Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's Burger Week!

BQM BurgerShoppe's $5 Burger:  brisket with caramelized onions, goat cheese and jalapeno aioli (I added the onion ring)

I am addicted to hamburgers and was obviously totally jazzed when I heard that The Grid T.O is sponsoring an event that is entirely dedicated to burgers.  It's called Burger Week and it started yesterday (May 30) and runs until June 3.  The deal is a bunch of Toronto restaurants are featuring a $5 burger and a handful of places are doing it for charity with their "Black-tie Burgers".  Bestellen, 972 College Street. has only been open for a few short months but their burger has already been referred to as "the best in the city" more than a few times.  For Burger Week, Bestellen is serving up their usual mix of fresh ground, cooked to order, chuck, short rib and strip combo but this time it's topped with Stilton, house made HP, onions and rocket ($18).  For $5.50 you can add a cold Muskoka Spring Oddity.  $5 of the sale of every burger and $1 from the purchase of a beer will go to charity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hoof Raw Bar

Hoof Raw Bar, 926 Dundas Street West, is the third baby in Jen Agg's family. I have loved everything I have ever eaten at The Black Hoof. I dislike elitist cocktails so The Cocktail Bar is not for me. I do, however, love seafood so here I am sipping a wonderfully tangy and peppery Bloody Maria getting really excited to try the already famous cured fish board ($22). It's like fish charcuterie; branzino, mackerel, black cod, tuna and scallop all cured using different flavours. The chorizo cured sea scallop impresses with its' creativity, sweetness and smooth texture. But the buttery nori cured black cod takes me somewhere, it wows me. I'd like five more pieces please.

The tiny loaf of sweet milk bread ($2) and butter is also a must.  For one, it is so damn cute in its' tiny brown paper bag and the butter is salty and soft.  For two, you need some substance if you are going to attempt dinner here.  The portions are small and I pretty much need to eat thirty seven oysters (6 for $18 or 12 for $34) before I feel full.  Sure there's others but nothing is as successful as the board. 

A chawanmushi ($11) is a Japanese custard with crispy, fried kale, button mushrooms and salmon roe.  The ramekin is straight from the fridge and the custard is ice cold.  It's off putting. The best element is the roe; big pearls of bright red roe that burst in your mouth like sea candy.

I won't even bore you with the details of the other two dishes we tried as I don't recommend them.

All you need to know is go to the Hoof Raw Bar, have one of the four Caesars and a fish board then move on. 

It's the best new appetizer in town.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It opened but is it any good?

Toronto Life is always good for information on restaurants in the city.  Their 'Dish' column always does an "Introducing" feature where they focus on who just opened.  But am I the only one that wonders if these restaurants are any good? I know, that's the point; we are supposed to go and try it but if I ate out every week I'd be fat and broke and that ain't pretty.  Today's 'Dish' features Osteria 55, 55 Colborne Street.  I had dinner here about 2 weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised.  The pappardelle with creamy truffled mushrooms is a stand up pasta dish.  Perfectly el dente with a gentle richness that allows you to finish your plate without feeling sick afterwards which is how some cream sauces can make you feel.  Another successful execution is the 10 ounce striploin.  Simply grilled with a little pickled veg salad and salsa verde.  I skipped the sauce because I want to taste the beef and it's no Bestellen strip but it is good.  A side of grilled asparagus is little overcooked.  The space is awesome.  I love the soft lighting and exposed brick.  I hate the way they fold the paper napkins on the table; it looks banquetish.

Here's a link to Toronto Life if you'd like more details: