Shoto 2nd Visit — Toronto (9/2014)


I was at Shōtō a little over a month ago. I had reason to come back to Toronto, so I decided to dine a second time.  I had a very nice experience the last time, so I wanted to see how it would be the second time around.  I was not disappointed.  It was again a Friday night, and the first seating group was running a little behind, as I had to wait about 10 minutes after my appointed time to get seated.

The “Rare” pour wine list was shorter than the last visit. What was missing was the Chardonnay that I really liked.  Everything else was mostly the same.  I was going to try the other Chardonnay, but I was advised that maybe I shouldn’t, based on some comments from a prior patron.  They went ahead and poured me a taste and told me what the other person said (a little astringency that shouldn’t be there).  I actually agreed, so they served me an Ontario Pinot Gris (2013 Five Rows St. Davids Bench), which I liked enough to start off the meal.

The first bite was pretty much the same as last time (above is after the oyster was eaten). It was an East Coast oyster with pepperoncini, which was again, a quick and spicy start.

For the full write-up, click here.


Restaurant &samhoud places — Amsterdam (8/2014)


I found this restaurant online, so I put in on my list. When the opportunity came up for a nice airfare to Amsterdam, I booked a reservation about 3 months in advance.  It is in a building that houses two restaurants.  Downstairs  is &samhoud places streetfood, and upstairs is Restaurant &samhoud places, the Michelin 2-star establishment.  As I decided to stay at the DoubleTree Hotel next to Centraal Station, the restaurant was very convenient (right across the alley from the hotel).  When I arrived at 7:30, I was led upstairs and given the choice of sitting at a table or at a counter looking into the kitchen.  I naturally chose the counter seat (I was the only one dining at the counter for the evening).

They offered several menu options for dining. The standard is the “Inspiration” menu, which is the full tasting menu.  You can also choose a shorter menu, which would be a subset of the full menu.  You can also add one or more premium dishes to supplement the menu.  Finally, they offer an a la carte menu option of different dishes.  I went with the standard full Inspiration tasting menu.

They offered a Riesling by the glass, so I chose that for my wine with the meal.

For the full write-up, click here.

Restaurant De Kas — Amsterdam (8/2014)


I had a trip planned to Amsterdam and already had a restaurant targeted for the visit.  However, a few days before my trip, I ran across a list of the latest trendy restaurants in Amsterdam.  Restaurant De Kas was on the list.  Their website had an English version, and they looked very interesting – and organic restaurant serving in a greenhouse not far from the center of Amsterdam, with food sourced mostly from the greenhouses or a farm not too far away.  They took reservation inquires by email, so I tried for dinner on my remaining available nights.  They were booked full, but they could take me for lunch on my only weekday afternoon in Amsterdam.  The only apparent difference in the menus was the number of courses available as the option.

I guessed that it would take me about 30 minutes by tram to get to the restaurant, which is set at the edge of a large park (Honeweg stop on the #9).  I walked in right at 12:30, with the restaurant mostly empty (it filled up a little bit later on).

There were greenhouse rooms all around the restaurant.

For the full write-up, click here.