DT Bistro: Oh Christmas Tree…

416-916-8155    |    $14 -$26 mains

 

Friend of mine who lives nearby has been telling about this place for months. Was a little far north for me, but with a car at our disposal, a friend and I headed over to taste dessert and more.


Photo Credit: DTbistro.com

Food

The menu shows that this place isn’t just about desserts. Some quality pasta dishes, mains with duck, ribs, bouillabaise, you name it. Very diverse menu with reasonable prices. 

I started with the mushroom tart + goat cheese and my friend with the wild mushroom soup. Enjoyed the flaky tart, mushroom and cheese combo is tried and true, solid dish. Same goes for the mushroom soup, nothing particularly complex, just good mushroom flavour.

For the mains we had the crisply soft shelled crab with greens and the lobster and chorizo pappardelle. Unfortunately the battered crab was noticeably missing the chunks of crab you’d expect and was pretty much just batter. Disappointing.

The pappardelle (above) faired better. The flavour combinations worked, and the addition of fennel, tomato, and mushroom made for variety. The rose sauce was mild, and I think could have benefited from stronger notes of seafood or fennel. I’d say the lobster was probably a little on the rubbery side as well, but not much. Good to know: the portion is enormous for $20. Doesn’t need to be that big, and the dish frankly gets cold by the time you’re nearing the end.

Then we checked out desserts! My friend wasn’t feeling so hot and I was stuffed from pasta, so we only went with one. There is no dessert menu, just a display case that could make even the most focused person indecisive (below).

Given the festive time of year, we decided to go with the mint Christmas tree (below). The mint butter cream icing was light and tasty, and the hard inner dark chocolate shell with dense cake inside was also tasty. The berries balanced it out nicely and the cream…well it’s just nice to have whipped cream.

The Christmas tree was quickly gobbled up.

Service and Ambience

Friendly service let us take our time throughout the meal and was very attentive. The restaurant wasn’t very busy early on a Thursday night, so we weren’t in a hurry. As we went through the meal they were always around for questions and definitely had opinions concerning dessert selection (an absolute must given the case full of choices).


Photo Credit: DTbistro.com

The decor of the place is a little too clean in my opinion, I think it’s the white tile floor against the light colours everywhere else. The paintings on the wall provide some depth and something interesting to look at though, would love to own one.

The Reco?

I liked this place and I think the menu has potential. The desserts looked wonderful, the owner is a champion dessert maker and I wouldn’t doubt the other items are delicious. I think the savoury side of the menu could still benefit from some polish, but given the affordability and variety, it’s hard to criticize too much.

Other reviews:
 National Post      |     Toronto Star    |     Toronto Life

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Dec 15, 2011

DT Bistro on Urbanspoon

JOEY: It’s a chain but…

647-352-5639    |    $13-$35 mains

 

…it’s very respectable food. I don’t usually review chains, but enough people in the downtown core are asking ‘what about this new Joey place?’. I figured I’d write a mini-review just in case people are on here looking for it.

Food

This menu has been designed with the masses in mind. It’s big: you can get anything from a rainbow roll to bombay butter chicken to steak & prawns. Generally speaking, if you see all three of those things on one menu you should get up from your table and run. But give this a place a chance.


Photo Credit: YUL to YYZ

I’ve had the pan-fried gyoza, rainbow roll, lobster ravioli and moroccan chicken across two visits, and I wasn’t really disappointed in any of them. As is to be expected, this won’t be in the top 5 best asian or moroccan food you’ve ever tasted, but it all tastes good.

I’ve also heard good things about the fish tacos, chicken burger, butter chicken, and the sandwiches. I’ve yet to hear someone tell me what they had was ‘bad’. 

I think the key takeaway is that if you walk in expecting to eat Moxies food, you’ll walk out a very happy diner. 

Service and Ambience

This place is huge inside and there are a ton of servers. That said, during a busy lunch hour, don’t expect to be in and out quickly. On my most recent visit we were there an hour before our mains got to the table and we weren’t checked on frequently enough by our server in the meantime. 


Photo Credit: Stephanie Dickinson, One More Bite

The look of the place fits with what you’d expect: modern, open, trendy, lots of TVs, a good central bar area, and a ton of seating. It’s what a nicer chain restaurant should look like.

The Reco?

It’s not a destination restaurant. It’s not a specialty restaurant. It’s not the best food you’ve had in a while. BUT, it’s good. If you’re going to be near Yonge-Dundas with a few people who can’t all agree on what to eat, I think this is a respectable pick.

Other reviews:
 Plato Putas    |     Food Lover 360    |  YUL to YY

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Nov 18, 2011

Joey Eaton Centre on Urbanspoon

MALENA [NOW CLOSED]

416-964-0606    |    $25-34 entrees

Wanted to try something a little more refined for dinner with a few friends in the Av and Dav area. Came across Malena, sister resto to closeby l’Unita, serving up a fusion of Greek and Southern Italian fare. Here’s everyone’s take:

Food

The menu has a good balance of Greek and Italian, a good number of appetizer plates and nice balance of meat/fish/pasta in the mains. Something for everyone by the looks of it. 


Photo Credit: John Surfin, Post City

To start, 3/4 of the of the group ordered the arugula salad with roasted butternut squash, goat cheese and preserved quince. The consensus was ‘more squash please’, which meant both the salad could have used more of it and the concept was right. End of the day, it’s just some greens to start off the meal.

I started with fresh arancini over duck confit, with pieces of cold burrata, and pine nuts. This was my favourite dish of the night. Combined a bunch of things I wanted to eat, and really balanced temperature and texture well. I will say that I thought the duck confit could have been more tender and that the arancini were lacking the signature presence of melted cheese. I know there was something else on the plate (a green maybe?), but can’t remember for the life of me. It’s a variation on their usual arancini dish.

For the mains, we ordered gnocchi of the day with a pork and tomato ragu with parmesan to garnish. Ragu was tasty, but found the gnocchi a touch on the dense side. A good dish though.

Also ordered the roasted brick chicken with house mostarda in potato puree. My friend described the chicken as succulent and tender, with crispy-ish skin. The mostarda also add a some texture and a nice flavour complement to the potato puree. Dish was also served with an egg yolk that was cooked past runny. Not sure if the yolk was suppose to break and become the sauce or what. 

The market fish of the day was sea bass with a dill sauce, potatoes and grilled celery. The bass was perfectly flaky, and the classically paired sides worked as you’d expect.


Photo Credit: John Surfin, Post City

I ordered the squid ink tortellini (above) stuffed with lobster and mascarpone, topped with reduced brown butter and heirloom carrot sauce. Pasta was a perfect, thin, al dente encasing for the creamy lobster filling. I found the sauce added some richness, but I couldn’t pick out carrot. The panko on top each for crunch was a nice touch. The dish was definitely satisfying, but I think I wanted a hint of brightness or bitter to round it out.

Three of us ended with gelato. Pistachio was dead-on, but the dark chocolate was a little closer to milk for some at the table. I had the chocolate panna cotta with candied olives. The taste combination does work, but the panna cotta was more or less pudding texture and most pieces of the candied olives were too large, making some bites quite salty and unappetizing. 

Service and Ambience

We found the service pleasant, checked up on everything frequently, no glaring mistakes I can remember. 

The decor in the restaurant was very trendy, mixing tile, metal, wood, retro and modern all in one. If I started an upscale restaurant, it’d look pretty close to this.

An Aside…

I was recommended an online reservation service called DiningDateNight (bad name, I know) that lets you reserve at about 10-15 upscale restaurants across the city for $10, and in return gives you 30% off your final bill. We saved about $70 across the four us, which was awesome.
 

The Reco?

Overall, I understood what the meal should have been and think it almost got there. A few food slips here and there makes me a little hesitant to return for full price, but I’d try it again at a bargain.

Other reviews:
Globe and Mail    |Toronto Star

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Nov 11, 2011

Malena on Urbanspoon

LUMA: Really wanted to like it more





647-288-4715    |    $9-26 lunch entrees,  $15-36 dinner entrees

Dropped by for a Friday lunch on the patio with high expectations. 

Food

The menu was promising for lunch, with items I’d expect to only see on a dinner menu: burrata, roast pork belly, veal flank steak, etc. Unfortunately, I’d categorize the menu as hit and miss based on our group’s experience.

Hits:

Mixed Drinks - ‘Fruit of the luma’ and ‘blackberry charger’ are both cleverly named, not too sweet, and perfect on the patio.

Coconut Poached Red Snapper - Friend of mine enjoyed the lightness of the perfectly cooked fish with the mix of root veg, ginger, lime and tofu. There’s a bit of heat here as well.

Ricotta Gnudi - Light and fluffy, tasty mushroom foam (there’s a ton of it, actually covered the gnudi entirely), and chunks of Parmesan made this affordable lunch portion ($13) a good value.

Misses:

Grilled Octopus - Always a good test for a kitchen. Good flavours (not great) when you got everything in one bite: pickled eggplant, candied olives, romesco, arugala. Problem was there was barely any eggplant or olive on the large portion and the romesco was bland. In addition, the octopus, while not rubbery, wasn’t tender and had a very dense quality reminiscent of steak, making it difficult to chew. Not sure if it was intentionally prepared this way, but it wasn’t pleasant to eat. We saw another table near us send theirs back to the kitchen.

Lobster burger - This was my main, paid $21 for the burger (no side) and was let down. The lobster wasn’t chewy but the delicate flavour got lost in the togarashi mayo, cucumber, and bun. I appreciated the texture of the crispy shallots, and I think it tasted good as a unit, but I needed to be wowed by either the lobster flavour or some great use of spice/acidity. Just wasn’t there. 

We tried the endive salad and shrimp salad as well. Both were neither hit nor miss. Wish I’d ordered the burrata; heard it was delicious.

Service and Ambience

High marks for both. Restaurant is beautiful and located in a convenient location as I’ve come to expect from O&B. The elevated patio, while loud from mid-day traffic, is a cool spot on a nice day and is great for people watching. Food presentation was also impressive for lunch dishes.

Service was friendly, attentive, and didn’t rush us through our long lunch. Our server recommended my friend’s snapper (good call) and was around frequently to check up on us. I’m definitely a fan of the style of service at O&B restaurants.

The Reco?

I’d like to tell people to come here, but my bottom line is food and both of the dishes I ordered didn’t pan out. It’s a great-looking spot, and you could very well pick a satisfying dish - the fact is that I didn’t. For that reason I can’t give Luma more than two stars.

I’ll admit a second visit for dinner might enlighten me, but I think I’m going to lay off the O&B for a while and give the little guys around the city a try.

Other reviews:
National Post    |     Globe and Mail    | Toronto Life

Posted by: Jacob, Visited Oct 7, 2011

Luma on Urbanspoon