Wednesday, February 29, 2012

George Restaurant

Jacob (@restointo) and I went to George Restaurant (@georgeonqueen) for our Dish Duel tasting earlier this month. The first thing we noticed when we sat down was the restaurant's Dish Duel promotion card on our table (shown on the left). I was, and still am, extremely impressed by this. As a matter of fact, now that our Dish Duel tastings are over, I can tell you that no other participant besides George has put in any additional marketing or promotion material for the tournament. What this tells me is that George is extremely dedicated, competitive, and dead serious about wanting to win the title of "Dish Champion"! Besides their promotion card, George also has their Round 2 Dish Duel matchup link on their homepage. I'm honestly so pleased to see George taking all these initiatives.

George is a very spacious restaurant. Even with its roomy interior, George still manages to give off a very cozy and intimate ambiance; the brick walls, the wooden floors, the spotlights and the velvety pink chairs (totally my colour lol) all contribute to the warm feel to the restaurant. 

The dining room at George is basically an "L" shape; the above picture shows the long side of the "L" (with the kitchen down a few steps) and the picture below is the short side of the "L". The decor is fancy, romantic and classy...perfect for date night.

My "Mistletoe" cocktail ($14). I don't remember what was in it but it was fruity yet strong.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Salt Wine Bar

Salt Wine Barlocated on 225 Ossington Avenue, has now become another great spot for me on the Ossington strip (along with my favourites like Pizzeria Libretto, Foxley, and Yours Truly for snacks). Whether for dinner, a second dinner (yes I do that) or late night munchies, Salt Wine Bar's tapas style menu is flexible for all of the above occasions. Not only do I go ga-ga over their pulled pork tacos, iberico benny, fluke ceviche and churros (just to name a few), I constantly crave Salt Wine Bar's amazing cocktails too (I crave their cocktails like how I crave my earl grey sour from TTS and that's intense peeps!) 

It is obvious that Salt Wine Bar embraces their social media =) Love that~

You will most likely find Jen (@whiskey_jameson) behind the bar at Salt.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Death Row Meals - Sous Chef Edition

"A First Meal, as your Last Meal" was the theme of February's Death Row Meal. Brought to you by Joel (@foodie411) from Living.Loving.Local, five of Toronto's great Sous Chefs were given the task of preparing their takes on their first cooking memories. In order to give the Sous Chefs some inspiration, they were asked the following:

"Do you remember the first meal you learned to cook as a kid? How old were you? Was it a family recipe? From a cookbook? Something you learned on a cooking show?

I bought my ticket right away because I thought the event had a really fun and neat concept. I guess many others felt the same way as it was a sold-out event at Keriwa Café =)

Below is a recap of the event...

COURSE ONE: Coulson Armstrong (@Chef_Coulson), Auberge du Pommier (@Oliver_Bonacini)

Luca Gatti - Trish Gill - Kevin Gilmour

THE DISH: Eggs Brouillade + Kataffii Nest + Sturgeon Caviar + Flowers 
THE PAIRING: 2010 Sémillon, Rosewood Estates (@Rosewoodwine)

Coulson: "Growing up outside the city in rural farmland, on weekly occasions certain family members would have to make their way into the kitchen coop to fetch some eggs for the weekend lunch. I supposed I got the job more than others. This memory has inspired me to serve an egg in a crispy nest, showcasing my roots growing up, and finishing it off with a generous dollop of caviar for that fine dining aspect of where I'm now in my career".

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fuel House

I admit it! Fuel House (Twitter: @FuelHouseTO, Facebook: Fuel House) is my second home. I'm currently the foursquare mayor of the place (it was an epic battle between me and some other guy for it but I finally took over...HA!). There was even talk before about having my name engraved on one of the bar stools just so I can legitimately claim the spot as mine (this is not just any bar stool by the way, it is a specific one). Hey, I'm not ashamed of all this because Fuel House is awesome.

Located on Clinton off of College (beside Cafe Diplomatico and across from AcadiaFuel House took over "Olivia's At 53" in November 2011.  It is a quaint and cozy spot - a house to be exact - so it is no surprise that whenever I'm there I feel right at home. You will probably find me at Fuel House having a drink before dinner or a drink after dinner, or actually have dinner with a drink (their Caesars with horseradish are fantastic!). Having said that, it helps that Fuel House's co-owners Mackenzie Chiu and Mike Dolegowski are super chill and friendly~ Thanks guys for always accommodating me...even at times when I sit for hours on end milking that one drink.. stealing your WIFI the whole time....yupyup... thanks =D

Having said all that, this post seems long overdue, yeah? Considering I've been a loyal customer of Fuel House since its inception. So what took me so long? Well like I said , I'm always just so at-home and relaxed when I'm there, I just want to drink / eat / chat / chill...writing a post for Fuel House just didn't cross my mind, which is of course, totally selfish of me because..


Soooo to redeem myself, I decided to wake up early last Sunday (i.e. 10am) and spend a few hours at Fuel House during their lunch rush to take some pictures for this post =)

Inside Fuel HouseNot a big space but it's so comfy, warm and inviting.

Fuel House serves Sapporo and Beau's on tap, and Stella, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, and Kensington Brewery Augusta Ale in bottles (note: they will be rotating Sapporo draft and bottles throughout the summer).

In the Fuel House kitchen we have....

Chef Peter Pietruniak (@food_nirvana)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Enoteca Tasting at Buca

I was completely and utterly blown away by Buca's (@bucatoronto) Enoteca Tasting this past Saturday evening. My friend and I both agree that the Enoteca Tasting at Buca (which came into existence less than a month ago) is easily one of the best tasting menu that we've had in the city recently; it was such an memorable experience for me and I truly have nothing but praises for it. 

What made it so great was not only the food, which was phenomenal, but also our server / bartender, Thomas...he was fantastic! He did an excellent job in describing all the dishes and interacting with everyone at the bar; he was friendly, attentive, and it was evident that he was passionate about what he was doing...and I love that~

The Enoteca Tasting is exclusively offered at this eight-seat bar beside Buca's main dining room.  

Our bartender, Thomas. He took care of us the entire night.

We left it up all up to Executive Chef Rob Gentile (@ChefBuca) to bring us out various small plates and appetizers. I remember Thomas asking us at the very beginning whether we were hungry; my answer was "YES" (when am I ever not hungry?!) Sooooo get ready guys because we ate a LOT! By the way, very important, there were different wine pairings through out the night as well but I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the wines =(

Crudo - Smoked raw rainbow trout fillet with artichoke, juniper caper and liquorice bruton syrup ($18)

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Interview with "Culinary Legend" Chef Grant Soto

Where do I begin? 

My first encounter with Chef Grant Soto was back in early January when I was at the airport in Utah waiting to board my plane to Wyoming for a business trip. With a few minutes left to spare, I took out my phone, checked Twitter and saw this:

"Chef Grant Soto followed you"

With a mention from him to me: 

"Come visit my restaurant!"

Interesting. I then checked his profile:

"Toronto, Canada: Executive Chef / DJ / Fashion Designer / Co-Owner of Gravitas Restaurant. Culinary Legend. Before me, Charcuterie was just meat." 

My first thought was "LOL! Is this for real?" Anyway, before I had time to look him up it was time for me to board so I quickly replied "Sure. Would love to!".

Sometime after I landed, I Googled "Gravitas Restaurant Toronto". Search came up with nothing. Hm...maybe the "Gravitas" is too new? I then tried Googling "Chef Grant Soto". Also nothing.

Shit...I think I've been had! O_o

Whatever, not holding any grudges, I continue to follow Chef Grant Soto on twitter. Why? Simply because his tweets are raunchy, gross, yet hilarious! Best thing is that he's local so he occasionally pokes fun at Toronto chefs, restaurants and the industry. I no longer cared that he is a fictitious actually became why I love him even more (Amy Pataki professed her love for Chef Grant Soto in today's Toronto Star).

Chef Grant Soto'sTwitter avatar

What caught my eye though were a few times he tweeted about food bloggers, specifically Asian food bloggers. Being one myself, it is no surprise that I found those tweets extra amusing (for those who may not know, the majority of food bloggers in Toronto are Asian females...don't ask me why). Here are some of Chef Grant Soto's tweets re: food bloggers:

Friday, February 10, 2012

elle m'a dit

My friends Cindy, Adrienne (@peppercornpoppy) and I really enjoyed our dinner at elle m'a dit (@ellemaditoui) several weeks ago. It was Cindy's suggestion to try elle m'a dit and as always, her picks never disappoint =)

I had a good feeling about elle m'a dit even before stepping inside mainly because I have a soft spot for restaurants in quaint houses; they give me this warm, cozy, safe fuzzy feeling inside (ok maybe not fuzzy). It's kinda like going home but in this case, going home to eat... Alsatian food.

elle m'a dit on Baldwin St (left), its huge mural on the right (right)

elle m'a dit opened in June 2011 and serves "modern Alsatian cuisine". Chef Gregory Furstoss was born in Alsace (a region in the northeastern part of France) and was a sous chef at Bistro and Bakery Thuet before opening elle m'a dit with his wife, Tory Yang (the two met at Bistro and Bakery Thuet).

Several tables surround the bar on the ground floor. It is a very intimate and romantic space.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pizzeria Libretto - Danforth

My favourite place for pizza in Toronto is Pizzeria Libretto (@PizzaLibretto). I know there is a constant, never-ending debate about who has "the best pizza in Toronto" but seriously, who cares? At the end of the day, everybody has different tastes and I personally like Pizzeria Libretto the best. I admittedly have not tried every pizza place in Toronto but so far,  Pizzeria Libretto is my favourite.

I started Food Junkie Chronicles back in April 2010 and one of my very first blog posts was about my love for the duck confit pizza at Pizzeria Libretto (still my favourite pizza there!) I haven't been back to Pizzeria Libretto for quite a while so I was really excited when I heard about their new Danforth location (@pldanforth).

My friend and I went to the Danforth location exactly a week ago around 7pm. We didn't make a reservation because it was a last minute decision to go. The restaurant was completely full and we were lucky to get the last two seats at the bar (it would've been more than an hour wait for a table).

The decor at this location is very modern, very "industrial" with the exposed piping, black and white walls, shiny concrete floors and the multi-coloured lights. This location is a lot more spacious than the Ossington location, which also has a more cozy and warm ambiance.

Two wood burning ovens at this location compared to only one at Ossington.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Luma - Winterlicious Tasting Menu

I love tasting menus! I really, really do =) I wish every restaurant in Toronto offer tasting menus... things would be so much easier for me (I usually want to try everything O_o).

Leaving it all to the chef, tasting menus offer small portions of several dishes as a single meal. Before the meal begins, your server will ask whether anyone has allergies and once that is settled, dishes will start coming out. Nonstop (well not really "nonstop" but it usually feels that way after awhile).

I've had several tasting menus before but last Thursday was my first time trying a Winterlicious Tasting Menu. I had dinner with three lovely ladies, Nicki from View The Vibe (@ViewTheVibe), Val (@ValTorontoGal) and Sandy (@sassygirlcanadaand thanks to Executive Chef Jason Bangerter of Luma (@chefbangerter), we were completely spoiled from our multi-course dinner. With smaller portion size, we got to taste every single item on Luma's Winterlicious menu (except for the pan roasted chicken because we were just too full). Our dinner lasted almost four hours! Good times =D


Chicken Liver + Foie Gras Pate - Chicken liver parfait, foie gras terrine, braised veal tongue, confit duck tongue, braised pork head torchon, pickles, mustard, and earthy kolrabi purée.

Winter Root Salad - Iceberg lettuce, shaved roots, crispy wheat berries, smoked bacon and mustard dressing.

Roasted Beetroot Soup - Blue cheese, walnut and apple.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dish Duel Has Officially Begun!

It has started guys... Dish Duel has finally begun and I am stoked!!!

You may be wondering "What the heck is Dish Duel?" Or even "What does Dish Duel have to do with me?"

Well, Dish Duel has asked 16 restaurants in Toronto to present their best dish for an online winner-take-all tournament. Me and the Dish Duel blogger team, consisting of Jacob from RestoInTO, Amy from Amy's Food Adventures, and Jess from Where Jess Atewill be visiting the 16 restaurants, tasting and rating each dish on taste, presentation and originality, for a total score of 25.

And this is where you come in. You, yes YOU, will be able to vote ONLINE starting February 18 for your favourite dish. I strongly encourage you to take this chance to visit and taste these amazing dishes for yourself before February 18!

Recognize any of these dishes? If not, visit Dish Duel to get the deets!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Located within the Thompson Hotel at King West, celebrity chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta (Twitter: ScarpettaTO, Facebook: Scarpetta Toronto) is an upscale and trendy Italian restaurant. Through Scarpetta, Scott Conant (a James Beard Award winner who reached celebrity status as a judge in Food Network's Chopped! and Top Chef) said he wanted to offer Italian food where "rustic Tuscany meets urban Milan". 

To me, the decor at Scarpetta is definitely more "urban" than "rustic"; it is sleek, cool and contemporary.

A very cool bluish glow by the windows.

My friend and I went all out and ordered way more than necessary for the two of us. We started off with Scarpetta's bread basket.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chef Nick Liu's Last Service at Niagara Street Café

My favourite taco (and also the winner) at the Death Row Meals Supper Club's Taco event last month was Chef Nick Liu's (@ninjachefnickCrispy Octopus and Jicama Taco with Smoked Paprika Caponata, Chorizo Bacon and Spicy Tomato Aioli. I really enjoyed the taco because I thought it was unique (i.e. the jicama "tortilla" ) and in my mind, scored the highest overall in terms of originality, taste, and presentation. I was thrilled when Chef Nick said that he would be adding the taco to Niagara Street Café's menu. Sweeeeet~ As I've never been to Niagara Street Café  this would be the perfect opportunity to go try the restaurant (and of course stuff my face with tacos =P).

However, panic sets in when I found out a couple of weeks later that January 29 was gonna be Chef Nick's last service at Niagara Street CaféI immediately started checking my calendar and phoning friends (OK more like texting friends) to see who would be available as my Niagara Street Café dinner date. Well, I obviously made it *whew* right on the night of January 29 too.

As you can imagine, it was a very, VERY busy night at Niagara Street Café last Sunday. Everybody wanted to be there to experience Chef Nick's cooking one last time at the restaurant. So thanks, Chef Nick, for letting me into your kitchen (since I know I was in your way most of the time).

Here's my friend Rian (@mommy_instincts) and I waiting to be fed at Niagara Street Café =P I warned Rian and her hubby, Ray, ahead of time to not eat (or eat very little) during the day because I knew there would be a lot of food for dinner. Well I was right (ha!) because dinner was indeed epic...with 11 courses! It was a no-menu meal where we ate whatever Chef Nick brought out and it all started with...

Bread: Served with Sherry Vinegar Caramelized Onions.