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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Momma's Family Restaurant

Date Visited: Dinner on Oct 7, 2014
Company: +Joslynn and +Caroline

The Oshawa girls and I decided to get together for dinner and a cheap Tuesday movie after deciding we all wanted to see Gone Girl. The movie was around 7PM so we had to find somewhere for an early dinner close to the theatre. I wasn't feeling the chain restaurants on Tauton so I decided to do some searching for other things in the area. There aren't many known restaurants in Oshawa I haven't been to at this point but I did find Momma's Family Restaurant in the Five Points Mall. I haven't heard of the place before but it had positive reviews on the internet despite not having much internet presence.

Five Points Mall isn't a very busy mall (if you can even call it a mall) so I'm sure I've passed by it on my odd occasional visit. I wasn't even sure where in the mall it was located, I found a sign outside and just parked outside the entrance. The girls said they did the same but it happened to be where I was closer, to the Target. The restaurant was right where we entered and was bigger than I had expected (not sure what I was expecting), it looked almost like a smaller East Side Mario's. Their sign said to seat ourselves so we grabbed a booth mid-way back.

They had an interesting selection of menu items, quite extensive but not sticking any one theme... had some Greek and Italian features. We all decided to share a Large Caesar Salad which was actually massive! There was 3 of us and we couldn't finish it. There was tons of parmesan and dressing which I enjoyed. There was also lots of bacon bits but I didn't like that they were the artificial kind and very crunchy. The lemon on the side was a great addition to add more flavour to the salad. I thought it was very delicious.

I couldn't decide between a few things on the menu for my main but +Joslynn was getting Lasagna already so the waitress said I could have a bit of hers when I asked for a recommendation. I decided on the Chicken Breast Parmesan with Baked Potato (I think that's what it was). I wasn't sure what to expect from the description, I thought I'd get something saucier rather than chicken with a layer of sauce and cheese. The chicken itself wasn't bad, don't think it was fresh but tasted fine. My criticism would have to be on the sauce, it had an odd flavour which tasted like the Chef Boyardee canned pasta sauce. I tried the Lasagna also and it had the same sauce which I found too creamy and thick. The cheese was nicely melted on top but was very unconnected to the chicken with the sauce inbeween. The baked potato was also fine, nothing special about that, came with butter and lots of sour cream. The side of coleslaw was tasty but not as sour as I would have liked. It was an interesting dish paired altogether, I was surprised how full trying to finish it because it didn't seem like that much food.

Food: 2.5/5 - Not the best food I've had but fairly cheap and reasonable.
Decor: 3/5 - Very cute and spacious with pictures of different mothers all around.
Service: 3/5 - Pretty quick and waitress checked up on us appropriately
Willingness to go back: 1/5 - Don't think I'll be returning soon on my own accord.
Overall: 2.5/5

Website: none

Momma's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cafe Mirage

Date Visited: Brunch on Sunday Sunday Sept 14, 2014
Company: Walk-in for 5

The morning after +Clare's housewarming in North York, we all went for brunch in Sheppard Centre at a place she's been wanting to check out for a while. The Cafe Mirage is primarily known for their desserts from what she knew and also from what I pulled up from the internet. We were pretty excited for bunch as it looked very legit from what we could tell... What a surprise we had...

When we arrived the restaurant was basically empty, I surprised how big the location is with an entrance from Yonge Street as well as the Sheppard Centre. Their menu is quite extensive with a bit of a Mediterranean focus with their main dishes. There was lots of choose from and look at with their book of a menu and we took a while to decide what drinks/breakfasts to get. I finally decided on my classic Back Bacon Breakfast and Vanilla Milkshake.

So for some reason, half the drinks came in one batch then the server had to go back to make the rest of the drinks. She later told us that their drinks person was late that day but there was a lot of people around in the back that could have helped? The Milkshake was actually very delicious though, very thick and good amount of ice cream :). Maybe the desserts/drinks is what they should stick with because our meals were not good at all. Our plates were huge and I got 2 small, thin, overcooked pieces of back bacon, and some stingy scrambled eggs (they say 3 in the menu but there's NO WAY that was 3 eggs). They could not have plated this breakfast any worse to make it look more empty. The rest of the meals didn't look any better either, the quality was not fresh and everything was overcooked. Also, some of the peanut butter they gave us was already opened and got over the rest of the jams. If I was a waiter there I would be so embarrassed to serve this plate to a customer.

After we had eaten, we were literally sitting for about half an hour before we had to wave a waitress over to clear our plates and get the bill. The service was horrible and it's not like they weren't there, they were just walking by and ignoring you. Needless to say, I did not tip very well and was glad to get out of there. I'm very intrigued by their desserts though, how can they look so good while my breakfast was so bad?

Food: .5/5 - AWFUL BREAKFAST, milkshake was only redeeming part.
Decor: 3/5 - Very spacious and modern black and silver decor.
Service: .5/5 - Again, SO BAD. (not the worst I've had though)
Willingness to return: 1/5 - No way I'd come here willingly unless someone dragged me out for dessert... which I'm very actually interested in checking out.
Overall: 1/5 


Cafe Mirage Grill & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 10, 2014

O&B Canteen

Date Visited: Brunch on Saturday Sept 13, 2014
Company: Walk-in for 6

On the second weekend of TIFF, we somehow decided to go to the O&B Canteen for Saturday brunch. For those of you who don't know, it's a restaurant attached to the TIFF building and also very close to where most of my friends live downtown. +Will and I were the first to arrive and they said it would be a 20 minute wait. We hung out in the TIFF building and found a spot to sit and wait for everyone since we had a beeper which would call us when our table was ready. We waited over our 20 minutes and decided to go back to ask what was up with our table, all they told us it would be ready soon. It was very busy but they didn't seem too concerned that we had been waiting along time already and they weren't giving us anymore information than we had 30 minutes ago. When we were finally seated we got a nice corner table surrounded by their large windows.

I wasn't very impressed with the selection they had for breakfast/brunch, it was a tad limited overpriced. I decided to go for their $17 Canteen Burger with bacon, aged cheddar, pickled jalapeƱo, herb mayo, and hot house tomato. Our waiter had a bit of attitude but tried his best in getting us all our drinks and orders. I wanted to order an orange juice but it was $5, no way I was going to pay that. I know that it was O&B but I couldn't justify it knowing it would be a small glass. We had some nice conversations while we were waiting for our food and I had to help +Gisele pick a movie to see for TIFF. We left a bit to look at the schedule outside when +Rosemarie texted us that our food was there!

I was impressed with the look of my burger, the portion size was better than I had expected and the herb mayo sauce smelled awesome. The burger was very lean and less juicy than I would have liked but all the toppings were delicious together. It was better than the average burger and very meaty, the herb mayo was awesome (I want that recipe!). The fries were also great, lightly salted and crispy. There was a lot of mixed reviews of everyone's dishes at the table. They all seemed pretty good although the Gnocci portion looked a little small for +Will although +Gisele claims that she ordered it last week and couldn't finish it.

Food: 3/5 - My burger was pretty good but had higher expectations for the menu.
Decor: 3.5/5 - Loved all the natural lighting and modern decor, the isles are a bit small though and you have to go upstairs the TIFF building for the bathroom.
Service: 1.5/5 - Not vey impressed, a bit snooty.
Willingness to return: 2/5 - I would return if it was suggested but I can't think of a good occasion where I would to suggest going there again, neither the food or prices were enticing enough.
Overall: 2.5/5


O&B Canteen on Urbanspoon

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