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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. I'll second the Treadwell recommendation. Was there over the weekend and the food was fresh, local and extremely good. As their 'subtitle' says "Farm to Table Cuisine". I'd recommend the 6-course tasting menu with accompanying wines ($125) - that way you'll get to taste a variety of different wineries and sort out which you prefer (most of the winery restaurants naturally concentrate on their own products - Treadwell has a great selection from all over). They're also open for lunch. A little closer - you should head to Kitchener-waterloo for the Mennonite market. Certainly a taste of home-cooked food.
  2. estufarian


    What - you mean I can't believe everything I read in the newspapers???????! Of course, I was dumb enough to read the notice posted on the door of 'The Garden at 11' which said the landlord had taken possession of the premises for unpaid rent! So maybe, because they're on such good terms, that Riley went back to Perigee to run the kitchen while the Browns were on their recent trip to Japan.
  3. Thank you. Now I can set about trying to find it in North America too. And, of course, it can be tried by anyone else who visits RyuGin - and based on this thread so far that could be a large number. For me this was the best 'food' sake I've tried. Less aromatic than some, but really wrapped around the food. Certainly smoky with a background of earth/mushrooms. Would substitute for a pinot noir or barrel-fermented chardonnay (and much cheaper than either in a Japan based restaurant). And because of the size (180ml serving) a relatively cheap way for even a novice to try this match - you can always order more!
  4. Haven't even started to sort out my pictures! Too busy - haven't even sorted out all my notes on other meals yet. And off to Newfoundland next week - have to research that too. And we didn't notice the flowers - still trying to get over the downpour and drip-dry I think. But I've sent the photo off to my favourite sake importer to see what (if anything) he can come up with.
  5. Here's the photo of mine - seems to be different. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=mo...d=si&img=126610 Can you help in identifying it?
  6. Interesting observation as Seiji Yamamoto and Andoni Luis Aduriz are in fact very good friends. ←
  7. Great report (and pictures). Yes, I dined there the following night, with the identical menu (except I substituted for the tomato, to which I have a mild allergy). It’s obviously superfluous to repeat what was an excellent description – but I can add a few observations: First note that there are no ‘outside’ signs with the restaurant name in English, although the directions should get you there comfortably. But it helps to have a printout of the name in Kanji. Also, the entrance prepares you for the ‘experience’ by leading you along a narrow corridor around the building – essentially giving a space to leave the outside bustle behind and prepare for the experience ahead. It’s similar in concept to the entrance at Alinea in Chicago, although I was reminded more of Mugaritz (to which I think Ryugin has many conceptual similarities) in attempting to create the same commencing atmosphere for all visitors. I did peruse the wine list and frankly it was fairly pedestrian – but given the price of wine in Tokyo generally, I think it tried hard to hit a price point, rather than a comprehensive list. And certainly the selection of waters was fairly good (about 10 overall) although not cheap (around $12-20 for a bottle). I wasn’t offered a sake menu in English (only Japanese) suggesting that most non-Japanese speakers probably don’t venture into that territory; and as I hadn’t learned to read Japanese, but probably have a greater taste for sake that most non-Asians, I was determined to attempt to order some decent stuff. This dinner came at the end of my trip and by now I knew that decent sake was reasonably priced in restaurants so I put myself in Ryugin’s hands (they had two sommeliers) and asked to start with a fragrant sake that would complement the food. This was a very palatable Namazake (pasteurized) Junmai (pure – only rice, no additives) Ginjo (premium) sake but I couldn’t interpret the brand. I later asked to switch to a more earthy/smoky style (typically servings are 300ml or less, which can easily be shared). As for all quality sakes these were served on ice. The smoky sake (in particular) was superb, served from 200ml bottles costing ¥ 2,000 (around $20 i.e. $75 for a 750ml bottle of wine equivalent, which is a real deal compared to wine prices in Tokyo). I wish I could tell you more but the label was totally Japanese – although I kept it and will be passing it on to my local sake expert for translation. Just trust me on this one and ask for it if you go. But be prepared to order several more bottles! (Oversimplifying, if you want a good sake anywhere in Japan, it’s simple to specify “Junmai” – you’ll be reasonably successful – or you’ll be in a place that doesn’t serve quality sake!). For the spectacular ayu dish, it was suggested we eat one of the ayu “naked”, then the other with the sauce to be able to appreciate the addition of the watermelon flavour. I actually preferred the naked version, which allowed the purity of the flavor to show through. The ‘salad’ was notable for its texture, crunch and acid balance – very refreshing. The ‘pampered beef’ for me was a slight dip in flavor (although AmuseGirl disagreed – she finds quality Wagyu beef too fatty in mouthfeel, and this avoided that fattiness), but the texture was again superb, with the crunch of the asparagus providing a perfect counterpoint. And the hamo (sea-eel) dish was indeed subtle, with the flesh ‘fluffed up’ by the process of removing the multiple bones (my sympathies here to the commis who probably had to debone this!). The sashimi was superb – my favorite ever. And the beluga caviar was a ‘special low-salt’ version which I found much more attractive than the normal version, which has never been a favorite of mine. The abalone dish didn’t really work for me either. Not much flavor – all about texture, in theory, but too little contrast. The trout dish was simply superb! Complex, flavorful – firing on all cylinders! The pigeon was also superb – although by now we were on the second bottle of the smoky sake! Beautifully tender. Amazing aromas – too intense to be from a summer truffle! My notes say the ‘mound’ was a combination of daikon and taro and upon asking about the truffle it was revealed that this combination was infused with white truffle oil (from Alba) and a fresh summer white truffle (first time for me) had been sliced on top. The rice, soup and pickle dish was indeed a struggle (for volume, not flavor) – but the sake carried me through again. Again, all about textures. The transition to desserts is worth emphasizing because of the sequence of teas that is served. Starting with a roasted tea, then followed sequentially by green tea, lime tea, strawberry & rhubarb tea, strawberry & rhubarb plus palash honey, cinnamon and finally apricot & raspberry. These come out starting as one finishes the ‘soup & rice’ and end after the candy apple. A wonderfully aromatic sequence that is a highlight and an exciting approach. As mentioned above, I passed on the tomato and was served a pineapple and coconut cream combination, with a great mouth feel (but less exciting presentation). All-in-all a great experience – now in my top 10 all-time list (around #6) – well worth a visit!
  8. estufarian


    Their website has been updated. It seems to be a la carte with a tasting menu option. I'm unlikely to check it out - always felt it was way overpriced for what you get - especially the wine selection which was always disappointing. Occasionally I did have some decent food there - but I found it too highly priced for the quality delivered.
  9. estufarian


    The 'new' chef is Chris Brown (son of the owner) who was formerly at la Creperie (also in the Distillery district). He was a sous at Perigee when it first opened.
  10. People have already pointed you to 'back bacon on a bun' - which is probably the most significant item - and St Lawrence Market is indeed a fine choice. In Niagara I'm still convinced that Riesling is the 'best' grape - despite its relative unpopularity. Niagara also produces some of the finest soft fruits in the world - but you'll be a little early for those. Toronto's dining strengths are its 'ethnic' cuisines. Apparently the SE Asian (Indian) community has just surpassed the Asian (Chinese) in population terms, and indeed we have a good selection of excellent Indian restaurants (along with a lot of average places). If that interests you, I recently posted my favourites in this thread (caution the major subject of the thread is not really helpful as the places are ‘new’ rather than ‘good’). We also have extensive Portuguese dining options, ranging from local places to extreme high end. I’ve avoided Italian and most Asian as you have multiple options at home. You might also consider Ethiopian, although IMO most aren’t too exciting as they don’t provide fresh injera, which becomes rubbery by the day after preparation.
  11. #12 Cluck Grunt & Low #13 Jacobs & Co Steakhouse #14 Prime (at Windsor Arms) - from Chatto's blog.
  12. OK A bit more info. First a general comment – many (most?) of the places mentioned (even by Toronto Life) are neighbourhood places – not fine dining – not that that should disqualify them, but be realistic with expectations. These are places worth a detour (perhaps) but not a special trip. http://www.simplebistro.com/home.html Simple Bistro (on Mt Pleasant, south of Eglinton at Manor Road), sticks to what it does well. The service is better than at most bistros (3 servers for a restaurant that holds about 40 people) so you’re in and out fairly quickly – but I emphasize not rushed out. And very friendly – many customers were greeted by name and when we left it was “Goodbye Mr Estufarian” – obviously not greeted that way as they didn’t know who we were until we mentioned our reservation. A selection of wines available by the glass or half-litre as well as bottles wisely chosen (contrast Cowbell with 1 red and 1 white by the glass when I went). And one of the dessert options was a cheese plate ($12 for 3 cheeses). Restaurant was clean, and bright enough to read the menu. Bread was sliced baguette – and it was so good we guessed it was from Celestin (just up the street) – and when we finished the first batch (4 slices) they replenished the basket. The menu is linked above – but my comments: The salmon roulade was just OK – competent but unexciting flavour – but excellent presentation. Endive salad was exactly what we expected. Especially good textures. The Risotto was superb – best I’ve had in some time. Just a little resistance to the bite and temperature very hot – so it didn’t end up cold by the last taste. Salmon was pretty good. Cheese plate was a good effort (I’ve had better, but at least they’re offering one) and the Crème Brulee was very good – not the best in Toronto (go to Avant Gout for that) but very well done. Good temperature contrast and definite vanilla flavour. Avant Gout’s wins out on the aromatics. Total bill around $150 for two (all-in) – you can do it for less, but at that price I was happy. Back to the Indian restos. First a general comment – the (vast) majority of Indian places in Toronto use a basic sauce that, at best, is modified for each style of dish. This so-called ‘mother’ sauce means that virtually all dishes have the same underlying flavour. Sort of a one-sauce-fits-all. This can, of course, be a rich, flavourful sauce at the better places, but results in a certain ‘sameness’ in many cases. On the plus side, this means that Indian food here can be great value considering the ingredients. But the downside is that the relatively few places that cook sauces from scratch are swamped in a sea of ‘cheap Indian’ places and also tend to be more expensive because of the labour involved. Almost all of the better places that I’ve tried seem to have ‘dumbed-down’ their menus to reduce the costs (and hence charges) for their dishes. Specifically Amaya, Jaaadu and Tabla no longer feature the complex dishes for which they originally charged in the high $20’s/low $30’s and replaced with cheaper dishes – more in line with what Torontonians have been willing to pay. The other new (2007) place is Indus Junction, which approached the same issue a little differently, by serving a very restricted menu with very small portion sizes, which worked initially, but the small portion sizes really haven’t caught on. And I should mention Indian Rice Factory, which also cooks from scratch, but has disastrous service. So, what to do/where to go? First I avoid ‘Indian Buffets’ at all costs. Soggy Naan, steam table veggies, an ocean of greasy so-called butter chicken. If still a student in need of a refueling I might consider that, but most of the ‘all you can eat’ food in Toronto appalls me. In the ‘value’ category with decent food at a fair price my #1 is Trimurti (Queen West) which has the best Onion Bhajias in town and some uncommon dishes such as Lamb Pasanda (cooked in cashew paste). Around $50 for two, including beer. For Southern Indian/Sri Lankan I go to Rashnaa (on Wellesley West) for Dosas, String Hoppers etc. and usually get out for under $30 for two. If I have a yen (!) for subtly spiced Indian food, I mostly go to Tabla. There are a few other ‘upscale’ places e.g. The Host, Kama Sutra which deliver (IMO) the one-sauce-fits all food in admittedly nicer surroundings, but much higher prices than the majority of places. If I’ve missed any ‘genuinely prepared sauce’ places (other than those mentioned above) I apologize – let me know about them. Indian Rice Factory has good food but the service would be considered poor even in a factory. So it’s not on my current list. Both Amaya and Indus junction have failed to return phone calls and Indus Junction seemed to be out of many (most?) things when I was there. Neither the wine nor beer I attempted to order was available and neither were several dishes (on a very short menu). Jaaadu started impressively – but the prices were just too high for the neighbourhood, so they’ve gone significantly down-market and now aggressively push their take-out. And the more sophisticated dishes are no longer available. Amaya has done an amazing marketing job. They seem to have attracted all the reviewers who were impressed with their offerings. Indeed they are MUCH better than 90+ % of what passes for Indian food in Toronto and are to be congratulated. I commented above on my first visit and a follow-up again sees issues. Reservations are consistently late being seated – but again, to be fair, they seat people at the wine bar with a complimentary beverage. But the food doesn’t seem to have retained its ‘character’. The Crab Kachoris had no crab texture at all (although they were nicely crisp). The Lamb Xacutti and the Prawn/Lobster Curry had good ingredients but the sauces were almost identical; and the Bhindi Bhaji (the best dish on my first visit) was now overcooked and limp – compared with the perfect texture first time out. The service is better (other than promptness), but the food has slipped. Tabla has trundled along most successfully. Ambience is comparable with The Host – white tablecloths etc. And the flavours are truly complex. The heat builds in layers of different spices. They also have changed over time – again the more sophisticated (expensive) dishes have gone from the menu, where most dishes are now under $20. But, for example, their Vindaloo is the best I’ve ever had (caution for beginners: this is the hottest dish on the menu) with layers of spices and heat being (for me) perfectly balanced – although some people, whose opinions I respect, identify too much tamarind. Their Mulligatawny soup is similarly layered. And the vegetarian dishes are standouts. Yet still, their best-selling dish is Butter Chicken! I also like their ‘Naanini’ – a Naan stuffed with minced lamb (no longer on the menu, but available on request). And their Xacutti is much better than Amayas – again complex and layered. I also comment that both Tabla and Amaya have respectable winelists – almost unknown elsewhere for Indian food.
  13. Just to add another 2007 (which I visited in 2008, but opened in 2007). "Simple Bistro" gets it all right. Good food, great service, intelligent winelist. Definitely in my Top 5 for 2007. Incidentally I have tried Amaya again (convinced by the very positive reviews). Service has improved dramatically although reservations seem consistently "late" - almost everybody there was comped a glass of something at the bar while they waited for their table. The food seems to have good ingredients (although the crab in the crab kachoris didn't have any 'texture'). The bread (tandoori) are also very small servings. But the real issue is the sauces which seem to have muddy (rather than precise) flavours. They just don't "sing". However, if you do go DEFINITELY order the sweet plate which is superb. A shortbread, a spiced truffle and some spiced nut brittle (two servings of each).
  14. Fair enough comment and request (was out of town in Dallas, so a lag in replying). The best NEW Indian is Jaaadu - based on 2 visits. HOWEVER, in 2006 Tabla opened (on nobody's list) and it is well above anything else in Toronto, so my recommendation would be to skip 2007 list and choose that place. And I stand corrected - I identified 9 of the 10 as being 'retreads' - actually the chef at C5 is also from Toronto (making it 10 out of 10) - it's the management company that's from out-of-town. And another aside: Chatto gave a 'rave' review to Cluck, Grunt and Low in Toronto Life. But it didn't make his top 10 - deservedly so, as I'm having difficulty finding anybody (other than Chatto) who has a kind word to say about it. Cowbell and Foxley - my comments were sloppy as I don't know which places opened in 2007 - but I hold to the point that they're not the best locally. Cowbell showed promise with a very small menu (so I anticipated that this would represent the 'best' of the local ingredients). The food was 'comfort' in style (not a problem usually) but what was served was different from even the blackboard menu - and the flavours weren't distinct. With a small menu one would think that the wine list could be tailored - but with only two wines by the glass (1 red, 1 white) any matching became a challenge I couldn't conquer. And the dishes for the two of us came out separately - and 1 wasn't what we ordered. In fairness, the food was tasty - but VERY expensive for the neighbourhood. if i lived in the neighbourhood would probably have tried again - but certainly wasn't worth a 'detour'. Foxley was pretty nasty. The dumplings were dried out on top (I suspect they'd been left uncovered in the fridge and the top had dried out, leaving a cardboard consistency). The flavours were repeated in several dishes - I even found it difficult to distinguish between meat and fish! Nothing seemed fresh-tasting. A real disappointment, although I've never beeen a great fan of Tom's. Going back to his start in Cabbagetown (certainly before Cafe Asia, but I don't recall the name of the place) with a spat between the staff (in public) with the chef walking out. I'm going to have to do a bit of research to see where I went in 2007 (not a great year IMO - and some of the 'new' places I tried may have opened in 2006 e.g. Kultura). Certainly Balsam (In The Beach) was better (for me) than either Foxley or Cowbell - but maybe still not in my Top 10 (but did open in 2007). Amaya might just creep in - although the service was abysmal, the food isn't bad (just that there's better). When two attempted reservations receive no response that's not a good start. And I asked for dishes without tomato in the sauce. They did accommodate me, then sprinkled diced tomato over the dish before serving! The server even noticed this - there was a definite pause half way between lowering the plate to the table; a slight upward motion, as if to remove it - then it was lowered again, placed, and the server walked away! Colborne Lane was pretty good - so far I've been 3 times. But the third time was very disappointing. There are some nifty 'gimmicks' (common to many 'molecular gastronomy' places) but by the 3rd visit the novelty has worn off and the food seems a little subservient to the gimmick. But MUCH better than what was being served at Sen$es, which was very confused and all gimmicks. (Incidentally the Chef & Restaurant Data base is showing the owners and chef at Colborne lane under 2006!). Just checked on Coca - would have been in my top 10 - but opened in 2006! Similarly Globe Bistro (opened 2006). I'm almost certain Mengrai Thai opened in 2007 - second only to Linda's for Thai food (IMO) the latter opening about a year earlier. Avant Gout also opened in 2007 - in a new location, but same name as his previous restaurant. Another Top 10 for me. I probably won't try Lucien without a personal recommendation from someone I trust. Simon Bower (the owner) screwed me over at a previous place (long story and very personal) and Scot Woods delivered possibly my worst meal of 2007 at Habitat (that's the food - not that the service was much better). Certainly Kaiseki Sakura was my biggest discovery in 2007 - but a check reveals that, too, was from 2006. I also had a very good meal at Bistro 171 - certainly worthy of Top 10 (and opened in 2007) - but it's in Aurora! And Aoyama would also qualify - although I'm not a sushi expert by any means, I did enjoy Aoyama - especially at the price point. Spice Room is another 'caution' before going. Couillard's Jump-Up Soup has been a stand-out for 20 years. He recycles it everywhere (and it's worth recycling) - but other dishes haven't shown the precise flavours that the soup exhibits. Again need a personal recommendation. So far this year, I've tried Eleven (needs work) and Nyood (has potential) - but that's for the 2008 list.
  15. I found it about a year ago in a health food store around Yonge & Lawrence. IIRC around $20 for a container of about a lb. But I went into several places and can't recall which one it was! But try health food stores in general.
  16. Astonishingly, they all feature chefs/owners that have been around the block a few times (OK Crystal 5 has a chef new to Toronto, but #11 fills out that roster). I guess there's no substitute for long boring experience! Of course, that couldn't have coloured Chatto's experiences could it? I've tried 5 of the 10 and agree that Colborne Lane deserves to be there - for the food! And it's by far the chef's best effort to date. But it certainly lacks on the wine side. Crystal 5 may be OK when they figure out what they're doing. Food was OK, but the dishes were confused (at best) - when I commented that a dish made no sense to me I was asked if the server had told me the order in which to eat the ingredients (!) - (s)he hadn't; so I was told that was the problem - NO - the fact that a client NEEDS to be told the order is the problem! L'Unita is a good neighbourhood place (although I prefer to be able to converse with dining companions - but it's almost petty to point that out when other places are equally loud). Amaya isn't even the best new Indian (stroll through some other boards for recommendations). And Cowbell and Foxley still need considerable work before they are the best in their neighbourhoods.
  17. Now all-clear! Establishment Name Address Type DUMPLING HOUSE RESTAURANT 328 SPADINA AVE Restaurant Minimum inspections per year: 3 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Most Recent Inspection Finding Date Inspected: Feb 19, 2008 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Inspection History Date Inspected: Feb 15, 2008 Inspection Finding Infraction Category Infraction Details Severity Action Outcome Date Outcome Amount Fined Closed FAILURE TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION Operator fail to ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated C Notice to Comply Operator fail to use proper utensils to ensure food safety S Notice to Comply Operator fail to use proper procedure(s) to ensure food safety S Notice to Comply FAILURE TO ENSURE / PROVIDE FOR PROPER EMPLOYEE HYGIENE / HANDWASHING Operator fail to provide hand washing supplies S Notice to Comply IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / UTENSILS /EQUIPMENT Operator fail to properly wash multi-use utensils S Notice to Comply Operator fail to properly wash large utensils S Notice to Comply IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / EQUIPMENT Operator fail to properly maintain rooms M Notice to Comply Operator fail to properly wash surfaces in rooms M Notice to Comply Operator fail to properly maintain equipment(NON-FOOD) M Notice to Comply Operator fail to properly wash equipment M Notice to Comply IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF WASHROOMS Operator fail to provide washroom supplies S Notice to Comply INADEQUATE PEST CONTROL Operator fail to provide adequate pest control S Notice to Comply CONDITION(S) FOR CLOSURE Operator fail to prevent gross unsanitary conditions C Summons and Health Hazard Order Pending -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date Inspected: Nov 22, 2007 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date Inspected: Aug 23, 2007 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date Inspected: Feb 7, 2007 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date Inspected: Sept 26, 2006 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date Inspected: May 11, 2006 This establishment was inspected by Toronto Public Health in accordance with the Ontario Food Premises Regulation, and passed the inspection. http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?u...ENT_ID=10212768
  18. estufarian


    I know I'm in the minority but my experience with Scot Woods has not been that successful (so haven't tried Lucien). IMO he just doesn't know how to 'compose' a dish. Although the cooking is sound (more than competent) I can never understand why the dish components are put together. Seems to just be a scattering of random foods on the plate with no consideration of how they will blend. Each part is fine - just make no sense (to me) together. And impossible to match with wine. Czehoski OTOH is a revelation. One of the most exciting places in town. Last time I was there, was served a 'Veal Brain Sloppy Joe' - perfectly cooked with a lovely crunch. But the service is 'not always the best' - go on a slow night.
  19. I've tried Couillard's food over a couple of decades. Originally at the 'Blue Room' (on King) around 20 years ago - and then about every 5 years thereafter - last time was Irie (in 2004) so I guess I'm due to try Manyata/Spice Room next year! Honestly - there's been no development! He has one absolutely superb dish - Jump Up Soup (which he's smart enough to take to every resto he ends up at). The rest of the dishes either use the same spices (boring after a while) or seem to be just a 'melange' rather than defined flavours. But that Jump Up Soup is worth the visit.
  20. It was really screwed up. Incompetence rules! Last year the first 'formal' release was via the LCBO "v-mail" notification. I ordered all the wines offered and obtained them in quantity (but the smaller production wines weren't available). Then came the 'normal' release through Vintages. Line-ups out the door and restricted to 1 bottle per person. Sold out immediately (although a good quantity of the 'village' wine cropped up later - possibly lost in the warehouse). I picked up the 1 bottle per person wines at the SAQ months later. In quantity! Case upon case sitting out undisturbed (the Chardonnays just picked up this month). Hype sells (in Ontario anyway - just release small quantities and watch the people dance). The 2005's just released were a disaster organizationally. Another "v-mail" told us to phone the stores - but no stores knew what they were getting. Eventually a retraction was issued, promising they would appear with the 'regular Vintages release'. However there were a couple of "pre-release tastings" which were not widely advertised. At those, all the 2005's were tasted and 'theoretically' orders taken. However, no money was collected and no confirmations given - we're still waiting. If they're not honoured, we've now missed our chance to get them on the release. And for the rarer wines (e.g Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir) I'm not sure how many bottles actually reached the shelves. At my local store only 3 bottles were available - wonder how they shipped that as they come in packs of 6!!!!!!!!! But there will be other releases - let's hope the remainder is handled more professionally. But does anybody care about the public????? PRIVATIZATION PLEASE. Maybe I still won't get any - but at least I'll have somebody with a face to complain to.
  21. If you weren't advised of the charges then why not penalize the server who should have been smart enough to let you know? On the other hand, I'm not so upset with the charges AS LONG AS NOTIFIED. There's additional work, cleaning (and potential breakage) involved in making adjustments. Either the restaurant can take the 'hidden' approach and charge EVERYBODY more for the food, or it might make sense to charge for additional provisions as they occur. And I'm sensitive to this issue as AmuseGirl does not drink coffee or tea - only hot water (no lemon or other inserts). Most places don't charge - almost the only places that do are low-end (e.g diners) - even fast food places don't charge. She gets the same satisfaction from the water as I do from coffee, so we don't let it upset us - why spoil the mood of the evening for $5 (or less). Now, what REALLY upsets me is the recitation of daily specials WITHOUT prices. After a bad experience once where the special was more than double the cost of the highest price menu item, I now ALWAYS ask immediately. And at one place, after the third item in a row was still not attached to prices I was told that "most people prefer not to be told the prices". No I've never been back to that place either!
  22. Cowbell didn't impress me. IIRC maybe 20 wines on their list (and only 1 red and 1 white by the glass) and the food was competent but ordinary. Service was VERY casual. My summary was a good neighbourhood place. As an alternative, consider Globe Bistro. A bit more upscale and an extensive wine list with prices reasonable by Toronto standards (most less than double retail). I've just realized (not intended) that the chef at Cowbell left Globe 'suddenly' within a month of opening. Globe has local ingredients (where it makes sense) and consistently comes in around $200 for two (all-in) as long as you don't go too crazy with the wines.
  23. Happened to notice that the Summerhill tasting 'tower' curently features sips of over 15 different scotch single malts (at cost - I think 3/4 oz servings) - not that I'm suggesting you try them all! But a chance to try some that might be new to you.
  24. OK - 15 bottles per year imported - that works (hence my small cellar comment). I had 32 bottles on the single importation mentioned above (incidentally several of the bottles RETAILED here for around $35 when they were available - but valued at $150 for customs purposes - based on the "assumed" value by the customs officer).
  25. Colborne Lane is ‘molecular gastronomy light’. A few touches, but certainly not the focus. Probably worth a visit (the upheaval I mentioned above apparently has the business partner leaving, but the chef continues as current owner). Within walking distance from your hotel, most of the places have been mentioned. You’re close to the sporting arenas so multiple bars/roadhouse style food. One possible other choice is Romagna Mia – a competent, fairly casual Italian place with an excellent selection of Emilia/Romagna wines at fair prices. If you take the subway to Summerhill, a little further down the hill (just north of the Rosedale subway stop) is a ‘gastropub’ the Rebel House (no reservations). People rave about their food, which has a Canadian slant (game sausages etc) although I find it competent, rather than exceptional. Great draft selection as well. Incidentally there is an underground connection to the Union subway stop from the Royal York. And assuming you are taking the subway, then another alternative is Kaiseki Sakura – a Japanese (NOT sushi) restaurant that’s a 5 minute walk from the Wellesley Subway stop (turn left as you exit the subway towards Church St) – it’s on Church just north of Wellesley. The beef tongue is astounding (rave reviews from people who would have sworn they’d never touch this item!). And I’ll add another plug for Globe – which I revisited since my previous post (actually that prompted me to revisit). You have to change at Bloor/Yonge subway stop and go east to Broadview. Their special was a ‘filet de cheval’ – the tenderest horse I’ve ever had. Dinner for two, with a bottle of wine was under $200 before tip and the entire experience was exemplary. Their wine markups hover around 100-125% - one of the lowest in the city.
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