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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Week In Yum Aug 30-Sept 5 Back at The Wren and Patois, Bud's Coffee Bar and Spoon and Fork


A fine rendition of our favourite cocktail, The Pimm's Cup @Patois

Okay, okay, I guess my two week break from eating out has come to an end. Either that or my jeans have shrunk. Anyway, here is the week that was:




On Saturday we had to drop off our cosplaying nerd off at the Convention Centre for FanExpo so that he could commune with his tribe and that left us downtown with nothing to do. Nothing to do except drive to Bathurst and Dundas and loiter around the front door of Patois until Chef Craig spied us and ushered us in ten minutes before the official opening hour of 11am.

Patois

This was our first brunch at Patois even though they have been serving it for weeks and we were very excited. Shack had spied the Loco Moco on Instagram and already knew that was what he was having on the drive over. The Hawaiian breakfast dish consists of rice, a hamburger patty and brown gravy. Reinterpreted at Patois, their Loco Moco includes the addition of spam, fried plantain and an addictive shallot gravy. I was a bit worried about this choice because he is not normally all that crazy about rice, although he does like rice as a vehicle for some sort of gravy or sauce and this plate was swimming with it, as you can see down there. You break the egg with your fork and let that creamy yolk run down onto the rice, mix in with the shallot gravy.... you get a piece of burger and a bit of spam on your fork, run it around in the eggy sauce.... heaven.


Because I have no self control when there is fried chicken on the menu, I ordered the Hong Kong Waffles with Fried Chicken. For $13.50, I was actually surprised that it came with two huge chunks of crispy on the outside, moist on the inside fried chicken. I could only eat one piece of meat and took the other home for The Kid to eat after Geek Fest and I would have happily shared it as part of a plate sharing brunch. Blond butter syrup, which is clearly some sort of tasty sweetened condensed milk concoction is way better than it has a right to be and, again, it's all in the forking. A little chunk of eggy waffle, a hunk of crispy skinned chicken, a soupcon of peppery watercress and a tiny dribble of sweet sauce and you can start the day with a song in your heart.

By the time we were leaving at about 12:15, the place was starting to get busy but the two people who were sharing bartending and serving duties seemed up to the task. Both were friendly, helpful, the food came in good time and everyone sitting around us appeared to be making the same noises we were making, everyone was pushing dishes around the table so friends could share and appeared to be very happy to be eating here. That's all you can ask for, right?



The Wren

Believe or not, we haven't been to The Wren in ages and we were starving. Our original dinner plans feel through so we made an impromptu, mad dash to The Wren and called some friends and asked them to come meet us there. I almost always have a negroni if I am going to have a boozey drink but, for some reason, I ordered a beer off of the chalkboard list. Kensington Watermelon Wheat spoke to me and although I don't drink a ton of beer, I liked it. A faint hint of watermelon and a nice, slightly bitter after taste worked for me although, as beer seems to do to me, it fills me up and I couldn't finish my meal. I don't know how you people do it with your beer drinking and food eating all at the same time.



Shack had the special, the Burger of 1000 Islands. A nice, juicy beef patty piled high with spicy 1000 islands slaw, sweet pickled red onion, cheddar and dill pickles, it was really quite spicy, as advertised and was deemed delicious. It certainly disappeared quickly enough. 

I had the Smoked Chuck Flats with Roasted Corn Salad (no pics because it wasn't pretty and the light was getting low). The beef, which has been smoked and then grilled and topped with an avocado crema, was delicious. The meat was falling apart tender and I ate every, single morsel but the corn salad wasn't tasty enough for me to put any effort into. Contrary to popular belief, I don't love everything I have ever eaten at The Wren and although I really liked the beef, I wouldn't order this again, although if a tablemate ordered it, I would happily accept a couple bites of meat!

Hank, a creature of habit, had the fried chicken sandwich for probably the fifth straight time in a row, which is clearly a testament to the yumminess of that particular sandwich. Crispy, southern fried chicken with a bacon aioli- HELLO- some pesto, lettuce and tomato and, as always, a giant pile of great fries.

As we were settling up the bill, this lovely lady down there came up to the table and I thought she was going to lodge a formal complaint because I am so loud and obnoxious that I made it impossible for her to enjoy her chimichanga in peace. Imagine my shock and awe when, instead, she said "Are you the Yum Yum Factor?"

Holy crap, a fan! A real, live fan who isn't related to me or paid by me! She said she is a avid reader of the blog, so, I assume that she is reading this right now and I want to tell her that she made my day and Shack has been making fun of me ever since. I will apologize right now if your name is not Wanda because we all heard Wanda but Shack heard something like Jennifer. Shack is also almost deaf and it's a loud place so I am going with Wanda.

I don't think I have ever encountered anyone this happy to meet me unless I owe them money

I did quite a bit of cooking this week, starting with this cauliflower fried "rice" . I keep reading all of these claims that pulsed, raw cauliflower can be use to replace all sorts of grains in all sorts of dishes and after a year of seeing them also stand in for chicken wings, pizza crust and mashed potatoes, I was too curious to let it go. The chance to eat a giant bowl of fried rice, guilt free, was far too appealing so I whipped some up for lunch and gave it to The Kid, who said he would not have noticed the absence of rice if I hadn't told him. I don't know that I would go quite that far, but it is delicious and it is carb free so it is my new favourite thing. Stay tuned for another recipe for Cauliflower Tabbouleh, using the raw, pulsed veg in place of bulgar wheat with great results.


Bud's Coffee Bar


 I am part of a facebook group called Community Cash Mob, where inhabitants of The Beach (or Beaches or Beach Village, depending on your age and how long you have lived here) gang up on local businesses in an effort to give support so we can have nice things. Leslieville is like our evil, prettier step sister who gets all the new, designer shoes and we get the hand me down Birkenstocks due to our ridiculous rents and crazy bylaws that strangle new businesses who attempt to do anything interesting here.

All that said, we do have some fine spots here to dine and buy food and I am happy to report that our newest coffee spot is lovely! Owned by a Leslieville couple, oddly enough, this shop brings a little touch of hip to the beach, selling tasty baked goods from Desome and Beatrice for now, with plans to expand the selection in the future. As of today, there are only a few barstools in the window and no bathroom but I am told that seating is coming although I am not sure the status of the other facilities for those who care about such things. All the coffee used comes from Sam James Coffee Bar in the cities west end and you can also buy a bag of his Cut Coffee to take home, but stay and try a cortado.


Since I was already at Bud's , I ventured a few doors down to Moo Milk Bar for a red velvet cookie


I also spent the week, hard at work, developing a second recipe for Mushrooms Canada and this one involved deep frying and you all know how I feel about deep frying. Why won't T-Fal send me an ActiFry so that I can deep fry without all of this scary, bubbling, potential burning down the house oil??



 Friday came and it was finally 40000C outside so Shack and I put the top down on the car and went for a rip out to Etobicoke because we are insane. When you are flying down the highway, the wind blowing in your hair, it's beautiful but once you have to slow down or stop? Third ring of hell.
Nothing left to do but pop into Spoon and Fork to see what's what.

Spoon and Fork 

 Okay, I will tell you right now, the food gets pretty high marks for what it is. We have always frequented all you can eat asian/sushi restaurants because we have a kid who can eat his weight in sushi and it has been an economical way to let him stuff his skinny face and we have found places that do a great job. We used to love TenIchi at Sheppard and McCowan but it's a hike and it's always so packed we have to wait forever so we don't go as often as we used to. We tried to go to Spoon and Fork last winter and were greeted with an hour wait so we left but for a Friday lunch, we were only one of about ten tables that we could see.
So, the food gets a solid A but the service gets a sad little C. Our server tried to take back the menu for the all you can eat lunch at least five times and it got to the point where the people at the table next to us started laughing everytime she came to take it. THERE WERE TEN TABLES EATING ITS NOT LIKE THEY REALLY NEEDED THAT MENU TO GIVE TO SOMEONE ELSE

We wanted to peruse it and I take notes and its just a well worn, double sided paper menu. It got old fast.

Wasabi was requested three times and finally arrived when there were only two pieces of white dragon roll left at the end of the meal, pop took three requests as well and when he asked for a second pop, she made a very large deal out of the fact that it would not be free! Don't even get me started about the response to our request for a dinner menu to look at so we could read what was in all of the specialty rolls without having to keep asking what was in each one, one at a time, which is what ended up happening anyway because she didn't want to give us a menu.

The good news is that all of the sushi was fresh and tasty, the Bangkok pad thai was so much tastier than I was expecting that we ordered a second portion as our dessert and the green curry, although alarmingly green, was delicious. I love the smaller portions so that you can taste more things and, really, the only thing that we ordered that I didn't love was the basil beef, which had that thick, gelatinous sauce that is the result of too much cornstarch.

The decor is clean, modern and very airy so it won't scare your grandma, it's clean and the food is very tasty and fresh. The dinner all you can taste will set you back almost $30 bucks but at $16.99, it's not the cheapest lunch in town but you really do get a wide variety of dishes to choose from and there are days when I want some sushi AND some green curry and I don't want to have to choose.


Spoon & Fork on Urbanspoon

end the week with a cheap and cheerful Target purchase to brighten up my kitchen


Food & Drink is out at the LCBO which is always an exciting day in the Yum household and it's free, which makes it even more exciting.

The Dirty Bird BBQ  is happening this Sunday  at 1:30pm and I am not entirely sure what it's all about because I am too old but it sounds fun. There is music, DJs, free BBQ until it runs out and it's some San Francisco thing and it's $25. If I was 25 years younger, I would be there with bells on.

Awestruck is happening today, Saturday Sept 6 at 5pm in Celebration Square in Missassauga




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