8/28/2008

Eatery Reviews

Nyood

Blowfish
IT'S LATE Thursday night and the room is packed at Blowfish, the nearly-unmarked King West restaurant that has set the tone for the area's self-conscious commercialism. Cruising club cougars sip $9.50 Nishibi Martinis while a downtown crowd in the dining room, their faces aglow in the active lighting, picks over portions of seared octopus and architectural towers of Albacore tuna. [...]

I HAD just come back from living in San Francisco where so many sushi restaurants were hard to beat! I have to say that this one can really compete with those in the Bay Area. Beautiful decor and atmosphere. Perfect for a night out on the town and worth the money. It's a great experience. Will go back soon! (More reviews: MartiniBoys.com)
668 King St. W. // 416-860-0606
Blowfish

Cowbell
No other local resto captures the current culinary zeitgeist as accurately as Mark Cutara's Cowbell. Subscribing to the food philosophy that what grows together goes together, the iconclastic chef not only butchers his own naturally raised beef, but also grows organic veggies on his roof. Why, he even churns his own butter. Toss in a perfectly sized room, calm, focused service & a soundtrack conducive to conversation & the foodies deservedly flock. (NOW Magazine - Nov.08)
1564 Queen St. West (@ Sorauren) // 416-849-1095
Cowbell

Four
It is being billed as the "first healthy, upscale restaurant created to offer guests top quality, chef-driven dishes without all the calories normally associated with high end cuisine." Don't expect diet fare. These dishes are healthy without losing out on flavour. (martiniboys.com)
Four is an outstanding food experience. The imaginative combinations of ingredients combined with the freshness and quality makes this place a regular occurrence with foodies. (martiniboys.com: Jne.08)
Great looking place but the food was a little bland and seemed a bit filler-ish. But, the place is new so I guess it's a learning experience. The seats were really uncomfortable. Bar looked great but a little disjoined from the rest of the place. Couldn't tell whether this was a restaurant or a bar or even both. It's even located in a food court. Might be one of those places that will suffer an identity crisis in a bit. Service was friendly but not anything I can write home about. She looked good but didn't know much. No experience there. I would still come back in a couple of months to see how it progresses though. (martiniboys.com: Jne.08)187 Bay St.//416-368-1444

Gladstone Hotel
by Steven Davey (NOW Magazine: Jun.07)
Most bar kitchens keep their sozzled punters happy with a tried & true menu of artery-clogging crap. So the Gladstone should be applauded for including daily specials like pan-seared duck breast...
Back in '81, Queen West restos had a deserved reputation for service with a sneer. But to encounter the same attitude nearly 3 decades later at the Gladstone is nostalgia we can live without.
1214 Queen West//416-531-4635
Gladstone Hotel

Marben
VISUALLY, Marben is stunning. Obviously a creature of the night, she's sensuously done up in black with strategic, sparkling accents...Resto-lounges often suffer from a downward spiral on the service end when the music is loud & the pretty crowd clamours for their drinks at 10pm on a weekend night. But on a quiet Thursday evening, friendly servers have time for chit-chat & menu explanations. Whether this remains the case as the joint becomes more established remains to be seen. But early indications are that in look, taste & service, the Marben crew have achieved the mystical balance between substance & style. (Eye Weekly: Jun.07)

THEY have a great patio, though it may rain tonight. I eat at Marben on a regular basis and can recommend the pepper rolls, crab cakes and shrimp rolls..The tuna salad is very nice and all the mains are very good..(chowhound.com: Aug.08)

This is one of the few restaurants that does a better job with mains than appetizers...Decent enough service but the mandatory gratuity for large groups and insistence on providing only ONE bill for a group of 11 people (what happened to at least offering to split the bill into halves or thirds to get us out of there on time?) meant we didn't tip as much as we would have normally. (chowhound.com: Aug.08)488 Wellington St. W//416-979-1990//Meal for 2 = $150
Marben

nyood
[DesignLinesMagazine.com]
Opulent high ceilings and stainless steel doors at Nyood (pronounced nude) set the mood for this resto/nightclub, where owner Hanif Harji and chef Roger Mooking (the duo behind King Street East’s Kultura) brought in designers Hamid Samad and Sara Parisotto of Commute Home to deck out the space’s sweeping interior with ├╝ber-hip lighting fixtures with exposed bulbs and industrial cords, walls covered in handwritten words or textured to look like tree bark, and a polished Cipollini marble bar. The tapas menu is crafted for sharing: lamb fougasse flatbread with goat cheese and roasted tomatoes, artisanal charcuterie and braised short ribs, followed by chocolate espresso mousse, among other sugar-infused desserts.
1096 Queen St. W.//416-466-1888
nyood

Pizza Rustica
by Steven Davey (NOW Magazine: May 07)
Pizzas are obviously what Rustica is all about, & the namesake pie gets it exactly right - a thin cracker crust brushed with sauce & layered with skinny lengths of somewhat salty prosciutto, sliced button mushrooms, roasted red pepper & lotsa mozza' ($13).
But why are Rustica's crusts - properly charred underneath & blistered around the edges - fluorescent orange?
"It's yellow food colouring," says our cheerful server. "Don't worry, it's all natural. Sometimes the kitchen gets it wrong & the pizzas come out pink!"
270 Wellington West//416-260-0200//$30 per person
Pizza Rustica

Rawlicious
by Edward Keenan (eyeweekly.com/review/article/33855)
Offering a remedy for now-clogged arteries, this year's catchphrase is organic & veggie: The Beet Cafe is mostly vegetarian & all organic; the Sweet Potato organic supermarket is only a block away. Between those fancy-stroller magnets, construction has begun on the Toronto location of Vancouver veggie-hipster institution The Foundation.
Now, a few blocks west, is Rawlicious, Toronto's second vegan, organic, raw food restaurant.
(The other is Live, which we rated flawless a few years ago.)
3092 Dundas West//416-551-3161//Dinner for 2 = $70

Terroni
by Steven Davey (NOW Magazine: Jan.08)
Terroni has grown exponentially to become Toronto's favourite pizzeria: the local chain has taken over the Courthouse on Adelaide East.
The new site is undoubtedly luxe. A series of rooms with vaulted ceilings that date back to the 1850s, it comes with a casual cafe up front & a larger dining atrium to the rear with twin roaring fireplaces.
Terroni's handmade noodles are the real deal. But what about the pizza? I order 2 to go & what's shocking is what's not there. Has the kitchen never heard of fresh basil? An entire Terroni pizza weighs virtually the same as a slice anywhere else, so lightweight it could qualify as Lean Cuisine.
Mies van der Rohe famously posited that less is more. The size of the pies at Terroni shows that less is also much more expensive.
57a Adelaide East (& other locations)//416-203-3093//$45 per person
Terroni