Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eating Out in Toronto

This was a weekend spent mostly out of the house. It started out on Friday, meeting my husband downtown for a dinner date. We wanted to do some Summerlicious exploring. Now I did tell you that if I had nothing nice to say, I wouldn't say anything. Well - I'll modify that statement because the experience was quite disconcerting. I won't mention the name of the restaurant(although I'm tempted), just the events. I called one particular restaurant and was told that the earliest reservation we could have was for 7:30 (normally not so bad, but we were hoping for 7:00). Usually it takes forever for my honey to make his way from the office, but not this time. We actually met at Indigo on John and Richmond at 6:30 and it was way too hot, sticky and muggy for us to stroll around Queen Street for an hour (anyone who's been reading my posts knows how much I LOVE the heat), but after 30 minutes, we had enough browsing and so decided to head over to the restaurant early. As Gomer Pyle would say "Suur-Prize, Suur-Prize" the place was three-quarters empty. The first table they tried to seat us at was right beside the washrooms. We asked to be seated at a booth by the window that had a reserved sign on the table and the hostess told us we couldn't have that one because it was reserved. My hero reminded her that WE had a reservation. Her response - that booth is only for those who specifically requested the booth. It sounded bizarre, but we sat at another table right beside the booth and for the next one and a half hours ate beside an empty booth and many other empty tables. The food was fine, our server was nice, but the experience was neither. I even called on Monday to complain and got this answer "Oh I heard we had a lot of cancellations on the weekend" - no - "I'm sorry your experience was bad" or "How can we make it up to you". So much for customer satisfaction - no wonder the restaurant was practically empty. Summerlicious is the event where restaurants get the opportunity to show off their stuff to people who might not ordinarily think of trying them out. The fixed menus go for $20 or $35 dollars for a three course meal, depending on the restaurant. That said, you'd think that this restaurant would want to impress their guests to entice them to return.

But enough ranting, Saturday and Sunday were much, much better. We started our our Saturday morning doing errands and eating a lovely breakfast at Bregman's on Yonge near St Clair, being served by our favourite waiter - Rick. In fact, our 5 year old niece calls it Rick's Restaurant. They bake their own breads and the challah toast was particularly delicious with my egg white spinach and Swiss Cheese omelete. It is wonderful to go to a place where the waiter doesn't just remember your name, he remembers what you usually order - who likes their coffee black, etc...

More errands and then off to see Kung Fu Hustle - an Asian Martial Arts film by Steven Chow (Quentin Tarintino loves him). Think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and a little bit of Jerry Lewis stapstick. A fun way to pass 2 hours in a cool theatre. Then we strolled along Bloor taking in the local artists exhibition along the street. It was great to see the variety and creativity of artwork displayed on storefront windows. Naturally we had to eat, so we dropped by Sushi Time. Perfect service, and delicious food - he had the Baseball Sushi Combo - (they also have football, golf and basketball combos as well, if you're into sports metaphors) excellent value and beautiful presentation. Since I like sushi, but it doesn't like me, I had gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and Urajiro (deep fried Japanese mushrooms stuffed with shrimp in a tempura batter) - fabulous!!!

Sunday started out in our typical fashion , New York Times, Sunday edition in bed with freshly brewed coffee followed by David's French Toast. This time, our daughter slept over to take advantage of air conditioning and we experimented a bit - trying different toppings beside the usual maple syrup for the girls and peanut butter for him. Here's what we thought: the dulce de leche (a new addiction over ice cream) came in third; nutella didn't make it into the finals - too overpowering for the thyme; a very close second was honey from the honeycomb I bought at The Honey World in St Lawrence Market. That said, we all decided that our old time favourites still won the day. Some things, you just shouldn't mess with.

The rest of the day was spent hanging around watching old movies, munching fruit and drinking smoothies and finally eating a wicked salad for dinner. I love it when I just open the fridge door and see what's on hand. The results of this exploration:

Lazy Sunday Supper

Wicked Salad
Hearts of Romaine lettuce (for crispness)
Handfuls of fresh parsley, oregano and basil
Belgian Endive
Pitted Nicoise olives
Jarlsberg cheese (julienned)
Carrots (julienned) - I love my new gadget, but more about that in another post)
Spicy Italian salami (julienne strips)
Roasted artichoke hearts
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced)
champagne vinegar
mustardo Italiano (Kozlik's of course)

Grilled Focaccia with Cheese
Toast some Rosemary Focaccia slices (I love the one by Ace Bakery)
Top with thin slices of Brie (or what ever else you love cheese-wise)
Broil until the cheese melts and bubbles

Dessert was left over nectarine tart put under the broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp it up.

I know yesterday technically wasn't the weekend, but we did try another Summerlicious restaurant - this one closer to home. Circle Fine Thai Cuisine was great. The service was perfect - attentive, warm; the food delicious - I had a seafood medley that was sooo good and David enjoyed his grilled filet of sole too. We both started out with a Thai salad with shrimps and slivers of pink grapefruit, and ended with chocolate mousse cake - yum

So now that I've spent the morning writing about all I've eaten over the last few days, I'm getting hungry.....think I'll have the last of the honey cake I made for Sugar High Friday - it's still moist and yummy.

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