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Third Toronto Gastro, etc. Tour - Review

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My third trip to Toronto yielded another Gastro Tour and I finally got to visit some of the places that I hadn't gotten to try before.

Black Camel - Brisket Sandwich - a pretty damn fine sandwich with carmelized onions. Glad I finally hit up this tiny place. It was so hot in there though!

Nota Bene - I was looking forward to this for a LONG time. Crispy duck salad was blissful - probably one of the best things I've ever tasted. The skin was so crunchy and it was perfectly paired with the acidity of the salad. Braised shortrib with horseradish salad - meat was fork tender and so full of tender fat - have never tasted anything like it. But the salad, with the horseradish dressing that was supposed to cut the fattyness of the meat, did nothing for it. It was a salad. Why not pair that beautiful short rib with someone more acidic, like the slaw? The salad was a major disappointment. Dessert was a pistachio ice cream - it was the perfect end to the meal since it was light and refreshing. I could have done without the sugar cookie - just seemed like a distraction. Cocktails were super expensive - $17 for something that really didn't taste very good... Service was excellent - my server gave some great recommendations and kept me entertained. I had asked for a seat at the bar through Open Table but they must have overlooked that. The reservation system is a bit screwed up - the staff had me booked for nights that were incorrect and didn't correspond with my Open Table reservation. But I was glad to have sat in the dining room just to see it.

Jacques Du Parc bistro - very French, very classic. Had the Bonne Femme omelette and was not warned on the amount of butter the French use! Whoa. artery clogging overload. Really nice but the portion size was too generous! Had the lemon tart for dessert - it was excellent but almost not enough lemon for me. I feel as though I have made similar or better lemon tarts, which is disappointing.

The Dessert Lady - cupcakes - hated them the first time I had them two years ago but they have improved. And their new location looks really nice. The service is always so friendly there especially by Tommy.

Barchef - Heard this was a place for some spectacular cocktails. It didn't disappoint. Though I didn't order the $45 smoked manhattan, the Strawberry lavender martini was really lovely. A bit pretentious but it goes with the feel and is to be expected.

BQM - I had tried to hit up Edward Levesque's Kitchen since I was in the area but they were closed for lunch. So I went to Ossington to see what the fuss was about for this burger joint. It wasn't busy and the burger with the crispy onion ring I had was excellent. The French martini I had with it (vanilla vodka, chambourd and pineapple juice) tasted like cough syrup. Worst drink ever.

The Drake - tried to go to Nyood but they were closed for a private party. So headed to the Drake for a late night bite. Was pretty impressed. Had the braised beef perogies and mac and cheese croquettes. The perogies were just spot on. The croquettes were also good but nothing spectacular. Drinks aren't too bad there either. Someone told me the atmosphere was stuffy there but it was pretty nice, I thought. Save for the creepy old guy who was with a big group who kept trying to listen to our conversation...

Nadege - spicy salami sandwich - really fresh and crunchy and aesthetically, gorgeous. The greens looked a wee bit wilted though. The blackberry macaron was so delicious but I can't say I'm a huge fan of the other macaron flavors. Too much of a twist maybe? Sadly I didn't refrigerate them b/c I thought I wasn't supposed to. The "Addiction" was still tasty a couple of days later and the mousse inside the chocolate wrap was perfect - pomegranite and chocolate - how can you go wrong?

Rushton - was in the area and it was recommended to me. Surprisingly good, considering I expected nothing. The crispy duck confit rolls were just what I needed after a long night. The slaw with a hint of sesame oil really worked as well. Cocktails were great. The lemon curd - not so much. Far too sweet and I was expecting something like a tart. Instead, it was just super sickly sweet lemon curd in a dish. A totally failure in that department. But service? Really impressive.

Nyood - finally I hit this place up after it was recommended to me several times over the past two years. It was fun, the food tasted great. The only disappointing thing was the beef flatbread which I felt was a disappointment considering how great the panko crusted chicken, antipesto and lamb had been. Service was exceptional though - our server was really on top of things. They were on a timeline since there was a private party starting in an hour but that was fine with us since we had to leave within that time.

It had its ups and downs. I still haven't been to Canoe yet so I will head there the next time and also check out a few others. I think I'm realizing I don't just want amazing but classic food but something innovative.

Thanks so much for everyone and their suggestions!

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