We took part in Dishcrawl – Yorkville two weeks ago.
Dishcrawl is an organization that hosts guided tours through a neighbourhood allowing people to discover restaurants and new foods with other foodies. It started in San Francisco and has spread to about 20 cities in North America. I had heard about Dishcrawl through Twitter and Facebook a couple of months ago but it was my sister Liz who let me know about the Dishcrawl Yorkville event. The event was $75 per person not including drinks and featured four different restaurants: Prime, Babaluu, Ciao Wine Bar and MoRoCo. When you sign up for the event you know that you will be going to four different restaurants but they announce the first restaurant two days before the event and the other three are announced day of.
We met the group at Prime which is located in the Windsor Arms, one of the most prestigious and swank hotels in the city. We first went to Prime for Winterlicious 2011 and had a great experience. I really want to go to Prime for high tea because it would be magical, fancy, adult and of course, very British.
The Windsor Arms is beautiful and soothing and I wish I had the money to spend an evening there and enjoy every luxury. The closest I will get to this is occasionally dining and drinking here. The tea room has intense, red walls, portraits of various members of the royal family, jeweled chandeliers and plush bench seating. The dining room is a little more modern and subdued. We enjoyed appetizers and cocktails in the tea room. I ordered a gin and tonic and was actually asked which type of gin (all British, of course) I wanted by a charming British man. We enjoyed three types of appetizers (only one of which I photographed).
1. Duck Spring Rolls
2. Bruschetta Canapes topped with Bocconccini
3. Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche Tartlet.
After our appetizers we headed into the heart of Yorkville to Babaluu. Babaluu is a Latin American salsa club and restaurant. Every night there are free salsa lessons before the restaurant becomes more about dancing than eating. I want to go back, have a few glasses of sangria and take in a night of dancing.
The restaurant is in the basement of the building but instead of feeling cramped and damped it felt cozy and like a Mexican cave. Here we had a Latin American tasting plate sampling the highlights of Babaluu’s menu.
A little plate of Latin yums. Top left clockwise – vegetarian sopas with beans, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce, paella with shrimp, chorizo and calamari, and a beef empanada with pico de gallo. Everything was delicious. The sopas was the perfect mouthful of flavour and spice. Paella is one of my favourite dishes – it is creamy and light and full of so many different things. Seafood, meat, and veggies – everything I could ever want. The empanada was not my favourite – it had a cornmeal crust/shell and I don’t really like cornmeal. It has a gritty texture and a sweet taste = Not for everyone.
Our next stop was Ciao Wine Bar. They gave us an excessively large amount of food that was served family style. The general manager came out and told us about the restaurant, what they serve and about their Tuesday night lobster special – 1 1/2 lbs of lobster on a bed of fettuccine. It goes without saying that I am going back to this restaurant – preferably on a Tuesday.
This is just a sample of some of the food we tried that night. Of everything we tried, the Fettucine Porcini was the best. It was so creamy, and had a real woodsy taste from the mushrooms. If you are a mushroom lover, this is the ultimate dish for you. My only complaint was that there was so much food that I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of each. This just means I will have to go back.
Dessert was a visit to MoRoCo for some chocolate and a lesson on tempering chocolate. The inside was an overload of purple and velvet and curlicues – it was very Marie Antoinette which when eating chocolate and sweets is key. We tried a variety of different chocolates (milk, dark, white and caramel), chocolate covered ginger and Turkish delight, gluten free chocolate cookies, vanilla and orange hot chocolate, macarons and two things we didn’t try – dark chocolate bark with orange extract, orange peel, toasted almonds and dried blueberries and chocolate bar with bacon and peanuts. Everything use the highest quality ingredients and with this comes a price tag. Since I am not the biggest chocolate fan I don`t know if I will come back just for chocolate. There is an actual menu though so you could have dinner, brunch or afternoon tea.
Overall this is a great way to discover new food, new restaurants and new people. I would not only do it again but also recommend it to other people. I had a great time and now have four more restaurants I would like to go back to. There are a couple of Dishcrawl events coming about in May and June and I am currently debating which one to check out and with who.