Browsing: Restaurant Features

Star Grill Portage Ave.


D and I are not spontaneous people.  Family circumstances have just dictated that this is the case.  So lately, we have really taken advantage of being almost empty nesters and we get a giggle out of making a last minute decision (especially when it comes to dining-no surprize, I guess).

Yesterday, D suggested that we treat ourselves to breakfast with no clear idea where we wanted to end up.  We headed west on Portage Ave. and found ourselves at The Star Grill.  Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, so this is a photoless blog entry.  I had been once before for lunch and a couple of times to the Star Grill in the conservatory in Assiniboine Park as well, but D had never been to either.

The decor of this little spot is very cozy with booths along one wall and tables for two and four along the other.  There are a couple of gorgeous tables right in the south facing window with views of the park.  I particularly like the wispy curtains that hung over the booths and separated  the deuces.  I also recognized that many of the aluminum mirrors and decorative pieces were from Indonesia as I have a favourite store in Grand Beach that imports them for sale.

But to the food….

Ds eye was drawn to the Breakfast Pizza which was a crumbled bacon pizza with two eggs on top.  A clever idea and pretty tasty, except that there was a lot of char on the bottom of the crust.  I too was a little bit disappointed when my Grecian Benedict was so ensconced with too many thick slices of undercooked red onions and peppers.  I did appreciate the taste combination of hollandaise, black olives and feta though.

We weren’t surprized by the kitchens shortcomings because we could very clearly hear the the manager lamenting to the owner sitting in the last booth about: who hadn’t shown up and how there were struggles that morning in the kitchen.  It was almost as if these disappointments were pre-destined.

Just before our brunch dishes arrived, we got a call from J1 and J2.  We told them what we were up to and in ten minutes, they were sitting at the table next to us.  Our server very kindly lifted the curtain mentioned above and voila-a table for two becomes a table for four.

J2 also had the breakfast pizza (sans eggs) and hers too had too much char on the underside.  J1 though, was quite pleased with his choice.  He ordered a Cheddar Burger and said that the patty was really, very tasty.  The hand cut fries were a combination of white potatoes and sweet potatoes and J2 couldn’t resist, as the latter are her favourite.  Later that evening, I coaxed her into trying a roasted parsnip which I described as a cross between a potato and a carrot.

We lingered on the sidewalk out front of the cafe as the sun was shining gloriously and we made plans for the rest of our day.

Star Grill on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.”– Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza


I have just begun a fairly lengthy stay in a northern Manitoba community.  Earlier this week, when our son and his wife realized that we might not see each other for a while, they called to invite me to join them for lunch.  He went onto Urbanspoon to do some research to see what new and fun little places might be worthy of investigating.  To his dismay, I had already posted comments about many of his choices so he had to dig a little deeper to find a lunch destination for us.

His choice was perfect as I have wanted to visit Carbone ever since it opened last fall.  We soon discovered their sangrias were on special so we promptly ordered both red and white.  The latter mixing (if I remember correctly) apricot brandy, orange juice, soda and pinot grigio-refreshing and delicious.

In anticipation of dining on the road, I ordered something a little lighter.  The authentic ingredients of the salad, that is the tomatoes and buffalo cheese were exactly as desired with sweet and fresh tomatoes and creamy, chilled cheese.  Unauthentic though was the pile of arugula on the plate.  Even though I quite like a smattering of the peppery taste, we had already chosen a pizza that was topped with it.

Entitled the Isabella, it was covered with artichokes, roasted onions and goat cheese, in addition to the arugula.  The taste result was a combination of sweetness, creaminess and sharpness along with the pepperiness (pretty sure that’s not actually a word).

Artichokes were also found on the Capo along with red pepper, gorgonzola and capocollo.  I’m not partial to blue cheese but the other tastes were strong enough to de-emphasize the stinkiness.

I had to look up anthracite coal to find a number of positive qualities but the most important aspect is that it burns at 850 degrees which means that our pizzas were completely cooked in three minutes.

I have always known that good things are worth waiting for and this is certainly the case with my visit to Carbone.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.” Bette Davis as Margo Channing in ‘All About Eve’



Nook and Cranny


D and I are creatures of habit.  We love The Nook on Sherbrooke and everything about it-from the wait to get in, to the crowded tables, to the delicious food and the cheery waitresses who always have a coffee pot at the end of the arm.

It is not that the Nook and Cranny does not have these things but the coziness and neighbourhood atmosphere that we were hoping for, just was not there.

D couldn’t decide between the cinnamon bun French toast and eggs, so he ordered both-one of the many reasons why I love the guy (he has always known what he wants).

The eggs came with toast and hash browns and he was content.  Actually, he was quite impressed with the French toast and commented how resourceful they were for finding a use for excess buns.

I was in a more decadent mood that Sunday morning and ordered the asparagus omelet and a side of ham.  Ill admit, it was because it came with hollandaise that I was tempted.  Turned out that the asparagus was the star on the plate-bright, bright green and prepared to a perfect el dente.  My hash browns also came extra crispy as I requested.   This may seem to be in the small points department but it was huge for me.

So all in all, we had a lovely breakfast, we just have a preference for what feels more like home to us in the original Nook.

The Nook and Cranny on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:   “One word, in this place, respecting asparagus. The young shoots of this plant, boiled, are the most unexceptionable form of greens with which I am acquainted.”William Andrus Alcott (1846)

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina


Los Chicos had me at their entrance.  I am enthralled by the colours of Mexico especially when blue is boldly paired with fuchsia, orange or yellow.  Their kaleidoscope of colour choices was simply delightful.  So too, the selection of gorgeous ceramic pieces for sale in the lobby and all imported from Mexico.  We’ve collected many pieces just like these on our yearly sojourns and they adorn our home.

Characteristic of the great cantinas in Mexico, chips and salsa arrive at the table without them being ordered or requested.  The chips were light and salty and the salsa, hearty with just a hint of heat.

I was dining with two business associates and after being told about the lunch buffet, the three of us headed over for a peak.  There were a variety of dips, sauces and accompaniments for pulled pork and chicken enchiladas.

Before I knew it, my friends were arriving back at the table with full plates.  I wanted to sample something from the menu but didn’t wish to delay our meal or slow down getting to the business at hand, so I quickly ordered a bowl of tortilla soup.

The chicken and broth was light but  flavourful and was contrasted by the veggies and a dollop of soft queso right in the middle.  I added more tortilla chips for crunch and saltiness and was quite satisfied.

The ladies were happy with their choices and I with mine, but I intend to return soon to try something more substantial.

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron.  Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper.”
Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique

Original Joes


We had a double date in our calendar for Original Joes weeks in advance.  We knew that Tuesdays were 1/2 price wine night and that the place would be hopping.  The guys had a look at the Jets schedule to ensure that it wasn’t a game night and we would be sure to get a table.  Well all that was for naught because it was a game night, the place was packed and we loved every minute of it.

I had a hankering for their Chili Lime Chicken because I had seen it on a repeating basis as a Google ad on many blog sites that I follow.  I just couldn’t resist-see advertising does work!

D choose the Gyoza and was very pleased.

The Frenchman choose the Poutine (of course!) made the authentic way with real cheese curds, not just shredded cheese.

Daughter #2 does not order calamari very often because the Frenchman doesn’t enjoy it and she prefers to share, we on the other hand, were more than happy to assist her.  We remembered that the first time she tasted squid was when we took her to NYC for her 16th birthday.   Yes, we spoil our kids (we like to call it “bless” them in a special way).

We ended our gouter with a sweet-Original Joe’s mud pie that actually resembled mud when I tried to photograph it in the low lighting.  An enormous portion was lapped up with four forks.

Well the shenanigans continued and because we live so close, we were able to dash home between periods and watch the final 20 minutes of Jets hockey before calling it a night.

I know that there are foodies that give places like Original Joes a bad wrap because they are chains.  Well Original Joes is very entrenched into our neighbourhood with programs like Community Pint which contributes money to Darcys no- kill animal shelter.  We recognized lots of folks from the area including our server who was a friend of Daughter #2.  The lovely manageress came to visit us often over the course of the evening.  She and her husband share the evening shifts.  Cant get much more down home than all of that…..

Original Joe's on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”-Benjamin Franklin


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