Shake Shack

My friend and I came here for brunch, lunch and dinner. We went to both the Battery Park City location and the Theatre location. I only realized on Boxing day that our hotel, Row NYC was diagonally across from Shake Shack while finding the Battery Park City location was an interesting adventure in downtown NYC.

I first got their Shack Burger and the Peanut Butter Shake (total is $11). The Shack Burger is a cheeseburger with tomato, lettuce and their Shack sauce. For such a small size, it’s tasty. The peanut butter shake was very thick and tasted exactly like peanut butter that’s been put into a milkshake form. It was delicious. It’s very conscientious of Shake Shack to put a ‘contains nuts’ sticker on my peanut butter shake.

I tried their Smoke Burger and Chocolate Shake for dinner (total is $12.63). The Smoke shack is a cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and their Shack sauce. It’s a bit spicy. I prefer the Smoke Shack over the Shack burger which probably makes sense for the $1.50 price difference. The Chocolate shake is a very tasty chocolate milkshake albeit it’s not as thick as the one I had at the Battery Park City location.

I got their Smoke Burger and Strawberry Shake for brunch (total is $12.63). The Strawberry shake is an ok strawberry milkshake and it’s definitely not as thick as the one at the Battery Park City location. The strawberry shake is thicker than the chocolate shake at the Theatre location.

I went to the Battery Park location for brunch on Easter Saturday around 12pm. The line up was quite short surprisingly since I was expecting to wait awhile like last time. Getting a table on the other hand is nigh impossible. I got the Smoke burger and Strawberry Shake (total is $13). The price increased abit from Christmas 2014 to Spring 2015. Other than the price increase, the Smoke burger is just as good as before while the strawberry shake is abit thicker than the one at the Theatre location.

Categories: Cuisine, Food, New York City, Restaurant Review, USA, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

My friend and I came here for a late dinner. Initially we wanted to come here for lunch but the line up was quite long. Ellen’s Stardust Diner is on Broadway  and 51st Street near Rockefeller Center. My friend had recommended this diner to me because of my interest in Broadway shows. The servers here serenade you with Broadway songs, pop songs and country or blues songs accompanied by a harmonica while you wait for your table, decide on your order, wait for your food and eat your food. I got their Philly Cheese-steak Sandwich with waffles fries. My friend got their ahi tuna burger.

The Philly Cheese-steak sandwich consists of sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers, steak slices and melted mozzarella cheese with waffle fries and a slice of pickles on the side. It was very tasty.

The Ahi Tuna burger is a ginger miso glazed tuna patty with wasabi mayo drizzled on top with lettuce betweeen a brioche bun. It’s accompanied with a side of sweet potato fries and a slice of pickles. My friend enjoyed it.

Overall, if you’re interested in Broadway shows and being serenaded while you dine then check out this diner in NYC.

Categories: Cuisine, Food, New York City, Restaurant Review, USA, Western | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments


My friend and I came here for lunch. It’s our first time eating at a T.G.I. Friday’s. I got the spicy craft beer cheese burger ($24) while my friend got the sizzling chicken and cheese.

The spicy craft beer cheese burger is a regular beef patty burger with jalapeños, breaded fried jalapeños, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and craft beer-cheese sauce. It comes with a side of fries. I had initially expected my burger to be spicy with the 2 types of jalapeños however it wasn’t spicy so I was abit disappointed by that. Other than that, it was a tasty burger.

The sizzling chicken and cheese is a garlic marinated chicken breast with onions, peppers, mashed potatoes and melted cheese. My friend enjoyed it.

Categories: Cuisine, Food, New York City, Restaurant Review, USA, Western | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Bang Bang Ice Cream Part II

After dinner at Borealia, my friends and I decided to get dessert at Bang Bang. One friend had the half ice cream sandwich ($4.40 + tax) while I got the ice cream puff ($5 + tax) and my other friend had the Hong Kong waffle ($8 + tax).

Left: Chesnut Matcha Ice Cream Right: Ginger Milk Ice Cream
I got the matcha chestnut cream puff with chestnut and matcha drizzle ice cream and ginger milk ice cream. It was a heavenly combination although at times the intensity of the ginger milk ice cream overwhelmed the matcha chestnut ice cream puff.

My friend got the rocky road kill and mofo fudge ice cream sandwiched between a rococoa cookie. The RoCocoa cookie is made with maldon salt, cocoa brut and 70% callebaut chocolate. It looked like chocolate heaven to me. My friend liked the rocky road kill ice cream more than the mocha fudge ice cream.

My other friend got the London fog and burnt toffee ice cream in a Hong Kong waffle. He liked the London fog and burnt toffee ice cream combination. My friend prefers the ice cream sandwich over the ice cream waffle crepe.

Similar to Kekou Gelato, they have a loyalty card wherein if you get 10 stamps, you get a free half ice cream sandwich. You’ll need to request their loyalty card since they don’t ask if you have one when you pay for your order unlike at Kekou Gelato.

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I made reservations at Borealia for dinner this past Saturday. The restaurant, located on Ossington near Queen West, is quite small and only seats 45 people so I figured that’s it’s best to be safe than sorry. The service was attentive and informative. The decor is fitting for the cuisine which is Aboriginal fusion or Canadian cuisine. We sat in a little booth-like nook table that’s sandwiched between the large group table and the window nook table and booth tables. It had a view of the kitchen and the booth part of the table had a nice log cushion. The table was oddly shaped but roomy for 3 people. Based on the reviews I read online, we ordered the chopsuey croquettes ($6), red fife levain bread with cultured butter ($3), braised whelk ($14), pemmican ($15), L’éclade ($15) and pigeon pie ($23). We were forewarned that the portions were small.

Chopsuey Croquettes are deep-fried mini balls of sticky rice, Chinese sausage, soy sauce, ground beef and duck gizzard. It was scrumptious and although there were 3 in total, one for each of my friends and I, I could have easily ate it all since it was that enjoyable. It was the top 2 dish for my friends as well.

Red Fife Levain Bread & Cultured Butter is a kind of sourdough bread with butter that’s dusted with caramelized onion powder on the side. It was alright, my friends and I prefer the chopsuey croquettes alot more.

Braised Whelk is a massive whelk shell that was on top of a burdock salad with beurre blanc sauce inside the shell along with 3 skewers of succulently grilled sea snails. The beurre blanc is made with white wine, rice vinegar and seaweed. The sea snails were grilled to perfection. It was perfectly chewy but cooked thoroughly. I poured the beurre blanc sauce from the shell onto my portion of the burdock salad and it was delicious. One of my friends considers this to be his favourite dish amongst the six that we ordered.

We ordered the bison “pemmican” bresaola dish because of elementary school history classes regarding the fur traders traversing Northern Ontario to the Prairie provinces and sustaining themselves on pemmican. The pemmican is a bison bresaola with shaved lard and sweet blueberries with mint leaves and a blueberry juniper vinaigrette. It was quite tasty and definitely worth a try. You should eat a piece of the bison bresaola on its own without any blueberries or mint leaves and then with the blueberries and mint leaves since the initial method would allow you to fully savour the meat while the second method enhances the meat.

L’éclade is mussels that’s smoked in pine needles and drenched in a pine ash butter sauce. It’s served under a cloche and the server will lift the glass dome allowing the pine-scented smoke to escape for your viewing pleasure. It’s the first dish I’ve ever eatened in which the cooking method involves a smoking gun. The mussels were soft and succulent although the pine ash butter sauce had a bitter aftertaste. My other friend considers this dish to be his favourite amongst the six.

Pigeon Pie is a savoury pie that’s stuffed with dark squab meat, spices and parsnips that’s served with seared squab breast meat and roasted parsnips on the side. Although the meat is abit gamey, it was delectable.

I recommend the chopsuey croquettes, braised whelk and pigeon pie. You must try the l’éclade and pemmican at least once. The next time I come, I’d be interested in trying the smoked pickerel, pan-roasted trout and hot chocolate beignets.

Categories: Aboriginal Canadian, Canada, Cuisine, Downtown Toronto, Food, Restaurant Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sabai Sabai (Part II)

My friends and I came here for a late night snack. Neither of my friends had eaten here before. The servers were just as courteous and friendly as the last time I ate here. Due to the fact that it was Valentine’s Day, they had a specials menu along with the regular menu. We ordered from their specials menu. We had the spicy coconut noodles aka mee kati ($8), spicy lao sausage ($10) and the golden chicken ($5).

One friend listened to my recommendation and ordered the Thai iced milk tea ($4, right side of picture) while another friend got the Thai iced lemon tea ($4, left side of picture). I decided to satisfy my curiosity from last time and ordered the Thai Long Island ($9, center of picture). My friend thought that the Thai iced lemon tea was abit too lemony and it overpowered the taste of the Thai iced tea while the Thai Long Island was nice in that the lemon wasn’t overpowering the Thai iced tea.

The spicy coconut noodles aka mee kati is thin rice noodles on banana leaves that’s stir fried in a spicy coconut milk sauce with ground chicken, bean sprouts, green onions and garnished with egg threads, a hot pepper ring and a lime wedge. It was scrumptious with a nice spicy kick to it. Although it looks like it’s a small portion it was surprisingly big.

The spicy lao sausage is pork belly sausage that’s seasoned with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaf and shallots. It comes with a sweet and sour chili dipping sauce. It was delicious.

The Golden Chicken is corn, green onions, minced chicken in a special sauce that’s reminiscent to spicy BBQ sauce on a crispy cracker on top of crispy shredded noodles. My friend said that the tapas dish reminded him of a Lays BBQ chip.
Next time I come here, I’m interested in trying one of their salads and their lunch menu.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Downtown Toronto, Food, Restaurant Review, Thai | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rakia Bar

After our unsuccessful attempt at eating at a restaurant on Ossington, my friends and I went to Rakia Bar for dinner instead. It’s a small rustic restaurant in downtown Koreatown. The entrance is right by the only window in the restaurant. The lighting was abit dim with a long communal table in the middle of the room and several two person tables along the sides of the wood-paneled walls and a table by the window and entrance. We requested for a seat that wasn’t by the window. This Balkan restaurant has a large selection of rakia. Rakia is a 40% alcohol that is double distilled and is a fermented fruit brandy and it’s popular in the Balkan countries.

We all had a different rakia drink. My friend got the Mr. Tesla ($9.50, right side of picture) while another friend got the Camomilla ($9.50, center of picture). I had the Hobbit ($6.50, left side of picture). Mr. Tesla was billed as an electric drink and it’s a plum rakia. The alcohol is a much stronger smell but it doesn’t linger in the aftertaste. My friend enjoyed it. The Camomilla is a grape rakia with chamomile, pear, plum, hazelnut and walnut. It was very mild tasting compared to Mr. Tesla. The Hobbit is a plum rakia with Melisa herbs, Salvia herbs, anise and lavender. This rakia is suppose to cure all ails when I asked our server to elaborate on the rakia selection. It is perfect for a cold winter night because as you drink it the warmth spreads and lingers in your body.

My friends and I split the mezze platter for two ($18) and the meat platter for two ($28). The mezze platter features pickled vegetables (finely sliced carrots, halved green beans, pickles and sliced beets), roasted pepper spread, feta cheese, black olives, aged cheddar cheese, 2 mini cornbread muffins, 3 kinds of cured meats and garnished with a stalk of green onion and a side of salt. It was tasty however I was expecting something more exotic in terms of the cured meats.

The meat platter for two features a Black George Schnitzel, chevapi, Viennese schnitzel, baked beans, coleslaw and cubed potatoes. The Black George schnitzel is a breaded schnitzel that’s stuffed with kaymak. Kaymak is buffalo milk clotted cream. It was crunchy and delicious. The kaymak is a great accompaniment to the schnitzel. Chevapi is grilled minced beef and minced pork, reminiscent of a kebab. It was abit salty but very flavourful. The Viennese schnitzel is a thin, breaded, deep fried veal cutlet. It was good, especially once the lemon juice was squeezed over it. The coleslaw was a refreshing break from all the fried meat and it’s garnished with a hot pepper ring. The cubed potatoes had a nice crunchy skin. Overall, the meat platter was a nice introduction to Balkan cuisine.

I am interested in trying the Balkan style burger and a different type of rakia the next time I come.

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Bang Bang Ice Cream

My friends and I decided to have dinner on the Ossington strip after skating at the Evergreen Brickworks however the restaurant we wanted to go to was operating under a Valentine’s day set menu with reservations only so we decided to initially go to Bang Bang Ice Cream to have an ice cream sandwich since we were already in the area. The bakery offers ice cream, 1/2 and full vegan and non-vegan ice cream sandwiches,vegan and non-vegan cookies, Hong Kong waffles, ice cream puffs, coffees and teas. The 1/2 ice cream sandwich lets you incorporate up to 2 ice cream flavours while the full ice cream sandwich lets you incorporate up to 4 ice cream flavours. My friends and I got the 1/2 ice cream sandwich ($4.97 including tax).

I had the london fog ice cream (ice cream on the right side in the above pictures) and hazelnut ice cream (ice cream on the left side in the above pictures) between a RoCocoa cookie. The Rococoa cookie is a chocolate cookie with salt sprinkled on the top. It was a tasty combination. I’m hoping that the next time I come they’ll have the green tea cream puff. If you are in the neighbourhood, I recommend this place for dessert or a snack.

Categories: Bakery/Patisserie, Canada, Cuisine, Dessert, Downtown Toronto, Food, Restaurant Review | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wine Bar

My friend and I had dinner here afew days ago. It’s close to St Lawrence market in a quiet neighborhood. It has a rustic decor with fairly dim lighting. Winterlicious dinner is $25 + tax & tip.

We both got the crispy Quebec brie for the appetizer. It’s a panko breaded brie drizzled with a sweet tomato chutney. The panko breaded brie was bite sized although when I initally saw that it was only 4 pieces, I thought it could be slightly bigger in portion sizes. However the brie with the chutney was tasty.

My friend got the stuffed portobello mushroom for her main. The mushroom is stuffed with sweet potato, roasted red peppers, zucchini, red onions and goat cheese and topped with balsamic greens.

I had the chicken and waffles for my entree. It looked quite small but was deceptively filling. The chicken and waffles is a crispy southern style breaded chicken on top of a square of waffle with a sausage gravy on the side and topped with crispy okra and sweet red peppers.

We both got the Grand Marnier creme brulée with toasted almonds. It had a really thick, hard to break crust. My friend found it gritty and not smooth tasting. I like the orange flavour to it.
Overall, it’s not the worst restaurant I’ve been to but it’s not the best restaurant either.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Downtown Toronto, Food, Food Festival, Restaurant Review, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quince Bistro

My friends and I had dinner here afew days ago. The lighting was initially bright but it dimmed when it got abit later. It has two levels so while it may seem small, it’s a fairly large restaurant. Downstairs has a set-up where you could have a private function with leather couches, throw pillows and a private bar so it feels like you’re partying in your own basement.

A friend had the salmon chowder with potatoes and chive oil. I had a spoonful and it was quite delicious.

Another friend had the roasted carrot and beets salad with avacado and crispy quinoa.

Another friend and I had the octopus terrine with white miso coleslaw. A terrine is sliced food that has been prepared in advanced and given time to cool before serving. I had expected more octopus slices however the octopus goes well with the white miso coleslaw. I preferred the octopus escabeche at Parts & Labour compared to the octopus terrine here.

A friend had the duck confit with Perth County smoked bacon and a bean cassoulet. Duck confit is duck leg that’s deep fried slowly at a low temperature. A cassoulet is a stew or casserole that’s slow cooked.

Another friend had the grilled flat iron steak done medium rare with smoked onion puree, red wine jus and root vegetable pave. He felt that the gravy overwhelmed the steak.

Another friend got the grilled mackerel with charred rapini, roasted tomato, cannellini bean puree and a tomato vinaigrette. She thought that the mackerel was cooked well and that the meat was fall of the bone, so to speak.

I had the crispy skin arctic char with roasted cauliflower, du Puy lentils and pickled fennel. Arctic char is a fish and the taste and texture is similar to salmon. My arctic char had some undercooked to raw parts.
Arctic Char in Kitchener
The only other time I had arctic char was in Kitchener at Wildcraft for a friend’s birthday party back in 2012. I think I preferred that arctic char compared to the one at Quince since it had sweet, salty and sour elements as opposed to tasting elements of salty, kind of bland and a sour sweetness.

For dessert, two of my friends and I shared the butterscotch banana budino, pumpkin almond torta and chocolate bread pudding while another friend just got the butterscotch banana budino.The butterscotch banana budino is topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with toffee crunch. It’s the best dessert of the three.

The pumpkin almond torta is accompanied by spekulaas spice, creme anglaise and chantilly cream. It’s a tasty dessert that’s not too sweet.

The chocolate bread pudding with a berry compote and honey creme fraiche reminded me a chocolate lava cake but without the molten lava. My friend thought that the berry compote overwhelmed the chocolate bread pudding. Overall for dessert, the butterscotch banana budino is the tastiest followed by the pumpkin almond torta.

I also got B52 coffee while my friend had tea. B52 coffee is coffee mixed with several kinds sweet liqueurs.

Categories: Canada, Cuisine, Food, Food Festival, North York, Restaurant Review, Western | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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