Saturday, December 25, 2010

If You're Allergic to Waffles... Don't Go to the Waffle House

Cora's Breakfast & Lunch
360 - 5111 Northland Drive NW
After a late night at the work Christmas party, I woke up super early (By early, I mean 11:00... What? It's the weekend) the next day to hang out with my friend Amanda. We met up for brunch because well... I just woke up. 
We headed over to Cora's Breakfast and Lunch in Northland Mall and lucky for us the line wasn't ridiculously long. Yet. Only half way down the corridor towards the mall entrance. The 20 minutes went by quickly as we caught up on all the exciting things that happened since we last got together. 

We quickly browsed through the menu upon being seated. Each item came complete with a picture and looked as tasty as the item before. I settled on the fresh fruit waffle on page 1 and pushed the menu away. Looking any further would only prolong the time until I can stuff my face with delicious food. Leafing carefully through the pages, Amanda finally decided on the giant crepe filled with fruit. I think it's called Summer of 1969 or something. 

For some strange reason, our food arrived extra fast today. So fast that our server told us to never expect the same efficiency in any future visits. My waffle came with a mountain of fresh fruit - strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, kiwis, honey dews, grapes and bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! It was massive. And tasty. I love fruit. The waffles were crispy and smeared with some sweet, oh so very sweet, custard. The fruit was pretty fresh, definitely didn't use that shrivelled up kiwi they had on the entrance decorations. I can't imagine watermelons being in season in the middle of December but it was sweet nonetheless.

Here's a picture of Amanda's crepe. It's massive. I had it last time and only got about three quarters of the way through. I was pretty impressed with Amanda's performance in devouring two thirds of this monster.

My humble opinions below:
Food: 7.5 out of 10. Super tasty. They have hot food like eggs bennies too.
Price: 9 out of 10. Amazing deal for what you get!
Atmosphere: 6 out of 10. Diner atmosphere. Very lively. 
Service: 6 out of 10. Decent service. 
Overall: 7 out of 10. Super busy. Allllll the time. We got lucky. In and out in about an hour. 

The time is now 12:27 AM on Christmas Day... This post is my gift to you... Merry Christmas to you all! Become a follower! That would be the greatest gift you can give me. Except maybe that Ferrari F430 Scuderia I've been eyeing... Just sayin'. 
Cora's Breakfast & Lunch on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Real OJ

Original Joe's
109 - 8th Ave SW

I meet up with some of the old Coop crew (Cole, Denny, Gina and Kathy) last week for lunch at Orginal Joe's on Stephen Avenue. We've all moved on to bigger and better things now but it was good to catch up and reminisce on the good and simple times. Special thanks to Kathy for taking the time to organize the event!

On a dare by Denny, I ordered the double dog. I've had pig head. What's a couple of hot dogs? Two pepperoni sticks... I mean charbroiled european wieners, were stuffed into a toasted baguette. To make it a little more interesting, I ordered it with cheddar cheese and bacon for an extra ninety nine cents each. Arteries clogged up. The life of a food blogger I guess. Who wants to read posts on garden salads? I can't say that it was super tasty. I used to be a huge fan of Original Joe's but this outing was pretty mediocre. Fairly average in terms of taste. My double dog, like the other burgers and sandwiches, came with two sides. I ordered fries and a caesar salad which remained mostly untouched the whole time. Not because it wasn't tasty but due to the lack of time since we waited over 45 minutes for our food to arrive. It was pretty ridiculous since it wasn't even THAT busy. 

The scores:
Atmosphere: 6 out of 10. The venue did not stand out.
Food: 6 out of 10. Mediocre food. 
Service: 3 out of 10. Food took forever. Not the first time. 
Price: 7 out of 10. Decent prices though. Comes with two sides. 
Presentation: 5 out of 10. Appears to be slapped together. Typical of pub fare. 
Overall: 6 out of 10. Fairly average. It certainly helps to be with awesome company though! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Appetizers Galore

Ajisai Japanese Cuisine
750 1110 Panatella Boulevard NW
Opened only a couple of months ago, Ajisai Japanese Cuisine is yet another entrant to the (far) north west sushi community. Or the restaurant community for that matter. Choices are severely lacking up herrrrrrrrre

We were presented with the menu upon being seated. I leafed through the pages to find an unimpressive sushi list. A half page of typical cuts. Sashimi was offered in predetermined sets. It didn't come cheap either. How unfortunate. We picked a handful of our favorites. What they lacked in sushi, they more than made up for in their appetizer section. Offering two full pages of traditional and contemporary styled appetizers to choose from. I got a little trigger happy when we began ordering.

First up was the ban ban ji (beaten) chicken. Thin slices of steamed chicken breast are topped with slivers of celery and bell peppers and served with a sesame miso sauce. Even though the chicken was super bland, the sauce had enough kick to spice it up. Very refreshing. I rolled up my chicken like a joint and gobbled up all the delicious sauce. 

Next to arrive was the ceviche. Thicker slices of salmon, tuna and scallop sashimi were drenched in a citrus marinade. Sprinkled with a variety of diced vegetables and slices of avocado, the crisp vegetables provided a distinct contrast to the tender sashimi. The sauce was very tangy. Very flavourful. No soya sauce was needed. It probably would have tasted funny if you had it with soya sauce. The rainbow roll arrived shortly after. The roll was fairly ordinary. There was a lot of green (Avocado) in this rainbow... 

The agedashi tofu was the next to arrive. 5 itty-bitty deep fried tofu sat in a giant bowl of hot tentsuyu broth. Top with daikon shavings and a couple slivers of nori, this bowl of disappointment pales in comparison to the epicness of Wa's agedashi tofu. There was no fiery wakame bursting from within the mountain of toppings like a raging wild fire. Just sayin'. Taste wise, it was decent but the presentation was pretty weak. 

The last appetizer to arrive was the wasabi prawns. Covered in batter, the prawns were then deep fried to the max and dipped in a wasabi aioli with masago (or possibly tobiko) sprinkled on top. It was decent. Prawns were lukewarm and pretty bland. I was initially a little skeptical of the highlighter green wasabi aioli. Like is this edible? This green is so unnatural! But it was not too bad, I was not crying like a 2 year old like the time I devoured a giant wad of wasabi. 

Our sushi was the last to arrive. The cuts were decently sized, pretty fresh. No noticeable funny tastes. 

And the scores:
Atmosphere: 8 out of 10. Soaring ceiling and simple decor. Despite facing north, huge windows lets in ample of natural light during the day. 
Cost: 6 out of 10. Definitely not cheap. 2 out of the 4 appetizers were the special of the day so that helped.
Presentation: 6 out of 10. Well put together but lacks its own unique style.
Food: 7 out of 10. Decent. Points for no funny fish taste. Lost points for lack of taste on many items. 
Overall: 6.5 out of 10. Meh.

Ajisai Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nothing Wasted Right?

CHARCUT Roast House
899 Centre St S
Yet another post on CHARCUT. The original "plan" was to check out this new restaurant on Stephen Avenue. I used the word "plan" loosely here because no one believed me when I told them there was a new restaurant. As we strolled by CHARCUT and we decided we wanted some focaccia bread instead. Luckily for us there were still some seats available at the bar. SCORE!
Upon being seated in front of the severed pig heads... I mean, at the food prep counter, we were presented with a sample of... *drum roll*... pig head meat! And some other spicy meat (which is not nearly as interesting. Or disgusting, depending on how you look at it) on a rustic wore out cutting board. That's right. We had pig head. It tasted like ham. Ain't no thang. You're probably never going to look at ham the same way again. You're welcome. ; ) The meat was pretty fatty with pistachio nuts lodged into it. It's almost as if the pig had been killed via a firing squad. Excepts it was pistachios and not bullets. I can feel my arteries clogging up just thinking about it. Shaved into paper thin slices, the meat was served with a grainy mustard dip that was in its own mini cast iron pan. Total baller. Not gonna lie, it was pretty tasty. Very flavourful. Way better than that cooked ham I get Superstore. 

Looking at the menu, I was torn between the steak salad and the feature lunch (Tuna melt with mushroom soup, fries and cookies). I love steak anything. But I also love (like LOVE) CHARCUT's focaccia bread. And yeah. You can easily guess which one won -

I can't say that I'm a super huge fan of tuna melts. It's not that I don't like tuna. I like tuna sashimi... tuna in a can... tuna tataki... Tuna with mayo and cheese some how doesn't appeal to me. It sounds heavy. It was very heavy. But I ordered it anyway. Because I love the focaccia bread and mushroom soup. CHARCUT's doing something fancy with their focaccia bread. Last time I had it, it was made with some cheese. This time around, there was some sun dried tomatoes or something. It was neat. Pretty good. But I liked the original (with spices only) and the cheese one better. Just sayin'. The bread is then stuffed with some tuna melt ingredients such as tuna, cheese, mayo and diced pickles. It wasn't quite what I was expecting. The sandwich and fries were a tad to the lukewarm side. The mushroom soup was very creamy and topped with a slice of crostini and an at-one-point-was-crispy strip of bacon. 


So tasty. So flavourful. Mmmmm... Mushroom soup. Mystery bag in the back contained two chocolate chip cookies.

And the verdict:

Atmosphere: 8.5 out of 10. Raggedy towel. Rustic yet contemporary decor.
Cost: 9 out of 10. $15 lunch + free pig head meat appetizer. 
Food: 7.5 out of 10. Sandwich was lukewarm.
Presentation: 10 out of 10. Fence post turned rustic cutting board plus mini cast iron pan scores a perfect 10 in the presentation department.
Service: 8 out of 10. Decent service. The place was hopping.
Overall: 8 out of 10. -2 points for lukewarm sandwich. It's ok though. I still love CHARCUT : )

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tried and True

Rasoi Kitchen
101-2215 33 Avenue SW
Dinner with my best friends this week, haven't seen them since our last outing at Rouge. The locale for our latest get together was Rasoi Kitchen in Marda Loop. Cruising along 33 Avenue in rush hour traffic, it did not occur to me that Rasoi was on the other side of the road. With what seemed like an endless series of cars heading in the opposite direction, making a left turn would appear to be impossible. And we weren't going to find out. My friend Hazel and I pulled up to some house across the street and parked there (No sign = free parking right?). We then tried to jay walk across the busy street. Not happening. But then someone pressed for the lights at the crosswalk. With all the vehicles stopped. My friend and I scurried across the road. 
Upon entering the warm restaurant, my friend Andrea was already sitting waiting for us. Alana and Steve arrived shortly after. Steve was stripping off his jacket before even entering. I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of -20 out that night. So I'm not entirely sure what was up with that. All this was happening as Andrea almost had a sip of her water. The pungent smell of cucumbers nearly caused Andrea to vomit (Kidding). When the waitress returned, she kindly asked her for a glass of regular water. It is interesting to note that after that hilarious episode (for the rest of us), the waitress began to ask everyone if they were fine with cucumber soaked water. Ohhhh Andrea. 
The menu offered a variety of traditional Indian dishes with a twist and Indian inspired items. For my entree, I decided to go for the tried and true dish of butter chicken. Can't go wrong right? Right. In addition to the butter chicken, I decided to go for the tiger prawns which I believe is one of those Indian inspired items. Upon placing our order, a piece of folded papadum was brought out for us to nibble on. Papadum is a paper thin Indian flatbread. It was very crispy but really greasy. Topped with a bajillion spices, it was super tasty and I licked all my digits clean.

My tiger prawns arrived shortly after. "Jumbo" tiger prawns were soaked in a bowl of Turmeric coconut curry and a side of delicious naan bread. The tiger prawns were a little bland and of the not jumbo variety. The coconut curry, on the other hand, was uber amazing! So fragrant. So amazing. I devoured every single last piece of memory foam-esque naan bread and almost drank the left over curry like a soup. I refrained myself because that would have looked really stupid. 

Steve ordered the Karma dinner. A three course dinner for $30 with the proceeds going to a project called Nilgris Child Support program in India. For his appetizer, he had the pani puri. Hollow light bread shells are stuffed with chickpeas, tomatoes, chutney and raita. It was decent. A little cold. Definitely didn't see that one coming. My naan bread was better. Steve reminded me that his meal is supporting less fortunate children halfway around the globe. He was clearly jealous. 

The entrees began to arrive shortly after our server removed our appetizer plates. The aroma of butter chicken filled the air. Several of us ordered the same thing. Tried and true right? Who doesn't love butter chicken? Tender chunks of chicken were soaked in a tomato cream curry. Seasoned basmati rice were served in a separate bowl with a giant stack of naan bread piled on top. I wish I kept my coconut curry. The butter chicken was very flavourful. The spiciness of the curry was manageable. Definitely not a "my-mouth-is-on-ma-f***ing-fire" spicy. Ginger shavings were sprinkled on top of the curry. Not sure what the purpose of it was. The chicken was very tender but didn't really have a chickeny taste to it. 

I was pretty much full at this point but I decided I wanted dessert anyway. I studied the menu and opted for the kheer; A saffron rice pudding topped with rose petals and fireweed honey. It was super thick and pasty. Pretty stuffed by the time I finished it. Steve had the sponge cake for his dessert which tasted like a squishy Timbit. More talk of helping less fortunate people ensued. 

Here's what I thought of it:
Atmosphere: 7 out of 10. Neat little place. Can't help but notice the massive exposed duct work above. Damn those mechanical engineers. 
Costs: 6.5 out of 10. I'm pretty sure this is the first "Indian" place that didn't have a buffet.
Food: 7.5 out of 10. Certain parts of it were pretty amazing. Other parts were not. It wasn't bad or anything. Just not as amazing.
Service: 7 out of 10. Our glasses were constantly topped up. Andrea had her own little jug of non-cucumber laced water.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10. It's fusion Indian. If you're looking for hardcore traditional, this is not it.

Rasoi Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kinda Cooked

Raw Bar
119 12 Ave SW
A while ago, my good friend Alana sent me a link to They were offering $50 vouchers to Raw Bar for a mere $25. What?! Yeah. That's what I said. Pretty frickin' amazing deal! So amazing, in fact, that I got two and signed up to receive updates on more amazing deals! For those that have not heard of this site, it's basically random deals that last about a day or so. Sometimes its got great deals, like $50 vouchers for $25 to Raw Bar, other times (like a few days ago), not so much. $99 for 18 units of Botox. No thank you.
So anyway, I gathered the troops from work last Friday to check it out. We arrived at the restaurant at noon and was greeted by the hostess. I didn't even have tell her I made reservation. "Hello, your table is ready. Right this way." I felt like a VIP. Located inside the trendy Hotel Arts on 12th Ave SW, Raw Bar is kind of shoved in the back, off to the side, behind the outdoor pool (which was, unfortunately, closed that day. I was really looking forward to going for a swim after). 
I had scoped out the place already the day before, to confirm the legitimacy of these vouchers and make reservations (The hostess probably remember me from then but I still felt like a VIP). And yeah. It's probably not located in the greatest spot. Basically, you enter the main entrance of Hotel Arts, hang a left to the reception area. Through the dark hallway with a giant sign that says "Saint Germain" and a smaller sign that says "Raw Bar". Make a right when you get to the entrance of Saint Germain and follow along till you hit Raw Bar. Despite their obscure location, it was pretty busy. 
Trendy looking red microsuede couches surrounded our table. Super comfy. Once settled, we were presented with the menu and served a glass of fancy water with a wedge of lemon and 2 cranberries. I ordered the angus flat iron steak sandwich with the feature soup. 

Thin strips of medium rare steak and Portobello mushrooms topped a toasted slice of bread. The steak was decent, a little tougher than I would have liked but combined with the soft tender mushrooms gave it an interesting composition. Very flavourful. At least they were cooked to medium rare this time right Russ? The steak sandwich came with a single lonely onion ring with an aioli dip and a celery root puree. The soup was uncharacteristically sweet with a hint of celery flavour. It is then topped with some fried shavings of onions or something. It was an interesting taste to say the least. Wasn't a super huge fan of it, not to say that it was bad or anything. 

Alright, the scores:
Ambience - 8 out of 10. Nice decor. Comfy couches. Not the greatest location though.
Costs - 7 out of 10. Decent. The bill was only $80 for the six of us. The vouchers covered the entire bill. Sweet!
Food - 7.5 out of 10. Decent.
Service - 8 out of 10. A little slow but bonus points since the hostess recognized me right away. 
Overall - 7.5 out of 10. Pretty neat experience.

Raw Bar on Urbanspoon