25 Dockside Drive
Type: Pub Food
Pricing: Average – Moderate
If you’re hanging out by Sugar Beach, there isn’t much to eat except for the Superstore across the street. However, if you walk a little further down the shore, you’ll stumble across the Corus building (home to YTV and Treehouse). Attached to it is Against the Grain Urban Tavern.
What’s better than White Wine Sangria on a sunny day? Absolutely nothing. I love the fruits and lime that was added, it gave it a naturally sweet taste and gave it a pop of colour!
These ATG Nachos were a big mistake; we couldn’t stop eating it and by the time our food came, we were already half full! We added pulled pork to the mix and they didn’t skimp out!
My friend Amy made a good decision getting the Spicy Lobster Taco appetizer. With a thick smear of avocado, lobster bits, chopped onions and a spicy honey mustard sauce. I had a bite and it tasted great; the wrap stays together and there’s enough filling to get your money’s worth.
I knew it was lunch time but I really wanted their Tavern Steak with Mushrooms. I like my steak medium and they made it right, it wasn’t too dry or too chewy. The fries were also crispy and freshly cut, the best kind!
The Tavern Classic Burger is a good choice if you just want a good old burger. It holds together well and while it isn’t anything spectacular, it does the trick.
14 ByWard Market Square (Ottawa)
Despite Ottawa being a city whose main attractions are government related, I enjoyed my time here as well. Their downtown core isn’t too different from Downtown Toronto but you still feel like you’re in a different environment. If you’re ever in town, I recommend checking out ByWard Market (especially if you’re looking for a bite to eat!). They’ve got bars, restaurants, takeout, bakeries, practically everything! As well as little souvenir shops for you to browse.
We wanted something a little laid-back that day so we opted for the cute diner by the corner.
I wanted something sweet and read online that their Chocolate Milkshake was to die for! The whipped cream was an extra bonus and the glass itself is not a small one! But once you get a sip, you won’t want to stop! It’s so creamy and thick, the way a real milkshake should taste and you can’t forget the chocolate!
The Banquet Burger originally comes with cheese and bacon but I added mushrooms because they make everything better! The bun is soft, the meat is juicy and the onion rings are crispy. With my chocolate milkshake, it was a little more than I usually consume but all in good taste.
The Grilled Cheese Burger is a patty and cheese grilled between two pieces of white toast. It looked a bit too heavy (especially with the upgrade to the poutine!) but it was a vacation and my boyfriend was hungry. Although he did agree and say it was a little too much in the end.
100 Adelaide Street East
Type: Seafood Bar
My boyfriend is always craving oysters. He’ll want them at the oddest times and if he could, he’d eat more than one platter at a time (he probably has at one point). So I decided to surprise him by taking him to Starfish! He guessed where we were going before we arrived but I just kept denying it until he got inside, hehe.
He’s also taken a liking to alcoholic cider. Our waitress told us about this Ontario-made Foundry Cider. I’m not a big beer fan but even I enjoyed it. It was very light and the apple cider overpowered the beer, which is a big plus for me.
I’m not a huge fan of soup but when I find one I like, I REALLY like it. This is what happened with their Hearty Winter Vegetable with Salmon Soup. It had a hint of cream which made it smooth and the pieces of salmon and vegetables were a good size. I loved how everything came together nicely but you could distinctly taste every ingredient with every bite.
These are the Green Gables P.E.I Oysters that we came for. Starfish houses the World Oyster Opening Champion Patrick McMurray and I don’t know if this has anything to do with the taste of the oysters but they were so fresh and tasted amazing. There was no seawater taste and they went down smoothly.
On top of the oysters, we had the Steamed P.E.I. Mussels. I love how their seafood tastes so fresh, like it was caught that morning. They way they steamed the mussels really brought out the taste without overwhelming it with spices; a great dish indeed. It may look like a small portion at first but the Fries come on a separate plate; a full plate mind you. I loved how how they were cut thin because that means more of that crispy layer.
My Filet of Organic Irish Salmon could have been a little more moist but it was still enjoyable. The salmon sits on top of a bed of roasted baby potatoes, onions and a beet.
My delightful Blondie Square comes with a chunk of citrus and pistachio white chocolate bark that I devoured by itself. A blondie is pretty much a white chocolate brownie but because it’s white chocolate, some people find it too sweet. I didn’t think this was the case though since it was balanced out with the sourness from the cranberry compote.
Starfish’s Famous Sticky Toffee Pudding comes to your table hot and drizzled with a little caramel and cream. It’s soft and feels like you’re eating a pillow (if that makes any sense at all).
We will definitely be back! Not only do they have fresh seafood but everything on their menu tastes great. I just can’t get enough!
The House Smoked Haddock Fishcakes were extremely small; you could pop them in your mouth in two seconds! But that’s the thing with good food, the ones that you want more of, you can’t have. They weren’t dry and mostly consisted of fish, not filters like celery.
Pickerel on Barley Risotto with Pesto, Tomato & Shrimp is a unique combination. Barley risotto is a healthier option but I don’t know how much better it is sitting in all that sauce. Their portions are a good size and won’t leave you feeling bloated.
The Chilled Berry Crumble with Frozen Creme Chantilly wasn’t your traditional crumble! The bits were hard and crunchy instead of soft and the berries weren’t incorporated into the mix. I honestly prefer it this way because then things don’t get soggy. The frozen creme was also like an imitation of ice cream, the hot and coolness of the berries and cream complimented each other well.
The Starfish 3-Bite Brownie actually had a bit of a cake texture to it. It comes out pipping hot with a dab of white chocolate. It’s a little too sweet but still really addicting. I don’t think three bites is enough!
200 Rue St-Paul West
Old Montreal, Quebec
Cuisine: Eastern European
Old Montreal is such a great little town to explore; it has that old European look to it and the buildings are tall and all connected. Even if you don’t find yourself going into many stores, it’s great for sightseeing.
One disadvantage if you’re hungry, is that a lot of the restaurants aren’t open until the evening which is a disadvantage for us day walkers. But there are a few that are, including Stash Cafe.
I love the atmosphere, it’s so romantic and it feels like you’re eating in someone’s beautifully decorated home. The service is also great and it’s a nice place to sit down and chat.
The thought of two breaded crepes filled with mushrooms or meat served with a side of salad and potato salad made my mouth water. The Krokiety was actually a very big portion and left me very full. The crepe held together very well, the juices from the filling didn’t make it mushy or break apart. The dressing for the salad looks creamy but I believe it just has a milky texture because it tasted very light. The potato salad had a hint of dill and they give you more than a spoonful! I say start with the crepes because you don’t want to fill up on sides!
I love Pierogi’s but I thought I would try something different so I didn’t end up getting this dish but I wish I had! These are probably the best ones I’ve ever had and I’m not exaggerating! The skin was chewy and the meat inside was so tender. Some had cheese and potatoes but that didn’t matter, it was all so yummy!
I won’t be in Montreal for another while but I definitely won’t forget this place!
879 York Mills Road
Pricing: Cheap – Average
Type: Semi-Casual Restaurant
I first got a taste of Casa Manila when I attended the TO Food Fest in 2012. I was blown away by their hospitality and food so I had to stop by their restaurant in Toronto. The interior is beautiful and is filled with memorabilia from the Philippines. From the moment you step into the restaurant, you’re greeted with smiles and the staff there make sure you have everything that you need without being overbearing; a perfect balance!
You can’t have the dishes by themselves, you need some kind of staple, like their Garlic Rice. There are many different options but I find that the garlic gives it a fresh aroma and makes it less bland. I could actually eat this by itself!
I LOVE Crispy Pata (Crispy Pork Hocks)! It’s funny because I’m Chinese and eat roasted pork occasionally but although it may have influenced this dish, it’s not as good. I think it’s mostly because this has less fatty chunks and the skin is crispy like a chip. This is a must order!
The Tokwa’t Baboy is one of their seasonal dishes and is basically pork belly with fried tofu and seasoned with a sweet vinegar. The pork belly melts in your mouth and although there are pieces of fat, it’s not at all greasy. Real pork belly will be more held together and chewy than oozing grease.
Just look at the delicious piece of meat! I’ll definitely be back here because I had such a great experience. Look forward for an update!
The Chicken Noodle Mami is a great soup that consists of chicken breast, chicken broth and green onions. It’s very light but packs a lot of flavour. I’m glad I ordered it and is a great starter to any meal.
Can Beef Grilled Ribs ever be bad? They were chewy and easy to pull apart. They were cut thin to make it easier to chew but there was plenty so you had more than your fill.
124, Rue St-Viateur
Pricing: Very Cheap ($2-$5 for drinks)
I really enjoyed my time in Montreal and heard a lot about their cafes but we were only there for a few days and only had time to visit one. If this was the case, it had to be the best! After asking around and doing a little research, we decided on this little gem. I love how it isn’t too flashy and is a quaint bar-like coffee shop. What I mean by that is that the barista is behind a high counter and customers have the option to sit on stools. The staff is also very friendly and welcoming; they talk to you as you wait about everything from the weather to what you’re doing in their beautiful city.
My boyfriend encouraged me to go all out with the Affogato and it’s heavenly. The coolness of the vanilla ice cream mixed with the aromatic warmth of the espresso is great. Did I mention it’s a big scoop?
Coffee drinks are a hit or miss for me. If they’re too bitter or aren’t fresh, I can only take a few sips before I gag. But their Cafe Latte was lightly sweetened and had a nice aroma. I would’ve gladly sipped on this all afternoon.
If I’m ever in Montreal again, I’ll definitely stop by here again. It’s got a great atmosphere and you just feel so welcome here; it puts a smile on your face.