Posts tagged restaurant
Posts tagged restaurant
OMG a fancy spork! How cute! At Juniper.
Dinner at the Rex
I first went to the Rex a while back for lunch, and totally loved it (see here). I knew I had to go back to try their weekend dinners, which feature a different themed menu each Friday and Saturday nights.
The husband and I happened to stumble on a perfect night for our taste buds, which was a World Cup theme, featuring all the great flavours of South America. The weekend menu at the Rex features two appetizers, two main dishes and two desserts: the three course meal for one is $35 - a great deal for such amazing food!
Considering there is only two choices for each course, the husband and I ordered one of each and shared everything. The appetizers were the perfect start to the meal: an Albacore tuna ceviche on sweet potato chips for me, and black bean, corn and cheddar empanadas for the husband. Both were amazing!
Next were our main courses, which we shared equally. My favourite of the two was the spice rubbed chicken breast served with grilled baby red potatoes which were tossed with chorizo, goat cheese and baby spinach, all drizzled in a roasted garlic jus. The chicken was ridiculously moist and tender, and I adored the flavour that the chorizo imparted in the mixture with the potatoes and spinach. The second main course was the striploin steak served with frites and a mixture of grilled king oyster mushrooms and zucchini, all with a side of chimichurri aioli. The steak was cooked perfectly, and the frites were crispy and light. My favourite part of the steak dish was the chimichurri aioli - wow!
I couldn’t wait to taste dessert; the words ‘dark chocolate,’ ‘dulce de leche’ and ‘coffee’ all in one description make my heart (and my taste buds) sing. Obviously my favourite dessert of the two was the dark chocolate cake with dulce de leche frosting and coffee ice cream. The cake was rich and moist, and the frosting and ice cream added sweetness to counter the gentle bitterness of the dark chocolate. I also enjoyed the second dessert, a rum and strawberry sorbet with candied lime zest and fresh mint; it was like an explosion of fresh flavours on the tongue.
Overall, we had a great time at the Rex for dinner. Service was excellent and attentive, and while the portions are a tad on the small side, we both left feeling full. We can’t wait to go back!
Brunch at Izakaya
Ok, ok, so I promise that, even though it may not seem like it, I DO INDEED cook at home every single day, but I’ve been so busy lately that our meals have been made up of mostly the same things that we tend to eat all the time, like grilling some chicken breasts and steaming some veggies. Pretty much not a lot of blog-worthy cooking! I finally got around to trying out a couple of new recipes this weekend, so I’ll have some fun stuff to share soon!
But who can resist weekend brunch on the patio on a late spring morning? I met some friends for brunch at Izakaya on Elgin Street one recent weekend, wondering what brunch at a Japanese restaurant might be like. I was pleasantly surprised!
Many of Izakaya’s brunch items have a Japanese/Asian twist, from the togarashi (chili pepper) seasoning on the home fries to the sweet soy sauce on the yakiniku beef, which is what I decided to order. The yakiniku (which translates to grilled meat) beef and two eggs was a 6 oz grilled striploin steak topped with mushrooms and a soy drizzle, served with two eggs any way (I chose over easy), togarashi-dusted home fries and toast. It was delicious! The steak was tender, the eggs perfectly drippy, and the togarashi on the home fries provided a bit of heat to spice up my brunch.
The service at Izakaya was also great - our coffees were kept filled and hot, and the staff seemed totally ok with us lingering on the patio (it wasn’t too busy). Overall, the brunch wasn’t anything mind blowing, but it was tasty and fresh. I’d definitely return!
Dinner at Aperitivo
It has been a while since the husband and I had been to Aperitivo, a great spot for delicious eats in our own back yard. We decided to take a chance and go for an early dinner sans reservation one recent Friday night, and we lucked out and got a table.
Aperitivo changes their menu often enough so that you will never get tired of their offerings. Everything is quite creative and will leave your tastebuds begging for more!
We decided to do our usual and share a few plates, and rich and earthy seemed to be the theme for us that night. I started with the bone marrow and escargots appetizer, which was three bone halves with the succulent marrow waiting to be devoured, plus a handful of escargots scattered on top. This was a very unique dish, and I was glad I went out on a limb to try it: but it is not for the faint of heart. It was incredibly rich!
The husband and I shared the braised beef shoulder with fried Brussels sprouts and cauliflower puree, which was amazing. The beef was perfectly tender, and the sprouts and cauliflower made rich with earthy flavours. We also shared the beef tostadas, which came topped with chimichurri sauce and sheep’s milk feta. Wow! These bite-sized tostadas were fantastic, and the edible flowers made for beautiful presentation.
I ended my meal with a cappuccino, and we both sat back and relaxed and enjoyed our Friday evening out. I can’t wait to see what Aperitivo has planned for their summer menu!
Brunch at Pressed Cafe
A fellow foodie and friend had texted me a photo a while back that got me really excited: an eggs benedict but with waffles! I immediately had to know where she had enjoyed this beautiful sight, and the answer was Pressed Cafe.
Funnily enough, I had been meaning to go to Pressed Cafe for a very long time, but with a long list of ‘must try’ places, it had continued to be shuffled lower in the list for no reason in particular. But with this new information (and my love for all things brunch) it had suddenly become very important to get there ASAP!
So the husband and I went to check it out one Saturday morning a few weeks back, and I can say with total confidence that it did not disappoint! I had a bit of trouble deciding between which of their waffle brunch items to order as they all looked so good. In the end, I opted for the Natasha, which is two delicious Belgian waffles that come topped with the Whalesbone’s smoked trout, two poached eggs and a whole lot of hollandaise sauce. So simple, but so totally delicious, this is brunch at its best for me! The smoked trout was plentiful and the waffles were tender and not overly sweet. The whole plate came together wonderfully!
The husband was feeling more of a lunch vibe, so he ordered one of Pressed’s sandwiches, which is what they are most known for. A fresh ciabatta bun came topped with smoked chicken, roasted red peppers and goat cheese, and was served with a side of in-house made sweet potato chips and a pickled green bean. He enjoyed it very much, but it didn’t necessarily top his list of best sandwiches in Ottawa.
I would definitely return to try other versions of their waffle brunch, which I forgot to mention comes with bottomless coffee or tea (they serve Equator, which is one of my favourite local roasters). It is a very relaxed cafe with self-serve seating and food ordering - a great place to relax and enjoy a delicious brunch any weekend morning!
Lunch at the Rex
Walking into the Rex for the very first time, I was on completely familiar ground. How is that possible, you ask? Well, the Rex is housed in a former not-so-special pizza/diner type restaurant that I frequented when I worked in a nearby office building. I was so excited to finally get to try the Rex, about which I had read so many good things.
I was amazed what a fresh coat of paint a little bit of styling can do for a restaurant space! We took our seats and I was overwhelmed by deja vu, but only by my surroundings: the food was about to be a million times better than that which I ate seated at that exact same table a million years ago!
The Rex offers a small menu, but you will still have trouble deciding what to choose to eat - everything looks amazing! For my first time, I went with their shepherd’s pie, which is described on their menu as overnight braised short ribs, caramelized onions, grilled sweet corn, and brown butter mashed potatoes. For my side, I chose the cauliflower soup. Both were incredibly rich and delicious! The braised short ribs in the shepherd’s pie were tender and moist, and flavoured nicely (not too salty). The soup was velvety and earthy, and I almost wanted to lick the bowl to get every last drop!
I can’t wait to go back to the Rex and make some more new memories! Check out their website for more information: http://therexottawa.com/
A drop-in treat: SuzyQ Doughnuts
It had been a very long time since the husband and I had visited Ottawa’s favourite locally made doughnut shop, SuzyQ, so we dropped in one recent weekend to treat ourselves to some doughnut deliciousness!
We always like to try SuzyQ’s new flavours, so on this outing, we shared the Boston (creme - top left), the peppered pineapple (top right), and the Brass Monkey (not pictured). The Boston was amazing, with a vanilla custard on the inside (I could see the vanilla beans!!), as was the pineapple, but my favourite had to be the Brass Monkey, with its banana-flavoured glaze and chunks of soft peanut brittle. SuzyQ’s glazes are mind blowing!
When you’re in Ottawa, skip over the Tim Hortons and make the trip to SuzyQ - you will never regret it!
La Sandwicherie, South Beach, Miami, Florida
I know what you’re thinking: sandwiches - no big deal, right? Wrong! As someone who is head over heels in love with GOOD sandwiches, I was pretty excited to discover La Sandwicherie while researching restaurant and food options for our recent trip to Miami Beach.
Known for it’s fresh ingredients and its huge and affordable sandwiches, La Sandwicherie has been serving South Beach, Miami since 1988 from their take out window/counter-only shop on 14th Street. You get a full view of the sandwich-making action while waiting at the counter for your order to be prepared, and it’s pretty fantastic to watch! Never have you seen faster hands whipping together sandwich perfection.
The menu explains all of your sandwich options, including choice of bread (fresh daily baked baguette - both white and whole wheat - and croissants) and the toppings that come with each sandwich (lettuce, tomatoes, green and hot peppers, black olives, onions, cucumbers, cornichons, mayonnaise and their house-made French vinaigrette).
The husband and I visited La Sandwicherie twice during our stay in Miami Beach. The first time, I ordered the SoBe Club, which comes with turkey, brie cheese and avocado (along with all of the toppings above), and the husband had the Italian, which comes topped with ham, salami, proscuitto and provolone (and also all of those other toppings). These were fantastic! The baguette was fresh, as were the ample toppings. As well, having eaten these at lunch time, we were full for the rest of the day!
For our second visit, I had the ham and turkey with provolone (and all the toppings, but on a croissant, which was amazing! One of my favourite things in the world of sandwiches is croissant sandwiches. They just add that special touch! The husband had the roast beef, which he also thoroughly enjoyed.
La Sandwicherie also offers fresh smoothies and juices (we tried one of the smoothies but I forgot to take a photo! It was delicious), soup, salads and breakfast sandwiches. There are even a few options for toasted or hot sandwiches.
I would definitely add La Sandwicherie to your itinerary if you’re looking for something that is fresh, delicious, and won’t break the bank, especially in South Beach. Plus, who doesn’t love a portable meal? Get your sandwiches and head right back to the beach for a picnic lunch.
Dinner at Umami Burger, South Beach, Miami, Florida
As a person who loves to read about all things food related, I was familiar with Umami Burger, and was interested in finally getting to see for myself what all the hype was about. I live very, very far away from any Umami Burger, so while vacationing in South Beach, Miami, recently, I decided to take advantage of my close proximity to their only Florida location to give it a try.
Umami is all about the hamburgers (is that obvious?), and their simple and no-fuss menu reflects this mission. The beef that is used for the burger patties is ground in-house, and specially seasoned with ‘umami’ flavours for a unique and absolutely deliciously rich dining experience (read Umami Burger’s own description here).
Our server was fantastic, and took the time to explain the menu and make a few recommendations. I chose the Manly Burger, which comes topped with beer-infused cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, and house ketchup and mustard spread. The husband went for the Royale Burger, which comes topped with braised beef short rib, roasted garlic aioli and their own in-house made truffle cheese. The burgers all come as is, and you have to add a side dish for an extra cost if you wish. We chose to share the smushed potatoes, which are described on their menu as double-fried creamer potatoes served with roasted garlic aioli. Everything was amazingly delicious! Yes, they are just hamburgers, but these are seriously infused with some rich, tongue-tantalizing flavour. The beef patty really is uniquely delicious and I have never eaten a hamburger that tasted anything like it! The smushed potatoes were pretty delicious too, but the burger is quite rich as is - you really don’t need the side unless you’re really, really hungry.
Overall we really enjoyed Umami Burger: its simplicity and focus on quality ingredients and craftmanship really shine! We would not hesitate to return.
One for the life’s other pleasures column: House of Targ
The husband and I decided to check out a unique new spot that opened a little while ago in Old Ottawa South called House of Targ. Billed as pinball and perogies, this arcade/perogie restaurant/music venue is making quite the splash, attracting kids and adults alike and their passion for pinball.
As you descend the stairs down into the basement setting of House of Targ, your eyes quickly adjust to see the huge line up of pinball machines (there are 20!) and other arcade video games. It’s the perfect setting for getting your game on! They’ve got you covered for change too, so don’t worry about bringing your own. The husband and I had a blast playing pinball (they have both newer and older tables) and old school arcade games like Centipede, Tetris, Double Dragon, Smash TV, Tron and NBA Jam.
We also couldn’t wait to try their homemade perogies, in which they are so confident of their deliciousness that they are the only food items they serve! For our first time, we tried ‘the traditional,’ which is potato and cheese, as well as the ‘le champignon,’ which is a mix of lightly grilled seasonal mushrooms and shallots. Both were so delicious! Tender on the inside but with the nice bit of crust from a flash fry before serving. All perogies are served with a side beet salad, sauerkraut and dill sour cream. For dessert, we had to try ‘the Big Sweetie,’ which is a perogie filled with apple chunks, cinnamon and brown sugar and is served drizzled with caramel and with a huge dollop of lemon-infused creme fraiche. Wow! We were blown away by how amazing these were - we wished there were more than just 3 in the order!
To quench your thirst, Targ serves up your basic bar drinks, with a few different beers on tap (including Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. of VanKleek Hill, a favourite of Ottawans), wine and spirits. There are non-alcoholic choices for the kids, too!
As I mentioned above, House of Targ is great for both kids and adults alike, and we saw just that while we were there - lots of families enjoying the games and the perogies. Targ is open Thursday through Sunday starting at 5 p.m., and anyone under 19 can play until 9 p.m., after which they charge cover as there are nightly music shows. We saw so many kids on Saturday afternoon that we wouldn’t hesitate to confirm that this place is very kid-friendly!
Overall, we had a great time at Targ, and can’t wait to go back to play some more!
Dinner at Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, South Beach, Miami, Florida
While vacationing in South Beach recently, the husband and I made a point of trying restaurants and foods that are difficult for us to find back home, one of them being Cuban food.
There were quite a few options from which to choose in terms of Cuban restaurants, but we decided on Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen, which is just a few steps off the busy Lincoln Road Mall. Abuela’s is quite the big establishment with both a formal/fine dining sit down area and a take-out window/eat-in counter.
As we entered the restaurant (we decided to dine in the formal area) we were promptly seated and well looked after by our server. We asked for some recommendations as the menu is quite large and we were unsure of what to order, and our server was very helpful.
I decided to start with a mojito, and it was delightful! It came served with a big stick of sugarcane, which I thought was really cool and interesting. The husband really wanted to try some sort of traditional Cuban pop, so the server recommended an Ironbeer. We were completely unfamiliar with this drink, and when the can arrived (see above), the husband wasn’t sure what it was. But then he took a sip and loved it! It is basically described as a spicy-flavoured cola (along the lines of a Dr. Pepper). It was definitely interesting and something that we both won’t forget that we tried!
For my main, I decided on the ropa vieja, which was a shredded beef in a tomato sauce. For my sides, I went with the fried plantains (tostones) and the black beans and rice. The husband chose the roast pork, and had mashed potatoes and the sweet fried plantains as his sides. We shared everything on our plates and we both agreed that it was a delicious (and super filling) meal! We especially loved the ropa vieja for its tender texture and the sweet fried plantains, as they are not something we get to eat, well, ever!
I would definitely recommend checking out Abuela’s if you’re in South Beach and are craving some Cuban cuisine. The service was great, the prices were reasonable, and the food was delicious!
Lunch and dinner at Alma Mexicana, South Beach, Miami, Florida
Alma Mexicana, the gem of Washington Avenue! The husband and I couldn’t wait to dig in to some authentic Mexican cuisine while in South Beach, and Alma Mexicana was so good, we ate there three times!
A tiny little shop on the gritty Washington Avenue in the heart of South Beach, Alma serves up a simple menu of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, combination plates, a bunch of variations of huevos rancheros, etc. The menu may be small, but everything is fresh, delicious and incredibly reasonably priced (and huge portions!). The staff was friendly, helpful and happy to make your meal an enjoyable experience.
Absolutely everything that we ate at Alma was amazing, and we’d recommend it if you’re going to be in Miami Beach. As you can see from my photos above, we tried quite a few different items from their menu, but our favourite had to be the tacos. Two soft corn tortillas came filled with your meat of choice (we tried all of them, including the fish taco) and diced onion and cilantro - so simple, but so amazingly delicious! The self-serve freshly made salsa bar allowed you to top your tacos to your heart’s desire. The fish tacos were a little different, arriving topped with a special slaw and salsa. Mind-blowingly fantastic.
I also thoroughly enjoyed their huevos rancheros and the ceviche tostada - the flavours and textures were perfection! Abundant, fresh and full of flavour.
Authentic Mexican cuisine is hard to come by where I live, so this experience was one that we will remember (and get our mouths watering just daydreaming about it!)
Lunch at Yardbird, South Beach, Miami, Florida
Out of all the restaurants we visited while vacationing in South Beach, Miami, recently, I was most excited to dine at Yardbird. After reading lots about the restaurant in advance of our visit, I was pretty sure we were going to have a great meal and a lovely experience, and we were not disappointed. Known for its down-home southern cuisine, we were excited to experience something that is pretty much impossible to find anywhere in or around Ottawa.
Located just off the busy Lincoln Road pedestrian mall in South Beach, Yardbird sits on a more residential street, but isn’t far from the action. As you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted by the relaxed, down-home, laid back decor, right down to the paper wrapped cloth napkins reminding you to “say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.” There is nothing pretentious about this place, and we felt immediately comfy and cozy despite the apparent buzz about Yardbird.
Having scrupulously perused the menu ahead of our visit, we were pretty sure as to what we would be ordering, but we were delighted when our waiter took the time to ask us if we’d dined there before, and to make some much welcomed suggestions and share some important info about the menu.
To start out, we sipped on a couple of Yardbird’s signature drinks: the peachberry smash (in the martini glass in my photo above) and the blackberry bourbon lemonade. Both were a unique mixture of fine alcohol and fresh ingredients: all you need to know is that they were delicious and refreshing! We highly recommend sampling their cocktails if you have the chance.
Most of their plates are perfect for sharing, so that was what we did. We started off with the buttermilk biscuits, which came hot and fresh out of the oven with a side of honey butter and strawberry jam. I am a sucker for fresh baked biscuits and I could have eaten these forever and ever! We had no trouble polishing off these tender, moist and flaky biscuits. These are what biscuit dreams are made of!
For our main, we chose to share what Yardbird is known for, their chicken n’ watermelon n’ waffles. Described on their menu as “Yardbird’s signature old school fried chicken, hot sauce honey, chilled spiced watermelon, cheddar cheese chow chow waffle and bourbon maple syrup,” this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. First, the fried chicken, which was a full half chicken with two breasts, a wing and a leg, was ridiculously moist, and the flavours in the breading were perfect. Their hot sauce honey somehow made the flavours even better, if possible. Just when you needed a cool down, the chilled spiced watermelon came to the rescue. Have you ever had spiced watermelon? We guessed that there was a combination of spices, probably including some cumin, maybe chili powder, but, whatever they were, it made the watermelon that much more interesting and delicious. Lastly, the waffles. The waffles! How could something so simple like cheddar cheese and green onion make a waffle taste so amazing, I’ll never know. The bourbon maple syrup was certainly a treat! The plate also came with their in-house made relish, which added a lovely zest to everything with which I topped it. We both agreed that this was one of the most expertly executed dishes we have ever eaten.
Lastly, we also couldn’t resist trying their macaroni and cheese, which is made with torchio pasta, five artisanal cheeses and a crispy herb crust. This was very much your basic mac and cheese without any of the popular nonsense that is truffle oil or bacon, and we loved it! You could really taste the strong flavours of the cheese blend and the torchio pasta (just the name of its shape) held up superbly.
Sadly, we did not have any room for dessert (what a pity!) so that was it for our visit at Yardbird. The food, the service, the ambiance and the complete overall experience was fantastic. Check it out if you`re ever in South Beach and in the mood for some down home southern cooking!
See Yardbird`s website here.
Read this New York Times review of Yardbird here.
Brunch at the Scone Witch
Does it ever happen to you that a restaurant up and moves and you have no idea about it until you just happen to stumble upon the new location completely unintended? Well that happened to me recently as I stumbled upon the new location of the Scone Witch while taking some out of town guests down to Winterlude a few weeks ago.
Granted it had been some time (well, a very long time) since I’d been to the Scone Witch’s location on Albert Street, but in all of my internet reading about the food scene in Ottawa, I had not heard of it’s move to Elgin Street to a beautiful new (and HUGE) space.
So it was a few Sundays later when I met some friends to give it a try. I had also never been to the Scone Witch for weekend brunch, so it was a double shot of new for me.
Their brunch menu is quite small, but just go with it: you’re there for the delicious scones anyway! It is also kind of pricey, but worth it. I ordered the breakfast plate, which comes with scrambled eggs and your choice of topping (I chose smoked salmon, of course), fruit, salad, a scone of your choice and jam (or clotted cream AND jam for a little extra). I also ordered the largest cappuccino they could make for me to accompany my breakfast, which was fantastic. All in all, a great brunch: light and delicious. I went with one of my favourite of their scones, the oatmeal, with wild blueberry jam. It was heavenly.
I will definitely be back to the Scone Witch’s new location - it is bright, airy and much larger (read: more seating, less chaotic) than their Albert Street location, all which makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience. Plus, there’s no better spot to get a scone in Ottawa!
Breakfast at Gabriel Pizza
When you have company visiting for the weekend, I always find that it is less stressful on everyone to just go out to eat, especially for breakfast. People have such different routines when it comes to breakfast (is it just me or do more and more people these days not eat eggs?) and appetites also differ.
It had been forever since the husband and I had been to Gabriel Pizza for breakfast, but we knew it was good and very reasonable, so off we went with our house guests in tow, promising many choices and low prices (and no dishes! haha).
A lot had changed in this particular location of Gabriel Pizza since the last time the husband and I went: a renovation made for a lovely remodeled space and an even bigger brunch menu. Our guests had no problem choosing something to eat and fuel up before we headed downtown to Winterlude.
I have been on a bit of an omelette kick lately when the husband and I go out for breakfast, so I ordered the Western, which comes stuffed with ham and onion. Served with homefries and toast, this was one satisfying breakfast! Everyone else thoroughly enjoyed their meals, and we all left feeling satisfied and ready to start our day.
The husband and I will no doubt be back at Gabriel Pizza for breakfast very soon!