Monday-Tuesday in A Nous Paris, there was an article on where to drink rum in Paris.
Tuesday, in Le Fooding, they celebrated 15 years.
In Figaroscope, Emmanuel Rubin’s Hache Menu covered the previously mentioned Maison Plisson. And, in his usual 5 reviews of new places, he gave 4 hearts to two places: the Chinese Pont deSichuan in the 2nd and the previously mentioned Le Vitis in the 15th. Garnering 2 hearts each were: Social Square, 165, rue du Temple in the 3rd, 01.72.22.75, open 7/7, which for 30-35 E (formulas 18 & 23 E) serves items such as gravelax and scotch beef onglet; the self-evident Burger & Fries, 1, blvd Bonne-Nouvelle in the 2nd, 01.42.36.22.79, open 7/7, serving stuff for 10 E; and the Italian LaCicciolina.
Wednesday also, the Dossier by Alice Bosio, Hugo de Sainte Phalle & Colette Monsat covered Street Food places, mentioning: El Nopal Pigalle Boutique Yam'Tcha Miss Banh Mi Naàn Chéri Charlot Bagnard Fich Huabu
Wednesday as well, Heidi Ellison in Paris Update, reviewed positively Au Bon Coin.
Thursday, in L’Express they reviewed two places in Marseille – Chez Georgiana in the 6th and L’AM in the 8th.
Finally, Friday, Alice Bosio had an article on the opening of La Monnaie of Guy Savoy’s on Tuesday.
Far Niente is defined by Webster as "pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness" and I guess it was. For a business lunch for 30 it gave us lots of choices and a chance to yell and carry-on in a private room.
I only tasted the dishes I ordered (it was that kind of lunch) but I thoroughly enjoyed the deconstructed Caesar salad with sautéed pork belly; spicy (truly) spaghetti marinara with asparagus; and citrus cheesecake.
No idea of the bill; it was picked up by my professional society.
Parts & Labour in Toronto is one of those places one one keeps reading about on the web and in print, which supposedly delivers "modern" [in your face] "Canadian cuisine" and I certainly went fully forewarned, for example:
dine.TO noted it was "the new cultural hub of Parkdale - the hip west end neighbourhood in downtown Toronto," and torontolife.com had said that "Chef Matty Matheson's macho resto-bar was one of the early arrivals on Parkdale's restaurant row, and it remains one of the best," but it also made the contrasting statement that it is "the rowdy restaurant and bar responsible for at least some of the intermittent griping about “Partydale” and its community-destroying ways, ..." and the Toronto Star said that it "fails to deliver satisfaction with its stunt cooking and prison-like decor."
Plus I went for Sunday brunch which I ordinarily avoid like Ebola, but the menu looked much like a and its normal one with eggs added. The music schedule is announced boldly outside, it has a huge bar with pricy cocktails/etc., and a lot of common tables.
I'd read such conflicting opinions of their famous burger ("the best" to "falling apart") that I ordered the fried chicken with collard greens and grits below and a fried egg on top in a bowl. The chicken skin was nicely crisp but had a strange sweet and salty batter and it was impossible to pick it up so I asked for a plate on which to separate it from the other ingredients - semi-successfully. I was a sucker in ordering the wine, a demi-carafe of Niagara Broken Press because of its neat name and reasonable price, not bad at all! The music was canned stuff from what we used to call the "lower 48 states" excepting one Canadian piece by Neil Young, but I guess a full day of him, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and the Band might grow wearing, but it sounds pretty good to me.
Anyway, my bill without bottled water but with a double espresso corrected, was 70.06 CAD, including something I hadn't noted before - a huge "HST tax," euphemistically called a Harmonized Sales Tax.
Pai at 18 Duncan in Toronto was my first meal on my return to my Mother's homeland, aka her "God's Country", aka Canada. I got there via Khao San Road, where I was headed, when I asked the concierge in my fancy hotel for directions. Quite nicely, he, hey, he's Canadian, said "You know, the chef moved to Pai, just around the corner? And it's got a newer feel." Ah ha, a concierge who knows food stuff. I entered and the place looked like a dingy Aspen ski bar with a lot of tables, a full bar and announcements of their year anniversary celebration soon.
On entering I saw a chalkboard for the Daily Special - Thai chicken wings, 3 for 5 CAD - tempted by chicken wings only 100 miles from the mother-lode in Buffalo, I asked my waitress if I could tuck away both them and then the shrimp curry in a coconut shell - "Hummm," she said "if you're really hungry." So I went with the latter which was not only the best Thai curry dish I've had in ages but more than enough for a meal.
With 21 CAD worth of wine, no bottled water (they didn't even push it), dessert or coffee my bill was 43.85 CAD before tip.
Conclusion: The chef, Nuit Regular has indeed upgraded his offerings from the old days at the Khao San Road, to his credit, and serves up mighty fine Northern Thai food, even for food-exemplar, Toronto.
The Korean Village on Bloor St in Koreatown was a place I thought delivered outstanding, almost nouvelle cuisine, Korean food on my last visit in 2006 - not so today. Maybe I had misremembered, maybe the chef left years ago, maybe he only cooks weekdays now - I dunno.
The menu is today (2015) and was then in 2006, deceptive, sounding like stuff you get get off a food cart in Seoul - so being alone I ordered the primo dish - "#3, short ribs, bone-in please." - Delivered: - #4 low-grade shredded beef with sugar added for those under 20. - "Ma'am, I ordered #3", "No you said #4." - OK, said sulkingly.
Kimchi, pickled cucumbers and bean spouts were the highlights of the meal, the soup came in second but the beef was beyond comment.
With three glasses of Niagara Falls' wine (who knew? Niagara by the Lake sure, but?), no bottled water, dessert or coffee, the bill amounts to 36.75 CAD. Oh well, "into life a little rain.....etc"
Backstory: My family is Canadian; my Mom was born, raised and educated in Toronto from family stock that claimed they were descended from the first female white child born in North America (whose cabin is on the "Ex" grounds) and United Empire Loyalists (the geography of such lineage is but the first of many puzzles); my Dad's folks came thru Ontario long enough on their way in covered wagons (as lore has it) to Iowa and then California (excepting Dad) to have Talbotville and Port Talbot still on Google maps - Talbott and Talbot were 18th century or before orthological variations of village priests, clerks and mapmakers.
I spent my glorious childhood summers in Toronto and the Muskoka Lakes, Erieau/Chatham and surrounds with family who were fisherfolk, farmers, slugs and businessfolk, witnessing Japanese and German prisoners of war toiling the fields each day without guards, later to return as the fourth great wave of immigrants (the French, English and Irish having preceded them). And I spent many a winter night watching the Maple Leafs with my Grandad in the owner's box and the Canadiens in Montreal.
My brother is buried alongside my grandfolk.
So I have some claim to feeling Canadian in my blood.
But, when I was a kid, Toronto was a lily-white small village, where everything closed up at 6 PM and food was Brit killed-twice stuff. Now, it's this bursting 6 million multi-ethnic Metropolis with a Chinatown (that existed even then), Koreatown, Thaitown, etc., giving one the best array of ethnic food opportunities outside San Fran and Vancouver - with an 18 lane highway - beat that California!
We think this is our sister-country, just like us, except nicer, more pacific and less militarily and more humanitarianly interventional - same rootstalk, same DNA, same language, same TV stations - some 70-90% living within reach of the border with the US. But it has puzzling paradoxes that were apparent to me on landing today: - The low-cost airline flight attendant spoke perfect French, - The signs are bilingual and have strange words like harbour, lift and lorry, - The customs/immigration people treat people with Yankee passports you like you're an illegal immigrant, Mafioso or Middle-East terrorist, - This "Socialist" country has more capitalistic highway signs, bank buildings and highrises than Hong Kong, and the SIM cards are 10 times that in Europe and - The first time I crossed a street, instead of the polite behaviour of my youth, people honked, jay-walked and ran over curbs.
Hardly the Toronto of my youth.
Paradoxical, puzzling and quite special. Oh Canada! My mother called it "God's country". Maybe it is.
Monday-Tuesday, in A Nous Paris, there were no reviews, just notes about cookie and pastry shops.
Tuesday in Le Fooding, they reviewed the AT-offshoot AT Bar à vins, 4, rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the 5th, 01.56.81.94.08, evenings except Tuesdays, where David Bénichou, ex-Vivant and Atsushi Tanaka from next door provide items such as wagyu beef, maigre and desserts for prices over 51 E.
In Figaroscope this Wednesday, Emmanuel Rubin’s Hache Menu was about the Brasserie Barbes in the 18th.
Then he followed with his usual five reviews, giving 4 places 3-hearts each : the Restau-bar-club Yeeels, 24, ave George-V in the 8th, 01.42.88.75.75, open 7/7, costing one (« oups » he said) 90 E for octopus, duck and lemon tart ; the Anglo-Saxon brasserie Le Colonel Moutarde in the 8th ; La Grille, same old coordinates, now turned into a Brit-like gastro-pub serving a duck terrine, veal belly, entrecote and beers for 35-40 E ; and the previously mentioned artisinal beer/Iberian charcuterie place El Tast in the 18th. Garnering 2 hearts was Factory & Co a place serving bagels abd burgers in the 2nd for 15-25 E.
The Dossier concerned new Italian restaurants: Caffe Stern La Briciolina La Dispensa Roco Il Posto Baretto di Edgar East Mamma Bocca Rossa
Heidi Ellison in her Paris Update, reviewed the previously mentioned La Marée Jeanne quite positively.
Thursday in L’Express, Charles Patin O'Coohoon reviewed the previously mentioned Le Vitis in the 15th and Francois Regis Gaudry reviewed the Flemish cantine Bloempot in Lille.