Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Wine_Dad

  1. Try Note Bene, Harbor 60, Colborne Lane, Lucien, Bravi, Aria,
  2. Try Paradis, on Bank Street, north of Billings Bridge. Bring them in and stay and browse while they sharpen them. An outstanding establishment.
  3. Just had dinner at Le Chien Noir on Wednesday of last week. As a huge fan of the french bistro concept, I found the restaurant to be very good considering that it must not get as much traffic as a major market bistro of equivalent size. The service was very good and the food above average.
  4. There are indeed tables that are not adjacent to the stadium kitchen. They even have a small room. I'm sure they can accomodate a four top off to the side by the windows. If your clients are foodies, Perigee's the place to be.
  5. I thought about this some more over the weekend. In fact the restaurant business is really three businesses: real estate, project management, and food & hospitality. Only with the right location, fitted-out at the right budget can good food and hospitality be in a position to turn a profit. In short, it's a business pure and simple, if the main elements aren't working together, it all falls apart. Take Peter Oliver for instance, if you ask him the secret of his success he will tell you that real estate is an important element. At Biff's for example (same building as Houstons and suffers the same traffic challenges), he stepped in after a huge remodel and secured a great rental rate and some decent fixturing. Thanks to some creative sponsorships for the Zinc Patina bar and French Bistro Awning, and a couple of coats of paint he went from New England Chowder House to French Bistro in short order and at a rediculously low budget. This real estate success is not to take away from the fact that the Oliver Bonaccini partnership isn't succesful; it's obscenely succesful. Major landlords will accept a much lower rental rate from a proven brand name restaurant operator in exchange for a participation in the profits. There isn't a landlord in town that wouldn't want a premier restaurant operator or succesful "named" chef in their building. Houstons isn't locked out because of the rent. Their rental situation is a function of their inability to run a business. The took the least desirable corner of the building that used to be a retail Investment Advisory space resulting in a poor location with huge conversion costs. Combine poor judgement with lack of project management experience and you get locked out before you char your first rib-eye. Their restaurant is a little known, middle of the road steakhouse. To add insult to injury, they've been advertising franchises since well before the first tape measure came out. Ask yourself if the elements of this story support a well run business at the mercy of an unscrupulous landlord or some food loving, franchise salesperson's folly. The funniest part is that Ki is also in a former Retail Investment Advisory space in a relatively weak corner of a different building but it's being done in 1/10th the time and backed by one of the best restaurant names in the country. Furthermore, the landlord there is far more aggressive. It all comes down to paying attention to all facets of the business. I can't wait to see who takes over from Houstons. Anyone have Thomas Keller's number handy?
  6. I work there and that place has been under consturction for 16 months. They were recruiting in Jan. My sense is that the founder(s) is/are franchise salespeople and not restauranteurs. Ki, on the other hand has been under construction for about 4-5 months and looks ready to go next week.
  7. I was there in June with three foodies (1 from Chicago, 1 from Connecticut and 1 from NYC). We asked of the cuff if we could have a tastings menu and got 7 interesting and imaginative courses. The kitchen was only too happy as they had three large groups of "overly perfumed" customers that had mutiple dietary requirements. As for the service, I found it attentive and very good but not excellent - it's west of the Bovine Sex Club remember and priced accordingly. The wine was another issue. We had two bottles of 2000 Tom Eddy Napa Valley Cabernet at almost $300 each. The wine was worth $300 but in about 4 years time. One of the NYC guys bought the wine without consulting the table and short of putting it in a paint shaker, we couldn't get it to open up. I've had some good drinkable 2000 Napa Cabs but this bad boy needed some time to mellow. The wine error is our own damn fault, and I never really consulted the list as the decision was made in a nano second. Long and short of it, I'm 12 restaurants into my global top 50 and while Czehoski may be in the next 50, I think they're onto something like other trendsetters in their own market place. I should add that I'm not "in the business" either. I for one want to encourage these guys to continue to be out there and experiement. I'm quite happy to go and tell them how I fell and would encourage other e-gulletters to do the same. It's the price you pay to encourage innovation. Frankly, if I see one more Rack O' Lamb/Halibut/Veal Chop/Salmon/Chicken/Tederloin structured menu, I'm going to flip.
  8. I don't know if it's still around or how young at heart you and your wife are but my all-time favorite eclectic diner is Mimi's on Bathurst just north of College on the west side. It's beside the "Oakleaf Steam Bath" off all things but the food is out of this world. Hot steaming coffee, homefries, and a mexican omelet that defies description. Don't be surprised or put off by Mimi if she's got Blue Rodeo blasting and she's smoking a joint - it's all part of the experience. The other favorite of mine is still the Tuplip on Queen St. East but that's because I can get there quickly and my kids love the staff.
  9. I was there in December last year for a function. I'm not a fan of flamenco anything - music or dance, but I do love tapas. The food was acceptable but not first rate, if anything I think that the portions were a little small and the tastes were a little too subtle for people used to authentic Spanish food. Compared to the now defunct El Cid/Tapas on Carlton at Parliament, Embrujo will have to do for now.
  10. There's one at the Windsor Arms and one at the King Edward. You might want to try Perigee - not a chef's table per se but a seat ring side overlooking the kitchen.
  11. What does not appear anywhere here is that from a supplier point of view, it is much easier to deal with one buying group. The fact that all of the agencies and distributors only have to deal with one group that handles distribution all over the huge province is a significant factor keeping the LCBO in the hands of government. Imagine the cost to the suppliers/distributors of having to cart their product to Timmins to satisfy the clauses in their contracts. The fact that the LCBO assumes all distribution and inventory risk goes a long way to keeping costs down to the consumer. Coversely the argument can be made that they are doing it less efficiently than a thrid-party logistics company but it's the best we've got right now. Unless the Government can completely remove itself (and the resulting massive ineficiencies) from the process and allow free market forces to take over, we might as well accept the reasonable prices and limited selection offered by the LCBO. Anything in between where we are now and the state of "free market" nirvana is likely going to be much worse than the current situation.
  12. Wine_Dad

    Sausage Making

    I usually soak the chips in water for 20-30 minutes prior and refresh with a little moisture every 2 hours. I add another handful of moist chips again after about 3.5 hours. The temp reaches about 140F if soaked and 170 if not. I've also added dried berries that burst once re-hydraded in the smoker and impart a wonderful fruity taste to the smoke. And I once soaked the chips in a water/port combo.
  13. Virtually every place has a nice private area. Biffs, Canoe, Reds, Hy's, Ultra, Rosewater (lots of them), Czehoski's (upstairs), Perigee. Take your pick and good luck.
  14. Wine_Dad

    Sausage Making

    For what it's worth, I haven't tried to cure a damn thing yet. After reading through this thread and considering that I only got 51% in Biochemistry, I might wait to be professionally trained. I have however, constructed a smoker from two terra cotta pots, a 15' circular grill, one hot plate, a thick pie tin and a thermometer. As soon as I remember how to post a picture of it I will. I'm into the thing for $40 for the terra cotta, $35 for the grill, $6 for the hot plate on e-Bay, pie plate, wood chips and thermometer are all in the pantry anyway. Long story short, soaked the chips for 30 minutes, drained and placed in pie tin with hot plate on high, smoked 10 lbs of home made Andouille at about 175F to 190F for 6 hours. I'm hooked, doing a whole duck, some salmon and some black cod this weekend.
  15. As a better than average home chef with a huge expense account, I have had the honor to dine in great establishments around the world. I am personally very critical of my meals out but I have also worked in the business during university and I concurr with Chefpeon that there are two many elements out of the Chef's control to blam every lame dish or cold course on the Chef. Rather than be disillusionned by our external dining experiences I would encourage those of us who feel like Nyleve Baar to take those experiences and expand upon them in our own kitchens with our own guests. I have a friend who's professional and I constantly invite him over when I enterpret his creations that I find mediocre. Quite a bit of fun actually.
  16. A 10 year olf bottle of "Dave's Insanity" sauce that I continue to use 1 tsp per batch of spaghetti sauce and it's still "Insanely" hot.
  17. Depending on where you live, you'll get some Miso at the grocery store but likely middle of the road Miso. If you're near Broadview & Danforth got to Carrot Common. The best selection if you're in the city is Sanko on Queen West (w of Bathurst).
  18. I've been at GBC for a year working towards my certificate. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. If you're looking for quick techniques and special interest cooking where people are going to demonstrate and send you home with recipes, I would suggest one-off course at various locals in the city - you pick. If you're looking to learn techniques and fundamentals to then apply to creating your own dishes from first principles GBC is a good start for the home chef. After all, be it Spanish, Chinese, French or Japanese the fundamentals to marinade and make a sauce are pretty similar - only the ingredients really change. Something else to be prepared for - at GBC you've got the whole spectrum of people with different skills. In my social circle I'm known as a creative and pretty good chef, at my first GBC class I was light years ahead of my classmates. Now however, as I progress down the path towards the certificate, I find that the class is made up of some damn good home chefs and I learn as much from my interactions with them as I do in the class itself. There are those who treat cooking as a craft and others who treat it as an art. It's all in your frame of mind. GBC is a good program and if you let yourself re-learn the fundamentals, you'll be amazed at the confidence you'll have when you leave.
  19. I have been buying "sushi" grade fish at SLM for 10 years. Tuna only at first but now Salmon, Talapia, Fluke (Lemon Sole), and Red Snapper. My preferred place is Domenic's as we've developed a great relationship. She won't sell me anything that she wouldn't eat herself. Tuna belly is a little harder to find there, they may be some left on the fish when they get it but it's not the heart of the loin. As for buying later on Saturday when it's on sale - not recommended as far as i'm concerned. For Tuna belly, I have to go with Taro's.
  20. Wasn't the "soft" opening on Feb 14, 2005?
  21. I find that St. Jacob's is a pork fest. Nothing wrong with that but there's not a ton of variety and who wants to drive all the way there unless it's part of a greater excursion. For my needs, I see the same vendors st SLM a couple of times a week and when I do my semi-annual tastings dinners at home these guys will bend over backwards to accomodate - as long as I tell my guests where I got my stuff and bring the vendors pictures of the dishes. It's old school all the way.
  22. Wine_Dad


    I've been a few times because I like the deconstructed/reconstructed menu. However, the service is spotty. The fist time I went I ordered the beef entre and it was mostly gristle. I made a mention of it to the waiter who simply replied with "sorry". That was it - not other mention. The second time I was there, I order the foie gras appetizer. I got a peice of the vein in my portion (4 inches worth) and mentioned it to the waiter (after showing it to my dining companions who were appalled) and I got th same "sorry". Shame on me for going back after the poor service. But low and behold, I went back a third time and everything was fine. I get the distinct impression that there's an "attitude" at Nectar that if you question the concept, menu or preperation you're not better than a pee-on and you shouldn't be there. Shame on them because this is the second time I've posted this story and you can't ignore a food community as tight as the e-gullet group. At $200 per couple, it's still worth it but so are Se5ens, Lee, George, etc. Welcome to Toronto.
  23. On the subject of appliances, when I did my place I followed the Miele/Bosch advice and I can tell you that a Bosch is vastly over rated. After 3 years, I have spent about $400 in repairs (all under warranty for parts too). Furthermore, it lacks the functionality of other models. It does however clean dishes very well. The Mercedes of dishwashers is the two drawer Fisher and Paykel. Not sure of your budget, but if you have a large family and you entertain a bit it's the must have. I also have a Kitchen Aid Fridge. A huge one at that. The water dispenser/ice maker mechanism broke after 12 months and the fixed it twice ($150 per visit). The third time it broke they brought me a new fridge, no questions asked. The thing has worked since so I clearly had a lemon. Good luck and remember to keep you sense of humor. A reno of any type is a stressful event.
  24. Try The Cheese Boutique just off of South Kingsway.
  25. Referencing any "style/trends" magazine while trying to answer this question is offensive. Trend schmend. When I read that "foie gras" is passer!! According to whom? Some pundit who discovered that they liked it and ate it constantly for 18 months and are now calling it out? What the hell is that? Can we not form our own opinions? In a recent so called style magazine entitled "Trends", my wife read me the predictions for 2005 - we laughed at how simple and utterly stupid they were but we admitted that we had noticed an increase in the items mentioned and they were indeed popular. They point is that truly adventurous foodies should know what to look for because they live on the edge already. Rant over. What I see coming: Natural, natural, natural Omega-3 enriched everything Omega-6 enriched foods Cross over curry Quinoa (not revolutionary but I've seen some great avant garde preparations) New enterpretations of french classics Juice infusions All tapas, all the time CGI friendly meals (without actually advertising it) Custom/made to order fine dining Unfortunately the following will likely continue Heat and serve roasts Steriod chickens (notice that there are more hairy 7 year olds) "Insert Cheesy Name Here" Restaurant chains Deception based nutrition information Why don't we all get out and try something absolutely new and report back to each other rather than following what some ad selling trends rag is trying to pass off as the cutting edge.
  • Create New...