NOCE Restaurant

NOCE on Queen West opened 22 years ago and I just recently went for the first time. I regret not paying this amazing Italian restaurant a visit sooner. They serve the freshest food I have ever experienced. The employees at Noce are outstanding, super friendly and outgoing! They seem to love their jobs and really engage with the guest.  The chefs know exactly how to incorporate the flavours of Italy and work with the most beautiful ingredients. Truffle, Bottarga, and Parmigiano Reggiano to name a few. I grew up eating traditional Italian food and I am very particular when it comes to choosing an Italian restaurant. I was very impressed by all aspects of this restaurant. I highly recommend checking out Noce especially, with the holidays quickly approaching.

They recently renovated and the interior is absolutely stunning. I love how rustic and retro meet modern and eclectic. They have several rooms to dine in which is perfect for a date for two to a party of 20+. I think this is the best spot to take your family or friends this holiday season and would recommend it to anyone who knows what good food is. Noce is a great place to go for any occasion and I highly recommend checking out the features on the board. It’s such a lovely restaurant to spend an evening and I can’t wait to go back during the holiday’s.

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Queen West Room – The main dining room overlooking Queen Street West at Trinity Bellwoods Park. This dining area has the perfect view of the talented NOCE Chefs preparing menu dishes.  
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Noce has a set menu but also offers specials that change accordingly and frequently. They now offer Sunday dinner service.
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“God made food, but the devil made chefs”
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The Tuscany Room – This room offers a lively dining experience is semi-private can be customized to your preferred seating arrangements; perfect for your next get-together. Book your holiday dinners here asap!
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The Queens at 875 – Aperol, St. Germain Elderflower liquor, grapefruit, Fiol prosecco   
Honolulu – Crystal Head Vodka, Mango liquor, Amaretto di Saronno, lemon, orange bitters
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Olive Ascolane –
Fried meat filled olives. These are the perfect appetizer for any olive lover! Yes, they are fried but they are not greasy at all and are the perfect combination of crispy and full of flavour.
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Crostini con Baccalà-
baccalà affumicato, bottarga di muggine. This is a must order!! Creamy cod on house made squid ink bread. topped with a true Italian delicacy. 
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Tonno Scottato – Wood fried tuna, tonnato sauce, infornate olives, crispy capers, pickle purée, parsley. I love that they used the wood oven for cooking more than just pizza. The crispy capers add the best touch on this dish. They add just the right amount of salt to the fish.

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Ecuadorian Shrimp – Giant shrimps fresh from Ecuadore. A variety of imported fish come in to the restaurant on Thursdays. These were to die for and super smokey.
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This was my absolute favorite menu item. Im pretty sure this is one of the featured specials. Pastina with a light tomato brodo, Clams and Rapini pesto. Everything about this was incredible. I love having pastina because my Nonna (Italian Grandmother) used to make it for me as a kid. But this was another level! I love the delicate clams and powerful taste of the rapini pesto. 
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Cauliflower roasted with Gorgonzola
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Crispy brussels sprouts with creamy goodness inside. Every time I go to a restaurant and there is brussels sprouts on the menu, I always order them. I have ordered them 50+ times and Noce makes them the best! Plus they are topped with Parmesan, which makes them 100x better.  
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16 OZ Ribeye – Cooked to absolute perfection. I am not a big steak orderer but I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seasoned lightly with salt and garnished with fried basil leaves. This steak is crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth tender on the inside.  

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Sex in a pan – Roasted base with Nutella, mascarpone whip, chocolate and crunchy. There is always room for dessert when it tastes this good.

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Winterlicious @ Hawthorne

This past weekend I was invited to a Winterlicious menu tasting at Hawthorne Food and Drink. The restaurant is located on Richmond Street East with easy parking and is 100% wheelchair accessible. They are open Monday-Friday for breakfast and lunch and Tuesday-Friday for dinner. They open Saturday and Sunday for Winterlicious only.

Hawthorne Food & Drink’s sole purpose is to give back to the community and deliver farm to table meals. The restaurant serves delicious dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients. They also provide careers for people in need of skills and employment. I love that the staff were passionate about their jobs and carried a friendly attitude. Hawthorne’s menu changes often and takes inspiration from the farms of Ontario and the neighborhoods of Toronto. The presentation of the food was always creative and artistic which I enjoyed the most. This restaurant was a bit out of my element when it came to certain textures and concepts. The flavors were incredibly bold and pungent at times which I also wasn’t expecting for some dishes. 

Starter

Pickled Platter

It was very sweet that the Chefs at Hawthorne wanted us to taste their famous pickled platter but most of the pickling just was not for me. There are not a lot of things that I WON’T eat but unfortunately, blue cheese is one of them and that was a part of this massive spread of pickled foods. The platter also included two different types of boiled eggs. Tumeric and Beet, both which were bold and tangy. This is a great option for someone who appreciates pickled foods!

 

 

Appetisers

Wontons+Tartare * (Can be made GF), (Local)

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The servers and Chefs were all wonderful and accommodating when it came to choosing a gluten free dish. Instead of the Tartare being served with wontons we substituted with watermelon radish slices. The tartare was served a huge portion size and was big enough to share. The taste was good but this ain’t no beef carpaccio.

 

Daily Croquette Poutine * (Local)

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This was a creative spin on the “poutine” I thought I was ordering. Really crispy, which I loved and the gravy was perfect. Was tasty, although I did not really taste the cheese in the dish.

 

 

Entrées

Jerk Pork * (Can be made GF), (Local)

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Pork belly on top of a rice and edamame cake. The flavors in this dish were bold, especially in the jerk sauce. This dish was awesome but I would personally like it better if the pork was jerk seasoned, not just the thick paste globbed on top. It was a bit difficult to evenly disperse the jerk “sauce” evenly. Some bites getting too much jerk and others not getting any at all. Overall this dish was good and glad it was gluten free. Also really enjoyed the presentation and look of the candied decor.

 

Whole Roasted Carrot Ginataan * (Vegan), (Local), (GF)

dsc_0732Just by looking at this dish, I was impressed. It was a fair portion size and felt like I was eating clean and healthy. The red and puffed quinoa were light yet filling and the roasted carrots were well done. Topped with coconut-ginger velouté, which kind of tasted like green curry to me…This was AWESOME.

 

 

 

Desserts

Pasteis de Nata – Portuguese Egg Tart * (Local)

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I was expecting a bit more from this, probably because I work in a bakery and love egg tarts. The taste was really nice and light but I found that it wasn’t cooked enough. It was a bit rubbery and jello like, which I’m not familiar with or fond of.  The crust on top was delicious and I kind of wanted more of it.

 

Winter Vegetable Cheesecake* (Vegetarian), (Local)

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This was a nice choice for a Gluten-free dessert, minus the cake crumbles on top. The taste was very healthy and did not really feel like I was eating dessert. Not typically a “sweet” I would crave because I am more of a chocolate dessert kind of girl but, it was well done for what they were trying to achieve.

 

 

 

 

Thank you Hawthorne Food and Drink for having me it was an awesome experience!

Maggie Oakes – Montreal

A quick visit to Montreal calls for some amazing food at Maggie Oakes. I had heard great things about this beautiful restaurant and had been wanting to try it myself. The restaurant was unique and was like nothing I had seen before. The decor was simple and elegant and so was the food ( simple in a good way ). We enjoyed a few drinks to go along with our feast and really did enjoy ourselves.

I loved the way that the ingriedients they use in the dishes were incorporated into decorative statement pieces. On one side of the restaurant they had a wall covered in a display of fresh growing greens, spices, and plants. All edible, all used in creating the perfect menu options. On the opposite end of that, was the meat. Aged meat, sealed up in glass showcases. I had never seen anything like this and thought it was so different and awesome.

 

The drinks were amazing and fairly priced. They were not your average cocktails which I liked! Light and not overly sweet, great for a huge dinner.

 

Everything we ordered, we shared. I love going with a larger group that enjoys the same type of food as you. We tried the sweet potato and leek soup, which had nutmeg sour cream. It was  fresh and was a great start to the evening. We also tried the beetroot duo, which was a dish with arugula, roasted walnuts, toasted goat cheese. This was incredible, so rich and decadent!

 

 

The main that I ordered was the linguini with butternut squash. It was hard to decide because, I kid you not…everything on the menu sounded amazing but this definitely caught my eye. I am a fan of pretty much anything butternut squash. The pasta was very filling but the pecorino shavings, toasted pecans and sage all came together to create an unforgettable dish. I also got to try the sweet potato ”manicotti” with homemade ricotta, roasted red pepper sauce. I thought this was very unique and had a modern twist on the classic manicotti recipe. I loved this and I am going to try and make this at home!

 

 

We also ordered the grilled bavette to share amongst the group. This was served with green tomato chime-churri, french fries and a homemade ketchup. It was all great but the bavette was honestly nothing that special. It was good, but nothing to rave about.
The burger on the other hand, was great! Topped with La Savaging cheese, Kumato tomatoes, bourbon glazed onions, and homemade ketchup. As if that burger wasn’t enough it also came with fries.

Overall an amazing dinner at Maggie Oakes and would love to come back and try the brunch. Next time I visit Montreal, I know exactly where to go.

Hungry Amoo – Toronto

The most recent restaurant that I have visited, Hungry Amoo. This is a great spot for snacks and drinks on Ossington, you have to check out! All the dishes that I tried were creative and so flavourful. Hungry Amoo offers dishes from different international cuisines, some of which I had never tried before. Something that I really love about this restaurant is that the menu is seasonal and changes based on which ingredients are most fresh.

All the employees here were very friendly and helpful, especially our server Yasmine. She was passionate about the menu and explained how it worked, so we could get a better understanding of the type of cuisine. Yasmine also recommended a few dishes, which I found really nice. Needless to say, we were definitely taken care of @ Hungry Amoo.

But my favorite thing about eating @ Hungry Amoo, is that we left with belly’s full of wonderful food! And all of it was gluten-free.

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Cool bar setup! Delicious cocktails too, most of which I had never heard of before. I tried the pomegranate spritz and I found it had such a unique flavour. This is definitely a great place to go for drinks with friends!

 

 

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Tamarind Beef (GF) $12

Crispy Pulled Brisket, Cashew, Date sauce, Brussel Sprout. This dish was by far, the favorite dish of the evening. The beef was so tender and cooked beautifully. I had never tried Tamarind Beef before, and I was really impressed.

 

Overall, I had a great experience dining at Hungry Amoo. I would recommend trying it out here because the menu is so diverse and unique. They master all different cuisines, theres a bit of everything.

 

Thank you to the Hungry Amoo Team and to Yasmine for being such a great help! I will be back to try the Pistachio Soup.

 

 

Platito – Toronto

A couple of days ago, I visited Platito for dinner. This is somewhere I had been meaning to go for a while now. I was attracted to this restaurant because of the fried chicken and purple waffle pictures going viral on Instagram. This damn waffle really caught my eye and had me adding Platito, to my list of cool Toronto restaurants to visit.

I had the pleasure of dining with a few other foodies, which was awesome. @EatFamous and @FeedMeToronto are two Instagram foodies, both really friendly and fun people. These two Instagrammers are both people I look up to in this industry and learned a lot from them. Thank you Ryan and Gerry!

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The moment I had been waiting for! FRIED CHICKEN AND UBE WAFFLES. And lets not forget the Maple Butter! This whole dish was my favorite.

Thank you Platito Team for the great food and service. I had an amazing time and enjoyed some awesome Filipino Soul Food!

 

Oliver and Bonacini

A while ago, I went to Oliver and Bonacini @bayview village. This is a great spot for lunch and dinner and I really enjoyed my food. We ordered a few things and shared everything. The best thing that I tried were the lamb rolls… They we amazing! They were like a spring roll on outside, but the inside was lamb and yummy stuff. 
They prices are super average and affordable for what you get, I didn’t feel guilty after either. What we ordered was pretty healthy and fresh. I really enjoyed this lunch spot except didn’t really like the area we sat in. It was outside the restaurant but still inside the mall and our table was kind of forgotten about. Our service was not as good as it would have been if we sat in the actual restaurant. 
Check out Oliver & Bonacini @bayview village. Right now they are taking part in summerlicious for only 18$ a person for lunch. With that you get to choose a starter, main and dessert (this is an amazing deal).