"It’s not a meal unless there’s at least seven courses."
-Erin Wotherspoon, serial dater.
Toronto restaurants are good, great at best and I’ve had my fill at the finest, but like most of the men here, they’re just too “nice”. I like my foie gras served up with some attitude, and no I’m not talking about those angsty hipsters west of Ossington. I’m talking about bold, sexy restos that are unapologetically original. Not the run of the mill “we’ve got tapas, micro brews & local veggies”. Don’t get me wrong, I want all of the above but I want the moon & the stars too. Maybe my expectations are unrealistically high? I don’t think so. I’ve always expected the elk tatare & never let my fashionably thin wallet stand in the way of my dreams. Toronto men of Reddit can crawl out of the holes- that are their mother’s basements & resume dating, but remember boys, shave those unibrows first & try not to be awkwardly polite. This serial dater is coming to New York City.
Men, women, children, what have you, if you’re interested in booking a dinner with this dreamboat send me a message. Openings are booking up fast.
Show up on time, act super interested, laugh at my jokes, compliment my hair, let me guess you like me, and if push came to shove you would date me again & again & again. The problem? We seem to have skipped one crucial step in the dating dance, the chase. Acting illusive and super busy (even if you’re not of course) can increase your chances immearsurably when zeroing in on potential suitors. Want to hang out next week? Ooo sorry can’t, I’ve got this thing. How about the week after? No can do, got a couple of things that week actually. Catch my drift? The point is you’ve got me wondering, and sooner or later I’ll be clawing at the walls, pulling out my hair, driving my car off a cliff, wondering was he really even interested in me? We did order dessert though, a tell tale sign things are going well -when things go south getting the bill as fast as you can is your only hope. Sigh. Confusion, mixed signals, hidden agendas, it’s all a necessary part of the chase. Without these things I’d probably be in a boring relationship with all my shit together. Bleh. I think I’ve found enough stability in my relationship with oysters thank you very much. I see them every weekend, we usually enjoy each other’s company whilst intoxicated, and they’re great at turning me on. The glistening little pearls arrive at the table, oysters at the chase are the best to date. They’re accompanied by the standard fixings, nothing special, although you can opt to pay extra for some special sauces. We keep it classic with some lemon, horse radish, & hot sauce. How do you slurp your oysters? Do you suck them back quickly no strings attached swallowing them in one foul gulp or are you more of a chewer? Me? I’m a chewer. I want the whole 3D experience. I want the smooth avocado like finish, the meaty subtly salty texture, refreshingly cool & these oysters taste nothing like the sea. I’m say yes to another round and yes to the chase fish & oyster.
Not to be missed, the raw bar. Go big or go home. That pay cheque was meant for wasting and my advice is don’t splurge on shots (or any number of the fancy cocktails) splurge on the raw halibut, the yellowfin, and just about anything & everything on the raw menu. A couple other dishes pushing some brain-scrambling tastes are the pan-seared scallop, the lobster claw & the jalapeño butter- since consuming I have often fantasized about drowning in said butter; live & die a foodie, that butter will be the death of me. The only mis-step was the dessert, an angel food cake twist on key lime pie. No frills could run circles around their angel food cake and if you were expecting key lime pie, well…don’t expect key lime pie. My disappointment was momentary though, the bill comes revealing I’ve racked up some pretty hefty damage- no doubt the most thus far. Wait for it….wait for it…”Mastercard”, the sweet sound of someone else footing the bill. This penniless girl gets what she wants. Do yourself a favour, don’t underestimate the power of the chase. Happy dinner dating!
Location? King west
If Buca were a man I’d be totally nervous to date him because he’s so good looking. A man of stature & pleasing height, he’s got this industrial yet glamorous style to him –not going to lie, I’m pretty overwhelmed & I wish I wore heels. Piled high plates go by and let the oogling begin! A gapping mouth stare is something I typically shy away from, but not here. A procession of pizza’s go by and I’m staring, mouth agape, right at the goods, undressing it with my eyes, imagining what it would look like on my plate, in my mouth…Buca is a man I want to get serious with. Yes, I’ve had some flings in the past, a little ramen, a regrettable meal at the Mandarin –we all make mistakes, right? And they usually come with copious amounts of tears, bad Chinese food and sentences like “these are my buffet pants”.
We are shown to our table and find ourselves seated amongst a good- looking crowd, an “in-crowd”. There is very little I love more than first sitting down at a freshly set table in some chic restaurant. The initial menu scan, maybe some complimentary apertifs, the first sip of wine is indeed a holy one, the ritual of it all, gets me every time. My eyes skim the page effortlessly for a couple of seconds before I lock eyes with it, “Tartufo Bianco”, taleggio cheese, fresh white truffle all atop a glorious pizza smothered with duck yolk instead of the more typical al pomodoro. Aside from the 32oz prime rib, said pizza is the priciest item on the menu, sitting at a whopping fifty bucks. Pangs of doubt cloud my pretty head. Dare I order the second most expensive dish on the menu? Is the serial dater turning soft? Do I actually feel bad for my date? He does seem to be a nice guy…NO! He is merely a conduit for my tasteful lifestyle, nothing more, nothing less. The waiter arrives, sheepishly I say, “I’ll have the double stuffed ravoli”.
The food. The prosciutto was perfectly conditioned, simultaneously warm & cool, though the fixings were a little dull. A very shy slice of taleggio cheese paired well with a chilled cranberry sauce to start. It should be noted most of the meats are cured in-house, a delicate balance indeed, with temperature and time being of the essence. The goose ravioli was by far the highlight, stuffed to the brim with goose meat, each ravioli is a plentiful package in and of itself. The sauce –which risked being too heavy (fonduto di parmigano, a melted cheese similar in consistency to mozzarella) was lighter than air & balanced nicely with the heavier goose meat. A cacophony of colours the dish wasn’t hard on the eyes either, and I swear I tasted hints of raspberry in that sauce.
Some wine. I like my wine. I like it red, not too dry and in a big ass glass. I know a thing or two about tannins, how to pair a good wine with a nice cheese, but talk to me longer than 30 seconds about some region in Spain and I’ve stopped listening. Sure sure some people have the more cultivated palate, can distinguish those floral notes, detect the oak, the smouldering fire & a whisper of cinnamon, but I smell bullshit. Or rather I don’t smell much of anything besides wine. If you do however enjoy talking about your wine as much as drinking it, the sommelier at Buca is the gentlemen for you. Straight out of a Gucci ad, in some quaint alley in Rome is the portrait he appears to have just stepped out of. It seems as if he is struggling to find English words to describe this breed of wine we’ve chosen –a surprisingly sweet merlot from Spain. (Seriously everyone who works here seems straight out of Italy). I watch nervously as his hands boisterously move about, just missing the bottle of wine –such passion in the sommelier, I’m sold, I love the wine.
Some advice. A little dessert. If you decide to come to Buca make sure you pre-eat because the portions are sparse and leave you wanting more. I’m getting the feeling opting for a second round of pizza is not an unusually occurrence at this resto. I also wouldn’t recommend dessert. If it wasn’t so late I’d totally tell you to hit up forno cultura across the street, the best bakery ever for some mind blowing pastry but sadly that ship has sailed for the evening. I compare my dessert at Buca to the likes of eating a just short of ripe banana. I know it has potential to taste good, all the makings of deliciousness are there –gelato, pumpkin fritters…but a banana before its prime just tastes bad, as does dessert at Buca.
Needless to say I’d call this gentlemen again and by gentlemen I mean restaurant and by call I mean eat at.
Restaurant? Bar Isabel
Location? 797 College
The restaurant? Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
Location? Liberty Village
"What’s your favourite cheese?" she asks her beau.
"The orange kind"
Resto? El Catrin
Location? The Distillery
Yah, like I’ve never had tapas before… Is it just me or is every restaurant these days either tapas or family style. This just in, explaining tapas to someone is like asking if they eat sushi, we all do and whoever doesn’t, deserves to be left behind, confused, underfed, & alone. The food? Crab fitters, papaya mirin mojo, crema fresca, drizzled with black mole vinaigrette (whatever the hell that is) fashion together forming a dish that is basically fancy crab cakes, except, of course, half the size. Now for some tacos, when in Mexico right? Wrong. Those tacos were a let down. I’m beginning to think maybe I just don’t like mexican food- definitely don’t like the music, the marchacha seemingly playing on repeat can stop anytime now. But seriously if you have fish tacos on your menu, you better be stepping up to the plate because there’s a lot of competition out there & the odds are stacked against you. Oh and when the bartender breezily approached us, as we inquired as to the whereabouts of said tacos, and responded with “Whoops maybe I forgot your order”, I’m getting that might be a casual thing for you, but to me that’s a pretty serious statement. I’m starting to think eating at El Catrin is like climbing a mountain, you have to be very persistent. Between staking out our territory at the bar using our elbows as weapons, the inability to walk anywhere in the restaurant without encountering a head on collision with an army of serves and food runners, and some carefree bartender forgetting half our order; I’m going to say this Mexican is a MexiCANT.
Restaurant: Farmhouse tavern
Location: Dundas & Dupont