Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: Rose and Sons

Chef: Chris Sanderson

Contact: 176 Dupont Street / 647-748-3287 (dinner reservations only) / roseandsons.ca

Hours: Brunch, Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday, 6 to 11 p.m.

We made the trek out to Rose and Sons on a particularly frigid -30 evening in Toronto.  On any other night the informal 1960’s diner chic look may not have appealed to me for a nice dinner, but on this freezing eve I welcomed the warmth emanating from the cozy shared seating. Rose and Sons is the 2nd of three restaurants that have opened in this area by ex-Drake Hotel co-owner Anthony Rose, who seems to be testing how many restaurants he can create from a hole in the wall.  In spite of this, the food and the experience was indeed distracting enough for me to forget that I had been sitting on a hard wooden bench for hours.

The best value for the meal seems to be the Family Dinner at $50 per person for a four course meal.  Some items are from the Rose and Sons menu, other dishes are from the sister restaurant Big Crow, or whatever the chef feels like throwing together for you.  We are warned that the dinner will take a good 1.5-2 hours, but we are in no hurry to rush back out into the cold and so we prepare our bellies to feast.

While we wait in anticipation for our first course, I try the Sour Cherry Smash which is a delightful mix of bourbon, cherry, lime and soda; a boozy Dr. Pepper. Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0382 I was quite happy with my choice until my boyfriend ordered the Extra-Vaganza – a fine looking vodka caesar.  Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0385One look at the pickle and kabanosy sausage on top and as a loyal caesar drinker, I felt that it was my duty to try this extravagant drink.  The caesar was a mix, but still packed a great kick, the sour pickle and smoked Polish sausage balanced the spice out nicely.

Our first course was a grilled romaine caesar salad with roasted squash.  I’m usually not a fan of the  “chop your own” salad presentation, but one bite of this smoky lettuce dripping in creamy anchovy dressing and fresh parmesan cheese – and I was hooked.  The roasted squash seemed a bit of an after thought…but roasted squash on a chilly winter’s night is never something to complain about.

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What really made our group swoon was the slice of grilled maple syrup and chili cornbread.  Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0389Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, the maple syrup brought out the sweetness in the corn, while the chili sauce balanced out the savory bite.

Next up was the red chile and pork stew with tostadas and homemade crema – the perfect dish to warm our souls.   The rich, comforting broth is earthy and slightly sweet, and thick enough for dunking the crispy tostados, scooping up chunks of tender pork.  Simple, fresh ingredients including a Mexican sour cream cool the bite.

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The next dish is a deep fried whole sea bream topped with homemade pesto, lemon and arugula.  The delicate fish flakes off into our salivating mouths.

Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0394Alongside the fish was a roasted brussel sprout, potato, chick pea and feta salad.  The unique assembly of ingredients turned out to be one of my favourite dishes of the night.  The creamy chick peas and crispy brussel sprouts are brought together nicely by the saltiness of the feta cheese.

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Next we are presented with a juicy 28-day aged ribeye steak.  We are all feeling pretty full by this point, but we weren’t too concerned until the waitress returned back with our sliced steak.Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0401

Our ribeye was now accompanied by a puzzling amount of sweet potato fries and garlic aioli. The mountain of fries seemed excessive and unnecessarily overcompensating.  While the steak was well cooked and flavourful, we barely touched the fries which was a waste.Food Photos_Rose & Sons Review_DSC0404

We thought we could handle the innocent looking brownie, our final course.  Until the waitress came along with a silver canister, popped it upside down and poured sweet globs of ice cream, chocolate syrup and peanuts.  We still managed to devour dessert, as you can see.

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Overall we left very full and satisfied, and I love the experience of a chef’s choice menu.

Rose and Sons strives to be the diner with elevated comfort food, but the inconsistent food presentations give the impression that they want to do this with as little effort as possible.

Restaurant Review: Earth

When Ed Ho’s Earth opened at the end of 2009, the reviews were mediocre. However, I was still curious to try this restaurant, as I’m a fan of its sister bistro Globe on the Danforth.  Their slogan “Think Global, Eat Local” spoke to me, for I try to buy locally and in season.  Since dining here earlier this year, another location has opened at Bloor West and Jane, offering the same menu as Rosedale and Globe, only in a much more spacious 18,000 square foot location.

The Earth Rosedale restaurant is hidden away in a little nook on Yonge Street in between Summerhill and Rosedale.  Upon entering the slightly cavernous atmosphere, the sleek, dark room may seem cold, but the staff is very warm, and it doesn’t take long for the black and grey colour scheme to feel welcoming, with  the wooden floors and crystal chandeliers adding an earthly elegance.

John’s Elk Carpaccio

The very thought of any kind of carpaccio makes my mouth water, so I had to order John’s Elk Carpaccio ($12.00) as a starter. The paper thin carpaccio melts like butter in your mouth along with the creamy thunder oak mousse, while the caper berries cut through the creaminess to provide a nice finish. 

Second Wind Farms Elk Ragu

I sampled a bite of my husband’s Elk Ragu ($20.00) from Second Wind Farms (I appreciate how they list the source on the menu).  The morel fettuccine is a bit stiff, though it holds the ragu sauce well, and while the ground elk adds a nice lightness to the ragu, the sauce itself is a little bland despite the addition of local pecorino and marjoram.

Ontario Game Choucroute

I am much happier with my Ontario Game Choucroute ($24.00).  “Choucroute garnie” is French for “dressed sauerkraut”, a famous Alsacian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages, salted meats and potatoes.  My choucroute is a handsome Ontario display of wild boar, venison, rabbit and pork.

The wild boar sausage is the star, full of juicy, fresh flavour and just a touch of peppery spice while the venison frankfurter in comparison is a little on the dry side.  The “house bacon” is crispy pork belly, a nice contrast with the soft but not too rich, stuffed rabbit.  The homemade sauerkraut is probably the best sauerkraut I have had to date, full of salty, sour flavour, with just the right amount of acidity and crunch.  At first eating a plate of sauerkraut and meat seemed strange, but the combination of the salty meat offset by the tinge of sourness in the sauerkraut works, and the contrast of textures creates a really interesting mouthful.

Coca Berry Chocolate Torte

The light fluffy peanut butter mousse that accompanies the perfect looking coca berry chocolate torte ($8) compliments the dense, rich torte well, and a bit of sour raspberry preserve helps to balance out the sweetness. The tiny bit of bacon brittle is a tease, and really doesn’t add much to the dessert other than having to pick it out of your teeth.

Though there are some inconsistencies in Earth’s local dishes, I appreciate what Ed Ho and Executive Chef Kevin McKenna are trying to do, and there is definitely enough local goodness on the menu to tempt me to return.

Restaurant Review: Laurier Gordon Ramsay

When I heard Gordon Ramsay was opening up a restaurant in Montreal, I immediately added  Gordon Ramsay’s first Canadian venture to my ever growing list of “Must Eats When In Montreal”.  Smoked meat, bagels, poutine AND Gordon Ramsay in one city?  Too amazing for words!  So when I had the opportunity to hit up Montreal for 24 hours, the first place I went to was Laurier Gordon Ramsay.

Nestled amongst the Christmas lights of Laurier Avenue West, this former rotisserie family restaurant in Outremont was the perfect place to cozy up in on a cold December night.  I’ve dined at Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Prague and his At The London in NYC, but as I stepped inside Laurier I admired the completely different atmosphere.  Unlike the elegant lounge of Maze or the five star world of At The London, walking into Laurier felt as though one was walking into a friend’s home.  From the elegant black and white exterior to the warm wooden paneled dining room and solid wood tables, Ramsay kept it simple, and catered to the local neighbourhood (rule #1 from Kitchen Nightmares).

Cute Bread & Butter, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

Little touches such as the jar of homemade pickles on each table and the metal bucket of fresh roles and logo branded butter are unique but not pretentious.While an extensive wine list makes me realize I’ll be spending more on wine then I will on my meal, with such reasonable prices (an average main is about $15 CAN) I’m enticed to splurge a bit more.  Everything on the menu looks deliciously heart warming, and I finally settle on a classic French onion soup, which should be a testament of the menu’s focus on local comfort food.

French Onion Soup, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

The French onion soup is perfection from the crusty layer of Gruyere cheese to the well seasoned beef broth and soft carmelized onions soaking the fresh croutons below, there is comfort in every bite.

The main course was even harder to select: tourtiere? Beer battered fish ‘n’ chips?  Chicken pot pie? Wood planked salmon?  Oh if only there was more time!  However, the specialty of Laurier is their rotisserie which features grain fed, naturally raised Quebec chickens (Kitchen Nightmares rule#2: use local produce!), and so I finally decided that this is the optimal choice.

Rotisserie Chicken, Laurier Gordon Ramsay, Montreal, Canada

Now it may seem strange to compare Swiss Chalet with Gordon Ramsay, but just imagine if Swiss Chalet was actually made with real chicken.  Imagine if you had this fresh, cooked to perfection chicken whose juices are held in by thin, crispy, well seasoned skin, complete with crunchy coleslaw and hand cut fries alongside silky gravy for dipping.  I will now forever love Gordon Ramsay because he has made me the most divine Swiss Chalet dinner, ever.

Our group ate, drank and relaxed for about 3 hours, and not once did we feel rushed by the waiters to leave, something that I really appreciated.

With reasonable prices, local produce and a warm, inviting atmosphere, Laurier confirms one thing: Ramsay abides by his own rules, meaning no matter which restaurant of his I dine in, the experience will always be amazing.