• [Food Post] Tsujiri Toronto

    Tsujiri Toronto's first North American outpost opened earlier this week near Bay and Dundas amid much fanfare. This is their first foray into a market outside Asia, but they are planning on expanding to other cities in North America in the future. I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek of some of the products that Tsujiri Toronto has to offer a day before its soft opening, and got the chance to chat with one of the managers, Tylor Shek.

  • [Food Post] Nordstrom Eaton Centre Opening Gala featuring Daniel et Daniel

    The gala opening epitomizes what Nordstrom is all about - great customer service and consistency of the brand. Hence why they partnered with Daniel et Daniel to be the official caterer of the Nordstrom Opening Gala, as both companies share the same ideals and business ethics.

  • [Food Post] Waterloo Food Tour

    The Region of Waterloo is home to many regions that inspire start-ups (such as Thalmic Labs), housing, and of course many restaurants. The Region is developing and propelling a movement alike many urban areas, by bringing innovative ideas and talented people together, whilst keeping the scenic and spacious rural landscape. Andrew Coppolino of www.waterlooregioneats.com (@WatRegionEats on Twitter) gave us a tour on behalf of Waterloo Region Tourism, with 4 set destinations in mind for the day.

  • [Food Post] Ebisu on Queen / Ebisu Toronto

    Ebisu Japanese Restaurant originated from Vancouver, as its first location opened in December of 2006. There are two locations in Vancouver and one in Richmond, along with two restaurants under the Kamei names. The brand itself is very well-known in Vancouver, and they hope to expand it in Toronto with this new outpost.

  • [Food Post] Dave and Buster's Oakville Grand Opening

    However, over the last two decades, much has changed, including the demise of arcade and game centers due the emergence of mobile phones and Netflix. The health movement over the last six years has also made Dave and Buster's traditional burger and fries menu far less appealing than what it was. With that being said, they have changed their food menu, and the options are now more diverse. The menu is rather extensive with items like shareable appetizers, side salads, beef steaks and ribs, pasta, sandwiches, and so much more.

  • [Food Post] Morals Village Mississauga

    Morals Village is a hot pot restaurant chain with over 600 locations in China. They opened their first Canadian location in 2015, and has since grown at a relatively rapid pace. About 1.5 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Morals Village Mississauga Grand Opening Event. The Mississauga location is their 5th Canadian location, and they have plans to open another in Ottawa. With that being said, Morals Village prides themselves in providing top-notch quality and Szechuan cuisine influenced flavour with their hot pot offering.

  • [Event] The Royal Dinner with Chef Michael Bonacini

    The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair is now open until November 13, 2016 at the Exhibition Place, Toronto. Start the holiday season early by attending one of the largest combined indoor agricultural fairs and international equestrian competitions in the world. The fair takes place every November in Toronto, and it is where guests can enjoy the best in agriculture, local food, and equestrian competitions from across the country. There are so many things to do, and see at this year's The Royal Winter Agricultural Fair.

  • [Food Post] CNE Media Preview 2016

    Every Sunday, Montecito offers a brunch buffet starting at 11 am to 3 pm. Brunch isn't new at Montecito, but they recently revamped their brunch buffet, and added several new items to the menu. The 12,000-square-foot Montecito opened up its doors late 2014, and is a partnership between Hollywood director Ivan Reitman and Chef Jonathan Waxman.

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

Showing posts with label Cafes. Show all posts

Holts Café at Holt Renfrew Toronto

A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Holts Café for lunch. It's a trendy cafe on the mezzanine level of one of Yorkville's institutions, Holt Renfrew. The cafe was an elongated bright space with a red and light grey color scheme. It's an ideal setting for a casual lunch, business lunch, dates, or mid-afternoon shopping break. Holts Café's menu features a locally-inspired menu with a variety of signature dishes including the chopped salad and Holts burger.

I started off with a drink from their mocktails selection; the Mango Mule ($7) - peaches and cream syrup, lime juice, mango juice, ginger syrup, Angostura bitters, soda. It was a sweet and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. 


We got the Grilled Jerk Shrimp ($14) containing jalapeño pineapple salsa as an appetizer. I was told that it only had a slight kick due to some regular clienteles complaining about the heat level. The jerk shrimp along with the sweet and juicy pineapple was a fantastic combo.  


The Fragrant Steamed Mussels ($13) - peppers, thyme, oregano, garlic, shallots, white wine was another stand-out appetizer.  The seafood delicacy come together with the help of white wine and various spices to create a lovely aromatic smell. The broth itself was light and savory, and there was a generous helping of mussels (big enough to share between two people). 


One of Holts Café's most recommended salad was the Chopped Salad ($19) - avocado, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas, sweet corn, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, French vinaigrette. The salad was a decent option, but there wasn't enough French vinaigrette, so it tasted too light to me. 


I opted for the Pickerel ($27) as my main, and it was a perfectly cooked dish. The fish was lightly seasoned and complemented the creamy Jerusalem artichoke and French beans. It was also topped with some shaved fennel, which didn't really seem to add or detract from the taste. Lastly, the pickerel was pan-seared, which resulted in a beautiful crust that added to the texture of the fish. A simply light main course!
 


For the main course, J got the Steak Frites ($27) - 8 oz petite tender, hand cut fries, wild mushroom ragoût, red wine jus.


Desserts has always been one of my favorite things, so I was looking forward to trying the Strawberry Shortcake ($10). It was made with shortcake biscuit, pastry cream, strawberry compote, crème Anglaise, Chantilly cream. It was literally a platter of sugar, which probably doesn't suit everyone's palette. It was very sweet, which I liked. However, I think that they could add a few more strawberries to balance out the sweetness of the shortcake biscuits.


The Chocolate Mousse ($10) - fresh raspberry, feuilletine hazelnut crust, coulis gracefully sat in a pool of coulis made from puréed fruits. It was definitely an airy and rich dessert.  


Brewed Coffee ($4.25)


Overall, our lunch at the Holts Café at Holt Renfrew Toronto was a very pleasant dining experience. Despite it being near 75% capacity, I noticed that all diners were being attended to appropriately, which I am not surprised considering the brand namesake. Furthermore, our server (Joe) was attentive and personable.

If you do come for lunch, they are are extremely limited parking spaces in the Yorkville area. So I'd recommend either using public transportation, Uber, or taking a taxi. However, if you do plan on driving, Holt Renfrew does offer valet parking for $25.

Address: 50 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M4W 1A1

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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.


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[Paris] Ladurée Paris Champs Elysées

Ladurée is a very popular French luxury bakery and sweets maker house in Paris. They have several locations in France, and also worldwide, including London, Tokyo, Hong Hong, and more. I actually passed by a Ladurée in Tokyo back in 2013, but regrettably didn't know about the brand. I only learned about them when I was doing some research for our Paris trip (so sad).


Our hotel (Elysées Bassano) was centrally located in Champs-Élysées, and we came across Ladurée on our way to dinner at Léon de Bruxelles. I was planning on going to Ladurée the next day, but couldn't help getting some macarons before dinner.


 The shop was pretty chaotic, as it was super busy that Friday evening.  I read some reviews where people were asked firmly to not take any pictures inside many Ladurée Paris locations. Fortunately, the staff that day were really friendly, and they were okay with us taking photos (we asked first). I have noticed that a lot of fancy pastry shops based in Europe frowned upon photography ... it's pretty much free advertising!

Anyway,  I got a box of 6 macarons (€17.50 / $24). I got the following flavours; pistachio, rose, iced mint, coconut, Marie Antoinette tea, and strawberry candy "guimauve". I enjoyed all six flavours, and the shells were lightly crisp with smooth filling that was flavorful. I prefer Ladurée over Pierre Hermé cause they are more sweeter. 





 Compared to Toronto, macarons based in Europe are not very wallet-friendly. They average out to be about $4 CAD per macaron, so choose your flavors wisely. I really liked the macarons from Ladurée Paris, so we got more boxes as souvenirs at Charles de Gaulle Airport on our way back to Toronto. JJ couldn't believe that we spent a little over $100 on macarons alone that morning, as he's not a fan of macarons. They all made it back safely with no cracks (except the one box that we ate on the plane).

We actually almost missed our flight back to Toronto, cause I had to wait for the macarons to be packed. It wasn't just Ladurée where service was lax and slow. We experienced it in several restaurants and cafes in Paris, so I think that's just the norm. Our Air Canada flight was at 11:00 am, and we had to be at the boarding gate by 10:40 am. We were running down the corridor like crazy expecting the worst - since it was already 10:55 am. We got to our gate, and to our surprise the line just started moving. People were now being boarded! I know a lot of people complain or hate flying with Air Canada, but in that moment ... I was so happy. We were on-time to board our flight =) It was a super risky move, but luck was on our side that very morning. 


Address: 75 avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008


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Light Cafe

Light Cafe Canada is a cafe originating from Taiwan offering gourmet café food and drinks with a contemporary twist. I have been here on a few occasions, and have always liked the bright and open-concept space. The Baldwin location is their first outpost in North America, but they do have plans for expansion in the near future. I had the pleasure of being invited to a tasting late last year, and got to try a couple of new items on the menu.



The contemporary space itself is very Instagrammable with its bright background, clean white marble tables, and a backdrop of live plants sprouting from the walls. They do have several seats in the front (best lighting), and a bunch more tables in the back. It's a good place to dine for all sorts of occasions like casual lunch or dinner, date night, and catching up with friends.




The drinks menu includes espresso-based beverages (hot and iced), slow drip hand brew coffee, infused loose tea leaf, au lait, and several smoothies & Italian soda options. Since it was getting late, I didn't want coffee keeping me up as I had an early morning the next day. I ended up getting the Strawberry Smoothies ($6.25), which was a mountain high beverage.


From the salad options, I got the Smoked Duck Breast Salad ($11.95) - smoked duck breast, spring mix, orange slices, butter squash, cherry tomato, roasted cauliflower, and lettuce frisee. They have four salad dressing to choose from, which were yuzu, sesame, mustard, and house special dressing. The salad was a light starter, but there could have been a bit more slices of duck for the price.


Light Cafe pays very close attention to presentation, which I can truly appreciate. The Lobster Bisque ($9.25) was well presented on a wooden board - the soup was served in an individual sized saucepan alongside slices of garlic bread, and side salad. The lobster bisque was also available on its own for $6.25. The bisque has been tweaked to satiate the Asian palate, as it wasn't as salty or rich compared to French lobster bisque. but it remained fragrant.




My favorite menu item from Light Cafe has to be their  Lobster Roll ($15.50) - chopped lobster, crab meat & shrimp in a creamy dressing on two freshly baked soft roll. The overall composition of the lobster roll here was pretty good, as the meat to bun ratio was not disproportional. I really liked the buttery toasted bun. Overall, it was well-priced, tasty, and generously portioned.



JJ got the Montreal Smoked Beef Croissant ($12.75) - Montreal smoked beef, mozzarella cheese, beef tomato, lettuce, mayo, mustard and butter croissant as his main course. 


Lastly, Light Cafe has a wide selection of desserts to satisfy one's sweet tooth. The desserts here aren't as sugar-averse as the typical Western desserts. Looking through the menu, I saw that they recently introduced waffles to their desserts menu including seasonal fruits, strawberry, early grey, and charcoal black sesame waffle. We ended up getting the Strawberry Waffle ($9.95), which arrived with ice-cream, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries, and topped off with strawberry sauce. This was quite a decadent dessert, and the waffle texture was nice and soft.


Crème Brûlée Three Ways ($9.75) - early grey, white chocolate, coffee





Overall, I had an enjoyable meal at Light Cafe, and do recommend the restaurant when one is looking for an affordable casual dining space. For the price point, it was a rather exemplary dining experience. I also liked that the management was open to criticism and feedback, and they do listen to what customers want/need.


Address: 23 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L1

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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.


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Maman à Table

Located at First Canadian Place on the mezzanine level is Maman Toronto. They are a Parisian-inspired cafe in the heart of the financial district offering a taste of Southern France. The savoury and sweet menu changes daily, featuring an assortment of dishes created by Chef Armand Arnal. Having been to Paris a year ago, I have come to adore Maman's detailed decor. They have replicated the allure of sitting in a Parisian cafe from the flowers, tables adorned with cute bunny ceramics, wooden communal tables down to the mosaic tile flooring. Perfect for a lunch visit.

Maman Toronto recently launched “Maman à Table” where diners are able to enjoy a $20 prix-fixe menu every Friday afternoon. Indulge in a three course menu featuring a starter, a choice of main, and finishing off with a selection of mini sweet bites and drip coffee or tea of your choice. The weather may be cooling off, but you can still enjoy this menu every Friday from 11:30 am to 2 pm all season on the fully licensed patio or inside the cafe.

Photo Credit: https://foodinthecitytoronto.com/


For the starter, one has the option to choose between a cold summer soup “grilled tomato gazpacho with sweet red peppers & cucumber” or de-constructed avocado toast. I opted for the avocado toast as my starter. I enjoyed the DIY aspect of the avocado toast, and it's a healthier option, so that is always an added bonus. 

De-Constructed Avocado Toast - tomato, lime wedges and sea salt & chili


Grilled Tomato Gazpacho - with sweet red peppers & cucumber

Photo Credit: https://foodinthecitytoronto.com/
Croque Maman - with Parisian Ham & Comté


I have tried the Croque Maman on several occasions, so I got the daily quiche instead. There were three different choices to select from, and I opted for the Ham and Cheese Quiche - served with mixed greens, as my main. The quiche was excellent with its flaky yet buttery pastry exterior loaded with a creamy filling mixed with ham and cheese. It was a downright delicious quiche.


Drip Coffee


We ended our Maman à Table experience with some Mini Sweet Bites from Cafe Gourmand. These satisfying bite-sized treats were great to nibble on to satisfy my sweet tooth without overindulging in sugar. 

Photo Credit: https://foodinthecitytoronto.com/
Maman Toronto is open Monday through Friday for breakfast, and lunch, and on Saturday for brunch (closed on Sunday). Check out their website for their daily menu, as it changes everyday.

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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.


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