Browsing: Restaurant Features

Sardinian Smile-Isla Mujeres

November24

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The biggest and most pleasant surprise while enjoying all the amazing food that Isla Mujeres has to offer was eating at Sardinian Smile Restaurant. We had walked past it on the south end of Hidalgo numerous times and rarely saw a full restaurant. This absolutely mystified us, as the food was nothing short of sensational, equal to the dinners we enjoyed while traveling through Tuscany!

On the evening we dined, delicious bruschetta arrived as one starter and then a basket of homemade bread served with olive and parmesan for dipping.

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Our first course was Octopus & Beef Carpaccio with truffle oil! I can imagine the taste right now…..

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Our pasta course was artichoke ravioli with tomatoes, lobster ravioli, mushroom ravioli and four cheese ravioli (the latter being the traditional Sardinian version). All these delectable packets had been pinched by hand.

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We can’t remember the name of this dish but it was as sensational as the rest of our meal.

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Dessert was absolutely not necessary, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Sylvia the owner of Sardinian Smile was so passionate about the ingredients she brings over from Italy, the dishes they serve and food in general. We hit it off immediately and I would love to spend more time with her. Her staff, many of whom are her relations, share her passion and their service is warm and efficient.

We are planning a very special dinner at Sardinian Smile in 2017 when we are next on the island.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food”. –Craig Claiborne

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Love never fails.

King + Bannatyne

November22

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Years ago when I worked in Winnipeg’s Exchange District we could lunch at the King’s Head Pub, or grab dim sum or a noodle bowl and that was about it. Recently, the area has been re-populated with exceptional restaurants and now all you have to do is head in that direction and you are certain to come across one. You will not have any problem remembering where King + Bannatyne is located because it is exactly where the name indicates.

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My lunch date and I intentionally decided to meet at 11:45 am before the rest of the lunch crowd arrived and it was a good thing that we did because we were fortunate to occupy one of the last open tables. There was counter service which means that all their staff can be busy with ensuring that you get your sandwich efficiently but it is still made to order. You can taste the freshness with your first and last bite.

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My gal pal raved about her River City Brisket sandwich. She said it was the perfect ratio of meat and fat and appreciated the tenderness as well as the bold taste from the spicy rub and house-made mustard. She was less enamoured with the potato leek soup but admitted it was because she makes her own decadent vichyssoise.

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Equally loving pork and cilantro, the Bann-Mi was an obvious choice for me. King + Bannatyne’s ode to a Vietnamese sub sandwich was chock full of just cut pork roast and spritely tastes of cilantro and cucumber. Even the bun was a testament to freshness. The potato salad that I choose as a side was an appropriate foil to the sandwich. Potatoes had been (I am guessing here) marinated in vinegar and then tossed in sour cream or perhaps a mix of sour cream and mayonnaise. The result was a salad where the lovely earthy taste of the potatoes held its own.

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Fear not if you are vegetarian as Chef Tyrone is always experimenting with versions of veggie sandwiches. On a second visit, I got to meet owner Mike Del Buono. The name was familiar and sure enough, I went to junior high school with his father!

King + Bannatyne is open Monday-Saturday from 11 am -8 pm. The have all day, take out and catering menus available. They are accessible to person with mobility issues but the restroom was not visited to check accessibility.

Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.

King + Bannatyne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “The potato, like man, was not meant to dwell alone.” -Shila Hibben

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Muelle 7 (Pier 7)-Isla Mujeres

November21

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We were delighted to be invited to taste the fabulous seafood offerings at Muelle 7 (Pier 7) in March 2016.

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We had visited previously for drinks and to watch the sunset but had never had the pleasure of dining.

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Our evening started with delicious just blended margaritas, mine was mango and D’s was lime

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and wonderfully silky guacamole.

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When this seafood platter arrived for us to share, we thought we had died and gone to seafood heaven! There was lobster, shrimp, squid, octopus and grouper. The seafood was so fresh and perfectly prepared with a light touch. The dinner was served with rice and tasty potato wedges. We had a little bit of lime drawn butter left over from seafood dipping and D poured it over the rice to ensure that we got to appreciate every morsel of the platter.

The setting of Muelle 7 just before Playa Sol on the bayside of the island is stunning. Service was warm, hospitable and efficient. We look forward to visiting again and again.

Kath’s quote: “You can put the greatest seafood restaurant next to an average steak house in an urban area, and that steak house will do more business than the seafood place. If you go to the water, you can put an average seafood place next to the greatest steak house, and people are going to eat seafood”. -Tilman J. Fertitta

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Love never fails.

Bisita

November4

How many readers remember when Corydon Ave. was Little Italy? In my humble opinion those were the good old days. Then the village went through a Sushi phase and now, I am happy to say, there seems to be a new era of ethnic restaurants popping up. The Georgian restaurant Saperavi for one and Bisita (837 Corydon Ave.) serving excellent Philipino food.

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There were four of us celebrating a sibling’s birthday so we were perfectly comfortable sharing plates. We split an appetizer of Lumpia Shanghai. Lumpia are mini spring rolls and are a mainstay of Philippine cuisine. These were chock full of minced pork and veggies, then drizzled with a sweet soy sauce and sriracha mayo. We were off to a great start.

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Three dishes arrived at the same time to share as our entrée. Beef “Pares” Short Rib which is one of the most famous street foods in the Philippines. The ribs were seasoned in a special blend of spices until perfectly tender, served atop a bed of garlic sautéed bok choy and then garnished with crispy fried onions. Pancit is the Philippine’s version of chow mein.

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Pancit is the Philippine’s version of chow mein. Our Classic Pancit was adorned with crispy pork belly, grilled chicken and sautéed shrimp.

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My favourite was Lechon Kawaii where once again pork belly was brined, then fried to a delicate crispiness resulting in a treat that was crunchy on the outside but meltingly tender within.

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As a treat, owner Roddy Seradilla, also brought us a serving of Pork Belly Sisig. He explained that the dish was typical of food that you would serve to your friends when they assembled in your backyard for an afternoon or evening of drinking beer. In this case pork belly was marinated in a sour liquid, braised with aromatics and spices and then roasted to super crispiness. The concoction was delicious on its own and sensational with the addition of a perfectly cooked quail egg.

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Since we were celebrating a birthday, dessert was in order. We chose a sampler of Buko pie, Ube cake (made with purple yams) and Leche Flan. All delicious.

If you are heading to Corydon Ave, and are looking for a surprising alternative to sushi, I highly recommend you stop in at Bisita.

Bisita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Pork fat rules!” Emeril Lagasse

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Love never fails.

Ascari Enoteca (Toronto)

October26

I felt badly that I had missed their anniversary. When they married over thirty years ago, there was a very small gathering of parents and siblings but we were one of two couple of friends. I realized that the significance of my visiting on that weekend was not lost on them when R said sincerely “Thanks for being at our wedding” for I stood beside M as her maid of honour. The night of their anniversary, I was at another restaurant across town with my friends from FBC 2016. They were at a little spot in their neighbourhood. The next evening they cooked filet mignon’s with all the trimmings. So my opportunity to celebrate with them came on my last evening in town. They suggested Ascari Enoteca, not far from where they lived. They had visited there before. Ascari Enoteca is named for famous Italian race car driver Alberto Ascari. The Enoteca (wine depository) was celebrating half price wine night and the little spot was jammed with Monday night diners. In fact, I could hardly follow our conversation over the din. This did not embarrass me as friends R & M are half a year older than me and our conversations often centre on a part of our body which is no longer working. ascari1 M had told me about an item from the list “In Compagnia” (things to share) that they liked to order. Broccolini Fritti was lightly battered broccolini crowned with lemon zest and pecorino cheese. The batter was light and salty like a tempura batter and the citrus and cheese was so satisfying that I tipped the serving bowl onto my side plate and scooped it up with a spoon. R made me perfectly comfortable with my brazen table manners by saying that a friend of his had done exactly the same. ascari2 When we each ordered our pasta, R selected another sharable of Cavoletti di Bruxelles. The shaved Brussel sprouts were tossed with guanciale (an Italian style bacon made from pork jowls), garlic chips and toasted walnuts. They too were so satisfying that I plan on getting my mandolin out and shaving some Brussel sprouts sometime very soon. ascari3 M chose a salad of charred romaine hearts that she was happy to share with us. Dubbed Insalata Americana, the boats of blackened romaine were filled with oven-dried tomato, tiny slivers of radish and a creamy oregano dressing. Sunflower seeds and fried shallots added extra crunch. ascari5 I was eager to have a taste of M’s Linquine alla Puttanesca with the traditional ingredients of tomato, anchovy, caper and olives. She liked the unusual addition of smoked cod. My taste of the latter revealed an overwhelming salty and smoky taste. I was glad that I had not been tempted by her choice and tucked into the evening’s special of Tajarin Ai Fungi. ascari4 My favourite pastas are lightly tossed with a few simple ingredients reminiscent of our recent time in Tuscany. Fresh and delicate Tajarin noodles (like spaghettini but square not round) had been tossed with beurre fondue (melted butter), tarragon, chanterelles and “heavens be praised” truffle oil!  We have travelled through many regions of Italy but not yet Piedmont where Tajarin noodles are a specialty. Each spin of the pasta was concluded with a spearing of chanterelles. The fungi (mushrooms) complemented the musky dab of truffle oil. Simply divine. We washed everything down with a wine of R’s choosing-a light and slightly acidic Basadone from Casetto Di Verduno. The wine also hails from Piedmont, so it was a tremendous choice. Upon further research, this is what I discovered: “The Barbera d’Alba label has a drawing of poppies which are called Basadone in local dialect (papavero in Italian). Basadone in dialect also means a little kiss – local tradition has it that Pelaverga is an aphrodisiac!” ascari6 We concluded the evening with a lemon pudding and three spoons, remembering a time when they as a couple took me under their wings and provided companionship after a bumpy time in my life. Although my timing was a couple of days off for this dinner, it was a lovely celebration of their love, marriage and our long lasting friendship. Ascari Enoteca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Kath’s quote: “You may have the universe if I may have Italy”.-Giuseppe Verdi img_0184 Love never fails.

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