Thursday, April 29, 2010

We ate everything on the menu at Amuse-Bouche

After hearing the sad news that Amuse-Bouche is closing, we immediately booked a table for Tapas Tuesday. Our seating was early (6PM)—good thing because the evening turned into a decadent 3-hour long feast where we got to sample every single item on the menu. We hadn't planned it that way, but just before diving into the arduous task of deciding what to eat, the waiter saved us by suggesting we share some multi-course tasting menus in order to have a little of all sixteen dishes. Who could say no? This is what we ate:

Ham croquette
Ham and wild leek croquette with smoked apple compote—a wonderful, crispy start

Baby beet salad
Baby beet salad, fried capers, Baco Noir reduction—fresh and spring-like

Ontario beef carpaccio
Ontario beef carpaccio with truffle vinaigrette—Liana's favourite

House–smoked salmon tartare
House–smoked salmon tartare with potato confit—creamy and decadent

Bajan fish cakes
Bajan fish cakes with Amuse-Bouche tartar sauce and black Hungarian pepper sauce—hearty, satisfying, and conveniently portioned for the five of us

Ricotta and carrot gnocchi
Ricotta and carrot gnocchi with Uncle John's parmesan hollandaise and baby vegetables—so smooth and delicious; my favourite

Duck confit poutine
Duck confit poutine with house pickles—Darryl's favourite

Duck and lamb chorizo
Homemade duck and lamb chorizo with crispy polenta—lots of meaty texture

Garlic and nori–encrusted salmon
Garlic and nori–encrusted salmon—I ate the lion's share of this; yum!

BC prawn ravioli in lobster bisque
BC prawn ravioli in lobster bisque—rich shrimp and lobster flavours

Wild garlic–encrusted BC herring
Wild garlic–encrusted BC herring with lemon aioli—delicious little fried fish

Seared Scallops
Pan–seared Qualicum scallop with fennel and orange confit—light and tasty

Rainbow trout
Giggie's pan–seared rainbow trout with Savoy cabbage and carrot emulsion—great crispy crust

Butter-poached haddock
Butter-poached Nova Scotia haddock with leek fondue and beurre blanc—velvety sauce with fresh fish

Pork tenderloin
Ontario Yorkshire pork tenderloin with mushroom fricassee—generous amount of tender pork; loved the straw mushrooms

Beef bavette
Cumbrae's grilled bavette with beurre maitre d'hotel and 100km potato—lovely, rare beef with crispy on the outside; soft on the inside potatoes

Duck breast
Everspring Farm roasted duck breast with spaetzle—generous amount of high quality duck

Amuse-Bouche cheese
Pecorino Toscano and Brie—sharp, hard Toscano with mild, soft Brie

Amuse-Bouche Desserts
Front row (L-R): Flourless chocolate cake with candied orange, hazelnut chocolate mousse, berry mousse, macaron with chocolate. Back row (L-R): Gianduja parfait, white chocolate and apple crumble, lime and apricot panna cotta, creme brulee—everything fantastic, especially the Gianduja

The whole experience was magnificent. Even though we didn't tell the waiter it was a birthday dinner, he noticed the cards and gifts on the table and put candles in the dessert. So sweet. And the cost of all this luxurious food (for five people) plus one glass of wine each?: $270 before tip.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last Chance to Amuse-Bouche

I was disappointed to read in Toronto Life's Daily Dish that Amuse-Bouche Restaurant will be closing at the end of May after five years in the King West neighbourhood. I met chef Bertrand Alépée and maître d' Sarah Lyons last summer at Luminato while covering 1000 Tastes of Toronto for Torontoist, and I had a chance to try their awesome pulled pork sandwiches with chocolate chipotle barbecue sauce. The restaurant is very close to my office, so I walked by at lunch and saw the big FOR LEASE signs plastered on the quaint facademakes me sad.

I'm going next week for Tapas Tuesday, which sounds incredible. Savoury plates are $10, cheeses are $5, desserts are $5, and wine by the glass is $5. They also have 5, 7, and 10-course tasting menus for $40, $55, and $70, respectively. And they are one of the few restaurants who reliably take reservations through email ( Amuse-Bouche closes on May 31.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best Pho Restaurant Name Ever

I made Russell pull over so I could take a picture of this place in Cambridge. Why haven't I seen a pho restaurant with this name until now? Love it.

Halifax Donair & Pizza in Milton, Ontario

After hearing so much about this place for well over a year, we finally drove out to Milton to try Halifax Donair & Pizza, the place we heard is run by guys who used to work at King of Donair in Halifax.

This tiny shop on charming Main Street is clean and bright with an open kitchen, allowing customers to watch in anticipation as the food is lovingly prepared.

Just like King of Donair, Sicilian, and European Food Shop in Halifax, the menu consists of donairs (Halifax-style only, which is like a gyros but with a sweet sauce made of evaporated milk, vinegar, and sugar), subs (with donair meat and otherwise), pizza (again, donair and otherwise), and some other odds and ends. We ordered donairs (only $3.99 for a small) and garlic fingers (pizza crust topped with garlic butter and cheese, sliced into strips and served with donair sauce for dipping).

During the time we were there, lots of people came in, including several hydro workers in orange coveralls and two guys in tuxedos who must have been in a wedding. Halifax donairs are pretty different from other middle eastern fare in the GTA due to the sweet sauce (that I remember disliking as a kid, growing up in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia), so I'm glad to see so many locals enjoying them. The three guys working there, who I suspect are the co-owners, also treat everyone wonderfully.

We drove all the way to Cambridge (4o agonizing minutes) with our goodies to share them with more friends, so it was all a bit cold by the time we ate it (I forgot to take food photos!), but it was definitely the real deal. The experience was just as I remember from home. It's so wet and sloppy that you can't actually eat it as a wrap; you just eat the insides until the point where you can attempt to pick up the soaked pita while the sauce drips down your arms. I know that sounds awful, but it's really good.