Scaramouche

Scaramouche is one of my favourite restaurants, partly because it’s so expensive that we can’t quiet afford to eat there very often, meaning it’s such a nice treat when we do get there. Whenever I get to hang out with the boyfriend, I get to throw all my diet worries away and indulge, indulge, indulge. Above is the view from the south windows of the restaurant. I had been wanting to come here for a very long time since seeing their famous Coconut Cream Pie in an issue of Toronto Eats (arguably one of my favourite magasines) and so for my birthday in June, boyfriend finally took me! And it was so good that he made me promise to take him for his birthday too. And well, here we are.

They start off every dinner service with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I actually can’t remember for the life of me what this is, I think it might be some sort of salmon, but these are just to whet the appetite. They are cute, dainty, and leave us drooling for our meals!

My appetizer this time was a decadent dungeness crab ravioli (24$). The pillows were ultra light and melted completely in your mouth. The light tomato-based sauce was creamy and very rich. So good that we ended up dipping some of the complimentary bread into it so as to not waste a single drop. The crab was light and yet so intense in flavour. There were only a few raviolis, but as this is a french restaurant, small portions are expectant. I don’t care though because every bite is one of those movie moments where you close your eyes and just savour it.

The steak tartare (18$) topped with crostini and watercress, surrounded by a caper mustard. The first time we came, I just had to try the steak tartare because I’d never had a tartare before. Once it reached the table, boyfriend got super jealous because he didn’t know what tartare was but he looooooves his meat raw, or as close to raw as possible. The tartare is so delicious, nice and peppery, with a kick of spicy mustard, and the meat is just so soft and tender.

This was the lamb (46$) that we had last time, but since I hadn’t made a post, this is where I display it. Lamb is usually my go-to dish just because I love the richness of it with the light gamey flavour. The meat was topped with a classic mint pesto and served with goat cheese whipped potatoes. Everything was just so lovely and yummy. I love the arrangement of everything on the plate so that there are endless combinations of things to eat, each ingredient enhancing the flavours of the others. And oh my, how delicious and smooth those potatoes were.

Another reason I had wanted to try this restaurant was because they served elk/venison (46$), a meat that I had never had before! This meat was like a cross between beef and lamb. Super tender, a light gamey flavour, yet has the presence and sturdiness of beef. They were also wrapped in bacon, and really, who doesn’t like bacon. Plated on a bed of baby spinach, a lot of different types of mushrooms, and beets. Oh man I love beets. There was also a mustard cream that  tasted almost like really creamy quiche. I honestly don’t know what to say about any of these dishes because they are all just on a very high level of wonderful cuisine.

This time, boyfriend chose to stick with a standard filet mignon (47$). The meat was, of course, cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s served alongside green beans (which are sitting in the beef gravy. This is where you swoon) as well as porcini whipped potatoes. Let me tell you, this restaurant has got their potatoes DOWN. They’re light, full of flavour, and not at all overpowering. I probably stole half of his potatoes, and quite a bit of his green beans too. Sharing is caring.

Of course the first time we went, we had to have the coconut cream pie (13$). The crust is flakey to a fault, the pie sitting on top of some beautiful chocolate drizzle. White chocolate shavings on top of a mountain of coconut cream. Now let me start by saying that I don’t even like coconut shavings. There’s too much chewing involved but despite that, this pie was soooo good. The cream was intense, the chocolates, divine. It was a beautiful dessert.

This beautiful thing is the Valrhona Jivara Cylinder (14$). It’s beautifully presented and I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by it, but I ended up floored. The yellow spots are passionfruit curd. It isn’t sour like some passionfruit is and the seeds, when you bite into them are like little balls of sugar. On the left is a fresh banana sorbet sitting on top of nuggets of chocolate. The sorbet is fresh, tangy, and perfect after a meaty meal. The nuggets of chocolate actually pop in your mouth after you bite into them, not unlike pop rock candies. But let me tell you where the magic happens. It’s the milk chocolate cylinder on the right, filled with raspberry foam. But that’s not all it’s filled with.

Underneath the deliciously sweet, with a slight sour, foam, there looks to be a praline-like cream, and under that yet, there is milk chocolate mousse. This thing looks small, but it was so damn good, that I would pay 14$ just for that cylinder alone. So gosh darn delicious.

I wasn’t lying when I said boyfriend likes his raw meat. The first time this happened, I was slightly embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop laughing. This time, I didn’t think he would actually do it again. Sometime after our entrees were finished, I feigned a bathroom break and went to talk to our waiter to inform him of the birthday we were celebrating and if the kitchen could do something special for the dessert. And what does boyfriend order for dessert for a second time in a row? Steak tartare. The first time it happened, the waiter who was cleaning crumbs off our table actually stopped to look at him, like it was the weirdest request because well, it is weird. So yes, so manly that he eats a chunk of raw meat for a dessert, and I accept him for it. And they stuck a candle in it for me.

I really do love Scaramouche, and if I were hella loaded, I would probably eat here monthly, if not weekly. Both dinners cost us between $200 and $225 after tip, and that’s without drinking any wine or spirits. The food is definitely worth it though and the atmosphere is very nice, classy, and the perfect place to treat yo’self.

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Astoria

The Astoria, located at number 390 on the Danforth, was where I travelled to satiate my craving for some good ol’ Greek food. Now, I’m more of a newbie than a connoisseur when it comes to Greek food, considering it all mostly good. Pita? Awesome. Tzatziki, gyro, souvlaki? Yum. Throw some o’ dat on my plate. Remember Sofia’s with the open-faced chicken souvlaki with spinach and feta? One of my favourite restaurants in Montreal would be Marvin’s up by l’Acadie, a little tavern-looking Greek restaurant with the greatest calamari and lamb chops.

Anyway, the Astoria Shish Kabob House, its full name, is rated on BlogTO as the best restaurant for Greek food in Toronto. Now, I was madly craving some of that souvlaki and was willing to walk the hour from my place to the Danforth to have some, seeing as most of the restaurants on the list were, with reason, located in Toronto’s Greek town.

The restaurant itself was surprisingly large, but this is coming from eating exclusively in downtown Toronto for the last 4 months or so where restaurants try to maximize their space by cramming as many tables as possible inside. Whenever I try to squeeze into my seat, I inevitably send other people’s meals crashing to the ground with my ass.

I ordered myself the lamb souvlaki on a pita, as I am very very partial to lamb. The waiter asked how I wanted my lamb (medium rare) and this was the exact reason I was willing to walk all the way up here instead of just the 10 minutes to a random food court for some random food court meat on a stick. Granted, I didn’t actually have to walk because my brother (pictured below) had to come drop off some laundry for me and run some errands, so we went for dinner.

The brother and his sweaty back.

The lamb was succulent, impeccably seasoned. So juicy, and cooked perfectly medium rare, just how I like it. The problem with lamb is that if the meat is too old or not from a less gamey breed of lamb, the taste can be off-putting for some people. Me, I like it just fine, but this lamb was great, not too gamey, perfectly tender. There were a few spots where the fat was too chewy for me but that was just for a few cuts and I chewed through it like a caveman. No one to impress, y’know how it is. The pita seemed a little dry and they forgot to put onions on my order, but that’s only because they got confused, since my brother ordered no onions on his.

The tzatziki was very strong. A great fresh flavour, but tasted a bit too strongly of yogourt for my preferences. I’m sure it’s a fantastic sauce, but I’m not really a big fan of dairy products. You know, except for ice cream.

Predictably, my brother, the chicken-addict, ordered the chicken souvlaki. He’s still chasing after that wonderful chicken gyro that we had in New York. I like chicken and all but I don’t really like to order it at a restaurant, unless it’s in some sort of pasta.

I had a piece of his chicken, and it was nicely seasoned, but it was just so dry. I’m the kind of person that likes my food a bit bloody, but for obvious reasons, you can’t really do that with chicken. My brother likes his steaks well done (really, wtf), so I can see why he would put up with the dryness of chicken. I guess the texture doesn’t really bother him, but I’ll admit that the seasons on the chicken were quite pleasant. Slightly tangy, yet very savoury.

I ordered a side of garlic bread for only $0.78! I think. It was definitely under a dollar though. And this is a lot of garlic bread for a side order. Very garlic-y, and it satisfied my cravings well. The top bread was soft and buttery, while the bottom sides were a bit crunchy. Best of both worlds!

When it came time for the bill, I was expecting a 35-40 dollar bill, but it surprisingly only came up to $24 for the both of us to dine there. A steal for the restaurant setting. The only thing I’m going to complain about is the after-dinner mints, which really isn’t that big a deal. I mean, they did give us 3 pieces of candy for two people, but really, cinnamon flavour and black licorice flavour. Why would someone even buy that?

Luckily I headed next-door to Dolce Gelato, which apparently just opened up, and had myself some gelato. The thing about this dessert is that what looks like a tiny cup is actually a lot of gelato! I bought a small cup for $3.75 and they allowed me to put two flavours into it, and man did they have a lot of flavours to choose from. I went with my favourite gelato, lemon flavour, and then my crack from Vietnam, passion fruit. :)

Ahh, walking through slash driving through the Danforth and seeing all the great houses with great lawns just steps from the main street made me fall in love with it. The Danforth just has a great feeling to it, great boutiques and lots of different restaurants. The place is a little like quaint suburbia mixed with a slight hustle-bustle of city life, and it’s right on the subway line so getting downtown is a breeze. I think this is where I want to raise my family. Haha! Dreams and wishes.

 

 

 

Biff’s Bistro

4 Front Street, Toronto

A quaint french bistro located downtown Toronto on Front and Yonge, it’s a classy place with a great atmosphere and some seriously delicious food. On warmer days, they offer a terrace that opens to the busy street, but is slightly obscured by some vines and shrubbery to give some privacy to diners and it also serves to absorb some of the street noises for a quieter dining experience. Inside, the restaurant is split between two dining areas: the ‘bar’ room, which includes a bar and more casual atmosphere, and the dining room, which is a classy, multi-leveled sitting area with small booths and tables, lit candles, and perfect for an intimate dinner.

What drew our crowd to this place was the spectacular offer of delicious oysters. After 5pm, they offer small raw oysters for only 1$ a pop. Granted, these are not as large as the giant oysters you’ll find at dim sum, but they are cosy and delicious. Served raw with shredded horseradish, red wine vinaigrette, and a few slices of lemon, you eat them with tiny forks and they’re like aristocratic frenchmen having a luncheon in your mouth, and it’s bangin’. Word of caution though, if you enjoy your oysters with cocktail sauce, it is not particularly delicious here when paired with these oysters.

One of my companions indulged in their specialty, Steak et Frites. The fries here are delightful. Perfectly seasoned and with soft potato texture encased in an exterior that is crisp to a fault. They stay warm and crispy from the beginning to the end of your meal. Easily some of the best french fries I’ve ever had in the technical sense of the word. The steak, which I had a few bites of, was so juicy, thick, and tender. So flavourful that adding a barbecue sauce would just be an act of blasphemy. A slight char on the outside creates a nice texture when biting into the meat, and it is served on a bed of mild rapini.

I, myself, ordered the lamb chops braised with a plum mustard sauce. It came served on top of string beans and gnocchi. The beans themselves were nicely salted and embodied the crunch that I love so much about beans in general. This was the first time I’d ever had gnocchi, and it’s rather safe to say that it will definitely not be the last. It is as if bread and potatoes had a baby. Delicious, delicious babies. And then the baby crawled onto my plate, under the medium rare chops, to be soaked with juice of lamb. They were soft, with a hint of tension on the outside that gave way easily. Wow. So yummy.

The lamb itself was juicy and tender and huge. I know a lot of people are put off by the game-y texture of lamb, but here it is not at all game-y and just has a wonderful lamb taste with a hint of porto. The flavour is pleasantly complimented by the plum and mustard seed paste that clings to the exterior portions. Writing this post is making me want to go back to eat there.

Overall, Biff’s Bistro is a classy place with a classy price. The portions are not huge, but it filled me up just so I was content and no more. I’d recommend that if you’re used to eating gigantic portions without breaking a sweat, you probably won’t be full after a meal here, unless you go for one of their fixed course dinners. It is a tad expensive but a great place to go for a special occasion or a big romantic date.

Happy eating. :)