Friday, 20 February 2015

The Lakeview Restaurant

Location: 1132 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1X2, Canada
February 20, 2015
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Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
Crispy on the outside and ooey gooey mac n' cheese on the inside. 
I thought they were a fun and playful appetizer. 

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Coney Fries with Chili, cheese and sour cream
Lots of meaty chili on top of the fries and melted cheddar cheese. The chili was a little dry though - it was mostly just ground beef on top, which is nice - but I would have liked the sauce to soak into the fries to make everything tastier.

June 12, 2013
After seeing this place on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I was pretty excited about checking out this diner. I had to start with the featured drink on Triple Ds:
Apple pie milkshake and caesar
Apple pie milkshake $7.50 and Mimosa $4
Awesome vanilla milkshake with chunks of cinnamon apple pie blended in. 
The pie was delicious in liquid form (as well as solid). 

Cornflake chicken burger
Cornflake chicken: double breasted with melted cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onion + storehouse BBQ sauce on a sesame bun
The cornflakes add a nice hard and crunchy texture to the chicken breast.  The fries were okay.

The Lakeview clubhouse with poutine
The Lakeview clubhouse stack: classic double decker with cornflake chicken, strip bacon, lettuce, 
tomato + sweet chili mayo on whole wheat bread. Upgraded the side to classic poutine.
The clubhouse was pretty good: the chicken was juicy inside and crunchy outside. 
The poutine had real cheese curds, but a salty gravy in a small bowl. 

Nutella Cheesecake pie
Nutella cheesecake pie
The cheesecake was a nice rich chocolate hazelnut with a great pie crust.

Overall: The restaurant has the whole diner feel, but the service was modern and fast and the food was classic with a twist. I thought that it was okay overall. 

Lakeview on Urbanspoon

Monday, 16 February 2015

Garrett's Popcorn - Chicago

Location: 835 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Chicago Mix Popcorn
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Small Bag of Chicago Mix
Surprisingly huge bag for a "small bag" of popcorn - Good Value! 
I like the concept of sweet and cheesy popcorn and I can totally see why it's one of Chicago's best foods because sweet and savoury are delicious together. 
Now, Garrett's is one of those reputable popcorn places (and they're EVERYWHERE in Chicago). We both agreed that we needed to bring some home for family, friends and coworkers to try - so we bought two bags. The popcorn lasts 2 days - so we made sure to eat it fast. 
The caramel was really good - if very sweet. However, the cheese popcorn was weird tasting - like cheetos with butter. I could sort of see how this combination works, but I wasn't really a fan of them together since the caramel tasted sweeter with the cheese popcorn and the cheese popcorn was a little greasy and strange. 

Potbelly Sandwich (Midway Airport) - Chicago

Location: Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), 5700 South Cicero Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638, USA
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We saw this crazy long line up outside Potbelly Sandwiches, so we decided to split a sandwich to see what made their sandwiches so special. 

The guy taking our order said the most popular sandwich was A Wreck
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On Brown bread with salami, roast beef, turkey, ham & swiss cheese as well as lettuce, onion and mayo
It was good - but I still didn't see what all the hype was about. Maybe it's a Chicago thing? 
 I found it was a decent sandwich: warm & toasty with fresh ingredients and reasonably priced...but I didn't find it anything extraordinary.

Website: http://www.potbelly.com/Shops/ShopLocator.aspx?PotbellyShopId=007
Potbelly Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Blackbird - Chicago

Location: 619 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661, USA
I love that Chicago has a free zoo open year round! Even though it was freezing, we went to go check it out. It was rather empty, but it was nice! No crowds to fight and no yelling & screaming children.
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So cute!!!
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Patagonian Cavy, Pygmy Hippo, Giraffe (sticking out his tongue!)

Blackbird has won a few James Beard Awards.
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Maybe I should have done a bit more research before picking the restaurant. It seemed a little pretentious with most of the customers all business formal eating the prix fixe meals and here we were wearing double layers of leggings and jeans and hoodies ready to brace for the cold walk through Lincoln Park Zoo after. 
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Prix Fixe Menu and Bread
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Roasted Cauliflower with almond yogurt, grapefruit, hazelnut, chives and red streak
It's a beautiful mix of colours, flavours, textures on a plate, but I couldn't help thinking - that's it??
This is the start of the three course meal and it was a few pieces of charred cauliflower, tiny slivers of tangy ruby red grapefruit and yogurt.

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Dry-aged beef tartare with smoked mushrooms, crispy grains, dried tomatoes, and cress
Probably a way better choice of appetizer - less white space on the plate compared to the cauliflower (and I always thought vegetarian dishes got larger portions since vegetables are usually a lot cheaper than meat). The tartare was nice and there was good texture with the crispy grains.

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Hanger Steak with smoked potato fingerling, charred cabbage, sour cream and black garlic
The hanger steak was nice...portion sizes were a bit tiny again. Lots of charring of food here with charred cabbage.

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Faroe Islands Salmon with apple cider-miso glaze, sunchokes, rapini and chamomile vinaigrette
A decent lunch sized portion of salmon! The apple cider-miso glaze and chamomile vinaigrette were pretty interesting, but I almost felt like the flavours were competing with each other rather than complementing each other.

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Bourbon gooey butter cake with whipped goat cheese, caramelized strudel, pumpkin pie, pecans and sorghum
This looked really cool. I couldn't really eat it because the whipped goat cheese was way too overpowering for me. Another case where there's a lot of competing flavours with the pumpkin, pecans, strudel, butter cake - but in this case, the whipped goat cheese overpowered it all.

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brownie sundae with chocolate ice cream, amarena cherries, smoked oat crunch and whipped cream
Tiny! I probably didn't really appreciate the nuances of the smoked oat crunch or amarena cherry - but the rich dark chocolate ice cream was good.

Overall: As out of towners, we had some issues locating the restaurant since it was further away from the Loop and there's no bus service there - so we walked. The service was okay, we found the presentation of the food lovely and the food was decent, but we didn't really get value for money for the $25 prix fixe meal.

Website: http://blackbirdrestaurant.com/
Blackbird on Urbanspoon

Magnolia Bakery - Chicago

Location: 108 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
Chicago River Walk
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I kinda like the pace of Chicago over NYC.
It was FREEZING, but it's kinda lovely and peaceful.
I thought the Loop subway system was kind of stupid - we spent most of the weekend walking or taking the bus up and down Michigan Avenue because the subway couldn't get us to where we wanted.

We were casually strolling and saw Magnolia Bakery! The Chicago version!
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OMG! We made it on PISTACHIO DAY!
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We had a big 3 course lunch planned, so I grabbed a mini pistachio cupcake because I can't resist.
I'm guilty of raising my expectations too high whenever I see a pistachio dessert, but I can usually say most pistachio desserts usually meet my expectations purely because I can taste the pistachio flavour. In this case, I could see the pistachios on top, and feel little chunks of the nut get caught in my teeth in the cupcake part, but the icing fell flat for me - so it didn't really work for me.

Overall: It's nice to see the cupcake chain expanding, but unfortunately I didn't get the same experience eating cupcakes in Chicago that I did in New York.

Website: http://www.magnoliabakery.com/