Thursday, 21 January 2016

best of byblos

byblos. a toronto favourite of mine. drinks and decor alone make this king-west spot top-ranking. occupying two floors of the storys building, the ambience is perfect, exquisitely decorated and worth perusing. though our favourite bartender has moved on to alo, we were not disappointed with our drinks. in terms of food, the eastern mediterranean menu, created and executed by executive chef stuart cameron, is full of strong flavours with traditional and local ingredients. we opted to order a ton of different sharing plates in lieu of main dishes, which left us more than satisfied.
a strong recommendation--check it out.

interesting and authentic cloth menus (not pictured)
evening's drinks: nightingale sour, old fashion, gulab in a chalice.
we all ordered multiples ;)
one of my favourite menu items: roasted red beetrs with pistachio and labneh (a variation of greek yogurt), served with barbari bread (pictured below)
barbari bread to dip in the labneh (above)
tuna ceviche: green schug, creme fraiche buttermilk and squid ink chip. this had a real kick to it. really delish.
another fave of mine, and a must-have when at byblos, is the guernsey girl cheese. grilled haloumi cheese (shoutout AP), on a bed of watermelon, mint and upland cress
unfortunately, my photo-taking skills were too slow, and i missed photographing the lamb ribs. though they are quite game-y, the flavour is outstanding. they were spiced and topped with dukkah, buttermilk sauce, carob molasses and red chili schung
turkish manti dumplings, definitely a go-to. the smokey eggplant and yogurt sauce with molasses has such a memorable and distinct burst of flavour. can't go wrong here.
against our better judgement, we kept ordering food even though we were full. the flavours were all so robust it was hard to know when to stop. along with the crispy eggplant (not pictured and not a favourite) we ordered the steak tartar: roasted red chili, mint, labneh and barbari bread. this was the last of dinner.
although we were BEYOND full, you can't celebrate a birthday without dessert....
we opted for a sweet cap to our glorious meal. we had the brik pastry cigar. the cigar was flaky, and willed with a tasty fig caramel with some light honey cream. 
this whole meal, overall, was delicious. after each stunning dish, we were all blown away by the intensity of the flavours. way to go, byblos. can't wait to return soon!

Byblos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 10 January 2016

cluny bistro: a parisian dream

welcome!! though this blog has been dormant for the past 21 months, rest assured i have been dining all over this wonderful city of ours (and in many other cities, as well). i figure i will jump back into blogging with a recent visit to cluny bistro, as an homage to our french-honeymoon in summer 2014. 

from the moment you enter cluny bistro & boulangerie in toronto's distillery district, it is evident you are in for a treat. the decor is lovely and purposeful: the stunning tiles, detailed tablescapes and warm atmosphere are just the beginning. though it was a busy saturday night, the service didn't slow. we were treated to effective service, on-point suggestions, and friendly banter.
warm and elegant atmosphere, complete with interesting wood detail and beautiful colour scheme
house-baked, fresh multigrain and white bread served in an endearing basket (with soft butter)
i started with the deconstrcuted cluny "caeser", though it didn't particularly scream "caeser", it was delicious: romaine topped with smoked cheddar, crispy chick peas and a light, garlic-based caeser vinaigrette. the crispy chick peas were a nice touch and added a delicious crunch
had to order the much-talked about crispy sesame-baked asparagus frites. these are lightly battered with an amazing flavour. the spicy yogurt dipping sauce added a great contrast.
rk was crazy about the spicy salmon tartar: there was no shortage of avocado in this dish. the homemade chips were a nice touch. this resembled more of an elevated chip dip than your standard tartar, but it was delicious.
as my main, i devoured the melted gruyere, served french onion soup style. having ordered this previously, i knew what to expect with the glazed onions and rich beef broth. any cheese served in a cast iron dish is a hit in my books.
finally, we had the veal meatball tomahawk. this delicious and dense tomato-braised meatball was bursting with flavour. not your typical meatball, it was a meal on it's own. the meatball was accompanied by a side of parisian gnocchi, which added a little kick. 
beverages: rk (old-fashioned connoisseur) raved about his old-fashioned, and particularly enjoyed the flavour-filled smoothness on a cold january evening
wine: 2013 pinot noir from bouchard pere et fils (bourgogne, fr) 
          2014 chinon, from beatrice et pascal lamert (loire, fr)  

all in all, we were too stuffed for dessert. cluny bistro offered an aesthetically pleasing, inviting atmosphere. the food was rich and delicious. we will return.

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato