So, in Toronto, we have maybe only one fast food burger place that is reminiscent of Shake Shack/In and Out,etc (ie. a step up in a way from McDs and the lot). When we head to NYC or LA we always hit up Shake Shack and In and Out because it's basically something we cant get at home....honestly? I wouldn't wait in line for it, ever. No doubt there are better 'gourmet' burgers out there, but we find the burgers to be tasty, basic, hit-the-craving-for-a-cheeseburger type burgers, sort of like comfort food. In NYC, we head to the flatiron location, split a burger and then head to Eataly and split a pizza...the location makes it worth it too, for us.

DC trip review 2014 (long)

HI everyone,
I'm a long time member (reading mostly) and rarely post things, but I thought I should post a review of some restaurants that we recently visited in DC last weekend, as I recently read a comment on this board from a visitor saying that there are not many reviews! As a background- I travelled with my boyfriend (both late 20s/early 30s), and we stayed in the Dupont Circle area, which I found to be a perfect location for sightseeing and eating and touring the city. We live in Toronto (Canada) if that helps put anything in perspective; I found DC reminded me a lot of our city, actually (in a good way, I suppose I was comparing to NYC- never been to Chicago, Boston, etc).

I chose many restaurants and spots based on reviews here, on Yelp and from various blogs, and to be fair, some were just because we felt like a certain cuisine or would be in a specific area, so I tried to get a mix of the most highly rated and some decently rated places.

Dinners- Rose’s Luxury, The Pig, Hill County BBQ, Oyamel, and Shack Shack (we had to!)

Rose’s Luxury (Barracks Row)- very good, we were big fans. We showed up at 525pm on a Thurs to line up before it opened, and we were easily the 30th couple in line (and worried we wouldn’t get in, but we did- it’s bigger than it looks, and the back patio-esque covered area was gorgeous). We had the uni scrambled eggs, homemade gnocchi, pork sausage salad (thai-esque flavours, with coconut foam and lychees), strawberry-tomato pasta (is this a DC region thing? we saw it a lot- interesting idea), ricotta toasts, crispy squid salad (Mexican flavours). All were very good, the complimentary sweet potato bread and onion butter was excellent as well. Foie gras French toast for dessert was worth the extra calories for sure. A big favourite overall for us! With 2 cocktails, a bottle of wine and a coffee I believe it was ~$200 (pre tip). I liked the small plates and the flavours in all of the dishes, but I did find they were sort of all over the place in flavours, so it borderline clashed (for example, the Thai flavoured pork salad was immediately before the Mexican flavoured crispy squid....it wasn't bad per se, but it was sort of..odd). Still, overall a really excellent meal- I almost wanted to wait for a table because I wanted to have a drink upstairs in the bar while we waited!

The Pig (14th and N)- had the face bacon (still dreaming of it), pig cheeks, Szechuan tongue (liked the concept, wish we got the cirspy pig bits instead because I felt this Asian-y dish was totally out of place with all the other flavours), burrata bacon salad (meh), porchetta stuffed with heart/liver, truffled mac n cheese (worth the hype). Cool vibe, a bit more relaxed, another favourite (for the face bacon alone). For 2 cocktails, a pitcher of DC Brau and the 6 plates it was ~$120 (pre tip)

Hill County BBQ (7th and D) was a game time decision- we actually cancelled our reso for Ethiopic because we saw this place after we went to Oyamel and were so much in the mood for BBQ. This place was awesome- that being said we don’t have much that is similar in Toronto so we could be biased, but it was exactly what we were craving. Cafeteria-style (order meat by the pound) with BBQ type sides, it was really good! Can't speak to how authentic though. They also had a pretty good bar front and downstairs has regular country bands which is fun (again, context is important because I don't have a Canadian comparison!)

Oyamel (7th and D) was so-so…we have done a lot of Mexican recently, so maybe I was underwhelmed because of that, but we really enjoyed Jaleo in Vegas and wanted to do another Jose Andres place…it’s a nice place, but I didn’t LOVE it…not that it was bad in any way, but I don’t know I’d go back if I was back in DC (unlike the others I’ve listed). It's all small plates and there are so many options depending on how adventurous you want to be..some standouts were the tongue taco and the queso fundido with chorizo. The margaritas (including their feature salt air foam margarita) are yummy and I would go back for a drink here, and sit on the patio!

Brunches- Le Diplomate, Boqueria

Le Dip (14th and Q)- I can see why this place is popular, it does French food well…had the foie gras parfait (it’s vacation, right?) and it was literally an ice cream scoop size of foie gras pate that was another BIG favourite of the week of gluttonous eating. Had the croque madame and the eggs on polenta+crispy prosciutto (both good, honourable mentions after the appetizer). Service was excellent here too. With coffees, 2 cocktails and the dishes above, ~$85. I could see coming here with family or as a special occasion brunch, it's definitely not a hangover brunch place

Boqueria- for the bottomless sangria/mimosa brunch (AYCE tapas from a limited menu as well). Food ok, likely better tapas/Spanish places around, but it was nice on the patio and a fun time nonetheless.

We went to The Gibson without a reservation as we were told to get one for a drink (we weren’t banking on getting in, back up was Marvin’s), but we were able to get a table immediately! Loved the concept of this place (with the little checklist menu and mystery of what drink you’ll get), but drinks were pricey, as expected (~$12-15 per drink). There was a back area that was more of a standing bar, so I'm sure you could find your way in, but it is fairly small overall. We also got to the POV bar on top of the W hotel. We had to wait 15min for a table, which was definitely worth it for the view. Old Ebbitt Grill was another place we had a drink, in case other tourists are reading, and it was cool to hear/read some of the history associated with it (plus there are some interesting patrons you'll bump into- or at least we did).

Hope that helps anyone else sort of wondering where to go- thanks again to everyone who didn't even know they were helping us out by posting suggestions in other threads! I can post pictures if anyone is interested later on.

Where to go for drinks and apps tomorrow?

I've heard good things about the Museum Tavern (especially if you like cocktails).
Recently I went to dbar, which was fun, good late night bar menu (went appropriately so at night, had a charcuterie plate and interesting cocktails), and suits in the trump hotel, which was pretty empty and almost too businessy for date night, but the complimentary truffled popcorn was delicious. I'm not a seasoned reviewer, so people who have been to any of the above could speak more to the likes/dislikes.

Suggestions for dinner in west end.

How far East?

Good places for a group near queen and university

Baldwin street (near AGO, sort of) has a few good places for a group, if you don't mind the walk...it's closer to college and university. Johns Italian caffe, margaritas Mexican cantina, and a fe other interesting ones are along the little strip.

Fishmonger west end

AllSeas has a retail storefront area that I have always found to be excellent. Right near Kipling and Queensway (Kipling north exit on the QEW).

Not sure how to link a place so its at 55 Vansco Rd, more accurately off of North Queen St just west of Kipling, the first major intersection north of Queensway.

Best Buffalo Chicken Sandwich in TO?

I have read all threads on best wings and barbecue joints and the sort, but I'm looking for ideas on the best buffalo chicken sandwich (as in wing sauce, with chicken, in a wrap, bun or other carbohydrate vehicle). I know that not every wing place has a sandwich, and some places that carry a sandwich don't have the best wings.

Any ideas?

I have tried Loose Moose's waffle sandwich and found it was ok, I presume more popular because of the hype of the waffle idea than the tastiness..

Tofu Shirataki noodles

I saw them maybe less than a month ago at the Longo's on Bloor, just east of Yonge, right by the mushrooms and sprouts near the veggies.

etobicoke grocery/restaurant suggestions

Tre Mari- I know they had a location in a strip mall on Burnhamthorpe, just west of Renforth (I think?), but it closed down not too long ago- did they move to Shorncliffe?

the grille in etobicoke

I can honestly say that there is nothing my friends and I love more than a trip to the grille....late at night or seriously late morning (afternoon) hungover, we love it. It caters to everyone so noone complains about going (they literally have everything)....and while I can't exactly say they are gourmet or even AMAZING eats....they hit the spot everytime.

I wouldn't go expecting a niche restaurant with a special dish, go when you want some good old big breakfasts, sandwiches, etc...the portions are huge and the prices are definitely fair....but Ive never been for a "serious" dinner (by this I mean I've been for bfast and late night trips only...never a 6-8pm sit down)...I recommend the Eggs Benny or poutine (and please to all those eggs benny/poutine afficionados....it isnt the best of the best, they dont use real hollandaise or cheese curds, but its comfort food at its best whether hungover or just hungry :)!!)

Sashimi and sushi at home

See, I had walked into my neighborhood grocery store (a big box chain) where there is a little sushi booth (and you can buy the sushi on trays, sometimes they make it during the day there)...I asked the lady there if I could get some salmon off of her (haha), and she showed me what the company sends her- a vacuum sealed slab of salmon, skin on, Nanuk brand (basically the kind you can get in stores, not at a particular fish monger!)

Am I better off looking for this brand/in store packaged/frozen fish, or still going to a reputable fishmonger and asking for SOCKEYE instead (assuming it is sushi grade) to get the buttery non-raw fishy taste of sashimi

Mar 10, 2009
strawberryfields in Home Cooking

Sashimi and sushi at home

I used 2 c rice (cooked in 4 2/3 c water) for 1/3c seasoned rice vinegar (it did have sugar and salt already, as suggested below this could've been my problem)+1 tbsp white sugar+1 tsp salt

It tasted fairly vinegary, so the fact that I put too much vinegar easily coudlve been the problem..

Mar 10, 2009
strawberryfields in Home Cooking

Sashimi and sushi at home

I recently made some homemade sushi, and I must be doing it all wrong (no chow pun intended), but it NEVER tastes the same- even similar- to bought sushi (even store bought sushi!)

Firstly- I think I use either too much vinegar to season the rice, or just the wrong flavourings? I use sushi vinegar (or seasoned rice vinegar)- proportions are 1/3 c vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt. The rice turns out just...weird tasting...am I over seasoning?

The ingredients themselves I know vary because I use diff ingredients, except for the California roll, which is pretty easy to replicate. I also make the spicy mayo, and to save time i use store bought popcorn shrimp (clearly this affects taste, but it's just easier).

Lastly, most recently I decided on a whim to buy some salmon to try at home sashimi. I bought less than half a pound from a very reputable fishmonger (I asked specifically for sushi grade salmon, it was marked atlantic salmon but he said it was sushi grade?)...I kept it in the fridge until I sliced it up for dinner- no fishy smell, no visible problem- the taste was COMPLETELY not there! It literally tasted like ...raw salmon...which i know is hard to describe, but it did NOT taste like sashimi (even bad sashimi)...it wasn't a troublesome flavor, it's just what I would imagine eating raw fish is like if I hadnt ever eaten sashimi...it wasn't great (and I love sashimi)..

Can anyone offer any tips or tricks?

Mar 09, 2009
strawberryfields in Home Cooking

"Muddy" pasta water (NY Times)

From yesterday's NYTimes, (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/din...), an article about the greatness of pasta water saved and used as a sauce thickener.

I was wondering- in the article Bill Buford (re:Babbo kitchen) mentions that over the course of the night, the pasta water in the pasta cooker goes from "clear to cloudy to muddy" and then goes on to talk about how this "mud" is essentially culinary gold.

How would one achieve a similar feat (muddy water) at home- is this done by continually cooking and recooking pasta in the same water? I cant imagine the pasta quality itself would be the same after each batch if this is the way....any ideas?

p.s. To the mods- I realize this refers for media content, but the question itself, I believe, belongs on the home cooking board as the reference to the article is merely the inspiration for the Q and not the Q itself.

Feb 25, 2009
strawberryfields in Home Cooking

Looking for good take out in Etobicoke

This thread has been fairly amusing, I have to say! Not to shoot down anyone else or their opinion, but being in my mid 20s I find it amusing to see Bert and Ernies (ANY location) and Incahoots (Renforth and Rathburn) talked about for anything other than the drink specials. None of my friends, siblings or their friends would ever consider B&E or InCahoots for ANYTHING but drinks and maybe some fries to cushion the drinks- it's hard to find people my age who even enjoy going for drinks there, let alone for a meal...so I wouldn't say these are any indication of the food in Etobicoke (not to dismiss all your opinions, Im just saying I agree with the posters who said it was terrible, but what did you expect!...mind you maybe the original location was something to actually be remembered).

As for take out..a few places do decent take out that I have tried myself, but theyre definitely not the best of the best of anything haha:
- Lenny's Italian PIzza/Pasta (Dundas directly across from Montgomery House at Islington and Dundas)- gourmet pizzas and pastas, even lasagna to cook at home to go
- Jolly's (Italian) at Crossroads Plaza, 401 and Weston Rd (similar to Lennys)
- My Thai Kitchen (Bloor and Montgomery, across from Ottimo) has great thai food, except for the pad thai (and im usually pretty satisfied with the "Toronto" version of pad thai)
- Milano's Pizza- a tried and true favourite, I believe they have some other sides like wings and such but I cant vouch for those- Dundas and...Shaver almost? Not sure of the cross street.
- Yellow Cup Cafe- Ive had most of their menu and can vouch for it when eaten there, but I dont know how their take out is, especially the crepes...worth a shot for sandwiches, soups, crepes, salads..
- McNies Fish and Chips, greasy but great, Dundas at Martingrove

Those are just my add'ns to the list..I agree with Thyme 4, Mayflower, Green Mango, and a few others...I havent tried Pho House in Six Pts but it looked interesting so I was considering it, thanks for the input!

Looking for somewhere to go with food sensitivities

Call now, wherever you're going and ask to speak to the manager/chef- you'd at least be giving them a heads up more than 15 minutes before you expect to be seated and eating..this way you can also see if the restaurant CAN accomodate the diet (if they can't you can still find another place), as opposed to getting there and expecting them to...

Lunch/ Dinner recommendations for tourists?

My family is heading down to New Orleans for the 2nd weekend in August, coming from Ontario (Canada). It's a pitstop on the way to Florida, so we're only staying for two days essentially, arriving Saturday midday and leaving Monday midday. I know people hate these kinds of threads, since it's hard to capture the best of a city in a short period like this, but I would love to know where to eat! We need the top two restaurants for dinner and a few lunch suggestions. We tend to eat lighter for lunch (ie/ we cant do a 3 course meal at both lunch and dinner). Ages are older, with the youngest being 18.

Any cuisines will do, we'd like to just try the best of what New Orleans has to offer. We were thinking Emeril's Restaurant? No allergy restrictions/ picky eaters, we'll likely be able to find something at any resto we visit, ethic food or tapas style doesn't matter, but 2 are males, so hopefully no places with tiny tiny portions. Also, we would PREFER to keep it more casual (ie. no dressing up if possible), but if there is a not-to-miss place, we'll make an exception. Budget is hopefully in midrange, no $400 dinners please (100-200 for four people is what we'd like to aim for). Two big wine drinkers are coming along, if that makes a difference in places to visit.

Thanks so much for any advice you have!

Jul 03, 2008
strawberryfields in New Orleans

Spice Route--feedback?

My boyfriend and I went to Spice Route last Sat, June 28th. It was my 20th birthday and he is 22, and we had an 8pm reservation. I have to admit, I frequent Chowhound regularly for tips and advice on where to eat and what to eat, and was compltely, pleasantly surprised with my experience at Spice Route after reading the reviews on this board.

Overall, we had an outstanding experience and would not hesitate to go back. The service was great- there when you need them, not when you don't, prompt with delivering food and taking away empty dishes, as well as filling empty wine glasses. I don't recall our server's name, but I noticed he was serving at least 6 other tables, with a party of at least 10, so the service wasn't a function of the restaurant being empty.

We ordered 6 sharing plates between 2 of us, plus a bottle of white wine. We noticed, however, that this is not the norm- even the waiter alluded to that: most people do not come for a full meal out of the sharing plates, rather they come for after dinner drinks and snacks (or really light dinners?). We ordered the following: dynamite sushi roll (note: this is essentially a tuna roll, deep fried, with wasabi mayo on the side), wasabi crusted shrimp (4 large shrimp- good, but without the spicy kick we anticipated from the name), chicken and peking duck lettuce wraps (excellent, good for sharing too), tempura calamari/rock shrimps (excellent!, 4 large shrimp, roughly 8-10 inch long pieces of calamari with a spicy tempure breading), dim sum platter (4 pieces beef, 4 pieces shrimp- not unlike authentic dimsum, however I didn't like the dipping sauce for these, a semi sweet and sour sauce with spice?- nothing unbelievable, but good for sharing I suppose), and the Kobe beef platter (raw thinly sliced Kobe beef- beautiful cut of meat- with a hot rock presentation to cook the beef on, with cok salt beneath the hot rock and a spicy/soya sauce type dipping sauce- the bf's favourite, for obvious reasons, but had this not been our last dish to order, he could've eaten this himself- not great for sharing amongst males!)

The atmosphere was beautiful. We sat inside, near the bar but also near the door to the exit to the patio. Not a prime table- our experience may have changed had we been towards the back of the place, near the washrooms, where there seemed to be a number of tables crowded together and the volume went up a notch. Next time I would request the patio- beautiful. The crowd is the 25-35 yr olds, lots of singles or younger couples on dates- however we didnt feel out of place, the age group definitely varies. There was a private party room filled with girls who appeared to be very young (in looks)- not that we arent young!- but it they seemed pushing the legal age limit. The only complaint made by the bf was that the table was too small for a menu designed as it was- with 3 sharing plates on it, plus plates to eat off of, plus a bottle of wine plus two glasses, it was difficult to manoeuvre around it all gracefully- i didnt mind, but for a guy, I could see the issue.

I would go again in a second, next time with a bigger group and not for a meal- more for drinks and some snacks. Maybe the essence of time was all they needed to fix a couple bugs..

Any restaurants opened 24 hours in GTA

In Etobicoke (albeit not the best, most gourmet or quality food...), the Grille and Sizzling Jaks are both open 24hrs, located on the Queensway and East Mall (roughly)...both have breakfast foods/meals but also some selection of lunch/dinner meals like sandwiches, meat and potatoes, etc.

Creme de la Creme Cafe (Etobicoke) - Any Recent Reviews?

I went in April, so not too recently, but I got the waffles and my companion got a breakfast special type meal (eggs, toast, i believe bacon?) and he ordered a plate of hashbrowns as a side (they came in a huge heaping mountain on a regular sized dinner plate!)...the waffles were good, ice cream and fruit on top, and the breakfast was decent- the hashbrowns were the shredded, overly greasy type of potatoes, but really yummy. Cute decor and atmosphere, kinda reminds me of a mom and pop place you'd visit.

Chinese Takeout in the Movies and on Television

Im from Toronto, and here the chinese food we get comes in aluminum pie tins (almost) with styrofoam lids. It's realyl hard to find a take out place that gives you the containers. When I went to Florida a number of years ago on vacation, we ordered chinese take out and got the food in the movie-like white containers. I was so enamoured by them that I asked for extras, brought them home and ate out of those containers for months until I ran out (literally put food into the containers to eat with chopsticks). It was such a novelty to me!

However when I was in Florida, we transferred them all to plates, seeing as there were a bunch of containers containing one dish each, who really wants a whole dish of lemon chicken or chow mein when you can have a little of everything!

An Ex-Montrealer's Guide to Culinary Toronto

I was not intending to sound rude or as if what HarryLloyd was saying was wrong, I was just genuinely surprised to hear him say they were not light in taste or mass, and thought it was interesting how opinions can differ. I realize he said that they are very good, and that is why I concluded with "either way, we all agree they are great". And yes, maybe my description was lacking the expertise of a croissant baker, or just a croissant fanatic who knows their stuff, but I did not think that it was that bad. My apologies, as I appear to have offended you in what I said for some reason. Furthermore, I did not mean to imply that they were "light" as in a diet sense, but just that they are so easy to eat if it werent for the knowledge of how they are actually made.

An Ex-Montrealer's Guide to Culinary Toronto

Really? To each their own I guess. I know how croissants are made so for me its easy to stop..and admittedly they're heavier than the 99cent 'croissants' you can pick up at Loblaws bread bins, but they ARE lighter than a piece of bread and are flaky..and either way, ive heard everyone say theyre great..

However I was just told it's closed til september!

An Ex-Montrealer's Guide to Culinary Toronto

I've never lived in Montreal, but I've been several times and my family has too, and we often get our croissants from a little bakery in The Kingsway, on Bloor Street in the west end (Etobicoke). You need to go early, they go really fast, and the owner is reminiscent of the soup nazi..but they are quite delicious. Flaky and buttery and very light, when theyre fresh its hard to stop at one. Im not sure of the name, but its atlocated at Bloor near Royal York (a thread i found here sounds like this is the one.. Patissirie St Honore http://www.chowhound.com/topics/425416


This sounds like it too: http://www.yummybaguette.com/magasin....

Wendy's: Anyone Tried "The Baconator"?

I would tell you it sucks, but based on the few bites I had it was great. My boyfriend and his friends all got em on a late night quest for drunk munchies...so maybe my assessment isnt valid at all, but I mean...I dont even like bacon and I liked it! :P

Aug 09, 2007
strawberryfields in Chains

Toronto: Returning for MORE!

I know what estufarian is meaning when he says a "roadhouse" but really, not isnt the case as Scary Bill points out...the atmosphere is meant to be rustic Italian, like a winery almost, which means there is lots of natural wood and beautiful murals on the wall..it is really all about the wine.

Unfortunately, since they discontinued their mushroom risotto it just hasnt been the same!

Crepes in the GTA

In etobicoke, Yellow Cup Cafe is amazing. Its on the East Mall, across from Cloverdale Mall in the little plaza with the credit union and bar/grill. Bright yellow, can't miss it. They have phenomenal dessert/bfast crepes, as well as meal crepes.

Also, as a side note, the place on Queen St, downtown Toronto, across from CityTV is terrible. Crepes have an artificial taste, and are crunchy (maybe its personal preference but I like my crepes soft).

Jamie Kennedy Gardiner Review

It's funny you reported on this- I was there the day before you for lunch! It was my first time at a JK resto, and because the Gardiner is much closer to where I work it was more feasible for lunch.
I went with my mom and due to the previous night's celebrations I was not feeling up for a hearty lunch if you get my drift. We shared 3 plates- the beet and goat cheese salad, the cheese plate, and of course the fries. We sat outside because after you walk through the museum it is decievingly cool outside (the AC was on full blast), but by the end of the meal we were melting.

The meal begins with a bread basket with butter and a delicious dip- when we asked the waiter I believe he said it is a navy bean dip? Something like that..light but so good. The plates were a tad crowded on the tiny tables, but no matter, they were delicious. The salad consisted of slices of red/yellow beets and goat cheese, sprinkles with pistachios and arugala on the side..not sure if they were drizzled with something! Absolutely delicious though. The cheese plate was great, Quebec artisan cheeses I believe, with walnuts (i think they were salted- but even they were delicious), pear slices and light-as-air crackers (possibly homemade?)...the only complaint (not really though!) was that by the time we had each had a taste and pondered over our favourites, we had forgotten what cheese was what! That really is our own fault though. The fries? What can I say...I didn't think you really could improve on "fries" but somehow it's possible! Unfortunately it doesnt seem like the Gardiner location carries the daily poutine creation like the JWKB does- I would've loved to try that. My next stop will definitely be the WB!

Need coconut cake recipe Please!

A coworker recently brought another one of her famous baked good to work, and this time it was in the form of a Coconut Cream Cake...it tasted amazing and I dont even particularly like coconut...but it isn't for the faint of heart (literally.)

Check it out here- http://creampuffsinvenice.ca/2007/06/...

P.S. I realize you said you needed it for the 25th, but I thought you, or others would like this anyways!

Jun 25, 2007
strawberryfields in Home Cooking

Etobicoke good eats

Yellow Cup Cafe for sandwiches and all sorts of breakfast foods (served all day)...most especially the crepes-- across from Cloverdale Mall in the plaza, at East Mall and Dundas (roughly)

Big Papa's on Bloor- Im SURE most CH's will disagree, but this is a restaurant with good food for the amount you pay, good pizzas and a nice atmosphere. Across from ViBo on Bloor St West.