Uncle Willy’s – I’m getting too old for this

I’ve visited Uncle Willy’s with my parents a long time ago, when I was probably just 8 or 9. I remember really enjoying my time at the restaurant, which as a buffet, gorging myself on massive amounts of fried chicken, ham, cakes and ice cream. I haven’t been back to the place in many years. Recently, while shopping at Metrotown one afternoon, I decided on a whim to go to the restaurant for dinner. It was still quite early (at around 4:30 pm), and the place was almost empty when I entered. The cost of the buffet (dinner version) was $16.95.

Of course, being me, I skipped right over the rabbit food vegetable section, and headed for the starches (pastas, breads, potatoes) and proteins. The selection for proteins were pretty limited: there was one type of fish, roast beef, ham, roast chicken, and fried chicken.

Savoury Food:

dav
Taking small samples of everything for my 1st plate

2.5/5
All of the food was lukewarm, but that didn’t bother me too much, and I actually quite enjoyed most of the stuff. Most of the meats weren’t very good – the beef was quite dry, but the fried chicken, roast chicken, and pastas tasted alright, and I actually quite liked their cornbread, which was soft, moist and sweet (albeit cold).

They do have a pretty good selection of desserts, which is of course, the most important part of the meal for me.

dav
The MOST important section of the restaurant

Desserts:


3/5
I enjoyed the desserts more than the savoury offerings, but then again, I typically like sweets more than savouries anyways. Their cakes were all moist, albeit a bit too cold. My favourite was this banana-raisin cake and this rainbow-sprinkled cake that had cream cheese inside.

As I ploughed my way through plates of pasta, potato, meat and cakes, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably getting ripped off. I’m stuffing myself full of starch, sugar, and meat, which is not only very filling (meaning that I can’t eat nearly as much as I had hoped), but also dirt cheap. You see, I didn’t think these kinds of things when I was a kid, but now, as an “adult” I can’t help but be plagued by thoughts of whether I was actually getting my money’s worth. And, as I waddled out of the restaurant about an hour later, looking like I was 8-months pregnant and filled with self-loathing, I came to the unhappy conclusion that I probably didn’t get my money’s worth of food and that I was probably too old to do buffets. Oh well, I’m sure that I’ll forget about all of this in a month’s time.

Summary:
Food: 2.5/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 2.5/5
Recommendations: N/A
Uncle Willy's Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Klaus’s Kaffee Haus – Holiday splurge

I’ve got a problem: I have developed an unhealthy obsession with French toast. I’ve been craving this dish ever since having tried the tasty banana-stuffed version from Twisted Fork. I just can’t get enough of this dish, and I’m always on the lookout for restaurants that are serving it. One such place was Klaus’s Kaffee Haus. They seem to have undergone some major menu changes over the past year or so: the restaurant initally offered a variety of streudels, but have now shifted their focus to making various breakfast/brunch items, including several delicious-sounding versions of French toast. I decided to order their ham and cheese version (aka Monte Cristo) since it seemed to be the largest in the picture on their menu, and was also the most expensive.

Monte Cristo/Ham and Cheese French Toast ($13.95):

dav
4.5/5
I have to admit, I felt nothing short of complete, utter disappointment when the sandich was first placed in front of me. The sandwich was small, like WAY smaller than I had thought it would be. In the photo that they had on the menu, the sandwich looked like it was triple layered (i.e. 3 slices of bread), but the one that I received only had 2 slices of bread. There was no way that I was going to get full on this (especially since the dish doesn’t come with any sides like fries or hashbrowns).

Fortunately, what the sandwich lacked in size however, it sure made up for it in taste: it was freaking fantastic! The thick bread was warm, crispy on the outside, and soft on the interior. There was a generous amount of savoury ham inside, along with gooey melted cheese. There was also a good amount of dijon inside that added a bit of heat. The strawberry jam on top provided a bit of sweetness that paired surprisingly well with the saltiness of the ham.

Still feeling hungry not yet stuffed from the Monte Cristo, I decided to get more food. Having really enjoyed the sandwich, I decided to stick to the French toast section, and ordered their Apple Pie French Toast. Now, in the picture on the menu, the toast looked like there were two slices of bread; hence I was pleasantly surprised when the dish arrived in front of me, and I found that it actually had three slices of toast (maybe they were making up for the missing piece in the Monte Cristo?).

Apple Pie French Toast ($12.95):

dav


4.5/5
In terms of price, this was a much better deal in my opinion than the Monte Cristo: not only was it cheaper, but it was also considerably larger, being (as I’ve mentioned earlier) triple layered. In terms of taste, I enjoyed this every bit as much as the Monte Cristo: it was just fantastic. The moment that the sandwich was placed in front of me, I was overtaken by the sweet scent of cinnamon. Once again, the slices of bread was perfectly toasted: crispy on the outside and soft on the interior. There was a generous amount of soft apple and raisin filling, as well as cream cheese. The sandwich on its own was not particularly sweet; however, when dipped in syrup, it was just perfect. This is probably the best version of French toast that I’ve ever had; I enjoyed this even more than the fantastic version from Twisted Fork.

Coffee (large, $3):

dav
They are a “Kaffee Haus” after all.
dav
Finally, I’m full.

The Apple Pie French Toast sure did its job: I was more than satisfied by the time I had cleared the plate. Of course, it did hurt a bit when it came to paying the bill: the two French toasts as well as the coffee added up to over $30 (and not including tips). I wish that the pictures on the menu could have been more accurate (with the Monte Cristo being double layered and the Apple Pie triple layered): had I known, I would have just ordered the Apple Pie French Toast with a side of something and called it a day. Oh well, it’s the holidays, and there are certainly worse things to splurge on than some fantastic French toast.

Summary:
Food: 4.5/5
Price: 3/5 (2/5 for the Monte Cristo, 4/5 for the Apple Pie French Toast)
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Apple Pie French Toast (Monte Cristo’s also fantastic, if you’re willing to spend the price)
Klaus's Kaffee Haus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushi Oyama – A second-hand review

I’m literally the only person I know who doesn’t like sushi. I just don’t understand its appeal. What is so tasty about raw, flavourless pieces of fish being put on some cold, vinegar-flavoured rice? The only sushi that I used to like were California rolls (and its various different iterations), primarily because these rolls at least had avocadoes and mayonnaise that provided a nice creaminess. Then I discovered that I was allergic to avocadoes – the reason why I always seem to get sick whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant with my sushi-loving friends – so I’ve stopped eating sushi all together. My mom however, like the rest of the population that’s not me, loves sushi. Being a walking stereotype of a cheap Asian however, she never buys any sushi herself or eat out (the last time she went to a restaurant was for my birthday 2 years ago, and she literally spent the entire time going on a tirade about how we were being ripped off; the experience taught me never to eat out with her again). So, for this Christmas, I decided to treat her to some sushi. Of course, there weren’t too many restaurants open during the holidays, so the pickings were a bit slim. I ended up settling on Sushi Oyama. I ordered the Tuna and Salmon Sashimi, Aburi Grand Slam, Black Dragon Roll and Rainbow Roll via Skipthedishes, which delivered my order to me.

Please note: all the ratings below are “second hand” – I did not actually try any of the food myself, but based everything from the feedback and comments from my mom.

Aburi Grand Slam (Salmon, Tai, Ebi, Hamachi, $8.90):

dav
2.5/5
This was probably my mom’s least favourite of the bunch. She found it to be too plain, and lacking in all the creaminess and flavours lent by the avocado and sauces that were in the rolls. The fish was fresh however, and the rice was well cooked. My mom didn’t really care for aburi-style sushi.

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi ($11.40):

dav
3.5/5
The fish was quite fresh and had a good texture without any off flavours. Like the aburi though, my mom also thought that the sashimi was a bit too plain compared to the rolls. It was good, but not too memorable.

Black Dragon Roll ($12.50):

dav
A bit battered from the delivery trip, but apparently still delicious.

4.5/5
Crab, avocado, cucumber, eel on top, masago, tobiko, bonito, mayo. This was my mom’s favourite. She thought that it was very creamy from the avocado and the mayonnaise. It was also very “xian” (for those of you who don’t know, that’s the Chinese word for “umami”) from the seafood and also had a nice bit of sweetness from the sauces. She polished this roll off very quickly (she’s not into the whole “save the best for last” thing).

Rainbow Roll ($11.70):

dav
4/5
Tamago, tuna, salmon, tai, tako, evi, avocado, wasabi mayo. This was my mom’s second favourite. She didn’t find it as creamy as the black dragon roll, but still delicious and again, very xian.

Based off of the feedback that I got from my mom, it seems that the quality of food from Sushi Oyama is more than decent. Their rolls were the standouts – my mom polished both of them off within a few minutes (taking into consideration that she’s been suffering from digestive problems for the past year and still can’t eat all that much, it’s not hard to see where I get my massive appetite from). Personally, I did find their prices to be a tad bit on the high end (of course, I did not let my mom see the bill – I’ll never be able to hear the end of it otherwise). I do really like the extensive and creative variety of offerings on their menu, and I will likely be ordering from them again on special occasions for my mom.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A (I had their delivery)
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Their special rolls (my mom’s favourite was the Black Dragon)
Sushi Oyama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cupcakes – What a tragedy!

I don’t buy cupcakes very often. It’s not that I don’t like them (I’ll certainly devour them if they are there), but I do find them to be a little too dainty. I generally prefer to get cakes and muffins over cupcakes. However, I’m quite prone to temptation when it strikes, and a few days ago, while heading back home from my grocery shopping at Metrotown, I could not help but be drawn by the sweet scent that was emitting from the Cupcakes location there. In addition to a pretty good selection of regular flavours, they had a couple of seasonal ones as well (Rudolf, Candy Cane, Eggnog, Gingerbread). I picked the prettiest one, which happened to be the Rudolf. Unfortunately, I had an accident on my way home, and dropped the box containing the cupcake. F***.

mde
I just want to cry.

Rudolf Cupcake ($3.50):

dav
3.5/5
This consisted of chocolate and vanilla marble cake, with chocolate and vanilla frosting, and was topped with a pretzel and a piece of chocolate dyed red for the famous red nose. Fortunately, the fall did not affect the flavour. The cake was quite moist and soft, albeit not too flavourful on its own, and the frosting was quite smooth and creamy. I was personally very happy by the generous amount of frosting topping the cupcake (there are people who might think it’s too much or too sweet, but I have a high sugar tolerance and will happy eat frosting right out of a jar).

Feeling unsatisfied after the miniature cupcake disaster, I revisited Cupcakes a few days later. This time, I went to their Broadway location. Even though the store front is considerably larger than that of their Metrotown’s, the selection of flavours differed between the two places, and they didn’t have the Eggnog flavour that I was hoping to try. Instead, I got their Candy Cane cupcake. I also go their Simply Mint from their regular flavour, mostly due to the piece of mint chocolate decorating the top. It wasn’t until I was on the bust, on my way home (holding the box of cupcakes very, very tightly this time to avoid another tragedy) that it occurred to me that both of the cupcakes were mint-flavoured. Oh well. I’m never good at making snap decisions, and at least I didn’t end up dropping another, unplanned $50. This time around, I was able to make it home safely.

dav
Made it home safely. PHEW!

Candy Cane ($3.50):


3/5
Vanilla and peppermint marble cake with white peppermint buttercream. The cake was a tad bit drier and tougher than the one from my previous visit, but was still sufficiently soft. It had a good, cool flavour from the mint. I found the buttercream to be a bit too hard and stiff this time around, and a tad greasy. While I don’t care for candy canes on their own, the pieces of crushed candy cane in the butter cream, which lent both a nice refreshing taste and a great bit of crunch.

Simply Mint ($3.50):


3.5/5
Chocolate cake with mint buttercream. The chocolate cake here was considerably more moist than that of the Candy Cane cupcake, but a tad weak in cocoa flavour. The generous amount of buttercream that topped the cake was also much softer and creamier, albeit still a tad greasy. It had a good amount of cool peppermint flavour and paired quite well with the slightly bitter chocolate cake.

As I’ve stated at the beginning of this post, cupcakes aren’t typically my go-to dessert, and my recent visits to Cupcakes have not changed my view. Their offerings are pretty decent however, and I never know when temptation will strike again. I just hope that I don’t have another accident.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: N/A (I don’t feel that I’ve tried enough flavours)
Cupcakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

L’Atelier Patisserie – Please support this place!

I wish that my blog was more popular. I wish that I had thousands of people reading my posts and legions of adoring fans. Now, it isn’t so much for the attention: I’m very antisocial and try to avoid attention, and would probably be living under a rock if that type of lifestyle was more viable/socially acceptable. No, I want popularity because of the power it brings. I want my reviews to actually influence restaurant/bakery businesses. I want restaurant owners, who upon seeing me step through the door, to instantly order their staff to serve me huge portions because they know how great a glutton I am and how much I hate it when I leave a place not full (in all honesty that will never happen, even if I am the most popular food blogger in the country, seeing that I don’t post pictures of my ugly mug online, so it’s unlikely that anyone can recongize me). But asides from abusing my power for my own selfish gains, I do also wish that I could turn people on to places that I like, that I believe deserves more support/popularity. Such as the case with L’atelier Patisserie.

I was turned onto L’atelier Patisserie by a review in the Metro a few weeks ago. The bakery is absolutely tiny, and tucked away inside what looked like an abandoned garage, and it took me a while to find the entrance. The offerings are relatively limited: they have several types of croissants and other viennoiserie, as well as some cakes and tarts. I’ve sampled their Almond Croissant, Chocolate Brioche, and Trianon.

dav
The outside. Step through the door to enter.

Almond Croissant ($4):


5/5
I’m not going to beat about the bush here: this may well be the best croissant that I’ve ever had. It was incredibly rich, buttery, flaky, shatteringly crisp, and just melted in my mouth. The sliced almonds on top lent a nice bit of crunch and fragrance. Unfortunately for me, my mom “caught” me with the croissant (and other goodies when I stepped through the door), and I was forced to share half of it with her (well, I didn’t exactly HAVE to, but I’d feel guilty if I didn’t, seeing that she loves croissants and is almost as gluttonous as I am). Anyways, she thought that the croissant blew the already great ones from Chez Christophe right out of the water.  While I didn’t think that the difference was that great, I do agree that it surpasses that of Chez Christophe (which is a good thing since the bakery’s way closer to my house and I wouldn’t have to worry about making a >1 hour long pilgrimage to Burnaby to get a good croissant).

Brioche Choc ($3):


3/5
This caught me off guard a bit: when I think of “brioche” I tend to imagine something short and round (like me), and was surprised to find that their version of the bread was long and thin. I did quite like the bread, which was soft, moist, and fluffy. There were only a few small pieces of dark chocolate inside however, and I really could have done with more. Personally, I would have preferred the bread to be a bit shorter and with more chocolate.

Trianon ($5):


4/5
This consisted of two layers of almond dacquoise sandwiching a layer of hazelnut cream and chocolate wafer/praline, and topped with a thick layer of chocolate mousse. The chocolate mousse was smooth and light, with a bittersweet flavour that paired well with the sweeter hazelnut cream. The cake was moist and tender. My favourite component however is easiliy the chocolate wafer/praline, which provided a fantastic crunch to contrast the general softness of the rest of the cake.

I have to say that while everything was delicious, the standout has to be the Almond Croissant – it was absolutely freaking FANTASTIC and quite possibly the best that I’ve ever had (I have to re-try the ones from Beacoup and Thomas Haas before I can make a definite judgement). Seriously, the croissant alone makes this bakery worth checking out. The staff members were also very friendly and the prices were reasonable. This is a great new bakery, and I really hope that more people go and visit them because I really hope that they’ll be able to stick around. Please, to the two people reading this post, go there and treat yo self!

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A (the staff are really friendly though)
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Almond Croissant (it’s worth the visit alone)

Elbow Room Cafe – Oh, I can handle a 12 inch

I’ve never been to a restaurant that’s flamboyantly gay (and I mean it in the best way) until I visited the Elbow Room Cafe today. It shouldn’t be a surprise though, since the restaurant is located in Davie Village (aka the gay neighbourhood in Vancouver. The decor is gay (rainbows and various innuendoes everywhere), the waiter (I think his name is Peter, but I could be wrong, but I’m going to refer to him as Peter from now on) is gay, and even the menu is gay (plenty of cultural references and various innuendoes).

I had a bit of a debate between the pancake and the banana bread French toast. In the end however, I went with the pancake, partly because I was looking for redemption following the embarrassing incident at Jethro’s a few weeks ago, and partly because of the description in the menu:

dav
I can’t resist…

There’s the choice between the 6″ and the 12″. Of course, I went with the 12″ (Tutti-Fruity, with Chocolate Chip and Banana). Peter was quite dubious however of whether I could “handle a 12 inch”. He warned me that it was going to be large, but I insisted (If I had more courage, I would have told him the truth: that I’m a big hairy bear trapped inside the body of a chubby, short Asian woman). He continued on expressing his doubt however, and when the pancake arrived, I heard him scoff at me saying something along the lines of “you can’t handle the 12 inch”. EXCUSE ME?!? I’m seriously offended now. I don’t mind hearing you dropping the F-bomb every other sentence. I don’t mind you calling me a “stripper” or “slut” (he actually didn’t, probably because I’m an unattractive, asexual Asian, but he did make some lewd jokes/remarks towards a few other female partrons). BUT DO NOT TELL ME THAT I CAN’T HANDLE A 12 INCH PENI- I mean pancake. Yes, pancake. Seriously, this is on!

12″ Tutti-Fruity (Banana, Chocolate Chip, $15):


3.5/5
Even though I didn’t really care for the pancakes at Jethro’s, I’m very glad to have ordered them, because they’ve primed me now for this giant. Ths pancake is definitely very large. I think that it is even bigger than the enormous pancakes from Jethro’s (although it only comes in a stack of one while Jethro’s offer two). There is a smaller, 6″ version available that people with “normal” appetites can order. The pancake was soft, fluffy and chewy. I was very relieved to find that it did not suffer from an overload of baking soda (which was a major problem that I had with Jethro’s): although there was a slight bit of odour, there was no bad aftertaste. I really enjoyed the chocolate chips, which were gooey and slightly melted; I do wish that there were more bananas present. Although I got the sweet version, I found the pancake to be actually quite savoury in places that did not contain chocolate chips/bananas.

dav
Half way there…
dav
…I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.

I kind of hit a wall at about 3/4 of the way through. To be honest, I did give some serious consideration to stuffing some of the remaining pancake into my pockets and pretend that I had eaten it all. BUT I have morals, and I have to maintain my integrity. I persisted onwards, like the champ I am, forcing down the last few bites.

dav
VICTORY! SUCK IT 12′ PANCAKE AND PETER! (sexual innuendoes fully intended)

I had done it! I’ve proven that I can handle the 12″. I have to say, Peter was quite surprised and impressed. He called me a “unicorn”, which I took as a compliment. Seriously, I don’t think that I’ve been prouder since passing my comprehensive exam several months ago (yes, I’m pretty pathetic).

Coffee ($3.25):

dav

The coffee is bottomless. The first cup they bring to you. The remaining cups you’ll have to go and fill yourself, which I don’t mind at all (I actually prefer to do that than have to flag down the waiter and request for more coffee).

This restaurant is definitely not for everyone. If you want high-end, professional service, then you’re not going to like this place. If you’re an ultra-conservative homophobe, you’re probably going to walk out within 5 minutes. BUT if you don’t mind being teased or (if you’re a man) flirted with by a flamboyant, sassy, foul-mouthed, openly gay waiter, then you’re going to have a blast. Seriously, this is probably the most fun experience that I’ve ever had at a restaurant. I really look forward to returning, both to try some of their other items (in particular their banana bread French toast), and to watch more of the show.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4.5/5 (for me; 1.5/5 for anyone expecting efficient, professional service)
Price: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Pancakes (I challenge you can handle the 12 inch)
The Elbow Room Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lisa Lou’s Chocolate Bar – A tale of self-loathing

Not long ago, I wrote in a post about how much I hate entering shops/restaurants that is completely empty (I don’t like having the staff’s attention being all on me). Well, my trip to Lisa Lou’s is the perfect demonstration of the kind of “disaster” that can occur when I enter an empty shop, especially one that’s manned by EXTREMELY nice and friendly staff members. Let me explain.

I went to Lisa Lou’s because I heard that they had great cheesecakes and ice cream sandwiches. The shop was small, and completely empty when I arrived there over the weekend. I chose to enter. Big mistake.

The moment that I stepped in, I was greeted by a really friendly young lady, who offered me a piece of chocolate. I glanced at their front counter and saw that they had only chocolate available. Apparently, they weren’t offering any baked goods for the holidays; the only thing they had were chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE chocolate, but I have a poor palate and I honestly cannot tell the difference between a box from a gourmet artisinal shop (like Lisa Lou’s) and a much cheaper box of Lindt or Godiva, which I think are more than good enough to get the job done. I really wanted to just leave at this point. I couldn’t. The lady was too friendly. I couldn’t just bring myself to step out of the door without making a purchase. So, long story short, after quite a bit of frantic decision making, I ended up throwing my budget out of the window and purchased a box containing all 12 types of their popular layered chocolate bars for a whopping $50 (the bars are also sold separately for $5 a pop).

So, already feeling quite guilty about my spendings (I’m a graduate student, so $50 is quite a bit of money to me), I did the only thing that seemed logical when I returned home: I proceeded to eat all of the chocolate. Yup. That’s right. I ate ALL 12, $50-worth of chocolate in the span of <1 hour.

Lily (left):
3.5/5
Lemon Caramel and Crispy Coconut Praline
I loved the coconut praline; it was really crispy and light, and had a really nice fragrance. The lemon caramel was thick and chewy, and definitely had a bright lemon flavour. Unfortunately, I personally didn’t really think that the flavours worked too well together with that of dark chocolate.

Joan (middle):
4/5
Mango and Passion Fruit Jelly with Crunchy Pistachio Praline
The mango and passion fruit flavours were realy bright, fragrant and tart. The pistachio praline lent a nice bit of crunch, although I can’t really detect any of the nuts.

Oscar (right):
4/5
Banana Caramel and Crispy Hazelnut Praline
I’m really impressed by the bright banana flavour that was in the caramel, which again was thick and chewy. The hazelnut praline was also light and crispy, and had a nice fragrance.

Marc (left):
4/5
Bourbon Caramel, Marcona Almonds and Whipped Malt Ganache
The flavour of the bourbon is quite strong. Even though I generaly don’t like alcohol, I actually found myself really enjoying this bar. The bourbon lent a nice bit of bitterness that helped balance out the sweetness. The caramel was thick and chewy. The almonds of course provide a good crunch to contrast the soft fluffy malt.

Sue (middle):
4/5
Sour Cherry Jelly with Crunchy Pistachio Praline
This is somewhat similar to Ruth in terms of taste. I loved the cherry jelly: it was really fragrant and tart. While I can see the pieces of pistachio inside the bar, I couldn’t really detect much flavour from it. However, the praline did provide a good crunch that is always welcomed.

Joe (right):
4/5
Coffee Cardamon Caramel, Roasted Pistachios and Shortbread
I would actually argue that this is more of a shortbread coated in chocolate than a chocolate with shortbread as the shortbread took up probably 75% of the bar. The shortbread was crispy yet tender, but a tad dry. The caramel was thick and chewy. My only complaint is that I couldn’t really detect much of the coffee flavour.

Ruth (left):
4/5
Strawberry and Raspberry Jelly with a Crunchy Peanut Praline
The strawberry and raspberry jelly had a very intense, tart flavour that paired well with the chocolate. The peanut lent a nice bit of crunch, as well as saltiness to contrast the overall sweet flavours. This is somewhat similar to Sue in terms of taste, although I did enjoy this one a bit more due to the peanuts.

Kylo (middle):
3.5/5
Raspberry Caramel and Crispy Almond Praline
This bar took me quite off guard. When I first bit into it, I thought it was tangy, but then I got a bit of a strange, savoury taste as well. For the first couple of bites I was a bit put off by the flavours, but they did grow on me as I ate onwards. I really enjoyed the crunchy, fragrant almond praline. I’m a bit less sold on the raspberry caramel, which I felt didn’t really pair too well with the almond.

Frank (right):
4/5
Caramel, Spiced Pecans and Crispy Wafers
I loved the textures of this bar: the wafers were nice and crispy, the caramel was thick and chewy, and the pecans lent a nice crunch. Initially, I did find the flavours of this bar to be a tad too subtle; they did grow on me however as I continued on eating, and I ended up really enjoying this.

Zoe (left):
3/5
Apple Ginger Caramel and Crispy Pumpkin Seed Praline
The bar had a good amount of spice and a slight bit of heat. The praline lent a nice crunch while the caramel was thick and gooey, with a bit of tang. While I can’t really find any glaring flaws with this bar, I wasn’t too crazy about the flavour (just a personal preference).

Helen (middle):
3.5/5
Blood Orange and Fig Jelly with Crunchy Almond Praline
The orange and fig jelly was soft and tangy, and paired well with the overall sweetness of the chocolate. The almond praline not only lent a nice crunchy texture, but also had a nice fragrance. The flavours are a bit too subtle however for my own personal liking.

Pete (right):
4.5/5
Madagascar Vanilla Caramel, Pretzels, and Crunchy Peanut Butter
This was my favourite of the 12. It was a wonderful interplay of textures and flavours. The peanut butter and pretzels were definitely quite salty, and paired very well with the sweet caramel and chocolate. The pretzel lent a great crunchy, while the caramel was thick and gooey, and bursting with vanilla flavour.

By the time that I’ve finished the box, I was in complete agony, both physically and emotionally. I did not want to ever see another bar of chocolate, at least not for the next 5 hours. Honestly, I don’t know what I feel worse about: spending an unplanned $50 on chocolates or eating $50 worth of chocolates in one sitting. In all seriousness though, while I did enjoy all of the chocolate bars, I didn’t find myself completely blown away by any of them. I recognize and appreciate the quality and attention that Lisa Lou puts into the making of their products, and their staff members are obviously dangerously friendly and attentive. Unfortunately, the prices are just way out of my grad student’s budget range.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A (although their staff members are super, dangerously nice)
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Chocolate bars – if you’ve got money to spend (personal favourites of mine are Pete, Joe, Oscar, Marc, Frank and Ruth)

Lisa Lou's Chocolate Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mink Chocolates – This is awkward…

I hate to complain at restaurants/shops.  I don’t want to come across as some spoiled, entitled a-hole who has to have everything their way. I don’t like to bully staff members and make their already tiring work even more difficult. Thus, I found myself in quite an uncomfortable situation at Mink Chocolate this Friday. I had visited the cafe to try out their fondue, which was offered in 2 varieties: a fruit version and a s’mores (each coming with either 38% or 70% chocolate). Since I don’t care for fruits at all (they are nothing more than garnishes in my opinion), I requested the s’mores version with 38% milk chocolate. I also ordered an Americano.

Now, when the server (who wasn’t the same person as the cashier who took my order) served up my drink at the counter, I hesitated to claim it as I wasn’t 100% certain that it was mine (I’ve accidentally taken someone else’s drink before at Starbucks and have been very careful not to make the same mistake again since). Seeing my hesitation, the server asked me what my order was, and I told her that it as an Americano and fondue. She told me that the drink was mine, and that my fondue will be ready in a few minutes. I took my drink (along with a complimentary piece of chocolate that they apparently include) and took a seat. About five minutes later, the server came to my table with the fondue…only it was the fruit version and not the s’mores. Uh oh.

I told her that I had asked for the s’mores version, but she didn’t seem to understand and said something alone the lines of “didn’t you want fondue?” I realized that I had two choices: either keep my mouth shut and accept the fruit version or explain to her that there has been a mistake. I didn’t like either option, but in the end, I mustered my courage and explained to her that I had ordered the s’mores version (if you can’t tell by now I REALLY don’t like fruit). Finally understanding the mistake, she took the tray away and re-prepared the fondue. I just felt terrible watching her. I know that I had clearly told the cashier that I wanted the s’mores fondue, and I don’t know where the line of communication broke down, but I cannot help but feel guilty and think that maybe I should have specified that I wanted the s’mores version to the server instead of just saying “fondue”.

 

S’mores Fondue ($11.95):

dav
3.5/5
The set came with 6 marshmallows, 12 graham crackers (so enough for 6 assembled s’mores in total), a pot of melted chocolate and a hibachi for toasting the marshmallows.

 

Taste-wise, everything was quite good. Unsurprisingly, my favourite component was the melted chocolate; they provide a pretty generous amount too (I had a good amount left over after assembling all the s’mores, and actually ended up just picking up the pot and drinking its contents). The charm of the dish however, lies primarily in the experience, the fun of getting to play with and assemble your food. Now, the portion is supposed to be for two, but seriously, the odds of pigs evolving the ability to fly is much higher than me sharing a dessert.

 

Americano (Large, $4):

 


This came with a small piece of dark chocolate, which was a nice touch.

The fondue at Mink was certainly a nice experience and I’m glad to have tried it out. Unfortunately that fun was somewhat ruined for me due to the awkward incident earlier. If only I liked fruit more…

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Service: N/A (I don’t rate service for non-restaurant type places, although the mistake with my order was pretty uncomfortable)
Price: 3/5
Overall: 3/5
Recommendations: Fondue

Mink Chocolates Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

True Confections – Tall and thin

I really hate it when I enter a restaurant or bakery or some other small shop to find it empty. Suddenly, all of the staffs’ attention fall on me. In my feeble, paranoid mind, I can feel their eyes watching me, scrutinizing my every move. Given the choice, I’d rather enter a completely crowded place and wait for 30 minutes in line than be in a completely empty one. Thus, I was quite reluctant to enter into True Confections this week, after seeing that the restaurant was completely empty. I actually wandered around for a bit, waiting, hoping for someone to enter. After about 10 minutes however, I finally decided to suck it up, took a deep breath and stepped through the door.

There was only one staff member present when I got in, and fortunately, he was quite friendly (I’ve heard some other people complaining about the service being rude and terrible). Even though the restaurant offers quite a good selection of pies, cheesecakes, and layered cakes, I had no trouble choosing what I wanted: being the glutton that I am, I immediately picked the tallest cake that was available which was the Devil’s Food Cake. I also got a hit of caffeine in the form of an Americano.

Devil’s Food Cake ($8.95):


4/5
This consisted of three layers of chocolate cake sandwiching chocolate mousse and frosted with marshmallow frosting, and was served with some whipped cream. The cake was the exact opposite of me in terms of stature: tall and thin (I’ll let you infer what I look like). Now I’ve heard complaints from other reviewers about the cakes being dry. Maybe they have consistency issues, but the cake that I got was quite moist, tender and light. The mousse was smooth and creamy, with a nice amount of chocolate flavour. The marshmallow frosting was sticky and fluffy without being overly sweet. Overall, I really enjoyed this cake. Was it as good as the ones from Trafiq or Cadeaux? No. But it as still quite tasty. I was a bit disappointed by the portion size however: the slice was just too thin and, for $9, I just expected it to be bigger.

Americano ($2.95):

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A bit of an aside, but as I was ploughing my way through my cake, I saw two (probably Japanese) ladies enter the restaurant. The server tried to seat them, but they refused as they couldn’t find a spot where they could be out of the sun. The server explained to them that the restaurant didn’t have blinds, after which they promptly left. It was a bit weird. Maybe they are vampires? I know that I’d certainly never let a bit of sunlight get between me and dessert. But anyways, I will say that although I did enjoy my visit at True Confections and found the bakery to be better than what some other reviewers say, I probably will not be returning (at least not often) as I find their prices to be too steep. I’ll be sticking to Trafiq and Cadeaux.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Devil’s Food Cake

True Confections Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jethro’s Fine Grub – Redemption in the form of French toast

My last week’s trip to Jethro’s Fine Grub has been both disappointing and embarassing; disappointing because their gorgeous-looking, humongous Gold Rush Pancakes was overloaded with baking soda and had a rather unpleasant after-taste, embarassing because I could hardly get through even 1/2 of my plate. I had the opportunity to visit the place again this week. Similar to my previous visit, the place was full when I arrived, and I had to wait for 10-15 minutes before I was seated. I had previously found the service to be a bit slow and inadequate; now, having had a chance to observe them further, I think I know the reason why: the restaurant is under-staffed. There was only one waitress managing all of the tables, and I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for her as I watched her running frantically about, taking orders, bringing the bills, clearing tables, greeting new customers etc. I think that they really can do with a few more staff members. This time around, I decided to steer far away from their pancakes, and ordered their Chocolate Chip Banana Bread French Toast, as well as my usual coffee.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread French Toast ($13):

dav

4/5
This consisted of two generous slices of chocolate chip banana bread topped with cooked bananas and butter. I really enjoyed this dish. The banana bread was warm, soft and moist, with a nice hint of cinnamon. The bananas, while not really “caramelized”, was nevertheless pleasant: soft, sweet and fragrant. The whipped butter (which had also come with the pancakes, and which I had foolishly previously mistaken for whipped cream) provided a nice, slightly salty touch to the general sweetness. The best part of the dish however had to be the warm, gooey melted chocolate chips. Now, in my previous review, I took issue with the use of baking soda in the pancakes, which resulted in a very unpleasant aftertaste. While I did also detect a slightly funky flavour in the French toast that I assume is once again baking soda, this manifested more in the smell rather than the taste, and was also considerably milder – hence I was less bothered by it. Fairly or not, I cannot resist comparing this dish to the French toast from Twisted Fork. I have to say that while I do believe the French toast from Twisted Fork to be “better made” (as in higher quality ingredients, more proper preparation, etc), I did enjoy the French toast from Jethro’s more.

dav
Scoreboard: Jethros: 1 Me: 1

Unlike the pancakes, the French toast stood ZERO chance against me and my appetite: I polished this baby off easily and had still room to spare.

The revisit has resulted in redemption, both for Jethro’s (who, after a disappointing performance with their Gold Rush Pancakes, came back swinging with their delicious French toast) and for me (who, after barely managing to get through 1/2 of their pancakes, wiped the floor plate with their French toast). I was in a great mood when I left the restaurant, and look forward to returning again in the near future.

dav
So the coffee was actually $3 (and not $2 as I had previously thought).

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread French Toast (if you want my advice, skip the pancakes and TREAT YO SELF!)

Jethro's Fine Grub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato