Winterlicious 2010 Post Mortem

So I only ended up booking at three restaurants this go-around. I was not able to book the one place I REALLY wanted to go back to (Senses) so I will have to try during Summerlicious or just treat myself.

No major disappointments this time, but the big question is would we go back and pay full price.

Yes, definite yes and a qualified yes.

Our first stop was Beer Bistro. Good atmosphere, high ceilings, good wait staff, a lot of suits due to their proximity to the financial district. We got a not-so-great table but it did not feel like they stuck us in the middle of a walkway.

I started with the house applewood smoked salmon with beer cream cheese and oatmeal stout pancakes.  It was good but nothing to write home about. They would be great h’or d’oeuvres at a party- easy to make. Of the four entrée selections, I opted for the Belgian beer burger with Ontario white cheddar on a buttermilk beer bun. Perfectly grilled, it was very tasty and very filling. I finished with the bourbon brownie ice cream explosion with bourbon butter caramel sauce. It was very good and more than enough. I had to roll myself back to the office.

We went to Bodega for lunch before going to the Tut exhibit at the AGO. We chose it for its proximity and because two of us have been before and were more than happy to go again. I was a little underwhelmed by their selection for lunch but it was very good.

I decided to try their soup of the day, watercress. SO delicious. I would have been happy with another bowl (or two) and crusty bread. Then it was cassoulet with duck confit, Toulouse sausage and braised lamb. This was apparently the hungry man’s entrée. I usually make my cassoulet with more vegetables- it was very bean heavy. The dish was good overall (though I don’t remember having any braised lamb) but I have had better duck confit. The dark chocolate mousse was the right way to go since I was up to my eyeballs in beans at this point but the warm banana cake with crème anglaise and bourbon toffee sauce was the superior dessert. I should have checked to see if the banana cake is on the regular menu. I am not a sweets person but I would go back for this.

The last of the three was Pangaea- the only restaurant we had supper. I have not been there since the place first opened- about 10 years. They took our coats and led us through the restaurant. We bypassed the main dining room and kept going and going. I thought we were being led to the kitchen but they seated us in a section that was cut off from the rest of the establishment by what appeared to be a moveable partition. It would be the perfect spot for a private party of 50. We joked that this was where the riff raff was being seated.

I started with the smoked trout on a fingerling potato salad with capers, shallots and grainy mustard vinaigrette. It was excellent. The trout was perfectly smoked and I could have eaten buckets of the potato salad. I would have been happy with a supersized version of the appetizer as my main.  I tasted one of the other appetizers, the sweet potato and cardamom soup with a whiskey and apple cider foam, but I found it under seasoned.

The Ontario bison strip loin with sous-vide, wild blueberry glaze, apple and celeriac puree and Swiss chard was good (the bison was rare, perfect) but the way they placed the Swiss chard was weird (and a little overcooked) and the portion would have been a generous as an appetizer (three bison medallions about the size of a loonie and a half) but as the main, it was very meager. I finished the night with the Ontario cheese plate, a selection of local artisan cheeses with pear-thyme compote and a tear of honey. I am not a sweet craver so this was the perfect ending to my meal. I wish more restaurants would offer this as an option.

The only real issue is that I almost gave in and got a burger on the way home. I wasn’t going to say anything to my friend but we both felt the same way- which is interesting since she is about 95 lbs soaking wet and I’m…not. We needed about one more course to stop the munchies.

Would I go again? Maybe.

Apparently a lot of big-wigs eat at Pangaea for lunch- not that I care. But if you want to be “seen”, I guess it is a consideration.

Even though it is more expensive, I would splash out at Senses. If you want or need to impress someone, this is the place to go.


~ by angryegg on February 19, 2010.

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