Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lately in food...

Malena, 120 Avenue Road
This is a restaurant that never disappoints.  I have written a bit about them in the past (search the archives if you missed it) but Malena now has a new team executing their Ionion menu.  Head Chef Alex Bruveris and Sous Chef Rebecca Ross are putting their love of food into Malena as well as into each other; they are a couple and they make a great team.

A mushroom and arugula salad ($14) is not just that.  Grilled wild mushrooms are warm with fresh arugula that's dressed ever so lightly with pieces of focaccia that are torn and nicely charred.  These are quite frankly the best damn croutons I have ever had.  Parmigiano shavings finish off the salad.

The bf/gf combo make their own lamb sausage ($16) with the addition of oregano and lemon.  The sausage is juicy and tender and has the right amount of 'game'.  It sits amidst perfectly crisp square of fried potato and a generous amount of a peperonata puree.

A dark chocolate smores tart ($10) is super fun.  White chocolate crackers replace the graham and marshmallows get the addition of honey.  Let's just say, despite being a little anti-dessert, I finished it.

The room is uber romantic and apparently a little romance in the kitchen doesn't hurt either.

One of the must try cocktails is the Spiced Pear Cocktail ($13) - a delicious blend of Grey Goose La Poire vodka, Oakheart spiced rum, pear nectar and cardamom simple syrup.

Sitting on the pony haired bar stools for a late, light dinner is a great way to spend a Saturday night.

Pho Mi Asia, 1248 Dundas Street East, Unit #12
This is a restaurant that was so disappointing, I gave up eating to save myself some calories.  It is a Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai restaurant in a strip mall setting.  It's located in the Dundas and Dixie area so this is a heads up for all my Mississauga friends. 

We are celebrating my Nana's 95th birthday (shout outs to Nana!!!) and my grandparents do not know what Thai or Vietnamese food is.  They like Chinese, my aunt Linda likes Viet Bun, my mother likes Thai and the rest of us will eat it all so this place seemed to satisfy everyone's taste. 

Now, I realize I should know better; any kitchen that claims to cook more than one type of cuisine (and not in a fusion way) is bound to spell disaster.

There are two things you need to know:  this is a Vietnamese run restaurant and Linda's grilled pork bun is satisfactory but that's about it.

Everything else is bordering on disgusting.  So bad, it is almost comical.  Their version of chicken pad thai was nothing more than rice noodles in a fuchsia pink sauce with hunks of dark chicken meat.  No cilantro, no bean sprouts, no tofu, no lime, no nuts??!!

I'm pretty confident there are better options for Asian cuisine in the 905 so please, I've warned you, do not order from this one.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pizzeria Defina

Pizzeria Defina, 321 Roncesvalles Avenue, is one of the newer restaurants on the Roncey strip.  It is small(ish), casual and "family friendly".  Truth be told, the number of ankle biters kind of puts me off as I'm trying to have an adult dinner with a friend but I don't forget where I am; Roncesvalles is family ville.

The space is nice enough.  There's exposed brick, gleaming hardwood, bright colours and a massive wood burning oven in the center of the open concept 'pizza area' (all other dishes come from the back of the house kitchen).  I don't understand why the music is quiet and Top 40 as it does nothing to enhance the concept of an Italian pizzeria.  I'm also confused about the tapas menu and the addition of paella to the main course options.  I hate fragmented restaurant concepts.

A Caesar salad ($8) is not really a Caesar salad.  Sure there is romaine lettuce, shaved Parmigiano, croutons and bacon but the sweet and tangy vinaigrette dressing and the absence of anchovies, garlic and lemon make this anything but a Caesar.  Having said that, it is tasty.

You have a choice between a Napoletana or a Roma crust on your pizza.  We are told the former is more chewy while the Roma is thinner and crispier.  This is a half truth.  The two have the same thinness and are both somewhat soggy.  The Roma is not as soggy.  Both crusts are a little too charred with the perimeters tasting burnt.

The Margherita ($13) is traditional with a San Marzano tomato sauce, fiore di latte, Parmigiano and basil.  The sauce is on sweeter side and there's a little too much of it but it's a good sauce.  It passes.  There's the right amount of cheese but not enough basil. 

The Prosciutto ($16) is another traditional combo of tomato sauce, thinly sliced prosciutto, shaved Parmigiano and fresh arugula.  Again, it's good.

Pizzeria Defina fails to impress but it doesn't disappoint.