Alo 2nd Visit — Toronto (12/2015)

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After a few months, I thought it would be a good time for a second visit to Alo.  This time, I made a reservation for the Chef’s Counter, so I would be assured of getting the tasting menu.  Given the potential I saw on my first visit, I was very much looking forward to the pivotal second visit. The cocktail menu was the same.

I was given a nice seat at the corner closest to the main part of the dining room.  From that perch, the dining room seemed much smaller than it did on my prior visit.  I had a great view of the kitchen and could see a lot of the work going into preparing the dishes.

The photo on the right is of the chef, Patrick Kriss.

After looking at the wine list and talking with them a little about my likes and the upcoming meal, I decided on trying the Pinot Gris.  It was a good choice for the dinner.  While I was working on the wine, they brought the first snack, which was almost the same as before:  Potato soufflé (puffs) with a black cherry aioli this time (it was black pepper aioli on the prior visit).

Next up was a pair of oyster presentations:  buttermilk-battered fried beach angel oyster with fermented chili and cold New Brunswick Lamèque oyster with nasturtium.  The fried oyster had a stronger oyster flavor, but it also had the slight pepper kick at the end.

The next course paired up beef tendon in the form of a chip topped with foie gras and beef tartare.  This was a nice combination of saltiness and creaminess, as well as texture contrasts.

For the full write-up, click here.

A Wong’s — London (11/2015)

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This restaurant came to me from a recommendation from Kitchen Table.  I had hints that it was a little more modern in technique than normal Chinese restaurants.  I went online to check out their website and secured a counter (“bar seat”) reservation for dinner via an email exchange (They are also on OpenTable.com).

I had a front-row seat into the kitchen, which I liked.  The chef was often just on the other side working, so we chatted from time to time.  You can order a la carte, or you can go with a “Taste of China” Tasting menu.  I, of course, went with the tasting menu.  However, I decided I didn’t want wine with dinner, so I just had jasmine tea.

Before the menu courses began, I was presented with some snacks.  These included a sesame seed cracker, (on the plate) barbequed pork jerky, pickled cucumber, pickled vegetables and satay sauce, (in the bowl) jellyfish, smoked duck and sesame seeds – different flavors and textures to get started.

For the full write-up, click here.

Kitchen table 11th Visit — London (11/2015)

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With this being visit #11, one might ask what’s the point of continuing to describe the meals at Kitchen Table. My response would be that even though the ingredients list may not appear to be much different, Chef James is always coming up with new ideas so that there will always be something new to appreciate.  That was certainly the case on this visit.

I started off with a glass of nice French champagne in hand when the small bites started to arrive.  As we did a few weeks ago, we started off again with Cornwall oysters.  The oyster was garnished with grapes, water celery and bergamot granita.  This was even better than last time.

The next two snack favorites were the same as they are always:  the dehydrated puffed potato starch with salmon, crème fraiche, fresh chives and brown sugar; and crispy chicken skin with rosemary mascarpone and bacon jam.

The next snack was a change from before, although it looked almost the same. I shouldn’t have been surprised that with the prior small bites having some sweetness, this course (which used to be sweet) was savory:  cod roe was salted, cured over hot oak wood and then whipped into a dip.  ON top was some scallop roe that have been lightly cured and smoked as well.  This was finished with a little lemon zest and black pepper.  This made for a nice spread for the Parker House rolls.

For the full write-up, click here.

Qui Tasting Menu Counter 2nd Visit

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I returned to Qui for the fall season to see how they have progressed since my first visit over the summer.  They use the same reservation system (tock) that was pioneered by Alinea in Chicago.  It was fairly easy to get a reservation in advance.  It is a pre-paid ticketing system, with the option of purchasing the wine pairing in advance as well or to wait until there to decide. They only do the tasting menu on the weekends. For this visit, I dined with a local friend, and we both decided to go with the wine pairing option.

The first small bite starter was the same.  It was the frozen mezcal foam with jamón Ibérico topped with a little sal de gusano.  Next, a squid ink chip, topped with phytoplankton aioli and shiso.

The small bites were concluded first with Marcona almond dashi with compressed rose apples and hyacinth, and then with watermelon sorbet with koji (fermented cooked rice), sakura, togarashi, and green tea oil.

These opening plates provided a variety of tastes, textures and temperatures to wake up the palate.  With these, we were poured some nice 2004 varietal French champagne (label pictured).

For the full write-up, click here.