Valentine's day dinner - Urban Fare Catering
In the past few years my hubby and I have ordered our Valentine's dinner from Urban Fare Catering (Bathurst & St. Clair) with mostly good results.
UFC offer an appetizer (3 choices), main (3 choices) and dessert for $26.99/person. I think this is a pretty good deal. (For those interested I have posted the menu choices below.)
Where do other Chowhounds go for their gourmet pre-made meals? Any recommendations in the west end (Etobicoke) or downtown area would be appreciated.
Here are the choices this year:
Vietnamese Vegetable Rice Paper Rolls & Asian Dip
Slow Roasted Tomato & Bocconcini Salad on Mixed Butter Leaves w/Torn Basil & Aged Balsamic Olive Oil dressing
Spinach Leaves w/Toasted Slivered Almonds Tossed w/Orange Vinaigrette
Grilled Scallops & Lrg Prawns served over a Lemon & Parsley Risotto Drizzled w/Balsamic Syrup
Poached Atlantic Salmon filled w/Braised Fennel, & Green Onions served w/Tarragon Butter Sauce & Jasmine Rice
Peppered Filet Tenderloin of Beef served on a Wild Rice Risotto Cake of Mushrooms & Stilton
Warm Tofu & Roasted Vegetables Stacked between Crisp Pastry Layers w/Soy Vinaigrette (Vegan)
* Entrees Served with Steamed Colorful Baby Vegetables
Chocolate Raspberry Heart
Luscious layers of raspberry & chocolate mousse nestled around chocolate biscuit finished w/red glaze & dark chocolate heart
I am a huge fan of UF. The head chef is a wonderful Thai woman so those items tend to be their house specialty. Everything is always so fresh. Outside of Valentine's Day they have Friday TV dinners, 3 course meals. And they have a food shop that you can by great sauces, oils etc.
I am totally 'home catering' impaired, but very intrigued. How does this work? You call, order and then . . .? do you pick it up or is it delivered?
Last V-day we went to our favourite restaurant (Bymark) and spent the entire time laughing at all the incomfortable new-date couples. It was cute but we were a bit skeeved out so eating in may be just the ticket.
You call ahead (UFC allows those who are interested to sign up for e-mail alerts that advise the menu and cut off date for ordering) and then pick up the meal to be re-heated at your home. There may well be places out there that do deliver - I would love to hear of places that fall under this category.
With the V-day crush and having to book way in advance to get a spot at a decent restaurant, we prefer to stay in and enjoy a meal at our own pace.
At the very bottom of the e-flyer they do mention delivery is available upon request (I missed it the first time around). They charge $18.50 for deliveries within the GTA. They will go outside the GTA, however that would have to be a special arrangement with UFC.
I will try to remember to post my "review" of the actual food.
First off, I must correct my first post to more accurately portray the V-day special. The Vietnamese Veggie Rice Paper Rolls starter were included in the meal and the appetizer choices were between the two salads.
The rolls were okay - I'm far from an expert on Vietnamese food, so cannot comment on authenticity. The filling had peppers, a large leaf of lettuce and what looked like very thin noodles. The Asian dip was very sweet and flavourful - very little went a long way. I liked the rolls, although I did not care for the lettuce.
Hubby had the bocconcini salad and liked it. I had the spinach salad. As always, the pairing of spinach and baked almonds is classic. The dressing was not too sweet. I liked the salad for its simplicity.
Hubby had the salmon and because I'm not a fish lover I did not try it. I took his word that it was good (his words: "it was light and flaky - it was well done").
I had the beef tenderloin - was a little disappointed that it was pre-sliced. Plus it was a little bland. I don't remember tasting the stilton in the risotto, which was otherwise very well prepared. The side veggies (carrots, snow peas and I think yellow zucchini) had just a little bit of crunch.
I should mention that both meals came partially cooked to allow us to finish preparing in the oven at home. This is a great idea and prevented over-cooking.
The dessert - a strawberry-flavoured cream sandwiched between two heart-shaped thin meringues - was from Dufflets. The strawberry flavour did not taste real to me, but this is a Dufflets product so cannot be attributed to UFC's kitchen. I actually liked the dessert a lot.
The portions were - not surprisingly - small (especially given the price point). My husband pointed out that although they were small they were still "just enough".
I think my only complaint was that UFC was not flexible about the pick up time. Admitttedly it is very clear from the e-flyer that pick up was to start after 2 p.m. Unfortunately given the weather this became a problem for us and I just could not see myself spending $18.50 for delivery. They explained that because of their other commitments it would be difficult for them to accomodate an earlier pick up time.
I do like the shop - they are constantly bringing in new gourmet products and always have some item out for customers to "test". The food is admittedly expensive, but tends to be high in quality. I have yet to try any of their frozen / take-home foods. I'll have to look into that next time I'm in the area.