On Hiatus (and a few quick reviews)

I’m traveling, so this site is going into hibernation for a while.  Feel free to follow my travels at Up in the Nusair (or don’t, I can’t force you… or can I??  No, I can’t… yet).

But first, here’s a few very quick reviews of places I didn’t get a chance to write full posts for before I left.

Cafe Landwer

Cafe Landwer

I actually visited this place a couple of times recently.  The first time I had the shakshuka, which was quite tasty and comes with an almost absurd amount of food.  It’s a little bit bland, but it comes with an ample amount of fresh bread for dipping, and the tahini sauce helps amp things up.

Cafe Landwer

The second time I had the Sinia Kebab, which features beef kebabs and some grilled veggies on top of freshly baked flatbread, topped with a tahini sauce.  This was quite tasty, though it really needs something acidic to cut through the richness.  I eventually wound up spooning in some of the salad that comes on the side.  I’m not sure if that’s the intent, but it helped.

Jelly Roll from Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons

It’s a jelly roll from Tim Hortons; it tastes exactly how you think it’s going to taste.  It’s basically a very minor upgrade over Little Debbie.  It’s pretty junky, but I enjoyed it.

Pho from I Love Pho 2

I Love Pho 2

I already wrote about the surprisingly great I Love Pho 2, and the pho confirms it: this is a place that knows their stuff.  The broth has a really great flavour, and the variety of meats they mix in are all perfectly cooked and tasty.

SoSo Food Club

SoSo Food Club

I tried a handful of dishes at SoSo Food Club.  Everything was tasty, but the highlight was the addictively cumin-tinged lamb biang biang noodles.  The strong cumin flavour, the tender lamb, and the extra-broad noodles all work very well together.  The mapo tofu, with its numbing heat and silky tofu, was another highlight.

The Drake Commissary

The Drake Commissary

The bread here is amazing.  Like at Terroni, you have to pay for it, but unlike at that place, it wasn’t infuriating.  It was well worth paying for.  I came here at brunch and had the trapper beans, which had a lot going on, but everything worked perfectly together.  In particular, the beans had a savoury richness (and a complete lack of sweetness) that made them quite unlike any baked beans I’ve had before.

Mango Pancakes from HK Sweets

HK Sweets

This was fine, I guess.  I actually had mango pancakes in Hong Kong, and they were ridiculously good.  I was hoping these would recapture that, even slightly, but no such luck.  Aside from the fact that they’re not actually pancakes (they’re crepes), the mango was underripe and crunchy, and I think the cream was actually Cool Whip or something similar.  Still, it was decent enough for what it was.

Chicken Shawarma from Ghadir Meat & Restaurant

Ghadir Meat & Restaurant

Oh man, this shawarma.  I actually visited this place based on a tweet from Suresh Doss — he called it the best shawarma in the GTA, which should really tell you all you need to know.  The man knows his food, and he’s certainly not wrong about Ghadir.  It’s amazing.  It’s got the perfect blend of tender meat with lots of crispy bits, tasty sauces, and fresh veggies.  If it’s not the best shawarma in the GTA, it’s certainly a very strong contender for that crown.

Shoddy Indian Food at Amaya in Sherway Gardens

Amaya Sherway GardensLocation: 25 Sherway Gardens Road, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.amayarestaurant.com/

Amaya is a (usually) decent quality chain that (usually) serves tasty Indian fare.  But the Sherway Gardens location is… odd.  I tried it when it first opened, and the food was so atrociously bad that it was nearly inedible.

I figured they deserved another chance — new restaurants often need a month or two to work out all the kinks.  I just tried the rogan josh, which features big chunks of lamb in a mildly spicy curry sauce on top of basmati rice.

Amaya Sherway Gardens

Yeah, it was pretty bad.  It’s so weird, because the other Amaya locations I’ve tried have been pretty reliable, but the Sherway Gardens location is almost like a completely different restaurant.

The flavour of the curry wasn’t bad, but the chunks of lamb were mostly tough and rubbery (with a few tender pieces interspersed throughout to mix things up), the rice was ice cold, and when I got to the bottom of the bowl, there was a big pool of greasy water that was tremendously off-putting.

Kebab 49: Still Great

Kebab 49Location: 5308 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://kebab49.com/

I’ve actually already written about Kebab 49, so I’m going to keep this post brief.  That was a couple of years ago, and the place is still chugging along, serving some of the best doner in the city.

Yes: Kebab 49 is still great.  On this particular visit I got the durum wrap with lamb and veal (durum is a Turkish flatbread; Kebab 49 makes it in-house in their wood-burning oven, and it’s chewy and fresh and amazing).

Kebab 49

The lamb and veal doner is outstanding.  A lot of shawarama/doner tends to be a bit dry, but not here — there’s just enough fat mixed in to keep things from drying out.  It’s perfectly seasoned, and the distinctive lamby flavour really shines through.

But the best part are all the crispy bits from where the rotating stack of meat has come into contact with the fire.  This is how you know you’re dealing with a place that knows what’s what.  Way too many restaurants start carving too soon, and you end up with sad, soggy meat.  Not Kebab 49.  You can’t really tell from the photo, but there were delicious crispy bits interspersed throughout the entire wrap.  It was glorious.

Lamb Shoulder at Cherry Street Bar-B-Que

Cherry Street Bar-B-QueAssembly 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.

Cherry Street Bar-B-Que

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.