Monday, July 13, 2015

Nota Bene's $4 Bar Snacks, A Tastebud's Dream

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Ah, Nota Bene! A Queen West beauty that I wish I discovered earlier. On this occasion, I was ready to indulge in their "4 to 7" Menu offering $4 bar snacks from 4pm to 7pm, Mondays through Fridays. These treat-sized snacks can be easily weighed out by their creative "do-it-yourself" styled Gin & Tonics.

Nota Bene offers 10 bar snacks, ranging from light and tasty Truffle & Parmigiano Popcorn, to juicy "Belly Buster" Sliders. Their G&T Menu includes eight possible gin concoctions. Both menus accessible, here.

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A simple three step process: (1) Pick your GIN, (2) Pick your TONIC and (3) Pick your ICE.

I selected the "No. 3" (Netherlands), with notes of "lavender, juniper, lemon marmalade and cucumber", this was slightly floral and was the perfect gin for me. I had this paired with a mysterious "Fever Tree", with notes as "natural and complex", all with a large ice cubes for a "slight chill and minimal dilution". Garnishes of lemongrass, hibiscus and cucumber were served on a plate by side to either tone the gin according to your preference of sweet/mellow, cool or tangy. The Fever Tree quickly became my new favourite tonic, one that I have gone out to experiment with myself on the past weekend. Specifically created to compliment beverages, it was a refreshing alternative to our regular old Schweppes with a unique aroma of grapefruit citrus, very slightly sweetened. What a perfect selection, Nota Bene!

First to come was the Truffle Popcorn, which was drizzled tastefully in a Truffle oil and sprinkled with Parmigiano. The Burrata Pugliese was a light toasted nibble on a slice of toast sliced into two. The Salt Cod Fritters came six in a bowl; the fritter was beautifully blended, with a delicious kimchi mayo to cut. Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a no brainer to order! Nothing within the bites went wrong here. I would just hope for a more heavily flavour-infused Smoked Oyster Mayonnaise.

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Buttermilk-Fried Chicken ($4)
With Smoked Oyster Mayonnaise
Truffle Popcorn ($4)
Topped with Parmigiano

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Burrata Pugliese ($4)
With Grilled Miche & Olive Oil

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Salt Cod Fritters ($4)
With Kimchi Mayo

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By the count of the number of people around us that made an order of Shoshito Peppers and didn't finish it, it made me feel bad and not want to go for it. In our final fillers, by the recommendation of our server, we went for it. And it was beautiful! A nice amount of Shoshito Peppers - word is, 1 in 10 are gasping hot, these were laced in Lemon Juice, then sprinkled in Maldon Salt. We went for a rock, paper, scissors to challenge who would grab the first pepper next. A plate later and many boy-who-cried-wolf shots, neither of us landed the 1 in 10 chance. No lotto ticket today. 
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Belly Buster Slider & Calamari A La Plancha | Porcini Arancini ($4)

Nota Bene is known for their pasta dishes, so high expectations were granted for their Porcini Arancini. This dish was truly what I've ever dreamt of in a deep-fried rice ball and more... It was fused with delicious mushroom flavours, almost like the perfect mushroom risotto, but formed and deep-fried into a ball. The truffle aioli served on side was unnecessary, but a great sauce on its own. 

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You better bet that this bar snack menu contains not one, but two slider options! Wild fact: I have never touched or even heard of the word sliders before 2013. I have confirmed sliders to being the best things to exist since homemade burgers... Homemade sliders may just be the next! Nota Bene had two of these godly beauties on the list: the Cumbrae Farms Beef Slider and Belly Buster Slider.

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The Cumbrae Farms Beef Sliders came at two to an order, it is topped with slices of maple bacon and a sharp and tasty havarti cheese. Although I would prefer juicier fillings, the beef patty was what carried it.

Ah, the Belly Buster Slider. These belly busting gems come at one to an order. It is worth it to order a second round, no sharing will be allowed once you take the first bite! These tasty sliders come with a delicious pork belly and an ample amount of crispy fries.

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Calamari A La Plancha | $4
XO Sauce and Coriander

I saved the best for last, these soft Calamari rings are the show-stoppers of the evening. You, Nota Bene, have now officially stolen my heart. This plate of Calamari A La Plancha was something of its own; sliced calamari doused in a clearly in-housemade XO Sauce. It was clear the immense amount of loving put into this sauce. Each calamari piece held an effortless chew that truly let the XO Sauce shine.

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Our final bite of the previous Porcini Arancini. A simple Calabrese Olives sprinkled with Rosemary & Garlic with a slice of Cambret Cheese, this combination is always a light inbetweener.

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Nota Bene serves up a well-priced and absolutely satisfying $4 "4 to 7" bar snack menu. All items were an absolute hit! This spot will without a doubt become my go-to for their notable MUST--ORDER nibbles of Calamari, Belly Buster, Porcini Arancini and Fritters. Head in between 4PM to 7PM on a weekday to have your tastebuds blown (and, wallet happy!).

The tastiest visit. Thanks for having me, Nota Bene! You will see me soon.


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