Pay What You Can Meal @ The Atlantic

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I just got home from a lovely date night/(belated) birthday dinner at The Atlantic. My friends and I have been meaning to go to for quite some time. We actually tried when we first saw BlogTO’s post about the restaurants million dollar review. That’s where we learnt of the premise of the restaurant. There is no set menu. Nathan Isberg buys fresh ingredients daily and cooks you what he feels like. There also is no bill. You pay literally what you think the meal is worth. You can even barter other goods and services.

We had a reservation at 7pm (opening time). We wandered around the area until a little after 7 because you can’t really tell the restaurant is open from the outside. We strolled in after 7 and chef Nathan Isberg came out of the kitchen in the back to greet us. As far as we could tell tonight, he was the only employee: the chef, the server, and the greeter. We were seated and told the premise of the restaurant.

7The first thing we were brought was a drink. Nathan had recently made the decision to eliminate alcohol from the menu (except for bottles of wine on special occasions). Our first drink was some sort of warm apple cider with spice and bitters. It was delicious and warmed us up from the cold weather outside.

A soup was also brought out at the same time (pictured above). It was an Austrian squash soup with rose, lentils and a kick of spice. Though the cider also had a spice, it served also to cool down from the heat of the soup.

4Our second course was a salad that consisted of a beautiful poached duck egg on a bed of greens with roasted cauliflower, goat cheese and beets. The combination was delicious. We were especially in love with the goat cheese.

5It was served with a cherry shrub drink with a hint of elderflower. Shrub was a splendid complement to the salad as it provided more acidity. It was almost like a second salad dressing when you sipped it after a bite of salad.

2The main course was a Striped Bass with mushrooms, noodle-like turnips, kimchi in an yuzu broth. The fish was perfectly cooked and we wanted to lick all the components off the plate (including the yuzu).

3It was paired with a matcha tea, yuzu, honey and jasmine drink. It didn’t work on it’s own as well as the other drinks but when sipped with the main course it was superb.

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The dessert was fried apple with brown sugar topped with fried apple peel surrounded by a delightful whipped cream. Our plates were cleared within minutes. Nathan jokingly asked if we wanted seconds and we legitimately thought about it for a second.

The whole experience was very delightful. I call it “experience” because it really was that. It’s a night you have to plan for because it will take a few hours. But I actually didn’t mind waiting for my meal (and neither did anybody else there). We had plenty of time to chat with each other at the table and anticipate with excitement at each course.

When it was all over, we didn’t know if we should pay and leave or what was the protocol so we waited for Nathan to come around and retell us the barter system. There was no pressure whatsoever to leave any kind of amount. We had all the freedom to decide for ourselves and I feel we left a fair amount. I decided not to publish the amount as I feel like it’s based on the whole experience of the evening, and every person would have their own set of opinions and experiences.

This is seriously one of the best and most memorable meals I’ve had in my life and we can’t wait to go back already!

The Atlantic on Urbanspoon

Disgraceland

photo-2A few weeks ago we hit up Disgraceland for the first time in Bloor Court. The place is a little bit divey but they are known for their bar food and wide variety of vegetarian/vegan options. I’m not a vegan by any means but I like to try the occasional vegan cuisine for fun. The first thing I ordered was the Cinco de Fryo ($9 pictured above)- fries topped with cheese, black bean corn salsa, guacamole and cilantro mayo. The ingredients worked really nicely together and I enjoyed the flavour of mayo.

photo-3Not entirely sure why, but I also had the Vegan Rib Dinner. Since I really enjoyed Hogtown Vegan’s take on meat goodies, I thought I’d give them a shot here. However, the ribs turned out to be dry and after a few bites, I didn’t find them appetizing at all. I kind of lost my appetite for the beans and the coleslaw after trying the ribs.

photo-4Nash ordered the Lord of the Rings burger, which is really what I should have got.

I’m not sure if meat-eater bias came into play here, but I really didn’t enjoy the vegan dish I ordered. The fries on the other hand were very good and I heard no complaints about Nash’s burger!

Disgraceland on Urbanspoon

Bar Neon

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Bar Neon is a comfy tapas place on Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne. We walked in not knowing what to expect prior to the visit. I ordered a fruity drink (forgot what was in it) and Nash had an Old Fashioned.

photo 2The first item I ordered was the Fried Calamari ($8), which came in a generous portion and was nicely seasoned.

photo 3I also had the Lamb Chop. It was tender and delicious, I just wished there was more of it!

photo 4Nash had a classic burger and feta fries which were very addictive.

Bar Neon’s food was tasty, just keep in mind that it is a tapas restaurant so most of the dishes are small. The atmosphere is very laid-back and easygoing and they also have a big projector playing the World Cup games!

Bar Neon on Urbanspoon

Fried Shrimp and Friendship @ Farmer’s Daughter

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Farmer’s Daughter near Junction may be one of my favourite new eats. The seafood restaurant is the “daughter” of Farmhouse Tavern which is located right across the street. I haven’t actually been to the tavern yet, but I’m sure that will change soon! The daughter restaurant is still fairly new and open only for brunch and dinner on certain days.

photo 6The slogan “Fried shrimp and friendship” is plastered on their signage outside and on a neon sign inside. Obviously, we had to try the fried shrimp ($9). I totally felt where their slogan came from. The shrimp was so good I wanted to hog them to myself, but I love Nash enough that I would share. You would only share these shrimp with a good friend.

photo 8The Heart N Soul ($12) was a beautiful beef tartare with salsa verde served on a beef bone with goat cheese, an egg and more.

photo 1The Octopus ($20) had a squid ink vinaigrette, sunchokes, a creamy sauce and more. There was a lovely crunch paired with tender octopus. I loved that the ink wasn’t just for aesthetic but a part of the complex flavours.

photo 5I had an (alcoholic) drink but I forgot what it was. It was a rather tasty cocktail that I believe was apple tinged.

photo 3Since dinner was amazing, we couldn’t resist finding out what the $6 desserts where. There were two that night and we ordered BOTH because YOLO. Anyways, the first was an icecream sandwich made out of ginger cookies and chocolate mousse icecream.

photo 2The second was a homemade lemon rhubarb twinkie with homemade marshmallow. Let’s just say we were very glad to have ordered both desserts.

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We hope Farmer’s Daughter changes their menu up once in a while (there menu was relatively small) but I can’t wait to come back for brunch and see what else they have to offer.

Farmer’s Daughter Eatery on Urbanspoon

Skewers Galore @ Yakitori Kintori

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When we visited Kinton Ramen last time, we were left with a mystery. What was behind the chicken door? At the time, it was locked but through Kinton’s social media, found out it was a sister restaurant Yakitori Kintori that celebrated a soft-open last week.

photo 3photo 4The menu diagrammed skewers you could order from different parts of the chicken. There were also beef, pork and vegetarian options as well as various other cold and hot dishes. Skewers were $2-4, so it was reasonably priced and nothing else was over $9. Since it was our first time here we decided to sample a variety of things.

photo 1To wash things down, I ordered a Lemon Shoju, Japanese Lemon vodka. I was surprised to find out that we had to squeeze the lemon ourselves! It was a funny way to pass the time as we waited for our food to arrive.

photo 8My first skewer was the Buta Bara ($2). Most skewers you could choose a simple salted option or in bbq’d with Teriyaki sauce. I chose the salt option for the pork belly. It was fatty and delicious.

photo 5The Toro Sobori Poutine ($7) was the most Asian poutine I have ever tasted (moreso than the Kimchi Fries poutine from Bahn Mi Boys). It had soy-sauce, ginger, ground chicken with the curds and fries. We gobbled it all up because it wasn’t heavy like poutine can be sometimes.

photo 9My favourite of all the skewers was the Cheese Tsukune ($2), a meatball that exploded with cheese in the middle. A close second was the Jalapeno Nikuzume ($3.5), a jalapno stuffed with ground chicken.

photo 7Another hot dish we ordered was the Tako Ajillo, octopus sizzling in garlic olive oil. For only $7, we got a big portion of octopus that was the most tender I have ever eaten. It was served with bread.

photo 10The Tebasaki($2) was ordered with Teriyaki sauce. This was our final item in our initial order, but everything was so good and we weren’t entirely stuffed yet so we opted for more.

photo 11Nash loves mushroom and I love bacon so this Enoki Bacon ($3.5) felt like a match made in heaven and it was.

photo 12We also ordered the Shiitake Nikuzume ($3.5) which were adorable and reminded me of boys with bowl cuts.

photo 13I have no idea how I had room for dessert, but I couldn’t resist when I saw a Green Tea Creme Brulee ($5) on the menu! It was nice and creamy, but the top wasn’t as hard as normal creme brulee. The sweetness reminded me a lot of green tea iced cream.

photo 2I went to the washroom out of curiosity to see if they had a matching one to Kinton and indeed they did!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal and pleasant staff at Yakitori. They welcomed us with the same enthusiasm as their downstairs neighbours. We will be back soon!

Yakitori Kintori on Urbanspoon

Kinton Ramen

Hey guys, I’ve been so busy the past week that I didn’t have time to post but I have a bunch of post-worthy content (especially food posts). Recently, I visited the new Kinton Ramen in Korean town.
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When we arrived, there were two black doors. One had a chicken and the other a pig decal. We picked the pig door, which led to the restaurant. We tried the chicken door on the way out, but it was locked. Perhaps, that side will have a venue of some sort in the future. The restaurant was open-kitchen style and we were greeted by the entire staff upon entering. I ordered the Shoyu Ramen with Pork belly ($9.80). A gigantic slice of pork belly sat on a bed of noodles, scallions, beansprout, a sheet of nori and an egg. The pork was comforting and the broth was very flavourful. The portion size was very generous compared to places like Ryoji.

photo 3Nash had the Spicy Ramen with Chicken ($10.80). The broth had jalapeno paste, aosa-nori, onions and scallions. It definitely had a bit of a kick but he finished everything to the last drop.

photo 2To drink, we both had Japanese Lemonade. It was a sangria-like drink.

photo 5Our bill came in this cute little steamer. Nash was also surprised to find out that since he finished his ramen to the last drop, he got a card with a stamp for a free bowl after a certain number. We also had our picture taken for their Instagram. The idea is such genius and encourages people to not waste their food and also return.

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Nash Bussieres

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Regretfully, I did not gulp down all my soup because I was full and did not know about this promotion beforehand. I had a great time at Kinton. The food was delicious, generous. The atmosphere was welcoming and the restaurant was beautiful decorated. This may be one of the cutest one-person-bathrooms I have ever seen:

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We’ll definitely be back to complete the 10 bowl challenge!

Kinton Ramen on Urbanspoon

Beef Tongue Tacos @ Rebozos

Beef Tongue Tacos
Beef Tongue Tacos

The CMT show Taco Wars did an episode in Toronto putting Playa Cabana Hacienda, Rebozos and Milagro against each other. Personally, I think there are many more great taco places in Toronto and trying only three to crown the best is a little bit dumb. Anyways – upcoming spoiler alert – Rebozos ended up winning with their beef tongue taco. Naturally, I was curious and was eager to try it when I happened to be in the area.

Salsa/Hot Sauce
Salsa/Hot Sauce

All the tacos came in threes (for $10). I ordered the Lengua (beef tongue of course). It was presented with a side of two different hot sauces. The red was too spicy, so I put just a dab and the green one was a mild green tomato salsa, which I used up completely. The beef tongue was very tender and flavourful. I was surprised. I had ox tongue before at Korean BBQ, but I always found it stiff. This was meaty and tender.

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Nash ordered the beef enchiladas which came with refried beans. He cleaned the plate. I took a bite and I actually think I preferred the tenderness of the beef tongue to the regular beef!

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To drink, we both had Sindral Mundet soda in apple flavour. I thought it was funny that the bottle purposely advertised that there was less than 1% Apple Juice and artifically flavoured. Do people prefer those qualities? It was a refreshing soda.

We were happy with our meal but whether or not it is the “best taco in Toronto”, I cannot say. We still have many places to go and we’ve enjoyed a lot of the places we have visited so far. All are very different in style and taste. What I can probably say is that Rebozos probably does have the “best beef tongue taco”.

Rebozos College on Urbanspoon

iPad Menus @ 168 Sushi Buffet

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Mom’s favourite thing is AYCE sushi so for her birthday we took her to 168 Sushi Buffet where they took on the new trend of iPad menus. We went for lunch and I don’t think they took reservations so we waited over 20 minutes for a table. It was one of those cold Polar Vortex days but people kept coming in and were all eager for a table at this relatively small restaurant.

Lunches at the restaurant are cheaper but do not have sashimi, so if you want the raw fish without all the rice than dinner would be preferred. They did have a large assortment of non-japanese items. There was Thai, Korean and Chinese dim sum dishes that were available in addition to the Sushi and included in the lunch price ($14.99 – I think).

This was my first experience ordering off an iPad menu. It had this large case screwed on it to prevent the user from pressing the home button and going outside the menu. I felt it accommodated the large food selection well and had lovely photos that made all the food look very appetizing. The annoying part was that sometimes we would order something and it wouldn’t come. I enjoyed this salmon salad a lot and ordered more but it didn’t appear. I tried an additional time and the screen told me it was coming, but never did.

In my opinion the iPad was a tool that enabled the workers to be lazy. They could blame complicated orders not coming on technology. Waitresses only came when you confirmed an order on the iPad or when they were delivering food. There was often many empty plates waiting on our table to be taken away. I eventually figured out how to call a person by confirming an empty order.I curiously wonder what it must be like to work in the kitchen that deals with the receiving end of these iPad orders. I feel like the whole idea is a bit of a marketing gimmick.

The food was decent and there was a large selection of it, but it was not particularly memorable. Soups were a bit cold for my liking. However, the fried pudding dessert is recommended.

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Fusion Tacos @ Barrio Coreano

Last night’s food adventure took us to Barrio Coreano, a fusion taco place in Koreatown by the owners of Playa Cabana. It was not difficult to find as you could see the flashy inside which stood out from the mom and pop Korean restaurants that surrounded it. The décor was in colourful and bright. Lights flashed. The music was loud but it wasn’t difficult to have a conversation. We were seated instantly. The place went a lot deeper than most places in the area.

The menus were written on large chalkboards on the wall. We had to stand up to read them, but it wasn’t that awkward. I liked the informal feel of the atmosphere. It was very inviting and everybody seemed to be enjoying their time. Our waiter took her time to welcome us and get us acquainted with the famous Playa Cabana hot sauces. Food was made fresh and to order so everything didn’t come together, but that was okay because it gave us breaks to recover.

Salmon Ceviche
Salmon Ceviche

As a starter, I ordered the Salmon Ceviche ($9). I thought it would come in a dinky little glass to be eaten with a spoon. That’s how much ceviche you usually get for that price at other place. I was surprised when we got a bowl of ceviche with tortilla chips. They are very generous with the portions. The ceviche was fresh, and it wasn’t fishy at all. Even Nash (who doesn’t normally like Salmon) was enjoying the dish.

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I had a Soju Sangria ($9) to sip on. Soju is plum wine and it was mixed with unknown fruits. A starfruit sat on top as a decoration. It was sweet but just what I needed on a Friday night.

Chihuahua & Tofu Taco
Chihuahua & Tofu Taco

Two of Nash’s tacos came first. One of them was the Chihuahua and Tofu Taco ($5). Before our waiter explained it as a cheese from the province of Chihuahua, I actually thought they might have put the scrawny dog on the menu. The cheese had an interesting taste. It was a sort of like blue cheese, strong at first, but without the after taste. I liked it.

Korean Beef Taco
Korean Beef Taco

The other taco was the Korean beef taco ($5). The beef was marinated in Kalbi sauce to give it the Korean twist.

Yuzu Tuna Taco
Yuzu Tuna Taco

I was already getting full on the ceviche and bites of Nash’s tacos when my two tacos came. I always make a habit of trying fish tacos everywhere so I ordered the Yuzu Tuna ($5) and Chipotle Kambungki Chicken. The fish was nicely cooked and topped with a slaw that also had kimchi. I really enjoyed the Chipotle Chicken taco.

Chipotle Kabungki Chicken
Chipotle Kabungki Chicken

The chicken was battered (but not heavily) and flavoured sweet chili sauce. There was also jalapenos, radish and onions which made a crunchy and delicious taco.

Grilled Octopus Taco
Grilled Octopus Taco

Nash’s third taco was a Grilled Octopus Taco ($5). It was served with wasabi salsa which I thought would be empowering but totally wasn’t. The octopus was nicely cooked and not chewey at all.

We ordered a lot of food, but next time we know that it is unnecessary. The food is very well-priced and worth every cent. With delicious places like this in Toronto, I don’t know why anybody would want to wait 2 hours to get into Grand Electric. The service at Barrio Coreano was friendly and pleasant, food was exquisite and we got our money’s worth in portions. I’m already planning my next visit back with friends!
Barrio Coreano on Urbanspoon

Wings @ Game Day

Nash had a craving for chicken wings, so we Googled around until we found a place we haven’t been with good old American-style wings. We ended up at Game Day in Little Italy. It was a little dark in there so my phone photos aren’t very good but you can watch our adventure in this Vlog.

We ordered Jalapeno poppers (not pictured) to start and gobbled them up right away. For wings we opted for one dry, one sauced. Nash chose the grilled buffalo chicken wings and I chose the jerk wings. The wings themselves were big and far from dinky ones (like you’d get at Kelsey’s). They were also very flavourful and the jerk rub was generous.

The atmosphere of the place was very sporty. There were jerseys on the walls and tons of big screens to watch whatever sport you wish. They actually asked what we were there to watch, but we were really there just to eat food. The name of the place must also come from the fact they have a board game at each table. We had a faux Connect 4 but I looked over and saw Operation on another table, and a bunch of Jenga sets. It’s definitely a cool place to chill, watch the game and eat some comfort food.

Gameday On College on Urbanspoon