Summerlicious 2014 – Merlot

Tried out this west end French restaurant for Summerlicious.  I’m not sure why, but when I walked into Merlot, I had a flashback of visiting La Petite France the year previous and was immediately worried. 
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Just like La Petite France, the walls were decorated with French art posters to go along with a French bistro feel. But that is where the resemblances end. IMG_8535

Merlot was warm and welcoming.  Our server was genuine, efficient and friendly.  One of our friends was running late, but our server made sure we had drinks and bread and checked in with us periodically to make sure we were ok. IMG_8529 IMG_8531

When our last friend arrived, the server gave us more time to look over the menu.  No rushing here and the place was filling up nicely.

Their dinner menu:

Chef Daily Soup
or
Moules ‘Saint Tropez’
Fresh steamed mussels in a light broth of white wine, tomato, garlic, onion, parsley and herbs
or
Salad ‘Au Roquefort’
Arugula, beets, cherry tomatoes, Roquefort cheese and lemon dressing


Fresh Pickerel
Pink peppercorn and cream sauce, served with blended rice and vegetables
or
Onglet ‘Bordelaise’
Grilled tender hanger steak with a red wine, shallot, herbs, parsley and butter sauce, served with vegetables and frites
or
Paillard of Chicken ‘ Basquaise’
Grilled free range chicken breast, white wine, tomatoes, onion, garlic parsley and black olive, served with fries and vegetables
or
Tortellini
Cheese filled pasta in a light cream sauce with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs and spices


Coupe Bistro
Poached pear in red wine, served on vanilla ice-cream
or
Daily Fresh Fruit Flan
With crème anglaise, fruit coulis & whipped cream
or
Chocolate Mousse

It was an automatic that for the first course I was going with Salad ‘Au Roquefort’.  Every ingredient in this salad is one I adore.  Even beets! Yes, beets!  So sweet paired against the Roquefort blue cheese, oy, I was in heaven! I could have eaten two plates.

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When I order from these menus, I try to pick an item I know I rarely eat or would be less likely to make myself.  I definitely would not be making a pickerel dish, and that is why I selected it for my 2nd course.  Pickerel is a freshwater fish, a smaller version of pike generally found in north-east US and eastern Canada.  The peppercorn cream sauce was well-flavoured and I really enjoyed the sweet vegetable puree.

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And for dessert, of course the one involving ice cream.  Vanilla ice cream is always safe.  A little slice of wine poached pear for some texture. IMG_8540

After walking by Merlot numerous times over the course of a couple of years, I am so happy that I finally made my way inside to try their food.  The atmosphere was relaxed and calm and the staff, great.  I found the food nicely prepared and tasty.  Simple recipes are sometimes the best.  =)

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Summerlicious 2014 – Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Oh Lamesa, you’re starting to become a regular place to visit, but I’m ok with that.  2014 is the first year that Lamesa participated in Toronto’s Summerlicious event.  Their menu was a modern take on Filipino food.  I put more emphasis on modern than Filipino, but delicious none the less.

To begin, a little Ontario Riesling wine with some fruit.  So light and refreshing, I had to ask what the wine was.  Simply told a Niagara region wine.  Guess I’ll be on the hunt now for it.

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The First Course:

Halo Halo Sisig
Chicken, pork and beef with chilies, garlic, onion topped with a crispy fried egg
or
Green Mango Salad
Sour green mango, heirloom carrots, arugala, cornicks and bagoong caramel
or
Pancit
Mung bean noodles, beans, carrots and cabbage

I opted for the Halo Halo Sisig – My Favourite.  It’s like breakfast and dinner together in one skillet.

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Fried Chicken Adobo
Crispy fried chicken with pickled chayote, garlic puree, and adobo reduction served with grilled corn
or
Ginataan Gulay
Roasted squash, beans, greens, and eggplant in coconut milk served with rice
or
Sarsi Sticky Ribs
Grilled pork ribs with a sarsi glaze served with coconut coleslaw

My choice for the 2nd course was the Sarsi Sticky Ribs.  Sarsi is a soft drink available in the Philippines which can be compared to root beer.

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Jackfruit Creme Brulee
Jackfruit and Carnation milk custard
or
Ovaltine Chocolate Cheesecake
A no-baked whipped malt chocolate cheesecake with brown butter polvoron
or
Ginataan Sundae
Ube, coconut, caramel corn and whip cream

My dessert selection was the jackfruit creme brûlée. You may be asking what is jackfruit?  This is a jackfruit.  You eat the pieces in the middle. It’s sweet and little bit chewy in texture.  open-jackfruit-showing-bulbs

Lamesa took the fruit and made this mini dessert.  Love that crunchy sugar top. IMG_8454 IMG_8455

Yet another great meal at Lamesa.  Their sisig will probably always remain one of my go to’s unless some other place comes up with something better or I visit the Philippines to get my fix.  The ribs were amazing.  Fall off the bone super soft and can we talk about the portions?!  I was glad the creme brûlée was tiny because I ran out of room after the 2nd or 3rd rib piece.  It was so much food.

Success at Lamesa this night! =)

Summerlicious – Bloom Restaurant

To bloom means to flower, to grow, to thrive, to blossom. I feel that I have started to grow and thrive these days. I feel lighter and more focused. I’ve decided to make some changes in my life. Some simple changes like choosing to try to eat better, be more active and stress less about things I cannot control to some more complicated things related to career moves, personal relationships & friendships.

How fitting that this Summerlicious event happened at Bloom Restaurant – http://bloomrestaurant.com located on Bloor St, between Runnymede and Jane. A latin inspired food or “nuevo latino” establishment.

It was a stormy night. See the dark clouds roll in.

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I made it to the restaurant just as the rain began to pelt.

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I stood in the doorway, early for my reservation and waiting for my friends to show, watching the downpour.  One of servers, the only lady, possibly one of the owners ushered me in and said, “Why don’t you come inside? Let’s get you to your table, you can wait there.” I was welcomed and taken to a round booth in the back.  The other gentleman server asked if I wanted a drink and then another laid the white cloth napkin on my lap.  I sat and waited and enjoyed my glass of Punto Final Classic Malbec.

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Time to start ordering.  An appetizer of Ceviche Mixto – citrus marinated fish & seafood, sweet Habanero and cilantro.  Fresh and light.  I could have had 2 of these plates.

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The main course Antichuchos – shrimp, scallops & salmon skewers in adobo sauce, chaufa rice, ginger-mango salsa.  Good pieces of seafood, the rice reminded me asian fried rice.  It was well flavoured.

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Dessert time brought us Pudin de Guayaba – croissants, caramel and guava pudding with vanilla creme Anglaise.  Had the consistency of a bread pudding.  Fruity, a bit tart.  Enjoyable.

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A night isn’t over until 2 desserts are had.  So why not some frozen yogurt?

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An excellent night.  It’s nice being in a good head space for once and enjoying a great meal with some good peeps. =)