Category Archives: Reviews

Beer Bistro

Beer Bistro is located at the great location of 18 King Street East; basically King and Yonge. The schtick is that they have an extensive beer menu (as the name suggests) and recommend pairings with each menu item. The crowd is largely young business types; it can get very busy on any given day with the after-work crowd.

We started off with a “Christmas beer” for my date, and *ahem*…..wine for me. I’ll admit; I’m not a huge beer drinker. I know I know. At Beer Bistro it seems fairly unacceptable to have wine. What can I say. 

The Christmas beer was no longer on the menu, however our server suggested it when my date said he wished he could have a maple syrup beer. Apparently this beer had notes of anise, cherry, and maple. To me, it only had notes of…bitter. And yeast. But my date loved it.

My wine. It was…mediocre. However I’ll try to reserve my judgement of wine at a beer restaurant. 

To start we decided to go with lamb sticky ribs. Although I was *very* curious about the horse steak tartare. My date…not so much.

It’s indicated on the menu that they are “smoked tender with coffee porter and molasses”

These were fall apart tender. You could really taste the smoke, however (and I’m being a bit picky because they *were* delicious) you couldn’t really taste the coffee or the molasses. Nor were they exactly sticky. Also; (again; picky) I have a problem with completely superfluous additions to the plate that don’t serve a purpose other than garnish. Case in point: this grilled lime. Interesting? Sure. However when you actually add it to a rib it adds nothing but an unpleasant bitter taste.

For our main meals, I chose the Autumn Ricotta Pasta. “Heirloom carrot, celery root and parsnip julienne, broccolini, tomatoes, belgian ale, whole wheat spaghetti and basil pesto – $16.59”

The pasta was perfectly cooked and the whole wheat was a good choice; the nutty flavor held up to the ricotta. Also, the vegetables were crisp tender. However, overall the dish was a little bland; could have used more salt and another interesting depth of flavor. Even something as simple as sauteed pancetta. 

My date chose to have the Gourmet Dog. “Featured homemade frankfurter sausage with accompaniments. Onion and multigrain beer-bun – $12.75”

So on that particular evening the gourmet dog consisted of a take on the chicken club: the sausage was chicken and bacon, and the toppings were tomato, lettuce, pickle, and mayonnaise. On the side is a mayo-based coleslaw. 

So, the actual sausage was pretty good. The bun was a great choice; it stood up really well to all the toppings without being too hard. There was a little too much mayo, and I felt like the whole sandwich could have used some zip. Maybe a garlic/lemon aioli? There was a lack of seasoning overall; note that the tomatoes aren’t seasoned. I’m partial to a vinegar based coleslaw in general, however in this case the mayo-based coleslaw was a poor choice and it was a tad bland. Mayo overload. My date said he would have been happier with just a tangy side salad instead.

Here was my date’s choice for his 2nd beer: I just had round 2 of the same wine. He raved about this one.

Random wall art

For dessert we decided to go with the dessert platter for two. Basically a chef’s selection of whatever is on hand that day. 

Ok so here we have an orange creme brulee. It had that trademark I’m-eating-a-great-creme-brulee crack when you tap it with your spoon. Perfect crust. The texture also had a very creamy, well executed consistency. However the flavor of the orange was completely overpowering and slightly bitter. Shame. 

Next we had a bourbon vanilla icecream. Unfortunately again the bourbon flavor was completely overpowering and actually unpleasant. I couldn’t taste vanilla at all. 

Next was a rocky road ice cream sandwich. The vanilla ice cream in the middle was yummy, however the cookie was almost impossible to break apart with a spoon (or even with a caveman-spearing motion with your fork). It tasted good, but honestly the effort was not worth the reward. I almost wonder if the chef had never actually tried to eat one him/herself. 

Next we have chocolate and raspberry mousse. The raspberry was very light, airy, and refreshing. Delicious! The dark chocolate mousse was just *slightly* too bitter. I’m a huge fan of very dark chocolate and regularly snack on 85%…however this just needed a touch of sugar. 

Finally we had the beer-skor bar icecream. Now *this* was great. You could really taste the beer however it was utterly delicious somehow in ice cream. There wasn’t too much skor or too little. Really they should just stick with making beer ice creams and skip the bourbon/rocky road. 

So, overall the highlight of the meal were the ribs for appetizer. The dessert was the most poorly executed course. The total bill (without tip) came to $101.06. The atmosphere was nice, and the server was very knowledgeable (and extremely tolerant of us taking pictures in a crowded restaurant :P). Is it somewhere I would go back to? Yeah probably, for a late-night meet-up with friends for a drink and an appetizer. It’s open until 2am Thursday-Saturday and is in a prime location of Toronto. Would I recommend it to any foodie friends with discerning palates? Probably not.

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Filed under Main Meals, Reviews, Toronto

Le Select Bistro

Le Select Bistro is an authentically french restaurant located at Wellington and Spadina, Toronto. I’ve been a couple times before and have enjoyed myself, and I thought it was time I went in with a critical eye. It’s also reasonably casual, so after a day of apartment-hunting in jeans and heels downtown I thought it a good choice. 

We started with a bottle of wine (above). It was a half-decent bottle of Sauvignon Blanc which was fairly overpriced. However, to order wine by the glass you need to choose between a 3oz taster, or a 5oz (??) full glass. Who only drinks a 5oz glass of wine?

Our appetizer was a cheese plate, with some very thin cranberry toasts to accompany

My complaint here is the variety. The Bleu on the far right was obviously distinct, however the Riopelle (softer in texture) and Tomme de Grosse Isle (semi-soft, milder) were too similar to be sharing a cheese plate, in my opinion. I would have appreciated something creamy and spreadable in texture (neither of these were) and perhaps something sharper. There were also far too few toasts, and I hate having to ask the server for more crostini while staring longingly at cheese which now has no vehicle into my mouth. Just upsetting.

Our main courses were a drastic improvement. My date chose Risotto a la Courge: with squash, sage, wine, and parmesan

This was excellent. *JUST* salty enough; as in, half a teaspoon more and it would have been inedible. The texture was perfect, and very rich. I asked my date what he thought, and he replied, “You know, I think I like your asiago risotto better.”

Smart man. But he lies 😉

I chose the Cassoulet: braised white beans with pork belly, lamb, duck, and sausage.

It was wonderful. The beans were perfect, and I’m not even a huge bean fan. The lamb was very tender, the pork belly melted in my mouth, and the duck perfectly cooked. My only complaint was the sausage; while it was seasoned well and tasted great, the casing was slightly too tough and I ended up removing it altogether.

We decided after much deliberation that we were far too full for dessert. Sadly. The entire experience was enjoyable, however. The server was fairly knowledgeable and helpful, although a little abrupt. The bill came to $110 or thereabouts, which is very affordable/not unreasonable. I think it’s worth checking out . Also note-worthy; according to their website you can bring your own bottle of wine for an $18 uncorking fee.

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Filed under Main Meals, Reviews, Toronto