Winterlicious 2013 – Grappa

My first Winterlicious for 2013. Tonight I experienced Grappa.

Originally located in Toronto’s little Italy, this upscale eatery has located to my neck of the woods and had it not been for Winterlicious, I never would have known about it. I am happy for the discovery.

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My friend and I called it fancy when we walked it, but it had the feeling of being in someone’s nice home. When you walk in, there is a seating area with comfortable modern chairs and a sparkly chandelier above. We were greeted promptly and shown to our seats. They did not hesitate to help my friend with her baby stroller. I was already liking it here.

The menu was pretty extensive. Right away we were given a bread basket and some homemade hummus with tarragon and olive oil. Three kinds of bread – olive sticks, cornbread and some crusty Italian bread – all fresh and soft. I really liked the olive sticks. The hummus was fantastic with the tarragon addition. I broke my bread quota for the day.

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My appetizer was the beet salad – roasted beats, spinach, feta cheese, almonds, raspberry vinegar and orange oil. Let me tell you, I don’t think I have ever eaten beets before this salad. My first beet experience was great! Fresh ingredients, big chunks of sweet beats, nice texture with the almonds and spinach.

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I selected the herb crusted tilapia as my main served with roasted butternut squash risotto, vegetables, black olives, capers and tomatoes. The fish was flakey, not overly bathed in herbs. I found the saltiness of the black olives and capers a bit too much, but the risotto was perfect. It helped to cut into the saltiness.

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Dessert time. All desserts are made in house. I initially went with the chocolate raspberry tartufo, but the waiter gave a good spiel about the creme brûlée. I’m a marketer’s dream, easily swayed. There was a nice burnt sugar top. Substantial. The actual creme was super thick and creamy with a little tartness, lemon I think? Some sort of faint citrus. I enjoyed it.

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Of course, all of it washed down with a glass of Trapiche Merlot/Malbec. Not my absolute favourite, but it did the trick.

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Although it gives off the image of being upscale and fancy on the outside, Grappa has a laid back, relaxed atmosphere inside. Like eating dinner in your dining room at home, only with nice white table linens. Our waiter was super friendly and liked to crack jokes. They kept our glasses filled and checked on us without being annoying. No air of pretentiousness in this place. An enjoyable meal. =)

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