January 2, 2012

Nota Bene

Sometimes, a spur of the moment dining decision turns out to be a fabulous gastronomic adventure.

Here's a few reasons we've been dying to try out Nota Bene:
1. The Owner and Executive Chef is David Lee, a young chef and restranteur who Terry's mama thinks is quite hawt.
2. They support local, using ingredients that showcase the best that Canada has to offer.
3. They were voted Toronto's Best Restaurant and it's not difficult to see why.
4. It's a nice, classy joint...which means no boisterous, drunk cougars dancing on tables. Double like.

So getting right in, we kicked it off with a charcuterie board. We'd like to state for the record that we are hardcore carnivores and shamelessly proud of it.

With that out of the way, here's a food-tograph of that oh-so-wonderful board of meaty goodness:

Nota Bene Charcuterie Board - we think we died and went to heaven with those little slivers of meat.
Suffice it to say, we wiped it clean. Rumour has it that the pork is slow-cooked for almost 36 hours, with the fat turning into a buttery-soft, melt-in-your-mouth crackling. It crackled, it melted, it was good.

This was followed by a series of mains, each of which earned two thumbs up from our hungry dining party. Clearly, the most 'exotic' meal on the table was the rabbit -- quite delicious and not as gamey as one would think. This naturally led to a discussion on our friends' other epicurean adventures -- an intriguing list that included turtle meat, ostrich and dog. Yes, Fido apparently goes well with a light Reisling.

12/oz Grass-Fed New York Strip

Jennifer’s Stilton Beef Brisket Burger with Pommes Frites 

Rabbit Soffrito, Pappardelle Pasta with Porcini Mushrooms, Pancetta, Olives

Charred Wild Digby Sea Scallops Bacon, Cauliflower Purée, Butter Ball Potatoes, and shaved Black Truffle

Grilled Dorada with Spinach, Hummus, Chipotle, Taggiascan Olives

Much to our friends' chagrin, we very much enjoyed sampling off their plates. To share is to care, mama said...and who are we to disobey mama?

No night is complete without a sugary fix. In our quest to find Toronto's best Sticky Toffee Pudding, we of course had to try the NB version.

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Pecan Praline, Spotted Dick Ice Cream
As good as it was, at this time, The Ceili Cottage's Sticky Toffee Pudding still reigns supreme. However, NB's Double Chocolate Brownie had our friends crossing swords spoons in a valiant attempt to scoop up every last bit of that cacao delight.

Double Chocolate Brownie with Banana Ice Cream, Cornflake Crunch, Kahlua Caramel

The service was impeccable, the food was divine. Oh Nota Bene...you spoiled us...and we'll be back for more.

Nota Bene on Urbanspoon

December 19, 2011

Green Papaya - Yonge & Eglinton

Wandering about the Yonge and Eligible part of town, our friend J.Wow recommended we try out Green Papaya for dinner. And so we did.

Green Papaya at Yonge & Eglinton

The restaurant touts itself as specializing in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, which undoubtedly means the menu is large, varied and difficult to choose from. Titus and I were like two grumpy old men as we debated over ordering dumplings, soups or rolls...and that was just the appetizers.

The Steamed Thai Chicken Dumplings were a little soggy and lacked the meaty filling. Terry thinks it should have been called Peanut Dumplings because that really was all we could taste. The Tom Yum Chicken soup, on the other hand, was packed full of spicy flavour and definitely the winner by comparison.

Steamed Thai chicken dumplings topped with Szechuan-inspired spicy peanut sauce

Tomyum with chicken in spicy Thai tomyum broth

Thankfully, our shared mains did not disappoint. Flavourful...and we did clean our plates.

The Mains -- Malaysian rice noodles with chicken and shrimp, egg and beansprouts in spicy aged miso paste
AND Oyster beef stir-fry with broccoli, soya, garlic, and oyster sauce

All-in-all, the meal was enjoyable but average. We've definitely had better on the Yonge-Eg strip.

Green Papaya on Urbanspoon

December 16, 2011

Aji Sai - Yonge Street

Sorry we've been AWOL. The festive holiday season has kept our lives busy and our tummies full.

We've been busy eating, drinking, being merry and trying to think of ways to kick things up a notch here. Sadly, the copious amounts of wine floating about in our systems has not served up much in inspiration.

So let's just focus on the basics for now.

A few weeks ago, after a rather tiring Christmas shopping expedition, we hit up Aji Sai in Yorkville for some sushaaaay! Located just north of Yonge and Bloor St., this tiny little restaurant came highly recommended...namely by Titus, who loves sushi...and can get extremely cranky when he's hungry.

Oh and did we mention it was 'All-You-Can-EAT' sushi? Boo yah.

Pic taken post-dinner. We had a 7-minute wait when we first arrived.

The menu was extensive and looked promising.

Ohemgee - we could have had a LOT more of the delicious Miso Soup starter

So Titus took charge of the order (yes, he also gets pushy when he's hungry) and ordered up some sushi and shtuff. The Avocado Salad, although lacking in presentation, was great little appetizer - a little bit of softness, a little bit of crunch and a whole lot of green. Sadly, we can't say the same for the Tempura Prawns & Vegetables where no amount of soy sauce could inject much flavour.

Titus' Avocado Salad was exceptional

Terry's choice of Tempura Prawns and Vegetables was, for lack of a better word, a bit ... meh.

But it was the sushi we came for and the sushi that saved the night. We mentioned Titus loves his sushi and if it was his last meal on earth, he'd probably die a happy chappy. We ordered the usual spread - California Rolls, Sashimi,  Shrimp Tempura Rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls etcetera etcetera. The freshness was palpable and every bite truly delectable. It's AYCE and we ate all we could eat!

The true pièce de résistance - fresh and oh-so-tasty!

We ended dinner with a scoop of Mango Ice Cream which was good...as mango ice creams go.

Mango Ice Cream

Aji Sai on Yonge Street is busy most nights, and they probably couldn't fit your entire extended family for dinner, but we're well-impressed by the quick service, the friendly atmosphere and, most importantly, the great prices for good quality sushi.

Aji Sai Japanese on Urbanspoon

November 27, 2011

Thai Express - Pad Thai with Beef

Ok, so clearly, we like our Thai, which may have something to do with Titus being from Thailand.

This little wooden figurine is a lucky little elephant who gets to have home-style meals up here in the Great White North (how could you not love Hogtown's diversity, eh?).

Titus' pick du jour was a spicy Pad Thai with beef from Thai Express -- "thin rice noodles in a sweet and sour sauce with eggs, bean sprouts, green onion and salted radish", as described on the interwebs.

We think all restaurants should have wire-handle take-out boxes.
It's go-go-go as soon as your order's in. They don't kid about the 'express' part and, truth be told, we love watching them.

The ladies behind the counter swiftly pick out the ingredients for your meal, passing plates over to the three truly-madly-deeply-busy chefs. It's the lunch rush hour and the flow of orders is non-stop. Giant woks bounce against rising flames as ingredients are tossed, sautéed, stir-fried and packaged. There's lots of shouting, banging, sizzling sounds, but everyone behind that counter looks like they're having fun. As your number is called out (and you realize you've been staring at them with your mouth wide open), you try to overcome your excitement and graciously receive your green take-out box.

That whole process took just about three minutes.

Oh-so-good. If only it was a bottomless box.

The aromas that leapt out when we opened that take-out box is the kind of stuff we live for. The food is as tasty as you would expect something freshly-prepared to be. And although Terry thinks it could have used a little more beef, he gives it top points for everything else.

We've also heard great things about the Tom Yum soup and the Pad Sew, and at this rate, Titus may have to look into that loyalty program. Uh boy.

Thai Express on Urbanspoon

November 24, 2011

Thai Island Red Curry Beef

A recent lunchtime scout brought us to the Thai Island food counter at the Exchange Tower in downtown Toronto.

Now, we've been there plenty of times before -- the lunch options are great, it's affordable, and we love how fast the little Asian ladies serve up our food. They run that busy counter like a well-oiled factory line.

It's Thai, it's tasty, it's takeaway...and naturally, it's become one of our favourite lunch spots in the PATH (just don't mention the fancy packaging price increases, and we're good - it still remains a sore subject with Titus).

Anyway, we had to show some blog love to Thai Island's Red Curry Beef -- succulent strips of tender beef tossed in a zesty red curry sauce. In one word - deeelectable.

We enjoyed it so much, we went back the next day for seconds. $6.99+tax lets you pair it with a side of white rice for a filling lunchtime meal.

Or you could choose to be a non-conformist like Terry and mix it up with some fried rice...and subsequently be subjected to a spate of verbal mockery by your Asian friends who think fried rice and curry is utter blasphemy.

It's been known to happen.

Thai Island's Red Curry Beef and fried rice - so nommers!

Thai Island on Urbanspoon