Friday, September 19, 2014

Davanti Enoteca, Near North Side, Chicago

DAVANTI ENOTECA
30 E Hubbard St 
Chicago, IL 
60611 United States
Italian - Communal Dining - Date Night - Free WiFi
$$
For our first night in Chicago, my sister couldn't have chosen a more perfect place. The seating areas were ridiculous! I love how suitably heighted the ceilings were, and the way they made use of the space. Located in Near North Side, Davanti Enoteca was both cozy, and provided a very nice family-diner feel. I immediately felt at home as we were quickly seated upon reservation and slipped into our booth, We started off with a Pinot Grigio, and excitedly wandered our eyes up and down the Dinner Menu. Reading the menu, it feels like you were at a completely foreign restaurant, words are just thrown at you. I've learnt that evening that "Vasi", meaning, "Mini Mason Jars" is my favorite Italian word. You'll see exactly why in a bit! A pointer is to keep a look out for the English translation or glossary somewhere about the page and you'll be fine.

Simply, Italian food with a modern twist - Davanti Enoteca is all about communal dining, which means, smaller dishes, but more dishes to taste and share around! Be prepared to order for 1.5x the amount of people you're dining with.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Xoco, Northside, Chicago

 Starting off Chicago with a hell of a lot of good eats, thanks to my incredibly familiar Chicago-loving Sister. My biggest trouble with visiting a new city has always been relying - a tedious amount - on Yelp, then ending up with a dish infront of me that was way below the hype! My biggest key in life, is not to expect too much, but Yelp twists these expectations for me way beyond my ideal. Big examples, are extended to (of course) my soiled trips around the U.S. Xoco is one of Rick Bayless' three beautiful restaurants, situated on the single strip in Chicago on North Clark St. Xoco focuses on a good ol' spot for Takeaway, Breakie, Lunch, and Late Night options, filling the menu with a heap of Street Food - both sweet and savoury - by the dish!

The first bite to invite my descent into falling in love with Chicago, Xoco was definitely the right place. Bold flavours ooze into your mind as you go over the menu - Chipotle Catfish, Iced Mint Chocolate, Wood-roasted Suckling Pig..... Holy moly. This was just too much for me to imagine, we went with a few good intros. Being sick for the first week in Chicago, we stayed clear of anything fried, which was a pity since we really wanted to have a go at a good platter of their House-made and Fried Tortillas and Guac.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rasta Pasta, Kensington Market/Chinatown

RASTA PASTA
61 Kensington Avenue
Toronto, ON
M5T 2K1, Canada
Jamaican - Takeaway - No Seating
$

The outside smokey grill is the biggest attraction to Rasta Pasta, it is a brilliant unintentional advertisement, all by pure attraction by the nose - they save by sending out incredible smokey BBQ Jerk Chicken scents in all directions from the store front. Rasta Pasta only leaves room for you to Takeaway, but, for a lunch deal of $5, you will be more than happy to! Located in Kensington Market, a short walk away from the also, always packed during the lunch hour, Seven Lives.

Quick service, at an awesome price! It's a simple two step, make your order at the counter, and if your choice is Jerk Chicken, you will receive a bed of either Rice and Lentils or White Rice and Coleslaw or Steamed Veggies

Bakerbots Baking, Dovercourt

BAKERBOTS BAKING
205 Delaware Avenue
Toronto, ON
M6H 2T4, Canada
Bakery - Short hours- Cash only - Vegan/Dairy-free options
$$

 This day was all good weather, Bakerbots Baking was one of the first Ice Cream stores that I hit up once the sun came out to play. Bakerbots is located a very short walking distance from Ossington Station, just off Ossington Avenue. They cater their baked goods, most days after 3PM. I went with two of my good mates, and I happily introduced an Ice Cream Sandwich to them. We made our visit on a Wednesday afternoon, and lucky for us, the single table that they had in the shop was just cleared. There is also bench seating outside, merry places to sit and chow as well.

Although there is a short amount of pickings for pastries and other sweets (Macaroons, Cakes, Cupcakes..) on weekdays, we did not come here for either of those. The House-made Cookie ($1.50) options are plentiful, on the day I made my prance, there were Ginger Molasses, Captian Peanut, RoCocoa, The Everything, Birthday and Oatmeal. The Cookies make great pairings with their interesting assortments of rotating also, Homemade Ice Cream, these, being in Cinnamon Toast, Fresh Mint, Chocolate Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Corn-on-the-cob and Burnt Toffee. The Ice Cream Sandwiches come in half ($4) or full sizes ($7), as well as in Vegan and Dairy Free options. The Dairy-free Ice Creams are either the selection of Raspberry or Chocolate. Don't forget to ask for pairing suggestions! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This End Up, Dufferin Grove

THIS END UP
1454 Dundas Street W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1Y6, Canada
Sandwiches - Lunch/Dinner - Bar - Cash/Debit Only
$$

We felt like nothing else but a big ol' carb-alicious sandwich from somewhere, anywhere after a lengthy 4-hour training. This End Up, a very hipster-esque Dundas West joint, was the right calling. We were seated and presented the specials on an oversized wooden cork pin-board... Very, very, hipster. I enjoyed the sight of the paintings, translating that they serve up local produce in their restaurant - a nice touch! 

Their menu was a unique one each sandwich had a twist to it - Gochuchang (Korean sauce) in a Chicken Sandwich, and slices of Pork Belly in a Beef Burger? We had to go for those. If I was here for the evening, I would have went for their drinks as well. There are various Vegetarian options available here as well, the Smoked Tofu Taco (3 for $12) and Cali-Coco BLT ($13) - with Smoked "Coconut" Bacon and Havarti sounds swell! Apart from their Sandwiches, you also have options of Baja Fish Tacos (3 for $13), Wings (1lb/$13) and Kimchili Cheese Fries ($8)... What part of this menu doesn't intrigue you???

Monday, August 4, 2014

Kitten & the Bear, Parkdale

KITTEN & THE BEAR
1574 Queen Street W
Toronto, ON
M6R 1A6, Canada
Cafe - Specialty Food

On the hunt for a sweet treat and cuppa' tea to further introduce my darling newbie Aussie sister to the city - we took a 25-minute stroll to Kitten & the Bear. Having been warned of the simple, hardly-dining shop, we entered, turning a nostalgic faux glass doorknob to be greeted by a counter a brief three meters away. The cafe, former a shop front from where customers could purchase the Kitten & the Bear's fresh, homemade jams and stocked teas from Sloanes. I am glad that they have found space to fit two tiny tables, making it a delightful spot to sit and catch up with a bud.

Kitten & the Bear is owned by a husband and wife, I admire their passion for the products that they serve, I especially love the homey feel that the place provides. They also had big baskets of both peaches and nectarines plopped in a few corners of the cafe, they all looked so succulent and had us eager to get ordering.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saving Grace, Little Italy/Portugal Village

SAVING GRACE
907 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1V9, Canada
Brunch/Lunch - Cafe


Constant rants of the ridiculous line-ups at Saving Grace, I'm glad that I didn't have to wait for more than ten minutes for a seat on either two visits. Having my sister visit from the land downunder for a month, we were to arrange a heck of a lot of snacks, brunches, lunches and dinners. Her ponder of what a "Hipster restaurant" is really all about, I reluctantly put Saving Grace for brunch onto the list. I was seated by an, again - different, but, fairly cold and rushed server.

Saving Grace has specials which they change up daily on a mounted blackboard - the specials range from brunch plates of Waffles with Roasted Plums, to, Quesadillas with Black Beans and Chutney. Other variables are sweets to end a meal, Sausages ($3.50) to add on and fresh Juices ($3~4.25).