Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review of Mengrei Thai with my gals

So this weekend it was my school girls' last weekend before they all went off to their respective parts of the planet to continue their lives after we all completed Nutrition school together. Yes it was a sad weekend of farewells but it all cullminated with a delicious comfort meal of Thai food at a very quaint but busy restaurant tucked on an Ontario street corner. The restaurant doubles as a cooking school so the chef and assistants certainly know what they are doing as they educate on the art of cooking all day.

The decor is very cute as the walls are made up of exposed brick and paintings line the walls. Very clean, simple but cute. The only awkward part is that the place is divided into 3 separate rooms. 1 small room in the middle as you walk in from outside then the 2 main dining rooms at either side. I always like the more open concept type space but all in all it is a pleasant atmosphere.
As for the food, my friend and I shared the fresh cold vegetarian spring rolls to start. Filled with tofu, mango, carrots and hoisin sauce, it was light and refreshing - perfect to start the meal off.

Next the 3 of us had 3 of their top dishes. I had the green curry with shrimp. My friends had the red curry with tofu and the pad thai respectively. These were 3 of the most highly recommended dishes from both my friend who had been there before and the waiter. Both curries were delicious with the green version being slightly more spicey than the red. My stomach doesn't do too well with spicey but the steamed rice I added to the mix tamed the heat down considerably making it much more enjoyable and worry free! Large morsels of shrimp swam in the flavourful broth, finished with all sorts of veges.

                                                                Red curry

All in all the food was delish. One thing I would recommend to all my foodies wanting to dine there is to speficy in you reservation (and yes you should reserve as it gets packed) that you would like to sit  in one of the 2 main dining rooms and not the lonely bar area which we were designated to since we hadn't specified..

Also, the service was a little on the slow side, although we realized we had been assigned to the 2 new employees who had apparently only been there for 2 days so who knows if they had made a mistake in the ordering....and maybe another reason why they assigned them to the small empty room were were sitting in. However, all the waiters and manager alike were very welcoming, sweet and attentive, which made up for the long wait...Buuuut of course I couldn't help but do my usual get up and ask the waiting staff if our food had been forgotten (as if they had literally lost our orders..what happens when you're desperately hungry haha)

Mengrei Thai
82 Ontario Street

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Classic french cuisine at Biff's Bistro avec maman

Sorry guys it has been a while since I've posted...school's sort of taken over my life...regardless, I've been very excited to finally blog about my most recent entry...Biff's Bistro.

My mom came to visit me last weekend from Montreal so she asked me where I wanted to go eat while she was here. Knowing I'm a real foodie, she trusted me to make some stellar picks. Of course I was so caught up in school work that I waited until the last minute and all the places I was thinking about were of full all weekend :( I'm telling you if you want a get a table at one of the new trendy places in Toronto on a Friday or Saturday you better make sure to get a reservation well ahead of time...or you may be greatly disapointed. My mother then suggested a place I had never heard of... a place she had been a couple years earlier on a prior visit to Toronto...called Biffs Bistro. I wasn't too sure about it cuz I had never heard of it and I'm always on top of knowing what's best out there!! But, in the end i must give her all the credit because it was the best place we went to eat out of all 3 nights she was here.. Way to go mom!! I know where I get my good taste in food from ;)

This is one of the restaurants owned by the Oliver and Bonnicini group. First of all the service was attentive and top notch throughout. True we were pretty much the only ones there in this great big open space and it was still early for supper on a sunday since I had to get my mom to the airport (we were told the restaurant just started being open for supper sundays so it hadn't caught on quite yet..) However my mom assured me the last time she was here it was packed. I can only imagine the amazing vibe this place must have on a full night. Such great ambiance in this place...and for my me and family, that's half of what makes or breaks a restaurant!

Now to the foooooood....So consistently good. I made sure to take more than just 1 pic this time for you guys. I was super excited to show you guys what we ate. Too bad I can't have one of those fancy cameras cuz I really don't think my blackberry camera does justice to the quality and presentation of the food.

First they brought to our table some classic french cornichons (baby pickles) and fresh grainy mustard along with our bread basket. Made sure to get a pic...totally bistro style.  
cornichons and fresh grainy mustard

As an appetizer I had this perfect salad that combined all the right flavours of sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy.. It was a roasted beet, spiced pecan and cheese salad. I had never heard of Ciel de Charlevoix cheese. It's a Quebec cheese that my mom assured me was terrific, and since my mom is as quebecois as you get, and is a cheese fanatic on top of it, I took her word for it. I was not disappointed. It had a bit of a bite but not as strong as a blue cheese and was firm yet melt in your mouth delicious. Complemented the sweetness of the

I followed that up with a seafood bouillabaisse (basically seafood stew). Coming from Montreal and having eaten at many a  french restaurant, I have encountered some good and not so good versions of this dish. This one was definitely one of my favorite. What I especially appreciated about it was that they cooked the large morssels of fish and seafood seperately then the waiter added the fish broth over the whole beautifully presented concoction right in front of my eyes. The fish was topped with a cheese covered baguette crouton. I savoured every last bite..and of course soaked up the rest of the spicy broth with bread until I polished the bowl..mmmm!

bouillabaisse...I want more!!

My mom opted for one of her staple favorite dishes - the mussels - always a must at a french bistro. These were a la Provencal (in a tomato, garlic and thyme broth) They were huuuge!  - I swear the meat in those shells were 3 times the size I'm used to. Needless to say she was very pleased by the portion...and the quality. The broth was savoury as again,  we both dipped bread in it to finish off when she was done! She ordered some signature thin cut french fries which came with a side of fresh housemade rouille (also a classic  french sauce made up of olive oil, chili peppers, and garlic) It paired great with the fries.

mussles, fries, and rouille

We shared a nice bottle of white bourgogne alligote which complemented our seafood dishes perfectly. No room for desert though.. But what a great finish to an amazing weekend with my mom. It's times like this that I really appreciate my french heritage and my family's love for good food..

....oh and did I mention that I love food?!

So just go, and try the desert for me...let me know what I missed out on!
Biff's Bistro
4 Front Street East