Thursday, March 15, 2018

Chicago Restaurants: Roister, Avec.


Avec has a wood burning oven which it uses to flavour advantage for most of the dishes prepared..

Chorizo stuffed medjool dates with bacon and pequillo pepper-tomato sauce, accompanied by very good tasty toast.

Potato and salt cod brandade with garlic bread and chives, was just disappointing. The toast was very tasty and good (but that was not what this dish was all about). Overall, the texture of the brandade was not thick/dense enough, not enough garlic and the taste of the cod quite muted. Overall the taste was banal.

Smoked whitefish pizza with garlic cream, marinated kale and charred lemon.

Whole roasted fish with marinated artichokes, radish, lavender vinaigrette and chickpea grapes.

Wood oven paella  with confit chicken thigh, snail boudin, shrimp and tangerine aioli. A very tasty paella but its only failing, NO soccarat!

Charred cabbage with grapes, spiced walnuts, quinoa, tabbouleh and lovage tahini.

Roister is part of the Alinea Group, a company owned by world known chef Grant achatz of Alinea fame. Roister was awarded Food and Wine's Restaurant of the Year in 2017. It has also been awarded one Michelin star.

  The wood fired oven and grill.

Salad of mixed greens.

Smoked oysters with chipotle butter, epizote vinegar and french curry.

Tomatoes and toasted bread with mayo, shallots and pecan oil.

Yukon gold fries with tofu mayo, soy dusted and topped with shaved bonito flakes. Quite a delicious rendition of fries.

Buttered pipe pasta and clams with green chili ragu and assorted limes.

A-5 wagyu with sea urchin butter and togarashi spices.

From the wood burning oven: Rohan duck with Carolina rice, citrus and egg yolk.

Cookies and milk: chocolate chip cookie dough with milk ice cream.

Fois gras candy bar with black walnuts, prezel and caramel.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Konjiki Ramen

Atsushi Yamamoto, head chef and founder, established himself as a highly regarded ramen shop in Japan. His Tokyo shop has been recognized by the Guide Michelin Bibb Gourmand and voted the #1 ramen shop in all Japan in 2016 in Tokyo Walker Magazine. This Toronto branch is the first branch resto he has opened outside of Tokyo.

The "signature" clam broth ramen. The soup base for this dish is made from cherrystone clams, kombu, pork and chicken and shellfish cooked for hours. The intense clam and shoyu broth is very pleasing. The noodles, made from Japanese and local flour, are made with filtered water. They have a perfect springy/chewy texture. 

Tonkatsu ramen, a pork bone based soup with roasted garlic oil, house smoked cherry tomatoes and pork sous vide cooked for hours, spring onion and leeks. The broth is intensely favoured and even more pleasing and addictively rich than the clam broth. The "memma" topping is bamboo shoots braised in red wine, soy sauce and special seasoning. 

A vegetarian ramen is also available.

This is a very good ramen resto, but, there are at least 1 or 2 ramen restos that I would consider at a similar quiality level from taste/experience perspective.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Labora at Campo Food Hall.

Campo Food hall is a destination for ready to take out food or eat in tapas, small plates and sandwiches. 

Labora restaurant, inside the back of Campo Food Hall, is perhaps the best new restaurant in Canada and probably the best resto with a special interest in Spanish food. 

You will find lots of superlatives below.

These dishes below were culled from grazing the menus at 2 visits. Parts of the menu changes regularly depending on fresh market items.

Gilda matrimonio: skewered gordal olives with lemon, cured white anchovy, Cantabrian anchovy and pippara pepper.

Mussels in red escabeche sauce. A wonderful dish. 

Bay of Biscay anchovies. 

Pan tumaca, tomato rubbed "crystal" bread. For taste and textures, this is the best, or equal to the best execution of pan con tomate I have tasted anywhere in North America.

A fabulous house specialty, rubia gallega, cured (brined then dry aged for 3 weeks) Ontario prime rib eye, cut paper thin like shaved ham, topped with porcini mushroom puree, honey mushrooms and freshly shaved black truffle. The remarkable flavours go so well with the texture-like buttery bellota Iberico ham. This dish is only served in truffle season. This may be one of the great dishes of any you taste in Toronto. 

 Wild mushrooms and quail egg on toast.

Perfectly cooked whole sea bream cooked a la plancha, sided with lemon and herbs. 

Crispy potatoes with blistered padron peppers sided with chive aioli. 

Garrotxa cheese with pieces of membrillo (quince paste).

Razor Clams with Cava, Iberico Ham, garlic, chili, and parsley, olive oil. Sensational dish! The clams were cooked to perfection.

Josalito Iberico ham. Exceptionally sweet.

Bay scallops in Galician sauce.

 Another signature dish which may be one of the best food compositions you will taste in any resto in Toronto: mini-fried calamari sandwich with aioli and pickled guindilla pepper.

Wreck Fish (grouper family) with sofrito (tomato, onion, carrot, garlic) and house made chorizo (pork flavoured with Spanish sweet paprika, red pepper, honey and cinnamon).

Escalivada - Catalan roasted vegetable dish with artichokes, eggplant, red pepper, onion, black olive and parsley.

Red prawns from Palamos.

Carabinero shrimps.

The prawn on the right is the carabinero. On the left, red prawns from Palamos. 

So good, we ordered more carabinero. The juice in head is particularly good and we just pulled the head off and sucked the juices. The body is especially sweet.

Fideua, a Spanish dish similar to paella but with short noodles instead of rice, here, containing porcini mushrooms, piquillo peppers, scallions, onion, tomato, garlic, angel hair pasta and all topped with perfectly cooked slices of wagyu beef. 

Icelandic Cod with Iberico Ham with a sauce of spinach, green onion and olive oil.

Dirty rice, with sofrito (tomato, onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, thyme) chorizo, oyster mushrooms, hen of the woods, chicken stock, cod fish, red prawns, squid, saffron, lemon juice, olive oil and paprika. Once again, One of the most enjoyable dishes you could experience in Toronto.

Saffron aioli accompanies the dirty rice above.

Dark chocolate and Almond-olive oil cake flavoured with rum, amaretto, cinnamon and orange, with chocolate cremoso. Don't miss this! Such seductive flavours and texture and a perfect finish for the meal.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Vancouver: Cinara, Indigo Age, Fishworks, The Portly Chef, Kissa Tanto


Before I begin, I just wish to say that this is a wonderful bistro for families or just an informal but very good dinner for 2. Perhaps one of the best examples of this kind of resto in Vancouver.

Zucchini crudo with sidestripe shrimp, whipped ricotta and grated bottarga.

White anchovies on toast with sweet pickles, radish and butter.

Thirty month prociutto di Parma, yellow melon and pecorino. 

Tortellini with sungold tomato, swiss chard and basil. 

Bistecca alla fiorentina for 2, with side vegetables below..

 Roasted zucchini.


 Slow roasted carrots were very sweet.

A post meal frisee salad with radish.

Indigo Age

Indigo Age is Ukrainian vegan restaurant. The food is quite genuine, highly flavorful, well presented and wonderful, whether you are a vegan or not.

Ukranian Pirogues with, olive oil, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, cherry, blueberry. 

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls filled with brown rice, carrots, onions, tomatoes with a creamy cashew dressing and fresh dill. 

Mushroom soup with a variety of local mushrooms, button mushrooms, onions, black pepper, nutmeg and olive oil with cashew sauce.

Cold miso soup with garlic, sesame oil, dill, ginger, zucchini, carrot, red sweet pepper, kale and barley miso.

Portobello burger: marinated portobello mushroom, veggie patty, guacamole, tomato, eggplant bacon, marinated red onion, and fresh sprouts with cashew sauce.

Addiction burger: sunflower-pumpkin veggie patty, fresh cucumber, Guacamole, mango tomato salsa, fresh greens, eggplant bacon, marinated red onions, and fresh sprouts with cashew sauce.

Ukrainian borscht made from carrot, cabbage, beets, tomatoes, dill, parsley, garlic and potatoes.


Baynes Sound manilla clams with garlic, lemon and fresh herbs.

Fishworks bouillabaise in a tomato saffron broth.

 Mussels with ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, chili and coconut milk. 

Egmont white sturgeon with smoked pancetta, butternut squash puree, mushroom duxelles and market veg. 

Seared halibut with sour cherries.

Spaghetti carbonara with fresh shrimp, pancetta, egg yolk with white wine and garlic.

Fishworks paella with saffron rice, clams, chorizo, mussels, chicken and prawns.

The Portly Chef

Chef's grilled caesar salad with romaine, croutons and a creamy anchovy roast garlic dressing.

 Cornmeal crusted oysters with coleslaw and gerkin tartar sauce.

Scallops and crispy braised pork belly with tobiko and brown butter pan jus.

 Macaroni and cheese with mozzarella, gruyere, cheddar and a crouton crust.

 Brohm lake duck breast with cranberry Okenagen goat cheese demi-glace.

Herb crusted lamb rack with roasted potatoes and grainy dijon demi-glace sauce.

The Portly Chef's cioppino stew: prawns, mussels, market fish, scallops, peewee potatoes, roma tomatoes and a fennel saffron broth.

Kissa Tanto

Gnoccho frito: olive oil crackers, kombu dashi, braised onions, ricotta salata, greens. 

Beet salad with stracciatella, artichokes, smoked maitake mushrooms and black garlic vinaigrette.

Frittelle di melanzane: garlic eggplant fritter with yuzu gribiche, basil, bonito salt and topped with shave katsuo.

Tonno mantecato: confit of albacore tuna, smoked potato and furikake accompanied by bruschetta topped with tobiko.

Octopus salad: crispy smoked octopus, fresh and pickled radishes, mustard greens, parsley and chili puree.

Porchetta filled agnolotti with kombu cured olives and smoked butter.

Wagyu "lifter" steak: 24 hour slow cooked beef with fermented cabbage, Calabrian chili and shaved parmesan. Beef rating 7.5 /7/7 (taste/texture/juiciness).

Whole roasted perch was properly cooked inside, accompanied by grated daikon/soy dipping sauce.

Roasted eggplant, miso besciamella, almond crumble and grated parmesan.

Mushrooms: maitake and shimeji mushrooms with garlic, soft herbs and citrus.

Chocolate tart with an yuzu jelly, pistachio crumble and a honey ice-cream.