Little Fin

I am slowly discovering my new neighbourhood at work: there are trips to St. Lawrence Market to gawk at cheese and meat, wanderings down to the lake to soak up some sun and getting lost on side streets that you otherwise wouldn’t notice unless you pass them ever day.

A few weeks ago I wandered down a side street, Temperance Street, which is just south of Richmond. This little street is being obscured by construction but is the location of Little Fin. Little Fin is a restaurant that I have been eyeing on Instagram since it opened in October 2014 and have been drooling over and wondering when I would get to try ever since.

The restaurant is small, with a nautical/East-Coast vibe to it including marlins on the wall and fresh lobsters walking around in their sea water tank. You order at the counter and then wait in anticipation for your number to be called. On a Friday afternoon the wait was about 20 minutes which isn’t crazy but in the future it might be better to order ahead.

I ordered the Lobster Roll.

IMG_5859

Yes, I contemplated ordering the fried chicken BLT but I thought rationally that the first time trying something at a seafood restaurant, I should probably order the seafood.

The sandwich is $16.00 which seems a little pricey but is fairly standard for a lobster roll: the lobster roll at Buster’s Sea Cove in St. Lawrence Market is $15.00. For your $16.00 you get your choice of sides and I chose the garlic potato wedges and the house salad.
This sandwich looks beautiful but unfortunately, did not have enough lobster for my liking. Half of the sandwich was filled with lettuce, to give the illusion that it is filled with lobster when really it is not. The lobster salad itself it good: large chunks of lobster, fresh dill, small pieces of celery to give the right crunch to the softness of the sandwich and topped with fresh green onion giving a hint of heat and freshness to the sandwich. I would like this sandwich more if it was all lobster, with little to no lettuce but that would probably cost me $40.00.

The garlic potato wedges were amazing. I am not a huge fan of potatoes (much to GC’s chagrin). I hate home fries and baked potatoes, would much rather have rice than mashed potato, scalloped potatoes are eaten as a vehicle for cheese and French fries are often left to grow cold and limp on my plate or at the bottom of my take-out bag. But these wedges. These could convert me to being a potato person. The wedges are sweet and garlicky, with the right amount of kick from the garlic but not the amount that would give you the breath to ward off vampires and attract Italian Nonnas. The outside is crispy and tough with the skin still being on the potato but the inside is fluffy and starchy. These are a definite must as a side to anything ordered from Little Fin.

The house salad is a safe bet – nothing remarkable but solid and fresh. The next time I visit I will be trying the seaweed salad.

Little Fin is a cute spot that is quick and convenient for me to indulge in seafood during my lunch hour. As an indulgence it will be saved for pay days and definitely not once a month. I will likely not be having the lobster roll again but I wouldn’t say no to trying the crispy haddock sandwich or fried chicken BLT. Oh, and they do breakfast and have a chicken-waffle sandwich. So yes, I think it is safe to say I would be trying a few more items off this menu. Eventually.

Happy munching!

Niagara-on-the-Lake 2016

A few weeks ago we had a belated one-year anniversary brunch with my parents in Niagara. The reason we were about 6 months behind was because in the fall JDL had his knee replaced and then who wants to go to Niagara in the winter?

The day started with a visit to Southbrook Vineyards, Canada’s first bio-dynamic winery. We tasted a flight of four different wines, two whites and two reds, each highlighting the unique growing conditions and techniques at Southbrook. Our server was incredibly knowledgeable, having studied cuisine and wine at Niagara College. He was well spoken on the interplay between wine and food, something I completely lack and admire in other people.

After a few tastes of wine, we headed over to Trius Winery for our celebratory brunch. The brunch at Trius is a three-course tasting menu with the option to pair each course with wine as selected by the restaurant. Mom, being the classy and knowledgeable person she is, made her choices based on the wine; everyone else made their choices based on the food.

12970872_975590909197591_135221010577090210_o

The dining room at Trius has been recently redone, featuring bold furniture in yellows and reds. The main dining room features huge spherical light fixtures that resemble fireworks exploding in a night sky. The dining rooms open out onto a patio which overlooks the vineyards. In early April this is not quiet the focal point that it is in the summer. We were seated in the back of the restaurant, which was a little more private and with a view of the courtyard and vineyards.

After we were seated, we were immediately greeted with glasses of Trius Brut Rosé – all brunches should start with pink bubbly. It should be noted that this is apparently supposed to serve as a palate cleanser between courses and should last the length of your meal, not gulped down shortly after the first course like mine was. Oops. It was just too tasty to not enjoy that quickly.

Continue reading

The Tavern by Trevor

Back when it was bitterly cold in February we went for brunch at The Tavern by Trevor.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe Tavern is a contemporary restaurant at Spadina and Queen. There is concrete floors, wooden tables with expansive bench seating and large mirrors making the restaurant seem twice the size it is. We sat near the bar, at a high table with bench seating. As it was a bitterly cold day, we were one of two tables. Apparently not everyone is crazy like me and needs to go for brunch when it is -40 with the windchill.

We ordered coffees and then I ordered the Lobster Benedict.

IMG_3191The Lobster Benedict with double smoked bacon, kale and béarnaise sauce.

This is both a fancy and comforting dish. The lobster brings your standard Benedict up a notch but the use of béarnaise rather than hollandaise gives this dish the rustic, French taste to it. The lobster is buttery and flaky, playing up the butteriness in the béarnaise sauce. The béarnaise is slightly different than hollandaise; it is filled with delicate herb flavours, that taste like a fresh spring day, rather than that hit of lemon.

The kale needed to be cooked slightly longer to give it a bit more tenderness and to remove the acrid, bitter taste. This is why spinach works better on benedicts and breakfast sandwiches: it is naturally tender, sweet and retains a slightly crunch necessary in all sandwiches.

GC ordered the BBLT.IMG_3192The BBLT with Canadian bacon, double smoked bacon, a fried egg, avocado and lemon aioli.

This sandwich is genius. Why limit a BLT to one type of bacon when you can be ridiculous and add two types? It is brunch after all. The sandwich is smoky, fatty, buttery and juicy. The two layers of bacon create a fatty base to the sandwich. The egg is buttery and creamy. The avocado, tomato and arugula add a brightness to the sandwich that on a bitter cold day make you dream of spring. The lemon aioli adds another layer of freshness and tartness.

GC ordered a side of home fries.

IMG_3193

The sage and thyme home fries with red pepper mayo.

The home fries are crispy, sweet and bright with herb flavours. The red pepper mayo adds a bit of spice and is the perfect dipping sauce for these buttery, salty cubes. My criticism is that sandwiches should come with sides and that I shouldn’t have to order them separately.

And of course, if people are ordering side, then I am going to order a side of chorizo.IMG_3194I have a weakness for chorizo. If I see it on a menu, on it’s own or in a dish, I am that much more likely to order it. It is the perfect side to order with any brunch menu, especially after something light like the lobster Benedict. The chorizo added a spicy punch that my brunch was missing that morning. I loved that the chorizo was topped with fresh cut green onions. The onions add a little crunch and pepperiness.

I enjoyed my brunch at The Tavern. It is slightly upscale without being fussy or pretentious. The menu is full of classic brunch items with new twists that are not too difficult to wrap your hear around. Is it my favourite in the city? No. Will I go back? Probably not but I would recommend it.

Happy munching!

The McLobster

Oh, pill right. I eat and write about food on occasion. The last few weeks have been utterly insane: between work, health travelling, cottaging and getting engaged (more on that later!) I haven’t had time to do much of anything- but I promise to rectify that.

By now, you have probably eaten the McLobster and if you haven’t you should probably just give it a try. The McLobster came out in July and within days of it coming out I gave it a shot; much to GC’s dismay who tried it and hated it.

This is what the McLobster is supposed to look like:

And this is what mine actually looked like:

IMG_4225

  1. I was in a moving car and using my iPhone hence the shadows. The Big Mac falls under the same category as the McLobster of what McDonald’s says it looks like and what you actually get when you order it. We can’t hold that against them. If you want pretty looking food you are probably going to have to pay more than a few dollars. From a quick Google search, other people have ordered McLobster rolls that resemble the ads slightly more.
  2. Holy lettuce! There is no reason to ever have this much lettuce anywhere except in a salad and even then, you don’t need that much lettuce. They do warn that it is on a bed of lettuce, so they weren’t lying.
  3. As for the lobster salad, it’s not that bad. There is a good balance between lobster chunks, mayo and celery and it isn’t watery. There were even a few whole claws in my mix which was a pleasant surprise. This is not the best lobster roll I have ever had, but it is far from the worst. The McDonald’s I went to globbed it on in one spot, not spreading it and evenly dispersing it throughout but again, what can you expect? I just gave the bun a bit of a shake to spread it a bit more evenly.
  4. The bun was the real low point for me. One of the best parts of a lobster roll is the buttered and toasted bun it is served on. The bread slightly overpowered everything else and ultimately took away from the sandwich.

How often can you have a lobster roll for under 10 bucks? You might as well give it a shot once, even just for hilarity sake.

Happy munching!

Tuesday Date Night: Ciao Wine Bar

On Tuesday our weekly date night found us in Yorkville at Ciao Wine Bar. No, we didn’t suddenly become wealthy and now we will eat in Yorkville regularly, we had a Groupon – $50 worth of food for $25. And what better night to go to Ciao than on their Linguine and Lobster Special Night? Every Tuesday Ciao serves up a plate of linguine in tomato sauce with 1.5lb lobster for $21 – this is an amazing deal and with our Groupon it was like we were eating for free (sort of…)!

1. This was a huge plate of pasta. And obviously, a lot of lobster. This plate isn’t for the faint of heart. If you are going to have this for dinner, have a light, early lunch.

2. The pasta was perfectly al dente and covered in a generous scoop of sauce. The sauce was sweet, yet tart, just like fresh tomatoes and was highlighted by the sprig of fresh basil. Fresh basil reminds me of summer and the fresh vegetables and herbs that come from the garden.

3. I loved that the lobster came already cut in half. Lobster is one of those foods that is apparently an aphrodisiac but you look revolting while eating it. Having the lobster cut in half allowed for civilized dining using a fork and knife. The lobster was fruity, tender and fresh. It worked perfectly with the fruity qualities of the pasta sauce to create a coherent plate.

Although we were stuffed, we could not pass up the opportunity to have tiramisu.

4. There was too much stuff on top of this tiramisu. I like my tiramisu classic and simple: a few chocolate shavings and a sprinkle of cinnamon. There was far too much going on with this dessert. The chocolate was good but the shavings were too big and there was too many. The raspberries and blueberries were good, but the orange berries (I don’t know what kind of berries they are – any help here?) were bitter.

5. The tiramisu itself was creamy, with crunchy lady fingers and a subtle espresso flavour. Once you get over the mess on top, this is a tasty, little pick me up.

Another delicious, simple meal at Ciao. Ciao is one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Toronto. Despite being in Yorkville it is decently priced and you are given huge portions. The ingredients are fresh and simple, exactly how Italian cuisine is. The atmosphere is cozy and comfortable – perfect for a family meal, catching up with friends or a romantic meal for two.

Happy munching!

Fishbar

In case you couldn’t tell, I love my birthday. And I celebrate it a lot, hence the excessive amount of posts related to my birthday and food. My birthday celebrations started on October 11th, with my actual birthday being on October 16th, and the last celebration will be on October 23rd. Ridiculous I know, but it is once a year so why not make a fuss about it!

For dinner on my birthday GC and I went to Fishbar, a seafood tapas restaurant located at Dundas and Ossington. I first came across Fishbar on our first visit to this area for burgers at BQM and have been craving it ever since. My birthday seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Fishbar has a fantastic look, starting with its logo: a simple fish skeleton. It is slightly creepy but simple, and with the promise of you getting every drop of sweet, flaky fish.

The restaurant features a long wall of exposed brick, which adds warmth and a touch of rusticness. The flooring is tile that has been weathered and treated to look like it has been there for years and has been tread on by thousands of people. Our favourite feature was a series of mirrors that were actually convex parking garage mirrors that reflected the scene of the restaurant. The back wall featured an extensive wine collection and served as art itself with its simplicity and sparkle. Behind the bar there were framed anatomical photos of seafood which illustrated the science behind the deliciousness you were enjoying. The design of this restaurant was cozy, but sophisticated and upscale. I felt so comfortable and at home, which is a great feeling to have before enjoying an amazing meal.

We started off with drinks. GC ordered a Quebec beer and I ordered what was their take on a classic Caesar.

So I can now officially get behind Caesar’s. This is the third one I have had and I loved #’s 2 and 3. Spicy, thick and a fresh taste like a summer garden, I loved it. The shrimp garnish of this Caesar was a thing of beauty all on its own. It was meaty, thick and fresh and the spiciness of the horseradish contrasted the fruity notes of the shrimp. The horseradish was freshly grated, spicy but tasty. A cocktail is a must at this restaurant.

Continue reading

Museum Tavern

Tonight I met up with Cynthia and we checked out the new Museum Tavern across from the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street.

Museum Tavern has a great patio that overlooks Bloor St  with bistro chairs and tables. The only downside on being located on a busy street is that the tables were covered in a fine layer of street dust – the joys of al fresco dining. The interior was gorgeous and I am definitely going to sit inside next time. It has a tin copper ceilings and cozy bistro tables. The bar was packed as we left at 7:30 which speaks volumes for a place on a Tuesday night. The crowd was young professionals but there was a table with this old man and his two sons that looked identical but with different coloured hair – a ginger and a brunette. Adorable.

We started off with food and then moved on to drinks. We are professional, working girls!

Cynthia ordered the Pulled Lamb Torpedo.

Pulled Lamb with harrisa, goat’s cheese, green olives and arugula pesto. Here’s what Cynthia thoughts of her sandwich: “The sandwich was definitely very tasty. There was a good amount of goat cheese. Sometimes they don’t put enough for you to taste, sometimes it is too strong that it overwhelms everything else. I can’t comment on the pesto by itself but it went well with the lamb. I don’t usually like arugula. The lamb was tender and well seasoned. The coleslaw was interesting and unique – not sure how I felt about it. My only complaint was it was too salty. I would take it down a notch. And the olives didn’t help with the saltiness. I would have done without them.”

I’m going to have to bring this foodie out more often! Thanks, Cynthia!

I ordered the Lobster Rolls.

Lobster rolls with mayo, chives and double smoked bacon. This is not the best lobster roll I have had. The mayo was used sparingly which is always a good sign. There was the light hint of citrus from lemon but I wish I had been given a wedge of lemon to give it a squeeze more. The chives were fresh but the lettuce was not as crunchy and fresh as I would have liked. The bacon was too crispy and I don’t think the smokiness worked with the creaminess of the lobster. The bun was a little too tough and the lobster did not penetrate deep enough into the bun. It was delightfully toasted though. It was good and considering the price of other lobster rolls it was not a bad price – $18/two rolls. And really, a lobster roll or two is always a good bet.

Once our bellies were full, we each ordered a cocktail,

Cynthia ordered the Apricot Bourbon Sour.

Maker’s Mark bourbon, lime, black pepper-apricot syrup, decanter bitters and egg white. This had a sharp booze taste which was highlighted by the apricot syrup. I couldn’t taste the lime or the hint of heat that should have come from the black pepper. I always feared cocktails with egg white but we didn’t die so that fear has been conquered!

I ordered the Watermelon Collins.

Bombay Sapphire Gin, watermelon, basil, lemon and pink pepper-aloe syrup. This was amazing! The watermelon and basil work in tandem together to excite every taste bud in your mouth. The gin is the perfect alcohol to bring out the fruity tones of the cocktail. Bombay is made using other herbs so it is a natural choice for this cocktail.

I would definitely suggest you check out this place – a combination between an old boys’ club and lounge with high quality food and drink. A great addition to the neighbourhood.

Good atmosphere,great food, fantastic cocktails and of course, amazing company. Another successful food experience with one of my favourite people.

Happy munching!

Doors Open

Every year on the last weekend in May, Toronto participates in Doors Open. Every year I don’t plan well enough and just wander aimlessly through the streets of Toronto but it is still good. This year I went with Theresa and although we didn’t plan anything, we saw some great Toronto sights and tasted some good food.

Our first stop was Casa Loma, followed by Spadina House.

Then we headed down to the water to Steam Whistle Brewery for beer, trains and lobster rolls by Rock Lobster Food Co.

Lobster rolls will always be good because they consist of lobster and mayo. However, as you can see, this roll has a slight excess of mayo which takes away from the rich, delicate nature of the lobster. They are less pricey than other lobster rolls though because the goal of this vendor is to bring lobster to the masses. For two lobster rolls it was around/a little more than $5 – not bad for lobster. They also serve fish tacos which is something I would want to hit up next time. These are good lobster rolls but not worth the line that often accompanies them at TUM.

After lobster rolls it was time for an aquatic adventure.

Another great weekend for Doors Open filled with history, food and of course, a sunburn.