Charlie’s Chopsticks Grand Opening

Charlie's Chopsticks Logo

My little brother got the chance to be a part of the creation of a new fresh take out restaurant! How very exciting. I got the chance to go in and sample everything and share my experience with you.

If you have passed 970 Upper James (right near the Linc) recently, you may have noticed this little shop open up in the sex shop plaza. Leading up to their grand opening, they have been giving out samples of all their menu items for everyone who walked in.

Charlie’s Chopsticks is a custom asian open concept kitchen that caters to those who want to eat well, healthy, and quickly.

Sushi Cut

Charlie’s Chopsticks offers three main items: Rolls (Sushi & Summer), Rice Dishes, and Drinks. When you walk into the store, you’ll immediately see the counter with the main ingredients that you can choose to customize your meal.

Sushi roll charlie's chopsticks

The first thing I had was the sushi roll. I really like how you really just get to choose whatever you want to make your own custom sushi roll just the way you like it. I think you can have a maximum of 5 items, which is a ton to fit inside one roll. I chose to put my favourite items: salmon, crab stick, cucumber, sweet egg, and mango. It was pretty cool to watch them roll my sushi.

sushi cutter

This blew my mind the most. They put the sushi roll into this machine and it cuts it all up for you. WHAT?! So cool. Where do I get one for my house? My carrots would be such even sizes.

Charlie's Chopsticks Sauces

This is the part that gets really interesting. In addition to the soy sauce that you usually get with sushi, you have a range of other sauces you can try too. Their spicy mayo is particularly interesting. It’s not just the Kewpie Mayo (or baby mayo, as we call it in my house) & Sriracha combination that you basically get everywhere else, but this has a great hint of ginger to it as well. I loved it. One of the workers encouraged me to try the wafu sauce as well, which is a Japanese sesame dressing, and I’m glad I did because that tasted great with the fresh sushi. I don’t have anything else to compare the wafu sauce to though, but it was great.

There is also a few secret sauces. The two of my favourite being Honey Peach and my absolute favourite: Maple Ginger. I just could not get enough of that Maple Ginger. Just the right amount of sweetness and savouriness.

Custom Summer Roll Charlie's Chopsticks

The next thing I tried were the Summer rolls that they offered. Patrons of Vietnamese restaurants may know them as fresh rolls. They are basically any ingredient you like, wrapped up in a rice paper wrap. It’s light and yummy. Traditionally, in my home, we add vermicelli into it as well, but this way you get more fun stuff and less filler. I had mine with lettuce, mango, sweet egg, cucumber, avocado, ginger beef, and a little slice of clementine, which the employee strongly suggest. I never would have guessed to put the clementine it, but the sweet burst of flavour was a great enhancement.

Charlie’s Chopsticks even offers traditional Vietnamese nuoc mam, or fish sauce. Please don’t let the name scare you away because it tastes NOTHING like fish. It is a fish sauce mixed with garlic, lemon, and a few other things that I don’t know because I haven’t asked my mother how to make it yet. But seriously, this sauce is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine, and the salty lemony garlicky flavour compliments these rolls like nothing else. I think it’s the greatest compliment when I say these rolls taste just like we make them at home.

I won’t lie. I stood there and tried a few other rolls, a few with strawberries for colour, and of course, fresh bacon. The owners order many of the veggies local and the bacon come straight from Mennonite farmers in Hamilton’s Farmer’s Market.

I have never had bacon this good.

I don’t know what it was about it, but dang. It was just crispy enough with a bit of chew, my perfect texture. The taste was beyond anything else. Damn, I was just about ready to hop off the bacon train, but that piece of bacon in one of my many fresh rolls was just BEYOND.

meat dish

Lastly, I tried the rice dish. You get to choose your meat: chicken, beef, or pork, and then you have the piece of meat basted with whatever flavour you like (I got chicken with maple ginger, and beef with teriyaki). It goes through the oven (though I think they might be replacing that with a grill), and gets served with a bowl of rice and your choice of veggies. Again, I highly recommend trying the fish sauce with this dish.

Charlie’s Chopsticks will be serving bubble tea (with choices of grass jellies, fruit jellies, tapioca) and fresh fruit smoothies.

All in all, while the food is not gourmet or out of the box, it is good, wholesome, fresh food, which is definitely hard to find in today’s fast food industry. Their prices are awesome for a quick lunch, or a light, healthy dinner. The best bit is that they’re open late every night (past midnight on Fridays and Saturdays) and they do delivery as well. Who HASN’T sat there thinking, oh, I could totally do sushi right now, but balked at the time, drive, price of sushi restaurants? And who really wants to put pants on to go buy some crappy day old grocery store sushi?

Charlie’s Chopsticks officially opens TODAY (!) October 18, 2014, at 11 a.m. and the first 88 people in the doors will receive a voucher for 30 free items. Spread the word, #hamont, the new take out is here.

Facebook – Charlie’s Chopsticks

Instagram – @CharliesChopsticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beast Restaurant

Deep Fried Pickles

Beast Restaurant – 96 Tecumseth St, Toronto

I heard such great things about Beast’s brunch since Dave (@1goatroti) and Adrienne (@AdrienneDLR) went there a few weeks ago. So of course, I had to come and try since I found out they had a dish called the Beastwich.

Above is our appetizer. Boyfriend can never say no to deep fried pickles. I loved these ones because they were sliced, not quartered like other places usually do them. The breading was beautifully seasoned and retained their crunchiness. They served this with a homemade ranch sauce. So delicious, I actually wanted a second order and we hadn’t even started eating our real meals yet.

omelette

We ended up ordering one of their specials, which was the meat omelette, made with beef tongue and sauerkraut (boyfriend’s favourites). It was served with a nice fresh salad and a buttermilk biscuit. I didn’t like the omelette too much, but the salad had a yummy balsamic dressing. The biscuit was perfectly buttery and salty, and we kept eating it even after we were extra stuffed.

poboy

I don’t know what it is with the word po’boy, but I am a sucker for them. I had a softshell crab po’boy at Porchetta and Co about a month ago, and I swear I might have died right then and there. This was a deep fried oyster po’boy with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pickles, served with a side of homemade bbq chips. The chips were nice, light, and crispy. The po’boy was soft and cheesy, and while it was deep fried, the veggies kept it tasting fresh and light. The only thing wrong with it was that I realised I forgot that I don’t like cooked oysters. But I’m sure if you like them, then you would love this sandwich. The oysters themselves were huge and meaty, encased in a beautiful coating of fried dough.

beastwich

There’s a third?? How many were you?? It was just me and boyfriend, but of course I had to have a third meal. There were too many choices to just end up with two! And how could we not have the beauty that was called the “Beastwich.” Deep fried chicken atop a buttermilk biscuit, fried egg, cheese, and topped with sausage gravy, served with homefries.

I love sausage and biscuits so much. After the first time having them in Atlanta, I was hooked. The chicken was so moist and deliciously deep fried. Everything together was soft, and moist, and savoury, and heavy in the best way possible. This is exactly what I expect from a sandwich called Beastwich.

Altogether, our bill came up to about $60 — three meals, an appetizer, and a $5 caesar — which wasn’t too horrible, but at the end of my birthday month, our bank accounts are tapped out! I would love to come back and try their dinner though; they have some really yummy looking things on the menu.

“It’s my birthday month.”

Birthday FreebiesContrary to what others might say about me, I don’t really like being the centre of attention, and as such, I don’t really like throwing a birthday party for myself. If I do have a big party (which I have for the past couple of years), it’s because I want all my friends to have fun. That being said, I use my birthday as an excuse to get anything I want, and I celebrate all month long.

This year, I spent my birthday walking around downtown Toronto to collect all my birthday freebies that different companies offer! Starbucks gives you a big fancy birthday drink, Menchies gives you a free froyo cup (up to $5) and as most girls know, Sephora gives you different birthday gifts every year. Yes, all of these perks come with memberships, but they’re all free to sign up, so why not!

A couple other places that give you free things are Tuckers Marketplace and Wok of Fame (free buffet dinner), Booster Juice (free drink coupon), Pickle Barrel (app/dessert with purchase of entree), What-a-Bagel (free 6 bagels with purchase of 6 bagels), and Spoonful (1/2 price buffet dinner). There are a bunch on this list that I found online.

Lou Dawgs

Lou Dawg’s – 589 King St W., Toronto

So I woke up on the noon of my 24th birthday with a hankering for BBQ. I had been having flashbacks to our outing that had included the Lancaster Smokehouse in Kitchener, so I headed out to the closest place to the condo, Lou Dawg’s BBQ. I’ve seen a few Lou Dawgs around, and the Belly Monsters informed me that they weren’t bad. I had a breakfast birthday beer followed by their two meat platter — pulled pork and brisket — which came with two sides — coleslaw and baked beans, my weakness. I also ordered a cheesy jalapeno cornbread, because really, who can say no to that combination? The platter ($14.99) is a great value and it comes with a bun sliced in half for you to make sandwiches if that’s what your heart desires.

Now, I don’t know why I broke my rule of never ordering pulled pork at a restaurant. It is always disappointing and this one was no different. It tasted like what I can make in my slow cooker. I put it in the bread with my coleslaw, which made it marginally better.

The brisket was a little better. Soft, delicious, but sitting in a pool of grease and fat smothered in barbecue sauce. However, when you drain the fattiness at the bottom from the meat, it is actually quite delicious. They also serve the bbq with two different sauces on the side. The hot sauce is not so hot.

The cornbread was a muffin with pieces of japaleno in it. It was really yummy but disappointingly dry. The cheese on top was crispy and chewy and delicious. I did love the coleslaw and baked beans though. The beans were smokey and perfectly sweet. The coleslaw was the right about of tangy and crunchy. The sides were definitely the highlight of the whole lot, along with the funny and upbeat bartender/waiter.

boston pizza

Boston Pizza – 2915 Eglinton Ave W., Mississauga

Yes, I do not only eat at independent restaurants. We actually eat at chain restaurants quite often when we’re trying to please everyone and just need a quick bite. This night was just some wings and desserts. These Caesars were probably the worst Caesar I’ve ever had. The bacon was bleh. There was too much vodka, and not enough tomato flavour, or any other flavour really.

The big round thing in the middle is what they call a “Doughcano.” It’s their chocolate explosion cake wrapped in pizza dough, baked, then topped with whipped cream. It was chewy, with thick fudge in the middle, and oh man. It was perfect. Chewy, sugary, and a huge hit of chocolate if that’s what you’re craving. my only complaint is that the cheesecake tasted and felt more like marshmallows than cheesecake.

The panookie on the right is always a good bet. A giant chocolate chip cookie that’s pan-fried, then topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce. A nice dose of sugar. The edges are crispy and the inside is chewy.

d hot shoppe

D Hot Shoppe – 4155 Fairview St, Burlington

D Hot Shoppe is a Caribbean/West Indian restaurant that has been recommended to me over and over again by both Dave (@1goatroti) and Justin (@the_Jmoney). On the left is a goat roti drenched in medium gravy and on the right is a doubles, which is a deep fried dough traditionally stuffed with curried chickpeas. They put chutney in it and I asked them to put chicken in it too. They do not look appetizing to someone who’s never had them before but DANG. So good. I’d go eat here twice a week if I were nearby. If you can handle spice, I would still recommend getting the medium. I thought I was soo strong and ordered the hot level the first time I ate at D’s and I regretted it for a few days as it burned through my digestive tract. It was still delicious though.

French ToastPhoenix Chinese Restaurant – 4040 Creditview Rd, Mississauga

A pretty normal Chinese restaurant where you can get your noodles and rice and sweet and sour pork. That beast up there is what they called French toast with peanut butter. It is a pretty dense, sweet bread with peanut butter spread in the middle, deep fried, and then you smother it in more butter and maple syrup. It is deadly. It is delicious.

St Louis

St. Louis Bar & Grill – 6485 Mississauga Rd, Mississauga

My friend Audrey has been obsessed with Caesars lately, and rightly so. They’re delicious. I love it when my caesar comes with a pickled bean. Yum yum.

The burger was quite good, but I just needed a second to rave about these sweet potato fries. Ultra yummy with just the right about of crispiness and potatoeyness still in the middle. They even serve it with a spicy mayo — perfect.

MilestonesMilestones – 10 Dundas St. E. (Yonge & Dundas), Toronto

The Tuesday Peach Bellini special at Milestones is great! It’s like a slushie made of Tim Horton’s peach drink, but not as disgustingly sweet. Then it’s topped with a flavoured vodka, and apparently an animal of the deer variety. The boys were feeling too manly to order one for themselves even though they really really wanted one.

The white chocolate cheesecake is BEYOND. Just beyond beyond. Soft, sweet, decadent, light, with some coffee underneath, whipped cream at the top. Smooth. Take-me-home-to-yo-momma delicious. Tuck-me-into-a-bed-of-rose-pedals-and-make-love-to-me delicious.

Couple Photo

And lastly, the dude that made my birthday outings possible by spoiling me.

I hope all your birthday wishes come true around the world! If they don’t, make them happen.

 

 

 

 

Memphis Fire BBQ

headerIt’s apparently season for BBQ restaurant eatins!

Oh Memphis Fire BBQ. I’d been hearing about this place from everyone. The must try place. The oasis in the wasteland of Steel Town. Located on Queenston Road, 15 minutes east of the Red Hill Valley Parkway was a wonderful wonderful place that I had to bring everyone to. They smoke their chicken, ribs, pork, everything for at least 6 hours. They serve chicken and waffles at the beginning of the week, and it’s amazing. Though, I am happily stuffed after munching on just a few appetizers. Completely worth it.

ribs

First up, entree. Ribs, served Thursday – Sunday. Soft, meaty, huge portions of ribs on ribs on ribs. The sauce was a little too tangy and sour for my liking, but it was good nonetheless. Boyfriend and I shared just one entree together, and we were completely stuffed by the end.

mac

Chili mac and cheese. Um… YUM?! Gooey, soft, ultra-cheesy mac and cheese below a generous helping lovely smokey chili topped with more cheddar and onions. Chili mac and cheese. Why didn’t I think about that? The combination of the two is just lovely. And of course, to up the ante, I went ahead and started mixing my ribs with my mac and cheese. It just pushed it over the top. So damn yommy.

ranch friesThis is what everyone has to has to has to try:

Ranch fries.

Crispy, thick cut french fries, topped with ranch dressing, cheddar, onions, bacon, and more cheddar. It’s like Jesus jizzed on a pile of fries in the best way possible. Honestly, the best pile of fries I’ve ever had. It’s tangy, bacony, cheesy, carby, best things in the world.

pieLastly, they have an impressive selection of pies. A list of at least 10 different ones. I really wanted to try the banana cream pie, but I had a little princess with me who “doesn’t like bananas” or some ridiculous excuse, so we settled on the pecan pie, a princess favourite. The staff here are really extraordinarily nice. I asked for a buttload of extra whipped cream. Really overemphasizing the amount I wanted (a whole can, please) and they gave us a huge pile with an extra plate of whipped cream!

Both times I went to eat here, I left very happy and very satisfied. The prices aren’t exorbitant, and the food is fabulous!

Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys, the place I’ve oft heard about but never been to. On par with Burrito Boyz and Smoke’s Poutinerie for after-clubbing eats. BMB is situated on Queen West, just west of Spadina and I finally convinced boyfriend to go there for dinner. This proved to be the best decision I could ever make. Having known myself for 22 years now, I should have known walking in, that we would pretty much “accidentally” order everything on the menu.

We started off with two Banh Mi, the restaurant’s namesake. For those who don’t know, an original Banh Mi (which means bread or sandwich in Vietnamese) is a kind of Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette, has various unidentifiable meats and pâtés in it, topped with pickled radish, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili peppers if you’re feeling feisty. We got duck confit, and pork belly, and just having one each would have filled us up enough without all the other things we bought. These were really good. Warm and meaty, it’s a nice mix of western and eastern cuisines. I liked them alright, but I think I prefer my original banh mi to these (which you can buy for $2.50 up the street) but that’s okay because they offer some other great things on the menu.

This is the beef cheek steamed bao. I love beef cheek because it is always so soft and moist, and this one had a great smokey flavour to it. Topped with cucumber, cilantro, and pickled radish and carrots, it’s stuffed in a steamed bao pocket. In Chinese, it’s called a “siopao” and in Vietnamese, a “banh bao”. It’s a white steamed bun that’s like a bread, but spongy, airy, and slightly sweet.

We move onto the tacos and I am a sucker for coleslaw. We ordered a squid taco and a kalbi beef taco and it came with all the fixings of a banh mi with the addition of the coleslaw and kimchi. Kalbi beef is a korean style short rib beef. It’s got a sweet flavour which contrasts well with the tanginess of the coleslaw and pickled carrots. Very yummy, very messy to eat. The three types of sandwiches are pretty much the same in fillings, but you can change up how you want it served: as a banh mi, a taco, or a steamed bao.

I saved you the best for last though, because this is what the people really come for:

Kimchi fries.

The perfect french fries topped with perfect pulled pork and perfect kimchi, as well as mayo and a bunch of green onions makes this dish, well, perfect. It’s like a poutine on steroids. The crispy fries compliment the soft, sweet pulled pork compliment the crunchy tangy spicy kimchi that makes this something you must try when you visit Toronto. You won’t find it anywhere else in Toronto, and any imitations  are just that. Imitations. Cause nothing comes close to the perfection of this dish.

Southern Delight

Of course one of the only reasons I travel is to try out new and wonderful foods that excite every sense I have. Atlanta did not disappoint. I tried the go-to southern foods, that which I will not list here because I want you to continue reading. Although I STILL haven’t had a deep-fried mars bar/twinkie/anything else crazy even though they’re now available everywhere, I do plan to… eventually. Without further ado, Judy’s Southern Cuisine Adventure!!

Mama Ninfa’s 231 Peachtree Center Avenue

Now,  I know I promised southern but this was the first meal we had in Atlanta (actually my first meal was a bag of jalapeno chips and a fruit punch; others’ was some McDonald’s at 5 Points station, which we completely did not know was super sketchy). Our food adventure did not get off to a good start. This was the worst tex-mex food I’d ever had the disgust of trying. I could have made this meal way better using packaged Ol Del Paso mix, at least the ground beef would have been food grade instead of this gravel mixture that they tried to pass off as food. The beans were uninspired, felt old and the rice was bland with old veggies. The corn tortillas were hard and chewy and tasteless.

I only even mention this restaurant as a warning to not be sucked in by their $10 pitchers of beers as we were. The fact that the place was empty on a Friday afternoon during happy hour should have been a clue. Don’t eat here.

Atlanta Grill 181 Peachtree Street Northeast

Later that night, we were on the hunt for a restaurant around 9PM but were very surprised to see that almost everything was closing/already closed so early on a Friday night. We found the Atlanta Grill which is on the second floor of the Ritz-Carlton and although it was a bit pricey, the food was fantastic. The atmosphere was a nod to old southern culture with beautiful booths, wooden details, and large rustic paintings. We were served some lovely cornbread mini-muffins with pats of butter on the side. These little things were so deliciously moist and just the perfect amount of sweet. Dinner, as opposed to lunch, was getting off to a distinctly delicious start.

Because we were both not too hungry, boyfriend and I shared two appetizers (of my choosing of course!), so on the left we had the Shrimp & Grits, which I just had to try, and on the right was a She-Crab Soup with a drizzle of lemon oil on top. I don’t know what they do with the He-Crabs but apparently, they are not good enough for this soup.

The shrimp and grits were everything I could ask for. The shrimps were big, plump, and juicy. They were perfectly cooked and each bite was meaty and satisfying. Served on top of grits (which are like corn-y mashed potatoes) which are smothered in a light seafood-y gravy. This dish was surprisingly filling. And this is the point of the blog where I start salivating for all this food again.

The crab soup was nice and thick with chunks of crab in it. Lovely and peppery without being overpowering. The lemon oil was light and gave it a nice citrus-y touch. This dish also filled us up quite nicely without being too heavy. ACK. The quality of all this food was just outstanding.

So for dessert, we split a sweet caramel bread pudding of sorts with a rum and raspberry sorbet on the side. On the right was my banana pudding. Everyone knows I loooooooove banana pudding. It had real chunks of banana, surrounded by a banana cream, with little sugar cookies (that maintained their crunch!), a stick of chocolate, and get this, toasted marshmallows. TOASTED MARSHMALLOWS. In case you missed it the first time. Divine. Absolutely wonderful.

Corner Bakery Cafe 270 Peachtree St NW #100

I’ve been after a whoopee pie since I first saw them about two years ago on Bobby Flay’s showdown that I happened to be watching one day. So what I now know is: A whoopee pie is a sandwich where two small cakes are the breads and a sweet cream is the filling. I had a whoopee pies two days in a row. The one on the left being a vanilla filling and the right a peanut butter based filling. Both very sweet and I probably shouldn’t have had them for breakfast but so worth it.

The other foods we had at this place were great! I had a veggie sandwich filled with all sorts of warm soft veggies between some lovely nutty multigrain bread that was crispy to a fault! Everyone else’s sandwiches looked tasty as well. They were a little pricey but it is some high end bistro food that comes out of their kitchen.

Pitty Pat’s Porch 25 Andrew Young International Boulevard Northeast

This is where we had dinner on Saturday night. The atmosphere was really cute, walking into the restaurant was just like walking into someone’s living room, with a couch and paintings and photographs on the wall. The dining area is down a set of stairs where famous people stare at you on the way down (their faces line the walls). There is a live piano player and the wait staff was really nice, helpful, and friendly. The waiter even laughed very hard (and convincingly) at my lame jokes.

They have a really great fully stocked salad bar. Macaroni salad, chicken salad, cucumber & tomato salad, all of them super yummy.

Of course I couldn’t leave Georgia without having some o dem fried chickens. These things were huge! What do y’all feed your chickens in America?? I got chicken and ribs with a side of buttered veggies and mashed potatoes, and could barely finish it all! I actually didn’t. I had the ribs and a small piece of chicken. That huge honkin’ thing got doggy-bagged. And now I’m going to admit to you that I also stocked up salad bar stuff to take home. I ain’t embarrassed.

Boyfriend needed a chunk of meat so he had a steak which came with some amazingly cheesy creamy gouda mac and cheese. GOUDA mac and cheese. It had a nice gratiné on top, and lordy do I love that crispy cheese. The pasta was of the large ring variety which house all of that gooey sauce. Too delicious. The sideboard provided for the table was black eyed peas and collard greens which boyfriend destroyed. With his mouth.

Waffle House 96 Lower Alabama Street

Just Around The Corner 76 Spring Street Northwest

I went to the Waffle House by myself one day because everyone else had gone the day before when I was dealing with some airport stuff. I just had to try a waffle house waffle to see what the hype was all about. I went to the location just outside of 5 Points MARTA centre which, like I said above, was very ghetto. There were a lot of beggars around, but I persevered. I walked in and didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Do I just seat myself? Am I allowed to sit in a booth or was that rude because I was by myself? And I know for damn sure that I stook out like a sore thumb because I’m a little asian girl lookin’ around the place like she’s lost and the only person who wasn’t black. That was fun. But I ended up sitting at the counter in front of the kitchen area, which I think is where people sit for a quick breakfast by themselves. Step one, done!

I picked up a menu and clearly looked like I’ve never seen a menu anymore debating over every little thing. However, the food experience was nice. Everything was super cheap. I ordered one waffle, a plate of bacon, and of course, biscuits and gravy. The waffle was really big, and was like a shallow eggo. It really wasn’t all that great, and I’m on the waffle side of the waffle vs pancakes argument. The bacon was paper thin, too crispy (probably because of its width), and fell apart with a gust of wind. However, the biscuits and gravy was amazing! The sausage gravy was completely savoury, with bits of, I guess, sausage, though it had the consistency of ground beef. If I were to go back, I’d probably go to a different location (I didn’t feel safe by myself), and I would definitely get the biscuits and gravy.

On the right hand side is a sandwich from Just Around The Corner. We passed this place on the cab ride back to the hotel from the CNN Centre. None of us were really paying attention to the roads so when we went back to find it, the only the only thing we could as was “Uhh… it said best burgers in the city, had a red tarp, and maybe advertised Coca Cola.” Ya, it’s Atlanta, everyone advertises Coca Cola. We even stopped some nice cops to ask but we had no idea what we were talking about. We did find one of the Atlanta tourism people who hang out on the corners and luckily he knew exactly what we were talking about.

The place itself is a hole in the wall that reminds me of Decarie Hotdog or La Belle Province in Montreal. The burgers were great, and I had a Philly Cheesesteak (my weakness!). They have a place outside on the sidewalk to eat and watch the streets. Yummy yummy!

Ray’s In The City 240 Peachtree Street Northwest

For our last night, we ate at Ray’s which is a high-end seafood restaurant right smack in the middle of downtown. It was very expensive but you have to live every once in a while and the food was so goddang good. In the lower part of the photo you’ll see some crab cakes. But they aren’t JUST crab cakes, they are the best crab cakes in the whole world. THE WHOLE WORLD. Flakey, and pure crab and crack. Fresh crab and crack. That’s all is needed to make this, I’m sure. And the shrimp, oh lawdy the shrimp. Ray’s BBQ shrimp. Big and juicy, pleasantly spicy. The sauce was so good that we ended up just dunking our bread in it when all the shrimp was gone. This seafood platter also came with calamari (yum!) and some rockefeller oysters (which I wasn’t a big fan of) for $55. I seriously cannot get over how good the shrimp and crack cakes were. Sorry, crab cakes. My bad.

For my entree, I had parmasen-crusted scallops on top of a bed of lobster risotto, with seafood gumbo on the side. I’d had a side of gumbo at Pitty Pat’s as well, and have just come to accept that I don’t particularly like gumbo. Both times they were really salty, and the flavour wasn’t to my liking. Maybe I’ll have to barge into a southerner’s house to try it in order to like it. Both my scallops and my other cousin’s scallops weren’t that great as well. Both just very bland and the parmasen crust was burnt and tasted burnt as well. However, the lobster risotto was amazing. A distinct lobster taste, soft without being mushy, a nice cheesy taste, and thankfully very filling as well because I couldn’t bear the eat more than one scallop.

With all these beautiful meals, I do believe that our trip down south was a success. My trip to eat was fully satisfactory and I do believe another trip down there is definitely in my future! Enjoy the food, and remember that the photos do get bigger, but no matter how much you magnify, it probably won’t magically appear on your keyboard. Sorry!

Joey Eaton Centre

There is another Joey restaurant in the GTA a bit further north from me in the Don Mills area that opened up in 2009, but the Joey Eaton Centre location opened up just this summer on the south west side of the Yonge and Dundas intersection. I remember watching it being built every time I walked past the area last year, and finally, in July it opened up, and boy was it slick. A black exterior with their name plastered out front in glossy black metal, their huge front windows open up on warmer days so it’s like an interior patio.

Inside, you can choose the quiet dining area or the bar/lounge area with high chairs and tables. It’s a posh kind of bar-lounge that looks like it’s perpetually happy hour for the next new media gurus of the downtown area. The ceilings are incredibly high, making the space seem huge, and although there are a lot of people and it gets pretty noisy, dinner here always feels relatively intimate.

The waitresses are cookie-cutter beautifully formulaic women, but they’re so friendly. The first waitress we had gave us the above drink samplers for free, which really brightened up the evening. I’m sure it was just a little tactic to get us to buy drinks, but I’m going to pretend that she was just really nice.

Either way, it worked, and we both ended up ordering the “Stiff Lemonade,” which is a lemon slush with blue caracao (one of my favourite alcohols) and probably some vodka as well. They’re really big though, so I couldn’t finish mine.

The red drink was another sort of slushy drink, except this time with a peach slush. Yum! If I recall correctly, the red was rum with grenadine.

Pictured here is another Stiff Lemonade as well as the drink of the day, made with vodka, cherry cola, and a splash of lemon slush. I also tried a kind of beer that they serve as a special on Mondays called “Gringo” but it was a bit too limey for me, and after a few too many nights of a few too many Coronas, I couldn’t quite get it down.

Their caesar salad had funny little parmesan shavings, but I’m not complaining since they’re actually parmesan shavings and not the dusty things that some restaurants try to serve you. Other than that, it tasted like any other caesar salad, but it was a little light on the dressing.

I’d never had fish tacos before, so in a bit of an adventurous bout, I went to try these ones. I don’t know what other fish tacos taste like (oh ha ha. Yes, laugh.) but these tasted wonderful. The battered fish was crunchy and crispy with a not too overpowering fishy taste. The cilantro and lemon were great, the hot sauce wasn’t too spicy but it had a sweetness that complemented the salty fish quite well.

Also, they had guacamole on there. I loooove guacamole.

Their mushroom and cheddar burger. The patty was thick and so incredibly juicy. Juicy, juicy flavour. They even ask you how you like your burger done (medium rare) which always gets huge huge thumbs up from me. The mushrooms were spilling over, laying thickly on top of the cheese, on top of all the other toppings. The bun was not overly bready (such a killer for me), and not too hard that you scrape the roof of your mouth. The boyfriend, who is not at all a big fan of burgers, craves this one all the time, so that’s saying something. I’m not going to lie, this might be on par with burgers from Grover’s Bar and Grill.

Not pictured was a side that we got called crispy mashed potatoes. I was expecting a pile of wonderful mashed potatoes put in the oven to crisp up the top, but what we received was unexpected but just as good, and it gained points for being so darn creative. The crispy mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes rolled up in crispy spring roll paper and then deep fried so that when you bite into the flaky spring roll, you get this lovely contrast of the softness of the potatoes. Never seen or heard of anything like that before, and the flavours of the spring roll paper and the mashed potatoes complimented each other surprisingly well.

We also ordered a roll of sushi. This one was the Rainbow Roll. At first, it seemed to taste like a regular rainbow roll, nothing too extraordinary, but then I realised that the inside of the roll was made with a kind of tuna salad. Strange indeed, and you would expect it to be an unpleasant mix, but it was actually quite nice.

Deep-fried calamari with “vegetable tempura.” The vegetable tempura was just asparagus and onions, so not what we were expecting, but not terrible. The calamari was a little small but nice and crisp, and they provide a nice honey dijon dipping sauce which is a pleasant change from the usual marinara.

Mmm, doesn’t that look great? It’s one of their flatbread selections. Tiny white shrimps paired with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, some sort of sweet and spicy sauce (spicy mayo?), and wonderful wonderful pesto. I’m a HUGE pesto fan. The bread was crispy, sinfully delicious. I wasn’t a big fan of the shrimps, they tasted undercooked, but even that was masked by the wonderful flavours of everything else. I was about to eat about 60% of the flatbread before deciding that it started to taste a little too salty, so I took it in a doggy-bag to bring home. I’m told they tasted wonderful the next day.

For dessert we had the strawberry shortcake (sorry, no picture) but oh my golly, this dessert was so well-presented. It was like strawberry shortcake mixed with creme fraîche mixed with crème brûlée mixed with whipped cream mixed with custard. Now, not all of those were in there, but that’s the feeling I got when I ate the cake. It had this sugar wafer thing on top of the bread that tasted just like the top of crème brûlée. Then there’s the cream and the moistness of the cake. To die for. I was so glad that it wasn’t overly sweet, as most restaurant desserts are, and it was big enough for two to share!

Overall, we had a wonderful meal with great food, and the prices are not even too high. Each plate ranged from $10-$25 depending on which one you got, but the prices are so fair for the quality of food. The fact that it’s so close to where I live (a mere 3-4 blocks) means it’s very dangerous for my wallet.

:)

****************************************************

You can follow me on Foursquare to see some of the restaurants and places I go to about my day-to-day life. I check into all restaurants I go to, so if you’re looking for somewhere to eat, you can look into there as well. :) I’m just sad I didn’t start doing this a long time ago, all those lost stats, it’s really unfortunate.

****************************************************

EDIT:

So, we went back to Joey Eaton Centre recently and had the most fantastic meal. However, my phone was out of commission at the time, so no pictures.

For our appetizer, we had the Killer Ahi Tuna Tacos. These were SO much better than the fish tacos I had up there. The Ahi Tuna Tacos are an appetizer whereas the fish tacos were an entrée. Mmm. One of the most interesting and delicious things I had ever tasted. They had a super rare, seared piece of tuna on top of a mountain of garlic coleslaw (you know how I loove my coleslaw) in a nice crispy taco shell. On the side, there was a wasabi aioli with toasted sesame seeds in it that you’re meant to dribble on top. The aioli wasn’t at all spicy, which is nice, because I don’t particularly like the burning sensation, but instead it was sweet with a hint of the smokey sesame seeds.

These tacos were AMAZING. Y’all don’t even know. I thought that was the highlight of the dinner already, but, moving on.

The boyfriend had the restaurant’s version of the surf and turf, which is the same rainbow roll we had above as well as a 7 oz. steak. Since we’ve already discussed the rainbow roll, let’s talk about the steak.

Basically, don’t order the steak at Joey Eaton Centre. I don’t know if the cook was having a bad night, or maybe the steaks are just like that all the time. We asked for the steak to be medium rare, and at least it came out right. Except the sear wasn’t much of a sear as it was a char, and the meat was downright chewy. I couldn’t enjoy the flavours because all I could taste was burn. :(

I am at least glad that wasn’t my meal, but the boyfriend had the rainbow roll to comfort him so it wasn’t too bad, but it was a lesson learned.

Now, my meal. One of the greatest things I’ve ever eaten. I ordered the lobster ravioli, just so, well, I can say that I’ve eaten lobster ravioli. It was soo decadent, soft pillows enveloping the lobster mixture within. A layer of nicely grated aged parmesan covered the top and roasted cherry tomatoes highlighted the edge of the bowl. The whole thing was covered in a lovely lemon-dill sauce.

One bite was all it took. I ate it all. It was so lovely, the flavours melding together, the softness of the dough, the tenderness of the lobster. The cheese wasn’t at all overpowering, but instead just accented the lemon-dill sauce. Mmm. And I love lightly roasted tiny tomatoes. They just pop in your mouth and they’re warm, but still taste freshly picked. Mmm! Best meal. :)