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Archive for August, 2013

Napa: Grace’s Table

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On our day trip driving to Napa Valley, Mr. Pixelbunny and I stopped by this place for lunch. It had some pretty good Yelp reviews so we locked our GPS onto its coordinates and away we went! Parking was super easy as there was lots all along the main street as well as the side streets.

 

The Atmosphere

Grace's Table - outside
Front door is right on the corner of Second and Franklin Street

 

Grace's Table - bar
One view of the bar; more of the bar to the right not pictured

 

The Food

Grace's Table - iron skillet corn bread
Iron Skillet Corn Bread – $6

Having really high ratings on Yelp, we ordered the iron skillet corn bread with really high expectations. Luckily, our expectations were met. The cornbread has a slightly crispy outside with a warm and soft inside. What really makes this appetizer is not the corn bread itself, but the butter that’s served along side. It’s not just ordinary butter. It’s lavender honey butter. You definitely taste the honey but the fragrant lavender that’s incorporated into it is divine. And who would have thought it’d be a good combination with corn bread? Me neither, but the combination is a winner. If you were to come here, this one is a must try.

 

Grace's Table - tuna nicoise
Tuna Niçoise – $15

For my main, I ordered the tuna niçoise salad. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a niçoise salad before, let alone even know what it was, but it certainly was not what I was expecting. There was too much olive oil on the whole plate and everything was drenched in it. The tuna was definitely pre cooked, then chilled, which unfortunately left it dry and tasteless. The rest of the salad was dripping in olive oil. I did like the green beans (crunchy!) and tomatoes. The crispy egg was interesting too. It had a light breading that was fried, but on the inside, the yolk was soft! I’m intrigued how they managed to fry the egg and still have a soft yolk. The saltiness of the olive tapenade helped when eaten together with the tuna, as the tuna didn’t have any taste to it.

Overall, an odd mix (to me) of things on one plate that didn’t hold together very well. That being said, if niçoise salads are supposed to be like this, then maybe I just don’t like niçoise salads in general.

 

Grace's Table - fish tacos
Fish Tacos – $15

Mr. Pixelbunny got the fish tacos. Generally a safe thing for either of us to order, this one was disappointing. For us, fish tacos are supposed to be light tasting, but these were drowning in cheese. There were also some black beans in there too, but completely overwhelmed by the cheddar cheese. Pico de gallo and house slaw were served on the side. Nothing really to note about them though.

 

Grace's Table - chili d'espellette parmasean onion rings
Chili D’espellette-parmesan Onion Rings – $5

As a side, we ordered the chili D’espellette-parmesan onion rings. They were lightly breaded and fried, and had quite the spicy kick to them! At one point, I had to drink some water to help cool down my mouth, but we both agreed the onion rings were well done. They are thick cut (as you can see in the above picture) with a very slight breading. This is just how I like my onion rings to be. More onion, less batter!

 

The Verdict

A cute place to stop over for lunch but unfortunately the items we ordered were hit and miss. Definitely get the corn bread but try some of their other offerings. Unfortunately, the dishes we tried weren’t very good and I would not recommend those particular ones to you.

 

The Place

Grace’s Table
1400 Second St, Napa, CA
(707) 226-6200

Written by Jessica

August 29th, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

San Francisco: Swan Oyster Depot

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This place was long time coming ever since seeing an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. Being that Mr. Pixelbunny and I are such seafood lovers, we specifically put aside a day and time slot in our vacation to come here to eat.

 

The Atmosphere

The place is really small, and is pretty much original when it first opened back in 1912. You have a long bar table which you can sit at, and behind the bar is where you get to watch everyone prepare your meal. From what I gather, there is always a long line up to get in, but the wait is definitely worth it. Mr. Pixelbunny and I waited about 45 min before there were openings for us to sit at.

 

Swan Oyster Depot - front window
With a front window display of that, how can you resist??

This is what you’re staring at while you’re waiting in line. I was pretty much drooling nonstop. Look at all of that fresh seafood! And the sea urchin? They were still moving. Oh yes, they were that fresh.

 

The Food

Swan Oyster Depot - menu
Menu

We were seated right in front of the menu with a fantastic view. I love how it’s so personal and hand made, complete with illustrations. Awesome.

 

Swan Oyster Depot - sourdough bread
Complimentary sourdough bread and butter

While we stared at the menu, we were presented with fresh sourdough bread and butter. I don’t know if it’s made in house or if they obtain it elsewhere, but it was soft and chewy and had that delightful sourdough taste to it. We tried to resist eating all of the bread so we’d have more room to order off the menu, but the bread won and we ate all of it.

 

Swan Oyster Depot - oysters
Mixed dozen oysters – $28

Fresh, slippery, and tasty. The mixed dozen oysters gave us blue point, kumamotos and miyagi oysters. I love oysters of any kind. Considering the price, these were a little expensive in comparison to Toronto. I can say I’ve had better oysters for less. However, having said that, these were still good.

 

Swan Oyster Depot - clam chowder
Cup of Boston Clam Chowder – $2.75 

There’s the option of a cup or a bowl, and we chose a cup so that we could eat other things. The Boston clam chowder really is served in a little cup! There’s a bowl of oyster crackers on the table that you can add to your chowder. This chowder is more liquid than other thick chowders I’ve had. It’s different from what I’m used to. There’s some pretty big chunks of potatoes, and loads of little tiny clams inside. Unfortunately, it’s not all that hot when it was served – a little more than lukewarm at best. And I know it wasn’t sitting on the counter that long because I watched them ladle it from the soup pot!

 

Swan Oyster Depot - combination salad
Combination salad – $21

Multiple Yelp reviews recommended the combination salad so we also decided to have it as well. It is a large helping of shredded lettuce, then piled high with little shrimp, crab meat, and 3 large prawns. They drizzle on the Louie sauce underneath the crab and prawns, but there is more than enough for the whole salad. It tasted very much like thousand island dressing, although slightly different. There’s tons of seafood on this plate and quite good too. I wasn’t blown away by it, but still enjoyed it a lot.

 

Swan Oyster Depot - sea urchin
Sea Urchin – $?? Can’t remember!

We couldn’t resist ordering sea urchin after seeing it in the front window. Couple that with watching some other patrons eating it straight from the shell while we were still waiting in line, that further cemented our desire to order it for sure!! We watched as one of the guys behind the table carefully cut off some of the spikes, cut out a large flap, then took out each individual piece of sea urchin and rinsed it under water. After rinsing the shell out, all the sea urchins was placed back into the shell, then served to us in a metal bowl of ice. The taste and texture is different from what I’ve tasted before. It’s not very creamy and the texture is denser too. It’s hard to explain, but it’s very unlike the sea urchin I’ve had at japanese restaurants. Perhaps it’s because the japanese restaurants I go to don’t have access to fresh-from-the-shell sea urchin. In any case, it’s odd, but I actually like the creamier texture from japanese restaurants. OR, the other explanation is perhaps I’ve been eating different types of sea urchin? Anyways, this was good and fresh, but unfortunately not the texture I was expecting.

 

The Verdict

A neat place to go to for fresh seafood, but unfortunately, I think it’s over hyped! Even looking at other blog post reviews, the prices have gone up considerably over the last two years, and it is pretty pricey now. For the two of us, we paid just under $80 for lunch, and that was including taxes and a 20% tip! If you do choose to go, you’ll like the seafood selection they have to offer. Also be warned that they only accept cash. A bit of a tourist trap for foodies, so I would only suggest you go if you’re absolutely bent on going.

 

The Place

Swan Oyster Depot (no website but here’s Yelp’s link)
1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
415-673-1101

Written by Jessica

August 26th, 2013 at 11:37 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer

with 4 comments

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - box and product
It’s here! Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer!

When I first heard that Benefit was coming out with a 15-hour primer, I knew I had to get my hands on this. You see, I work 12 hour shifts (which sometimes can end up being 13 or 14 hours!) and the chance of my makeup staying on that long was practically non-existant. I have no time to reapply my makeup at work, so if there’s something out there that can help me last longer than 4-5 hours, I’m totally up for it.

 

The Packaging

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - front of box
Front of the box – such cute packaging!

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - left side of box
Left side of box – some facts

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - right side of box
Right side of box – pretty text

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - back of box
Back of box – blurb and how to use

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - tube
The primer

I’d never tried a primer in stick form before, so this would be an interesting experience. In true Benefit form, the packaging is super cute with a retro feel to it. The polka dots on the cap are so cute and the black, matte tube makes it look sleek.

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - top of tube
Top of the cap 

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - protective cap
Inner cap

I like that there was an inner cap covering the actual product. It felt air tight so as to not dry the product out. If you plan on using your product daily, you can probably toss this inner cap away. However, if you’re using it once in a while, it’s probably best to keep the inner cap so as not to dry it out. How awful would it be to pick it up to use only to find that it’s dried out and unusable?

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - cap removed
Inner cap removed

And there it is! The primer in it’s glorious stick form. You hold the white part and twist the bottom black part counter clockwise to advance the primer upwards.

 

The Product

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - the product
Stay Flawless, all ready for action!

To apply, you use circular motions all over your face. This is what activates the product, and causes your foundation to stick to the primer. I usually draw circles all over my cheeks and forehead, and a couple of dabs at my nose, then blend it quickly with my fingers. Then, immediately put your foundation on. It will feel a little sticky and tacky, which took a little while for me to get used to, however it made my foundation cling to it like glue.

Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer - swatch
Swatch

You can barely see the primer against my skin. Except for a slight glow where you can see it, it blends seamlessly. The light flesh colour looks like there’s a colour payoff, but on my skin, I don’t see it at all.

After applying my foundation, my face is matte and looks like a dream. Now fast forward to 6 hours into my shift. My face is still matte and looks like a dream. Fast forward to the end of my 12 hour shift. My face is still fairly matte with an ever so slight glow to my forehead. I’ve now used this for an entire month and I can honestly say, it consistently works every time.

When I tried this out on a non work day and spent the whole day outdoors in the humid heat of the mid 30s (that’s 90s for you US people), it worked just as well and my face looked pretty much exactly as when I had left the house.

 

The Verdict

For those of you who work long hours and/or need your foundation to stay put, this is the only magical thing you need. If this can last me my entire 12 hour shift (sometimes going into 13 or 14 hours too), then it can totally last regular business people who work 9-5.

 

Where to Buy – $38 CND | $32 USD

Written by Jessica

August 23rd, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Beauty,face

Kingyo

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It was date night and Mr. Pixelbunny and I wanted to try a restaurant off of Toronto Life’s Top 10 New Restaurants of 2013. After browsing, we settled with Kingyo.

 

The Atmosphere

Being an izakaya, it was loud, boisterous, and extremely friendly. Wait staff shouted out greetings whenever patrons walked in, everyone was super nice and friendly, and the overall atmosphere was so open and fun. The seating space is large with the bar and kitchen counters to the back.

 

Kingyo - pachinko machine
Pachinko machines!

The decor is pretty neat, with pachinko machines embedded in the exposed brick wall. They light up, make winning noises, and are fun to watch! I also spotted some katanas on display on the opposite wall to where we were sitting but didn’t get a picture of them.

 

Kingyo - waitress card goldfish
Kingyo business card

When we were seated, we were presented with Kingyo’s business card. The three fat goldfish are so cute!

 

Kingyo - waitress card info
Info

When we flipped the card over, it had our server’s name on it. I thought that was some pretty good hospitality.

 

The Food

Kingyo - Original White Sangria
Original White Sangria – $8.50

I started off my meal with the original white sangria. It’s white wine based infused with yuzu-su, original spice, orange, mango, kiwi, apple and lemon. I liked how there were little chunks of fruit in mine (of which I could identify mango and kiwi). A full orange slice and a lemon wedge garnished the rim of the cup. The only thing I couldn’t tell was the apple. There were some red fruit in mine, of which I thought were strawberries, not apple. In any case, it was very refreshing and not too heavy on the wine.

 

Kingyo - Homemade Ginger Ale
Homemade Ginger Ale – $3.80

Mr. Pixelbunny got the homemade ginger ale. I have to say, this was awesome! Lots of ginger flavour with a bit of tartness to it. I want to get this the next time we go!

 

Kingyo - Kingyo Grilled Mackerel
Kingyo Grilled Mackerel – $12.50

Our first dish was the Kingyo grilled mackerel. It was a whole marinated fillet (was not expecting that) that was grilled and served with graded daikon radish, crispy garlic slices, and drizzled with shio and ponzu sauce. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t overly salty, something that I’ve found with a lot of marinated mackerel. Instead, this was lightly seasoned and went well with the radish. I also loved the crispy garlic slices. The texture was like chips!

 

Kingyo - Tako Wasabi
Tako wasabi – $4.20

Next was the tako wasabi. You have the option of requesting your octopus raw, cooked, or half and half. We chose the raw option. It’s served in a bowl with wasabi stems (what a kick!) and and sea kelp. The little wooden bucket houses your seaweed paper and you scoop out the octopus with the wooden paddle. Be forewarned, it can get messy! We only had about 5 pieces of seaweed paper in our bucket, but when our waitress came by to check on us, she noticed we were out and had only gone through half the octopus! She offered to bring us some more seaweed paper. Thank you!

The octopus itself had a wet and slightly slimy texture, but with the different flavours in the bowl, and the little crunch bursts from the roe, it worked well with each other. I quite enjoyed this one.

 

Kingyo - Vancouver famous chef Sada's Sea Urchin Shooter *Natural Ocean Viagra*
Vancouver Famous chef Sada’s Sea Urchin Shooter – $7.80

This was the first thing we agreed to as soon as we opened the menu. Vancouver famous chef Sada’s sea urchin shooter. Note that the price is per shooter and we ordered two of them so we could each have one. It consists of sushi rice at the bottom, mountain yam, yuzu, egg yolk, and sea urchin on top. Our waitress recommended that we mix everything before we eat it. The menu states that you can either eat it or drink it. I did half and half to experience both. I ate half of it (mmm the creamy texture of sea urchin with all the other flavours), and the second half I drank it. I did chew a little before swallowing so I could have the flavours linger in my mouth a little longer. Mmmmm!

 

Kingyo - 5 kind assortment sashimi
5 kind assortment sashimi – $35

We couldn’t come to a japanese place without ordering some sashimi, so we opted for the 5 kind assortment. The neat thing is you won’t know what you’ll get as the chef selects what you’ll have. Our plate consists of, from left to right, flat fish, salmon, bonito, yellowtail, and tuna. You get 3 slices of each, and they are thick cut and fresh. It’s served on a bed of hay, with your standard wasabi blob. What I liked about this is the little extras that came with the plate. There were 1.5 shiso leaves (if I had my way, I would have enough shiso leaves for each slice of fish, haha), some taro chips, red radish slices, lime slices, lemon slices, dried okra (that was crunchy like chips!), and shredded carrot and daikon radish. We each had a small saucer of soy sauce to dip the sashimi in.

And if you can’t spot the detail they put into the presentation, let me show you this:

Kingyo - goldfish carrot slices
Goldfish and a maple leaf!

These are paper thin carrot slices!! Isn’t that incredible? And dotted sparingly around the plate are orange and yellow roe. The whole plate is just so darn pretty. You can’t not sit back and enjoy its beauty.

 

Kingyo - Stone Grilled Beef Tongue
Stone grilled beef tongue – $10.20

This next one was easily our most favourite dish of the night – stone grilled beef tongue. On the plate, we had about 10 thing slices of beef tongue, the middle condiment dish with coriander sauce, lemon wedges, and a really spicy chilli dot, and then a super hot stone on a wooden plank.

Kingyo - cooking on the stone
Cooking on the stone

You take the beef tongue and put it on the stone where it instantly cooks. You have to work pretty quickly and cook them all, preferably at least 2-3 slices at once because the stone does cool rather quickly. The first two slices cooked pretty much instantly, but by the time we got to the last couple of slices, we had them on the stone closer to 30 seconds each side. The tongue is super juicy and tender and absolutely delicious. We even had the green onion on the stone to cook slightly before wrapping it up in the tongue,and dipping into the coriander sauce. I absolutely loved this dish and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It is a definite must!

 

Kingyo - Aburi Shime Saba Battera
Aburi shime saba battera – $14

Don’t let that price tag scare you, because the size of this roll is quite substantial. The aburi shime saba battera sushi features flame seared vinegar cured mackerel, made into a box shaped sushi roll. The amount of rice is slightly smaller than that of the size of the fish as you can see in the picture. I had to eat this in two bites because if I were to try to stuff the whole thing in one bite, it likely would have been disastrous. It’s drizzled in arima sansho, marinated soy sauce, which made dipping it into your saucer of soy sauce unnecessary. Even though it’s six pieces, they’re six very large pieces so keep this in mind if you’re ordering sushi rolls.

 

Kingyo - The Legendary Chicken Wings by Kinchan
The Legendary Chicken Wings by “Kinchan” – $8.60

Something with the word legendary in it just beckons to be eaten, so that’s how we ended up ordering the legendary chicken wings by “Kinchan”. When it came, it was piled up, Jenga-style over a bed of shredded cabbage. The wings themselves are very large and plump, and super juicy with each bite. The flavour tastes like shichimi. Other than that, it didn’t taste like they were marinated before being baked. They wings were good, but I wouldn’t say they were amazing.

Another thing that’s served with this that isn’t pictured is a tiny saucer with a white round pellet inside. The waitress poured some water on it, the pellet absorbed the water and grew upwards… into a rolled up wet napkin! So after you finish your wings (and lick your fingers), you’ve got a wet napkin to use.

 

Kingyo - 2 Color Almond Tofu
2 Colour Almond Tofu – $5.80

And finally, dessert time! I would have loved to have gotten one of everything, but we were getting pretty stuffed. Instead, we ordered two of the four. The first was 2 colour almond tofu. You can see in the picture that there’s two distinct layers of tofu, separated by a berry sauce, and topped with a jasmine sauce and a lone goji berry. Maybe it was the way it was prepared or how it’s stacked, but the two layers of tofu had different textures. The upper one was more stiff whereas the lower one was more silky. The berry sauce was great, but definitely overpowered the jasmine one. It’s best to eat this one in separate layers than to eat all layers in one bite.

 

Kingyo - MATCHA Crème Brûlée
MATCHA Crème Brûlée – $6.80 

Our second dessert was MATCHA crème brûlée. Served with pipped whipped cream, mint leaf, two blueberries, and a couple slices of strawberries, this was the perfect dessert to end our meal. Because of the matcha, the crème brûlée isn’t overly sweet, yet still retained that lightness to it. It was fluffy, not silky, almost like a mousse. You had your sweetness from the brûlée part, fruit and whipped cream. Everything else was that perfect green tea flavour.

 

Kingyo - flowers and frozen grapes
Fresh flowers and frozen grapes – complimentary

With our bill came this cute little vase with two flowers and two frozen grapes on skewers. The grapes were thoroughly frozen through, and took a little bit of tugging to get it off the skewer. I had to suck on mine to thaw it out a little before I could get it off the skewer. It was cold and sweet, with that slight aftertaste  from the grape skin.

 

The Verdict

This place would be awesome for large gatherings of birthday parties or general get togethers. The food is great and the mood is joyful. I wouldn’t recommend coming here for a romantic dinner for two, as it is quite loud, but for a fun date night, this is a great choice.

 

The Place

Kingyo
51B Winchester St, Toronto, ON
647-748-2121

Written by Jessica

August 22nd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish

with 6 comments

I’d been curious about lip exfoliators lately so I popped by my local Sephora and picked this one up. Every time I walk in there, I’m always eyeing the display and would pick up the lip polish, then put it back down. This time, I finally bought it.

 

The Packaging

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish - container
Small and compact

It’s housed in a sturdy plastic jar, then packaged in small box. The box is just large enough to fit the jar, no wasted space or extra packaging. Minimalistic and simple. The colour of the lid matches the colour of the box too. It’s a bronzed, copper-like colour with a hint of red.

 

The Product

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish - open jar
Under the lid

Once you open the lid, you’ll immediately reveal the product. There was no additional seal which was a little concerning to me. However, it didn’t look like it had been touched before so that made me feel better. I always like it when products have that additional seal for sanitary reasons.

There’s a sweet citrus fragrance when you smell it. It’s not too strong and is actually very pleasant smelling. Doesn’t smell like chemicals at all.

 

Fresh Sugar Lip Polish - swatch
Swatch

You can certainly see the sugar granules in the scrub. It doesn’t “swatch” all that easily, but you can see in the above picture that the sugar granules are what’s responsible for the exfoliating. The scrub also contains shea butter and jojoba oil to help nourish the skin.

All you need is a tiny amount (less than the size of a pea), then gently massage it onto your lips. I like to start with the bottom lip, then the top, then I’ll close my lips together and massage in small circles over both. You’ll want to apply light pressure to work the scrub against your lips. Afterwards, rinse your lips with water and pat dry. I did find that after rinsing my lips of the scrub, it left a bit of a waxy feel around my lips, so I can to wipe a few times to get it all off. Afterwards, my lips were smooth and soft! Time to apply some lip balm to lock the moisture in.

 

The Verdict

This is a neat product to help get rid of your dry chapped lips. Unfortunately, it is rather expensive. You’re likely able to get the same effect by mixing sugar and honey together, or you could substitute the honey for olive oil. I do like the feel of my lips afterwards, so it does a pretty good job.

 

Where to Buy

Written by Jessica

August 19th, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Beauty,lips

Two Bite Saloon

with 2 comments

Mr. Pixelbunny and I met up with our friend, M, whom we hadn’t seen in a while. Being a non-seafood eater, I searched online for a place that had some good food and some good beer. What I found was this place: Two Bite Saloon.

Known for their sliders, their menu offers a selection of 8 different sliders, in addition to some other traditional southern fare.

 

The Atmosphere

It’s a small venue with a large bar to one side. Two tables by the front window, another two behind it, and some more tables opposite of the bar. We sat by the front since the windows were completely open, which was perfect for this summer evening. We were there for 5:30pm and it wasn’t busy. Save for another two people sitting at the bar, we had our pick of tables to sit at.

 

The Food

Two Bite Saloon - menu
Menu

I’m not sure if their menu changes regularly, but the menu that I had is a little different from the one that’s posted online. So here’s a snap of the current menu as of this post.

 

Two Bite Saloon - box of 10 sliders
10 sliders (any combination) – $25

I love how all sliders are served in these wooden bamboo boxes lined with checkered paper. So cute! Between the three of us, we ordered a mix of 10 sliders to share. Since there was 8 different ones on the menu, we got one of each, and doubled up on two of them. There’s just one problem. How do you know which is which?! Easy. Just look at the toothpicks.

 

Two Bite Saloon - tooth pick legend
Toothpick legend

The kind of toothpick that’s embedded in your slider will tell you exactly what kind of slider you have! When your food arrives, you’re also given a small laminated card which outlines what toothpick represents what. So this made figuring out which one to start with much easier than lifting each individual bun.

 

Two Bite Saloon - catfish slider
Catfish slider

Easily one of Mr. Pixelbunny’s and my favourite of the bunch, the catfish slider is lightly breaded with panko and fried just right. It’s served with a creole remoulade. Moist and flaky fish on the inside, crunchy outside. Super soft bun.

 

Two Bite Saloon - pulled pork slider
Pulled pork slider

The pulled pork slider was ever so slightly dry and dripping with BBQ sauce. Served with some slaw, this one gets messy so eat it quick!

 

Two Bite Saloon - fried chicken slider
Fried chicken slider 

The fried chicken slider is made of fried chicken breast, topped with lettuce, tomato and a spicy plum sauce. The chicken didn’t have much flavour, being that most of the flavour came from the plum sauce. However, it tasted just like it is, fried chicken.

 

Two Bite Saloon - peameal slider
Peameal slider 


The peameal slider consists of two thin slices of house cured peameal, aged cheddar and dijon mustard. There was too much dijon in this slider in that it completely overpowered everything else. I do wish that the peameal was sliced thicker than it was. This was good, but could have been better.

 

Two Bite Saloon - sausage slider
Sausage slider

I wondered how they’d be able to use sausage in a slider. The sausage slider is essentially sausage meat without the casing, formed into a small slider patty. It’s house made so ingredients are a secret! Served with a hearty helping of slow cooked onions and sweet peppers, this was a pretty good combination. The sausage patty was a little overdone and dry, but at least the flavour was still there.

 

Two Bite Saloon - tofu slider
Tofu slider

I didn’t know what to expect from the tofu slider, but it definitely surprised me in a good way. It was delicious! It’s a thick cut slice of tofu that’s been marinating in chipotle and maple syrup, smoked and fried, then served on a bun with tomato and house made pickle. The pickle is an interesting choice to add to tofu but it actually works! I would gladly eat more of these. I definitely recommend you trying this. The chipotle has that smokey and spicy factor while the maple gives you the sweet. It is seriously good.

 

Two Bite Saloon - beef burger slider
Beef burger slider

Oops, don’t let that photo fool you, but that piece of cheddar isn’t actually supposed to be there. It fell off of the peameal slider and I just mindlessly tucked it in. This is the beef burger slider, made with prime chuck and topped with mustard, tomato and house made pickles. This would be your typical regular slider, nothing special, nothing fancy. It was ok for me.

 

Two Bite Saloon - BLT slider
BLT slider

Our most favourite slider of the night was this, the BLT slider. You get three thick slices of house smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It was so juicy and flavourful and so absolutely amazing, we ordered another round of 3 sliders of just BLTs. It was that amazing.

 

Two Bite Saloon - collard greens
Collard greens – $5

Just to say that we ate some vegetables, we ordered the collard greens to share. They’re slow cooked with tasso ham for that saltiness factor, then topped off with finely shredded parmesan cheese. I believe this is traditional southern US fare and we all wanted to try it. It’s pretty good with a slight bitterness to it, but the ham helps to offset that taste.

 

For me, I would rank the sliders in the following order:

  1. BLT
  2. Catfish
  3. Tofu
  4. Peameal
  5. Pulled Pork
  6. Sausage
  7. Fried Chicken
  8. Beef Burger

If you’ve been there, what was your favourite?

 

The Verdict

Grab a group of friends and order a bunch of sliders! It is possible to cut and share them, despite their size. I actually managed to divide each slider into three (the trick is to piece three toothpicks in, then make your cuts – the toothpicks help keep that particular slice intact!). The wait staff at the bar did have some looks for us but hey, how else were we going to try all 8 of them? I’d definitely go again. Next time, I’m not sharing.

 

The Place

Two Bite Saloon
840 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON
416-536-8682

Written by Jessica

August 17th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Porchetta & Co.

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For practically a year, ever since I heard of this place, I had dreamed of coming downtown, just to get my hands on their weekend special. One weekend, Mr. Pixelbunny and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed and made the trek down. And let me tell you: it was so worth it.

 

The Atmosphere

Porchetta & Co is a very very small store where the majority of space is the kitchen. The counter in front of the kitchen has the glass enclosed warmer where you see deliciously huge porchetta (marinated pork shoulder wrapped in proscuitto, wrapped in cured pork belly, roasted and slow cooked for hours) and a cashier to the side. There’s one bar tabletop in the from window, and another small table on the side wall. You can comfortably seat 5 people in this place, but your best bet is to order and eat it outside.

When you come, prepare for a lineup! When we went the first time, we waited in line for 15 minutes so it wasn’t too bad. However, when Mr. Pixelbunny went a second time, he was in line for nearly 45 minutes. Yes, you should come early for low wait times!

 

The Food

Porchetta and Co. - Breakfast Sammy
Breakfast Sammy – $6.45 

The breakfast sammy consists of porchetta, crackling (really crunchy pieces of pork skin), a slice of smoked gouda and a fried egg. Each bite fills your nostrils with that smoky gouda and it is downright delicious. And with that fried egg? Genius. I could eat this for brunch any day. Actually, I did. LOL!

 

Porchetta and Co. - Soft shell crab sandwich
Soft shell crab sandwich – $11.95

This is what we came downtown for: the soft shell crab sandwich. It’s got a deep fried soft shell crab, spicy mayo, pickled cucumbers, cilantro and fried onions! All of which is settled in a soft, chewy bun. Perfect balance of soft and crunchy. I could have eaten another one but we dragged ourselves out before our will power waned.

 

The Verdict

It seems like their weekend specials are constantly changing. Follow their Twitter feed here for updates. They always post what they’re serving and, if you’re unlucky to get there late, when they are sold out. This is definitely worth the trek and I’ll definitely be back here again!

 

The Place

Porchetta & Co
825 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON
647-352-6611

Written by Jessica

August 15th, 2013 at 11:37 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Butler’s Pantry

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In celebration of my dear friend’s birthday, we all went to Butler’s Pantry for dinner. She had done some online sleuthing and was interested in this place.

 

The Atmosphere

Butler's Pantry - inside
Table settings and the bar

We got there pretty late for dinner (around 8pm) we got a booth table by the front window. They also have patio seating outside, but, given how it was starting to cool down quite a bit, we decided to sit inside instead. Since the inside was so empty (save for another party of 4 in the booth next to us), it was quiet and intimate, so we could all chit chat and laugh about the day’s events.

The wait staff are super friendly and checked on us from time to time. They were always with a smile and never with bad attitude.

 

The Food

Butler's Pantry - Baba Ganouche
Baba Ganouche – $5.50

We started off with baba ganouche as our appetizer. The flat bread was light and soft, easily torn and great for dipping. The eggplant tasted like eggplant with that slight bitter taste to it. Yogurt, chopped tomatoes and chopped cucumber were added on top and tasted great all together.

 

Butler's Pantry - Biryani
Biryani – $9

For dinner, we decided to do family style and ordered four different dishes to share amongst the four of us. The first to come was biryani. It had a mild kick to it in terms of spiciness, with generous amounts of tamarind and yogurt sauce. I could have gone with a little less tamarind (it was a bit overpowering) but otherwise good.

 

Butler's Pantry - Bul go gi
Bul go gi – $14

Next was their version of bul go gi. It’s important to note that this is not intended to be an authentic replication, but rather their own personal variation of the popular Korean dish. Having said that, it is pretty good. The slices of beef are tender and sautéed with onions and mushrooms. The sauce is more like a thick syrup and is quite sweet. I could have gone for a bit more rice to balance out the bul go gi, but for those who are watching their carb intake, it’s a decent size. The salad is also quite fresh and they put dressing on the side. I love my dressings on the side because I get to control just how much dressing I want and not fear that it’s drowning.

 

Butler's Pantry - Chicken Bastilla Pie
Chicken Bastilla Pie – $13

The chicken bastilla pie is a famous Moroccan dish that I’d never tried before. However, after tasting it, I’d love to try the authentic version! The pie crust is actually a very flaky filo pastry. Although the chicken itself was dry, I liked overall seasoning. It was savoury and a little sweet.

 

Butler's Pantry - Jambalaya
Jambalaya – $12

Our last sharing dish was jambalaya. It came milder than we expected and hardly had any heat to it. However, it had a strong tomato base with lots of veggies throughout. I wish there was a bit more spice to the chicken though.

 

Butler's Pantry - Chocolate Oreo cake
Chocolate Oreo cake – $4.95

For dessert, we ordered the chocolate oreo cake with 4 spoons. Our server said she gave us a bigger slice since there was four of us sharing. That was really nice of her. The two layers of chocolate cake were moist in the centre, but a little dry towards the outer edge. The middle is thicker, almost like a cheesecake but not as thick. Although it’s hard to see in the picture, there’s whipped cream on the plate to go with the cake. The cake was very good and a great finish to our meal.

 

The Verdict

This is a neat place in a really neat neighbourhood! I think it would be fantastic place to go with friends when you all can’t decide on what type of cuisine to have. Since they do all sorts of cuisine, the place caters to a lot of different tastes and flavours at once.

 

The Place

Butler’s Pantry
591 Markham St, Toronto, ON
416-535-9868

Written by Jessica

August 12th, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Vancouver: Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar

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While in Vancouver, Mr. Pixelbunny and I met with our mutual friend, A, whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding. Since it was going to be a lunch, we met close by to where A works and met at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar.

 

The Atmosphere

Located inside of Waterfront Station, the space is huge! Seating stretches far far beyond the entrance and there’s even a small second level as well. Think of really really high ceilings (at least two stories high), lush carpet throughout and long velvety curtains. I get the feeling that I’m sitting inside a beautiful theatre.

 

The Food

Rouge Kitchen & Wetbar - Pacific Seafood Chowder
Pacific Seafood Chowder (cup size) – $?? 

We started with a cup of Pacific seafood chowder to share. Creamy and full of clams, bits of salmon, white fish, potatoes and other veggies, it was delicious. It wasn’t overly salty and very generous on the filling, rather than the soupy part.

 

Rouge Kitchen & Wetbar - Gluten Free Baja Fish Tacos
Gluten Free Baja Fish Tacos – $12.99

There are two types of fish tacos on the menu, the regular and the gluten free. The only difference was that the regular had actual tortillas wrapping the taco and the gluten free had a lettuce leaf instead. I’m not allergic to gluten, but out of curiosity, I wanted to try having fish tacos without the tortilla. The fish is a fresh basa fillet that’s lightly seasoned and seared. Served with avocado cream and a pineapple salsa, these gluten free fish tacos are incredibly light and refreshing to eat.

The fries served alongside are also really good. Large cut, crispy on the outside and soft and hot on the inside. Just like real potatoes. Awesome.

 

Rouge Kitchen & Wetbar - Deep fried brussel sprouts
Deep fried brussel sprouts – $??

Memory fails me (I need to take more notes when I go on vacation) and I can’t remember the actual name and price of what Mr. Pixelbunny ordered. It’s basically deep fried brussel sprouts, tossed with bacon and something light. It’s one of those dishes that taste way better than it looks. Because the brussel sprouts were deep fried, some of the outer leaves are caramelized, which gives it a sweetened taste rather than the bitterness of steamed or boiled brussel sprouts. Add in the bacon for that saltiness factor and you have an awesome “salad”. Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar, if you are reading this, this deserves to be on the regular menu!

 

The Verdict

A great place to meet with friends! Giant seating rooms abound with good service and attentive wait staff. Ok price point but great quality on food.

 

The Place

Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar
601 West Cordova St, Vancouver, BC
604-678-8000

Written by Jessica

August 8th, 2013 at 11:38 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Rock Lobster Food Co.

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I recently discovered quite a few of my coworkers share my love of food so we decided to get together and eat to our heart’s content. Our first place to conquer: Rock Lobster Food Co.

 

The Atmosphere

We went to the Ossington Ave location since it we weren’t sure if their newer Queen St location would be open that evening. There was a major storm a couple days earlier that week and parts of Toronto were still struggling to get their power back. We went for 8pm in hopes of some tables opening up, but weren’t seated until 8:45pm. Luckily, there are several bars in the area that we could grab a drink from while we waited for the magical phone call letting us know our table is ready. We were seated in the back right by the kitchen door. Five of us were squished at a table for four. Luckily, part way through our dinner, the party of two seated next to us left and we were able to claim that table and add it to ours. I no longer had to be squished at the head of the table! Yay!

 

The Food

Rock Lobster Co - Rock Lobster Caesar
Rock Lobster Caesar – $12

The first thing I ordered was the Rock Lobster Caesar. This baby is a tall glass of spicy caesar, topped with your traditional celery stalk, a lime and lemon wedge, and the piéce de resistance: half a lobster tail!! The rim is lined with salt and pepper, which adds to the kick that already exists in the caesar itself. There’s a good amount of alcohol in there, so you can taste it, but not so much that it overpowers the whole drink.

 

Rock Lobster Co - 'The Boss' Seafood Tower
“The Boss” Seafood Tower – $99

Since we were all in this to eat, we decided to go all out, and ordered The Boss. This three tiered beast is full of delicious seafood that we happily dug into. The bottom tier was 15 freshly shucked oysters, the middle tier was many giant prawns with seafood cocktail sauce, and the top tier was an entire lobster, cut in half lengthwise. Despite it’s hefty price tag, the seafood is incredibly fresh, chilled, and a little sweet tasting (especially the oysters). The lobster, unfortunately, was over cooked and we all agreed it was a little “tough” to eat.

 

Rock Lobster Co - Lobster Roll
Rock Lobster Roll – $14

The rock lobster roll was massive, and stuffed full of lobster. I personally would have preferred if it was more chunky lobster rather than shredded, but it was still good. Not too heavy on the mayo, lots of lobster meat, and the bun is not your regular hot dog bun, but almost like a thick slice of bread that was grilled on either side, then cut in the middle so the lobster can be stuffed in. It’s served with Yukon chips and half a dill pickle. Is it really too much to serve whole dill pickle?

 

Rock Lobster Co - Lobster Poutine
Lobster Poutine – $13

There was no way we were eating here without getting the lobster poutine. The fries were so-so, but the gravy and cheese curds were awesome. Topped with more shredded lobster and a little bit of chives for a garnish. I wish I could taste the lobster more but given that it’s poutine, the gravy is more overpowering in flavour. It was still mighty good though.

 

Rock Lobster Co - Crispy Maple Pork Belly
Crispy Maple Pork Belly – $12

The only meat we ate that night, we ordered the crispy maple pork belly. Holy cow this one is a must get. The pork is crispy, but the fattiness of the pork belly melts in your mouth with a satisfying ooze. You also get that sweet maple taste which makes the pork belly that much more flavourful. It’s served with a small cup of creamed spinach which you can eat on its own or with the pork belly. Both options are fantastic.

 

Rock Lobster Co - Lobster Mac and Cheese
Lobster Mac n Cheese – $14

Our last main was the lobster mac n cheese. It’s served in a small cast iron skillet (how cool is that?) and is oozing with hot melted cheese. More shaved lobster is mixed with the macaroni and baked into the skillet. It was amazing.

 

Rock Lobster Co - Whale Tail
Whale Tail – $6

For dessert, we got the whale tail, which is essentially known as a Beaver Tail to most Canadians. It’s a large, flat piece of fried dough, generously generously sprinkled with maple sugar, cinnamon, and creme anglaise. Warm and sweet, it satisfies the sweet tooth, and was a great end to our meal. You can see in the above pic my friends were very eager to eat and needed to sprinkle on the cinnamon and maple sugar before I even got a shot. Hahahaha. Also to note, the plate which it is served on is really a finished block of wood. Neato!!

 

The Verdict

You must eat here!! This is a must! The seafood is amazing, the cooked food is amazing, that lobster caesar is AH-MAY-ZING. If you decide to go to the Queen St location instead, I’m told the location is bigger and full of Canadian memorabilia! This place is very high on the must eat list.

 

The Place

Rock Lobster Food Co.
110 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON
416-533-1800

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Written by Jessica

August 4th, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant