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Wife's birthday dinner at Nota Bene this monday

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After reading BokChoi's reviews (I sure do hope he eats free! If not, I'd like to act as his agent going forward...) I've decided to take my wife here for her birthday dinner. My first thought was Milagro's but it seems to get so-so reviews here, so meh! My wife is Mexican, but I think I'd rather just go to some nice places in Mexico City the next time we're there. Let's be realistic here! PS: If you're ever in Mexico City, I can highly recommend "El Lago" a beautiful restaurant, very high ceilings, unique building, nice areas to walk after dinner, and amazing food. (and like half the price of fine dining in TO)

So I have a few questions before I go.

MONDAY
LUMACHINI PASTA, SHRIMP
Espelette Pepper Oil, Chickpeas, Tomato, Basil $27

There's two words they surely made up in there.. What the heck? :) Anyone tried that?

GRILLED “RARE” HANGAR STEAK
Guajillo Spice, Tomatillo, Lime, Avocado Chutney $22

That sounds pretty mexican.. No mention of it in the other reviews, anyone tried it?

MAFALDA PASTA
Truffle-Scented Mushroom Bolognese $14

?

I'll surely try the Charcuterie, because I'm a huge fan of these kinds of foods.. But my wife won't go near bacon or anything "smokey" to save her life. Will ordering that for myself be ridiculous?

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  1. I can't comment on the first three since I haven't tried them but I can say that it would not be ridiculous of you to order the Charcuterie for yourself. I did, and I'm a girl. And you can bet I ate everything on that plate!

    Oh, and because I was curious and didn't know, I googled Lumachini Pasta and it looks like it is small snail-shaped pasta.

    1. SocksManly,

      You are too funny. I am glad you liked the reviews and pictures. Sorry, I cannot help you out on those dishes because I have not yet tried them. The hangar steak was on my list though, but I am not much of a 'steak' person when I head out to eat because I have this preconceived notion that steak is just steak. I am more than likely wrong, but I still love my Cumbrae's steak that I can make at home. The price is definitely tempting though, so I may give this version a try. If you do, let me know how it is.

      The Charcuterie platter has always been shared at my table, but that's not to say I could not polish the platter off myself, like always_eating mentions. The meats are very thinly sliced, so when you condense it, it really isn't that much. And if you don't think too much about the fat, fat, whipped fat, and more fat, you won't get too full at all. I recommend not having the Boudin Noir Tarte as a main if you do this.

      Cheers!

      1. Thanks you two! If we try something that hasn't been mentioned I'll be sure to report back. BokChoi, do you tell these restaurants you'll be taking pictures of your food or something? Do you have a spiel? :)

        It's really helpful, thank you. Pictures tell a thousand words, right? They make my stomache ache though! It's a love hate relationship, ours. ;)

        1 Reply
        1. re: SocksManly

          SocksManly,

          I actually try to stay as anonymous as I can. As you can see from my flickr post, I keep my personal pics off the site so that it's just all about the food. Same with my email address bok.chow@gmail.com. I just want to try and be a 'phantom' diner, just your average joe, so that I can report back a typical experience at a resto. As a result, lighting is generally terrible when I try to take photos - hence why some of them don't turn out as well as I had hoped. I only whip out my camera when the food parade arrives. Hope I am doing a satisfactory job thus far!

          I would agree with LTL about the flavours, but I do see some merit in phoenikia's opinion of course. When I recently dined at JG in NYC, I found the flavours to be too overpowering for my palate. He must make it that way because many diners appreciate the punch. However, I like it when the flavours are more subtle so that I can taste each element. I enjoy NB because they are not too heavy handed with the salt, and he uses a lot of citrus notes and different herbs from mainly the Asian region to enhance his foods. I appreciate this a lot more than heavy spicing and salt. It's the same reason why I wouldn't dine at a Bobby Flay restaurant, but would lean more towards Morimoto's style. But both are great chefs. That's what's so great about Toronto - there are people from every walk of life and different parts of the world that converge. And there's generally something for everyone here.

          p.s. make sure you save room for the bread and butter pudding.

          Cheers!

        2. I didn't try try the Grilled "Rare" Hangar Steak, but I did try the Yucatan Hot and Sour soup (the other dish on the menu with a slightly Mexican inspiration or name) and it was not spicy.

          Not sure which word you think is made up in the pasta dish- espelette is a pepper found in France and Spain, if that's one word you're not familiar with;) It is often used in Basque cooking. Lumachini means snails (or sea snails) in Italian- I agree with always_eating that it's a snail-shaped pasta.

          I found the food at Nota Bene to be rich/heavy, but quite frankly bland. There's no question the ingredients are high quality, but I didn't find the flavours to be interesting.

          I won't choose to eat at Nota Bene again unless the destination choice is out of my control, or I'm trying to find an upscale place with great service for a plain eating companion.

          The night after I went to Nota Bene, I ate at Cava, and I was pleasantly surpised by the spicy kick in a few of their dishes (notably the patatas bravas and the tortilla soup). I like the food at Cava much more than the food at Nota Bene, although many others on the Board are likely to disagree with me.

          The chef at George often uses Mexican or Latin American inspiration or ingredients in a few of his dishes, and I always find the flavour combinations interesting, and sometimes spectacular. But I remember reading that Bok Choi did not like his meal at George, so it's possible that we have very different palates;) Vive la difference;)

          I also do not like JKWB, which is a favourite on this board, for the same reasons I didn't like Nota Bene. I like bold flavours, and I certainly didn't find any at Nota Bene. If you are going to Nota Bene on Monday, I'd stick with a dish with no promise of unusual (at least in Toronto) spices or flavours, so you won't be disappointed if you can't find any evidence of the ingredient mentioned on the menu;)

          1. I actually found every dish we ordered to have a lot of depth and flavour (lobster salad, barramundi, hangar steak, braised short ribs, bread and butter pudding). Not sure if your wife would like the steak though because there is a bit of a smoky taste to it.