Grub n' Gab

Eat, drink, and have itis!

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BK’s Bacon Poutine. *raises eyebrow*

When I first saw the poster for Burger King’s Bacon Poutine, my eyes bulged with eager delight.  Fries?  Yes!  Cheese?  Oh, YES!  Gooey gravy?  Dang right!  How could we have gone so long, and NOT thought about good ol’ Bacon?

Many food items have drastically increased in value when paired with this savoury treat.  What’s that?  No idea of what I mean?  Bacon wrapped filet mignon?  Grilled cheese and bacon?  Pizza?  Do any of these sinful dishes ring a bell?

So, of course, some genius who gets paid the big bucks back at BK headquarters came up with the idea, and off went the media blitz and photo shoots.

Bacon Poutine posters plastered the walls and windows of the BK joint that I had stumbled upon.  Completely convinced that it was a stupid idea NOT to have thought of it sooner, I ordered.

As I sat, eager to know what this amazing concoction would taste like, I quickly unwrapped my plastic fork.  I tend to put a drizzle of ketchup on top of my poutine, so I waited to try the feature as it was intended.  Salty goodness met my tastebuds and although initially pleasing, became quickly overwhelming.

There truly was too much of a good thing.  The bacon was crisp and flavourful, the cheese was gooey, and the gravy was gravy.  However, the total package was like receiving a complete shopping spree after you blew the bank on Boxing Day sales.  It was great, but just a touch too much.

If you can handle the sodium overload, feel free to dive in.  But keep the hose nearby as I’m sure that you will need it.

FOOD: 4, SERVICE: 4, ATMOSPHERE: 3, VALUE: 4, PRICE: $5+

CLOSEST INTERSECTION:  Every other one?

Would I return?  Yes, but I’d order something else.

Filed under Burger King poutine bacon grubngab

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Diner’s Corner is a diner’s delight.

Yet another downtown mom & pop shop, Diner’s corner (at the south-east corner of Yonge and Gloucester, south of Bloor) is another city gem.  The small restaurant gives the feel of Auntie June’s caribbean kitchen, even in the midst of cold Canadian weather.  The music is irie and puts diners at ease.  The servers a laid back but friendly, and the dozen or so tables offer an intimate setting, that feels like “back home”. 

For those who prefer liquid refreshments, the tiki-style bar is available to grab a drink and watch a game.  You can really close your eyes and imagine the hot sun on your shoulders, the water only a few steps away.  But sorry to tell you the truth, we are still in Canada.

What will lift our spirits are their Festivals.  These alone are worth the trip.  The size of Tim Bits on steroids, these dumplings are made with a heavy dough…in a good way.  The batter has a touch of sweetness, that when dipped in the gravy, offer a pleasant surprise.

Although the chicken roti was nothing spectacular, it had a nice refreshing taste.  The roti seemed to be more on the tortilla side of the family and was lightly stuffed with a chicken, potatoes, and a touch of sauce.  The dish came with a side salad, which was a nice change (and relieved my guilt from exploring so much!).  Surprisingly, the order mild of wings (which came with more festivals) was amazingly crisp and saucy.  A great contender for the wing industry, I must say.

The only other item left to mention was the Peanut Punch.  One of my favourite drinks, it is typically a peanut flavoured milk shake of sorts (thicker than milk, yet not as thick as an actual milkshake).  They are very rich and creamy, and downright awesome.  Diner’s Corner’s Peanut Punch was unlike any other punch I had had before.  It was thick, rich, and creamy, yet it had a slight kick to it that I couldn’t quite figure out.  A spiked punch minus the alcohol, it completely satisfied my craving.

FOOD: 4, SERVICE: 4, ATMOSPHERE: 4, VALUE: 4, PRICE: $10+

CLOSEST INTERSECTION:  Yonge and Gloucester.

Would I return?  Definitely for the Festivals and Peanut Punch….and wings, and…

Filed under roti peanut punch wings Diner's Corner Festivals chicken roti grubngab caribbean food

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Go directly to Go…noe and collect succulent sushi!

The little mom & pop sushi shop located in Don Mills has been a long time favourite hot spot of mine.  I have religiously received my weekly sushi fixes from this place for the last 7 years, so why not do a review?

I have been to many sushi places across Toronto, and none can compare.  If you are tired of sushi that is composed of 70% rice and less than 30% of quaility ingredients, you MUST try Gonoe Sushi.  It is a relatively small space, holding approximately 20 tables, you will find many “regulars” here.

Tables, booths, and sushi bar seats are available and servers are very friendly.  So, depending on your preference, there are seats for all tastes.  The female servers bring hot tea in kimono style uniforms, which adds a nice touch to the atmosphere.  Cute little soy sauce pots line the tables, with equally cute litte dishes.  But enough about atmosphere and let’s cut to the chase…and get down to business!

Depending on what you order, most rolls start at the $10 price range, but you are definitely going to get quailty seafood from Gonoe.  To start things off, try the Salmon Sake Sashimi appetizer.  These are simply moderately thick slices of salmon sashimi (no rice), but are a great way to whet your appetite.  The salmon is fresh and succulent and has never disappointed.

On this visit, our Sushi Boat consisted of (rolls are listed top to bottom, then the right hand side) Kalbi, Special, Las Vegas, Black Dragon, and last but certainly not least, the Volcano roll.  Each of these are top rated amongst my fellow foodie friends, so I am sure you would fall in love with at least one.

The Kalbi roll is technically not sushi.  So, for the anti-sushi people, this roll’s for you.  It is made up of BBQ beef rolled in leaf lettuce, seaweed, and rice.  This roll goes great in the tempura sauce.

The Special roll is nothing but special.  For the more adventurous foodie, it is a definite must.  BBQ eel and a whole swarm of goodness, it is on a level of it’s own.  This roll is made larger (approx. 2” diameter), but the slices are much thinner.  The roll is “tempura-ed” and comes with a teriyaki/spicy mayo sauce for dipping.

In the Roll category, my absolute favourite is the Las Vegas Roll.  Chunks of avocado, REAL crab meat (not the fake fish-wanna-be-crab stuff), slivers of cucumber, cream cheese, and tempura shrimp are rolled in seaweed, rice, and alternating pieces of salmon and tuna, then decorated with a touch of spicy mayo and rowe.  Need I say more?  The flavour and texture combination is mind-blowing.  This roll is a definite filler for 1, and can be shared by 2, or with the entire table.

Black Dragon is another pleaser.  I would consider this a sort of hybrid between a Vegas and a Special roll.

But do not forget the mighty small but flavourful Volcano roll.  These are best eaten first, as they are served very hot.  A short and stumpy piece, secretly holds a chunk of jalapeno, cheese, and hugged by rice and seaweed.  This lovely treat is then tempura-ed, sliced, and topped with a generous amount of rowe.  This is a roll that must be stuffed in your mouth in one go.  So brace yourself, take the plunge, and wait for the fireworks.  I guarantee you won’t be let down.  (Although I can’t handle spice, I limit myself to 1 or 2 pieces of this slightly spicy tid bit).

After your tastebuds have gone a test drive, dinner comes with ice cream.  Free to choose from green tea, red bean, ginger, or mango, it’s a great way to cleanse a palette.

FOOD: 5+, SERVICE: 5, ATMOSPHERE: 4, VALUE: 4, PRICE: $15+

CLOSEST INTERSECTION:  Don Mills, between Lawrence and York Mills.

Would I return?  Always!  It’s like going back home.

Filed under sushi Gonoe Sushi Sushi Boats grubngab

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Made In China: Made for Lunch

Another downtown gem, Made In China was made for penny pinching and filling the hunger gap.  Located on Yonge Street (between Gerrard and Gould), busy patrons head to this local hot spot to get a good meal at a great price.  With lunch combos starting at $6 ($7 and $8 combos are also available and all combos inlcude free tea and a soft drink), there’s sure to be something for everyone.

I chose the Singapore fried noodles with shredded pork and shrimp.  Although it was not what I had imagined, it was a tasty surprise.  In hind sight, I would never have ordered it knowing that it would be a dry noodle dish.  However, it was a great way for me to try something out of the ordinary.  The noodles were lightly coated with a curry sauce (so light it was dry) and tossed with vegetables, shredded pork, and a few rare pieces shrimp.  A very unusual selection for me, I ate it slowly and inquisitively.  Although, I think the dryness was all a part of the plan, the scarcity of fillers must come with the cheap territory.  But what’s a penny-pinching, lunch-hungry gal to do?

The dish was filling, but full of a mild curry flavour which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you like your curry.  Mostly noodles, there were a few pieces of meat, and even fewer pieces of vegetables.  One should think of them more as accent pieces.  But for a quick meal at a decent price, Made in China delivers - just don’t set your expectations too high.

FOOD: 4, SERVICE: 4, ATMOSPHERE: 4, VALUE: 5, PRICE: $6+

CLOSEST INTERSECTION:  Yonge & Gerrard

Would I return?  Only Monday-Friday.

Filed under chinese food Made In China noodles grubngab

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Apple Caramel Cheesecake. Too good to be true?

I stumbled upon this enigma on an impromptu sickie run to the grocery store with a friend.  The late night rendezvous for some much needed OJ, turned up a very intriguing item.  In search for something to satisfy the ol’ sweet tooth, we began to dig in the ever-so-teasing freezer as though it were the all-time favourite Treasure Chest at Red Lobster.  (Sorry folks, the chest alas is no more in these modern times).  With a tough assortment of flavours, we narrowed it down to something we had never seen before:  Apple Caramel Cheesecake.

For a reasonable $7 (on sale, regularly $9), this promised to hit the spot since we had been on the fence for a traditional Thanksgiving pie or a richly sweet cheesecake.  A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B, I’d say!

Thank goodness J’s heating system had already kicked in, which seemed to assist in the painfully slow defrosting process.  Curiosity grew like a forest fire until it consumed us and we ripped open the box like children on Christmas morning.  

The cheesecake was thick, yet creamy with apple slices interwoven throughout.  A nice apple crumble was sprinkled on top, with a light caramel drizzle to make it extraordinary.

The cheesecake itself was rich and creamy as you would expect an ordinary NY style, but the apple slices were reminiscent of a wholesome apple pie.  Our cake was still quite cold so that it gave the impression of apple pie a la mode.  For those with a ruling sweet tooth, you will absolutely love the crumble which calls on another classic.  The caramel drizzle is the cherry on top of the sundae; the bow on top of the present.  The unconventional combination marries beautifully and brings all the flavours together in perfect harmony.  Whether you prefer apple pie, cheesecake, strudel, or even a caramel apple, this decadent delight holds true to it’s brand and is simply Irrisistible.

Apple Caramel Cheesecake:  Too Good AND True!

FLAVOUR: 5, EASE OF USE: 5, APPEAL: 5, VALUE: 5, PRICE: $7+

CLOSEST INTERSECTION:  Find it at your local Metro grocery store.

Would I repurchase?  Absolutely!

Filed under apple caramel cheesecake Irrisistibles dessert grubngab