Thursday, July 17, 2014

South Beach, Miami, Florida: Milos South Beach; Mandolin; Michael's Genuine; Red's Steakhouse, Umami Burger

Milos South Beach

Milos, a Greek resto, specializing in truly fresh seafood, began in Montreal and now has branches in New York, Athens, Los Vegas and South beach.

Just take a look at the incredible array of superbly fresh fish, much of which is flown in from the Mediterranean.

Scottish salmon sashimi (honjake), Fresno chili, shallots and cilantro.(no photo).

The traditional dish at all Milos restos, layered fried zucchini and eggplant, with tzatziki, kefalogaveria cheese. Each layered piece is perfectly crispy and ungreasy. This is a dish that I look forward to at Milos.

Bread is brought to the table to be dipped in olive oil with freshly cut herbs. The bread is grilled over an open fire to bring out the wonderful flavours.

A remarkable fish grilling station. 

There are few places where one can enjoy a better Greek salad than Milos. There salad ingredients are impeccable. The question with all Milos eaters is, "where do they get such great tasting tomatoes, especially out of season"? 

Grilled fresh carabineros shrimp. Remove the head, bight it, suck out all of the juices then peal the shrimp and eat the sweet body. Incredibly succulent and delicious.

We enjoyed 3 varieties of fish. Since the type of fish available changes based on availability there is no point in mentioning what we had, except to say that the fish was simply grilled to perfect doneness, dressed with olive oil and lemon and tasted remarkably fresh. 


Left to right: taramasalata, smoky eggplant puree, tatziki.

A very good rendition of spankopita.

Butterflied tiger prawns with paprika. Terrific.

Kpoglu: eggplant, potato, zucchini, peppers with tomato sauce and garlic yogurt. Loved this dish.

A very good Greek salad.

Kefte: grilled lamb and beef meatballs, very juicy and tasty, sided with garlic yogurt.

Red's Steakhouse

Enjoyable banana pepper stuffed with house made pork sausage with tomato sauce.

A very tasty, properly cooked sirloin steak rated 8/7/7 (taste texture juiciness out of 10).

Very good garlic and parsley fries.

Creamed spinach.

WOW!! Japanese Matsutake 5AAAAA 14 oz rib steak! Amazing!

Michael's Genuine

Very good, very crispy, thick cut potato chips and pan fried onion dip.

Great, crispy pig ears. Bet you can't eat just one!

Wood oven roasted shishito peppers with soy and peanuts.

Slow roasted pork shoulder with pickled red onions and parsley sauce.

Wood oven roasted pizza toped with braised lamb, kale, roasted tomato, dill and mozzarella. Pizza crust was ok but not great. Good topping though.

Wood oven roasted whole "poulet rouge" chicken with plumped raisins, toasted pine nuts and arugula.

The chicken carved and served.

Maple pecan pie with creme fraiche sherbet. No pecan pie matches my memory of Pied de Cochon's (Montreal) pecan pie for 2!

Umami Burger

This place makes a really good burger and is worth the journey. The burgers are cooked exactly as ordered and are very tasty and juicy. See below for the paraphrased introduction from the restaurant. 

The ART of creating that perfect mouthful. It starts with the house-ground, hand-formed patty infused with the Umami Master Sauce. It builds with the carefully crafted combination of toppings resting on the lightly toasted and slightly sweet bun. It explodes with house-made sauces, paired with unique sides and accompaniments  What is Umami Burger? Experience it yourself.. After one bite, you'll accept
No Substitutions. 

A note at each place setting.

Three sauces: from left to right, truffled mayo; house made ketchup; roasted garlic aoli.

"The original"a terrific burger topped with parmesan crisp, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and house made ketchup all on the house made bun (Portuguese milk and honey bread)...quite brioche like. I added a bit of garlic aoli and truffled mayo.

The first bight!! Juicy! Delicious!

Pretty good crispy fries.

Onion rings with an unpleasant, heavy batter.

They make dessert but you don't come for THAT!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rasa Restaurant, Toronto

Rasa is the new restaurant from creative chef Adrian Niman, co-proprieter and chef for the well known, highly popular caterer, The Food Dudes, and formerly chef at Bloke and 4th. 

One of the seasonal dishes that was a standout was the Maryland soft shelled crab not miss this dish as it is in season now, and this may be the best soft shelled crab sandwich that I have enjoyed anywhere!

Mini muffins of semolina, grilled corn, mild poblano peppers, cheddar and honey butter, a great start.

Lobster bites, butter braised lobster sous vide in a lobster buttered squid ink brioche with celery heart and finely diced crispy chorizo. Chef Niman is all about textures and contrasting flavours.

One of the 4 faves of the night, chopped salad.....but, this is not just any chopped salad. A range of chopped seasonal veggies, including purple kale, romaine, grapes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers and deep fried crispy chickpeas and Macedonian feta, seasoned with parsley, mint, sumac all mixed together with quinoa and dressed with an aged balsamic vinaigrette and another dressing made with the feta blended with seeded jalapenos. A remarkably good range of flavours and textures once again.

Fritto misto, one of my faves of the night, perfectly cooked lemongrass shrimp that had been marinated in Thai spices for 24 hours and quickly fried to texture perfection and served with shishito peppers that had been lightly battered, fried and seasoned with lemon zest and then all topped with yuzu chilli oil and ginger flavoured ponzu glaze. One eats this dish topping rice crisps with the peppers and shrimp. Another terrific combination of textures and flavours....chef Niman's forte!

Crunchy skinned, jalapeno poppers, wrapped in serrano ham, with goat cheddar, lime crema and tomato jam. The jalapenos are scooped out and filled with goat cheddar and caramelized onions and deep fried. One of my very favourite dishes tonight.

The presentation of the fabulous Maryland soft shelled crab sandwich!

Sandwich closeup. The crab is marinated in buttermilk and old bay seasoning for 24 hours, dipped in a cornmeal tempura batter and then deep fried to crisp perfection. The crispy batter looks heavy but is remarkably light and ungreasy. The crab is mounted in a soft buttermilk bun that has been lavishly coated with bacon jam and topped with sliced tomatillo and iceberg lettuce. My favourite food experience of this meal.

Inside the soft shelled crab sandwich. Yummy!!

Calamari bolognese consists of house made semolina noodles flavoured with garlic and parsley. The clever "bolognese" sauce is made with coarsely ground calamari that has a similar texture to ground beef in a bolognese sauce. to create the bolognese sauce, ground calamari is sauteed with grated carrot, onions, celery and garlic and then deglazed with white wine and flavoured with miso. This combination is then added to the house made tomato sauce and slowly simmered for a couple of hours. Fermented chilli is added for a bit of a kick and then crispy bacon bits for texture and a further smoky flavour. A remarkably creative dish!

Fluffy egg yoke gnudi is made with chick pea flour, buffalo ricotta, parmesan and herbs, blanched and then pan fried in brown butter. Lightly smoked carrot puree is a base for the gnudi. Summer heirloom tomatoes and wild mushrooms are added to round off this dish.

Cabbage rolls with kalbi marinated steak, shimeji mushrooms, spicy kimchi dressing with radish and carrots, cripy vermicelli and a creamy queso cheese sauce. Because of cheese sauce, this dish did not quite work for me.

Grilled octopus (not an ideal texture tonight), is combined with tender, long braised then glazed, pork belly which has been crisped in a pan before service, parsnip puree, apple salad (also made with radish, kale and carrot) and potato crisps.

The finale, sticky bun with walnut praline, cream cheese anglais and candied bacon.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ici Restaurant at the Windsor Arms Hotel

Long established Toronto chef Jean Pierre (JP) Challet has moved his restaurant to the Windsor Arms Hotel. He brings his unique and classic French food, the last bastion of this kind of classic French cooking, since Didier closed.

The first canape: goat cheese tart topped with caramelized shallots and topped with a burek (a Turkish dish, a crusty pastry filled with cheese)

The second canape: house smoked salmon rolled in Belgian endive topped with farmed Canadian caviar.

A wonderfully rich lobster bisque cappuccino with a perfectly cooked shrimp frite dabbed with ginger oil. Do not miss the perfect rendition of this classic dish!

Perfectly undercooked scallop with Asian pear, king crab tempura (batter not crispy enough), perfectly undercooked lobster and spicy mayo.

Breast of duck, cooked rare, a pointe, with linden honey, carrot-orange mousse and Lillet gastrique.

Braised beef (delightfully soft, correct texture and rich flavour) topped with black trumpet and morel mushroom sauce with duchesse croquets.

Ginger cheesecake, lavender macaroon, strawberries, white chocolate and berry vacherin.

By special request, JP's marvelous  classic Grand Marnier soufflet, perfectly executed, great texture and light as air, with citrus anglais.