Food Hunt in Subzero Temperatures

20Dec10

Restaurant Review

Over the past month and a half, I’ve gone to several restaurants worth mentioning. There were three different cuisines, three different atmospheres, three different Fridays, but the same weather conditions… freezing conditions!

Situated on the upcoming, vibrant Ossington Avenue in Toronto, Böhmer offers a New York-style communal dining in a post-industrial, minimalistic space. The service was friendly, swift and suggestive, which made the menu decisions that much easier. Venison tartare with raw quail egg failed to impress as tabasco sauce overwhelmed the actual meat flavour.  Despite my further disappointment that rabbit stuffed with a blood sausage was removed from the menu, the fish dishes were a fantastic substitute – very light and flavourful.  The buttery pan-seared sea scallops with sautéed spinach might be the best scallops I have ever had. With each dish, food quality improved, and the night was competed with white wine poached pear, filled with spiced, molten chocolate and served along with chilled, birch syrup ice-cream. For the dessert, itself, it will be worth coming back to this carnivore’s hidden gem again.

On another side of gastronomical spectrum and across the town, highly recommended Guu Izakaya failed to live up to its reviews. After 2.5 hour wait outside of the restaurant, my friend and I finally got a table. Guu Izakaya isn’t a typical Japanese restaurant one would imagine it to be. Picture a Swedish lumber sauna, full of loud drunk people and you’ll get an image of Guu Izakaya. Upon arriving and prior to leaving the restaurant, the staff loudly greets each visitor, and this greeting usually intensifies with loud shouting from mostly drunk or easily entertained patrons. Furthermore, if one is looking for typical sushi rolls and bento boxes, those won’t be found in this restaurant. The food was good overall, but the syrup coated shrimps got stuck in my memory because of their unappetizing, slimy texture. I can digest all kinds of food, but this definitely was not up my alley! The only unique dish that I tasted at the restaurant, was dark sesame ice-cream which had a unique flavour that was a mix between roasted hazelnuts and red beans. If you are interested in tasting somewhat different Japanese cuisine, Guu Izakaya is a place to be. Just wait for the warmer weather and bring Aspirin to kill potential headache from surrounding noise.

After having a taste of contemporary and Japanese cuisine over a couple of weekends, Czehoski offered a twist to some traditional Eastern European dishes. Its house-made pirogues filled with smoked gouda and sweet potato got ravishing reviews from my friends. The same could be said for the exceptionally tender beef cheeks that were served with risotto. Even after my first visit to Czehoski several years ago, its service and food quality have stayed excellent, making the restaurant always a safe bet when it comes to food hunting in subfreezing temperature conditions of Toronto.

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