Category Archives: Food Reviews

Bannock – Summerlicious Review

Summerlicious (July 4 – 20, 2014) is an annual event in Toronto that highlights the city’s top restaurants over the course of two weeks.

You can choose a prix fixe menu from over 200 restaurants. Lunch prices are $15, $20 or $25 and dinner varies from $25, $35 or $45 per person.

This was our first visit to Bannock.

We were intrigued as the restaurant, which is part of the Oliver & Bonacini group is described as offering Canadian comfort food in a casual fine dining atmosphere. Bannock is located in downtown Toronto, across the street from the infamous Eaton Center.

Bannock

I actually had a craving to make bannock bread just from the name alone.

I thought the restaurant had a good ambience; dark lighting, simple, clean lines with Canadian décor throughout. I always like an open concept kitchen.

Bannock   Bannock

One of their popular menu items is the roast duck poutine pizza. It certainly is decadent from what I read in terms of nutrition. The Toronto Star lists the pizza at over 2,000 calories, more than 100 grams of fat and 4000 + grams of sodium! Perhaps a good idea would be to share this with a group.

We decided to order from the Summerlicious menu, so we could review it as such. Our server Marcel was very gracious and attentive, explaining the menu items in detail.

THREE-COURSE DINNER

25.00

excludes taxes + gratuity

APPETIZERS

iced bloody caesar soup
MONTREAL STEAK SPICE, CLAMS, CELERY

smashed cucumber and head cabbage salad
PICKLED WATERMELON, RUTABAGA, MINT, GREEN CURRY

smoked salmon + salt-baked beets
SPLIT AND SWEET PEA HUMMUS, GRAPEFRUIT, GRENADINE

MAINS

dredgeman’s fish pie
PACIFIC COD, SCALLOPS, SHRIMP, CRÈME FRAÎCHE, TARRAGON

roast beef bulgogi hawaiian pizza
PINEAPPLE, GOCHUJANG, GREEN ONION

mama kyle’s meatloaf
GROUND BRISKET, BACON, CHICHARRÓNES, BIRCH TOMATO CATSUP

buckwheat soba noodle bowl
MUSHROOM FAUXLOGNESE, GARLIC MUSTARD GREENS, CHILI PONZU

DESSERTS

cortland apple fritter
MAPLE AND CIDER DULCE DE LECHE

o&b artisan croissant bread pudding
SPICED CHOCOLATE, PEANUT BUTTER, KAFFIR LIME

bannock ices

For our appetizers, we ordered the smoked salmon with salt-baked beets and the smashed cucumber and head cabbage salad. We love beets, and these were deliciously prepared with a blend of unique ingredients.

Smoked Salmon and Salt-Baked Beets

The cucumber and cabbage salad had a refreshing crunch, but I found it too salty. I tasted more of the soya sauce and sesame oil than I did of green curry.

Smashed Cucumber and Head Cabbage Salad

For our entrees, we tried Mama Kyle’s Meatloaf and the Dredgeman’s Fish Pie. The meatloaf plate had three kinds of pork: within the meatloaf, as well as bacon wrapped, and topped with fried pork rinds. Again, salt was at the forefront of the seasonings. A kick of spice was added to the meatloaf which was very moist, but the bacon could have been crispier. The pork rind was chewy and stale, quite disappointing.

Mama Kyle’s Meatloaf

The crust on the Dredgeman’s Fish Pie was flaky and rich.  The filling was merely a heavy cream sauce with very little seafood to be found. I did bite into “one” lonely bay scallop.  It would have been satisfying to have chunks of seafood, even small chunks, rather than flakes, which were very difficult to find!

Dredgeman’s Fish Pie

The Oliver & Bonnacini Artisan Croissant Bread Pudding was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. The chocolate peanut butter sauce was a nice change from a regular Crème Anglaise.

O&B Artisan Croissant Bread Pudding
I almost cried when I saw the Cortland Apple Fritters.  Okay, that’s a bit dramatic … but two of the tiniest bite-sized fritters were placed in front of me. I simply stared at them. I concur with most reviews I read; they were indeed, dense, chewy and dry 😦 😦 😦

Cortland Apple Fritters

As this was Bannock’s Summerlicious menu, perhaps the regular items would fare better. We may give Bannock another try at a later date.

After our dinner, we walked across the street to the food court at Eaton Center!

On to our next craving …

Pan on the Danforth – Summerlicious Review

Summerlicious (July 4 – 20, 2014) is an annual event in Toronto that highlights the city’s top restaurants over the course of two weeks.

You can choose a prix fixe menu from over 200 restaurants. Lunch prices are $15, $20 or $25 and dinner varies from $25, $35 or $45 per person.

Pan on the Danforth

This was our first visit to Pan on the Danforth. We arrived early, so we had our pick of tables! The restaurant was very cozy and dark, with a nice shaded patio.

Pan on the Danforth   Pan on the Danforth   Pan on the Danforth   Pan on the Danforth

Our server was Agapios, and he was super efficient and very friendly. Did I mention he was funny?

We started with the Trilogy of Spreads: Taramosalata (made with fish roe), Humus and Tirokafteri (feta cheese).  A plate of grilled pita bread while simply prepared, was addictive!

Trilogy of Spreads
We also shared an order of Kolokithokeftedes, which are zucchini croquettes with Feta, Kefalograviera cheese and fresh herbs.  The croquettes were unique and lightly fried to perfection.

Kolokithokeftedes   Kolokithokeftedes

We chose the Pan Chicken Souvlaki as our entrées.  Tender cuts of grilled and marinated chicken breast served with new mini potatoes, rice, and salad. I was a bit hesitant as we’ve experienced rubbery chicken most every time we’ve had souvlaki! Imagine my surprise when I bit into moist and tender chicken! I have no doubt the chicken was marinated in yogurt. I’ve tried this method at home many times and the results have been amazing. The portions were generous, but we managed to finish every bit.

Pan Chicken Souvlaki

We decided to try the Karidopita for dessert. It’s a honey walnut cake served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. The cake was dense with a course crumb and studded with tons of walnuts, soaked in syrup – it was very decadent.

Karidopita
The Danforth, also known as Greektown, is a vibrant community and a great place to take a walk after an enjoyable lunch.

~ ~ ~

We were happy to return to Pan on the Danforth a few days later to try their Summerlicious dinner menu!

What a pleasant surprise to have Agapios as our server again. He was just as funny and sincere as our first visit, and is a really nice guy!

We sat out on the patio this time and enjoyed the cool breeze, despite the dark clouds and pending rain!

Here’s that delicious grilled pita bread again!  It’s brushed with garlic olive oil!

Grilled Pita Bread
For appetizers, we ordered lightly fried  Calamari with Tzatziki sauce. Delicious!

Calamari can be quite hit and miss in terms of texture. The Pan’s version is tender. I’ve never seen rings so large; they looked like onion rings!

Calamari
The Spinach Pie without phyllo was interesting.  I was intrigued.  Bites of melt-in-your-mouth Feta cheese, spinach and dill …. mmm.

Spinach Pie
There were no debates on what to choose for our entrees. We both love braised lamb shanks and ordered their version, Arni with Monastiri Orzo Pasta.

Arni with Monastiri Orzo Pasta
This is one of H’s favorite dishes, and I’ve made it many times at home. I normally braise the lamb shanks for several hours and was happy to hear that Pan on the Danforth does the same. The shanks were fall-off-the-bone tender, covered in a thick tomato sauce. The orzo was perfectly cooked. I could tell that H was thoroughly enjoying his meal!

For dessert (my favorite part), we tried the Strawberry Vanilla Passion Sponge Cake with a custard cream filling, and the Milk Chocolate Sponge Cake with Chocolate Syrup.

Strawberry Vanilla Passion Sponge Cake   Milk Chocolate Sponge Cake with Chocolate Syrup
Agapios was kind enough to bring us Baklava to try!

Baklava
Another excellent meal and we had barely enough time to make it to our car with the pelting rain!

Pan on the Danforth also has a live Greek band and belly dancers on Friday and Saturdays nights.


Disclaimer:

This is not a paid advertisement.

Montana’s Cookhouse Review – In Search of the Best Burger

Montana’s Cookhouse

Our quest for a great burger continues … We’re always looking for that perfect burger: juicy and delicious with the ideal ratio of meat – 70% lean to 30% fat, and accompanied by crispy fries or onion rings!

We’ve only dined at Montana’s Cookhouse a few times; for their ribs, so we had to try their burgers. The décor is outdoorsy and casual, service was efficient and the menu had a lot of variety.

Montana's Cookhouse

Montana's Cookhouse

Montana's Cookhouse

Montana's Cookhouse

Montana's Cookhouse

Don’t you love their cute mason jars?  I have these at home, and they’re useful for so many things other than jam.

Montana’s Cookhouse

We ordered the Chipotle Firecracker Burger which is topped off with bacon, crispy deep fried Cajun spiced onions, Monterey Jack cheese, deep fried jalapeno slices, and chipotle honey bbq sauce.  Their hamburger meat is 100% sirloin, brought in every other day, and not frozen.

We were excited when the burgers arrived – talk about huge!  The requisite squish was necessary in order to take a bite.  My taste buds immediately found the bbq sauce too sweet and overpowering, but the crispy onion straws and jalapeno peppers were a hit and added complex flavors and textures.  The burger itself was a bit on the dry side.

Chipotle Firecracker Burger

Chipotle Firecracker Burger

As a side note, in Canada, chain restaurants will cook their burgers “non-pink” or “cooked through,” in order to comply with the Ministry of Health.  It’s actually illegal to serve medium-rare burgers in Canada, but I have seen some other places accommodate this request.

In the U.S., it’s common to see burgers pink or even quite red! Not something we crave, but it’s a personal choice. Here’s an interesting article on why medium-rare burgers are taboo in Canada.  Play it Safe With Hamburgers is another good article to read.

Back to our burgers … they need some tweaking, and I would definitely suggest a less sweet bbq sauce!  The fries were quite good, with a bit of skin left on, and were hot and crispy.

Additional:

On a previous visit, we tried their Pulled Pork Sandwich.  It was a mess; sorry I don’t mean that in a good way.  The meat seemed pre-made, frozen, and just heated with a lot of apple butter bbq sauce, again, way too sweet.  It deflected from any smoky flavor the pork may have had.  On a positive note, the deep fried onion straws were a nice accompaniment.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

The Beef Brisket Sandwich fared a bit better, but again, was drowning in Texas bold bbq sauce. Personally, we like sliced beef brisket versus chopped or pulled style.

If you order any of their sandwiches or burgers, I would suggest having the bbq sauce on the side.

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Check back soon for another burger review!

Jerusalem Restaurant – Review

Jerusalem Restaurant combines our love of Middle Eastern food with H’s addiction to buffets!

They have three locations: Toronto (established in 1971), North York and Mississauga. Their lunch and dinner buffet is available at 2 of their locations – North York and Mississauga, and offers an extensive variety of Middle Eastern cuisine. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is entertainment, including a belly dancer.

We’ve dined at Jerusalem Restaurant numerous times over the years. The food is aromatic and flavorful. We love the fresh hot pita bread which arrives right after we’ve returned from the buffet tables – just in time to dip with creamy Hummus and Baba Ghanoush! I try not to make a meal out of this, but I fail each time 😦

Jerusalem Restaurant

Jerusalem Restaurant

Jerusalem Restaurant

Jerusalem Restaurant

Belly Dancer 1

Belly Dancer 3

The buffet items include a huge assortment of cold salads, appetizers, seafood, meats, pasta and rice, pizza, side dishes and desserts.

While I can’t recall every single dish, here are some of our favorites:

  • Hummus
  • Baba Ghanoush
  • Eggplant Salad and Fried Stuffed Eggplant
  • Tabboule
  • Fattoush
  • Cold Beet Salad
  • Shish Kabobs (also referred to as Shish Kebabs)
  • Falafel (our absolute favorite, so crispy)!
  • Whole Sea Bass
  • Bamia (Okra Stew)
  • Kafta (Beef Kebab)
  • Lebanese Rice and Chicken
  • Lamb (dinner only)
  • Vegetarian Pizza
  • Baklawa (also referred to as Baklava)
  • Sesame Cookies
  • Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
  • Rice Pudding
Garlic Pita Bread

Garlic Pita Bread

IMG_1886

Freshly Baked White and Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Tahini, Baba Ghanoush and Hummus

Tahini, Baba Ghanoush and Hummus

Beet Salad, Chickpea, Tomato and Eggplant Salad

Beet Salad, Chickpea, Tomato and Eggplant Salad

Various Bean Salads, Chickpea Salad, Pickled Turnips

Various Bean Salads, Chickpea Salad, Pickled Turnips

Couscous, Red Cabbage Salad

Couscous, Red Cabbage Salad

Sun Dried Tomatoes, Couscous

Sun Dried Tomatoes, Couscous

Olives, Cold Salad Items

Olives, Cold Salad Items

Jerusalem Restaurant's Delicious Rice with Vermicelli

Jerusalem Restaurant’s Delicious Rice with Vermicelli

Stuffed Eggplant, Fried Fish Fillets and Roasted Cauliflower

Stuffed Eggplant, Fried Fish Fillets and Roasted Cauliflower

Chicken with Vegetables, Lentils

Chicken with Vegetables, Lentils

Roast Beef

Roast Beef

Whole Sea Bass, Fried Salmon Fillets, Roasted Vegetables

Whole Sea Bass, Fried Salmon Fillets, Roasted Vegetables

Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Roasted Zucchini

Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Roasted Zucchini

Fried Salmon Fillets, Lasagna, Roasted Vegetables

Fried Salmon Fillets, Lasagna, Roasted Vegetables

Jerusalem Restaurant's Delicious Rice with Vermicelli and Chicken

Jerusalem Restaurant’s Delicious Rice with Vermicelli and Chicken

Assorted Pizzas

Assorted Pizzas

Assorted Pizzas

Assorted Pizzas

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Rice Pudding, Fresh Fruit

Rice Pudding, Fresh Fruit

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

What’s On Our Plates (from the last several months, not during one visit)!

Brocolli, Fried Fish Fillets, Falafel, Hummus, Kafta, Beef Stew, Roast Beef, Chicken Shish Kabob

Brocolli, Fried Fish Fillets, Falafel, Hummus, Kafta, Beef Stew, Roast Beef, Chicken Shish Kabob

Lasagna, Rice, Roast Beef, Chicken Shish Kabob, Falafel, Hummus, Beet Salad, Roasted Asparagus

Lasagna, Rice, Roast Beef, Chicken Shish Kabob, Falafel, Hummus, Beet Salad, Roasted Asparagus

Whole Sea Bass, Kafta, Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Onions

Whole Sea Bass, Kafta, Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Onions

Pasta, Tabboule, Falafel, Roasted Asparagus, Chick Pea Salad, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta, Lentils, Hummus

Pasta, Tabboule, Falafel, Roasted Asparagus, Chick Pea Salad, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta, Lentils, Hummus

Rice, Falafel, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta, Salmon Fillet, Bamia

Rice, Falafel, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta, Salmon Fillet, Bamia

Beet Salad, Chicken Shish Kabob, Bamia, Falafel, Kafta

Beet Salad, Chicken Shish Kabob, Bamia, Falafel, Kafta

Beet Salad, Fried Fish Fillets, Falafel, Roast Beef, Tabboule

Beet Salad, Fried Fish Fillets, Falafel, Roast Beef, Tabboule

Whole Sea Bass, Bamia, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta

Whole Sea Bass, Bamia, Chicken Shish Kabob, Kafta

As you can see, H is very talented at deboning a whole fish!

As you can see, H is very talented at deboning a whole fish!

Various desserts

Various desserts

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

The service is friendly and very efficient; Cathy and Hagop (Jacob), who have been there forever, are the nicest servers you’ll meet. I will definitely have to update this review as I cannot remember everyone’s names, but we really enjoy ourselves each time we visit.

Reservations are recommended for Friday and Saturday nights; they can get busy at times. Another tip is to get there shortly after they open, when all the items are fresh and hot.

Congee Queen – Restaurant Review

We’ve been frequent customers of Congee Queen for many years, and I finally found time to write a review.

The food is Asian fusion, and you’ll find everything from congee to noodles, fried rice, stir-frys, BBQ meats, Thai, Vietnamese dishes and bubble tea.  The portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable.

Cantonese Chow Mein

Cantonese Chow Mein

Spice and Pepper Salt Squid

Spice and Pepper Salt Squid

Salmon Congee

Salmon Congee

Deep Fried Dough Fritter|Crullers (Youtiao)

Deep Fried Dough Fritter|Crullers (Youtiao)

Fried Rice Noodle with Beef and Black Bean Sauce

Fried Rice Noodle with Beef and Black Bean Sauce

Chef Special Fried Rice with Scallop, Shrimp, BBQ and Preserved Sausage

Chef Special Fried Rice with Scallop, Shrimp, BBQ and Preserved Sausage

Curry Beef with Rice

Curry Beef with Rice

BBQ Duck Noodle with Soup

BBQ Duck Noodle with Soup

Fried Vermicelli, Shrimp, BBQ Pork, Singapore Style

Fried Vermicelli, Shrimp, BBQ Pork, Singapore Style

Fried Chili Turnip Patties

Fried Chili Turnip Patties

Fried Rice Noodle with X.O. Sauce

Fried Rice Noodle with X.O. Sauce

Fried Tiger Shrimps and Chicken with Mango

Fried Tiger Shrimps and Chicken with Mango

Red Bean with Ice Cream Freeze

Red Bean with Ice Cream Freeze

There were times when our experience was hit or miss and this is quite dependent on the time of day you visit.  When it’s busy, the food will be fresher (in my opinion).

Congee Queen currently has four locations within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), and the menu is the same at each one.  They also have an afternoon special, Monday to Friday, from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Combos include a specialty drink such as bubble tea or our favorite, red bean with ice cream freeze.

Some of our cravings are:

  • Salmon Congee – B3
  • Cantonese Chow Mein – E14
  • Fried Rice Noodle with Beef and Black Bean Sauce – E28
  • Beef with Spicy Sambal Chow Mein – E23
  • Chef Special Fried Rice with Scallop, Shrimp, BBQ and Preserved Sausage – H5
  • BBQ Duck Noodle with Soup – 18A
  • Curry Beef with Rice – (lunch menu)
  • Fried Bean Curd with Vegetables – K20
  • Fried Tiger Shrimp and Chicken with Mango – K4
  • Fried Chili Turnip Patties – K43
  • Tung Choi with Garlic – K21
  • Deep Fried Shrimp with Salad Sauce (mayonnaise) – K24
  • Spice and Pepper Salt Squid – K36
  • Baby Bok Choi with Garlic – K29
  • Red Bean with Ice Cream Freeze – R6

Tips:

  • Ask your waiter to make your dishes with less oil and less salt, and then repeat the request!
  • The Spice and Pepper Squid dish is really hit or miss.  It can range from tender to chewy, and is quite salty, so ask for less salt

Archeo – Restaurant Review and Update

We had such a good experience at Archeo a few months ago that we found the time to revisit, so I could provide an update.

We arrived early; therefore, the food wasn’t quite ready. I had to check out the dessert table first.  I noticed that the portion size on most of the desserts had shrunk (massively), which is fine, but what happened to the Crème Brulee?  And, there was only one kind of cake!  The individual tarts were now replaced with tarts the size of a loonie!  I was very disappointed at the limited variety of desserts.  Thank goodness the buttery and flaky croissants were still available, along with the dark chocolate cake, which was now served 50% smaller.  I have no issue with size, but I hoped the quality hadn’t taken a nose dive.

On to the food … the scrambled eggs was runny, almost to the point of being undercooked, and the cheddar cheese was missing.   The bacon was anything but crispy, just strips lying in a pool of oil.  The Eggs Benedict was okay, but the bottoms of the English muffin were a soggy mess.  The French Toast was soft.

We were in line when a small plate of sliced beef was placed down.  One look and I knew it had spent some time in a microwave.  The bowls of cold salads were so small that trying to scoop out even a tiny portion was challenging.

The omelet station was still offered (here’s a tip, tell the sous chef not to overcook your omelet)!  The smoked salmon, cheese and fresh fruit were also available, but considerable differences in the quality and variety of food were so apparent.

What’s on our plates:

The only saving grace was our waiter, who was very friendly and super efficient.  We arrived at 10:25 a.m. and left at 11:35 a.m.  Unfortunately, the brunch was a huge disappointment.

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