Wednesday, October 30, 2013

$22 Steak Dinner at the Hamilton Street Grill - Nov-1 to Nov-23

Just got this in my e-mail box yesterday from the Hamilton Street Grill:

*

Do you love Steak?
We love steak.
We love steak so much we want to share it with you... well, kind of.
For three weeks in November, the Hamilton Street Grill is going to offer New York steaks one of three ways for you, at a great price.
We are offering up our most popular cut, the Certified Angus Beef New York Striploin, grilled to perfection and with your choice of finishes... our classic, tried and true Peppercorn or Blackened, or our new favourite, Agrodolce.
Of course, these steaks come with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables included because that is the way we do it.

All of this can be yours for $22!!
That's right, for three weeks in November, we are featuring a premium steak dinner for $22.
From November 1st to the 23rd.

Hours & Location

The Hamilton Street Grill is open 7 nights a week for dinner from 5:00 to close and open for Lunch, Monday to Friday, from 11:30 to 2:30
  
In the month of November, we will be closed for the 10th and 11th for some R & R... repair and replacement
  
email : hamiltonstreetgrill@gmail.com

For reservations, please phone : 604-331-1511  
Address :1009 Hamilton Street, in Yaletown , just off of the corner of Nelson

Monday, October 28, 2013

Taste of Yaletown 2013 - Society Dining Lounge

Society Dining Lounge on UrbanspoonSociety Dining Lounge is a pretty busy place that sometimes sees rather large groups. We were there at the tail end of the Taste of Yaletown promotion on a late Friday, and it was one of the few restaurants in the 1200-block of Hamilton that was seeing any action. Good for them, I suppose, since that far off, they are outside the busy restaurant hub of Yaletown.

They enforce an 18% gratuity for a table of 8 persons. This seemed to scare off some of our dining group because interest fell from eight persons to six, and then two no-showed so we were only four in the end. Sigh. They were fortunately understanding and did not make us feel bad about it.

There's the dark interior and the heated-patio exterior. The overhead lamps seem to pulse, so you get periods of warmth and then it cools down, especially in the current Fall weather and if you're out at 8pm for dinner. Blankets are available for extra warmth.

After perusing the menu, only one person ordered the Taste of Yaletown promotion. The rest of us picked items to share from the regular menu.

Taste of Yaletown 2013 "FALL IN LOVE" MENU | $25

OCTOBER 16TH – 27TH
STARTERS
Basil Pesto Mini Bruschetta 9
or
Ham Hock & Split Pea Soup 9
sesame bread sticks
ENTRÉES
Lobster Pappardelle 14
lobster tail saffron rosé, chanterelle mushrooms
or
Chicken Potpie Wellington 15
carrot purée & ricotta mushroom caps
DESSERT
Triple Decker S’mores 7
peach purée

Basil Pesto Mini Bruschetta
  • Meh. Nothing to write home about. Tiny portion. Hopefully regular $9 order won't be as small as what came to our table -- it could have fit in a saucer.
  • Taste was, sadly, also meh.
Lobster Pappardelle
  • Tasted okay, but... there's supposed to be lobster in here?
Triple Decker S'mores
  • Tiny dessert. Basically three thin biscuits sandwiched with mini-marshmellows and drizzled with chocolate. Not on the regular menu.
For $25, I would have to say the Taste of Yaletown menu wasn't that good, sadly. Portion seemed under-sized. But at only $25, it's hard to complain, especially considering the location.

Signature Appetizer Platter ($17.95 per person, minimum 2 persons) signature meatballs, poutine, ‘mac and cheese’ balls, chicken wings, lobster corn dog, cheeseburger pizza pocket
  • The Signature Appetizer Platter puts together one bite of just about all their appys for each person. Doesn't sound like much, but it does come with a pot of poutine, so at about $36 for two persons, it works out to a light to medium meal for each person.
  • Signature Meatballs
    • Pretty decent, though nothing special. A good size at slightly bigger than a ping pong ball. Mostly meaty and a safe choice. It's spiced, but not enough to make it a daring recipe.
  • Poutine (hand cut french fries, cheese curd, chicken gravy)
    • Nothing special, but nothing wrong about this comfort food either. Your basic poutine with fries, a generous amount of gravy, and melted curds.
  • Mac and Cheese Balls
    • Apparently the Glowbal Group has these floating around in their restaurants in various incarnations. My friend had gone to The Roof at Black + Blue where it was served as a flatter cake. Here it's a ball slightly bigger than a ping pong ball, smaller than a tennis ball.
    • Supposedly the same as the 'Mac and Cheese' Sticks (with jalapeño, white cheddar) on the Munchies menu, but not cheesy tasting and no jalapeño bite.
    • Maybe it's done differently here than at Black + Blue but the taste was bland, which may have been in part because it was slightly cool on the inside. Basically the same problem as REEL Mac and Cheese: It's hard to tell how done/heated through it is on the inside.
    • Give this a pass at Society and go to Black + Blue, which advertises it at $9 (almost $1 less than Society), plus the menu indicates it is accompanied by "truffled cheese sauce".
  • Chicken Wings
    • These are the Society Chicken Wings with coca-cola sauce.
    • Sadly tiny wings, BUT about par with other wings places, such as Wings Tap and Grill.
    • The coca-cola sauce wasn't that special, alas. You can whiff the coca-cola, but it was predominantly just a sweet sauce, so it's not too far off if they had simply used a thick, sweet, soy sauce.
  • Lobster Corn Dog
    • About the size of a meatball. Decent lobster aroma and flavour despite the filling that looks more like a fish cake. But hey -- it's got lobster in the name and lobster in flavour, so it's to complain here. Just don't expect it to be like a crab cake on a stick.
  • Cheeseburger Pizza Pocket
    • A rather small and flat potsticker. You can barely taste the filling.
Overall, the menu sounds better than it actually tastes. Society weighs in for me as a mediocre dining destination. My take is that Society is really more of a bar and drinks and mingling place. Only if you were done with that and had the munchies would you go to the patio for late-night eats -- plus you maybe don't care to walk too far to get it.

No problems with service leading up to and during our dinner at Society. Maybe they've tightened up since the complaints posted online, but I had prompt and professional e-mail correspondence while arranging the reservations, and our lovely server Anastasia was friendly yet unobtrusive. Bussing was prompt and water kept topped up despite it being a very busy evening. This is something that can fall by the wayside, and it suggests that management isn't stingy or short-sighted about staffing. Even the managers floated around to help now and again.

After looking at the Triple Decker S'mores, we voted no-confidence to desserts at Society and headed up the block for $8 Gingerbread Pudding at the Hamilton Street Grill. They didn't goof that up and it came on the hot side of toasty warm as it should be. About a hamburger sized portion, plus two scoops of ice cream. Not overly saturated with sweet sauce. Totally delicious and a steal at just $8. Still a winning must-try dessert.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ice Cream plus Flour equals Cake

My friend and fellow Urbanspooner ichigo recently shared a recipe for Ice Cream Bread with me. Unfortunately, the Google translation of the page turned out to be more or less utter rubbish, but I was still keen on trying it out. It looked like the recipe basically said "just add flour". Easy, right?

Here is a slice of my first attempt. I used chocolate ice cream on the bottom and maple walnut ice cream on the top. Tons of missteps along the way (I can't bake to save my life), but surprisingly this turned out OK. More like cake than bread, but definitely edible without having to drown it in anything to make it palatable. The main downside is that there wasn't as strong an ice cream flavour as hoped -- not very chocolatey on the bottom and barely any flavour of maple on the top.

Ice Cream Bread 1

Here's how Google translated the recipe, roughly:

Material
200 g Wild berry sorbet (unsalted)
200 g Vanilla Gelato Ice Cream (unsalted)
18 g Sugar
200 g self raising flour
40 g high-gluten flour
70 g dried cranberries (cut into pieces)
Step
1. Wild berry sorbet add half parts sugar and mix well, sift flour and half were half copies spontaneous high-gluten flour and mix into the batter, plus half were dried cranberries and mix well.
2. Repeat the above steps do another Gelato ice cream batter.
3. Cake mold sprayed oil Pour batter Gelato ice cream, then pour the sorbet batter 
in the surface layer of a butter straight line along the central jack.
4. Bake in preheated to 200 degrees in the oven. First bake for about 10 minutes until the surface layer of paint and then transferred to 180-degree oven until cooked bread, takes about 40 minutes.
I didn't want to make a sorbet/vanilla bread, so I did some substitutions to come up with the scary slice pictured above. Also, I didn't find "self raising flour" and "high-gluten flour" in Superstore, so I had to make a few substitutions there too. (Yeah, I could have waited a few days to scrounge up the ingredients, but I was impatient to try it).

200 grams chocolate ice cream
200 grams maple walnut ice cream
1 tablespoon sugar
200 grams all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
40 grams bread flour
  1. After mixing together the sugar and flours, I separated them into two halves.
  2. I mixed the chocolate ice cream in one portion, and the maple walnut in another portion.
  3. I scraped the chocolate mix into the bread tin, then smeared the maple walnut mix on top.
  4. I let the mix sit for a half hour.
  5. Baked it in the oven at 300°F until it wasn't wet on the inside.
Observations:
  • The resulting batter didn't look anything like bread dough.
  • The maple walnut mix came out more smoothly than the chocolate mix. Probably because it was a different brand and type of ice cream. Strangely, it only formed a thin layer on top.
  • Magically it turned out okay -- if you were expecting cake.
  • The texture on the inside was pretty dense and cake-like, with no chewiness of bread.
Next time I try it, I think I will let the ice cream sit more -- until it is liquid. And I'll scrap the quantities. Instead, I'll pretend I'm making bread, and substitute the water with melted ice cream. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Taste of Yaletown - Honjin Sushi

Honjin Sushi on UrbanspoonHonjin Sushi is at the water's edge of Yaletown, in the plaza with the funny chairs and steaming floor lights (at night) that is opposite Urban Fare. Their sister restaurant is Kibo Restaurant and Lounge, also in Yaletown.

The restaurant is smallish but seating is spacious. Staff are friendly, attentive, and helpful. They can be counted on to list what is in each roll of maki sushi -- which is very helpful because the ingredients aren't listed in the menu or on the website. If you have allergies, you'd better ask because the names of the rolls aren't that indicative of what's inside (e.g., NHL Roll?).

The regular menu is available during the Taste of Yaletown promotion! In addition to trying all the sushi on the TOY menu, we also had a few side orders, which turned out to be a strategic error because you do get a really decent-sized meal for $29 because of the "main dish".

Taste of Yaletown $29 menu
Appetizer
Crab salad
fresh crab meat and crispy tempura flakes mixed with ginger mayonnaise surrounded with three pieces of
AND
Salmon Tartar
chopped salmon, avocado and cucumber served on a shisho leaf tempura
Second Course
Maki Mix
Choose any two:
  • Sunshine Roll
  • Yaletown Roll
  • Rainforest Roll
  • West End Roll
  • Round House Roll
  • Caterpillar Roll
  • NHL Roll
  • Butterfly Roll
OR
Assorted Nigiri
One piece of each:
  • Chopped Scallop
  • Hamachi
  • Sushi Shooter
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Ebi
Main Dish
Tara Miso (Marinated black cod in Miso)
OR
Salmon Teriyaki
Main dish served on a bed of brown rice and a side of Spring Mix Salad with Thai Dressing
Dessert
Coffee Jello 
OR
Ice-Cream

Karubi (not on TOY menu; $4.95) beef short rib with garlic sauce
  • Cheap tapas-plate sized order that was simple looking but really tasty with it's sweet sauce.
Salmon Head Shioyaki (not on TOY menu; $5.95)
  • It's the grilled head of a salmon, but not what you think. Shioyaki is a particular style of grilling. The salmon head came out raw-looking, but the meat was cooked.
  • I definitely think this isn't for everyone. Best to see someone else having it before trying it. Then there's the effort of digging out the meat from the various areas on the salmon head. Get a fork and spoon.
  • You actually only get half a salmon head, split lengthwise. Turn it over and start digging out the meat. I suppose there's a novelty to eating a salmon head, but even though it's only $5.95, in the end I don't think it's worth the effort and taste.
Crab Salad and Salmon Tartar
  • I both like and dislike this appetizer. There's a lot to like, though: It's a lot of fun to eat. Both of parts have fun crunchy bits. There's a light, refreshing taste to them.
  • What I didn't like was that the flavours flattened the crab and salmon flavours so that they didn't come through for me. Nevertheless, tasty and fun to eat.
We tried all the rolls. There were four of us, so we only got a single piece of each roll, which isn't really enough to properly dissect. Here are some general observations:
  • Do NOT wait. When it comes out, start eating right away. The "dynamite" (prawn tempura) inside goes soggy quite quickly. Depending on what is sitting next to it inside the roll, you may still get some decent crunch ten minutes in, but overall it's best when you get at it right away.
  • There's a lot of fruit used, which often adds a sweetness and fresh taste to each roll. Not very "traditional" but more fun to eat and it also makes the sushi good for every stage of a meal, whether as an appetizer, main, or just a snack over drinks.
Taro Miso / Salmon Teriyaki
  • This was the weakest and most disappointing part of the meal. After the fun salad and interesting rolls, we get a slab of fish on brown rice. Ho hum.
  • The fish is well-prepared and with beautiful grill marks, but in the end, fish is fish.
  • The rice (about 1 bowl in volume) might be a bit dull to handle. Try sprinkling a bit of soy sauce on it.
  • If you're a light eater, you might want to just eat half the fillet and ask them to package the rest to go.
Ice Cream - four flavours available - Vanilla, Chocolate, Matcha, Mango
  • We tried everything except Vanilla. You get a boring single round scoop. However, it's soft enough that you're not pushing the ball around when you dig into it. There's a smoothness and creaminess to it, and the flavour is strong. Overall, rather good ice cream.
In lieu of the Coffee Jello which wasn't available at the time we were dining, we got a "pudding", which turned out to be more like a crème caramel with soft whipped cream on top and sitting in coffee (?). Other than the off-putting appearance of the soup (steadily worsened by the cream falling into it and making it muddy), the dessert itself is nicely not-too-sweet and a safe choice, but not as refreshing as their ice cream. I think the unappetizing-looking watery-ness made me consider it less tasty than it actually was.

Overall, Honjin Sushi is a very solid choice for a Taste of Yaletown excursion, despite having a weak finish. I recommend taking the main course (fish and rice) home, eating everything else there, and maybe ordering a couple of interesting items from the regular menu.

Taste of Yaletown - Yaletown L'Antipasto

Yaletown L'Antipasto on Urbanspoon Yaletown L'Antipasto has a solid Taste of Yaletown line-up at a decent value compared to the regular menu price. Overall, the food was tasty, but there were some oddities in a couple of items that threw us off. Whether this was a case of kitchen error or a choice on the part of the restaurant is debatable, but unless you're a conservative or perfectionist, it won't ruin your experience.

We had a later dinner at 8pm, and though it was still busy at the start, the dinner rush was clearly over and we had a relaxed time at this later seating, lingering past 10pm savouring our food and enjoying conversation and company. At this later hour, there were no lineups waiting at the door to pressure the restaurant to move people along, Taste of Yaletown notwithstanding.

Prior to coming, I had heard that the menu used to have smaller portions in their early days, but that is no longer the case.
I had also heard of speculation that some of the food was reheated. The kitchen is small to be sure, but there's underground dry storage (where desserts made earlier in the day are refrigerated) and I saw steaming pasta being prepared. Some of the plates (like salads) were basically assembled, so no (re)heating is required. It's hard to say how this reheated-food rumour started, but there was no sign of it and in any case it wasn't reflected in the food that came to our table.

The regular menu was not available, but the pasta choices on the Taste of Yaletown menu was available for ordering separately. (A few great pics from K. of Q's Quarter).

YALETOWN L’ANTIPASTO $35 DINNER MENU
1st Course
Your Choice of:
Tuna Carpaccio
In-house cured albacore tuna loin made in the traditional manner of Sardegna, enhanced with some lemon zest infused olive oil on a bed of arugula with cherry tomatoes and capers.
Or
Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio
AAA Alberta beef, slightly seasoned, drizzled with an intoxicating white alba truffle infused olive oil, served with traditional vegetables sott’ olio
Or
Traditional Antipasto
Cured meats, prosciutto, mature Italian cheeses & antipasto vegetables & toasted bread
Or
Insalata di Celeste
Organic spring greens, chevre goat cheese, dried cranberries, sliced almonds & balsamic vinegrette
2nd Course
Your Choice of:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
This is a classic plate from Rome. We use cured guanciale from Oyama sausage on Granville Island, with a slightly peppered cream sauce
Or
Spaghetti alla Vongole
Fresh spaghetti, manilla clams, garlic, dried chillies, white wine & extra virgin olive oil in perfect balance & finished with fresh parsley. Enjoyed all along the coast of Naples
Or
Ravioli all Filly
Lobster & crab ravioli with a fresh tomato sauce & tiger prawns, sautéed with a little garlic and chilies, laid on a bed of arugula
Or
Pappardelle Rosse
Thick ribbon egg noddles in an organic tomato sauce with braised boneless shortibs, beef tenderloin, checken breast & Italian sausage
Dessert
Your Choice of:
Lavender Crème Brulee
Or
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Or
Tiramisu

Tuna Carpaccio (normally $12; picture)
  • Tuna is tuna. This did not seem to be anything extraordinary.
Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio (normally $12)
  • Probably the best of the three. The truffle oil is generous here. You smell nothing but truffle oil, so you might worry that they may have used too much, but once it's in your mouth you do taste the meat.
Traditional Antipasto (probably a reduced version of their $23 share plate)
  • I'm hard to please, so this plate seemed to be the sort of thing that is useful for sharing with one or two persons. For a single-person plate, it's a wide variety of things, but nothing to write home about (which is not to say it was bad, just not extraordinary). I guess if you were worried about being committed to something that you might not like, then this is for you.
For the aforementioned appetizers, my experience is that they weren't so much appetite-whetting tastes but meat-appreciation plates. You get a small quantity of thinly-sliced something that you will hopefully know how to appreciate. I don't have that depth of knowledge so this was lost to me.

Insalata di Celeste (normally $8)
  • If you're hungry, this is the biggest plate, although the Antipasto plate did have two thin wedges of semi-hard cheese.
Ravioli all Filly (normally $22; picture)
  • This plate doesn't look like there is a filling portion on it, but only because the large ravioli squares were neatly arranged in a flat row instead of a piled up in a clump. It does work out to a reasonable meal.
  • Far and away the best choice if you can eat lobster and crab. The lobster flavour was very strong, though this is still not as superb as the lobster lasagne I had at Don Francesco's (which, incidentally, is still doing their 50% off anniversary special so it's an awesome time to go).
Pappardelle Rosse (normally $22)
  • The sauce was strangely... boring? A bit thin-tasting and not very flavourful. Seriously -- go for the lobster ravioli.
  • The pasta here had a slight "crunch" -- cooked through definitely, but a bit firmer than what I'm used to. This was the same with the Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Spaghetti alla Vongole that was also ordered at our table. The manager assured us that it was properly al dente, but those at our table who'd been to Italy disagreed. However, the manager did not sample the pasta off our plate, so it could very well have been a fluke kitchen error.
Lavender Crème Brulee (picture)
  • Strong, almost grassy smell of lavender, but not overpowering on the taste.
  • The crunchy caramel top had a surprising "smoky" aroma, and of the two persons who ordered this, it was so off-putting that one of them had to set that aside. Again, this could have been a fluke kitchen error or a bold variation. You decide.
Tiramisu
  • The strangest tiramisu I've ever had. Came in a little pot instead of a cake-like block on a plate. Not my order, so I only got a sample -- but when I dug into it, I pulled out only white cream and nothing else. Hmm... Not a lot of strong espresso or coffee flavour either.
  • Sounds weird but worth a look if you're curious.
Vanilla Panna Cotta
  • The safest choice. Low on sweetness if you're watching your sugar.
  • We had the fruit sauce on the side, but I heard that earlier Taste of Yaletown incarnations had it right on the panna cotta. If keeping it separate and optional that is important to you, mention it to your server.
When the food was good, it was really good -- like the lobster ravioli. Service was friendly and attentive. The restaurant is a bit tight on space, so definitely make reservations if your party is more than two persons.

Chambar Restaurant to close May 2014

I got a e-mail recently from Chambar Restaurant announcing (in rather fine print on the inset picture in the e-mail) that they will close May-2014 on their 10th Anniversary -- but to reopen nearby.

The announcement also contained a link to a long-ish survey for information that might be helpful in shaping their new locations. An interesting tidbit in this survey was that Opentable costs restaurants $1.20 per person reserved. Hmm...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Andalusian tapas at El Matador

El Matador on Urbanspoon El Matador is a tiny and rather busy place. If you sit at the long and startlingly narrow bar-height community table, you may well wonder how you will possibly have enough room to have dinner. But somehow, it works out because of the small plate concept.
It's cozy-small and rather dimly lit. I guess you could say it's good for dates.

The dishes seemed to be really hit-or-miss, which may make you think it's not all that great, but that's actually a fallacy. It's not fair to expect every dish to be tasty to your palate. Dining at El Matador is very much like going for dim sum: If your friend orders chicken feet or duck tongue and you go "yuck!", before you give them 1-star on Yelp, try to remember if you ordered something that you liked.

Unlike dim sum where they demand you make ONE order at the start of your meal and they get upset when you try to order more stuff because it screws up their billing, you just keep ordering stuff and stuff comes to the table. This is very handy for trying out many things and not accidentally over-ordering or under-ordering.
Also, the plating supports four persons each getting a bite without having to cut anything in half. Just a bite, though, but that's actually really handy since you can easily order more of what you like and you won't be stuck with too much of a plate of something nobody likes.

We were seven persons when we went to El Matador on the Friday of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, and we tried a bunch of stuff. We were operating on 3 plates for 7 persons (approximately 1:2 ratio), but in retrospect I think we should have gone with 2 plates and just ordered more of what we liked. That would definitely have let us try more dishes.

Shallot and Crimini Stuffed Mushrooms ($4)
  • This mostly tasted like mushroom -- I felt it didn't have enough flavour contribution from the stuffing.
Spicy Fried Potatoes ($4)
  • Simple but yummy. Basically french fries in tasty sauce.
  • There's a hint of spiciness here, but not really anything that would make me call it "spicy", but your experience may vary here. I'm used to hot Indian and Southeast Asian curries, so this was "mild" for me.
Smoked Salmon Devilled Eggs ($6)
  • Four halves of eggs.
  • Definite salmon flavour, and bit of a crunch from a little slice of very crispy salmon skin (which is too fishy tasting to be eaten on its own). If you like salmon, you will probably like this more than I did since I'm don't like salmon all that much.
Olive Tapenade with Anchovy ($6)
  • The ground-in anchovy had just a hint of contribution here. Otherwise it tastes like olives, but not as salty.
  • Be very generous with heaping it onto the toast, or you will run out of toast.
Garlic Shrimp ($6)
  • Simple and tasty.
  • Fat prawn-sized "shrimp".
Chorizo Tapa ($6)
  • If you're not paying attention you'll miss the slab of chorizo sitting way at the bottom. But it's there and its flavour does come through.
Bread Pudding ($5) served with whipped cream and a blob of brown something
  • On its own, each of the four slightly-smaller-than-ping-pong-ball sized bread pudding portions was horribly boring and painfully priced at $1.25 a piece. Definitely needed more whipped cream and something to go with it.
Rice Pudding with Fig ($5)
  • Not as wet or sweet as rice puddings often are. This is "dry" in comparison.
  • Not much contribution from the lonely soft fig on top. Could've used more fig and a bit more wetness.
  • Thankfully no cardamom here.
The Flourless Almond Cake was "crossed out" by being highlighted in green and sadly not available.
Overall, of the items we tried, I felt they ranged from OK to pretty good, and for the variety and what you got on the plate, the price was between okay to good if you compare them with appetizers at a "normal" restaurant.
No real standouts from what we ordered, and the desserts were sort of duds. Interestingly, the least interesting-sounding items were the most satisfying -- spicy fried potatoes and garlic shrimp.

My feeling is that this is more of a bar where you drink and snack on appys and chat with your drinking buddies rather than sit down for dinner. If you're not having wine and you're paying too much attention to the food, you're probably doing it wrong -- which is to say, I've got it all wrong since I'm not a drinker and I pay attention to the food.
In many ways it's a great complement to Starbucks upstairs -- Starbucks is for hanging out with your non-drinking buddies. El Matador is for hanging out with your social drinking buddies. In neither case are you hanging out to get dinner.
If you insist on coming for dinner, I recommend coming here in fours and ordering three different plates each, then one final round of whatever you all liked best. Expect to pay about $20 (before drinks, tax, and tip) for a light to medium meal -- sort of like putting together a dinner using appetizers. You might want to go for just a lighter dinner here, then go elsewhere for coffee and dessert. There's no shortage of restaurants in walking distance, and Starbucks is literally just upstairs.

For a busy place, the kitchen did rather well in pumping out the plates. Bussing was also quite prompt, which was especially important for the community table that was a narrow table space to begin with, and had diners sardined together on slightly wobbly barstools. The only thing that was slow was getting water topped up. I don't recall they asked if we wanted more drinks, actually. But it was packed that night and they looked understaffed.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Martin's Marvelous Fig Salami

Martin's Marvelous Fig SalamiMartin's Marvelous Naturals Fig Salami mostly tastes like figs, so that is what you should expect. Fig taste plus crunchy fig seeds. It's sort of like the paste in a fig newton, except with a hint of apricot. The chocolate contribution is sadly lacking and more or less non-existent -- don't count on tasting it, or any of the rest of the ingredients.

Overall, this felt like a disappointing product because I was really hoping for a clear chocolate taste somewhere in there.

The packaging is interesting -- a waxy crust envelopes the salami instead of plastic wrap. Although it looks melted onto the outside of the salami, it can be pried cleanly off.

Free Cheese Recipe Magazine

The Big Little Book of Canadian Cheese I was in Superstore last Friday and happened to see this little free booklet. If you want an easy primer on cheese -- what's what and how to serve it -- so you can break out of eating just cheddar and mozza, pick this up!

You can also go to the website AllYouNeedIsCheese.ca to access all sorts of cheese information, but it actually isn't as straightforward and cleanly laid out as this booklet.
It does have a lot of videos as well as a "Tools" section that includes a Cheese Encyclopedia and help for planning a cheese platter.

Finally, you can sign up for a free quarterly magazine of cheese recipes.