Meals with D

Date Visited: Brunch on Sunday Apr 5, 2015
Company: +Will

On Easter Sunday, Will stayed over the night before and we planned to have breakfast in the morning before he left back to Toronto. I heard about Johnny's from a co-worker who told me it's a very popular breakfast spot in Oshawa with 2 locations. We called ahead just to make sure it was open and they were! We drove down to their newer King St. location which is in a large plaza. The place was pretty large with lots of seating and sections. The crowd was a bit older but there were also lots of families with large groups. We were seated immediately (I think by Johnny?) in a room beside a large TV playing sports. 

We took a glance at the menu and we decided to share a sweet and a savoury dish. +Will ordered the Waffles with Fruit and I got the Reuben Sandwich with Fries. Our waitress wasn't the nicest or fastest but she did her job. I noticed there was a very friendly atmosphere in the air, everyone seemed to know everyone and the workers too. My sandwich came out extremely fast! Will still had to wait a bit for his, which was just coming out of the iron. 

The sandwich looked really good, it had lots of layers of corned beef with some sauerkraut on the top. There was some plain mustard on the side for dipping. My only complaint would be that the bread was extremely buttery and not fun to hold. Maybe if they toasted it a bit more then it wouldn't have been as wet? The fries were plain but crisp and almost perfect looking with a golden colour. This is usually not something I'd order normally but wanted to switch it up and I'm glad I did, very reasonably priced also!

Will wanted the waffles and we also asked for it to be topped with some fruit and whipped cream. I was very impressed with what we received. The fruit was fresh and there were tons of it. The waffle was thick and fluffy but not very crispy on the outside. Will and I finished half our dishes and switched so by that time the waffle was pretty moist, but made the syrup easier to soak up! Delicious waffle and even better pairing of the two dishes by Will and I if I do say so myself :)

Food: 3.5/5 - Nice assortment of classics at fair prices. 
Decor: 2/5 - Very old feeling to it, nice amount of space but not very appealing to the eyes.
Service: 3.5/5 - We were in and out so quickly! Waitress was just ok.
Willingness to go back: 3/5 - Good spot for a quick breakfast but I can imagine how busy it gets with all its regulars.
Overall: 3/5


Website: n/a

Johnny's Original Eatery on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Lunch on Friday Apr 3, 2015
Company: +Stephanie

Bistro '67 is a restaurant I've been wanting to visit ever since I heard about its existence. It's unique because it's a teaching restaurant apart of the Durham College campus which focuses on local farm ingredients. They happened to be open on Good Friday which excellently timed with trying out their lunch menu as they are usually only open for dinner on Saturday during the weekends. I made a reservation for 2 at noon and drove into a fairly empty parking lot at the College's Centre for Food. I took my time walking around the building a bit before heading up to the second floor where the restaurant was located. It's a very new building with large windows and modern decor. I was the first one in the restaurant and the waitress seated me to one of the side tables beside the large glass walls with the bright sun shining in.

When +Stephanie arrived, we took a look at the menu which was filled with quite a few sandwiches, salads, and hot plates. I decided on the Muffulleta, layers of salami, mortadella, ham, Edwardsburg cheese with spicy relish. Their Soup was a Carrot and Coconut with a cilantro creme and bacon bits which I also opted for because it sounded amazing. We really enjoyed talking about the restaurant and how cool it looked. They even had a screen which projected a live video of the chefs making our food in the kitchen!

Our waitress was also sweet and told us about their drink specials but all I was craving was a caesar. She brought me the Caesar '67 in a long, tall glass and it looked pretty appetizing. I thought the juice was a bit too thick, maybe they used tomato juice and not clamato? The spiciness was on point though.

Our lunches came extremely quickly (only ones there still!). I wasn't quite sure what to expect with the Muffulleta (never heard of the word before) but it looked like a very large panini with lots of meats in the middle. What they stated on the menu was exactly what you got. I thought there would be a bit more toppings in the sandwich, not just the relish. There was a lot of meat and the cheese was nicely melted but though the relish was salty, it didn't add much flavour. It was a bit plain for my liking, I could probably whip this up myself if I had a panini press... but at $13, I can't really complain.

The Soup on the other hand was a different story. The combination of carrot and coconut was creamy and delicious, I didn't mind the little pieces of carrots in there either. The creme on top was a bit spicy and added another complexity to the soup. The bacon bits were minimal but huge, each one was a treat. The temperature stayed consistent throughout and I really savoured each spoonful.

Food: 3.5/5 - Sandwich was not impressive but the soup! Reasonable price though.
Decor: 4.5/5 - Loved the decor, simple, spacious and lots of natural lighting.
Service: 4.5/5 - Extremely quick... but we were the first ones there :)
Willingness to go back: 3.5/5 - For sure, dinner is pricier but it's a unique gem in the Durham region you got to support.
Overall: 4/5

Website: http://www.bistro67.ca/

Bistro '67 on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Lunch on Saturday Mar 21, 2015
Company+Stephanie and +Caroline

+Stephanie was down from Scarborough for the weekend and we decided to hit up the gym on Saturday morning. Afterwards, the timing was perfect for some lunch in the area before I went to Toronto. +Caroline was also free so we called her up to meet us at Melanie Pringles at 12:30PM. When we arrived, it was surprisingly busy with a surprise birthday party occupying a front block of the restaurant. The decor was very cute, a true throwback to a 50's and 60's diner with colourful booths and old school decorations on the wall. It was a huge restaurant with lots of different areas and ample seating, good for large parties.





While we waited for Caroline, we had a long look at their extensive menu filled with delicious sounding foods. When Caroline arrived and was deliberating what she wanted, we started discovering more options just from what she was looking at. She noted they had lattice fries and I haven't had those since university so I really wanted to get them. We decided to share the Coney Island Fries which were Crispy Lattice Fries smothered in Chili and Cheese Sauce, topped with Sour Cream and Green Onions. It came out surprisingly fast and looked amazing. The chili was delicious and thick, and they weren't exaggerating when they said 'smothered'. It was really filling though and I wanted to save room... but I couldn't stop eating it. So mind blowing, I might have to order these every time I'm here...

I also decided to order a Crispy Crunch Milkshake. It was less than $5 which I haven't seen before at a diner so I was impressed already. It came in a cute milkshake glass topped with whipped cream and a cherry. It came with the excess but there wasn't much in it. The shake was delicious and creamy, just enough crispy crunch flavour with tiny chocolate pieces too.

For my entree, I had a really tough time choosing as there's a lot I wanted to try. In the end, I got the Meatloaf with vegetables, onion rings, and cheddar mashed. The waitress asked if I wanted gravy for the potatoes and I instinctively said yes before realizing that I probably had to pay for it and there should be gravy on my plate already.  The meatloaf came with 2 large pieces that tasted rather meaty and still good, but the gravy on top was just a tad too thick. At first glance, the plate looked a bit empty to me but after a few bites, I really started filling up. The onion rings were perfect and stood out among the other sides. The mashed potatoes were pretty creamy and smooth, but I could have survived with the gravy from the meatloaf. The vegetables tasted good also, there were some yellow-looking carrots that I'm not sure what they were but it all was cooked perfectly.

Overall, I was really impressed with the food at Melanie Pringle's. It is however on the pricier side for diner food, most dishes were around the $14 mark. They also charged me $2 for the gravy which I wasn't impressed about. The service is less to be desired as our waitress was very slow, not with just our table but our surrounding tables were also looking for her. Nonetheless, this is easily one of my new favourite places in Whitby!

Food: 4/5 - So much good food here!
Decor: 4/5 - Very roomy and they really commit to the theme.
Service: 1.5/5 - Very slow and inattentive waitress.
Willingness to go back: 5/5 - Absolutely going to recommend this spot to everyone, not sure why it took me so long to discover it!
Overall: 3.5/5


Melanie Pringles on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Lunch on Saturday Mar 7, 2015
Company: Walk-in for 2.
Anith and I were planning to meet up for lunch to catch-up after his recent trip to California. We decided on Desiam in the Whitby Plaza per his suggestion. I had previously gone there once, a long time ago with my sister. I didn't remember much from the meal at the time but my sister said that the Pad Thai was amazing. I'm in the particular area a lot and have always been meaning to return so I was glad when it was suggested. 

There's a lot of construction going on in the complex but all the shops are still open. We entered to a fairly large, empty restaurant with lots of colourful decor. There is seating on either side of the main entrance and we were lead to the right side closer to the kitchen. Their menu was very large with tons of options so it took us a while to look through everything. Our waitress kept on coming back to us to see if we were ready but never were :(. I finally just decided to get the Veggie Pad Thai after a lot of deliberation and Anith got Bangkok Spicy Noodles. I also ordered a Thai Iced Tea, not really know what it is but thought it might be good. Anith ordered a Mango drink and when we first got the drinks, I thought mine was his. It was opaque and orange coloured which I wasn't expecting. I thought it would be a transparent liquid but turns out there is some milk in there. It was rather sweet and I'm not really sure what flavour it consisted of. I wasn't sure how authentic is was, it kind of tasted like powdered bubble tea drink... it didn't taste bad though considering I had no idea what I was getting.

We started with a Kanuck Roll as an appetizer. It was really hot upon arrival and stuff with ground chicken and various vegetables inside. I really enjoyed the filling, it had a good mix of ingredients inside almost like Sheppard's pie. The plum sauce gave it a sweet touch. It was an unique, delicious, and crispy spring roll.


Finally comes our main dishes... Anith didn't think his looked very appetizing at first but actually tasted really good. I found my Veggie Pad Thai very saucy and sweet. The vegetables were fresh and noodles cooked perfectly but just the flavour was very overpowering. It was a lot of food and finally I had to give up on finishing it. I didn't take it home just because of all the sauce, I wish they just went a bit lighter it and I might have felt better about eating it.

All-in-all, it was a very filling meal all for less than $20. Not my favourite Pad Thai but if you like your noodles on the saucy, sweet side then you should definitely check it out.

Food: 2/5 - OK meal but not spectacular Thai food.
Decor: 3/5 - Really cute restaurant with lots of Thai trinkets.
Service: 2/5 - Our waitress was pretty annoying and not very friendly.
Willingness to go back: 1/5 - Wouldn't want to go back unless I was in the plaza and wanted Thai.
Overall: 2/5


Desiam Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Lunch on Friday Mar 13, 2015
Company: Take-out for myself

A co-worker of mine who lived in Jamaica for a few years always mentioned the take-out place near our work where she always gets Chicken Sandwiches. I decided to check it out myself one day when I was leaving the office around lunch time and was heading downtown to work from Will's the rest of the day. It's a really small hole-in-the-wall spot in a plaza beside KFC and can only fit about 5 people to line up in before gets too tight. You order through a window to the kitchen where the guys are prepping the food for you. And for the month of March, they had a Small Jerk Chicken Dinner on special for $5. :)

I put in my order and stood back a bit to the window while the other people in line ordered. It got a bit busy around noon and it seems like there were a lot of regulars who knew what they wanted. Their soup was asked about but the guy was not down after he heard it was Goat Head... There were only two people behind in the kitchen, one taking the orders and the other making the food. It took about 10 minutes to get my order and I was quickly out of the packed room to head downtown.

The meal was still decently hot after the 30 minute drive to Will's. The chicken was very tender but didn't have as much kick as I thought jerk chicken would. The sauce wasn't powdery but rather moist and juicy. The rice was a bit bland and dry, it just had some beans in it and no sauce. I got a lot of rice compared to everything else. Even the coleslaw was minimal. The flavour was there but needed just a but more sourness to it. Overall, I can't really complain for $5, it was really worth it. It didn't have the authentic Jamaican flavours I was expecting but seemed they had a loyal following of regulars who enjoy the food.

Food: 2.5/5 - Good value but not an outstanding meal.
Decor: 1.5/5 - Small, white room but does the job.
Service: 3.5/5 - Quick and easy.
Willingness to go back: 2/5 - I wouldn't order that again but I'd return if I was feeling for something different then I usually eat.
Overall: 2.5/5

Website: none

Negril on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Dinner on Saturday Feb 28, 2015
Company: A sick +Will

I had been watching the dates for Piola's All-you-can-eat Gnocci nights for a while now to see when the 29th would fall on a good weekend to attend. Luckily for the month of February, they decided to have Gnocci night on the 28th which happened to be a Saturday instead of skipping it altogether! I made a reservation for 2 for the 7PM seating and patiently awaited for the date to come. Unfortunately for Will, he started to get sick that week and still wasn't feeling 100% on the Saturday. We were debating skipping it and trying again next month, but in the end Will thought he could still eat a decent amount of gnocci.

We drove to Piola because it is quite a ways from us on Queen West. We found parking easily on the street but had a bit of trouble with finding the right entrance to the restaurant. Apparently the left side is not where the entrance is and the different coloured building to the right is also Piola, much to my mistake. We waited a few minutes after we told them of our reservation and were then taken to an open room in the back. There was some confusion on our table as we were moved a bit later to a smaller table for 2  right in the middle of the room instead of a table for 4. There were a huge group of older Italians which took up a lot of the area so I think they were trying to sort them out.


We didn't have drink menus on the table or anything so we ended up just getting waters. About 15 minutes after 7PM, a waitress came out of the kitchen with a huge bowl of gnocci and started going to tables. They would come up and tell you what flavour they had and we would tell them if we wanted any or not. Then they would scoop a bit on your plate and go on to the next table. It was a really fun experience to anticipate what we were getting next and trying all of them.  The speed at which them came was a bit slow at first but it allowed you to enjoy the food and some conversation as well. They started flowing more heavily at the end but by then I was starting to reject them. There were about 9 flavours we got to try before they started repeating.


The gnocci itself I thought was good, very squishy and softer than I remembered them. Will said the texture is usually like that and only the size was a bit smaller than normal. I would have liked to taste a bit more potato in them though, I felt like it was all dough. I've ranked the flavours and what I thought about them below:

Favourites:

Rose - This was my favourite of them all just because the flavour was mellow, sweet and not too prominent. Great combination of creaminess, tomatoes, and cheese.

Sage & Butter - This one looked like it had no sauce but packed a good punch of flavour. Never tried anything like it before and really enjoyed it.


Ham & Tomato
- Second one we got and compared to the Tomato & Mozzarella, it tasted so much better. Very smooth and creamy with a nice lightness added from the tomatoes.


Bolognese - The bolognese had lots of minced meat in the tomato sauce. Interesting flavour, a bit sweet almost like Chef Boyardee.




                                                                                 Neutral:

Ham & Mushroom - Nothing too special about this one. Had it third after the Ham & Mushroom so it was almost the same except I thought the sauce was heavier.
Tomato & Mozzarella - This is the first one we tried, the tomato flavour was too sour and very little mozzarella.

Didn't like:

Four Cheese - A little disappointed by this one, not enough cheese flavour to be honest. 

Puttanesca (spicy tuna, olives, capers, onion, tomato) - Wasn't sure what it was when we first got it but could definitely tell there were olives from the colour and some kind of seafood from the taste. Not a fan of either tuna or olives.

Basil Pesto - The texture was the biggest turnoff, too grainy.

After dinner, I didn't want to have gnocci for a long time. Now, I can't wait to have it again. I noticed though that I favourited the ones with mild flavours that let the gnocci do the talking, which is a good sign I think! Fun setting to enjoy so authentic Italian food in a well organized manner. All in all, we paid $25 each to stuff ourselves silly with little dough dumplings of goodness.


Food: 4/5 - Lots of hits with the flavours, amazing AYCE experience

Decor: 3/5 - Very rustic, wooden walls everywhere with colourful tables. Lots of space.
Service: 3/5 - Impressive flow of food, no one was going to go home hungry. Some of the servers looked like they hated their lives though and others were hard to understand what flavour we were getting.
Willingness to go back: 4.5/5 - Totally, their pizza looks amazing too! So many Italians there, it must be legit.
Overall: 3.5/5

Websitehttp://www.piolatoronto.com/


Piola on Urbanspoon
Date Visited: Lunch on Saturday Feb 14, 2015
Company+Will

For Valentine's Day, Will and I had tickets to see Cannibal! The Musical at Panasonic Theatre for the 2PM show. The play was in the Yorkville area so I researched and found 7 West Cafe, a quaint restaurant to have lunch beforehand. The building was interesting looking... 3 stories, black exterior, and in line with other stores that look more like houses. We entered and headed up one story to find a table in an area which looked like a classy cafe with baked goods on the counter and sun shining in through the large windows. The area was pretty cramped but luckily it wasn't too full or noisy.

They had a menu with brunch specials and I ordered a Mimosa to start which was priced at about $10. When we got it, it came with a mini bottle of Champagne, small jug of orange juice, and a small glass to pour yourself. Will was glad he didn't order himself one as it was great for sharing. It lasted us the whole meal and I loved that they let you decide the proportions yourself.

For the mains, we ordered one of the breakfast specials, Fruit Waffle and a classic, Pesto Pita Pizza to share. The Pesto Pita Pizza had Pesto, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Chicken, and Mozzarella with a side of House Salad. It was a big and colourful plate of delicious looking food when we got it. The Salad had some chickpeas in it which was a nice touch from what one would normally see in a house salad. But other than that, it just had some garden greens and nothing else of substance. The Pizza was great though, lots of chicken and good proportion of pesto. Overall it was a filling dish which left you feeling slightly healthy.

The Fruit Waffle we got came with blueberries, strawberries, apple/banana sauce and whipped cream. The Apple/Banana sauce was a great for the waffle as it sustained us without needing any maple syrup. It wasn't too sweet and tasted home-made. The overall waffle was good but there were a few holes throughout so they probably could have used more batter. We got a nice balance of sweet and savory with our choices so I really enjoyed switching between the two dishes.

7 West would probably be a go-to spot of mine if I lived in the area, and it helps that it's open 24/7! It has a chill, European vibe to it but I'm sure it gets hectic at night. Cool spot for a date though, very intimate. The service was a little slow though and our waitress was always disappearing. I'm not sure if she had to go and run to the other floors to pick up food but she wasn't always around.

Food: 3.5/5 - We got pretty lucky with our orders but all fresh and tasty.
Decor: 3/5 - Unique decor and great ambiance, just a little small.
Service: 2/5 - It was okay, we didn't need much but she didn't really check up on us.
Willingness to go back: 3.5/5 - Would definitely go back if I was in Yorkville but would be cautious of the space they have.
Overall: 3/5

Website: http://www.7westcafe.com/

7 West Café on Urbanspoon