Date Night @ Actinolite

A few years ago when Nash and I were underemployed, we’d walk past Actinolite and joked that one day we would go there when we could afford it. Though we’ve had just as fancy meals already, I finally remembered to actually go here so we did it for our Christmas dinner date.

We chose to do the full Chef’s Menu and the wine pairing. The first was a beautiful apple salad.

Then there was a snack of salmon and capers.

I couldn’t stop eating the perfect sourdough bread and butter from the town of Actinolite, a town in Central Ontario.

This dish of root vegetables (beets, pickled onion, turnip & more) was flavourful and delicious

Jerusalem artichoke sat delicately above oysters.

Hen of the woods in elderberry and pine butter was probably our favourite dish.

This was a duck dish, but I ate it before I took a photo. It was just that good!

I did not know carrots could be elevated so much until I had these blackened ones.

This ice cream with butternut squash and toasted lichen was a lovely complex dessert.

Finishing off the night were these biscuits with marshmallow.

This meal was definitely worth the wait and our years-long excitement of going here!

Actinolite Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Comfort Food @ 120 Diner

Last week, I was invited to 120 Diner for some food and music. The restaurant is related to Club 120 which is also owned by Mandy Goodhandy and Todd Klinck. The restaurant used to be a Spring Rolls but now is a complimentary entertainment spot to their club.


The restaurant has live music every night, employing a pass the bucket for their performances, which can be slightly awkward if you just want to come here to eat. However everybody there when we went was definitely in it for the entertainment! We were treated to a performance by singer-songwriter Genevieve Marentette. My favourite part was when she improvised a song with written suggestions from the audience.


The menu is comfort food and even has a whole section for nachos and poutine. I ordered the 120 Grilled Cheese burger: 3 cheeses on a bun stuffed with a 6 oz. beef patty, with spicy chili mayo with some sweet potato fries. The burger was juicy and the cheese was a melty heaven. I really enjoyed the fries also. They were nice and crunchy and lightly salted.


Nash opted for the Meatloaf & Mac. I stole some bites and the meatloaf was flavourful and moist and the mac and cheese went strangely well with it!


To drink I had the Grey Goose Peach Mojito which was super refreshing and served with a fuzzy peach.


Nash had a Shiny Apple Cider, which they actually have on draft!


For dessert we shared Mason’s Banana Pudding that was homemade bourbon caramel sauce and whipped cream with bananas. We licked it all up!

We left 120 Diner with our tummies stuffed and full of satisfying food and livened by music!

This meal was complimentary of 120 Diner but views are my own. 
120 Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wenona Craft Beer Lodge

We wanted to watch that epic Game 5 at Tallboys but it was unfortunately packed by the time I got out of work. I decided to head over to their other restaurant Wenona a few blocks west. It has the same great craft beer, but a different type of menu. I ordered the sliders and choose to mix up pulled pork and brisket. There was also the option vegetarian but I don’t need that! The sliders were served on a steamed bao instead of a regular bun which was a nice twist. I chose to eat mine with crunchy fries.


I also had an order of plantain chips which were like bruschetta on fried plantains instead of bread.



Nash had Catch of the Day, fish and chips battered with Trailhead beer.


My drink of the night was Brickworks 501 semi-sweet cider.


I couldn’t resist getting their smores for dessert! It’s warm baked marshmallows and chocolate served with some graham crackers of course.

This place is still relatively new but it has a lovely homey vibe and is definitely a great place to watch the game that not many people around the block know about yet!

Wenona Lodge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Carnita


For my friend’s birthday, we went to La Carnita‘s College Street location. It is tapas style so everything comes out together in shareable plates. For example, if you and a friend ordered tacos they would often come together in the same serving plate. This was slightly confusing since we were in a group of more than 15 people. I opted for 3 tacos. The first one (pictured above was the) was the Tostada de Ceviche: Albacore Tuna, guacamole, coconut milk, habanero, tomato, cucumber. It was very fresh and light tasting.


I had a bite of the In Code We Trust, a fish taco, with Cod, Voltron sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple & cilantro. What I totally forgot to take a photo of was my Crispy Cotija taco with crispy cotija cheese, cauliflower & pinto bean, pickled carrots, chipotle sauce, green onion & cilantro. I can’t resist fried cheese.


My third taco was the Pork Belly Al Pastor Taco, a daily special with roasted pork belly, guajillo BBQ sauce, pineapple salsa, coriander crema and mache lettuce.

All three tacos were flavourful and fresh and would’ve filled me up on their own but I felt like splurging a little so I got a few extras.


Funny story about the corn. I looked at the menu and was like “who the hell would pay $9 for corn?” and then I saw a little kid eating it at the table behind us and it looked amazing, so I ordered it. I have no regrets. It was the best grilled corn I have ever had with Mexican crema, queso anejo, arbol & ancho chili powder. Who thought corn could pack so much punch?

DSCF3754 DSCF3755

The table also shared nachos with guacomole and corn salsa. Both were fresh and delicious. The chips themselves were lightly salted and could totally be eaten on their own.


To was things down I ordered a few of their sangrias that were infused with peach, mango and raspberry. I could’ve drank a pitcher of these (which was available).


It was my friend’s birthday so the waiter bought over some birthday churros with a candle. The churros were crunchy and served in a cajeta, a silky nutty sauce. These are the same churros that can be ordered over at Sweet Jesus.

I was super stuffed from ordering too much but I highly enjoyed my meal at La Carnita. Everything is fresh, flavourful and relatively inexpensive (if you don’t go overboard).

La Carnita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Whippoorwill

Looks like I’m already getting my foodventure on this new year. After a fantastic brunch at Rose & Sons, Nash and I were even more eager to venture into new places this year. On a whim we made a last minute reservation to The Whippoorwill. We usually don’t go down that West on Bloor because it seemed sketchy but I had heard great things about the restaurant and really wanted to try it. We came for just food but the cocktail menu was just so intriguing!

photo 6Nash ordered “This Little Piggy” with Napoleon brandy, Grand Marnier, Briottet chesnut, sage, lemon and Scrappy’s Celery bitters. Despite the hilariously girly glass, it was strong and full of flavour.

photo 7I had “The Skippy Welcher” with Havana Club Amejo Rum, Briottet Hazelnut, Briottet Chesnut, brown butter, lemon, concord grape juice and maldon. It was like grape juice for adults. I loved the nuttiness. There was enough alcohol in both drinks that made it well worth the price.

photo 8I ordered a Lobster Croquette which was one of the specials of the day and not on their regular menu. The presentation was very festive and the croquette itself had a nice crunch. The lobster was fresh and paired well with the creamy sauce.

photo 1Nash had the burger, which was recently voted one of the Best Burgers over $10 by Now Magazine. It was a messy juicy burger with a buttered bun, melted cheddar and russian dressing but whatever was in that dressing was worth the sticky fingers. As you know we eat a lot of burgers and this was definitely a great one.

photo 2So the croquette was a bit small, so I ordered their other deal of the day a “Deli Sandwich” that was only $6. I half expected a slider for that price but this was seriously a full on sandwich. A great deal, Nash almost ordered a second to take home. It was a mortadella with an egg, peppers and cheese. It was delicious. The meat was flavourful and it was so filling I couldn’t finish. However, Nash made sure there was no leftovers and ate the rest.

photo 3Our bill was attached to a paper bag filled with popcorn. It was a lovely surprise and great palate cleanser. I still can’t figure out what was on the popcorn. It was sweet and salty at the same time. I think it was rosemary among many other spices.

From beginning to end it was a lovely meal and we can’t wait to be back!
*Update from 05/19/2014*
We tried some more items that were worth talking about!

IMG_2814Dungeness Crab in spring radish, grilled butter and dijon icecream. This was a very interestingly presented dish!

IMG_2810Fried toast with duck egg, chorizo and vegetables.

IMG_2815Chicken fried rabbit with kale salad. It was better than fried chicken.

The Whippoorwill on Urbanspoon

Union Burger and the Magical Coke Machine

photo 3
I’m stuck in Mississauga this week house-sitting. I was watching an episode of Burger Wars and ended up with a gourmet burger craving. I then researched to see if there were places besides chains where I have already been (Five Guys, Big Smoke) and stumbled on Union Burger.
photo 2The place is on Living Arts Drive, right across from Square One Shopping Centre. The interior design of the place was modern and sleek.

photo 4I ordered the Peppercorn Goat Cheese Burger. It had cracked black pepper, caramelized onions, lettuce, BBQ sauce and of course goat cheese. I couldn’t really taste the pepper as the BBQ sauce was a little over powering.

photo 6I chose onion rings as my side. The breading texture reminded me of Burger King’s onion rings, but crunchier.

photo 1I finally had the opportunity to try one of the new Coca-Cola freestyle machines.

photo 5The machine allows you to mix and match your own soft drink flavour. I stuck with a classic vanilla coke. Maybe next time I’ll be more creative.

They’re not the best burgers in the world but Union Burger has some affordable and tastier alternatives to the fast food chains.

Union Burger on Urbanspoon

Anniversary In the Dark at O.Noir

Nash and I love adventure and for our anniversary we decided to dine in the dark at O.Noir. The restaurant, located at the corner of Church and Charles has two dinner services 5:45pm and 8:30pm. Dinner is a prix fixe with 2 courses at $32 and 3 courses at $39.

After placing our orders in a small lit bar area, we were led by our server into the pitch-black dining room. All the servers are legally blind. Our server guided us to the table with a hands-on-shoulder method. It was scary at first to rely only on another person’s voice, but I learnt to put my trust in our guide and found my way to the table. We were seated at the end of a row of tables beside a wall.

We began with some Long Island iced teas, which I made a conscious effort not to knock over. We were also brought bread which I failed to butter. It’s hard to judge how much butter I scooped on my knife in the dark, so there were blobs of it everywhere! I ordered the Surprises for three of my courses. Nash ordered from the menu for his appetizer and main dish. I think my appetizer was a salad with avocado, feta cheese, tomatoes and cranberries, at least I think they were cranberries. Nash had a grilled octopus salad. The octopus was very tender and not chewy.

I’m still trying to figure out what my surprise main was (I forgot to ask). There was green beans, mashed potatoes and what I think is steak in a mushroom sauce. Nash thinks it was pork. It was very flavourful. He ordered the shrimp and sun-dried tomato risotto. I had one of his shrimp and it was well seasoned and felt very large. We both had the surprise dessert which was a cheesecake, served on its side. Not sure what sort of cheesecake but I did taste coconut and pineapple. Maybe pina colada.

The whole experience was a lot of fun. Our appetizers and mains were served in plates that had edges like a bowl, so accidentally pushing the food off the plate wasn’t a concern. I did end up using my hands to help get food on my fork, and to feel if I was actually done each course. Technically I could have licked the plate and nobody would have noticed. It was interesting to have to rely on other senses to gauge our way in the dark. We could hear conversations around us and tried to figure out how close they were. I think there was one table separating us and the people beside us. There was a lot of accidental eye-poking to try to see how far away we were from each other.

During our entire meal, everybody kept up with the rules. Nobody pulled out a smartphone or let in any light. Conversations was plenty and it was definitely a memorable way to spend an anniversary!

O.Noir on Urbanspoon

Maroli Indian Kerala Cuisine

Brightly coloured signage made Maroli restaurant standout from the other restaurants in Korea Town. I was drawn in by their promise of exotic spices.

indianThe Malabar Chicken ($11.99) is their signature dish. It’s a deep fried chicken with 16 spices and might actually be my favourite fried chicken in Toronto. The chicken didn’t feel heavy, yet it was crunchy and flavourful.

indian2The other thing we ordered was the Shrimp Malabari ($14.99). It was a lovely coconut curry much like the one I had at Banjara.

indian3To accompany the curry, we had some Garlic Naan ($3.25) and Maroli Special Naan ($3.25). The latter had cheese, garlic and crushed chillies.

The service was very helpful in explaining what everything was. I was happy the place has free delivery (up to 5km) on their website. I’ll eventually make my way through their entire menu!

Maroli Indian Kerala Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Valentine’s Day at The Stockyards

Since we are still underemployed, we decided to have a low-key Valentine’s Day. We put aside fancy dinners to something that was both affordable and delicious. So I decided to search “pulled pork” in yelp and discovered The Stockyards: Smokehouse and Larder. We’re totally suckers for comfort food and when we sat down in front of this sign, we knew we were in the right place.
Their menu had burgers, fried chicken, and of course the slow-cooked ribs and pulled pork.
I ordered the Cider Braised Pork Sandwich ($11). The pork was braised in cider and served with sauteed kale, caramelized onion, apple, fried sage. There was a garlic mayo sauce as well as some cider juices. I added some shoestring fries.
The sandwich was delicious and a lot more filling than the portion size makes it look. It was chocked full of meat after all. There was a nice acidity from the cider and very different from the usual BBQ sauce soaked type of pulled pork sandwiches.
Nash ordered The Green Chili Pimento Cheese Burger $9 with fries. The burger had lettuce, cheddar, mayo, pimento and jalapeno. It was very juicy and had a nice kick to it.

Who says you need to drop $200 on Valentine’s Day on food that you might not entirely understand? All I need are things that are delicious.

The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder on Urbanspoon

Soups @ Owl of Minerva

I always wanted to try Korean pork bone soup and there was probably no where better to try it than Korea Town’s Owl of Minerva which I have previously read about on BlogTO.

Pork bone soup known as “Gamjatang” was listed on the menu for only $6.20. Since the price was so low, I assumed it would be a small portion so I included the $3 add on of dumplings and noodles.

Not only was the portion pretty large and comparable to that of Pho, but it also came with a bowl of rice and a few sides. The soup was chocked full of pork. I expected a single pork bone, but there were many and the meat was fall off the bone tender. The red colour meant it was spicy, however it was a manageable heat. I totally did not need the add-ons though, there was plenty to eat for $6.20.

We never order the same thing (because that is silly), so Nash got the “Kalbitang” also known as Short-Rib Soup.

It came in a white broth that had a black pepper and garlic aroma. Ingredients included green onions, short ribs, onions, egg and glass noodles, which were very tricky to pick up! I have to admit I like my soup a bit better.

For under $20 the meal was filling and tasteful. We will definitely go back to try the non-soup dishes of which there are plenty!

Owl of Minerva on Urbanspoon