Amsterdam BrewHouse

Amsterdam BrewHouse relocated and moved into its new location that overlooks the Harbourfront earlier this July. The new location is spacious as it can seat about 800 people inside, and the patio is also really nice with additional seating. Besides being a restaurant, Amsterdam BrewHouse also has their own indoor craft brewery so they craft their own selection of beer.


I really liked their concept and interior. The service on the other hand was pretty much abysmal. I arrived with three others around 7:30 pm for our party of 12 people. We approached the front desk and waited in line. There were three hostesses or servers at the front desk talking amongst themselves while not seating anyone (despite plenty of open tables). A fourth waitress finally arrived and seated us, which I thought was kind of odd. A couple of people from our table were already there an hour earlier so we sat down. We waited another 20 minutes for someone to take down our drink and food orders. Despite the abundance of employees walking around; flagging one down is really hard.

As for food, Amsterdam BrewHouse offers the typical pub fare with various beer/food pairing choices. I liked that they have a variety of different choices from burgers, fries, lobster roll, ribs, salmon, pizza, salad, etc ... Since the location is a tourist area, the prices are a little higher but it has a great view (if you sit out on the patio).

I opted for the 1 lbs of Thai sweet chili sauce chicken wings ($12.00) and a side order of french fries ($4.70). The wings weren't really warm but I did like the sweet flavor. I did like the fries though as it was pretty crunchy and salty. Anyways, my total cost for the night came out to be $22.27 (including tax/tip). Some people might think that the price is steep for just 8-10 wings and fries but you have to take into account the prime location of Amsterdam BrewHouse.

Also just a quick tip to those who are planning on going to Amsterdam BrewHouse as a group; they don't do separate bills and there is an automatic gratuity of 18% (I think 6+ people).

Disclaimer: This review is solely based on my experience back in late August 2013. One of my friends who just went last week told me that much has changed since then, and that service has improved. I will most likely return to check it out again as I really enjoyed the atmosphere here.

RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 3.4/5
Service: 2/5
Overall Dining Experience: 3.5/5
Price: $$ || Online Menu

Address: 720 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, M6J1E8

Amsterdam BrewHouse on Urbanspoon

Rock Lobster Food Co

Rock Lobster Food Co originally started up as a pop-up at several food events (such as TUM), and eventually opened a restaurant in 2012. Since then they have added a second location on Queen St. One Saturday night, I had dinner at their original location which was just a short walk away from where I was that night.


My favorite seafood of all time has to be lobsters with mussels (being a close second). The menu is a simple one-pager with several lobsters (and seafood) dishes, and another page for drinks.


The Rock Lobster Roll ($14) was served with Yukon chips and a slice of McClure’s dill pickle. I have had a couple of different lobster rolls throughout the years, and this one is on the top of my list of favorites. I liked that there was a generous portion of fresh lobster. Additionally, the topped sauce was creamy and the toasty bun made it even better.


The Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese ($14) [fresh lobster, aged Canadian cheddar, and panko crust] was a comforting dish. This dish wasn't a personal favorite of the night but it's good if you have a craving for some mac and cheese with an added seafood twist. There was an okay amount of shredded lobster but you have to dig deep into the cheese to get some. Overall, it was a decent dish and I did like the crispy texture of the panko crust.


Lastly, we got the Lobster Supper ($39) [fresh Nova Scotia lobster, butter, creamed spinach, mashed potato and bread roll]. The steamed lobster was a decent size, as there wasn't that much meat inside of it. However, it tasted pretty good when dipped with the accompanied hot butter. The bread roll was also fresh and buttery. They do have a special on Sunday where it's only $25, which I think is a fairer price for the size of the lobster in comparison to its regular price.

Overall, the dimly lit Ossington Avenue space offers a warming dining experience. If you like lobsters, then this place is pretty good for it.

RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall Dining Experience: 3.5/5
Price: $$$ || Online Menu

Address: 110 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON, M6J 2Z2

Rock Lobster on Urbanspoon

Japango


Japango is a quaint establishment located conspicuously on Bay and Dundas. I have heard that the lunch hour can be quite busy sometimes so it's a good idea to make a reservation beforehand to ensure a seat at the 20-seater restaurant.


The modest space was simply decorated with wooden accents and boxes.


I opted for the Japango Deluxe Dinner which is a pre-fix course meal ($35.00). It comes with miso soup, green salad, tempura, sushi miso black cod and ice-cream.

 The green salad was topped off with a gingery sauce and sesame seeds; it had a tangy taste to it. The miso soup wasn't spectacular so nothing more can really be said about it.


It was refreshing that the tempura (shrimp and yam) was not too oily and that the batter was light.


Instead of the miso black cod, I substituted it with beef teriyaki. The
beef teriyaki was well-presented with a few stir-fry vegetables. Overall, the dish did not disappoint as the beef teriyaki was both tender and moistly marinated in the sweet sauce.


For the price point of the meal; I was surprised that the platter did not include a wider selection of nigri sushi. Rather the selection was quite traditional with tuna, salmon, sea bream, butter fish nigri sushi and 6 pieces of California roll. Despite the minor selection, I enjoyed the sushi as it was very fresh. The amount of rice balanced the ratio size of the fish and the rice was well-flavored.

Although our server was not the friendliest; she was relatively prompt to take away the empty plates and refilled our green tea. Furthermore, the price point may be higher than nearby competitors, but Japango do offer high-quality sushi.


Pictured: Green tea ice-cream


Pictured: Bluefin tuna belly (o-toro) sashimi ($23.00)


Pictured: The chicken (white) dinner ($18.00). It comes with soup, salad and rice.


RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.3/5
Service: 3.8/5
Price: $$$ || Online Menu

Address: 122 Elizabeth, Toronto, ON, M5G 1P5

Japango on Urbanspoon

Chocolate Tales

Name: Chocolate Tales
Cuisine: Chocolate making and decorating workshops

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to try one of Chocolate Tales' workshops. I have a very sweet tooth so I was excited to attend my first chocolate making class. Chocolate Tales offer many different kinds of workshops (classic chocolate making, truffle making, decorating with chocolate, and tempering class) at various locations in the GTA. I attended the 90 minutes "Classic Chocolate Making Workshop" that took place at the St. Lawrence Market (93 Front Street East, Toronto, ON, M5E 1C3). This specific class allows you to make several chocolate molds, and truffles. As I entered the kitchen, I was handed a delicious cup of Belgian hot chocolate to drink prior to the workshop. The hot chocolate tasted really rich and it was fitting for the chilly weather. 


Our chocolate connoisseur for the afternoon was David Levy (Chocolate Dave); who is both the owner and one of the teachers at Chocolate Tales. He began the workshop by introducing the history of chocolate and gave some tips on how to make your own chocolate. Throughout the presentation; small plates of "Origin Chocolate" was making their rounds around the class, and we got to taste test them. 


After the taste testing; it was time to create and decorate some chocolates. Since Halloween is quickly approaching; everyone was given a Halloween themed chocolate mold. We were also provided with various items that can be used to decorate the chocolates; white chocolate, creamy milk chocolate, coconut shavings and cocoa powder. 


So to start, I was given a cup of milk chocolate to fill my Halloween themed chocolate molds. Afterwards, I was free to use any of the provided items that are listed above to decorate my chocolate pieces.


 The next activity was making our own truffles, which are traditionally made with chocolate ganache. Everyone was given their own ganache block to play around with and we had the choices of rolling them into balls or use the provided metal shape cutters. To decorate the truffles, we had a few options from coating it with milk chocolate, drizzle designs using white chocolate, or topped it off with either coconut shaving or cocoa powder.

 Chocolate Tip: It is best to coat the ganache balls in the milk chocolate first before decorating it so that the shaving would stick after it cools.

 

The final activity of the day was decorating our own lava cake. Honestly, the cake had a nice chocolaty aroma and I just wanted to take a bite out of it. However, I couldn't as there was still raw eggs in the batter. We were instructed by David to decorate the lava cake to our personal liking, and then they will cook it for us in the oven.


 I decided to topped my lava cake with some coconut shaving and swirled some milk chocolate onto it.

 

Everyone at the workshop is now waiting for their truffles to cool down and the lava cakes to cook.


At the end of the workshop, we were given packaging to take our decadent chocolate creations home. Everyone then went to the front of the class to get their cooled truffles and cooked lava cakes.

 

My chocolate truffles have finally cooled down. It looked quite messy but it was delicious nonetheless!!


 The chocolates are neatly wrapped up.


 It was an enjoyable afternoon and needless to say ... all of the chocolate was devoured by the next day. Chocolate Tales is a fun activity to do with friends, family members, significant others etc ... Additionally, it is also suitable for all ages and the company also offers private parties.


They are currently offering a 45% discount on all of their workshops, so don't forget to check out their website for more information. 

Thank you to Cocoa Kelly for the invitation, I had a great time.

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Khao San Road

There aren't that many Thai restaurants uptown where I live so I usually have to trek downtown for it. A friend and I decided to meet up for dinner to catch up over some Thai food. She recommended Khao San Road as she ate there before, and liked it. The place is a small restaurant offering several authentic Thai dishes. It is named after a street in Bangkok, Thailand, that is now commonly known as a "backpacker ghetto".


We arrived a little after 6:00 pm and noticed that there was a small line already forming (they open for dinner at 5 pm). One of waitresses then took down the names of the people in lines, and names would be called once the tables are unoccupied. My friend and I were seated at a long communal table that was occupied by a party of 8 people (who were together). Honestly, I am so used to eating at establishments with communal tables that it doesn't ruin my dining experience (as some people do like privacy more than others).

My friend had a very heavy lunch at her workplace, so she ordered a drink and fresh rolls (po pia pak sod gai yaw) ($7.00) which were filled with homemade chicken sausage, lettuce, carrots, mint leaves, and Thai basil. It was served with tamarind sauce topped with peanuts and coriander. I tried a roll and thought that it was a light appetizer to start with. 


I opted for the Pad Thai (street style) ($14.00) which seems to be getting consistent high reviews online. The dish was delicious and I liked the combination of the savory flavor of both sweet and spicy. Additionally, the fresh noodles are stir-fried in tamarind sauce so there's no ketchup flavoring to the Pad Thai. However, I made the biggest mistake in getting "Thai Spicy" as I initially thought that I had a high tolerance of spice ... I was very wrong. I started to tear up badly but that's another story on its own.

Despite my lack of judgement over my tolerance of spice; I thought the service was great. Our waitress saw my "silent cry of pain" and asked if "I was doing okay?". After telling her that I was okay; she walked away only to return a few minutes later with a complimentary Thai iced tea. She was friendly to begin with but I really did appreciate this gesture on her part.

The Thai iced tea ($4.50) is an infusion of Thai spices and black tea mixed with condensed milk and served with ice. It is a very refreshing drink that compliments the spicy dishes.


RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4.4/5
Price: $$ || Online Menu

Address: 326 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON, M5V 1P7

Khao San Road on Urbanspoon