Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Grand Electric

Grand Electric opened exactly a week ago today. Located in Parkdale at 1330 Queen Street W., its owners are former Black Hoof chef de cuisine Colin Tooke (@ctooke) and former Black Hoof front of house manager, Ian McGrenaghan. With The Black Hoof being one of my favourite restaurants in the city and my love for Mexican food, it is hard not to be excited about Grand Electric (@grandelectricTO).

With my trusty food friends (i.e. people that can eat a lot) Gizelle and Richard from If Looks Could Fill (read Richard's Grand Electric post here) we went to Grand Electric last Friday for dinner. We arrived around 6PM to ensure that we get a table. Thank goodness for that as it would've been a two-hour wait later on.

Beer, cocktails and wine list (left), liquor list (right)

Grand Electric's menu. Churros =(

Michelada ($7) - This was Gizelle's drink. It kinda resembles a Caesar to me. Tecate is a Mexican beer. 

Grand Electric Sour: 1.5 oz vanilla bourbon, agave, egg white, lemon ($8) - This was very refreshing and went down super smooth =) 

Salsa on the table.

It was a unanimous decision between the three of us to order everything on the menu. Yah that's how we rollllllllll.

Guacamole + Chips ($8) - I loved the corn chips since they were made fresh in-house so they were so crispy and light. The guac was tasty too. That's a piece of chicharron in the middle (pork rind), it was so light and crunchy.

Pork Belly Al Pastor, Spicy Arbol Chicken, Baja Fish, and Beef Cheek Tacos ($3.50 each or 3 for $10) 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Arisu Korean & Japanese Restaurant

Arisu is a Korean & Japanese Restaurant, Bar, and Event Venue, all in one. Located at the corner of Bloor and Markham St., Arisu's brightly lit sign will surely capture the attention of anyone walking by. I was invited by Arisu to have dinner at the restaurant last week. I invited my friends Carla and Cindy along too.

Arisu offers a wide range of dishes, from Korean noodles, rice, stews, to Japanese rice, noodles, teriyaki, sashimi, sushi, to table BBQ (see Arisu's online menu here). When we first looked at the menu, we were really overwhelmed by the vast array of dishes, combos, and prix fixe options. Unless you walk in Arisu knowing exactly what you want (i.e. to satisfy a certain craving) you may need more than a few minutes to decide on exactly what combination of food you want, the amount to order, and what to order, especially if you're going with friends and want to share dishes. I've always been a fan of small and condensed menus so when I saw Arisu's menu I immediately told Cindy to make the call - I was too lazy to use my brain after a long day of work. I know I'm sooo lazy O_o

While Cindy and Carla were busy looking over the menu, I walked around to take some pictures. Arisu is a very spacious restaurant...

...With a lot of colourful and traditional decor.

Downstairs is Arisu's "Event Venue" as it is where all their private rooms are. I was shown this private dining room first, one of several there. This particular one holds 12 people for either Korean BBQ or regular dining. 

They were getting set up for a big party that night in their largest party room. I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of all the delicious food on the table.

Afterwards I went back upstairs to join Cindy and Carla. Here is Arisu's featured menu... well as their winter / seasonal menu. These were in addition to their regular menu.

Sayuri Nigori ($14.99) - My favourite. Food orders can wait =)

Sashimi + Sushi + Roll: Triple Combo C - 8 pc sashimi, 5 pcs sushi, 6 pcs spicy salmon roll ($17.99)

Fresh sashimi with a good fish-to-rice ratio. 

Hae Mool Pa Juhn - Pizza-style seafood & green onion pancake ($16.99) - My favourite dish of the night. With various types of seafood such as squid / mussels / clams mixed in with green onions, battered and pan-fried, this was great.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Earl's Kitchen & Bar (King Street)

I was invited by Jacqueline, Regional Marketing Leader of Earl's King St (@earlskingst), to try their seasonal menu a couple of weeks ago. I dragged my partner-in-crime Cindy along for the dinner and headed over to Earl's one night after work. I've been to this Earl's location before but only for drinks; it is a pretty "happening" place especially for happy-hour as it is right in the middle of the financial district (their patio is also stunning in the summer). I've been to Earl's in Mississauga a couple of times and trust me, the vibe in the 'burbs is very different, to say the least. Hm....more family-oriented? Yeah definitely more family-oriented =)

Waiting for Cindy to show up = picture taking time!

The kitchen at the back. Chef Dorian King is the chef at this location.

Jacqueline came over and asked whether Cindy and I have any food allergies; we both responded "no". Well, this only means one thing: tasting menu! Awesomeeeee~

We started off with some drinks:

The Skinny Martini (left) - the low calorie lemon drop, Smirnoff raspberry vodka, sugar free house made vanilla syrup, white cranberry juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice ($8.75)
Whatchamacallit (right) - Cabernet Merlot, Italy ($10)

Potato Leek Soup (Featured Soup) - Al dente potatoes, sweet tender leeks and smoky bacon suspended in a light cream based broth garnished with fresh scallions.

Hmmm such a warm and hearty soup. I especially enjoyed the abundance of leeks and also the savoury flavour of the smoky bacon (who doesn't like bacon?!).

Albacore Tuna Poke Nachos - Crisp togarashi wontons, tuna, cucumber, avocado and tomato poke, spicy mango coulis, sliced serranos, crushed macadamia nuts ($12).

My favourite dish of the night, hands down. I ordered this again as a main last Saturday when I was at Earl's again for my friend's birthday dinner. I love everything here, from the crispy wonton chips to the buttery avocado chunks to the fresh tuna, and of course, the slight kick from the mango coulis and serrano peppers. 

Gnocchi with Italian Rose Sauce - Hand made potato gnocchi, San Marzano tomato cream, burrata cheese, fresh basil ($11)

Cindy and I thought the gnocchi was a bit too hard for us. Not that we like super soft gnocchi, we do like texture, but we both thought it could have been cooked just a tad longer. We enjoyed everything else on the plate though, including the smooth tomato cream sauce and the burrata.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Harlem East Side - Revisited

I went to Harlem East Side (@harlem1920with my newly-wed best friend, Ray, and his lovely wife Rian last week for dinner. I've been to Harlem once before about a year ago (see post here) and thoroughly enjoyed the food there. So when Rian suggested Harlem I was totally up for it (and it's not everyday that I get to eat soul food). Speaking of which, check out my post here which detailed my dinner at Gladys Knight and Ron Winans' Chicken and Waffles in Atlanta while on my business trip last year ^_*

Last time I was at Harlem, I had dinner upstairs where they had live jazz music. This time, dinner was downstairs where it was a lot brighter. 

That night's specials.

I wasn't too hungry as I ate a bit before dinner so I munched on appetizers that night while Ray and Rian had mains as well.


Catfish Lafayette - Seasoned deep fried morsels with a sweet chili hot sauce ($9.95)

I had this app last time too; it is really perfect for those who like sweet + chili sauce (i.e. me). I also love deep fried stuff so I naturally gravitate towards this dish :)

Candied Plantain - Ripe Plantain sautéed in a brown sugar caramel sauce ($5).

I've never had something so sweet for an app before! It was thick, sticky, sweet, and really filling. I enjoyed it since it is something different but personally, I don't know if I would order it again as an appetizer; I would rather have it as dessert, if possible.

Deep Fried Pickles ($5)

These deep fried pickles were a disappointment. The batter was way too thin and didn't even cover the whole pickle. The batter also didn't stick - when I picked it up it would fall apart so I had to be really gentle. Rian also preferred longer and thicker pickles (i.e. 3 big pickles over 5 small ones). 

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Winner of HUG's Cookies & Champagne Party Contest is...

(Precilla said her favourite type of cookie is oatmeal and raisin =D)

Congratulations Precilla! You have won a ticket to HUG's Second Annual Cookies & Champagne Party ^_^ Please email me your email address at and I will forward it to the lovely ladies at HUG.

Thank you to the 21 ladies who participated!

The Gabardine

Rewind six months ago, when I still worked in the financial district near Yonge and Adelaide, The Gabardine (@TheGabardine) was so much closer to me compared to where I work now at Liberty Village; I could have easily dropped by for lunch before but I never did *sigh*. However, as you guys know, I hardly eat out for lunch anyway - I save my appetite and $$$ for dinner~ Once work is done, location is never an issue for me...that's what my car is for!

My friend Julia and I went to The Gabardine for dinner last week. It was actually a last minute decision so I'm glad we were able to get a reservation for 6PM.

We sat at a table at the very back.

Hmmmmm...devilled eggs...*hungry*

Classic Caesar - Vodka, Clamato, Tabasco, Lea & P, Celery Salt garnished with Fresh Horseradish & Lime ($7) - Probably one of the best Caesars I've had in a while. I'm honestly SICK of watered down Caesars and this one was anything but that. I asked for extra spicy and while most places would just add extra pepper / Tobasco, The Gabardine gave me a very generous amount of horseradish which I loooooove.


Rabbit rillettes with sour cherry preserve and toasts ($9)

The rillette was soft, creamy and very spreadable. I loved the sour cherry preserves and the mini salad on the side because they complemented the rillete extremely well. Instead of us having to ask, our server asked us whether we wanted more toasts when we finished ours. We liked that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gilead Café & Bistro

I went to Gilead Café with my friend Ed last Friday for dinner. Gilead Café, owned and operated by Chef Jamie Kennedy (@ChefJKennedy) is located between King Street East and Eastern Avenue east of Parliament. The location of the restaurant is very hidden and tucked inside Gilead Pl, an extremely small street that resembles an alleyway. It was difficult to spot the restaurant from the car. The exterior of Gilead Café is also a bit odd; I wouldn't have known it was a restaurant if it weren't for the signs - it looked like a warehouse to me.

Once I stepped inside, everything changed and there was nothing industrial about Gilead Café at all. It was very warm and inviting.

This is one big chalkboard! From wines to their breakfast menu to their lunch / dinner menu. 

Jars of preserves can be found throughout the restaurant. I think they are great because they gave a subtle splash of colour to the room. 

Ed and I shared four dishes. It turned out to be a lot because their portions are actually pretty decent (I'm so used to getting dinky and puny portions now for tapas so I was pleasantly surprised here). Also, Ed eats very little so I ended up eating 80% of everything lol~

JK Poutine with Bolognese ($10)

We both loved this poutine.  It was served piping hot. Perfect ratio between the bolognese, cheese and fries (we were half way done and there were still lots of bolognese and cheese left). With the fries being lightly crispy on the outside, the cheese curds being slightly melted and the bolognese so meaty, the whole poutine rocked my world.