Gilead Café

As Christmas approaches weekends and evenings fill with dinner parties, festive cocktails and baking. It’s hard to maintain any sense of normalcy and schedule which for me means GC and brunch. Last weekend GC and I reconnected over brunch at Gilead Café.

Gilead Café is sleek and modern with a touch of rustic charm. It beautifully combines materials and styles. There is a coffee bar, a blackboard wall with daily specials and walls of preserves. It is modern and simple without being cold and sterile. It is my dream kitchen. We were seated at a small wooden table near the window with views of the alleyway and row houses.

I ordered the Poached Eggs Benedict with House-made Ham.

IMG_2685

IMG_2686

YUMS. This was simple and understated but absolutely perfect. The hollandaise was zippy and silky. It was lemony and tart without being too citrus. It was drowning perfectly poached eggs.They were runny and rich. The ham was sweet and flaky. The English muffin was absolutely amazing. We all know how I constantly site my Gordon Ramsay English muffin as the best English muffin I have ever had but it looks like we might have a contender. It was airy, buttery and light. A fluffy, little pillow to put your delicate head on. I would like to eat this again and again.

The low point of this dish: the lentils. Why am I eating lentils in general let alone accompanying my delicious brunch? Fine, insist that I try to be a bit more healthy but these were mealy and boring. I would rather have salad with my brunch than lentils. Ick.

GC ordered the Poutine with Braised Beef & Aged Cheddar.

IMG_2683How come GC gets to eat poutine for breakfast and I had lentils on my plate? And why are all my life problems the epitome of first world? But because GC loves me he shared and I was able to enjoy this amazingness. The fries were crispy and fresh. The braised beef was tender, rich and delicate, flaking gently over the the fries. The cheese melted and the dollop of sour cream was decadent and amazing.

This brunch was fantastic. It was simple but sophisticated and delicious. After our brunch we headed to the Distillery District to wander the Christmas Market and then to the Gardiner Museum to check out the 12 Trees of Christmas. This year the theme was Toronto and the trees represented the various neighbourhoods of the city. Below are a few of my favourites:

IMG_2693 IMG_2697 IMG_2699 IMG_2703 Happy munching!

Farmhouse Tavern

Another Sunday, another brunch. We are now doing brunch in a very efficient, almost OCD way: I have created a list on my phone of all the BlogTO brunch spots, added addresses and hours and we are slowly working our way down the list. We are going to each of these spots right as they open. Using this method, a few weeks ago GC and I went for a brunch date to Farmhouse Tavern.

Farmhouse Tavern is a very unique, homey and comforting vibe with it’s authentic and rustic farming decorations: The smoker on the patio is built into a tractor, our seats were tractor seats, there are farming pamphlets on the wall and everything has a cute, country flair to it.

The menu is anything but traditional which is refreshing and fun. My only complaint with the menu is that it was written on a blackboard without descriptions, making it awkward to see and forcing you to ask your server for explanations of everything. But as we were there first thing, our server was accessible and in good spirits.

GC ordered Mother ‘n Child Reunion.

IMG_4878Mother ‘n Child with duck eggs, soft boiled and deep fried, with streaks of duck prosciutto, hunk of tasted bread and a salad.

The name of this dish is awesome – it is witty, yet vulgar and still to the point. If you add foie gras to this dish, it is called the “Threesome .” This dish was presented beautifully: simple, but elegant and modern. Everything was delicious and decadent. I would definitely recommend this dish.

I ordered the Hangover Poutine.

IMG_4881 IMG_4882The Hangover Poutine with fresh cut cubed fries, coated with Thunder Oak Gouda, rabbit rillete and braised leeks.

Although I was not hungover, this dish was to die for. It was comforting but indulgent as the fois gras gently melted over the poutine and  in your mouth. The cheesy added a nutty, saltiness to the dish. It was a perfectly seasoned, flavored and paired.

You definitely need to check out Farmhouse Tavern for brunch – and even better, they take reservations! By text no less! I am patiently awaiting my next visit.

Happy munching!

Johnny Jackson

On Thursday night, Gastropost hosted a foodie event at Johnny Jackson and GC and I were fortunate enough to go. Free drinks and free food, how could we pass that up? Despite the fact this this was a foodie event, I have no pictures from the evening. The restaurant was too dark to get any good shots. You will just have to enjoy my descriptions and take my word for it,.

Johnny Jackson is a relatively new restaurant located on College Street in Little Italy. It’s draw is that it has cheap late night eats, being open until 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Food is sold by the boxful and is just $10/box. The interior is a combination of bar and restaurant, with booth and table seating. The restaurant is dark but with a cozy vibe rather than a sketchy vibe. The music is a mixture of Motown and classic rock. The atmosphere and music immediately drew me in, so it was just a matter of trying the food.

This was a free event so it was just a sampling of the menu but there was more than enough food for everyone to try everything. They were serving samples of their deep fried pickles, poutine, pulled pork sundaes and mac and cheese.

1. Deep fried pickles are one of those things that a good in theory but are not always good in practice. The problem is when you deep fry the pickle, the juiciness becomes flamingly hot and will burn your face off. JJ has found a way around this – instead of serving up whole pickles, the pickles are quartered. The result is juicy, but not hot and steamy. The coating was bread crumbs mixed with seasonings, including dill and the dipping sauce was also dill. The overall taste was extremely dilly in a good way. The serving was 6 quartered spears which was the right amount  for a tasting.

2. We unfortunately did not get to try the poutine which is served with bacon but we were able to satisfy this craving by going to Poutini’s after the event. I do want to go back and try their take on poutine because when anything has bacon on it by default, I’m there.

3. Pulled Pork Sundaes are nothing new but they are something I had not tried until that evening. These were assembled in a sundae glass, layered with pulled pork and mashed potatoes and topped with cheese; this is definitely a dinner type of sundae. The pulled pork was moist, sauced and a little spicy. The mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were not great. They were too pureed and had a more liquidy texture than a mashed texture. If I were to make a pulled pork sundae the mashed potatoes would be creamy but thick, and perfectly scooped using an ice cream scoop. The pulled pork would be  smothered on top, spilling down the sides of the mashed potatoes like chocolate sauce.

4, Mac & Cheese is one of my favourite foods and my go-to comfort food. Lately, whenever I see mac & cheese on a menu I order it in my attempt to find my favourite one in the city. This mac and cheese had serious tang and zing to it. I was trying to determine what spice was used in the sauce but I wasn’t able to = foodie fail. This was creamy and cheesy but I found the seasoning took away from the cheesiness of it. A good mac and cheese but not my favourite.

This was a great event that Gastropost set up for all the writers and I hope there are more in the future! It’s always fun to try a new restaurant with people who love food as much as you. Johnny Jackson is worth checking out, especially since how many restaurants serve food that late at night, especially good food?

Happy munching!

Montreal 2012

Again this year we went to Montreal to check out Osheaga. This year was a much more relaxed trip – no car accidents, no running around, just listening to music and having a few key bites of Quebec food.

Our Osheaga schedule was as follows:

Friday – Fun., Down With Webster, Of Monsters and Men, Atlas Sound, Wintersleep, Florence and the Machine, and MGMT.

Saturday – Young the Giant, Dumas, Brand New, Garbage, Feist and Snoop Dogg (Lion?)

Sunday – Zeus, Dan Mangan, Airbourne Toxic Event, Common, Santigold, and The Shins.

More importantly, on to the food. We only had four major food stops this trip, Jean Talon Market, Restaurant A L’Aventure, Montreal Poutine and Schwartz’s Smoked Meat.

Continue reading

Come and Get It

Last Friday I went to Come and Get It with a friend from work, Jaclyn.

Come and Get It began as a pop-up food vendor and has now found a home at Queen and Spadina. All the furniture and materials used in the restaurant are sustainable and recycled. The tables are plywood, the containers and cutlery used are compostable and the retro lunch boxes that house the cutlery and napkins are legitimately from the 1980s. The restaurant has a fun vibe of a school kid’s clubhouse.

This restaurant has done something interesting with the menu – there are 5 different flavour profiles featured on the menu:

1. Chipotle Braised Beef Short Ribs

2. Hawaiian Pork Belly

3.Granny Smith’s Chicken Caesar

4. Spicy Mango Jerk Chicken

5. Herbed Crunchy Green Bean

Of these 5 flavour profiles you can get them as either a sandwich, a salad or A POUTINE! THIS IS INSANE AND AMAZING. How often do you read a menu and think, “That would taste really good as a sandwich, too bad it’s a salad.” I doubt you have ever thought that but now that you know this is a possibility somewhere you are going to want to do it EVERYWHERE.

I decided to get the Hawaiian Pork Belly Poutine.

Hawaiian Pork Belly Poutine – Hoisin glazed pork belly, crispy pork crackling, house cut French fries, Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese curds, and rich beef and chicken gravy.

I think it is interesting that this is called “Hawaiian” but it does not have pineapple… Maybe that would have been the obvious choice and that’s why this doesn’t have pineapple on it. I don’t think in a poutine form that pineapple would have worked but in the sandwich and the salad it definitely would.

The pulled pork was so fatty and juicy, it just fell apart on my compostable fork. The pork crackling was… interesting. It was too crunchy which I think is just how pork crackling is. I wouldn’t know – this was my first time eating it. It was far too salty and with the French fries, my mouth was instantly parched. I think the crackling would work better on the sandwich were you can bite into it, getting smaller pieces that could then be neutralized by bread. The cheese curds weren’t squeaky enough! The gravy was slightly sweet and lighter than most gravies and this is because it is a mixture of beef and chicken gravy.

This portion was insane! It was only $7 and it was enough for two meals but obviously you can’t save poutine. It’s not the best poutine I have ever had but it was pretty good. I think this would have worked better as a sandwich and I think I will go back and try it in this format.

Definitely worth checking out – it is an interesting concept and they execute it well. Keep the flavours simple but allow these flavours and profiles to be transferable across many different meal-formats.

Happy munching!

The Ballroom Bowl

On January 8, GC and I went to The Ballroom Bowl – a bowling alley located in downtown Toronto at the corner Richmond and John St.

Now if you are wondering why we go to places that would clearly be more entertaining and lively in the evening it’s because GC works in the evenings on the weekends. The only time we have is weekend mornings/early afternoons. It’s hard but I think it encourages us to get out there and do things, rather then being complacent and boring at home.

Be warned – this place is hip and therefore, expensive. The cheapest you can get a half hour of bowling for is $17.50 and it only gets more expensive. Since you are paying for the lane and you go with a group of people (up to six per lane) at the peak hours it would be a little more than $10/person/hour which isn’t bad.

When you walk into The Ballroom it has a very dark feel, more like a lounge rather than a bowling alley. Dark hardwood floors, deep leather couches, long bars and big screens with all types of sports games projected on them. At each alley they have every size ball in the return which is great because I, like most people I am assuming, have no idea how to correctly pick out a bowling ball. I used a beautiful blue ball that was marked a six – is that the weight? Finger hole size? And my bowling shoes were brown and blue. I would legitimately wear them outside the bowling alley if I could. In the hour of time we bought, we played 3.5 games. There was two mechanical hiccups but they quickly moved us to an alternative lane.

Food. We ordered the Popcorn Chicken Poutine – crispy chicken bits, gravy and cheese curds. Delicious.We found out from the manager that everything is fried in canola oil and all the meat is butchered on site. This means they can guarantee the quality and freshness of the food but also, for those of us afflicted with allergies, that there is no cross contamination. Safe eating for the win! Back to the poutine. The chicken was nicely seasoned and crispy, the gravy wasn’t too fatty or greasy, just the perfect compliment to the crispy chicken and fries. And the cheese. Not squeaky cheese curds like you will find on true Quebecois poutine but stringy and cheesy so almost as good! The fries were really crispy which was great because they didn’t fall victim to the gravy. They have five different types of poutine, all around $10 and I would like to try them all. Now. Please.

The food is what would bring me back here. Although I enjoyed the hipster meets wall street feel of this place, I think I almost prefer the dirt of typical bowling alleys. It keeps the focus on the bowling rather than the drinking and eating which distracts from the bowling. When the bowling is by the hour it kind of makes me feel anxious and as if I am racing the clock to get a strike. The good thing is, there is a lounge on the second floor where you can order food, beer and watch the game. Next time I would like to try the signature Ballroom poutine or maybe the Nathan’s Famous mini corndogs.