Sunday, January 25, 2015

Karhi Pakora

Monika, who owns Naanolicious, has been talking to me about trying some of her mother's traditional East Indian cooking. I had the chance when I went to the restaurant for supper this past weekend, and one of the specials was created by her mom. The Karhi Pakora is something I would never imagine: vegetable pakoras in a light yoghurt curry sauce flavoured extensively by cilantro and turmeric. I find pakors, being fried, to be quite heavy and can usually only eat two or three of them in one sitting. However, in the sauce, they deconstructed into smaller bits of dough and potato. It was surprisingly one of the lightest dishes I have ever had at Naanolicious, and the abundance of the sauce made rice a perfect pairing. I encouraged Monika to add this to her vegetarian menu.

Cheers! Beerlini at Brewsters

I stopped in to Brewsters at Meadowlark on Saturday for a nightcap (which was actually an evening-cap in my case) and tried a drink on the specialty menu that had me curious for a while: the beerlini. It is a pint of any of the beers on Brewsters' menu topped with peach bellini, which is sweet and has peach schnapps. I have had many a beer at Brewsters and numerous bellinis, but never thought of mixing them together. So, I ordered a beerlini with the Original Lager as the base. On my first sip, I tasted the bitterness of the beer first, with the peachy sweetness finishing off the flavour. The bellini made the drink extra cold - I could really see myself going for this in the summer - and got sweeter the further down the glass I went. Next time though, I would pick a less bitter beer like the Flying Frog or Wild West Wheat Ale.

Just Desserts: Almond and Salted Caramel Bread Pudding

As I sat in Leva after lunch with my laptop, I decided I wanted something decadent to go with my Americano. I chose the almond and salted caramel bread pudding, having tried another one of their bread puddings over the summer and finding it an unforgettable experience. The pudding was heated enough to make it slightly runny and soft, with a shot glass of cream on the side for extra moisture (that is not a glass of milk pictured in the photograph). The caramel was the star of the dessert, with just the right amount of saltiness to mix with the sweet.

Personal Margherita Pizza at Leva

I was doing a solo lunch at Leva last week. I adore the thin-crust pizzas there, but find them a little too large just for my lonesome self. So, when I noticed the option for a personal margharita pizza, I went for it. The adorable pizza was served with a small salad in a light, balsamic vinaigrette. It was a perfect, light lunch.

Just Desserts: Strawberry Nutella Naan

I don't often have dessert at Naanolicious but when I do, it is something like this: a sweet version of the signature naan. In this case, Nutella and fresh strawberries were generously put on top, creating a chocolatey sensation that was not to sweet. The strawberries added natural sweetness without being overpowering.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fried Chicken at Mercer Tavern

I was filming a rally this week that took place right around the corner from Mercer Tavern So, it just made sense to have lunch there. I had the Mercer Fried Chicken. The two hand-brined pieces were juicy and moist on the inside, and totally crispy on the outside. I opted for the siracha to the side, which was a smart move as I don't like overly spicy fried chicken. The chicken was served on top of a mountain of fresh greens, the occasional bitterness of which complemented the slight saltiness of the chicken. The potato salad was the ultimate in comfort - I just wish the menu had stated that it was finished with bacon bits, which I only discovered after tasting the smokiness in my mouth. The portion is excellent value for the money and I love the atmosphere of the place.

Dinner at Guru

I had lunch at Guru recently, but have never had supper there until this week with my father who loves Indian food, but doesn't get the opportunity to have it often. He ordered the Guru Daal, which was a colourful and flavourful combination of lentils. I had the Palak Paneer, which had smoky undertones and was made with pine nuts. It was the most uniquely flavourful Palak Paneer I have ever had. We shared a saffron rice, and he had an order of roti and naan for me. An order of naan is actually two pieces - we could have shared that too. As it was we had plenty to take home to enjoy later. Plus, our server was very personable. The prices are high end but the portions are large an the quality incredible.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kadhai Paneer at Guru

I visited Guru for the first time in ages, to join a friend for lunch. The lunch menu has a number of pre-plated vegetarian and non-vegetarian options that are served with rice, fruit salad, and naan. I opted for the Kadhai Paneer, which is fresh cubes of cheese in a tomato-based sauce. The paneer was firm and absorbed the flavour of the sauce nicely, which was spicy without being overly hot. The finely diced melons mixed well with the rice and the sauce, adding an element of sweet coolness. And the naan was perfect: hot, buttered, and full of bubbles. At $17 this was not an inexpensive lunch, but it was not overpriced either. To drink we had the masala chai ($5), made to order and very aromatic.

Pretzels and Steak Bites at Sherlock's

Sherlock's Downtown is a good place to head for a late night snack. The pretzels and steak bites hit the spot for something not too heavy and to go well with drinks. The steak bites were soft and tender, with some spice on the outside to give them a kick. The pretzels were served warm with a ranch dip. Nice place, excellent company, and great food.

The Pho Files: Beef Stew at La Pagode

I have been to La Pagode (17020 90 Avenue) a couple of times this past week as I have been in the area, and tried the beef stew with rice noodles. La Pagode is owned by the same people who own Pagolac in Chinatown and the south side, and has the same great menu. The stew was packed with thick chunks of brisket and loads of noodles, in a slightly spicy broth. Definitely a great choice for lunch on a cold day.