[MEDIA] ONE Restaurant ★★★★★

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Disclaimer: Thanks to BrandingandBuzzing, I was given the opportunity to attend an intimate media dinner at ONE Restaurant last year with a few fellow foodies. Had a wonderful time sampling the menu and getting to know everyone. I definitely felt spoiled! The … Continue reading

Summerlicious – Stock ★★★1/2

Price: Over $30+ Decided to try a new restaurant with some foodie friends this year and after a vote, settled on the $25 lunch menu at Stock in Trump International Hotel & Tower. Right as I walked in, I noticed … Continue reading

Bannock ★★★

Price: $15-25+

Wanted to try something new and thought this would be a good chance to check out  another Oliver & Bonacini restaurant (huge fan and making it a point to eventually visit all O&B restos). Bannock’s located next to the Bay store on Queen, with it split into a dining area and a café/grab and go area. The interior has a lot of wooden furnishings and seating here is a little cramped (unless you are with a big group and have a table in the center or back of the dining area).

On the day I dined here, the weather was pretty brisk and cold out…you know typical Toronto weather. I had walked up from Union to Queen and Bay..breaking in my 3.5 inch heels no less. Safe to say, I was freezing and ready to sit down to escape from the cold and pain in my feet. Haha. Now, my first impressions of Bannock while walking in is it’s another “business-casual” restaurant. It was pretty empty when I came (4:30pm) and all I saw were a few workers doing paperwork while eating. There was even one table where a woman had a laptop and just spread her papers everywhere. However, by the time I left (6:30pm) it got considerably more busy and louder. So if it’s some quiet time your after, come before 6pm and if you’re into a more after hours vibe, 6pm and later is the most opportune time.

Anyway, I digress. I was in the mood for a hot dish and debating between the chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes ($16), the peppered flatiron steak with duck fat potatoes ($23) or their burger ($16) — which looked big by the way. I saw someone order it on the table next to me. Decided to go with the chicken pot pie though, it just beckoned to me. Turns out this was a great choice on my part, I LOVED IT! It was foodie-licious with its peas, chicken slices, sauce, etc. The side of creamy smashed potatoes and gravy was a nice addition as well. Well worth my $16 bucks. As for my friend, they had the noodle of the day ($14) and claimed it was good too. Didn’t get a chance to sample it so can’t really comment. We both also ordered the same drinks, the HBC cocktail with peach schnapps ($9), predicting it would be sweet and fruity. It was and tasted nice enough but I am not sure its worth the $9 price tag it has. Kind of expensive for just a nice enough cocktail.

Onto the restaurant service, the servers were suitably polite and attentive. Sometimes a bit too attentive I think, as my server came over to our table so many times I eventually felt rushed to leave. Over the course of our meal, I think our server came to our table over 10 times! My rough count: 2 times to ask for our order, 4 to ask and get our drink orders, 2 to place and get our plates, 2 to ask if we can pay and bring out our checks and finally 2 to ask us if we wanted anything else. Don’t get me wrong, its great they are attentive but my friend and I were trying to catch up and got interrupted too many times for my taste.

Dress code: Business casual. Good for lunch/dinner with friends, coworkers and your boss. Probably not for large families with children though.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Bannock.aspx
Location: 401 Bay St., Toronto, M5H 2Y4
Telephone: (416) 861 – 6996
Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 10:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am – 10:00pm and Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Cafe Hours: Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 8:00pm, Saturday: 9:00am – 8:00pm and Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm

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Bannock on Urbanspoon

Summerlicious – Azure Restaurant & Bar ★★1/2

Price: $30+

So came here for lunch last year with a fellow foodie lover, we felt like trying something new and this place seemed nice. The restaurant is inside the Intercontinental Hotel.

I had the caprese salad as an appetizer, which was small but enjoyable. My friend commented their appetizer, a baby green salad was a bit too bitter though. As for the main, I ordered the grilled boneless skinless chicken breast with quinoa and pineapple salsa, I felt it was a bit too dry. I would probably only recommend the desserts here, I tried the apple tartin with homemade vanilla ice cream and my friend had the chocolate cake with spiced whip cream. Both were sweet and yummy!

I think I would come here for just drinks and desserts. Something like if you were in the area and wanted a snack after work or during lunch. It is semi-dressy, but a nice shirt/top with dark jeans is fine.

Note: I did notice they offer quite a few vegetarian dishes for the prix fixe menu, which is nice. Also, on a side note – washrooms are not conveniently located nearby, you have to go further into the hotel and make your way down a hall to get there. I got a little lost making my way there. Haha.

Website: http://www.azurerestaurant.ca/
Location: 225 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2X3
Telephone: (416) 597-8142
Hours: Monday to Sunday – 6:30am to 10:00pm.

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Alize Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Winterlicious – PURE SPIRITS Oyster House & Grill ★★1/2

Price: $30+

My apologies! With my vacation and just life in general, I was a bit preoccupied this month and my review of Winterlicious at Pure Spirits is long over due.

This was my second visit to Pure Sprits and I have to say I was a bit disappointed with them service wise. I had made reservations for Winterlicious 1-2 weeks in advance only to find out they had lost the reservation when I arrived. I had phoned and was told  it was written down so not sure how the miscommunication happened.

Anyway, my party and I were asked to sit by the bar in the meantime and while the staff often came over to reassure us a table would ready soon, it was a bit irritating since clearly that wouldn’t be the case. I would have appreciated the gesture more if not for the fact my party was starving and we were kept waiting for 30 minutes. I didn’t make a comment to the staff because I wanted to see how their customer service was, though my friends were tempted to. I felt like they should have given us a discount or free drinks/desserts at the end of our meal. Just something as a way of showing us they were sorry for the trouble. Note – I freely admit that when I’m hungry, I can get a bit irritable. Haha.

Now in terms of the food, I had the new england clam chowder with baby clams, back bacon and corn as an appetizer. I felt it was good, seasoned well and hearty but it could have been hotter instead of just warm. My main was yummy, filling and most importantly not dry! I had the grilled chinook salmon with Yukon gold potato and garlic mash. As for the dessert, I bravely tried the Chai tea crème brûlée with spiced almond biscotti. My previous experience with chai tea creme brulee wasn’t too spectacular but not to worry about that here, I loved it.

So in conclusion, liked the food but not the service or prices (regular menu is kind of expensive). If you can handle this and are in the neighbourhood, I would suggest eating in groups of 4 or 2. If its just 2, I would suggest grabbing a booth by the windows.

Best for lunches or dinners with coworkers, friends and family. Maybe even the boss if it was lunch and you work in the area. This place is kind of small, so make reservations and recheck a few days beforehand to avoid what happened to me.

Website: http://purespirits.ca/
Location: 55 Mill Street, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4
Telephone: (416) 361 – 5859
Hours:  Monday to Sunday (Lunch) – 11:30am to 3:00pm, Monday to Sunday (Dinner) – 5:00pm to 11:00pm

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Pure Spirits Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Windsor Arms – High Tea ★★★

Price: $30+

Always been meaning to try high tea and finally got the chance to with a friend recently.

I tried this place through a teambuy coupon and after reading reviews on how they treat people with wagjag, team buy, etc. I felt hesitant to go, one of my major service turn offs is a snooty behavior. However, our server (George? I think that was his name) was super nice and attentive. We went on a weekday at 3:30pm and were situated in the cream room (French style). I think there were only 6 or so tables, so the room wasn’t actually too big. I did feel we were sometimes rushed even though there weren’t a lot of people there. Not sure why they did this.

Now on food, I had the Tibetan tiger tea, something I wanted to try after reading a yelp review. I really liked it, I could smell the scent of chocolate and a bit of nuttiness? My friend had the Darjeeling tea that was a bit too bitter for my tastes but might be a good way to offset all those sweet desserts.

We were given a 3 tier stand filled with desserts, mini sandwiches and scones. Jams, sugar and milk provided. After trying them all, I actually felt almost full. Rare for me with finger food. As we finished with the food stand, we remembered there was another whip cream and strawberries dessert included (internal groan! ugh). I was on sugar overload and found the food was a bit too heavy and sweet for me.

Overall, I feel it’s worth trying out but beware if you can’t eat a lot of sweets. You definitely will feel like you have a toothache after.

Dress code: semi-dressy. For lunches with friends and older relatives.

Website: http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/tearoom/
Address: 18 St. Thomas St, Toronto ON M5S 3E7
Telephone: (416) 971-9666
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12:30pm, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 6:00pm

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Windsor Arms Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Winterlicious 2012 – Canoe Restaurant

Canoe is one of my personal favourite restaurants, which is evident from my previous review.

However, I recently ate here on the first day of Winterlicious and I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with the food this time. Maybe it was because this was the first day of Winterlicious or the menu itself but I found the food somewhat bland in taste for certain dishes.

My starter was fine, I had clover roads duck rillette with gribiche, pretzel bread & forbes’ wild flavours. With the main dish however, I had braised Alberta lamb pappardelle with walnuts & mill st. coffee porter sauce but felt the noodles were a bit undercooked? My dessert, birch syrup pudding with bacon caramel & ginger foam was good but the portion was incredibly small. I’m usually one not to complain about portions because I know most fine dining restaurants don’t offer you large portions like more main stream restaurants. However, this was a bit too small for even me. As for drinks, I enjoyed the Winterlicious special pear and cranberry non-alcoholic drink. It was very fruity.

Overall, I did enjoy myself at Canoe. Even if sometimes I felt it was hectic (there were 2-3 people coming to our table, the waiter and 2 staff members), who were very nice and friendly but came too frequently for me to fully enjoy my meal with friends. I also felt a little rushed at the end to leave but our group did stay for almost 3 hours, so its understandable. Would still recommend visiting here.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx
Location: 66 Wellington Street West, 54th Floor of TD Tower, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6
Telephone: (416) 364-0054
Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:45am to 10:30pm, Saturday & Sunday: closed for private events

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Canoe Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Summerlicious – Blu Ristorante & Lounge ★★1/2

Price: Over $30+

I ate here for a past summer-licious event’s with some friends. I had a salad, veal scallopini with butternut squash puree and tartufo ice cream. Everything was okay but it wasn’t really that amazing. I found the salad had too much sauce on it and the butternut squash puree nice but kind of overwhelming the veal. Perhaps it would have been better if it was placed on the side?  I can only say I loved the dessert. But since they probably bought that….its not much of a recommendation. I did get to try a friend’s dish, they ordered the acorn squash (vegetarian dish) and it was rather good. As for the other pictures posted of the salmon and pasta, etc. I can’t make a comment except I remember being told it was also a bit too salty.

Service is nice though, one of my friends was 30 mins late and I ordered for her thinking she wouldn’t have to wait when she arrived. However, her order arrived sooner then expected and it got cold while we waited for her. Our server was very polite and was more then willing to re-heat it for us without asking or making it seem like an inconvenience. I didn’t get any attitude, which I much appreciated.

This place is nice for a romantic date and eating with friends. Not really for family with kids though. Dress code: Semi-Casual.

Website: http://bluristorante.com/
Address: 17 Yorkville Ave, Toronto ON M4W 1L1
Telephone: (416) 921 – 1471
Hours: Monday to Thursday: 5:30pm – 11:00pm, Friday to Saturday: 5:30pm – 11:00pm, Sundays – closed.

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Blu Ristorante & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sassafraz ★★★

Price: $50+

My friend and I were shopping around Yorkville and suddenly felt like grabbing a bite at a new restaurant. We were debating between Sassafraz and One (which we couldn’t even identify until we basically went up to the hostess to check menu’s. I guess the restaurant doesn’t need to advertise it much). We ended up going to Sassafraz despite the reviews I read online (I saw a lot of bad reviews so I wasn’t inclined to eat there anytime soon). However, my other friends went there before and convinced me it was all right. My friend and I splurged and didnt go during their prix fix menu events. So this review is based on a regular weekday at the restaurant.

I have been here twice (went again for a birthday dinner during a regular weeknight too) and the restaurant itself is really nice. It’s like a house with yellow-coloured exterior and white furnishing inside. I believe they have 4 sections where you can eat: patio, restaurant inside, s-cafe bar on main floor and private event area upstairs.

I tried the halibut and striploin, both around $36. I found the halibut a bit dry and the striploin a little greasy If you are visiting there for the first time or haven’t had the chance to try it, I would recommend the striploin anyway or perhaps the trout (friends said they were okay). Note – the striploin comes with a cute pour cup of sauce!! Sorry, I am easily amused and a sucker for cute things like that. Haha. Service was nice and efficient on both visits, with a free chocolate at the end as a finishing touch.

To sum things up, this place is nice for dates, work meetings or lunches, group dinners, etc. Dress code: Semi-Dressy/Business.

Website: http://www.sassafraz.ca/default.aspx
Location: 100 Cumberland St. Toronto ON M5R 1A6
Telephone: (416) 964-2222
Hours: Monday: 11:30 to 12:00am, Tuesday to Friday: 11:30 am to 2am, Saturday: 11am to 2am, Sunday: 11am to 12am

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Sassafraz on Urbanspoon

Jump Cafe & Bar ★★★

Price: $30+

I decided to go to this restaurant on one of my birthdays because it is also owned by Oliver & Bonacini, who owns Canoe. I am a huge fan of Canoe and thought to try out Jump as something new. However, despite the great staff and service at Jump, I sadly found the food to be a bit lacking in taste. Perhaps it was an off day but I was somewhat disappointed when comparing them to Canoe. I found my main to be okay and I did like the desserts sample platter and champagne the server recommended. Just wasn’t “great”

The restaurant is nice enough, good for a nice dinner with family and friends or co-workers.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Jump.aspx
Location: 18 Wellington Street West, Commerce Court East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5L 1G4
Telephone: (416) 363-3400
Monday to Friday: 11:45am-12am
Saturday: 5pm-12am

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