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McEwan

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It's open.

Let me start this by saying I'm not a fan of his restaurants. Mostly because the price points are so high, and the food doesn't appear to be cutting edge. But definitely everything I've had has been prepared to order and the service has been flawless.

Produce:

I found the produce counters to probably be among the prettiest in the city. Not a flawed product on there, with a selection that's on a par with the Harvest Wagon, including many things I haven't seen at the Harvest Wagon, such as blue foot mushrooms. Prices are consistent with HW and Pusateri's.

Meat:

Very nice looking, with a good selection of organic, kosher, etc. Priced fairly competitively with other high end places. They have real Kobe (just kidding, Ontario Wagyu), and many game animals.

Seafood:

The seafood looked good, though the oysters looked to be closely mirroring restaurant rather than retail prices (beginning around 2$). Somewhat surprised that they subcontracted the sushi counter to Edo. Prices were high for the items on display.

Prepared Food:

Not as much as I would have expected. Soups, sauces, stews, aiolis (4$ for a considerable amount, exceptional value). Midrange in terms of prices compared to other purveyors.

Overall Impression

The pricing is competitive with high end stores, there are definitely more bodies per square inch helping than at other stores, and the shop is clean and beautiful. They're going to take a while to find all of the glitches (pate was marked as 'misc meat'), but they seem to have hired people with a lot of industry experience. Worth a visit. Was extremely crowded this morning.

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  1. I bought some 'misc meat' this morning, $22 / kg. Slightly too salty for me but excellent flavour and texture. Fats well emulsified with the misc meat. Met three people I knew.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Paulustrious

      Did you get the rabbit or the pork?

        1. re: always_eating

          I just noticed it has changed its operation hours from 8pm to 9pm. However, it's still not updated on the store directory - www.shopsatdonmills.ca.

           
      1. Bought the Wagyu steak on Friday along with some side salads/roasted fingerling potatoes. Opened a '96 Brunello.

        What a disappointment!! The steak was not at all tender -- really. Good taste but tough.

        Will save much money in future as will be sticking to Costco for meats.

        13 Replies
        1. re: DUH CAR

          And save the Brunello for another 10 years.

          1. re: jayt90

            LOL. Was good the second day 'tho. Needed to breathe.

            1. re: DUH CAR

              We purchased the 30 day dry aged rib steaks that the Globe raved about and they were just O.K.
              We told the butcher and he suggested the wet aged USDA Prime Strip wet aged since April.
              They were twice the price, and very good indeed, but not excellent.
              Have not yet tried the Wagyu, as I wouldn't put it on the B.B.Q., but am now hesitant after your comments.
              DH still prefers an aged Angus.

              1. re: erly

                is not the traditional Japanese preparation of Wagyu on a Charcoal grill? Why would you not want it on the BBQ?

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  An Austalian Chef in Bangkok explained it to me, and when I researched, I came up with the same results.
                  As close as I can remember the fat in Wagyu in unsaturated unlike conventional Beef, and melts much more quickly.
                  High heat is destructive and will break it down, and the meat will be tough.
                  They recommend searing it quickly at a low to medium heat for a steak that can be cut with a butter knife.
                  We have had it since at a couple of Restaurants, including a 2* in Lyon, and a 2* in Milan.
                  always seared, and perfect.
                  I don't know why or how they are grilled in Japan, but the only time I had the Kobe in Tokyo, I wasn't impressed.
                  Not to offend our Japanese Chowhounders, I have already explained that it was before Chowhounds, and probably a Tourist Trap.

                  1. re: erly

                    High heat is only bad if you go beyond a certain point of cooking. You can still sear on very high heat, just don't go beyond rare or medium rare if you really want to push it. You still want the caramelization of the crust to develop for flavour, which high heat gives. Key again is to cook it as briefly as possible.

                    I would sear on a cast iron pan as opposed to a bbq though because of the aforementioned flare up potential.

                  2. re: OnDaGo

                    Apparently the level of marbling in wagyu makes it very difficult to cook on open flame without it constantly catching fire.

                    1. re: haggisdragon

                      Sounds like charcoal would definitely work better.

                      1. re: Snarf

                        Last week we went to McEwen, and we were impressed. Liked the varied beef selection - more so the variety of grades rather than cuts. Somewhat disappointed at the pork, I didn't see any Berkshire, but I'll have to admit I got tunnel vision after seeing all the lovely steaks.

                        Couldn't bring myself to buy the Australian Wagyu, instead we bought two USDA Prime strip loins. They were excellent, had that melt in your mouth quality. I've had excellent Wagyu about three times now, and these steaks were closer to that than a regular steak. I've tried the Cumbraes Wagyu (which I've read is a Wagyu/Angus cross), and it was just a good steak, not particularly better than other premium steaks I've had - this was far superior. I used butter, salt and pepper and grilled them over high heat over charcoal. Liked the mushroom selection as well, and felt no pain at all paying $8 for what seemed like a decent amount of morel mushrooms.

                        On the cooking of Wagyu, I've always used charcoal. I've read varying ways to prepare it, some say skillet, some say charcoal. Most said high heat, with the importance of not letting all the fat render out. I use either a hair dryer or one of those hand cranked blowers to get the coals super hot. Ironcially, after balking at spending $80/lb for the Australian Wagyu, I visited Famu (Japanese butcher in the Jtown plaza), and they had Japanese Wagyu grade A5 (I'm not entirely certain on the grades, but I think that's a pretty good one) at $150/lb. I buckled and bought a very thin steak. Seared it for probably not 30 seconds - wonderful. Expensive, but good anyways. Not something I'll do on a regular basis, but a good treat.

                        Thanks,

                        Brian

                  3. re: erly

                    Erly, this lengthy wet aging is new to me. Wet aged since April, that would be about 80-90 days.
                    I have been told by a food safety expert that cryovac beef is usually aged 14 days before sale, and can be refrigerated safely at home for another two weeks before you need to open it. Allowing for slack, that is 35 days wet aging maximum.
                    Beyond that, I would worry about anaerobic bacteria growing, unless the beef or pork was frozen.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      I am not an expert.
                      The Butcher at mcewan told me that the long aging is safe with wet aging, as opposed to 30 days only for dry aging.
                      I remember the days in N.Y. seeing the meat cases in Steakhouses almost growing mold, but the steaks were delicious.
                      and Aser,
                      The amazing steaks that I have mentioned eating were not crusty, as a quick seared high heat steak would be.
                      I tried the Cumbrae Wagyu cross a few months ago using the Med High heat quick cook rare, and it was very good, but not close to what we had eaten in the Restaurants.
                      The only time that we have eaten the seared crusted Wagyu was in South Africa, and it was not even close in flavor, and I loved almost everything else that this young Chef created (We ate there three times)..
                      There must be a secret step before searing that I am missing.

                      1. re: erly

                        Well, I hope an expert can chime in here.
                        The meat you may have seen in N.Y., such as Sparks , would be moldy from dry aging. Steven Alexander shows this in a Cumbrae's video clip.
                        http://www.cumbraes.com/main.php?a=re...
                        How long can beef be aged in cryovac at refrigerator temperature?
                        Is McEwan bending the mould?

                2. re: jayt90

                  '96 wasn't that strong a vintage in Montalcino, so it's probably fully mature at this point (depending on producer).