Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica’s Chicken

Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica's ChickenLocation: 2853 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.chicaschicken.net/

I’ve written about Chica’s many times on this blog, so I’ll make this brief.

Most importantly: yes, their fried chicken is just as good as ever.  And the restaurant was packed (the other times I’ve visited it’s been half full at best), so I think the word is finally getting out that Chica’s is doing something amazing.

The sweet heat has been an occasional special up to this point, but they’ve recently added it onto the regular menu.  It is predictably delicious.

Sweet Heat Sandwich from Chica's Chicken

It’s maybe borderline too sweet, but it’s balanced out quite well by the vinegary bite of the pickled jalapenos.  It’s probably my least favourite thing on the menu, but that says more about the deliciousness of everything on offer here than it does about this particular sandwich.  It’s still incredibly good.

It’s the fried chicken itself.  It’s magical.  The contrast between the perfectly crunchy exterior and the juicy interior is the stuff dreams are made of.  If you like fried chicken and you haven’t tried Chica’s yet, you’re living your life wrong.

A Disappointing Meal at Dreyfus

Dreyfus
Location
: 96 Harbord Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Dreyfus-Toronto-382976892314156/

Dreyfus’ main claim to fame is that it was opened by an alumnus of Joe Beef, a seriously acclaimed Montreal bistro (among many, many accolades, it was recently called Canada’s second best restaurant).  I’ve never tried that place, so this seemed like the next best thing.

The menu consists of various small, shareable plates with big price tags; cheap eats this isn’t, but then every now and then you need to break the bank and try some top-notch food.  Or at least, that was the idea.

Dreyfus

The menu is entirely French, which means that effectively, there is no menu — the waiter tells you about every dish, and then you have to remember it all; not ideal for a place that requires you to order multiple dishes.  That whole conceit is a bit overly precious, but if the food is great, who cares?

Yeah, about that.

Nothing is outright bad, I’ll give it that, but for what they’re charging, the food is very much a mixed bag.

Dreyfus

There were some highlights, however.  There was a dish that featured endives topped with tender roast pork shoulder that was particularly delicious.  The endive was doused in a tasty, Russian-style dressing and was basically a variation on a wedge salad, and the thickly-sliced pork was meaty and tender.

Dreyfus

The croque cubano — essentially an open-faced Cubano that you can eat in a couple of bites — was crispy, meaty, zesty, and satisfying.

Dreyfus

And the ice cream sandwich featured top-notch ice cream sandwiched between two chewy, delicious cookies.

Dreyfus

Everything else was a bit iffy.  The steak tartare was fine, but it was way overseasoned and had zero beefy flavour.

Dreyfus

I can’t remember what the croquette was even supposed to be; the vaguely yogurty interior was basically just a thick, tasteless sludge.

Dreyfus

This squash dish topped with Jersey Royal cheese should have been tasty, but the cheese was haphazardly applied, and most of the squash was undercooked and crunchy.

The mackerel seemed okay, but it was absolutely doused in an overly vinegary sauce that completely overwhelmed the fish.

Dreyfus

The madelines were basically tasty, but they were overcooked and dry, and the sauce that comes on the side was overly sweet (the sugar that was haphazardly dumped into the container probably didn’t help).

Quality Noodles at Wuhan Noodle 1950

Wuhan Noodle 1950Location: 3621 Highway 7, Markham
Website: https://www.wuhan-noodle-1950.com/

I actually visited Wuhan Noodle and wrote this post back in December, well before all the coronavirus shenanigans and racism that put this place in the news.  To be clear: no, you won’t get the coronavirus by visiting this restaurant.  I wish I were a bit more positive about it now, but here’s what I originally wrote back in December:

Wuhan Noodle 1950

I think I’ve become spoiled by the abundant availability of hand-pulled noodles in the GTA.  Case in point: Wuhan Noodle 1950.   They serve a very tasty bowl of noodles — but it’s hard not to compare them to the places that make their own in-house.

It probably doesn’t help that the dish I ordered — the Wuhan Dry Noodles — is basically all noodles and sauce, which means that the noodles themselves are front-and-centre.

Wuhan Noodle 1950

And the noodles here are perfectly cooked, with a nice firm bite — but they lack that addictive chewiness that you only get when you make them fresh.

Still, the creamy sesame- and peanut-infused sauce is very tasty; the included spoonful of chili oil gives it a mild kick, and the herbs and pickled veg bring some nice pops of flavour that compliment the creamy sauce.

Wuhan Noodle 1950

It’s probably not reasonable to expect every place like this to make their own noodles, and yet… here we are.

Tasty Noodle Soup at House of Gourmet

House of GourmetLocation: 484 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Website: http://houseofgourmet.blogspot.com/

Wonton noodle soup is one of those dishes that’s basically always delicious.  I’ve certainly had bowls that are better than others, but I think it’s just fundamentally appealing.  It’s kinda like pizza; it’s hard to mess up, and even when it’s bad, it’s good.

House of Gourmet

And the bowl at House of Gourmet is quite good.  It’s not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s a solid bowl of noodle soup.

House of Gourmet

I was clued into this place thanks to this article, which specifically called out the wonton brisket noodle soup as being the thing to order here.  The addition of fatty, tender, flavourful beef suits the bowl quite well.

Everything else is just as it should be; the soup has a savoury punch, the noodles are nice and firm, and the chunky wontons are quite satisfying.

House of Gourmet

And of course, you’ve gotta add some chili oil to the bowl.  Unlike the stuff I recently had at Ming’s Noodle Cafe, which was crammed with flavour but surprisingly low on spice, a heaping spoonful is all you need to give the bowl a nice kick.

Quick Bites: Sweet Jesus, Parka Food Co., and Bakerbots Baking

Sweet Jesus
Apple Fritter Crisp from Sweet Jesus

This was actually pretty tasty.  Here’s how Sweet Jesus describes the Apple Fritter Crisp: “Vanilla soft serve, Apple pie sauce, Apple fritter pieces, Apple fritter crumb, Caramel sauce.”  I enjoyed it, mostly — it pretty much nails the apple pie/crumble element, with a cinnamon-infused flavour, and a nice hit of caramel and apples.  But the “apple fritter crumb” it’s rolled in was more chewy than crispy (there was a disconcerting lack of crispiness for something with “crisp” in its name), and the apple fritter pieces were entirely absent.  Still, the creamy vanilla ice cream and the apple-crumble-infused flavour are a tasty combo.

Parka Food Co.
Caesar Salad at Parka Food Co.

I recently found myself back at Parka Food Co., a place that specializes in vegan eats; on my first visit I had a sandwich and found the bun to be fairly horrifying, so I skipped the sandwiches and went with a Caesar salad instead.  It was fine, I guess?  Caesar dressing traditionally features very non-vegan ingredients like anchovies, egg yolks, and cheese; whatever vegan alternatives they used here were decent enough.  But the dressing was overly vinegary, and the pickled onions on top are a bizarre choice — they only amplify the puckery vinegar flavour.

Blackbird Baking Co.
Lemon Tart and Raspberry Rosewater Tart from Bakerbots Baking

Both of these tarts were absolutely fantastic, particularly the Raspberry Rosewater tart, which featured an ultra-rich custard with a pronounced rosewater flavour that complimented the tart raspberries on top perfectly.  And unlike the last pie I had at this place, the crust was superlative; it was crispy, buttery, and perfect.