Ruby Watchco. 730 Queen St. East, Riverside/Leslieville

In a sea of somewhat mediocre and/or pricey eating establishments in Leslieville, Ruby Watchco proved to have a landslide advantage.

In a sea of somewhat mediocre and/or pricey eating establishments in Leslieville, Ruby Watchco proved to have a landslide advantage.

 

If you’re after a wonderful gastronomic experience, go directly to Ruby Watcho. Having heard the food was ‘good’ I wasn’t prepared for the treat we received – a four course meal for $49. Included in this gastronomic dream was a starter; a beautiful salad of living greens, buffalo mozzarella, eggplant and a dressing to die for, a main; tea brined chicken with tea & lemon gravy and sides that included sautéed red cabbage with bacon & hazelnuts, old-fashioned potato salad and charred broccoli with duck confit, followed by artisanal cheeses which melted in your mouth, and finished off with rhubarb and mixed berry crisp with cinnamon whip cream. Yum X 10.

Add a crazy couple of waiters, cocktails that burst on your tongue and finishing the meal with a perfect cup of coffee, then you have reached food nirvana.

In a sea of somewhat mediocre and/or pricey eating establishments in Leslieville, Ruby Watchco proved to have a landslide advantage. A set price which more than delivers in terms of taste &portions (doggie bags left us with several days of eating ahead of us) vs a la carte menus which can add up, beautiful cocktails/wine and the best coffee west of the Mercury, it was the best foodie experience I’ve had in many months.
Warning: The cocktails and wine will add up – so treat yourself gently in the alcohol department. Or go for an occasion and let your wallet loose. You won’t be disappointed.

McQueen’s Pub 993 Queen St East

Not filled with coasters and sponsored beer posters, it’s got more of clean, bright linear feel to it.

Not filled with coasters and sponsored beer posters, it’s got more of clean, bright linear feel to it.

 

If anyone remembers Toast, located in the spot that McQueen’s now occupies, you won’t have a single memory of it visiting McQueen’s. Completely overhauled, McQueen’s brings a nice somewhat upmarket feel to what we know as a ‘pub’.  Not filled with coasters and sponsored beer posters, it’s got more of clean, bright linear feel to it. Almost like a dining room in someone’s house; exposed brick, nice dark wood tables and a long bar. There are TV screens (ugh) but to the sports oriented, who like a beer with their hockey/baseball, no one can argue. Luckily for us, the TVs were on, the sound off, filling the place with good tunes instead.

Unfortunately I can’t describe our food experience there with the same fervour as the decor.

My friend and I spied the ‘Caplansky’s’ smoked meat sandwich on their menu and immediately both of us ordered it. Our other companion, the nachos.

Dreaming of steamed corned beef on warm rye bread dressed up with a dill on the side, was…just a dream. Our sandwiches arrived on the ‘cold’ side, the bread definitely not fresh and yes, well, the dill was fine. And the slaw was delish. Our companion who ordered the small nachos, received a large one – all the more to share, except that after a few not very warm bites, we left it behind.

I’m never sure why new establishments don’t consider food, service and presentation equally as important as the vibe. I do.

While the service was okay, when we explained the sandwiches were not exactly hot, the waitress said she’d talk to the chef vs. replacing / warming up the meals.

You may not have the same experience we did, but go for the vibe, the drinks (although if you’re after a wide variety on tap you’ll be disappointed), and the hockey/sports games.

Mmm-Maple Smoked Ribs

Ingredients: 

2 lb pork side ribs

1 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate

3 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp curry powder

1 clove garlic, minced

2 green onions, minced

Maple Smoked Delicious!

Maple Smoked Delicious!

Directions: 

Soak maple planks in sink or clean bucket filled with water for at least 1 hour. (this can be done during first stage of cooking the ribs)

Light one side of your grill, and preheat until temperature gauge shows 350°F. Place ribs meat side up in a roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and place on the unlit side of your grill. Bake for 1 1/4 hours.

In a saucepan over MEDIUM heat on the stove or on the side burner of the grill, combine maple syrup, orange juice concentrate, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in curry powder, garlic and green onions. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove ribs from roasting pan, and baste completely meat side and bone side with still warm sauce. Retain 1/2 of sauce for additional basting. Place ribs on soaked maple planks bone side down. Put the planks with the ribs on them on one side of the grill with LOW heat setting directly underneath them. Turn the other side of the barbecue to HIGH and close lid. Keep temperature around 350°F. Planks should begin to smoke within a few minutes, and produce a sweet fragrant smoke in your grill. Adjust the amount of smoke you would like to add by increasing/ decreasing direct heat underneath the planks, and opening/closing the lid. Do not allow planks to catch fire. Allow ribs to cook on the planks for 25 minutes. Use remaining sauce to baste ribs several times throughout cooking. Remove planks with ribs on them from the grill and place the planks directly on a plate or tray for serving

Taste the tropics on a hot day

Taste the tropics on a hot day!

Taste the tropics on a hot day!

(NC)—Canadian summer heat can reach tropical heights, so why not take the whole family on an easy island getaway with a Tropical Citrus Granita? Much less expensive and labour intensive than an actual trip down south, this fun mango and coconut frozen delight – developed by Minute Maid in partnership with the Canadian Living Test kitchen – will make everyone smile on a hot day. If you enjoy this creation, check out other summertime-inspired recipes at minutemaid.ca.

Tropical Citrus Granita

Makes 6 servings

1 can Mango Punch frozen concentrate, mixed with 2 cans water

2-200mL tetra boxes of Tropical Orange 100% Juice.

Coconut Cream

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 ¼ cups coconut water

1 cup canned coconut cream

Stir together the orange juice, mango punch and water. Pour into large shallow glass baking dish.

In small saucepan (or a small microwave bowl) heat water with sugar until dissolved. Whisk together with coconut water and coconut cream. Pour into shallow glass baking dish.

Place both dishes in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from freezer, scrape edges and mix with a fork. Return to freezer, scraping every hour until no liquid remains, 6-7 hours total. Layer fruit granita on bottom of glass, followed by coconut mixture, and another layer of fruit granita on top. Garnish with tropical fruit.

Per approx. 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) serving: about 267 cal, 2 g pro, 9 g total fat (8 g sat. fat), 48 g carb (2 g dietary fibre, 45 g sugar), 0 mg chol, 91 mg sodium, 262 mg potassium. % RDI: 1% calcium, 3% iron, 115% vit C, 4% folate.

Veloute Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

Photo by Toronto Beach Photo - Chef Fawzi and wife Alise.

Photo by Toronto Beach Photo – Chef Fawzi and wife Alise.

Fine dining or casual drinks and appetizers on the patio – the choice is yours at Veloute Restaurant with Chef Fawzi.

2343 Queen Street East,Toronto 416-696-7392

Velouté Bistro and Catering is a restaurant encompassing fine, old world French cuisine, infused with a new innovative style of cooking.  The result is a gastronomic experience set against the backdrop of a warm cozy well-attended urban bistro. Maintaining a high level of service, you’ll find exquisite culinary dishes in an inviting atmosphere at affordable prices.

Chef Fawzi brings a depth of knowledge to the table. A formal private Chef to the royal family Of Saudi Arabia, he completed his apprenticeship under the auspice of Chef Paul Bocuse at the “l’Auberge Du Pont” Lyon France. Fawzi then continued to master his craft, achieving the level of Saucier at “the Hotel Marriott Champ-Élysées “, Sofitel Paris Bercy , France.

Having made Toronto his home, Chef Fawzi continued to excel and succeed at a number of well – established restaurants. “Centro Grill and Wine Bar” as Saucier and “Peppino’s on the Beach” as executive Chef.   Chef Fawzi’s menu rapidly elevated the bistro to one of the top restaurants in the city.

Chef Fawzi and wife Alise

Chef Fawzi and wife Alise

Alise Matos brings equal talent and experience to the front of the house as Manager/Sommelier. The Velouté building, 20 years earlier was Alise’s first home in Toronto. Born in the North of Portugal, where wine and olive oil is much part of her DNA.  Through her years of university, she worked hard and climbed the ladder of success in the hospitality industry.  Her philosophy of services and professionalism has few limits.  Her well-rounded knowledge of cuisine rivaled only by her extensive knowledge of wine.

With the partnership of executive Chef Fawzi Kotb and Sommelier Alise Matos in life, Velouté was where they celebrated their wedding when it was Peppino’s on the beach in 2005.  This passion is still abundant in everything Velouté represents, from customer service to menu preparation.  A superlative level of professionalism and warm accommodating nature, ensures every guest a memorable dining experience

Chef Fawzi and Alise endeavour to meet and exceed every expectation of all who dine at
Velouté and together they are a formidable team.

Veloute Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

 Ingredients

Directions

Heat the heavy cream, milk, granulated sugar and vanilla bean in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.

Place the egg yolks and just a ¼-cup of cold milk or crème in mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color until all incorporate well.

Strain the brulee base through a fine mesh sieve and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the mix into 6 (5-ounce) oval ramekins or gratin dishes,

Place the dishes in a sheet pan or roasting pan.

Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up half way on the sides of the ramekins.

Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes, turning the sheet pan around after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking.

To test for doneness, jiggle the pan slightly to see if the custard is set, if so, remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature or place them in the refrigerator for 2 hours to completely cool.

Once the brulee has cooled, evenly spread 1 tablespoon of sugar over each ramekin and using a blowtorch, caramelize the sugar to form a light candy coating.

Be sure to keep the blowtorch moving in a circular motion to prevent the sugar from burning.

Serve once the sugar has cooled and is hard like candy.