Friday, May 31, 2013

Sausage League 2013 - First Round - Barque vs. The Saint

After two successful years, Marben (Twitter: @MarbenResto, Facebook: Marben) is at it again this summer with its third annual Sausage League!

The Sausage League playoffs take place at Marben on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm until 11 pm. For $25 per person, you get to enjoy dishes created by two of Toronto's most popular restaurants, each paired with a Muskoka Brewery craft beer.

After tasting both dishes, guests will be asked to cast a vote for the dish they enjoyed the most to help crown the new "Sausage King of Toronto." The restaurant with the most votes that evening will proceed to the next round of the tournament.

Some of the competing Toronto-based restaurants in this year’s competition include Barque Bistro, The Saint Tavern, Bestellen, Trevor Kitchen and Bar, The Yukon, Farmhouse Tavern, Origin, Museum Tavern, The Harbord Room and Parts and Labour to name a few.

The winning chef / butcher this year will receive - the biggest grand prize to date - a trip for the winning chef / butcher and a friend to visit Chicago, home of famed sausage king Abe Froman.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bits & Bites at The Guild

WHEREThe Guild (Twitter: @guildresto, Facebook: The Guild Restaurant)
WHAT$3 Bits & Bites or one of each for $15
WHEN: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5pm till close
WHY: Hmm...why not?
WHO: Two hungry souls!

Cocktails and snacks all night long baby ;) Here's how it went down:

Gosling's rum, house made 'ginger beer' (lager, lime, ginger, rum, recharged with co2)



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Toronto Popup with Chef Deron Engbers

Founded by chef Deron Engbers (@TheDeron)Timeless Food made its debut this past Sunday, May 26th at Toronto Pop Up (Twitter: @Toronto_PopUp, Facebook: Toronto Popup.) Engbers, who has always been an advocate of classic cuisine, prepared a charming 5-course tasting menu at Monarch Tavern which took guests back in time by means of "Deron's Delorean time machine." Cheeky ;)

Through Timeless Food, Engbers is committed to providing diners unique and accessible dining experiences. The company aspires to recreate classic dishes using new techniques coupled with Engbers' own creative twists. For this particular "Back to the Future" pop up dinner, Engbers focused on presenting a re-invention of traditional favourites of the past, while using organic and sustainable sources where possible. 

The classic, vintage table settings were a perfect backdrop for Timeless Food's debut dinner.

A couple of cocktails to start the night off:

Madre Teresa (left): Gin, Aperol, orange, egg whilte, bitters ($9)
Timeless Caesar (right): Basil, rosemary and thyme infused gin, caesar fixings ($10)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Milestones' Summer Chefs' Menu

Despite the fact that most of the posts on Food Junkie Chronicles are about my dining experiences at independent restaurants, it doesn't mean I don't eat at chain restaurants. Frankly speaking, I don't mind eating at a chain restaurant from time to time; I don't have anything against chains and I'm certainly not a food snob. Having said that, I know this may sound incredibly phony right now but there are certain items on Milestones' (Twitter: @MilestonesCa, Facebook: Milestones) regular menu that I absolutely crave at times like their yam frites, California spring salad and their cookie dessert (yes that big, warm double dark chocolate cookie topped with vanilla gelato, caramel and chocolate sauces...queue the drool!)

In any case, I was invited to a preview tasting of Milestones' new Summer Chefs' Menu on Monday, May 13th (and it was a "preview" because their Summer Chefs' Menu was set to launch across all Milestones locations the next day.) This exclusive dinner took place at Milestones' Empress Walk location.

Before dinner, guests had the opportunity to sample a couple of new cocktails created by Milestonesvery own staff (both cocktails below can be found under "Milestones' Staff Creations".)

Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Smirnoff raspberry Vodka, muddled raspberries, lemonade and soda

Smirnoff Vodka, melon liqueur, cucumber, basil and lime juice

I had a few of these tasty hors d'oeuvres as well:

Shredded braised lamb shank mixed with pickled red onions, garlic mayonnaise, pommery mustard and ginger served on garlic toasted mini slider bun.

Sauté of garlic, thyme, Serrano peppers, shallots, fennel seeds, mozzarella cheese, then double breaded in Panko crumbs. Served with smoked paprika infused aioli and garlic mayonnaise.

Afterwards, we proceeded upstairs where dinner was about to be served. Here is Milestones' Executive Chef Jason Rosso (@jasonrosso) telling us a bit about Milestones'  food program and his inspiration for the new Summer Chefs' Menu. Within the past eight months, chef Rosso and his culinary team have created and launched close to15 new menu items with another 10 rolling out in the coming months. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Glas Wine Bar

Glas Wine Bar (Twitter: @glaswinebar, Facebook: Glas Wine Bar) is a cozy, 20-seat wine bar in Leslieville headed by chef and owner Danny Pantano. Pantano, who has worked in Italy for over nine years (including in several Michelin-starred restaurants) followed by stints in London, England and Montreal, cleverly boasts his refined technique, elegance and finesse at Glas, which opened its doors less than a year ago in June 2012. With a constantly changing menu coupled with an increasingly popular, weekly four-course vegetarian prix-fixe dubbed "The Green Glass Affair", chef Pantano devotes his precision and talent on local and seasonal ingredients that is showcased on an array of small sharing plates. 

The large art pieces at Glas adds a lot character to the otherwise simple space.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


In early April, co-owners of Kensington's Torito Tapas Bar Veronica Carmen Laudes and Luis Valenzuela, took over the decade-old Brazilian restaurant Caju on 911 Queen St. West. The business partners successfully transformed the space into Carmen, a Spanish restaurant / bar offering, as per their Twitter account, "...bold and kind hearted Spanish flavours. A blend of tradition and originality. From small tapas to giant paellas."

True to their word, the menu at Carmen (Twitter: @carmensayz, Facebook: Carmenis indeed organized into traditional tapas on one side with chef Valenzuela's creative takes on Spanish plates on the other. And as for the paellas? You have four to choose from:

Paella del Carmen - Shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, chorizo, chicken, saffron
Paella "Antoni Gaudi" - Roasted quinoa, "Vegetable mosaic"
Paella de Montana - Tempranillo, rabbit, snails, artichokes
Paella Atlantica - Lobster, saffron, roasted tomatoes

Mind you, although I didn't have the paella this time around I certainly have my eye on the "Paella del Carmen" for next time ;)

Carmen is such a visually stunning space. I personally love it. A lot. The decor is so vibrant, so cheerful and fun yet it is modern and elegant at the same time. Sounds impossible, right? To have all those elements in one restaurant? Nope, it's possible...and I really hope my photos can convey that point across.

When you walk into Carmen you will see a long, beautiful custom-made wood and marble bar on the right.

I love these lights above the bar....they really stand out against the dark ceiling.

Black and white Spanish art is hung on the wall across from the bar. A very classy touch.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Al Fresco Lunch at GUSTO 101

Founded by restaurateur Janet Zuccarini (also owner of Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville), GUSTO 101 located at 101 Portland is probably one of the most popular spots in Toronto currently. Opened in early 2012, the transformed 1900's auto body shop was, in collaboration with Janet, designed by Munge Leung and architect Giancarlo Garfolo. The beautiful, ultra-chic space was instantly a hit in the city and is internationally recognized with a prestigious 2013 Hospitality Design Award in the casual restaurant category.

I attended a media lunch at GUSTO (Twitter: @Gusto101TO, Facebook: Gusto 101last week on their all-new, year-round rooftop patio. Yup, you read that correctly. GUSTO now has a year-round glass roof top! Patio-crazy Torontonians rejoice! Your prayers have been answered!

GUSTO 101 is indeed Toronto's first restaurant with a year-round rooftop patio. Created by OpenAire Inc. in collaboration with once again, the restaurant's overall design team Munge Leung and architect Giancarlo Garfolo, the all-glass retractable rooftop is fully functional (it takes 9 minutes to completely open or close.) Below is a short 1 minute video showing the rooftop opening up.


I also found out that quite a few things used at GUSTO are actually available for purchase at SHOP GUSTO 101. For example, from left to right:

Bread Bag, washable "Paper" bag, Lucca, Italy - $20
Wine Carafe, hand-crafted - 1 L: $36.95, 1.5 L: $46.95
Coffee Cups, hand-painted, Rimini, Italy - Espresso cup and saucer: $18, Macchiato cup and saucer: $20, Cappuccino cup and saucer: $25
GUSTO's Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (from owner's family's oil grove in Italy) - $19.95
GUSTO Peperoncini, hot chili peppers, preserve in-house, 0.5L - $12
GUSTO Sea Salt, fair trade sea salt, Mexico - 250g: $9, 450g: $16
GUSTO Coffee, Trucillo espresso coffee beans - $33 per 1 kg

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Per Se, NYC

7 Course Lunch Prix Fixe

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

"Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters 
and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar

Black Truffle "Beignet," Romaine "Relish," 
Meyer Lemon and Celery Branch

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Menu at The Fuel House

When Fuel House (Twitter: @FuelHouseTO, Facebook: Fuel House) took over the former "Olivia's" in November 2011, co-owners Mackenzie Chiu and Mike Dolegowski envisioned their cozy, quaint space in Little Italy as a neighbourhood sandwich shop. With a variety of sandwiches, burgers and banh mi on the menu, swiftly followed by the addition of a snacks menuFuel House quickly established itself as a friendly and casual spot. Whether you wanted a quick bite to eat or a comfy place to grab a couple of beers with friends, Fuel House is the place to be. When it's a nice day out, you can even choose which patio you want to chill at - the smaller patio at the front where you can people watch, or the larger more private patio at the back, totally up to you.

Last month, Mack and Mike decided to overhaul Fuel House's entire menu. With Rob Julen as the new chef, Fuel House has since then taken on a completely different direction. Sandwiches are now gone and have been replaced by pub-style snacks and sharing plates. From now on, you can expect to see fried chicken, fries, pork ribs, burgers as well as healthy vegetarian options such as salads and slaws at Fuel House (they even have a seafood basket with crab legs!) A larger selection of beers and an updated cocktail list accompanies the menu makeover. Excellent. Just in time for summer :)

Below are some items from Fuel House's new menu: 




Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Samuel J. Moore

The Samuel J. Moore's got it covered - lunch, brunch, dinner, dessert, drinks, snacks, midnight eats - you name it, they've got it. The new bistro at the corner of Queen and Dovercourt is open for business at almost every single hour of every day. Pretty neat, ya? 

Being the life of the party (yes that's me) there's always a time and place for late night quick-and-dirty eats (like Poutini's). However ladies, you should know what I mean when I say this: sometimes there's just no way I'm gonna eat standing up after hours in my 3-inch heels. Go ahead and call me high maintenance but know this: when it's your sore and squished toes on the line, you'll thank me for this blog post. Why's that? 'Cause now you'll know that The Samuel J. Moore, an actual sit down restaurant, is serving food till 4 am in the morning, Thursday through Saturday. That's right. You're welcome.

High ceiling, tile floors with a black and white theme throughout the room gives a simple yet classy tavern feel to The Samuel J. Moore  (@TheSamuelJMoore). An eye-catching marble-top bar stretches along the back of the entire space. Beautiful.

Templar Sour - Islay, Almond. Citrus. Egg white. Sour cherry ($14)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daily Bread's Ultimate Food Challenge 2013

I had the pleasure of attending Daily Bread Food Bank's 2nd Annual Ultimate Food Challenge (#ufchallenge) last Wednesday, May 8th. Sponsored by Campbell's, Canadian Pacific, Corus Entertainment and Nutella, the "Foodie Fundraiser" was held at Corus Quay and featured live entertainment, a silent auction, and of course the highlight of the evening - a friendly culinary battle between three celebrity chefs. Over 250 guests had the opportunity to sample gourmet hors d'oeuvres served and prepared by trainees and graduates from Daily Bread's Catering Kitchen as well as signature dishes made by the three competing chefs.

Proceeds from the 2013 Ultimate Food Challenge goes to supporting Daily Bread’s Kitchen, which will provide 170,000 nutritious meals this year to shelters, schools and other meal programs serving low-income children and adults at more than 100 public and social service agencies in neighbourhoods across Toronto.

Below is a recap of the 2013 Ultimate Food Challenge:


Over 50 items were being auctioned off at the silent auction.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Brunch at The Ritz-Carlton

I'm far from being a baller but for one reason or another, I've been having some pretty ballin' brunches lately.

Within the last month, I've had Splendido's new Sunday brunch once and The Ritz-Carlton's Market Brunch twice. This is not normal behaviour. Trust me.

I took my parents to The Ritz-Carlton (Twitter: @RitzCarlton, Facebook: The Ritz-Carlton, Torontofor Mother's Day brunch yesterday (I took them to Splendido last year.) A couple of weeks ago, I showed my Mom some photos of the brunch at The Ritz Carlton that I had when I went with my friend Gizelle. I also told my Mom, as best as I could in Cantonese, that the brunch was "total baller!" with unlimited oysters, shrimps, fresh lobster tails, and an all-inclusive mimosa, bellini and prosecco bar. She was instantly sold and asked if I could take here there for Mother's Day. Why, of course! So I immediately phoned The Ritz-Carlton to make a reservation but I guess we weren't the only ones with the idea as I was placed on a waiting list. Luckily, a few days before Mother's Day I got a phone call from them informing me of a seating at 2:30 pm. Although I prefer something earlier I wasn't going to pass this up. Noooo way. 

So here we are! Below are some photos of The Ritz-Carlton's Market Buffet Brunch that I took during my first visit. Let me tell you straight up that contrary to what you see in the photos below (i.e. on a normal Sunday) the restaurant was packed solid yesterday. And I thought there was a larger variety of baked goods, antipastis, cheese and desserts yesterday (perhaps this is because it is $89 pp for Mother's Day whereas normally it is $79).

Seafood Display 
Lobster Tails & Shrimps 
PEI Mussels 
Shucked Oysters 
Sushi Selections & Traditional Condiments

Omelette Station 
Eggs Any Style
Cold Cuts 
Selection of Niagara Ham Charcuterie 
Smoked Fish & Salmon 
Lemon, Pickled Onion & Capers

Bakery Selections
Croissants & Vienosseries 
Bread Baskets, Grissinis, Olives & Crackers 
Flatbread, Savory Pies & Tarts 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fishbar's New Menu

The month of May marks the two year milestone for Fishbar (Twitter: @_fishbar, Facebook: Fishbar). Fishbar on Ossington is a proud partner of Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Program and serves a seasonally-evolving sustainable seafood menu. To celebrate its second birthday, Fishbar revamped its menu with a host of new and exciting dishes. I was invited to their media tasting last week to sample some of the restaurant's latest plates.

To execute the new dishes and evolution of Fishbar, owners William Tavares (left) and Renata Andreazza (right) have enlisted Chef Miro Lelas. The Croation chef's background includes stints as Chef de Cuisine at Rosewater Supper Club and Catering Chef at Atlantis Pavilions.

The front of the restaurant lets in a lot of natural light. Love that.

The back of Fishbar