Buca…..King St West, Toronto

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This was one of my favourite meals. Initially we made dinner plans at Spice Route but at the last minute they called to say we had to leave by eight o’clock since they had a company function. We had made reservations for 7 a week in advance. I was pretty steamed about this and do not plan on going there any time soon. I’ve already heard horror stories about their service but to be treated so rudely before getting to a restaurant is unbelievable.

We decided to go to Blowfish instead but they were closed for renovations so we walked down the street to Buca. This was an extremely cold day so we were pretty grumpy but upon being ushered into Buca, we were in awe of the high ceilings and brilliant light installation in this hidden Italian restaurant.

It’s easy to miss Buca if you don’t locate the dime sized red sign but definitely worth finding. Although we did not have reservations the host gave us the option of sitting at the chef’s table (an elevated large dining table close to the open kitchen). We were only a party of four so we asked if we could sit somewhere else. He quickly found us a table to our relief and I ordered a drink immediately. The food here was absolutely delicious. For starters we got the bruschetta and nodini, warm bread knot. The cured duck yolk in the bruschetta complimented it beautifully.

As a main I went for the ravioli with braised goose, foie gras, and roasted squash. The presentation was great and the taste sublime. This was my first time having goose and it tasted a lot like char siu (BBQ pork). We also got the Branzino (grilled sea bass) a simple and very well executed dish, Bigoli (duck egg pasta) which had great smoky flavors, and another pasta dish.

The service here was great and I loved the ambience a lot. Make sure to try the tiramisu and if you don’t decide to get dessert you will be glad to know that complimentary coconut macaroons come at the end of the meal.

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The Gabardine…..Bay St, Toronto

Food & Drink, Food Adventure

 

On Monday night we went down to The Gabardine. It’s French for rustic or some other garble, says L on the other line. There’s a wait so we wander around a well lit HBC full of finer things, holiday sparkle, before coming back to the same place with the stained white circular sign of a black bird silhouette. Either a stately looking penguin or a sure footed pelican. We’re all excited. The place is dimly lit and resembles someone’s dark wood family room. We are seated in the back, a tiny nook the size of a fireplace. On the walls are frames with vintage sketches and bizarre news items. A worn watercolor ad for California lemons, one entry about THE MOON – “It looks like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints”

I feel like I’m having supper at an eccentric relative’s house complete with grandma plates, all flowery, the coral petals coming off like cursive, intertwining in loops. Delicate. But the flavors are robust Canadiana fanfare, simple mac and cheese, pulled pork sandwiches that tastes like brisket, everything tempered by homemade guac or spiked lemonade. There is a lot of wine in my tiny glass goblet of Hibiscus Royale. We start to hoard candles. The plaid waiter is onto us but doesn’t let on. He smiles behind his sleeve. We take pictures from all acrobatic angles. A snuffed candles earns an exquisite shriek, as if there’s been a death in the family. The loud room pulsates with a hearty hum. The place is too small to be impersonal, too noisy for romantic overtures, just a good spot for good food, loose conversation.

We’re in the business of not asking or telling, just watching, reacting, being.

Underneath the hanging lights, moonlit orbs, the world revolves a little slower, the brim of a glass sneaks closer to a plum colored mouth. M’s bracelet flashes, a silver horse shoe the size of a dime. We need more light but sometimes the darkness is nice too.  From across the room dark eyes dart back and forth, an open stare, it lingers. All of this exists on Bay and Richmond in a red-wine stamp of a room unaffected by the November cold.

*Gabardine means closely woven cloth 

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Gusto 101…..Portland St, Toronto

Food & Drink

This is probably my favourite restaurant on King St. West. It serves authentic Italian food and has the best ravioli dish I’ve ever tasted.  Sadly, they are not currently offering it anymore on their fall menu but the pumpkin agnolotti is also quite delicious. The octopus salad is a must try!

gusto101_2 Octopus Salad

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Ravioli

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Pumpkin Agnolotti

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Upstairs Patio

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Lee’s Restaurant…..King St W, Toronto

Food & Drink

This is what I envision foodie paradise to look like.

Over the weekend we had a chance to go to Lee’s Restaurant. This is one of the many restaurants owned by world renowned chef, Suser Lee, who fuses Asian and French cuisine to create a truly memorable dining experience. All of the dishes are designed for sharing which is a good thing since you get to try several different dishes, but it’s definitely a bad thing if you’re the one who picked the Singaporean Slaw, because despite it’s enormous size, you will want to eat it all yourself!

The waiter rattled off the 19 ingredients used to put together the slaw and mixed it for us. We ordered a slaw with tuna sashimi (you can also order it by itself or with salmon). One person in our party was not a huge fan of tuna, but upon trying a piece at Lee’s has changed her mind. Get this! You won’t regret it. The flavors are mind-blowing. It’s recommended for two people but our party of four had trouble finishing it.

We also shared a tuna and watermelon ceviche which you can see in the martini glass below. It’s a special item that everyone in the place seemed to be ordering and also an item they are offering at Bent, a Japanese joint owned by Suser Lee’s sons.  We also ordered cheeseburger spring rolls (which tasted exactly like how it sounds like), wasabi cod, and crab cake. Highly recommend the slaw and cod. All of the dishes were beautifully  presented.

Oh, and there was also a moment where Suser Lee casually came out of the kitchen and we all freaked out. Everyone else played it very cool but we were huge dorks about it.

Watermelon and Tuna Ceviche

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Singaporean Slaw

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Cheeseburger Springroll

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Decor

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Shinobu…..Yonge St, Toronto

Food & Drink

Went here two weeks ago for my birthday dinner with the family. I’ve never been here before but I wanted to find an affordable and yummy sushi place uptown so I went over to Yelp and found a hole-in-the-wall called Shinobu. I read a review about the volcanic rainbow roll which they torch at your table so I had to try it.

The venue is small but cozy, just the way I like it. Luckily we made reservations so we didn’t have to wait.

I ordered a grapefruit cocktail which was really yummy. The waitress brought over half a grapefruit along with a plastic juicer which was cute. The seaweed salad had very little actual seaweed, it was mostly filled with other mixed greens, but all of the ingredients were very fresh.

The volcanic rainbow roll was delicious! The melt-in-your-mouth experience reminded me of the Japango Roll at Japango, but without the extra spicy kick (Shinobu’s roll uses a honey sauce). I normally don’t like to have dessert at restaurants because they always end up to be under-whelming but the green tea cheesecake here is amazing! Would definitely come back again to try their other items. Thanks Yelpers!

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Grapefruit Cocktail

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Seaweed Salad

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Udon

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Volcanic Rainbow Roll

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Green Tea Cheesecake with Ginger Ice Cream
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Decor

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