Saturday, 27 July 2013

Resto Review Mash-Up

Dang, dang, dang. I keep aiming to get this one done while these restaurants are still fresh on my palette, but since I eat out fairly frequently this has been coming extremely difficult.  For this post, I'm not going to talk about ANYTHANG besides restaurants.  Let's get started, shall we?

Deer + Almond

Perhaps the funniest thing about this resto is how I keep calling it "Deer plus almond".  Apparently it's "deer AND almond", but I like my version better. Anyway, my review is for their summer menu.  As is the case with a lot of independent restaurants, Deer + Almond has a seasonal menu that is appropriate for both ingredients and the weather.  At first glance the menu seemed very disjointed; it would be impossible to classify this resto into any category.  In a way, you could feel both the passion and eccentric nature of the owner/head chef just by reading the menu.

My order consisted of noodles with Thai vinaigrette,  marinated beef skewers, and "The Wedge" which is a speciality item of the resto consisting of pork belly, watermelon, romaine lettuce with a creamy dill sauce.  The latter was by far the best of the three dishes.  The smokiness and tenderness of the pork belly paired delightfully with the watermelon and dill.  The romaine served as a nice change in texture and added a much needed crunch to the dish.  The other two dishes were pleasantly mediocre.  I found the noodles to be over-sauced and a bit too sweet for my palette.  The beef skewers were tender and delicious, but lacking in creativity compared to "The Wedge".

The one thing I will point out was that the service was absolutely delightful and I could not have been happier with that aspect.  She took the time to explain the menu, was polite and courteous and always seemed to be there when needed.  I actually liked the decor of this restaurant.  It was modern, fresh, and just insane enough to pique my interest.

Overall, I'd come back in the winter out of sheer curiosity on how the menu differs and to see what creative concoctions the chef has created.  I did have high expectations for this place, and although a lot of these expectations weren't realized, it was still a solid meal for the price.

7.5/10

. Deer + Almond on Urbanspoon

Spicy Noodle House 

I need to preface my review with some pertinent information before this all sounds too harsh:  In Montreal, I used to frequent a resto called "Cuisine Schezuan" which specialized in Northern Chinese cuisine.  This place was absolutely phenomenal and my friends and I made a habit of going generally twice a month.  From how my friends talked about it (many who have lived in China/were Chinese), the food served was very traditional (aside from a few dishes I'm sure are intended for country-bumpkin white people such as "lemon chicken").  I was excited to try Spicy Noodle House because I've not only heard such great things, but because their menu seemed to have a lot of Northern deliciousness attached to it.

I went with my roommates on a Tuesday night, so it was not busy, but there were still some restaurant patrons (we also went late; probably around 7).  We decided to split the spicy honey chicken, spicy beef with cabbage and mixed vegetables and a large bowl of rice.  None of the dishes were particularly spicy even though there were warnings about their spiciness.  I would say the only dish with even a mild kick was the honey spicy chicken.  I was also disappointed to see that there were no chilis floating around on the plates and no chili oil staring at me.  It was fairly Westernized.  However, all of the dishes were delicious and fresh in their own right.  My personal favourite was the spicy honey chicken (although it was breaded; sort of a pet peeve).  The leftovers have been delicious as well!

As an FYI, there were three of us and a large rice barely covered all of us.  For 2 people, it would be the perfect amount.  Service was exceptional for a Chinese restaurant and food came out fast.  We never once had to ask for water.

7/10

Spicy Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Tea Story


I've been to Tea Story on multiple occasions now and have yet to review it.  In theory, this should be the place that I love the most: I'm a huge tea drinker and I'm a fan of waffles.  I have also purchased loose leaf tea from them (Mango Tango) which is a fantastic Pom Tango substitute if anyone reading this is angry about the DavidsTea Pom Tango fiasco. 

The most memorable thing I have had at Tea Story (and I have been to both the Osborne and Corydon locations) is the bubble tea.  I had the real fruit peach bubble tea and it was absolutely phenomenal.  The tapioca was cooked perfectly and the peach was actually peach so it wasn't overly sweet. Delish! I prefer this leaps and bounds over the bubble tea I had at Kawaii Crepe.

I also highly praise their waffles. I ended up getting the "half-half" which is essentially sweet deliciousness incarnate.  It has nutella, strawberries and bananas with a bit of whipped cream served on a toasty waffle.  The waffle itself was the star - it was light, buttery and sweet; all the good signs of a good waffle in my opinion. However, this could be my bias as well coming from a Dutch family and waffles being, well, important.  I should have taken a picture! It was beautifully presented.  But I was hungry and it looked too appealing.

Note that while the Osborne location is a full service cafe with seats, the Corydon location is really to pick up things and walk - there is no seating.  This is fair as this location doesn't serve waffles, only tea and pastries.  The macarons they have at this location are just "okay"; the flavours are there, but they are a bit mealy for my taste.  I had the green tea one and in hindsight, I probably should have chosen one of the fruit flavours.

The cafe on Osborne has a very cute atmosphere and the staff are very friendly.  Overall, it was a very positive experience at both locations.  Will return.

8/10


Tea Story Cafe on Urbanspoon

Golden Loong


I'm so excited to report that at long last I have found Winnipeg's "Cuisine Schezuan"! Golden Loong is a bit out of the way (it is close to the University of Manitoba on Pembina), but is completely worth the drive.  It is in a very strangely shaped strip mall and is really easy to miss! It is in the same mall as a gas station and an Asian market.  Before you leave, make sure to look up the location on Google Maps to ensure you don't miss it. 

Golden Loong had a tidier appearance and was cleaner than many of the Chinese restaurants I've been to.  This could be due to differing standards (after all, this is white-bread Winnipeg) or that the restaurant is very new.  I was excited to look at the specials they had on the table - this resto specializes not in Schezuan but in cuisine from the Xi'an province which prior to my experience here, I was completely unfamiliar with.  We ordered the cold noodle special, sliced beef in chili oil and the deep fried green beans.  The hardest part about ordering was that I was trying to decipher which dish was which in comparison to my past Chinese resto experiences.  Luckily for me, my dinner companion spoke Mandarin and I could discern easily what my favourite dishes were by his descriptions of the menu items.

Don't be intimidated by what I'm saying here - I just have some favourites that you could translate into English in many different ways.  If you've never had authentic northern Chinese before, just order whatever sounds good to your palate!  

The star of our meal was the Xi'an cold noodle dish.  Deliciously sweet and sour in a very traditional way, the noodles are served with cucumber and other delicious vegetables. The beef in chili oil was to be expected, except that this one is served with sprouts at the bottom of the bowl (I'm used to excessive cabbage).  I was glad that there was still some cabbage in the dish.  The beans were a little bit different than what I was used to (they were cooked with some type of basil seasoning that I had not had before) but still extremely delicious.

Service was mediocre.  Food came quickly, but we often had to flag a waitress down to ask for things.  I understand that not all Chinese restaurants have five star service, but since I've be to a few in the city that have, I figure this is worth noting. Additionally, I'm not sure if the kitchen will prepare your dish without MSG - I didn't ask because MSG doesn't bother me.

Oh man, I'm so happy I found this place. Finally, my comfort food in Winnipeg!

Half eaten deliciousness

9/10

Golden Loong on Urbanspoon



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