Browsing: Restaurant Features

Fenix Isla Mujeres

November23

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Fenix is a place on Isla Mujeres that I had watched with interest on message boards when it opened and then garnered its fair share of fans. Until this past spring, I had never visited. In fact, I didn’t even know where it was. When we met friends from Puerto Moreles who came over by ferry to spend an afternon with us, we walked along Playa Sol and then rounded the corner to Play Norte. When I thought that we were almost out of beach (and a place to share some lunch), there it was. We immediately ordered a round of cold ones and a couple of small plates to share. Since there were four of us and only three of these tempura shrimp with curry dip, we ordered a second plate and each had 1 1/2 skews. Delish.

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The goat cheese stuffed chilies on crostini hit the spot especially with the pesto drizzle that circled the plate.

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These were not the best Patata Bravas I had ever tasted (that honour goes to Segovia in Winnipeg) but they were tasty enough.

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The ceviche of the day was this lovely green one; the result of tossing the veggies and seafood in pesto.

Service was fairly prompt and the banos clean and well stocked, even though they were quite a distance from where we were seated. We could have done without the afternoon’s entertainment of live music as we were trying to get to know our guests a bit better but the music did add to the atmosphere.

Overall a very pleasant experience.

Kath’s quote: “It is a curious thing, but as one travels the world getting older and older, it appears that happiness is easier to get used to than despair. The second time you have a root beer float, for instance, your happiness at sipping the delicious concoction may not be quite as enormous as when you first had a root beer float, and the twelfth time your happiness may be still less enormous, until root beer floats begin to offer you very little happiness at all, because you have become used to the taste of vanilla ice cream and root beer mixed together. However, the second time you find a thumbtack in your root beer float, your despair is much greater than the first time, when you dismissed the thumbtack as a freak accident rather than part of the scheme of a soda jerk, a phrase which here means “ice cream shop employee who is trying to injure your tongue,” and by the twelfth time you find a thumbtack, your despair is even greater still, until you can hardly utter the phrase “root beer float” without bursting into tears. It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste, like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can eventually become accustomed, but despair is something surprising each time you encounter it.” ― Lemony Snicket

turquoiseheart

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

White Rock Cafe

November19

I often describe restaurants as “quaint,” but in the case of the White Rock Cafe I would add that the neighbourhood gathering place is “authentically” quaint.

China cups were hung on display along with side plates and saucers. The decor is a bit tired but the full house of contented diners did not seem to mind in the least.

My server was quaint as well, with an unpretentious manner. I asked whether I should select the reuben or clubhouse, and he said “That depends on whether or not you were planning on eating supper!”

As I waited for owner/operator Jacquie Fuller, to prepare my meal, I read this sign on the wall: “We are a small family-owned restaurant with a small grill area and a usually ‘frazzled cook’ so your patience is appreciated. Open most days about 8:30 a.m. Occasionally as early as 8. But somedays as late as 9 or 9:30. We close about 7:30 or 8 p.m. Occasionally about 4 or 5 but sometimes as late as 11 or 12. Some days or afternoons, we aren’t here at all and lately we’ve been here just ’bout all the time. Except when we’re somewhere else. But we’re sure to be here then, too.”

Jacquie took some time away from the kitchen to come and chat with me about her 20-year old venture. She mentioned all the students from nearby Kildonan East Collegiate who used to come in for lunch of fries and gravy and returned as adults to visit her again. Her from-scratch cooking is the reason for her loyal customers. She mentioned that there was a pork roast in the oven for evening guests and I know for certain that the turkey in the White Rock clubhouse was freshly cut from the carcass. The sandwich was also served with ham and cheese. I happen to be a clubhouse purist and prefer “old school” ingredients of crispy bacon, turkey (or chicken), lettuce and tomato, period.

The fries were absolute perfection.

White Rock Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sorry folks, my photo disc was damaged and I cannot retrieve my photos of the White Rock.

Kath’s quote: “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.”-John Ed

doughheart

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Mango Cafe Isla Mujeres

November6

We have gotten to know a couple of Isla Mujeres’ restaurant owner/operators particularly well over the years. Fredy, Sergio, Ziggy and Polo all contribute to the Isla Mujeres culinary scene in their own distinctive ways.

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Recently when scooting through the Colonias in a golf cart, Polo of Mango Cafe was driving by and waved us down. This is his wife and beautiful baby.

The menu at Mango Café is inventive and Polo’s dishes are exquisitely crafted. Each plate comes out of his kitchen looking like it was professionally styled. His take on traditional fare elevates each offering to the extent that none of us can stay away. We always pay Mango Café a visit during our time on Isla Mujeres, sometimes more than once.

Dinners are definitely memorable but it is Polo’s breakfasts that we particularly love.

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On our most recent visit, Don had the stuffed poblano chili. When I first tasted this dish on Isla, I couldn’t believe that I had ever thought of stuffing eggs into a chili before, especially in the land of chilies relleno.

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D loved the breakfast quesadillas. Look how pretty this plate was?

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Victoria could not resist ordering Polo’s French Toast; a dish that our entire family loves.

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In fact, last year just before they left the island, they packed in for one last feed.

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I adored the Eggs Benedict with curried hollandaise, crispy bacon, mushrooms, chia (like spinach) & cheesy potatoes. “Heaven, I’m in heaven…..”

Kath’s quote: “We did not immediately come up with béarnaise, Bercy, and poivrade sauces. It took more than a single attempt to discover reduced cream, marinade, and forcemeat. We did not straightaway invent barding fat, the touch of garlic, and the thin slice of truffle under the skin…. While genius is spontaneous, its manifestations nevertheless require the passage of time before glorious perfection is achieved. This is particularly true in the area of food and drink…. Magical dishes, magical words: a great cook is, when all is said and done, a great poet. . . . For was it not a visit from the Muses that inspired the person who first had the idea of marrying rice and chicken, grape and thrush, potatoes and entrecôte, Parmesan and pasta, aubergine and tomato, Chambertin and cockerel, liqueur brandy and woodcock, onion and tripe?”-‘Cinquante Ans a Table’

TSR Watermark - 2756

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Victoria’s Tavern Regina

November4

In my early twenties, Sister #2 and I shared an apartment. It was a busy time for both of us but every Sunday we shared a meal together. All through those dinners and as we lingered over wine or cups of tea, we would talk about our past week, our upcoming week and…food! I think that was when I knew that I was and would always be, a foodie. My most precious evenings are surrounded by friends, old and new, talking about restaurants, communities, chefs and recipes. Surprisingly, that is how I spent my time last evening. I had accompanied D on a business trip to Regina this week and we met up with a couple of his work associates at Victoria’s Tavern. I expected a quick bite and a return to the hotel.

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Sean the photo-bomber.

The unanticipated delight of the evening was noshing with the Tavern’s partner/corporate chef Sean Hale, his wife and brother-in-law. The food passion of this trio was evident with every story and anecdote.

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Located in the heart of Regina’s restaurant and bar scene, the renovated red brick building was warm and inviting, reminiscent of the pubs that we adored when we visited Ireland. Of particular delight was the memorabilia that adorned the walls: scenes of Saskatchewan, vintage movie stars, old LP covers and local members of the military all took their place in the montage.

But, to the food.

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We had been drawn by the promise of freshly-shucked PEI oysters and were not disappointed. A lovely briny liquid was cupped in the oyster shell, along with the morsels themselves. Sean enhanced the taste with a clear broth of shallots and red wine vinegar.

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We have been long-time fans of chicken and waffles. The latter were light and fluffy with the crispy edges that I love. The chicken breasts had been marinated in buttermilk for two days and then tossed in corn starch which created a extra crunchy coating. The marriage of these textures and tastes were further bonded by maple syrup and (just for good measure) a delectable gravy of crumbled sausages from Regina’s beloved Italian Star Deli.

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Guffawing at the recent processed and red meat concerns (we stick to our mantra of everything in moderation), we shared a bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandwich. I could barely get my mouth around the monster for a bite. A friend from Winnipeg declared that it was the best meat loaf he had ever tasted. The sweetish bun that it came on was the recipe of the Sean’s mother-in-law and the premise made kettle chips that accompanied it were the piece de résistance (for this potato aficionado).

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As I tie this up, I haven’t even touched on the craft beer variety that the tavern boasts or the that we enjoyed these oyster shooters!

Victoria's Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is like love it should be entered in with abandon or not at all”. -Harriet van Horne

victoria5

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Food Bloggers Canada 2015 Recap – Last of Three Parts

November2

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For breakfast the last morning of the conference we were in for a treat of St. Viateur bagels, lox, capers, onions and cream cheese. Presented by Half Your Plate, I accompanied mine with a delicious fruit smoothie.

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The surprise treats of Cacao Barry chocolates were provided at our morning break. Chocolate always gets me going. These were exquisitely crafted.

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Another Montreal icon provided our lunch. Schwartz’s brought in a mini deli for our pleasure and we noshed on cole slaw, pickles, just sliced Montreal smoked meat and potato chips.

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The mini tastes of sugar pie were a lovely touch. Around this table I connected with Maria of She Loves Biscotti.

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And then before you knew it, the conference was over but since I was not departing for a couple of days, I still had more eating to do. Montrealer Evelyne was available to be our tour guide again and Joann, Michelle of The Tiffin Box and I hopped the metro for Marche Jean Talon where we tasted fine local wines, ciders and vermouths and took photos of the colourful produce  which was displayed so beautifully.

That evening Marlene, Joann and I pressed Montrealer Kimberlie to suggest her favourite local spot for dinner. Bouillon Bilk was an amazing way to crown the weekend with its sleek decor, personable staff and exquisite food. I am told that only locals frequent the place and this maybe because it is located in the most inconspicuous spot. After much indecision and deliberation, I chose carpaccio beef as my appetizer and a second starter of tortellini as my entree. Both provided perfection with each bite. These women were so generous in sharing their life stories and friendships were cemented. My photos could never do justice to the beauty of our plates.

Bouillon Bilk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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We walked back to the Westin through Chinatown and detoured to the bar before all going up to perch on my roomie’s bed for additional chatter. We clearly were not ready for the weekend to end. In fact, before I clicked off the light that evening, I registered for the 2016 conference edition in Toronto where Food Bloggers Canada was born. And for me time in Montreal did not end. The next morning, before the Ontario entourage left for the train station, Charmian and I had one last treat together: Portuguese Custard Tarts that she had acquired on the walking food tour of Old Montreal and had stashed in our room fridge.

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Moving from the Westin to nearby Zero 1 Hotel, I was smack in the middle of Chinatown. Hearing from other bloggers that Pho Bang New York was the place try, I ordered a shrimp pho to go. I slowly dished it out in my hotel room, not wanting the fragrant broth, crunchy veggies and silky noodles to disappear too quickly.

Pho Bang New York Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Soon after, Kimberlie, who had become more and more of a dear friend by the minute, arrived to the lobby for one last rendezvous. We each sipped a drink at Brasserie T and ordered a Parmesan Fondue to be considerate of the sleek little restaurant and its lovely staff and to tie us over until dinner.

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Parmesan Fondue was the very first Quebec dish I sampled on the first night on my honeymoon, thirty-one years prior. Good food has the power to produce a life long memory.

Brasserie T! Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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We made our way by Metro to the illuminated lantern display at the Botanical Gardens before sharing an “old school” dinner of shrimp noodles, watercress and sizzling beef in Chinatown at Le Maison VIP before we finally said good-bye with embraces and commitments to keep in close touch.

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And still my Montreal indulgences continued with my last chocolate croissant at the hotel and an order of poutine at the airport.

FBC 2015 in Montreal, where new friends were made over tables laden with food.

Kath’s quote: “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ― Ruth Reichl

dreamcookieheart

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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