Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Scaddabush

Location: 1900 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.scaddabush.com/

I’ve been to Scaddabush a few times now, and it continually surprises me.  Not that it’s anything particularly special, but they serve consistently good food; for a casual chain restaurant in Canada, that’s a minor miracle.

Granted, it’s easy to look good when your competition is dreck like Boston Pizza and East Side Mario’s, but we are where we are.  The bar for a casual chain restaurant is low.

Scaddabush on the Queensway

And so Scaddabush, which is very keen to boast that they make their pasta and mozzarella in-house, is comparatively pretty amazing.

The fresh mozzarella is pleasantly toothsome, and with a bit of the sun-dried tomato spread on the side, quite tasty.

Scaddabush on the Queensway

The roasted fennel and sausage fettuccine was one of the better pasta dishes I’ve had in a while, with a really nice interplay between the hearty sausage, the spicy pop of the sliced hot peppers, and the crispiness of the seasoned breadcrumbs.

Alas, the meal ended on a sour note — the zeppoli tasted stale, with a sodden exterior and an unpleasantly sponge-like interior.  The chocolate hazelnut sauce was fine, but was mostly just bland sweetness; there wasn’t much of a chocolate or hazelnut flavour.

Scaddabush on the Queensway

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Golden Palace Banquet Hall

Location: 3225 Highway 7, Markham
Website: None

There’s a dim sum place in Markham called Golden Palace Banquet Hall, and it’s quite good.  I’ve been there a couple of times now, tried at least a dozen things, and I don’t think I’ve had a single dud.

All of that stuff? Quite tasty!  But there’s one reason to visit Golden Palace Banquet Hall, and it’s these things right here:

I’m talking about the enormous, honey-coated pieces of fried dough in the lower right-hand side of that photo.  They’re called angel wings (though I’ve also heard them referred to as egg shatters), and they’re the best.

There’s really not all that much to them.  They’re airy, lightly crispy pieces of fried dough that have been coated in honey.  That’s it.  But there’s something about them that’s completely irresistible.  Once you start eating them, you can’t stop.  They’re so great.

Porchetta Roll

Porchetta Roll in Mississauga, Ontario
Location: 4120 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.porchettaroll.com/

I have a very, very hard time saying no to a porchetta sandwich.  So when I found myself at this particular plaza and saw that there was a new porchetta-based restaurant?  Well, I wasn’t planning on eating lunch, but I guess I am now.

The menu is mostly based around porchetta and rotisserie chicken.  I got the porchetta sandwich, which comes topped with arugula, caramelized onions, garlic aoili, and mustard.

Porchetta Roll in Mississauga, Ontario

The obvious comparison is Porchetta & Co., and no, it’s not as good as that.  The pork — while tender and tasty — was underseasoned, and there was zero crackling in my sandwich.

I won’t say that a porchetta sandwich is pointless without crackling, but come on.  Crackling.  I need it.

Porchetta Roll in Mississauga, Ontario

It probably doesn’t help that the last porchetta sandwich I ate was this one in Italy, and literally every other porchetta sandwich is garbage compared to that.  It’s an unfair comparison, but I couldn’t help it.

Porchetta Roll in Mississauga, Ontario

Still, it was a tasty sandwich, and a pretty decent deal at about ten bucks with tax (they absolutely cram the sandwich with porchetta — I’d say it’s double if not triple the amount they give you at Porchetta & Co.).  I’d probably ask for it without the caramelized onions next time; they were tasty and perfectly cooked, but their sweetness overwhelmed the subtly-spiced pork.

Beast

Crispy Pork Hocks from Beast
Location:  96 Tecumseth Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://thebeastrestaurant.com/

I’ve actually written about Beast before, on Serious Eats, where I raved about the Beastwich.  But I have to rave again — the Crispy Pork Hocks at Beast were so damn good that I felt compelled to bring this blog out of semi-hiatus so I could talk about them.  Immediately after eating them, I was hit by a powerful compulsion: I need to tell someone about this.  I need to tell everyone about this.

The hock — the part of the pig where the foot attaches to the leg, usually served as one big, unwieldy hunk of pork, bone and all — has been streamlined by Beast into convenient little cubes of crispy, porky goodness.  It has been perfected.

Each cube is maybe an inch-and-a-half square, with an amazingly crispy, crunchy exterior, and a rich, perfectly cooked interior of tender, decadently fatty pork.  I’m not even sure I can put into words how amazingly good this was.

Seriously, look at this and tell me you don’t want to eat this right this second:

Crispy Pork Hocks from Beast

That layer of crispy, crunchy amazingness is just so incredibly satisfying, and the interior is the perfect combination of extravagant fattiness and fork-tender pork.  You might think it looks too fatty, but trust me, it’s not too fatty.

It’s served with a thick, sweet variation on soy sauce called kecap manis that kind of reminded me of hoisin sauce; it worked amazingly well with the pork.  It also comes with two eggs cooked how you want them, crispy potatoes, toast, and a fairly generous pile of zingy kimchi.

I don’t want to over-sell this, but I think it might be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  This is not a drill.  Drop whatever the hell you’re doing right now and get yourself to Beast.  If they’re not open yet, just camp out and wait.  Because who cares what else is going on when something this good exists in the world and you haven’t tried it yet.

Review Round-up: Part 1

So I’ve barely been updating this blog at all over the last year or so, but obviously I’ve been eating things.  So here you go: the first part of my (maybe) multi-part round-up of some of the more noteworthy things I’ve eaten in the last several months.

Blue Sage
Blue Sage
When I visited this place the owner seemed to be the only one manning the restaurant and cooking the food, as he’d go in the back and disappear for long stretches, and I never saw anyone else.  He certainly talked a big game, espousing at length the lost art of classic Southern low-and-slow barbecue cookery.  He was so serious about it that it made me more excited to try the food; he really seemed to know his stuff.

The discrepancy between the way he talked about the food and the actual flavour was almost comical.  I ordered the spare ribs, and they were ridiculously tough.  Fall-off-the-bone is actually not a desirable trait among BBQ aficionados, with a little bit more chew and texture being desirable.  This, however, was on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Cutting through it, even with the sharp steak knife provided, took a very concerted effort, and biting off chunks of meat was a serious jaw workout.  It also had very little smoke flavour, and no visible smoke ring whatsoever.

My dining companion had a pulled pork sandwich, and that was even worse.  Zero smoke flavour.  It had that distinctively gamy taste that you only get when you reheat pork one time too many, and it was absolutely doused in a strongly vinegary BBQ sauce.  My dining companion described it as tasting like a vinegar sandwich, and I can’t say I disagree.

Cafe Polonez
Cafe Polonez
This was my second time eating at this gem of a restaurant, and having ordered something a bit more familiar the first time (the goulash-stuffed potato pancake — which is absolutely delicious, by the by) I decided to go with the much more mysterious Pulpety, which is described as “Minced chicken balls topped with a creamy dill sauce.”  I wasn’t entirely sure what this was going to be, but as it turned out it was essentially meatballs with gravy; kinda like a Polish (and much, much more delicious) take on Ikea’s trademark dish.  The meatballs were super tender, with a pronounced chickeny flavour, and the creamy, dill-infused sauce complimented them perfectly.

Dance Mac
Dance Mac
It’s very easy to miss this place, which is in a tiny little food court on Queen Street near John.  They make a few different mac and cheese variations, which they cook fresh in the oven in front of you, which gives you that nicely crispy, cheesy topping.    It’s certainly not gourmet (the mac has a processed-tasting, Velveeta-esque base), but it’s creamy and cheesy and abundantly satisfying.

Fabbrica - ravioli
Fabbrica
That would be Nonna McEwan’s Ravioli: “veal, pork, beef, tomato sauce and reggiano.”   Honestly it’s been a while since I’ve eaten this one, and my memory is getting a bit fuzzy — I do remember, however, thinking it was one of the best versions of ravioli that I’ve had in a long, long time, so I’d say it’s definitely worth eating.  Actually, I kind of want to eat it again.  Note to self: go back to Fabbrica.

Fidel Gastro - short rib
Fidel Gastro’s
Having really, really enjoyed my meal at Lisa Marie, I was excited to try the food from where it all started.  I tried the root beer braised short rib and kimchi sandwich, which certainly sounded interesting.  Sadly, it was quite terrible: mushy, cloyingly sweet short rib with the approximate texture of wet paper towels, topped seemingly randomly with kimchi (it didn’t compliment the meat at all). It’s all on a soft, squishy bun that adds no texture and only serves to make the mushy meat feel even mushier.

Gilead Cafe - Porchetta sandwich
Gilead Cafe
I had the porchetta sandwich, which was okay — it had a decent flavour, though to be honest it’s hard to eat porchetta in this city, knowing that the always phenomenal Porchetta and Co. is an option.  That’s pretty much porchetta perfection, so it’s very difficult to measure up to that.  Jamie Kennedy’s famous fries were as delicious as always, however.