Archive

Archive for the ‘Dining Out’ Category

My 24 Hours in San Francisco – Part 3 (The Mission and more tea)

November 13, 2011 2 comments

At the end of my last post  I had just finished up a relaxing experience at Samovar Tea Lounge and was now ready to explore another area of San Francisco. My destination was The Mission area on SF. The Mission is perhaps one of the best-known areas of San Francisco, it really has its own unique feel, vibe, and look. Right when I emerged from the BART station (took the subway to get there) I could immediately feel the how different this area was, I walked out into a loud and busy intersection with street performers and various vendors. The whole atmosphere of the place felt a little more wild and energetic than the previous areas of SF that I had visited, however it did not feel touristy at all.

Bi-Rite Creamery

My goal for visiting The Mission district was two-fold: 1) to experience this iconic area of SF 2) to find two restaurants, a pizza shop and ice cream parlour, that had been recommended to me the previous day. I am not one to shun the advice of a food-loving local! So with that I set off on my quest to find the Bi-Rite Creamery, one of SF’s most famous ice-cream shops. Along the way I got a little lost and ended up going through a lovely half-hour walk through some of the hills of SF. It was great to see a more residential area of the city; the homes themselves were all beautiful and there is just something about how all the buildings seem to roll with the landscape itself that is just amazing to see. All that being said, it is TIRING to walk all those hills, especially in beautiful sunny weather when you are dressed in dark jeans and a dark t-shirt because everyone told you how cold it can get in SF when you were packing! With all the food I had been sampling today though, I didn’t really mind the exercise!

So many flavours!

So after that long walk in the sun, I felt ready when I finally arrived at Bi-Rite Creamery. This place is an SF icon and there is almost always a line-up out the door. Thankfully the service moves pretty fast so I didn’t have to wait long for my frozen treat. Everything about the ice cream at Bi-Rite is handmade. According to their website, the ice cream is made in small batches on-site, and all the wonderful baked goods that go into the various ice-cream flavours (brownies, marshmallows, etc.) are hand-made in the bakery right next door! The full line-up of ice creams changes every day, however they are known for a few staples, in particular the salted caramel and balsamic strawberry flavours. After much deliberation I decided to get two flavours: salted caramel, and “malted vanilla with peanut brittle and milk chocolate pieces”.

Salted caramel and malted vanilla

Both flavours blew me away. I have never had ice cream before that was so fresh tasting and had such…real…flavour. Bi-Rite uses only the best real ingredients in their ice cream and it really shows. The flavours are pure and subtle at times, and they don’t just overwhelm you with sugar like many other ice creams. Even the malted vanilla didn’t overwhelm with pieces of peanut brittle and chocolate, they were there to add to the overall flavour, not to dominate it. This is how ice cream really should taste and it is an experience I will remember for a long time. I think this is a perfect example of the difference you get from using pure and real ingredients, it truly shines through in the final product.

Pizzeria Delfina

Now having enjoyed my ice cream I set out towards the final planned stop on my food tour of SF: Pizzeria Delfina, supposedly one the best pizzas I would ever taste. The pizza shop was actually just down the street from the ice cream so I figured I would go and wander around a bit first to put some space in between the two! Just down the street from Bi-Rite Creamery was the Bi-Rite Market (same owners), the most amazing grocery store I have ever been inside. The Bi-Rite Market commits to forging strong relationships with local food producers who they buy from. They stock high quality local meat, cheese and produce, as well as many locally produced “dry goods” such as delicious chocolate, wine, and preserves. It is a fully stocked grocery store but is really so much more; many of the food items had little cards near them explaining their origin and containing information about them. This is a true example of a grocery store done right, I can only hope that more shops like Bi-Rite open up in other cities to help foster an appreciation of not only good food, but where that food comes from as well.

After wandering around for a while I made my way back to Pizzeria Delfina for some delicious food. The shop is actually quite small with limited sit-in room, however they also do take-out. They do not sell single slices, only freshly made pizza made to order. I had no desire to eat a full personal pizza myself, but I figured as my last big meal in SF I would go ahead an order anyway and eat what I could. Pizza is actually one of my favorite foods; I try not to eat it too often and would rather save it for special occasions in good restaurants that get it right (not always easy as a University student), Pizzeria Delfina is one of those restaurants. The menu of pizzas changes daily, and they also offer some amazing looking appetizers and sides. I particularly wanted to try the spicy cauliflower but I knew I didn’t have the stomach room for it.

Amazing pizza!

I sat at the bar where you could easily see into the open kitchen and watch the staff at work. They had a very nice table setting as well which I appreciated. I ordered the vegetarian pizza they had that day, which was a white pizza with broccoli rabe and one other green that I can not remember on it. There was also some great cheeses and garlic in the pizza. Like seemingly everywhere else in SF, Delfina uses local seasonal ingredients in their food, and it really shows. The pizza was cooked perfectly, thin and crispy crust with lots of good cheese on top. The pizza tasted incredibly vivid and fresh, you could clearly tell that good ingredients went into this dish, and the great thing about pizza is that it really lets those ingredients shine out. I was definitely not disappointed with this experience and would recommend it to anyone visiting SF. Just make sure to get their early as it is constantly busy!

After Delfina, I had a few hours to kill before I had to head to the airport. I decided I would take a long slow walk all the way back to my hostel to pick up my bags. This really let me see a lot of the city, and I was happy to go for a walk on a sunny day after all that food! Along the way I stopped in a few other areas of the city to look around; one in particular that I was eager to see was the Hayes valley area known for its great shops and restaurants. If I had more time I definitely would have liked to check out the food at some of these places, but I guess I will have to save that for another trip! After making it back to the main downtown area I still had some time to kill, so I decided to go back to Samovar Tea Lounge for one last cup of tea and to relax a bit before heading to the airport.

Ryokucha tea at Samovar

I once again sat outside to enjoy the beautiful view and weather and this time ordered one of the green teas on the menu called Ryokucha, a delicious genmaicha tea blended with some matcha powder. Genmaicha is a traditional type of Japanese tea made by blending green tea with toasted rice. This was ideally a “poor man’s” tea and was used to make valuable green tea supplies last longer. Today many people drink genmaicha without realizing it, it is the type of tea served in sushi restaurants all over the country. It would however be a mistake to judge all genmaicha but what you taste at an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, this stuff can be seriously good, especially when mixed with a bit of matcha (a unique type of green tea which is powdered and dissolved in the water itself) for some added flavour complexity (and health benefits). Genmaicha’s signature taste comes from the toasted rice, which gives it a nutty flavour and full body, some people describe it as a meal in a cup. The Ryokucha was served very nicely and is a beautiful vibrant green (probably due to the freshness of the tea leaves combined with the matcha). I immensely enjoyed this tea and it was a perfect way to end an amazing day in SF.

Sign at a cable car stop

So that’s pretty much it for my SF adventure, I headed to the airport shortly after to catch the red-eye flight home. I couldn’t be happier with how much I managed to accomplish in the short 24 hours I had in SF. I had some pretty high expectations for this city and I am happy to say it did not disappoint. I think there is truly something special about this city; it’s atmosphere, people, and general appreciation of life really struck me and I will remember it for a long time. I hope to be able to come back for a longer period of time to see the rest of the city, there are many areas I still didn’t get to. Looking back on these three posts I feel that I should mention that I normally do not eat this much in a day, but exceptional cities with exceptional food combined with tight time restraints = the need to indulge a bit. I would definitely recommend SF as a travel destination to anyone, and I can’t wait to go back myself.

Thanks for the memories San Francisco!

-JR

Advertisements

My 24 Hours in San Francisco – Part 2 (aka how to eat through a city)

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

So we left off with my returning to the hostel after a fun night in Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. I knew that I would have to leave for the airport around 6:00 pm to catch my flight so I woke up at the nice and early hour of 7:30 to get a start on the day and pack in as much as I could! It was an absolutely perfect day to explore the city, perfectly clear and sunny out with a high of 25 °C. By the end of this day I was full of food and exhausted from walking around the city for a solid day (man those hills are big!).

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The Ferry Building, home of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

From the moment I started planning my SF trip and realized I would be in town on a Saturday, I knew that my first stop that morning would have to be the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Over the past year I have seen amazing photos from this market and heard about the amazing produce and food that can be found there from one of my favorite food blogs (www.summertomato.com) so I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit in person! The market is located in the ferry building, right at the end of Market St. on the water, with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. Inside, the building is full of artisan food vendors and shops selling things like: the best coffee you have ever tasted, amazing olive oils, fresh seafood, beautiful chocolates, and much more! The inside of the building was quite beautiful and over the approximately 2 hours I spent at the market (I know, it’s a long time but there was so much to see!) I walked through it at least twice.

The early morning view of the Bay Bridge from Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

All along the outside of the building is where the true farmers market sets up, with the main area concentrated to one side (with a fantastic view of the Bay Bridge) and behind the ferry building itself. The vendors here sell only locally produced vegetables, fruits, meats, and prepared foods. All of the produce looked incredibly delicious and fresh, I have never before seen such a bounty of beautiful looking (and smelling) produce in my life (for great pics, check out summertomato.com for the weekly farmers market updates). Besides how beautiful it looked (and how great it tasted) the thing that struck me most was the incredible variety of produce items available! Many vendors had interesting fruits like pluots (cross between an apricot and a plum), I have seen these before but neer have I seen two or three varieties in the same place! Most of the vendors has plenty of samples to try, and I took full advantage of it! The tomatoes, pears, pluots, apples, and more were all delicious! I also bought a few different fruits to eat as I walked around the market, it was delicious! With produce like this its no wonder SF is the capital of great food in the US!

Amazing produce at the market

Now for the food! The first vendor I saw right at the entrance was Blue Bottle Coffee. I had read about this coffee before and it was definitely on my list of things to try. Their website says that they commit to all their coffee being brewed from beans which were roasted no more than 48 hours earlier. Unlike some other drinks (Champagne, scotch, some wines) coffee is not meant to age, so this short time between roasting and brewing means the flavour stays full and fresh. I purchased a simple black coffee, prepared using an old-fashioned drip method where the hot water is poured from a kettle (heated over a propane stove) directly onto the ground beans in a filter. The coffee flows out the bottom into the waiting cup below. I had to wait about 10 minutes for my cup but it was well worth it. The coffee was delicious and strong, and it was a great experience just savouring it while looking out across the water.

Awesome apple pancakes

I did a quick lap around the market to get my bearings and figure out what the various food options were. Having not had any breakfast yet and wanting to try something delicious I decided to break with my typical high-protein breakfast and go for a delicious apple-pancake. This thing was huge and very, very good! Great apple flavour and texture. I enjoyed it immensely but did not finish the whole thing (had to save room for later!). Over the next hour and a half I explored the market in detail while it began to get busier and busier. After thoroughly exploring every booth (and sampling a number of products!) I decided I was slightly hungry again.

My strategy this time was to pick the food vendor with the longest line, I figured the locals would know what was best! The longest line turned out to be for a vendor called La Primavera, who oddly enough was preparing some the most amazing looking Mexican food I have ever seen (SF is famous for its Mexican food). The thing that immediately caught my eye on the menu was the chicken empanadas in mole sauce for a few reasons: I had never had mole sauce before and always wanted to try it, I had never had a real empanadas before, and, most importantly, it was one of the few dishes you could buy a half portion of! The empanadas was delicious, full of delicious chicken with a great crust. The flavours were just ridiculously intense and I loved the mole sauce. I didn’t realize how well the flavour of chocolate pairs with a hearty and savory dish like this!

Chicken empanadas with mole sauce

Now being thoroughly stuffed, I decided it was time to bid farewell to the market. I had a hard time leaving, I had high expectations for this place and it delivered on every one of them. What an amazing way to spend a morning! The best part though is that I had done so much and it was before noon! Next I decided to walk towards another SF destination I had been dying to visit, Samovar Tea Lounge.

This sign caught my eye at one of the many food vendors

Samovar Tea Lounge (part 1)

Samovar Tea Lounge

So after a full morning on my feet I decided it was time for a little rest and relaxation. About two years ago I started to drink a lot of tea. I think it started for me during an exam period when I discovered a new loose leaf tea shop in the local mall. I had heard people exclaim the benefits of using loose-leaf tea over the bagged stuff so I figured I would but a bit to give it a try. Ever since then I have been hooked. Tea-bags, which are undeniably convenient, just can’t compete with the flavour and taste experience you get from brewing real loose-leaf tea. It’s not only the vastly better taste, but I really enjoy the ritual of preparing loose-leaf tea itself. Dropping a bag of ground up tea into a mug of water is just not the same as portioning out the leaves yourself and watching them expand and change as they steep. You also can’t infuse tea-bags multiple times like you can with many loose-leaf teas (oolong anyone) and appreciate how the flavour changes with each infusion.

Needless to say then, with my love of tea, I needed to visit Samovar Tea Lounge, a place I have read a lot about. Samovar three locations throughout the San Francisco area, each of them beautifully and meticulously designed to be an incredibly relaxing and comfortable spot. I visited their location in Yerba Buena gardens, right in downtown SF behind the Moscone Center (famous for being the location of many an Apple press conference). The setting is amazing, looking out over a beautiful park/garden in the middle of the city. Walking into the area of the restaurant (I sat outside) you can just feel in the atmosphere that this is a place for relaxation, whether that be with a good book, a good group of friends, or just some quiet time to think.

The view from Samovar Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Gardens

The teas featured at Samovar are not like the ones you find in many of the chain tea shops throughout many cities (Teopia, David’s Tea, etc.). First off, you won’t find tonnes of crazy flavored teas here, no “maple walnut candy spice green tea”. While you will find a few subtle flavored teas (like the vanilla oolong or blood orange pu-erh), the majority of the selection focuses on high quality and delicious “straight” teas; green, black, oolong, pu-erh, and herbal are all represented. The second major difference is in price, there is no getting over the fact that tea at Samovar is more expensive, with typical tea prices ranging from $9 to $17 for the most expensive. However you must remember that you are paying for not only higher quality tea here (which you can clearly taste the second it hits your lips) but the wonderful experience as well. The tea is served in a beautiful fashion (the exact way depends on the particular tea). I ordered a Darjeeling (black) tea which was served with the leaves in a small pot, with a small cup and beautiful cast-iron kettle. I had never brewed tea like this before, small cups each individually brewed with quick infusion times, and it was a great new experience. The flavour you get with this quantity of leaves in less water is simply fantastic, and it is interesting to see how the flavour changes with each infusion. There was also something much more satisfying about drinking tea this way, and I think it definitely has to do with the ritual aspect I mentioned earlier.

The Darjeeling tea at Samovar Tea Lounge

In addition to great tea, Samovar also has a pretty impressive food menu. I thought their “tea service” options were really cool; you pick a tea service theme (e.g. english, indian, moorish, palaeolithic…) and they pair up a particular tea and food selection based on that theme. If I hadn’t been so full from the market that morning I definitely would have tried it! The menu also features a number of interesting standalone dishes (which change over time), some featuring tea itself as an ingredient (e.g. tea soup). Not being terribly hungry, I opted for a delicious sounding fruit and cheese platter, that also came with a nice piece of honeycomb. The platter was beautifully presented (I love it when food is served on wooden boards) and it was all delicious. The cheese in particular went really well with the honeycomb and it all worked pretty well with the Darjeeling tea as well (my extremely knowledgable server helped pick the combo).

Tea and fruit platter at Samovar Tea Lounge

Overall my experience at Samovar could not have been better. The owners have really created a special place where you can enjoy a truly relaxing and immersive experience. I wish I had a place like this at home to escape to every so often. If you are in SF, do yourself a favour and take an hour or two to enjoy some delicious tea and food, and to have an incredibly relaxing and memorable experience.

———————-

Well that’s it for this post, stay tuned for Part 3 of my SF adventure featuring the best ice-cream and pizza I have ever had!

-JR

My 24 Hours in San Francisco – Part 1(Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf)

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Wow it has been way too long since my last post, but I have a good reason for my absence! Over the last few weeks a combination of “midterm season” meets “traveling across the continent for professional school interviews” has left me with little time to breathe let alone write a blog post…but I have been loving every minute of it! I have never gone through such a concentrated period of traveling in my life, 6 flights in two weeks has ment a lot of time spent in airports and not tonnes of home cooking (although I am still whipping up many quick and delicious meals whenever I can), however it has also ment I have been able to sample some amazing foods from cities I have never been to before. Today I want to focus on my most recent travel destination: San Francisco California.

San Francisco, a city that has topped my list of places to visit for the past few years. In my younger days it was because SF was at the heart of the tech and internet culture that I loved. Today it is the capital city of the “new food movement” emphasizing fresh, local, and high quality produce. Over the past few years, I have read other bloggers laude its beautiful farmers markets (where truly everything is fresh and local), its fantastic restaurants (which get to make use of this bounty of quality ingredients in amazing ways), its innovative cocktail bars, the beautiful wines that one can sample there, and its overall atmosphere. It has always sounded to me like a place where people truly do care about their food and fully embrace the social and cultural experiences that different foods can create and facilitate.

When I found out I was going to have the opportunity to visit San Francisco, my only concern was how I was going to pack as much of this as possible into the short 24 hours I had in the city (alas midterms are something that just can’t be ignored!). Overall I am very happy with all that I managed to see and do in such a short period of time. I covered a good chunk of the city, hit many of the major spots I wanted to visit, and enjoy tonnes of the delicious food and drink I have read so much about. This is going to be a long post with lots of detail and a fair number of pictures (not of the best quality unfortunately as I only had my iPhone with me) so I am going to break it into two parts. The first part will cover the evening/night I had in SF and the second will cover the next day’s adventures. So without further ado, here is my San Francisco Adventure!

Chinatown and Union Square

I arrived in SF around 5:00 pm on a Friday night, emerging from the Powell St. BART station right into the middle of downtown SF. First thing I did was to walk to the hostel I would be staying that night, the Downtown Hostel run by Hosteling International. This was a great place to stay for a night or two, right in the heart of downtown SF, good pricing, clean rooms and facilities, and a very knowledgeable front-desk staff. The hostel is located a 1-2 minute walk from Union Square, which is at the heart of downtown SF and the location for many of the big high-end shopping destinations.

Delicious cashew chicken!

After talking with the front-desk staff I decided I was going to go to visit China Town to grab some dinner. The china town in SF is quite famous for its size and abundance of great restaurants. It is an incredibly interesting place to walk around although I would probably recommend visiting during the day; when I went during the evening there wasn’t as much activity on the streets as I imagine there would be during the day. On the recommendation of the hostel staff, I was looking for a small restaurant they knew only as “960 Grant Ave.” After a lot of walking (and up a lot of hills!) I finally arrived at this small restaurant where I was told I could find good quality, and reasonably priced chinese food.

The restaurant is very small and had very plain decor, but smelled delicious! I decided to go with one of my favorite chinese restaurant dishes, cashew chicken, to see their take on it. I also ordered a side plate of a vegetable dish made from bitter melon. I have never tried bitter melon before and was curious to see how bitter it actually was and how it was prepared!

First the chicken, it was delicious. Very nice quality meat, good vegetables mixed in and a nice light sauce that was not

Bitter Melon

at all like the thick and sometimes cloyingly sweet sauces you find at most Chinese restaurants. The bitter melon was….interesting. It had a great texture (fairly firm and not mushy), and looked really cool (I loved the deep green of it) but I just couldn’t get past how, well, bitter it tasted. When ordering the dish I wasn’t sure how pronounced this bitter flavour would be, however I ended up finding it a bit too much for my taste. The sauce it was cooked in was great, however it just couldn’t take the last edge off of the bitterness. I am still quite glad I tried it and enjoyed my meal.

The Trolly to Fisherman’s Wharf

After my dinner in china town I made my way back towards Union Square, taking plenty of time to explore all the streets around my hostel. I found myself back at the intersection of Market and Powell street’s, where I had initially arrived in the city. This also happens to be one end of the line for the iconic San Francisco cable cars. Coming to SF, I knew I had to go for a ride on a cable car at least once and I figured there was no time like the present, so I hopped on the next one with absolutely no idea of where it was headed! It was a really fun ride and a neat way to see the city. We traveled up and down many a hilly street and had some amazing views (unfortunately no pictures as it was quite dark out by now). The other end of the line happened to be at another SF landmark: Fisherman’s Wharf, so this is where I spent the next part of my night.

A genuine San Francisco cable car

Fisherman’s Wharf is a major tourist spot; there is a large main street running somewhat parallel to the water with many shops, restaurants, food vendors, and other attractions. Obviously much of the food focuses on the fresh caught seafood that is unloaded daily. At the end closest to the cable-car stop, there is a small beach looking out onto the water. In the daytime you would have a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is still beautiful at night to look out and see the lights of the bridge and the big expanse of open water. I walked along the main boulevard and found a really cool bakery (whose name escapes me) where they made amazing loaves of bread in the shape of huge animals! They had some crocodile (alligator?) loaves in the window and you could buy your very own turtle loaf. I grabbed a delicious fresh croissant for the rest of my walk.

Crocodile Bread

Turtle bread!

On my way back to the cable-car stop I decided to drop into an interesting looking wine-bar called the Winery Collective. They feature tastings of many California wines and have many bottles available for purchase. They have 3 different tasting packages available, each featuring about 5 wines. A “Tasting California” ($15) featured reds, whites, and a rose; the “All White” ($20) featured…you guessed it, all white wines, and the “All Red” ($25) which featured…you guessed it again, all red wines. I opted for the variety of the first package and was treated to a great tasting of 5 fabulous wines. The staff was very knowledgeable and provided a wealth of information about each wine. The whole experience was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it as a good way to get to try a variety of California wines.

I hopped back on the cable car for a ride home, explored some more areas of downtown and decided to call it a night. I wanted to be up early the next morning for a full day in San Francisco!

Looking back, I wish I had explored a few other areas of the city that evening, however it being my first time in SF I didn’t have a great bearing on the different areas and how hard it was to travel to and from them. Oh well, only gives me more things to do on my next visit!

A Taste of California!

Well, that’s it for part 1. I hope to get part 2 up in the next week, it features my full day visiting the most beautiful farmers market I have ever seen, the most amazing tea experience, and the best ice cream I have ever eaten!

Till next time!

-JR

Restaurant Review: The Other Brothers (Guelph)

June 2, 2011 Leave a comment

This past weekend my girlfriend and I had the pleasure of dining at The Other Brothers, a great discovery located in Guelph, Ontario. I had heard excellent reviews about this restaurant, so its safe to say I had pretty high expectations going in to the meal, and I was not disappointed. Everything from the decor, to the service, and of course the food was excellent! The restaurant is located on a quiet side-street in downtown Guelph and features a patio (unfortunately it wasn’t really patio weather when we went). The outside of the restaurant has a very “classic” and comfortable look to it.

Upon entering the restaurant I was immediately struck by its decor and layout. While it is by no means a huge place (although there is a nice private dining room for large groups) the restaurant somehow feels extremely open and relaxed. Nowhere are tables crowded together and you get a very intimate and private feeling when you sit down. The tables are set very nicely and the server immediately came to our table to light some candles. Overall I was very impressed with how they pulled off an atmosphere that was both classy, comfortable, and intimate.

The service at the restaurant was superb throughout the entire meal. The staff was polite and attentive, and were extremely knowledgeable about their menu. We never had to wait for our server to top up our water or wine, and every course arrived exactly when you would want it to.

Now on to the food! The restaurant has a pretty diverse menu with many different dining options to choose from. The a la carte menu features many interesting appetizers (priced around $8 – 12), as well as a diverse range of entres (priced around $22). There was an ample dessert selection as well (around $8). I believe that the menu does change somewhat over time, but not on a daily basis. In addition to the a la carte option, you can choose to a 3 course prix fixe meal for $36 which includes an appetizer, entre, and dessert. Given the quality of the food this is a superb deal and I highly recommend it (once you see the menu options you will definitely want an app, main, and dessert!).

In addition to their standard menu, the restaurant offers two other interesting dining experiences. On weekend nights (and by request on others) they offer a $55 6- course “surprise” menu. This dining option is typically based around a feature ingredient (fresh local asparagus last weekend) and is a true surprise, with no details being offered other than the theme ingredient until the plate is put in front of you. While I initially balked at this concept, in retrospect I think it would make for a fantastic experience where you can sit back and try new things without the fear of “making the wrong choice” holding you back. In addition to the surprise menu, The Other Brothers features a 3 course fondue menu; the appetizer is a cheese fondue, main course is done hot-pot style, and dessert features a chocolate fondue.

Given that there was only two of us and we weren’t terribly hungry, we decided to order one 3 course prix fixe dinner and add an extra entre to it. I thought it was very nice of the restaurant to allow us to do this, some places would not allow you to just add one extra dish; this once again just speaks to the quality of service and dining experience at this restaurant. To start we ordered some nice red wine (the name eludes me right now). The wine selection, while not exhaustive, is certainly large enough for your average diner with a reasonable selection of by the glass and half bottles as well.

The Starter

This was possibly the hardest course to choose of all because so many of these starters sounded absolutely incredible! I might have to go back and just make a meal out of starters! In the end I settled on something that I have been wanting to try for a long time now: Foie Gras! For those who are not familiar with this delicacy, it is basically a pate of goose liver. Often I have seen it prepared by cutting a “slab” of it and crisping the outside. This appetizer however was far more delicate. The foie gras was dolloped on top of delicious brandy-soaked prunes (not typically a fan but these were outstanding) and served with a nice arugula salad topped by a wonderful dressing. I am not exactly sure if its identity, but it tasted faintly of nuts. I loved every part of the dish. The foie gras was wonderfully smooth and had an almost delicate flavour to it, not at all what I thought it would be. The somewhat sweet nature of the prunes complemented it perfectly. My first experience with foie gras was a success and I can’t wait to try it again!

Foie Gras on Brandy Soaked Prunes

In addition to the foie gras, we ordered a portion of the garlic bread having been told that it was simply amazing. Having seen and tasted this I must agree 100 %, this was quite possibly the most incredible garlic bread I have ever had in my life. The bread was perfectly toasted, with a nice crunch while still remaining light and airy. The dish was dripping with garlic and there was evidently quite a bit of butter on the plate, yet it somehow did not feel overpoweringly heavy in your stomach. It is hard to describe how incredible this bread was, you simply will have to try it yourself to see!

Garlic Bread

The Main

For my main course, I chose to go with the braised leg of lamb. Over the past few years I have developed a real taste for lamb and am slowly learning to cook it well myself. However I always jump at the chance to try some top-notch lamb in a good restaurant. I have never had lamb leg before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When the dish arrived the first thing that struck me was how BIG the piece of meat was! Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a big eater and yet after this amazing starter even I didn’t think I would be able to finish this (in the end this prediction was true). The lamb was served on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes which was incredible in its own right. The flavours of the dish complemented each other perfectly with the sweetness and creaminess of the potatoes pairing wonderfully with the slight spice of cumin in the lamb. The lamb leg was cooked perfectly, the meat was nicely browned on the outside and succulent and tender on the inside, quite literally falling off the bone. This dish fully lived up to my expectations and I thoroughly enjoyed this new way of cooking lamb.

Leg of Lamb and Sweet Potato

For her main, my girlfriend chose to have the beef dish which featured a nice piece of tenderloin on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. The meat was good but the best part of the dish was clearly the sauce used which gave everything an amazingly succulent flavour.

The Dessert

Given that both of us had enjoyed fairly heavy main courses we wanted to go with a “lighter” (a relative term of course) dessert option. While the creme brulee and flowerless chocolate tort both sounded fantastic, we opted to go with a nice lemon pastry Napoleon made with Chantilly Cream. The dessert fully filled our expectations with vibrant lemon flavours, light crispy pastry, and superb Chantilly Cream. It was the perfect way to end the meal with a nice fresh tasting dish.

Lemon Napoleon with Chantilly Cream

Overall my experience at The Other Brothers was an incredibly positive one, and I can definitely see myself coming back here in the future.

-JR

P.S. I apologize for the somewhat poor picture quality, they were taken on my iPhone 3Gs (no flash) in a fairly dark restaurant, hopefully you can still get the idea!

Categories: Dining Out
%d bloggers like this: