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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

George Street Diner

Date Visited: Breakfast on Saturday Sept 6, 2014
Company: +Will and then +Stuart

Will and I had previous attempted to go to the George Street Diner one other time before, but on a late Saturday morning, the wait can be pretty long for this small restaurant. We saw The F Word recently which had a few scenes in there so we decided that we had to try again! We attempted to get there before 11AM this time since we had to go to Riot Fest all day and needed to do some drinking beforehand also. We were lucky that even though we were sat at the bar, another group was just leaving their table and we were able to quickly grab it before anyone else came into the diner. It took a few minutes for someone to come clean the table though and ask us for drink orders. The waitress didn't realize because she sat us at the bar which is kind of our fault for not saying anything... but also hers because like I said, this place is not large. It worked out because +Stuart joined us later on at the table, but they don't have any thing to accommodate a party larger than four. I enjoyed the diner atmosphere with the bar on the side and a row of booths but there's hardly any walking space in between the two, I don't know how they can work here!

We asked what kind of drinks they had and and I ordered a Caesar and +Will got some white wine and lemonade combo called a Ramona Shandy which were actually the only 2 drinks they told us so I'm not sure what else they have. Their Caesar is definitely one of my favorites I've had in the city so far, very simple but with some character too. Not very much hot sauce in it but it really lets you taste the veggie flavour, perfect vodka amount, and the bean was a cute garnish. I also tried the Ramona Shandy but it wasn't really for me, not sweet enough.

Their breakfast menu is quite limited to the staples dishes you're used to seeing at any restaurants with some Daily Specials written on the chalk board up front. I decided to go for one of those, their Special Omelette, I read that it had some Spinach and Goat Cheese in it and that was good enough for me. Unfortunately though, the cook that took my order messed up and made me a Western Omelette instead as I noticed when my plate came. Both the waitress and cook apologized thoroughly about it and said they can make me a Special Omelette but I hate wasting food and just felt bad so I just had the Western Omelette I don't mind Western's but it's sometime I can make at home very easily so I'm not very inclined to order it out. Overall, it was made very well, the omelette was pretty big but their large plate made it look a bit empty. It would have been nice to have some cheese in the omelette as its just quite plain otherwise with the ham, onion, and peppers. They gave us some jam on the side for our toast which was pretty tasty and home-made I assumed. The home fries were large, season pieces but I think they could have given a bit more. Their portion size left you comfortably full, I finished my whole plate along with the drink and didn't have to stuff myself. At less than $20 including tax+tip for my meal, I really can't complain as you really do get your money's worth, but it is kind of hyped up to be more than it is.

Food: 3.5/5 - Not the classiest joint but you get pretty good food for the price, very typical diner.
Decor: 3/5 - Love the red outside and interior decor but it's just so small!
Service: 2.5/5 - It was so-so, a few mishaps but they weren't awful.
Willingness to go back: 3/5 - It's so close to Will so I'm sure we'll try to go again if we want some cheap breakfast... if the line isn't too long that is.
Overall: 3/5


The George Street Diner on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Shipwreck Lee's

Date Visited: Lunch on Sunday Aug 31, 2014
Company: +Will

Will and I went to Tobermory for the Civic long weekend and enjoyed an adventurous few days in the quaint and beautiful town. Tobermory is actually quite small and all the main restaurants and shops are in a central location which made finding places to eat pretty easy. We knew we had to try their local White fish while in town and the most visible spot for fish and chips was Shipwreck Lee's. It has a huge outdoor patio with an AYCE Fish and Chips sign so it's really hard to miss while entering the harbour area.

We went to the entrance and saw a few spots opened so we seated ourselves, the pirate dressed waiters were quick to notice and brought us menus and waters. This would be great on a sunny day but unfortunately it was a cloudy weekend so the patio was a bit chilly. As we were looking at the menu, our waiter explained to us that their special was the Georgian Bay White Fish & Chips which is fresh and right from the waters here. The AYCE is Alaskan White Fish which is frozen. We both ordered the 1 piece which was $12.95.

As we were waiting we smelled other orders of chicken and ribs which made us even hungrier, and the portions were very large. We also enjoyed seeing tourists being entertained by the pirate waiters, doing little tricks and posing for photos. Even though it's a pretty tacky spot, the waiters play into their parts and have a fun time doing. It's a good spot for families as they have a kids menu and they would enjoy the show the waiters put on. They're also pretty quick with turning customers over as I assume they get really busy. Our wait wasn't very long and we both got our plates with a packet of tartar sauce on the side.

Cutting into the fish, it broke through easily and unveiled a juicy white filet. The fish was very tender and soft, it melts in your mouth. It doesn't have a very 'fishy' flavour, I think anyone would enjoy this. I was also very impressed on the lack of greasiness the fish had, it didn't soak my fries with more oil. The fries were okay, pretty average but perfect portion size because I was left very satisfied.

Food: 4/5 - Great fish and chips, would recommend to everyone!
Decor: 3.5/5 - Tacky but fun at the same time, great for the summer.
Service: 4/5 - Super quick and the waiters are very knowledgeable.
Willingness to go back: 4/5 - Definitely would return if I was in Tobermory.
Overall: 4/5

Website: none

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Avli

Date Visited: Dinner on Saturday Aug 16, 2014
Company: +Stephanie

+Stephanie and I were hanging out in Scarborough on the weekend, attempting to do some hiking at the Bluffs and I suggested going to the Danforth for some dinner afterwards as we were kind of close-by. I really wish I had more chances to visit the Danforth because Greek is possibly one of my favourite types of food. We found a parking spot a few blocks from the core of Greek town and walked down trying to decide where to go with all the options we were presented with. Avli seemed like a small, busy (but not packed) restaurant on the strip and we were appealed by their 'World Famous Dips' sign. They had their menu specials presented outside their door and were surprised how cheap it was... Little did we know that it was their Lunch Specials and they forgot to change the sign.

We started with some World-Famous Dips and ordered a combination of 3 for $16.50 instead of $6.50 each. It also came with Grilled Pita for which we got an extra order for $2. An order was 2 round pitas and we though it was too many but we actually used all of them. We tried the Kopanisti (Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Peper, and Olive Oil), Skordalia (Creamy Potatoes with Olive Oil and Garlic) and Melitzanosalta (Eggplant with Onions, Parsley, and Garlic) to try ones we've never had before. The plate was presented with some cucumbers and olives on the side which were a nice addition to eat with the dips. Some of the pita looked a little burnt but still tasted OK, it was thick and held together well with the various dips and also delicious on its own. When we ordered our dips, the waitress warned us about the Skordalia, saying that it has garlic in it... aka there's LOTS of garlic in it. The creamy potatoes was basically only for the texture which was nice and smooth but the kick was from the garlic flavour. The Melitzanosalta was an fun one because I tasted something different in each bite, it was sour, eggplanty, sweet, and refreshing all in different instances. The Kopanisti was the thickest and richest of the three, mostly from the feta cheese, the red pepper gave it a nice orange hue and subtle flavour. You could get really full off that one alone, so it was nice to have all three to complement each other as they were all so different.

We were able to have a good taste of the dips before a manager came back to let us know that the $12 Chicken Souvlaki 'specials' we ordered from the front menu was only for Lunch. Our waitress had told us we could still get those prices because we couldn't find them on the menu and had to show her what was written  outside. The manager I guess didn't allow that so we said didn't want them anymore (since we already were pretty full from the dips). She then mentioned that they had a dinner with one chicken skewer for $13 instead of the $17 one, we decided just to order those instead.

We go got our Greek Salads shortly, it was a small appetizer plate topped with lots of feta cheese and the standard ingredients. I didn't like how shredded the lettuce was and the dressing was rather plain and flavourless. I also tried to save most of it for the main meal since there are usually no vegetables with Souvlaki plates.


So at this point, we were pretty full already so when we got our very hot plates, I can't say that the appealing food added to our hunger. The plating looked bland with all the brown colours and the placement made the plate look empty. The potatoes had amazing flavour though and melted in your mouth, it was over-cooked but the taste made up for it. The rice on the other hand was also over-cooked but was pretty bland and dry. The chicken and tzatziki was not bad, it was really hard to tell when you're stuffing yourself. It wasn't too dry and had good flavour, I tried to add some tzatziki to the rice but it made it even more dry, nothing could save it.

Overall, I was left unimpressed by Avli, if we hadn't had ordered the Chicken Souvlaki's I think I would have a different impression because the dips were amazing. I think they have some other interesting dishes on the menu that I wish we had room for to try instead of the Souvlaki. The dips really fill you up so I would be mindful of that for the future.

Food: 2/5 - Torn here because I was left with a bad impression from the Souvlaki but the dips were actually good!
Decor: 2/5 - The tables where we were near the window were pretty close to each other in the small restaurant.
Service: 3.5/5 - Very sweet waitress we had, manager was less nice but good timing between dishes.
Willingness to go back: 2/5 - Depending on the nature of the meal, definitely know how not to order here as it left me ridiculously full and hating myself.
Overall: 2.5/5

Website: http://www.avlirestaurant.com/home

Avli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bistro 238

Date Visited: Late dinner on Thursday Jul 31, 2014
Company: +Will

+Will was spending one of his working days in Oshawa and had some time to spare afterwards to go out for dinner with me. Since the GM Head Office is near the Oshawa/Courtice border, I decided to look up some places in that area. I haven't eaten in any restaurants in Courtice before and there wasn't very many I found to be honest. There are were a lot of bars but I wanted something nicer without being too pricey. I read some reviews on Bistro 238 and saw that they were a local favourite, it sounded fancy but their prices were reasonable. I called in the morning to get a reservation but they only had something available at 5:30PM or 8PM! We went for the 8PM so we didn't have to rush after work.

Driving there, it was a tad difficult to find because their sign wasn't visible from the main road, but you had to drive into the parking lot of the strip mall to find it. When we entered, it lined you up behind a divider from the dining area to be greeted. There was one couple in front of us and it seemed pretty full, we arrived around 7:45PM as they said they should be ready for us around then which they were. There's two small rooms for dining with about 6-8 tables in each? Most of the clientele were mature families or groups of seniors.
We came on their Pasta night for which they had a chalk board listed with their specials. Each pasta came with a Caesar Salad and was only $12! They were very keen on 'no substitutions' but there was plenty of pasta variations. I went for the Fettuccine with Atlantic Salmon and Asparagus in a Pesto Alfredo Sauce and Will got the Potato Gnocci with Bacon and Mushrooms in a Cream Sauce. We got some slices of a dark brown rye bread to start with butter on the side. Our salads came and they were fairly sized for starters, definitely not a small portion. It was topped with a crouton with pesto spread which gave it good flavour to eat by itself. The ingredients of the salad was pretty standard. The only thing I would say is that I found the Caesar dressing had a bit too much anchovy flavour. I usually don't like to taste that part of the sauce but found it to stand out.

The atmosphere of Bistro 238 is very relaxed and calm so it's great to come here for a date or a low-key family celebration where you can have a conversation. The staff were also very sweet and humble. I was pretty excited when our pastas finally arrived, I also got mine topped with some fresh Parmesan. The portions were a good size but I was already a bit full from the earlier food! They also told Will that he got the last serving of Gnocci, which I'm sure made him very happy. I tried the Gnocci and it was so good, it almost melted in your mouth after a bite. His dish also had tons of mushrooms and bacon mixed it, he finished it in no time! I couldn't say the same for mine though, mostly because I found it it very hefty and rich. The fettuccine pasta was cooked a bit hard and I didn't really taste much of the pesto in the sauce. The salmon was very fresh and you could taste it throughout the pasta. There wasn't enough asparagus though and I wish you could taste the flavour more like the salmon. Overall, everything was cooked perfectly and even though I only finished half of it, I enjoyed eating every bite!

Food: 3.5/5 - Great deal for what we paid!
Decor: 3/5 - Very old-fashioned but comfy and welcoming space.
Service: 3/5 - Pretty good, nothing too extraordinary.
Willingness to Return: 5/5 - Hope to make this a regular spot for me!
Overall: 3.5/5


Bistro 238 on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 15, 2014

Toasters Family Diner

Date Visited: Dinner on Friday Jul 8, 2014
Company: Walk-in for 5

You would think that it was pretty random that we ended up in a small diner in Cambridge one Friday night road tripping up to the Pinery, but it happened to be one thing we could all agree on during the car ride up. We left Toronto around 3:30PM heading to Grand Bend for the weekend and +Stephen remembered the old diner that he used to go to during his co-op term there. We didn't know the name but did some Googling of diners and did locate it... seemed like a pretty legit place to check out. It was really close off the highway in a small strip mall with a huge, plain, black and white 'Family Diner' sign outside. 

The restaurant was a decent size and had a very welcoming atmosphere. It looked like your typical family-run diner and it wasn't too busy so we could eat quickly and get back on the road. They had a good variety on their menu with even more daily specials on the chalk board at the front. We had a nice lady bring us some waters and tell us about the specials. The prices were pretty cheap and we were told that the portions were large also. 

I decided to go for a Triple Decker Chicken Club Sandwich with Fries, our table actually all got a nice variety of dishes... Philly Cheesesteak, Breakfast, Burger... all the options looked good! Our wait wasn't very long for food luckily, mine came out first and it looked amazing! Lots of colour on the plate and just a huge portion of food. The sandwich was crafted perfectly with even ingredients on each corner. The grilled chicken was juicy and tender, but the bacon was a tad soft and not as crispy as I would have preferred. Everything else about the sandwich was great though, it really held together during the eating. The fries were pretty standard but had the perfect golden colour, cooked in fresh oil probably. The coleslaw was also the kind I really enjoy, just simple cabbage but sour and tangy. 

All our meals filled us right up and got us ready to hit the road again. They had those 25 cent candy machines at the entrance also that we had to get some of :), a nice throwback.

Food: 4/5 - Cheap and delicious.
Decor: 2/5 - Kind of a boring for a diner but nothing more than they need I guess.
Service: 3.5/5 - Pretty quick and our waitress was very sweet.
Willingness to go back: 4/5 - Like +Stephen, I would definitely recommend this if I was in the city, lots of things to try on the menu.
Overall: 3.5/5

Website: none

Toasters on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mill Street's The Beer Hall

Date Visited: Dinner on Thursday Jul 10, 2014
Company: Girls dinner date for 5
It's not often that my girl friends from high school and I can all find time to get together but when we do, it's always an occasion. I was very excited that for Summerlicious this year they wanted to hit up Mill Street Brew Pub in the beautiful Distillery District. It was a great place to catch up over delicious food and good beer. The sun was beaming this Thursday evening which made for the perfect patio weather. We drove up from Oshawa with some time to spare walking around the area. Mill Street had quite the line entering the place but we were actually in the wrong one when we told them about our reservation. They had another entrance for the 'Beer Hall' around the corner which had no line, but it was very confusing as they led us to our table which was visible from the original line-up outside where we were. The place is huge to be fair, but we had a nice table in between their inside and outside areas (missing the walls to separate the two). 
We took a long look at their beer menu while the waiter brought us some samples of Palomar Ale... with hints of chipotle and lime it definitely had a kick! I decided to get the flight which is an awesome way to try out a few of their beers! The service is nice here that they'll give you samples if you're not sure of what you want to order. Our waiter was extremely helpful but it really took him a while once we did order something from him to get back to us. We were waiting forever for him to get back to us to take our food orders and I accidentally asked him what the Soup of the Day was and he had to leave again and go ask! Eventually we all had our orders in and we can just relax and wait for the food.

For my appetizer, I ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad with local organic heirloom tomatoes, pecorino fresco, torn basil leaves, olive oil, and beer reduction. Everyone else had gotten the Pretzels and Fondue so I wanted to try something different. My tomatoes arrived and my plate was so bright and colourful looking, it was a beautiful mess. The dressing was sweet but not too overpowering of the flavours of the ingredients. The basil really stood out in flavour but they were so fresh it's hard to complain. The tomatoes and pecorino combination was amazing also, I never had pecorino before so I was pleasantly surprised how light it is after finding out its made from ewe's milk. I was very glad I got this appetizer as the fondue was very heavy and the cheese was a bit crumbly.

For the main, I got the Beer n' Beer Kabob while everyone else got the Chicken Schnitzel... I wasn't sure if I liked Schnitzel but I'll have to try it one of these days... The contents of my plate seemed less compared to the chicken because the schnitzel was huge! My plate had two kabobs of braised beef, cherry tomatoes, pearl onions, and peppers with fennel apple slaw and roasted mini red potatoes on the side. The plate didn't look very full with the 3 portions all separated and all over the place. The kabob was nicely grilled and the beef was a bit tough but had a very nice flavour. The small onions and tomatoes paired well with the beef and everything was cooked consistently through. I couldn't really taste the apple in the slaw at all but it was a refreshing flavour.  The potatoes were also nicely cooked with a soft centre and light seasoning. 

And finally for dessert, they didn't have the Frambrozen Apple tart that I wanted but only the Homemade Butter Tart left. According to the server though it was still very delicious. It was a very cute mini butter tart (not sure why we were given spoons) that you could eat in two bites. Our server was right as it was still very delicious but not enough! There also could have been more filling in proportion to the tart. It was a nice sweet taste to end your meal but definitely left you wanting more!

Also note that the sun was coming down during the meal which was really annoying as it was right in our faces and we just had to wear sunglasses just to look at each other :(.
Food: 4/5 - Great meal! Left you decently full (we still got Gelato after but... you know) and I love the flavours they have in their dishes here.
Decor: 3/5 - Kind of a weird layout into their patio but I love the inside, great for large groups.
Service: 2.5/5 - Really took a while for our waiter to get us settled in, but once our orders were put in, they were pretty quick with the food.
Willingness to go back: 5/5 - Love Mill Street, would definitely go back, especially for Summerlicious.
Overall: 3.5/5

Website: http://beerhall.millstreetbrewpub.ca/ 

Mill Street Beer Hall and Brewpub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bannock

Date Visited: Lunch on Sunday Jul 6, 2014
Company: Summerlicious reservation for two.

While browsing through the many menus Summerlicious has to offer, I came upon one with some interesting items that intrigued both +Will and I. We decided that we had to make a reservation for lunch and see if their take on these items were actually good or not! The location is very close to the Eaton Centre but easily missed with all the scaffolding surrounding the exterior. The restaurant has a very urban look and was pretty busy when we got there at noon on a Sunday. We were seated to the main dining area which was already very lively, and they also had another grab-and-go section with pre-made sandwiches that you could sit at also.

What were the menu items that intrigued both Will and I you ask? Well for me, it was the Iced Bloody Caesar Soup because I actually love Caesars and always try to order them if available. For Will, it was their Bulgogi Hawaiian Pizza, a combination of one of his favourite foods, Hawaiian Pizza and one of his most eaten foods (because there Bob's Bulgogi is steps away from his apartment). After walking by their kitchener serving area, I saw quite a few odd combinations and takes on foods being made (at least for brunch) so it would be interesting to check out their regular menu (Canadian comfort food, they say). After our orders were put in, they were surprisingly quick in serving us.

The Iced Bloody Caesar Soup was exactly what you would picture, cold tomato soup with clams and seasoning. It was quite spicy as well and I had to take my time with the sips. I'm surprised how spicy they made considering soups are usually mild ways to start your meal. The flavour was good but I'm not used to having iced soups and the clams in it just felt sad and cold. I was disappointed with it and definitely will stick to Caesar drinks opposed to soups. Will ordered the Smashed Cucumber and Head Cabbage Salad to start and the one bite I had of it was absolutely delicious. There was so much flavour from both the ingredients and the dressing, it was a light and eye-appealing dish to start your meal compared to mine.

For my main, I ordered the Roast Peameal Bacon Melt with Sauerkraut, Cheddar, and Smoked Tomato Marmalade. I was pleasantly surprised with the appearance of my meal as the sandwich was pretty hefty. The flatbread was thick and warm with melted cheddar pressed between perfectly cooked pieces of peameal bacon. It was a simple but delicious sandwich where the meat spoke for its self. The sauerkraut added a nice hint of flavour admist the seemingly plain layers and I couldn't really taste the tomato marmalade. The Taro Chips were an interesting side as they are quite plain otherwise but the salt added some flavour.

I also got to try the Bulgogi Hawaiian Pizza and the one word to describe this dish is SPICY! I'm pretty sure their sauce base was just hot sauce so beware for all those who are interested in trying it. The flatbread was pretty decent otherwise, I found it a crispier than most and very thin. I was surprised on how the bulgogi was presented as it's not how it usually looks in the Korean dish: tender, sweet, and saucy. I found the meat a tad dry and just wasn't very appealing. It was an okay dish in theory but it was hard getting past the spiciness of the pizza.

For our dessert, we both choose to have the Cortland Apple Fritter but it didn't quite look like what I thought an apple fritter would be like. I was expecting sometime more wet and saucy to be honest. The flavour was quite good combined with the dulce de leche accompanying it but I also thought it was too dry. It was difficult to taste the apple flavour in the doughy, hard dessert.

Food: 2/5 - Hit and miss here, pretty disappointed with most of our choices.
Decor: 3/5 - Very slick and modern decor with a vibrant and bright atmosphere.
Service: 3.5/5 - Impressed on the speediness of our dishes.
Willingness to Return: 3/5 - I would like to give this place another try just because you expect more from Oliver and Bonacini and maybe their Summerlicious menu just didn't do it justice.
Overall: 2.5/5
Website: http://oliverbonacini.com/bannock.aspx

Bannock on Urbanspoon