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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. Couple of Reviews that may help (both expensive by Chinese standards but bargains by western values): Jean-Georges Shanghai – overall assessment – skip this if you like Jean-Georges in New York! Very patchy meal. Servers have been trained ‘mechanically’ and cannot answer questions, merely recite what they have been told (frequently incorrect). However, their English is far better than my Mandarin. The following is really two separate menus, served to Myself and AmuseGirl. I’ve combined the two for ease of following the flow. Coconut ball filled with celery juice (we were told), surrounded with carrot/orange juice: – but tasted entirely of ginger (not mentioned as ingredient). Caviar Egg (described as scrambled egg, vodka cream and Osetra caviar): Ingredients somewhat accurate, but presentation was with a coddled yolk (no white) and the albumin was folded into the vodka crème. Several pieces of eggshell were scattered through the dish. Kingfish Sashimi with Mango & Kumquat Ice - the ice was more accurately described as a slurry. Overpowering flavour (again) was ginger. Sea Scallops with Caramelized Cauliflour with Raisin & Caper Emulsion. Excellent flavours, but could have used some colour for visual effect. Foie Gras with Dried Cherries and Candied Pistachios. Can’t read all my notes or the full description on this dish. I think they say “Pain Espice not mentioned; gelee was pure vinegar!” Roasted Young Garlic Soup with Crispy Frogs Legs. Soup was lukewarm but otherwise excellent. Turbot in a White Wine sauce. Although simply described, an excellent dish. Tasted to me like a Vin Jaune sauce which is definitely more upscale than implied by “white wine”. Crispy Crabcake on a Bed of Avocado & Cucumber. OK. Here comes that ginger feeling again! Lobster (On toast) with Pea Shoots (and Peapods) in a Spicy Lobster Broth (bracketed items included but not promised). Sounds excellent, but unfortunately both the peas and especially the lobster were overcooked. Sea Bass with pureed Parsnip, a puree of Chili/Coconut/Mint and Coconut Broth. I liked this dish. Ingredients worked well together. Squab with squab foie, Corn fritter, Squab gravy & Arugula. Squab was served on a bed of Onion Compote – but I seem to have given up on comments by this point, so rest of description will just be the items. Short Ribs with Apple & Cinnamon and Celery puree. Desserts were themed – you choose a theme and get several variations Chocolate: Vietnamese Coffee Liégeois Salted Milk Chocolate with caramel and szechuan peppercorn Cacao sorbet with Cassis & Coconut Jean-Georges Chocolate cake with Vanilla Ice Cream Tropic: Pineapple-Maple Snow Strawberry-Lime melba with lemongrass & Thai basil Passion fruit tart with Coconut & Mint Flambéed Banana with Milk Chocolate and Kalamanzi The meal at Whampoa Club was ultimately more satisfying although far less formal. The lighting is far brighter here (very subdued at Jean-Georges). Also the clientele was more Asian (European at J-G) and probably mainly tourists. There was a procession of people taking photographs out onto the Bund and many families had brought children. The wine list was more sparse and they didn’t have the wine I ordered. The more expensive substitute was, however, charged at the same price as my original selection. Because I didn’t make detailed tasting notes (the dishes were served banquet style although somewhat sequentially), I will mostly just list the dishes (some comments in brackets). However, when I started asking about ingredients the hostess/manager was assigned to visit our table as each dish came out as her English was fairly good (better than the servers). There were no set menus so we ordered from all over the menu. That way you can control costs as some items were extremely pricy, but overall the meal was fairly priced for what we had (but again note the starting comment for perspective). Steamed Agar with Shrimp Mousse and Bitter Melon Almond & Cocoa Fried Spare Ribs (absolutely my favourite dish) Stir Fried Minced Pigeon with Fragrant Pear in Crispy wrappers Glutinous Red Dates with Cinnamon Apple & Seared Goose Liver Crispy Eel Strips Chilled Drunken Chicken (this was just plain weird, the cold chicken served in a martini glass on a bed of alcoholic shaved ice) Honey Roasted Pork & Pineapple Tart Deep Fried King Prawn Coated with Wasabi Dressing and Crispy Prawn Flakes (a visually spectacular dish – huge prawns in a vivid green sauce, but wasabi NOT Horseradish flavour). Poached Tianjin Pea Starch Noodles with Scallops in a Sour and Spicy Sauce. (Yes, noodles that tasted (and were) entirely made from peas). Crispy Onions Pancake with Chinese Pork Floss. I’d go back to Whampoa in a heartbeat – the menu is huge. But I’d skip J-G Shanghai (but J-G New York is in my top 5 restaurants).
  2. Very enjoyable! But as a neurotic fact-checker (actually I'm having difficulty finding places open on a Sunday) my short list shows Alkimia closed on sat and Sun (and Michelin confirms this). Have you taken 'authors licence' or is Alkimia really open on Sunday?
  3. On my last visit to Vancouver/Victoria the highlight was dinner at C, so I must also disagree. Not sure how we diverged around the world as C honestly isn't in the league of some mentioned. But I endorse Becasse (a great meal - best place in Sydney and far more exciting than Tetsuya). And (although this should probably be in several different forums) what disappointed me about both Tetsuya and Fat Duck was the 'age' of the dishes - the menu at both seems stuck - same dishes on offer for many moons now. Won't argue with the quality, but why return to have an almost identical meal?
  4. Apart from the futile hope that all wine prices be reduced in all restaurants, I actually find Susur's prices more reasonable than most of the finer dining places in Toronto. I had observed this before on a wine that was $68 at Susur and $75 elsewhere, but this was confirmed this week with a wine that was $48 at Lee and $56 at Bymark. And last time I took my own bottle to Susur (earlier this year) the corkage was $40 - not outrageous (although again I'd prefer less) and in line with competitors.
  5. That's the Rashnaa - a longtime favourite and reasonable prices (actually very cheap).
  6. The main problem with Zagat is that it consistently overrates. Assuming you follow the rules you must have visited the restaurant in the previous 12 months. So, for example, if I had a terrible meal (or two) at Perigee - but they were over 12 months ago, then I can no longer record it. And when you consider that Zagat comes out around 2 years between editions, it doesn't really make sense. So you don't really find critical evaluations, just the praises. And a tendency for the 'traditional' places to score more highly. Having said that, most of the places recommended on this Board seem to have done reasonably well, so maybe the rankings overall aren't too bad. But does anyone here think the service at Matignon is better than that at Truffles or Splendido??
  7. Had the cheese boutique's truffled honey on Wed - absolutely stunning - it contained more truffle aroma than the fresh Italian summer truffles (also at Cheese Boutique).
  8. OK. The customer isn't always right! But a satisfied customer can be a good ambassador. I see two options: 1. The situation cannot be redeemed - in which case you offer nothing (other than the LCBO lab report); 2. You make lemonade - a full apology, full meal (your choice on whether alcohol is included) and grovel! - You do this so that the customer will speak kindly of you (and you hope they are influential). In my experience, half-way measures never work. And I still tell people about my restaurant horror stories - 2 places in particular that I always counter-recommend - those who "done me wrong" many years ago.
  9. You were told wrongly! In fact 2001 was the hottest year since 1998 (and Niagara usually makes better reds in hot years). The problem was that 2001 was the 'invasion of the ladybugs' and many wines were tainted because of mechanical harvesting that scared the hormones out of the ladybugs. A similar invasion occurred in 2003 but fewer wines were tainted in that year. But the taint means that virtually all 2001's are unmarketable because of the 'stupidity' (my word; the alternative would be ignorance) of the wineries who nevertheless released these wines - many, if not most, with VQA designations - thereby potentially destroying the industry. This was further exacerbated by the LCBO selling these wines - so much for their vaunted tasting panel. I've also heard that eventually the LCBO blacklisted all the 2001's - even those with no taint (and there were many) cannot get a listing.
  10. Not true. Susur has actually dropped his corkage from $60 to $40 in line with all the top Toronto restaurants. He started at $60 last year. The website you gave is seriously out-of-date. Every place I've brought my own to is different from that site (except Splendido who have always been at $40 - but they opted in later than most, and also have special 'corkage free' nights (last one a couple of months back) - again not mentioned on that site).
  11. Typically Susur closes in August for vacations! Check early!
  12. Couple of points. Best time to call is around 5:00pm - they have a school-age child and so are around when he comes home. It's also before the meal preparation critical times. Several of the B&B's in the area offer childsitting services. For older kids the B&B will also serve meals to the kids while you're at Eigensinn. They will also drive you to and from the restaurant. Assuming you get through to Eigensinn, ask them for the names of the B&B's (sorry, my favourite was sold last year so I can't give specifics any more). I'd choose to dine at both Susur and Splendido! (In my experience Susur and Splendido are similarly priced and Perigee is about $10-20 per person less). Not to rehash the point too much, but at Perigee, both the food and wine are 'blind' (Susur tends to that too on the food side) and I've been extremely unfortunate with nearly all their choices. At Splendido the menu is 'published' and the wines are similarly 'recommended' (different glass for each dish) and can all be changed/substituted. They also offer (at additional cost, naturally) a Champagne matching - up to 6 different champagnes with the tasting menu. ADDED as edit. Just checked the Perigee tasting menu - it's no longer cheaper than Susur or Splendido (in fact each of the food and wine options are $5 more than Splendido). So it's now a no-brainer to choose Splendido (IMO).
  13. Indeed Susur did opt in.His corkage charge was $40 last time I went. Splendido is also at $40. There may be restrictions (e.g. BYOB may not be available at peak times). And it's always advisable to call ahead and confirm that you are bringing your own. Specifically at Susur, they also provided Riedel glasses for my wine and he also adjusted the menu slightly to make it more 'friendly' to my 1923 Burgundy! Several websites popped up which purport to list BYOW (note: only wine is eligible) restaurants, but they don't seem to have been maintained and the info is out-of-date. I've been successful in just calling and asking - it has prompted several places to join the scheme (it's 'free' - the restaurant just has to fill out a form). And the 'take home the rest' applies to any wine served (whether bought or BYO) and is independent of the BYOW. It does require the restaurant to 'seal' the bottle. (From the AGCO website: "As well, all licensed establishments may provide a THTR service. Rather than trying to finish a bottle of wine before they leave, consumers may now have the bottle resealed to enjoy later at home provided the licensee has the ability to reseal the product. THTR does not apply to spirits or beer.")
  14. The food is competent - as is the service. No, it's not the finest in T.O. but they know their limitations. And they are best when handling large groups - that's how they stay in business - weddings, receptions, business dinners etc. Indeed the patio is the star attraction in summer, but the upstairs room 'extension' overlooking the sculpture garden is also pretty good. And for small groups they have a separate 'cathedral room' (holds up to about 20) which is perfect for private dinners.
  15. With regard to the June menu at Splendido - it's magnificent! Underlines everything that is right about this restaurant. Every dish was perfect - range of tastes and textures. The Copper River Salmon lives up to the hype - excellent flavour, but the killer is the texture - just melts in the mouth. But the finest dish (IMO) was the Chilled Ontario Sweet Pea Soup with Nova Scotia Lobster and Niagara Pancetta. Just astounding! The pea flavour was the framework for the other tastes and textures. if there is "umami" - this dish has it - an extra layer of taste sensation. On this evidence, David Lee is now staking his claim as the top chef in Toronto too. The wine matches were OK - I still think Niagara wines are overpriced for their value, so suggest that you consider upgrading to their champagne tasting accompaniment (which I didn't have on this occasion).
  16. Umm, it's now the middle of June so check the calendar!
  17. Unless you know Toronto well - take a cab. Technically it's at 864 College St (between Ossington & Dufferin) and parking is difficult. Generally the fish is the best choice (whatever is fresh that day). And avoid the 'peasant portuguese' dishes. They're rustic and filling - but don't show the skills of which Chiado is capable. They've also done a fairly good job with some 'nouvelle cuisine' portuguese dishes but they're a bit fussy. Tiger shrimp (expensive) is also a good choice - ALWAYS cooked perfectly. And ask about the 'Pata Negra Prosciutto' - it's $25 for an appetizer plate (on their bar menu) but is really Jamon Iberico! This is NOT typical Portuguese food - it's very upscale - I sometimes joke that Chiado is the best French restaurant in Toronto. They are on the web: Chiado
  18. estufarian


    So which is the 'most recommended' tapas place in T.O.? I've found JKWB inconsistent and am still bothered by the odours (or, more politely aromas) from the open kitchen which interfere with my wine enjoyment. Cava has just opened so I'm waiting for them to settle in. I had the opening special deal which was fairly good value, but at full prices I will expect more. Lee seems to have better food, but lesser wines. And I don't like the way that the dishes come out randomly (at the kitchen's pleasure). So #1 for me is still Senhor Antonhio (at Chiado). My most recent visit was spectacular - every dish was perfect and the wines were all interesting (I even went out and bought a case of 1 of them - Agent only!) and 3 of my friends have followed suit after tasting it at my place last week. But it is the most expensive restaurant of those mentioned. And all hit (or push) $150 for two (with wine, typically 6 glasses for us between two) so the marginal cost at Chiado is well worth it for me.
  19. There has already been a thread extolling Splendido's Canadian menu in June. It's currently the finest dining in T.O. For something different, try Czehoski - go early (say 7:00) and just say 'feed me' - works especially well early week - on weekends it's too busy so they force the regular menu on you. Up-and-coming chef with excellent ideas but still a work-in-progress. And I still prefer Senhor Antonhio over Cava. Chiado is still the finest portuguese in town (? North America) and its tapas bar puts all the others to shame - and the wines are more interesting too. Prefer it to Lee, JKWB and Cava. Of course, reservations needed everywhere.
  20. The Norm Hardie Pinot is available at JKWB by the glass (or was recently). I tried it and it's a pleasant wine - but with no pinot noir characteristics at all!!!!!!!!!
  21. Obviously I agree with the theory about drinking quickly as that's what I tried to do. But a second example last month also suggests more time. I took a 1959 Musigny VV from de Vogue to the Splendido Burgundy BYOW event. When opened it absolutely stank (Quote from Anthony Hanson - "Great Burgundy smells like shit!"). So it was double decanted hoping the smell would 'blow off'. But the taste was perfect if you held your nose! At Splendido we decanted again - same smell - but no doubt that the structure was otherwise sound. And then suddenly, a couple of hours later it just opened up and the stink totally disappeared. Another great Burgundy. (That's probably my quota for the year given the unreliability of many Burgs). So maybe the '6-hour' rule has some validity.
  22. Actually I'm a Winelovers group member. Not a fan of the other two.
  23. "Ebob on the burg" - sounds like a great name for a restaurant (in Shanghai?). I rarely post on old wines as the storage conditions are the greatest variable (except for Madeira). But in simple terms, I panicked and drank it too soon! The wine was 1923 Cotes de Nuits Villages from Dr Barolet, ullaged about 5cm (very good for age). No bottle stink - just a fragrant rose aroma but a bit lacy - we commented that it was like faded silk. Classic beet flavours, but not particularly complex. So we rushed the first 2/3 of the bottle in case it collapsed (Susur's backwards menu worked well in this regard). BUT we should have waited! As the meal progressed the wine developed all sorts of nuances and flavours, particularly of raspberries - but more like golden than red (I find the aromatics on gold more complex and the taste a bit softer). The last sips were ethereal with the experience more like inhaling truffles. My Burgundy guru (Woody to his many custmers) always advised decanting old Burgundy 6 hours ahead. In this case he would have been right.
  24. The tasting menu at Susur is $90 for 5 courses $100 for 6 courses $110 for 7 courses So I was comparing like with like. Corkage is $40 at both Susur and Splendido (Susur used to be $60). And if you're not prepared to pay that, then buy from the list. It's your choice. I was happy to pay the shot for my 1923 Burgundy at Susur. He even tailored the tasting menu to the wine. And the BYOW last Sunday in month event at Splendido is ZERO corkage (if you bring something relevant to the theme). And they have by-the-glass wines available for every course so you can fill-in any gaps. IMO the best deal in Toronto.
  25. On a previous thread we completely rebutted your price contention! The tasting menus at Splendido and Susur are identically priced at $110! We know you don't like Susur - but at least get the facts straight. And in about 20 trips to Susur I've only been disappointed in the food twice - but the service has ben faulty about half the time. It's still inventive food not easily available in NY. Several people favour Splendido - and rightly so - it's the best all-round restaurant in Toronto right now. But there are similar venues in NY. It also has an excellent wine list and inspired selections by the glass to match each course. For those who recommend Perigee - I disagree and have commented thus on several previous threads. In particular the wine list is abysmal and as each course is a 'surprise' - no menu - how do you match the wines? But I'm in the minority on Perigee - just don't go if you have allergies - on both of my visits they served items specifically prohibited (and also failed to serve any organ meats to someone who specifically requested as many organ dishes as possible). In summary - I think Chiado most closely meets the requirements of good food, good wine list and something 'different'. PS This should probably get its own thread but the Splendido BYOW evenings are just stunning. Last months Burgundy was exceptional, and they are held the last Sunday in each month. This month is California.
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