Sunday, 5 October 2014

Food Review: Billabong Gastropub

Billabong Gastropub
121 Osborne St

Billabong Gastropub on Urbanspoon

I have been meaning to write a review of billabong for over a year now but what finally pushed me to put my pen to the page (fingers to the keyboard?) was a few serendipitous events that lead me to have brunch here this summer.

Billabong gastropub is in the heart of Osborne village. It is a nice alternative to The Toad, especially on nights where the appeal of the crowds and fake Irish accents put on by drunken strangers wears off. Some night Billabong is quiet, sometimes it is packed. But when it comes to brunch it is always empty, and that is a shame because it deserves more attention. I would much rather eat here than wait in line at the Osborne Village Cafe or at Stellas. In truth I never like to wait in line.

For dinner I have ordered:
  • Village Burger
  • Arugula and beet root salad
  • soup of the day (squash soup)
  • Red pepper bruschetta

For breakfast I have ordered:
  • Billabong breakfast
  • Stuffed French toast
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Ginger lemon carrot potato pancakes

The red pepper bruschetta is a safe bet because goat cheese makes everything better. The squash soup was very good, the village burger was nothing special.

The stuffed French toast blows my mind makes my mouth water just thinking about it. This is a must try dish. Whenever I think about ordering something else on the menu I end up changing my mind and ordering the French Toast anyway. As a result it took a few visits before I tried anything else. I promise that the huevos rancheros are good (I finished my wife's order). The Billabong breakfast is a classic brunch order and they do not deviate from the tradition (A friend let me try some of his). But you know what I will be ordering when I go there. 

Until next time, 

Food Review: Chew

532 Waterloo St.

Chew on Urbanspoon

If you want to eat incredible food and have it served to you by a larger-than-life basso profundo than chew will steal your tastebuds and your heart along with it. It is impossible not to be charmed and swept away. The place is tiny and they have to limit the amount of time you can stay, but this means the service is attentive and efficient so you still feel like you are having a long and lingering meal. My wife and I took my mother and grandparents out for dinner to celebrate their birthdays and we chose this place because we suspected it would be quiet enough for everyone to hear each other speak. We were right.

We decided to order a number of dishes and share the food so that we could try as many things on the menu as possible. We ordered:
  • Manitoba tomatoes. These were in season and therefore fantastic. The overall preparation only made them better.
  • Chanterelle mushrooms/ porcini parpadelle. This was the first time I had eaten Chanerelles and so I cannot compare the preparation but the dish was fantastic regardless.
  • Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil oil and well prepared gnudi made this dish memorable.
  • Bread with bone marrow butter
We were also told that we were unlikely to find a better prepared duck anywhere. I did not try any but my mother did and she agreed. So you should consider that as well.
Overall we had a terrific time and just when we thought it could not get any better, they sent us home with muffins. I really cannot say anything bad about this place. You really must go.

Until next time,

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Food Review: Barley Brothers

Barley Brothers
655 Empress St

Barley Brothers on Urbanspoon

I had heard about this place before it opened but it took me a few months to get there. One of the reasons for this is that I am rarely in the area of polo park. Another is that I didn't want to be the DD when I was going to a restaurant that has at least 60 different beers to choose from. I also heard that they were working out a few kinks in their service and their staff were still learning the beer menu when a few friends went a about a month after they opened. I figured I would wait for a while and let some of that get sorted out.

The place is spacious. It is new and clean in a mass culture sort of way. I can't really quantify the effect this had on my experience. But it kind of made me feel like I had been to a million places like it before. You could argue that this is a good thing or a bad thing. It depends on the person.

The beer menu was enough to take me out of familiar territory. With so many brews to choose from it is very lucky that they offer flights (a sampler of several beers). I was won over by their beer menu. I ordered two flights of beers that I had never heard of before. But what about the food?

We ordered:
-The Hot Pretzel
-Perogies (with saurkraut)
-Kale Salad

The food also took a really long time to arrive. I also thought it was a little bit expensive for the quality. On the other hand the price is probably necessary in order to subsidize the huge variety of alcohol that they offer. I would have happily paid more for beer if the food was better, but I am probably in the minority. Our server was comfortable with the beer menu but could have visited us a few more times to fill water, and ask if we wanted more to drink or eat. The hockey game was very loud so it was hard to talk even though the restaurant was almost empty. Some people in my group did not enjoy their meal. I thought mine was good but nothing special.

It is worth noting that I wrote this review in late December 2013 so these things may have changed. I hope so, because it is a great place to drink. I just wish it were a better place to eat.

Until next time,

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Food Review: Bella Vista Restaurant & Pizzeria

Bella Vista Restaurant & Pizzeria
53 Maryland St

Bella Vista Restaurant and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I have been going here at least twice a year for several years now and every time I go I enjoy myself thoroughly. This place is an essential part of my conception of West Broadway. It is great food served without pretense. This is not formal dining but to tell you the truth I enjoy it just as much (and more sometimes).
The restaurant section is able to accommodate a group of 12 fairly well.  They do pitchers of two rivers and pizza can be ordered in large quantities.

In the past I have ordered:
-Sicilian Pizza
-Vegetable Pizza
-several pasta dishes.

All the food is incredibly garlicky. I am a garlic-lover but sometimes it's even too much for me. The Sicilian is especially potent so don't order that one if you don't want garlic and oregano to be on your mind for hours after you have eaten. The vegetable one is subtler. I don't think that I need to list all the pasta dishes I have tried there because they have been consistently tasty and similarly garlicked (and their menu is not online, so I don't have a tool to jog my memory).  I like them all. This is a great place for a casual dinner out.

Until next time,

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Food Review: Tony's Pizza

Tony's Pizza
1100 Pembina Highway

Tony's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Tony's Pizza is a landmark that I pass by all the time on my way south down Pembina. I've been wanting to try this pizza for at least a decade but it just never happened. I kept chickening out and ordering something familiar, or forgetting to check where they deliver, or some other excuse. But my in-laws decided to order from them a few weeks ago and I was overjoyed! I really enjoy order-in meals with my in-laws because my mother-in-law doesn't feel obligated to spend the whole evening in the kitchen. I won't bother describing decor of the restaurant because it is a take-out pizza place and that pretty much means that there's a lot of kitchen and a bit of front counter. 

We ordered:
- The Greek Pizza
- The Cheese Pizza

Both of these pizzas were delicious, but maybe a bit salty because of the generous amount of cheese. The sauce was tasty but didn't dominate the flavor of the food. The crust was deliciously fatty. The pizzas were clearly made with care and attention and they tasted great. Best of all, they didn't give me a stomach ache like some order-in pizza does. This place gets a 4.5/5 in the "just give me a great tasting pizza" category. 

Until next time,

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Food Review: Corrientes Argentine Pizza

Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria
137 Bannatyne Ave

Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

This review has been sitting in the "posts not posted" folder of my computer for almost six months and I decided it was time to let it see the light of day. There was no reason that I didn't post it until now. The entry just got lost in my file system for a while.

The day we went was busy and the only spot we could get in the restaurant was a small outdoor cafe-style table for two in the back. It was shorter than the rest of the tables and the server had to kneel to converse face-to-face with us, or else tower above us. It was sort of a fun atmosphere and the awkwardness of our table height made the whole place feel friendlier. That in turn helped make up for the fact that we were dressed the cold, not for going out for dinner.

We ordered:
- Rucula Pizza
- Humita empanada
- Argentine Beer

My wife and I thought that the food was tasty but not exceptional. Our omnivorous friends were quick to point out that the meat pizzas are really good. I can't confirm or deny that. However, it is probably true because our main complaint about the vegetarian food was that it needed more salt. A vegetarian dish shouldn't just be a meat dish without meat. It needs to be something unto itself, and part of that is compensating for the lower salt content of vegetables. This is a restaurant that seems to be better for omnivores. So, if you are omnivorous my advice is reserve a table ahead of time and try it for yourself.

Until next time,

Monday, 10 March 2014

Food Review: Waves Restaurant & Lounge

Waves Restaurant & Lounge
330 Kennedy St

Waves Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

I noticed this place open quietly a few months ago. It took a while to get enough places off my list to justify going here. I waited even longer because I still mourn the closing of the Lo Pub. In any case Waves Restaurant & Lounge is a strange mix between newly renovated and the old d├ęcor. They have a range of food from Caesar salad, to Kebabs, to Butter chicken. My guess is that they are trying to offer something to travelers from everywhere. We wanted Indian food, so we ordered from their Vegan & Gluten-free menu.

We ordered:
Mix Vegetable Curry
Chick Peas Curry

Both of these dishes came with spiced rice. By adding this additional flavor to the rice it transformed from being a vessel for the curries to a full-fledged part of the dish. The rice was the thing that really stood out in this meal. The rest of the food was also enjoyable. I was happy with the price we paid and we left feeling full.

Until next time,