[Event] ROM Friday Night Live (#FNLROM Fall 2015)

#FNLROM is a highly anticipated social event that has been very popular with Torontonians since its introduction in 2012. Every Friday starting at 7 pm during the spring, and fall seasons; the ROM transforms itself into a lively event. The event offers young adults, and professionals with a venue where they are able to enjoy live music, dance the night away, eat delicious food, and gain late-night access to the museum. I was once again kindly invited to attend a special food tasting of Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of Season 8 of Friday Night Live (FNL) last week.

This fall season is slightly different from the earlier ones, as they have a total of 18 different vendors this time around. Additionally, the event is split into two cycles of vendors to ensure that every one of the 18 total food vendors participates. Since I am a food enthusiast, this blog post focuses mainly on the food aspect of the event. However, there are plenty of things to do during #FNLROM such as walk around the exhibits, take in the entertainment, and enjoy the special activities designed to fit into that particular week's theme. You can read my take on #FNLROM Spring 2015 here.

Tickets available for ALL #FNLROM dates:
October 30 - Day of the Dead - Tickets will be available at the door. 
 November 6 - Tribute
November 13 - Superstition
November 20 - Light
November 27 - Volcanic Bash 

 Tickets: Early-bird tickets are available online prior to all the events, but sometimes they do run out. So, the next step is to buy them at the door starting at 7 pm ($15 adults, $13 students/seniors, $5 members) on the night off the event.

* The fine print: ROM general admission tickets are not valid for FNL. FNL is a specially ticketed event for adults 19+ only and you will be asked for valid ID (government-issued, not yet expired, with photo and date of birth). For those who prefer a close relationship with their bag, please note that bags are subject to inspection and you may be requested to check them - the good news is, it's free.

ROMBucks: There are a handful of well-known food vendors (pop-ups and food trucks) on both the main floor, and second floor of the museum this season. To purchase any food or alcohol, you need to use the ROM's currency called "ROM Bucks". Basically, each food item and alcoholic drink cost 1 ROM Buck ($6). Additionally, there are plenty of booths throughout the museum where you can buy the currency.

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Cycle 1:

 Curbside Bliss (@curbsidebliss) - Curbside Bliss is Canada's first mobile gourmet bakery, and have catered several local events in the city. I decided to start my night off with some dessert, and grabbed two cupcakes before heading upstairs (1 ticket for 2 cupcakes). I really enjoyed their s'mores cupcake; it was moist with a nice graham cracker crust, light yet fluffy marshmallow fluff, and topped off with more marshmallow frosting.



Edo (@EDO_Toronto) - The concept of a SushiRito is pretty interesting to me. It revolutionizes the way sushi can also be eaten, as Edo offers it as a burrito-sized sushi roll filled with kanikama, cucumber, avocado, masago, salmon crabstick, romain, and spicy mayo. It's easy to eat, and tasty too!



Mnandi Pies (@mnandipies)They offer Zimbabwean Style Meat Pies right here in Toronto, and there is also a veggie option as well.


Me.n.u (@meNuFoodTruck)Me.n.u is a food truck serving Asian fusion food curbside on the streets of Toronto. Through social media, they have amass a loyal following for their rice balls, which have been a featured item at many local food events. For #FNLROM, they offered three variations of tacos. I opted for the Kimchi Pulled Pork Roti Taco - gochujang pulled pork, kimchi, pickled carrot, sweet chili slaw, crispy onions, and garlic mayo, which is nicely spiced with tender pulled pork. 

 

Rachel's Gourmet Gone Wild (@Rachels_Gourmet)Rachel’s Gourmet Gone Wild is a freshly frozen packaged food business offering meals that are locally sourced, and using fresh ingredients. The Ostrich Slider caught my eyes as I have never had ostrich before. Overall, I found the ostrich meat quite lean, and it didn't have a strong flavor as other meats, so the garlic aioli sauce and baby arugula definitely helped.


My Crème Caramel (@GourmetFrench)My Crème Caramel offers a wide range of French traditional desserts at selected fairs, and markets in Toronto.


Born2Eat




Abokichi (@Abokichi ) - Abokichi is a restaurant on Dupont St offering healthy traditional Japanese rice ball, the onigiri. I got their Yaki-onigri Japanese Grilled Cheese - served with 5 1/2 generation coleslaw, half milled rice stuffed with aged cheddar, chili OKAZU, burdock root, and carrot, which was basically an onigri stuffed with cheese.


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Cycle 2:

Fidel Gastro's (@fidelgastros) - One can consider Fidel Gastro's as one of the pioneers of #FNLROM, as he was one of the first vendors when the event started in 2012. Last Friday, they served tacos at the ROM, and I opted for the cowboy beef brisket taco. Tender beef brisket topped with onions, and cilantro was a good way to start round II of the tasting. 

 


Hot Bunzz Street Cuizine (@HotBunzzTO)Hot Bunzz Street Cuizine offers baked gourmet buns inspired by international cuisine. They use natural ingredients and no preservatives, so it's best to eat it immediately. I got the Sailor Jerry (1 rom buck) - our famous collaboration with Rock Lobster stuffed with East coast lobster, aged cheddar, fresh pears poached in Sailor Jerry rum, and topped with more lobster with brown butter, and Seoul City Beef Short Rub (1 rom buck for 2) - 5 hr kalbi braised beef short rib with caramilized onion, and topped with garlic aioli, kimchi puree, sesame sauce, and crispy onions. 




Tita Flips (@TitaFlips) - The owner of Tita Flips has a retrofitted shipping containers at Market707 where she serves Filipino cuisine (Kanto). She offers three different dishes at #FNLROM, and I opted for the gluten-free palabok - cornstarch noodles with shrimp gravy topped chicken, tofu, shrimps, green onions, fried garlic bits, pork cracklings, and boiled egg slices, which had a nice tangy flavor to it.  It's a popular Filipino noodle dish, and its name comes from the bright-colored orange shrimp sauce. Quite good!




feasTO (@FeasTOronto) feasTO started in 2012, and they have been vendors at events such as Toronto Underground Market and the Junction Flea since then. Their menu consists of mainly dumplings, baos, and noodles. Unfortunately, the pork belly bao is too bite-sized for me, but the slaw that they serve with the dish is very well-balanced.  



Ice Volcano Ice Cream (@IceCreamVolcano) - Ice Volcano Ice Cream specializes in serving the coolest, and coldest ice-cream by using -196°C liquid nitrogen. It's a great treat at the end of another fun night at #FNLROM.


Lastly, the ROM encourages all attendees to use social media at these events by using the hashtag #FNLROM to document their night. Feel free to check out all uploaded photos taken at these events on IG at https://instagram.com/explore/tags/fnlrom/.


Address: 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M5S 2C6
 
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Website: http://www.rom.on.ca/

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

Abokichi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Windsor Arms Hotel (Sunday Brunch Buffet)

Windsor Arms Hotel is a 4-star luxurious boutique hotel on St. Thomas Street in the heart of the Yorkville neighborhood. The hotel is synonymous with afternoon tea, but did you know that they also offer a Sunday brunch buffet? Earlier this past Thanksgiving weekend, I was invited to Windsor Arms to check out their Sunday brunch buffet. I love brunch, so there was absolutely no hesitation in accepting their warm invitation. The brunch is priced a little high at $65 per person, but it does includes unlimited mimosas, and an impressive gourmet selection of breakfast, and brunch favorites. I'd say that it's worth the splurge, simply based on the quality of the selection available, and the unlimited mimosas, and beverages (juices and caffeine).


Sunday brunch was held in the Courtyard Café; adjacent to the hotel lobby. The restaurant space of the Courtyard Café was elegantly designed with a high ceiling, bright space with natural sunlight, and filled with artworks that made the space very reminiscent of the late romantic era. I was quite impressed when I first walked into the spacious buffet area. Windsor Arms' Sunday brunch buffet features made to order omelets, and Eggs Benedict, fresh breakfast items, hand-carved meat station, assorted salads, baked goods, chilled and raw seafood, an exceptional selection of hot, and cold items, and an impressive spread of desserts including a chocolate fountain. Below are some of the standout features that's offered at Windsor Arms for their Sunday Brunch buffet.

Bread & Pastries: The bread and pastries table covers all bases in terms of carbs -  offering various kinds of bread, scones, danishes, croissants,
and pain au chocolate served alongside butter, and preserves. A great start to a Sunday brunch! 


Salads/Cheese Platter/Cold Cuts: The variety of cheese was decent, but I did like their cold cuts platter. J also agreed, as he made himself a filling cold cut sandwich from the selection. My favorite item from this table was probably the quinoa salad - the hearty grain salad was light tasting.


Breakfast Essentials: The brunch spread includes popular hot breakfast items such as sausages, buttermilk pancakes, eggs, and crusted Challah French toast. I loved the crunchiness of the crusted French toast, and helped myself to two slices served with maple syrup.  

 
Seafood: The Sunday brunch at Windsor Arms recently underwent a slight change, as they now offer a larger selection of seafood. The seafood selection now includes raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, cooked mussels, smoked salmon, ceviches, and Alaskan crab legs. I was impressed with the variety, and enjoyed quite a few oysters, and mussels myself. The raw oysters were properly shucked, and tasted great with the customary condiments. I would have preferred if the oysters were traditionally served on ice, so that they're constantly kept cool instead of adhering to room temperature. However, I do believe that the staff does constantly rotates new ones out. Unfortunately, our brunch was a little on the late side, and they ran out of Alaskan crab legs by 1 pm, so I didn't get to try it. This station was probably one of my favorites after the dessert table. 


Meat Carving Station: For those wanting meat, they also had a meat carving station with roast beef, and roast lamb as the main staples. However, since it was the Thanksgiving long weekend, turkey was one of the options at the carving station. I enjoyed both options, as the roast beef was tender, while the turkey was moist, and flavorful.





Hot Entrees: There was a good selection of hot entrees from braised short ribs, potato croquet, halibut, ravioli, and butter chicken with white rice. My favorite out of the bunch was the braised short ribs as it was tender, and had a nice melt-in-your-mouth texture. 


Made To Order: The pancakes may not have been made fresh to order, but thankfully their omelets, and Eggs Benedict were. The Windsor Arms offers three classic benny options; classic Benedict (peameal bacon), Florentine (spinach), and Benjamin (smoked salmon). Our server brought us one of each, and they were beautifully presented, and well-portioned. Out of the three, I really enjoyed the Benjamin Eggs Benedict with its perfectly poached egg, smoked salmon, and rich hollandaise sauce. The next dish brought out to us from the kitchen was the lobster baked potato. It was an ingenious way to incorporate lobster to make it a brunch item. The cheesy whipped potatoes weren't as heavy as it looked, and the lobster was baked perfectly to my liking. 


Dessert Table: Towards the end of the brunch, I was very full from all of the food. However, I couldn't help, but stopped to gaze at the dessert table set in the middle of the buffet stations. They had a wonderful selection of desserts such as pudding, cakes, fresh sliced fruits, cupcakes, crème brûlée, and cheesecakes. 


My Plates of Food:


Buffets often value quantity over quality, but the brunch at Windsor Arms was more of the latter. The quality of the food was definitely there, and so was the service. In regard to the service, It was pretty much spot on. We got our drinks refilled in a timely manner, and our plates were efficiently cleared off our table. As I mentioned earlier, the price may be steep for regular weekly brunch visits, but it's definitely worth the splurge due to its central location in Yorkville, delicious Eggs Benedict, the selection of hot foods, and fresh seafood, carving station, dessert table, and unlimited mimosas. All of the aforementioned make the brunch at Windsor Arms a worthwhile visit. Brunch is offered every Sunday morning from 11 am with the last seating at 1:30 pm in the Courtyard Café.

Social Media


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

Courtyard Cafe - Windsor Arms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato