Saturday, July 19, 2014
Pristine beaches, oceans clear enough to see your toes, sprawling pools and care free living; for every positive aspect, tropical resort destinations (all-inclusive or not) are almost all fraught with the same disappointing negative - the food. Occasionally abysmal, frequently reasonable, and often good you'd never venture to call it great. While most of our travel plans begin with restaurant reservations, followed by flights, hotel accommodations and finally a mad scramble culminating in a premium fee for an urgent request to replace an expired passport, when you're destination is a beachfront resort, you're no longer playing by the same rules where celebrated restaurants oftentimes outnumber the days in your itinerary. On the resort, dish descriptions rarely translate the way you anticipate on the plate and in our experience, expat European chefs are frequently caught in some dejected time warp where terms like "deconstructed" have yet to be stricken from their vocabulary and reduced squiggles of cloyingly sweet, cheap balsamic vinegar remain the go-to garnish. So you trust the resort employees to level with you and suggest a few good spots where they like to eat. It's a hit and miss strategy but with luck you might discover a spot that serves a refreshing conch salad, a fiery goat curry, seductively fatty, stewed ox tails or some terrific street tacos. For everyone else back at the resort, dinner is likely the promise of Caribbean spiny lobster... cooked to the consistency of a flip-flop.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
In a cavernous, underground location down a clandestine alley off of King Street West, chef Rob Gentile has taken Buca from an ambitious Italian restaurant that opened behind schedule to mixed reviews in 2009, into a premier player on Toronto's restaurant circuit. A veteran of the McEwan restaurant group, chef Gentile's meticulous attention to detail has served him well in creating innovative odes to old country classics, breathing a rejuvenating and youthful aura into his discerning brand of Italian cookery.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Wine lovers rejoiced in July when the Joe Beef / Liverpool House team scooped up another address on their charming Little Burgundy block to open Le Vin Papillon. At long last, David McMillan and Fred Morin had seized the dream of a wine bar. A place where all their favorite side dishes and snackable elements of the brawny food they're celebrated for would be committed to stand unescorted in the spotlight. A place where customers would be free to wander in off the street sans-reservation to discover a glass of a conceivably unfamiliar variety of wine accompanied by a light meal.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
While a handful of sophomore players kept the fires burning this year, the freshman class of 2013 notwithstanding a few exceptional debuts, was relatively bleak compared with years past. Suburban big-box chain restaurants and superficial openings heavy on investment but light on expertise flooded social media. We stood on the sidelines as agents provocateurs lauded a haphazard resurgence of the main between Sherbrooke and Prince Arthur where Pogos and macaroni & cheese tacos appear to have replaced the albeit trendy stomping ground that set in motion many of our city's most recognizable culinary ambassadors. Meanwhile, savants relied on faithful tables and mourned the losses we've all endured as some of Quebec's best restaurants like MAS Cuisine and L'Eau A La Bouche quietly shut their doors forever.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
One of our favorite restaurants in Barcelona came courtesy of a reader recommendation prior to our departure. Around the corner from the luxury shopping and flagship shops of Passeig de Gracia, Cerveseria Catalana is a well-oiled machine cranking out perfectly executed classics to a crowd of walk-ins that never seems to end . There's no getting around the lineup at this exceptionally popular spot where the contemporary dining room is perpetually filled to capacity. No reservations are accepted so you'll have to show up, leave your name with the hostess and wait patiently for your name to be called on the amplifier; your Saturday morning dim sum experience should come in handy in this regard. The atmosphere is casual but the staff are formally dressed, well trained and impressively all business. With easily more than 200 clients to be served and dozens of tables to turn at any given time, working this floor is the epitome of a sink or swim environment that can't help but command the respect of anyone who's worked front of house.