Amsterdam BrewHouse: The new hot spot on the water

Amsterdam BrewHouse

When I heard about the newly opened Amsterdam BrewHouse opening up by my work on Queens Quay, I knew I’d be making a trip their quickly – two days later, in fact.

While they’re still working on the final touches throughout much of the second level to get it ready in time for the official July 1 launch, it’s still a fully functioning restaurant with many different kinds of seats to choose from. Given the nice weather me and my buddy of course opted for the patio – one of many. We were hoping for the lakeside seats, but were taken to the west side of the building, which faced the Marine Unit of the Toronto Police – still great seats.

The BrewHouse has two separate paper menus – one with its beer selection, the other with food (and more drinks). On the flip side of the drink menu we decided to go with the beer flight, which let us sample four different kinds of beer four the cost of a pint ($8). This is a good option if you like to try new beers but don’t want to take the chance on getting a gross pint.

Amsterdam BrewHouse BeerWhen it came to the food, I was a bit indecisive. There wasn’t a tonne of options, but much of the menu looked either interesting (duck grilled cheese) or traditionally a good choice (burgers, pizza). The food is a couple dollars pricier for most of the menu items, compared to most bars, but everything is made fresh, seasonal and local, and generally much better prepared than your typical pub. That being said, I felt cheap and got the crispy fish tacos, which still ran $13 even though it’s listed as an appetizer. It came with three tacos and because I wasn’t terribly hungry, were definitely filling enough, and certainly tasty.

Amsterdam BrewHouse Fish TacosAfter grabbing another pint we paid up and moved to the south side patio because the Muskoka chairs they have were too inviting. The service on that side was nearly non-existent, so we ended up grabbing a pint on our own at the bar after a while. All that was made up by the view:

Amsterdam BrewHouse ViewOverall I really liked the Amsterdam BrewHouse and plan on making a few trips this summer. Because it’s new, I expected any number of issues, so on that front I’m forgiving. While the food pricing is a bit much, the food is unique enough and I’m always up for trying new things so I’d like to sample many more items off that menu.

Have you made it out there yet? What did you think?

A night of citrus-filled cuisine at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Chefs under the spotlight at Mildred's Temple KitchenLast night I was fortunate enough to be invited out to the Florida Department of Citrus‘ ‘Pulp Kitchen: Rising Chef Citrus Cook-Offat Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.

As part of Winterlicious, the night featured a competition of three student chefs each creating three citrus-themed dishes (app, entree, dessert)  served to three celebrity judges (Christian Pritchard, Chef Lynn Crawford and Chef Jeff Crump). The night was emceed by Mildred’s owner and executive chef, Donna Dooher who did a fantastic job keeping everyone entertained.

The chefs had very limited time to prepare their dishes under hot stage lights, with people (like me) photographing them and the judges of course, critiquing each of their choices. In the end, Chad Shetty from the Niagara College Culinary School took home the big prize of $2,000 after receiving some high praise from the judges on each of his plates. Congrats also have to go out to Greg Light from Humber College and Cortney Zettler from Stratford Chefs School whose plates looked equally delicious (in my humble opinion).

Guest meals were separate from the competition, but also featured a citrus-theme in the appetizer and four courses, and were prepared by the staff at Mildred’s:

First Course: Avocado salad with carbonated Florida grapefruit

First Course: Avocado salad with carbonated Florida grapefruit

The first course to start our night was an interesting blend of citrus with spiciness, which was quite good. I didn’t eat the onion, but the hot pepper went well with the grapefruit and avocado.

Second Course: BC Albacore tuna and Florida grapefruit segments in tofu orange sauce, with baby arugula and truffled ginger soy vinaigrette

Second Course: BC Albacore tuna and Florida grapefruit segments in tofu orange sauce, with baby arugula and truffled ginger soy vinaigrette

Next up was this tuna meal. I’m slightly allergic to seafood, so I could only grab a bit of the fish. However, the rest of the plate was very well done and the arugula, ginger soy vinaigrette and grapefruit was an excellent blend of flavours.

Chicken and house-made merguez tagine with medjool dates and Florida orange juice, served on a bed of Florida orange juice infused couscous

Third Course: Chicken and house-made merguez tagine with medjool dates and Florida orange juice, served on a bed of Florida orange juice infused couscous

By far this was my favourite meal of the night. As soon as the dish was served I was immediately excited to try it. The chicken was perfectly done and fell apart in my mouth. It went well with the orange juice infused couscous, which wasn’t as citrus-y as I had expected.

Dessert: House-made ricotta torta della nona with Florida orange juice, orange zest and topped with orange syrup and a Florida orange segment

Dessert: House-made ricotta torta della nona with Florida orange juice, orange zest and topped with orange syrup and a Florida orange segment

A close second was this dessert. The orange syrup made the torta, which was creamy and not sweet, taste just perfect. I’m not a huge fan of sweets so this dessert suited my palate quite well.

Overall the night went very well and the competition felt like I was watching a Food Network show while I ate. I would have loved to have tried the dishes prepared by the students because their presentations looked extremely well done. I’d also like the opportunity to make it out to Mildred’s once again because I enjoyed it so much, though my treks to Liberty Village are unfortunately few and far between.

Pachuco brings the taste of Mexico to the Danforth

Pachuco Restaurant front entranceYesterday, the fiancée I had the opportunity to sample some dishes from Pachuco a new modern Mexican cuisine restaurant celebrating its opening weekend. Located just steps from Broadview station on Danforth, the restaurant is the latest addition to the neighbourhood, just west of Greektown.

After walking down a flight of stairs into the main room we were greeted by a dark lit space that had an ambient, relaxed feel. There was enough seating for a good amount of people, but the space was small and the bar took up one wall.

OMargaritasnce we were seated our server brought us the menus and told us about the drink specials. We were drawn to the margarita sampler (to the left) ($15) and chose strawberry, guava and mango. The other flavour options were: blueberry, spicy mango, traditional and pineapple.

At first I thought I’d enjoy the mango one the most, but the guava one grew on me, and the strawberry one was consistently good each time I took a sip. We just found them to be a tad too salty, which took away from the flavour – especially in the mango one.

Mexican cuisine On to the food, we had the opportunity to pick from two dishes from the menu. The first one up (top dish on the left) was the Chicken Empanadas ($9). They were stuffed with chicken and olives and served with a very tasty artisanal mole sauce. The pastry was fluffy and let you enjoy the flavourful stuffing inside. They were the highlight of the meal and I could have eaten way more.

The main course was the Taquitos de Cochinita pibil ($15) (not shown: tortillas, rice and black beans – the last two were $4 extra). In the bowl was a delicious slow cooked pork marinated with achiote spice and the additional toppings on the right were peanut and arbol pepper salsa and Habanero mayo. The pork was amazing, and the salsa/mayo combo added great flavour to the taquito, which we both ate three of; so along with the empanadas we were perfectly full.

Though a bit pricier than we’re accustomed to paying for Mexican food, we both enjoyed the ambiance of the location, as well as the service and great food. If you’re looking for a nice dinner out on the Danforth and craving a modern take on Mexican cuisine, I recommend giving Pachuco a try. If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to follow them @PachucoResto!

Steak and chicken at Joey Restaurant

Joey Restaurant menu

On Friday night the fiancée and I decided to try out the new Joey Restaurant near Yonge & Dundas. I was fortunate enough to have won a gift card when they were promoting the July 4 opening on Twitter, so I wanted to make good use of it.

When we got there around 5:30pm, it was already busy, so we had to wait about 15 minutes to be seated. In the meantime, we were offered a free sample of wine, which we gladly tried. Once we were taken to our somewhat dark, but nice booth we had a look at the menu. Joey Restaurant

After much deliberating I decided to go with the 9oz CAB Top Sirloin which came with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes wrapped in some flaky pastry. I had no complaints about the food. The steak was made just as I’d wanted it (medium-rare) and while I was worried the mashed potatoes would be bland, the wrapped pastry with sour cream and chives (I believe) on top, added that extra flavour.Joey Restaurant

For her meal, the fiancée went with the Bombay Butter Chicken which was served with toasted almond basmati rice, grilled naan bread and lentil papadum. She’s a fan of butter chicken in general, and she seemed to enjoy this one quite a bit. She doesn’t always finish her plates when we go out, but she managed to eat it all.

We were both tempted to get dessert, but we were full enough from the meal, which is usually the case (see eyes bigger than stomach syndrome).

Overall we had a great experience at Joey, though if you want an entree it’s a bit on the mid-to-high price range for me (I’m cheap, sue me). It has great atmosphere and is a good middle-ground option for groups having trouble deciding where to eat.

If you’ve been, what’s your favourite dish at Joey?

Sushi is back on the menu

I’m a big fan of Japanese cuisine of all kinds, but mostly the raw variety. You can imagine my disappointment when each time I went to eat it I found myself getting sick afterward. I stopped limited my intake of the good stuff for a while until I came to the realization that it may have had something to do with the coffee I was drinking around mealtime.

So today I made sure to wait long after my morning cup (free at McDonald’s – take THAT Tim Hortons!) and went to Sushi Shop, a relatively new place that opened up on Bloor Street East, near Church (another location at Carlton/Yonge). After much deliberation I ordered the Double Salmon Maki. Similar to the picture above,  but this version had salmon draped on the outside of the roll. I’m a big fan of Salmon Maki so seeing this made me anxious to try it.

I’m not a connoisseur of cuisine or anything but the food was very tasty. I did takeout and was lucky enough that the roll was just being made, so I didn’t have to wait very long. If you decide to make it a sit down visit there are about five or so tables, though when I was there there was just one table taken up. The service was also great; there seemed to be a lot of people working such a small restaurant, but they were nice and helpful.

Next time I get a craving, I will definitely be heading back to Sushi Shop again in the near future and It turns out my body hates sushi and I’m quite possibly allergic to it (maybe that whole high mercury level thing?) so I won’t be eating it again (sad face). HOWEVER…  if you’re in the area I don’t see why you wouldn’t drop by.

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