Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toronto Resto Revisits: Pangaea; Malena; Torito.


Pangaea has a very pleasing new menu so we were excited to try some of the new additions.

Chicken and mushroom sausage with white wine braised cabbage, chicken skin "crackling" and Pommery mustard jus. What a lovely range of complementary flavours, particularly the cabbage and sausage complements. The texture of the sausage was perfect, slightly coarse. I also loved the crispy crackling which was placed over top of this presentation.

Tortiere, small chunks of lamb and beef, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, thyme rosemary and veal reduction, with a classic lard pastry. The texture of the "chunk" experience was an upscale version of the typical ground tortiere filling, this time employing better cuts of the meats. The flavour of the filling was pleasantly earthy and very satisfying. the texture of the pastry was very good, but i would personally have preferred a slightly crispier and flakey crust.

Pumpkin spice layer cake, brown butter cream cheese frosting, candied maple pecans, salted caramel ice cream. A very satisfying dessert with a wonderful range of Fall flavours.


We began with a mix of warm olives with herbs and citrus.

Sea bass perfectly seared, presented with a leek ash sauce, a dash of olive oil, caramelized celery, mini fingerlings, dill and a dab of yogurt.

Fritto misto of the day, squid, shrimp, potato and mini halloumi cheese squares served with salsa verde. The inclusion of the potato croquettes was not pleasing in this dish. The shrimp and squid coating was a touch oily and not crispy enough but the shrimp and squid themselves were perfectly cooked. The addition of the salsa verde was a perfect complement.

Roasted cauliflower, ndjuja sausage and chickpeas. The sausage provided a mild bight. A good dish with complementary flavours.

Chestnut agnolotti, wild sauteed mushroom slices topped with bits of sauteed celery, brown butter and parmigiano. A terrific dish with pleasing sweet and earthy flavours.

"Brick chicken" was presented with house made mostarda, potato puree and one piece of the breast was topped with a cooked, soft but intact farm fresh egg yolk, a rich complement for this very good dish. The chicken was perfectly moist and juicy.

Warm sweet potato and walnut cake with spiced preserved cherries and vanilla cream fraiche made with yogurt. A very pleasing dessert.

Crispy, "apple pie" canoli accompanied by compressed apple made with honey and lemon, cinnamon mascarpone and apple caramel. This was an extremely successful dish. It could not have been made better and really pleased everyone at the table, who despite being "too full", ate the whole thing!


Torito has been a lovely place for me to visit from time to time, to experience Spanish/ Mexican influenced comfort food. It has a very informal room that also lends itself to a tapas like atmosphere.....which is what one gets, a lot of wonderful small dishes. I neglected to bring my cell or camera, so no photos.

We began with mild, house smoked, wild salmon in a sliced terrine format. Salmon is wrapped around mascarpone cheese with chunks of gerkin pickle and apple served with thin slices of toasted baguette. A perfect beginning.

Mildly smoked in house, warm pheasant was sliced and perfectly juicy (a remarkable outcome as often it is presented on the dry side) was presented topped with pomegranate seeds and a cranberry veal glacee reduction. A delightful dish and the wonderful sauce was mopped up completely. 

A petit, juicy rack of rabbit was presented on a plum compote.

Sardine escabeche was presented in a tin with a top resembling an actual sardine tin....what fun. The sardines were covered in a tomato sauce. The dish was accompanied by crisps.

Lamb and ricotta filled ravioli came with a brown butter sage sauce. This dish had wonderful flavours but the pasta, which this chef is typically very good at preparing and cooking, could have been a touch more delicate.

Pequillo peppers were stuffed with pulled oxtail, pine nuts and raisins, then roasted and presented with a brilliantly conceived sauce of sweet corn puree flavoured with orange and vanilla. This dish was a big WOW for all.

Classic Spanish tortilla (egg omelet with potato and onion) was the only miss. It was a bit too dense and the flavours rather muddled.

We enjoyed "grilled cheese sandwiches" filled with Halloumi cheese and Spanish Serrano ham.

One of the great dishes of the night was thinly sliced, rare, very tender beef heart that was dressed with a mild chimichurri sauce and presented with pearl onions.

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