I used to love Felix & Norton. Their Unionville location was in a plaza right across from where I went to high school, so cookies were a regular occurrence. I remember them being some of the best store-bought cookies around: lightly crispy and chewy, with a really great buttery flavour and high-quality chocolate chunks.
So when I saw unbaked Felix & Norton cookies in the freezer section at a local Loblaws, I couldn’t get them in my cart fast enough.
And it’s not a bad deal: nine bucks for a 500 gram bag, which works out to about 20 cookies. I got Menage a Trois, which features cookies with white, milk, and dark chocolate chunks.
Alas, these weren’t the Felix & Norton cookies I remembered. The chunks were more like tiny chocolate fragments, and barely added any chocolate flavour at all. The cookies were just blandly sweet. They were also insanely greasy, and yet had almost zero buttery flavour.
They weren’t the worst things ever, I guess — they were certainly better than something like Chips Ahoy, but they’re not even close to being in the same league as what you can get at the store.
If you were lucky enough to try Caplansky’s at its original digs in the Monarch Tavern, then you’ll know that it was truly something special. One of the things that made their smoked meat stand out was its intensely smoky flavour. This was greatly diminished once they moved to their permanent location and had to start making the meat in greater quantities (and of course, in a sad turn of events, Caplansky’s is now gone altogether).
Well, it looks like Torontonians craving that unique smokiness now have somewhere to go, because Rose and Sons was recently transformed into an old-school deli, and they’re serving up pastrami with a distinctively smoky flavour.
It’s actually quite good — I got the hot pastrami sandwich, and my only real complaint is that the meat should have been a bit fattier (they called it medium, but it was much closer to lean).
That’s an easy fix, though: I’ll ask for it fatty the next time I go, because there’s definitely going to be a next time. It’s a great sandwich, with perfectly thick slices of tender, smoky, nicely spiced pastrami.
I also tried the potato and onion knish, which didn’t fare quite as well. I think this might have been the second or third knish I’ve had in my entire life, so it’s possible that I’m just not a fan — but this was dry pastry encasing bland, crumbly potatoes with a slightly oniony flavour. It desperately needed a gravy or some kind of sauce, or really anything to give it just a little bit of moisture (not to mention flavour). I didn’t care for it.
Assembly Chef’s Hall is Toronto’s first food hall — it’s basically like a food court, if food courts were amazing.
There’s a bunch of interesting restaurants here, though I was homing in on the burger from Resto Boemo, which I wanted to review for my burger blog. But then I saw that Cherry Street Bar-B-Que was serving lamb shoulder as part of a St. Patrick’s Day special, and it was game over. I love southern-style barbecue, and I love lamb. Barbecued lamb? Hell yes.
It comes served on chunky mashed potatoes, and is topped with a generous amount of their Murphy’s Stout BBQ sauce, which was amazing. It was extremely untraditional — it wasn’t nearly as sweet or as acidic as you’d expect, with a rich, tomatoey flavour that’s rounded out by the stout, which adds notes of chocolate and coffee. It sounds odd, but it worked incredibly well with the lamb. I should have asked if I could buy a bottle.
And that lamb was quite tasty, though like pretty much every barbecue place in the GTA, it had almost zero smokey flavour. But in this case I didn’t even particularly mind — the amazing flavour of the lamb was front-and-centre, and it’s hard to complain too much about that. It was tender while still retaining some texture, with some really tasty bark, and just enough fat to keep things interesting, but not enough to overwhelm.
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
I love Porchetta and Co. Their porchetta sandwich? Classic. Best porchetta in the city. Their fried chicken sandwiches? Usually delicious! Their Nashville hot chicken sandwich? Uh…
Hey, they can’t all be winners. And it wasn’t all bad. The fried chicken itself was superlative, as usual: perfectly-cooked chicken with a crispy, crunchy, tasty exterior. It’s good stuff.
Nashville hot chicken is a notoriously spicy dish that involves a post-cooking dunk into spice-infused oil to give the chicken additional flavour and heat. It’s typically sprinkled with more spices, just to kick up the heat factor. Porchetta and Co. appear to have remembered the oil — the sandwich was absolutely dripping with it — but forgotten the spices. The oily coating on the chicken was bland, and worse, it wasn’t spicy. At all. The spice level here never registered beyond a mild tingle. WTF?
The other components of the sandwich — lettuce, mayo, pickles, plain white bread — were fine, though the sugary-sweet pickles were a bit overpowering.
There’s a Hershey store in Niagara Falls, and I have a pretty vivid memory of the chocolate milkshake there being amazing.
Granted, this was at least a decade ago, but when I recently found myself in Niagara Falls with some time to kill, I got very excited by the prospect of having this milkshake again.
In my memory, this was a superior milkshake with a surprisingly intense chocolaty flavour. I’ve never been a fan of Hershey chocolate, but this milkshake was something else. It was special.
Well, either I’m way wrong about this or it’s gone way downhill, because the milkshake was not good at all. It was throat-burningly sweet, and it didn’t even have much of a chocolaty flavour. It was just all-encompassing sweetness. It was bad.
I got about halfway through, ate the Hershey’s Kiss on top (which tasted like nothing after the mouth-annihilating sweetness of the milkshake), then chucked the rest in the garbage.