Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘restaurant review’

Review of Toronto’s Top Steak Houses (UPDATED)

In Red Meat and Eggs, Reviews on November 11, 2014 at am

I used to avoid steakhouses altogether, because I had only ever received disappointing, over-cooked, and over-priced meals (often with a side of snobby customer service) from the steak houses that I had been to.  Luckily, John, who loves steak houses, introduced me to some very good ones in the city.  Now we both love going out for steak.  It is a rare treat for us, so it took over a year to eat my way through some of the best rated steakhouses in Toronto.  Here are my reviews.  Please note that I always order the rib eye steak and I order it rare.  Also, I do not like eating at chain restaurants, so you won’t see Ruth’s Chris, The Keg, or Outback Steakhouse on this list.

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Gourmet Donut Tour of Toronto (Including the Original Croissant-Donut and Toronto’s Cronut)

In Reviews on February 17, 2014 at am

John is obsessed with donuts.  I don’t use the word “obsessed” lightly.  It’s not just that he dreams of donuts (sprinkled donuts, FYI), it’s that whenever he walks into a donut store, he wants to, and I quote, “make love to all of them”.  🙂  Which is why we served glazed donut shots at his housewarming party (see recipes here) and why I made him a giant donut pillow/costume for Halloween.  So, it came as no surprise when he told me that he wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having a donut day.  On donut day alone, we ate donuts from 6 different places across downtown Toronto, including an imitation cronut (the latest NYC croissant and donut hybrid craze).  I have since reminded John that he’s not in his 20’s anymore, and so is not allowed to eat so many donuts in one day ever again.  😉

I’ve now tried the most popular gourmet donuts in Toronto, including the city’s first croissant-donut hybrid, and I’ve been to all but one of the local places that have won Food Network’s Donut Showdown to date.  Hopefully these reviews will help you find your favourite gourmet donut in Toronto, Ontario.

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Ramen Tour of Toronto and New York City (Restaurant Reviews)

In Reviews on September 10, 2013 at am

Three years ago, I became obsessed with tonkotsu ramen, a Japanese dish of noodles in a pork bone based broth.  Tonkotsu broth is made by boiling pork bones (sometimes in combination with chicken) until the soup has rich and hearty pork flavour (see my recipe here).  The broth should be milky and practically opaque in colour.  Some people find tonkotsu broth too heavy, but that’s what I love about it.  Ramen noodles come in various thicknesses and some restaurants will let you specify your desired texture (i.e. al dente or soft).  Ramen toppings differ depending on where you go.  My favorite toppings are soft boiled marinated eggs and thinly sliced pork jowl.

At the time that I first discovered ramen, the only ramen you could find in Toronto, ON was MSG laden and closer in resemblance to instant noodles than the real thing.  So when I had the opportunity to travel to New York City and San Francisco, USA, I went in search of the best ramen they had to offer.  I’ve only shared my review of my favourite ramen place in NYC, because I didn’t like any of the ramen places that I tried in San Francisco.  San Francisco supposedly has some of the best and most authentic ramen in North America, so it’s possible that I simply failed to choose the right places.

Luckily, over the past year, we’ve seen an explosion of new ramen places in downtown Toronto.  So, naturally, I ate my way through all of the promising ones.  I ate so much ramen in such a short period of time, that I haven’t eaten it since I completed my ramen tour.  But that just means that the next food obsession may begin.  😉  Keep your eyes open for my Donut Tour of Toronto.  Why couldn’t I be obsessed with something healthy???

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Favourite Restaurants and Things to Do in Kingston, Ontario

In Reviews on June 15, 2012 at am

I lived in Kingston, Ontario for 9 years.  I moved back to Toronto in January 2012, but I still visit Kingston frequently.  Although I’m loving rediscovering Toronto’s restaurants and food festivals, I still miss my favourite restaurants in Kingston.  Here’s a list of where I love to eat in Kingston.  I’ve also included a list of things to do in case you’re planning a trip to Canada’s former capital city. Read the rest of this entry »

The Halal Guys, New York City Street Food

In Reviews on June 14, 2011 at am

I always rave about the chicken kabobs that you get from the NYC street vendors.  Forget the hot dogs, the pretzels, or the toasted nuts, have a chicken kabob!  They’re about $5 a skewer but they’re the best chicken kabobs I’ve ever had.  When I told my cousin how the streets of NYC ruined all other chicken kabobs for me, he told me that I had to try The Halal Guys at 6th Avenue and 53rd Street.  This specific location is very well known for their chicken and rice dish (photo below).  From what I’ve been told, no other location of this chain compares.  We went there late on a Monday night and there were 10 to 15 people in line ahead of us.  To my surprise, my cousin and his friend told me that we were lucky that the line was so short.  The line up at this location is usually horrendous.  In fact, someone was once stabbed for cutting in line.

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Review of Nobu vs. Morimoto Restaurants, New York City

In Reviews on April 2, 2011 at am

I am in love with Japanese food, so I was very excited to eat at two world renowned Japanese restaurants in NYC.  I went to Nobu for dinner on a Sunday night and then to Morimoto the next day (Monday) for lunch.  (If you’re planning on going to either restaurant, be sure to make reservations weeks in advance.)  The dining experience at these restaurants couldn’t have been more different.  Nobu disappointed me on all fronts, while Morimoto gave me the best meal of my life.  But having said that, there were definitely some things that Nobu did better than Morimoto.  So this is my review comparing Nobu (not Nobu Next Door) and Moriomoto.  Photo below:  The entrance to Morimoto.

Note:  Normally I don’t like to take photos of food in restaurants, but I couldn’t help myself at Morimoto, because the dishes were so artistic and creative.  We were in awe of the presentation of each course and blown away by the taste and interesting food pairing.

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Katz’s Delicatessen, New York City

In Reviews on March 24, 2011 at am

Katz’s Deli is famous for being New York’s oldest (since 1888) and best delicatessen. I have been wanting to try their smoked meat for years and it was better than I’d hoped it would be.  The sandwiches cost about $16 each, but you get a tall stack of meat.  The sandwiches are served with pickles and pickled green tomatoes (upon request).  The pickles are crisp, refreshing, and mildly sour.  The green tomatoes are very sour.  I was disappointed to discover that they no longer sell vacuum sealed meat.  It would have made a great souvenir.

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Five Guys Review

In Reviews on December 8, 2010 at am

(photo source here)

Five Guys Burgers and Fries (website here) is a fast-growing American fast-food chain that has received outstanding reviews.  They have an impressive list of awards and recognition, including Best Burger in the 2010 Zagat fast food survey (see here).  In fact, even President Obama likes the Five Guys burgers.  So, even though several new burger places opened in Kingston around the same time, I was most excited for Five Guys.  It is with great pleasure that I announce that they did not disappoint.  (See my reviews of Poutine Place and Harper’s Burger Bar and see below for a brief comparison between Five Guys and Harper’s.)  However, you should know that Five Guys has been featured on various “most unhealthy” lists.  Even their fries are considered the worst among restaurant foods in America (see here).  That wasn’t enough to stop me from ordering the bacon cheeseburger (which is a double patty burger with 920 calories and 62 grams of fat, not including the toppings), but it is enough to prevent me from going back any time soon.  My review below is for the Kingston, Canada, location only.

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Review of Poutine Place

In Reviews on October 27, 2010 at pm

Poutine Place, Kingston, ON is now Closed.

Poutine Place is one of two new poutine places and three new burger places to open in Kingston this fall, 2010.  (See my reviews of Smoke’s Poutinerie here, Harper’s Burger Bar here, and Five Guys here.)  The review below makes comparisons to Smoke’s Poutinerie.

When I first saw the Poutine Place sign, I quickly decided that I would never bother trying it.  The logo looks tacky with poorly chosen, mismatched font and bright, juvenile colours (red, green and yellow).  But I chastised myself for judging the store by its front when I saw their menu.  I had high hopes for their fresh, organic Canadian burgers and fruit smoothies.  When I heard a great review from a co-worker, I went a week later to try it.  I left regretful and taken aback by how different my experience had been from his.  It would only be fair for me to give Poutine Place one more chance (ie. when someone else is working) before giving the final verdict, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

Poutine Place Review (Kingston, On)

Menu: As I mentioned, I was initially impressed by the menu.  Poutine Place offers a vegan poutine option, fruit smoothies, and fresh organic Canadian beef burgers.  See the 2 part menu here.

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Review of Harper’s Burger Bar

In Reviews on October 20, 2010 at pm

Harper’s Burger Bar (website here) is one of three new burger places that opened in Kingston, ON this fall (2010).  (See my reviews of Poutine Place and Five Guys (includes a comparison of Harper’s and Five Guys).)  It is owned by the same people that run the restaurants, Chien Noir and Atomica.  I strongly dislike Chien Noir but I frequent Atomica, so I was curious to see how Harper’s would fare.  (If you’d like more details of my experiences at Chien Noir or Atomica, please post a comment and I will gladly share.)

Three weeks after Harper’s opened, I went for lunch on a weekday with two friends to try it.  The service was absolutely terrible.  I never would have even considered giving this place a second chance, but the owner apologized and comped our meals.  So out of appreciation for that, and to be fair to his restaurant (and to take some photos), I gave Harper’s a second chance.  I went back one and a half months later on a weekday for lunch in a group of 5.  The updated review has been added in italics below.

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I ate at a restaurant where Barack Obama ate! (Stewman’s Restaurant Review)

In Random, Reviews on October 10, 2010 at am

Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, was one of the ports of our New England cruise.  Completely by chance, my sister and I found the restaurant, Stewman’s Downtown.  Underneath the Stewman’s sign, the words “President Obama Was Here” had been written on a few wooden planks.  When a staff member confirmed that US President, Barack Obama had indeed dined at Stewman’s Downtown, we immediately asked for a table, even though we were risking not making it back onto the cruise ship in time.  I was crazy excited about eating at a restaurant where Barack Obama once dined.  It’s too bad that our actual dining experience wasn’t great.  Here is our mixed review of the restaurant, Stewman’s Lobster Pound, the downtown location.  Note that I’ve also thrown in a review of a raw bar in Bowen’s Wharf, Newport, RI.

On a side note, random food-related discoveries are among my favourite things in the world.  Also on that list are maki/sushi/sashimi, massages, comfy duvets, and whole weekends spent in bed watching tv series and movies.

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Review of Smoke’s Poutinerie

In Reviews on September 24, 2010 at pm

Smoke’s Poutinerie is a Canadian chain that specializes in non-traditional poutine.  To date, there are 7 locations in Toronto with additional locations in Tremblant, Ottawa and London.  To my excitement, they opened for business in Kingston, Ontario on Monday September 20, 2010.  The week they opened, I went with Ed and co-workers to try it.

I was impressed by their food and customer service, but even more so by the fact that they started the World Poutine Eating Championship (more on that below).

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