{Review} Chile and Agave Mexican Grill in St. Catherines

Website: http://www.chileandagave.com/
Address: 51 Hartzel Rd., St. Catherines, ON
Cuisine: Mexican
When I visited:
 June 2015, lunch, 3 people
Rating: $$, 3.5

Off a busy street, Chile and Agave was a great place to visit with a decor that felt like I was actually in Mexico. As I stepped into the lobby, I was greeted with a beautiful private room near the entrance and an opened dining space a few steps above.

Private room Chile and Agave

Private room Chile and Agave

Chile and Agave dining room

Chile and Agave dining room

For starters, we ordered the ‘nacho clasico’ topped with melted cheese, pico de gallo and jalapenos, served with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and refried beans. I recalled the dish was about $15. The highlight of the dish was the crispy house-made tortilla chips.

In hindsight, I would not have ordered the nacho dish knowing that the restaurant would give us chips and salsa on-the-house.

Nacho classico

Nacho classico

 

Fresh chips and salsa

Fresh chips and salsa

I ordered the lunch special with an 8 inch burrito filled with beef, rice, beans, lettuce with a side of salad in a house vinaigrette ($9). This was probably one of the smallest and skinniest burritos I have ever eaten at the Mexican restaurant, but it was flavourful.

Lunch portion

Lunch portion

My husband’s enchilada dish was my favourite dish with 3 baked rolls filled with chicken with guajillo chili and tomato sauce, served with rice and beans. The refried beans was extra smooth, the sauce was deep in flavour and the meat was tender. For a few bucks more than the lunch, ordering off the regular menu is worth it.

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Overall:

This is an authentic Mexican restaurant in the heart of St. Catherines.  The restaurant just celebrated their 4 year anniversary and I hope they continue to do well. 

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{Review} The Drake Devonshire Inn and Restaurant in Prince Edward County (PEC)

Websitehttp://www.drakedevonshire.ca/
Twitter Handle: @thedrakehotel
Address: 24 Wharf St., Wellington, ON
When I went: August 2015, Dinner, 12 people
Ratings: $$$, 4

The Drake Devonshire Inn and Restaurant was my family’s first choice for my father-in-law’s birthday celebration in ‘The County’. Over the decades (since 1860), the building had changed several owners and in 2012, it was sold to The Drake Hotel. 

I heard from friends that during the cheese festival and the busy summer season, getting reservations would be challenging, and they were spot on. After leaving several voice mails, I had to do some convincing with a representative for her to squeeze us in for a few hours before the next reservation.

Getting there was not easy. After exiting the highway going into Prince Edward County, it took us about 40 mins and several turns before arriving at the restaurant. Luckily, based on our experience, it was worth the drive to the beautiful restaurant.

The restaurant had different sections, each one with a different feel and design, with a large deck and walkway that led right to the lake. Our group sat in a cozy room with a fireplace, high ceilings, large windows and a large mural.

The Drake Devonshire

The Drake Devonshire

For the menu, we were given options for the The Drake’s ‘Fish Camp Food Truck’ which operates outside the restaurant, a children’s menu and a dinner menu.

From the food truck, we ordered the lobster nachos ($22) to share amongst four people.

The Drake Devonshire Food Truck $22 lobster nachos

 

For dinner, I ordered the Devonshire Burger with 6 oz Prinzen beef, with Black River cheddar, shredded lettuce, onion, crispy bacon, and Russian dressing on a house-made milk bun with hand cut fries ($18). I requested the burger to be done medium rare, and it was cooked to perfection. The burger was juicy, well seasoned with thick slices of bacon.

The Drake Devonshire burger

The Drake Devonshire burger

My husband ordered the Roast Suckling Pig with slow roasted milk-fed pork with house-made milk buns, turmeric fermented cabbage and beet mustard ($24). My husband made little sandwiches and enjoyed every bite.

The Drake Devonshire pork belly

The Drake Devonshire pork belly

My daughter had crispy Chicken Tenders with hand cut fries, which came with real apple juice and house-made ice cream. I enjoyed that the honey mustard dip was also made in-house and the extra crispy batter on the chicken.

The Drake Devonshire children's meal $15

I had a bite of my sister-in-law’s Grilled Lamb Ribs and they were outstanding! It was the first time I had lamb ribs and this one knocked me off my feet with the tenderness. I wonder how long it was cooked for?

Lamb ribs

Lamb ribs

If I had any suggestions, I would lower the price of the children’s menu (it was around $18) and I would offer a complimentary slice of cake for special occasions, like my father-in-law’s birthday.

Overall:

When visiting Price Edward County (PEC), The Drake Devonshire is a must visit restaurant and Inn inside a historical building overseeing the lake front. The restaurants sources as much of their ingredients locally and makes many items such as the burgers, buns, sauces and ice-cream from scratch which lends to the quality and taste of the food. Do try to make reservations well in advanced.

For more delicious updates, please follow me on @themary_tang on Instagram and Twitter.

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{Review} Concession Road on St. Clair Ave. W. serves Global French Cuisine

Website: http://concessionroad.ca/
Twitter/Instagram Handle: @concessionroad
Address: 760 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto, ON
When I attended: August 2015, Media dinner

Owners Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau recently opened up Concession Road a few doors down from their successful Indian restaurant, Pukka. St. Clair Avenue used to be referred to as the “3rd concession”, which helped to shape the name of their new restaurant with the historical geographic reference.

Concession Road serves French food with global influences cooked by Chef Masayuki Tamaru (ex-Executive Chef of Left Bank Bistro). The decor is modern with simple and clean lines.

Concession Road

Concession Road

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I was invited by Vicky (@momwhoruns) for a media dinner with fellow Toronto food bloggers where I was able to sample a great variety from the Concession Road menu. The presentation of all the dishes were stunning, and I have my favourites that I will re-order on my next visit.

During the evening, we sampled:

Shrimp Bonbon, citrus salad with red pepper gastrique. The sauce brought lightness to the dish.

Shrimp Bonbon

Shrimp Bonbon

Romaine hearts with orange, hearts of palm, olives, avocado, manchego with a sherry vinaigrette. 

Romaine hearts salad

Romaine hearts salad

Beef tartare with Asian pear, pickled vegetables, quail’s egg yolk and toast. This was my  favourite dish of the evening. The pickled vegetables and Asian pear made the dish extremely appetizing.

beef tartare

beef tartare

Vegetable stuffed chard, vegetable sauce, chive-oil, beet crisps and toasted pumpkin seeds. This is the one of the most beautifully plated dishes I have ever seen!

Vegetable stuffed chard

Vegetable stuffed chard

Sautéed calves liver, Korean BBQ sauce, sweet potato and king oyster mushroom. This dish is one of the best sellers. I had liver many times and enjoyed this version served steak style with fried onions. A filling choice for $22.75 on their menu.

Calves liver

Calves liver

“JFC” Menonite-farmed fried chicken, buttermilk mash, tomato and preserved lemon mayo. The portions were generous, the chicken was moist and the skin was crispy! If you love fried chicken, this dish is a must!

Fried chicken from Concession Road

Fried chicken from Concession Road

Steamed Portuguese rockfish, tomato beurre blanc with fresh dill. The fish was cooked perfectly and ultra tender.

Steamed Portuguese rockfish

Steamed Portuguese rockfish

Chilled souffle cheesecake, boozie cherries, hazelnut bark and Callebaut chocolate terrine, local berries, whipped cream. Mmmm, I loved it all!

Dessert at Concession Road

Dessert at Concession Road

Another standout from the restaurant is their bar menu with an extensive wine list, cocktails and an absinthe program. I’ve only seen the absinthe ceremony on food shows on Food Network Canada, and was really excited I was able to witness the ceremony in person where glasses of absinthe was placed under a beautiful ice water dispenser for the ice water to slowly drip into the glass.

Drink program at Concession Road

Concession Road

Overall:

Concession Road is a delicious addition to the vibrant St. Clair W. neighbourhood. The menu is creative with many Asian and global influences to classic French dishes.

* Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.

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{Review} The Bull BBQ Pit in St. Catherines

Website: http://thebullbbqpit.com/
Address: 24 St. Paul St., St. Catherines, ON
When I visited:
 June 2015, dinner, 6 people
Rating: $, 3.5

In the heart of downtown St. Catherines, The Bull BBQ Pit serves a variety of BBQ items including smoked brisket, ribs, pulled pork and home-made burgers.

As featured on the Food Network Canada’s Show, You Got to Eat Here, I tried the Redonkadonk Sandwich with smoked brisket, pulled pork, bacon, grilled onions, fries and bull slaw on a bun ($11.45). The sandwich was indeed “redonkulous” with moist meat and smokey flavours…and it was huge!

Redonkadonk Burger

Redonkadonk Burger

Other highlights of what we ordered included the fresh-cut tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole.

chips and dips

chips and dips

The poutine and the ribs were good but not a stand out. I would have enjoyed a smokier flavour on the ribs and would have liked the fries crispier.

Ribs

Ribs

Overall:

With most menu items under $10, the casual joint makes for an inexpensive meal or take out. The portions are worth the price and I would come back for the tortillas and the Redonkadonk Sandwich.

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{Contest Closed} Win a pair of tickets to the Toronto Food and Wine Festival (Sept 18-20th, 2015)

I am feeling good this week as I reached 2000 followers on Twitter (https://twitter.com/themary_tang) and want to give back to all my supporters.

I am giving away a pair of admission tickets (worth $72) to the FIRST EVER Toronto Food and Wine Festival happening on Sept. 18-20th, 2015, taking place at the Evergreen Brick Works.

Tickets are on sale now and will be sure to sell out. An adult single-day ticket at the onsite box office is $36 each, so enter the contest for your chance to secure a pair of tickets NOW.

The CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to El Lum (@PillyJ on Twitter)!

ENTER HERE!!  (CONTEST IS CLOSED)

Source: http://www.torontofoodandwine.com

Source: http://www.torontofoodandwine.com

Rules:

*All winners must be willing to provide a mailing address (Canadian addresses only) to receive their tickets in the mail. Tickets will be sent 2 weeks prior to the event.
* Participants can enter once a day.
* Participants must be ages 16 and older
* The contest runs from Wed. August 5th at 12:00 pm to Fri. Aug. 7th at 6:00 pm ET.
* The winner will be notified by Mon. Aug. 10th, 2015 and will have until Tues. Aug. 11th to respond to my message through Facebook/e-mail/Twitter. Failure to respond in a timely manner means that another prize winner will be chosen. The winner will eventually be announced on my blog.

TOP 5 REASONS TO ATTEND THE TORONTO FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL: 

  1. Celebrity chefs will be there! Curtis Stone, Tyler Florence, Gail Simmons, Chuck Hughes, Roger Mooking, Mark McEwan, Antonio Park and many more will be taking to the stages for demos, talks and workshops throughout the three-day event.
  2. You’ll be able to sample, sip and savour all the flavours from 130 purveyors of premium products, fine foods and beverages from Ontario, Canada and around the world in the Grand Tasting Pavilion – presented by PC Black Label.
  3. For the first time ever, Cochon 555 is bringing its flavour-packed marquee events series to Canada allowing guests to sink their teeth into over 1400 pounds of expertly prepared pork dishes by the hottest chefs including Chuck Hughes, Matty Matheson and more.
  4. Expert-level educational workshops welcome legendary masters like Kevin Kent (Knifewear), Tetsuya “Ted” Iizuka (Soba Canada), and Antonio Park (Park Restaurant) to share their knowledge regarding time-held traditions like knife skills and soba noodle making.
  5. Canada’s Best New Student Chef will be crowned after an exciting and unique cooking competition called Taste Canada Cooks the Books. Some of the brightest up-and-coming culinary talents from schools across Canada will gather in front of a live audience in the Miele Kitchen to make a dish from a well-known Canadian cookbook, with the author on stage!

For more information, check out the Toronto Food and Wine Website , Twitter (@tofoodandwine) and their Facebook page.

* Disclosure: I partnered with the Toronto Food and Wine festival for the give-away.

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{Event} Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Cupcakes Cocktail Party‏

Website: http://culinaryshowdown.ca/http://www.cbcf.org/
Twitter Handle: @CBCF_, @CambriaQuartz
Address: Cambria, 91 Parliament St., Tor., ON
When I attended:
July 22nd 2015, Charity event

When I got the invite to attend the ‘KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown’ launch party with Chef Elizabeth Falkner, I was freaking out! Even though my belly looks and feels like it’s ready to pop being in my third trimester of pregnancy, I had to attend! It was a lifetime opportunity to hang out with one of world’s top female chefs. I brought my friend Lynn to the event who is passionate about cooking and also a Chef Falker fan.

The cocktail party was held at Cambria, a beautiful event space that showcased a wide variety of kitchen and bath installations by local designers. The loft-like space was perfect for mingling and enjoying the complimentary h’orderves and drinks.

Cambria

Cambria

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Cambria interior

Cambria interior

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As Chef Falkner entered the building dressed in black with her leather jacket, my first impression was that she was a “bass-ass” chef that is ultra cool. After chatting with Chef Falkner, and she came across as approachable and genuine.

There are not that many female chefs that have really made a name for themselves in the culinary world. Chef Falkner has 2 cookbooks, is an entrepreneur and has appeared on more than thirty television competition shows either as a competitor or a judgeI have been following Chef Falkner on tons of FoodNetwork Canada shows including “Next Iron Chef-Super Chefs”, “Iron Chef America”, “Cutthroat Kitchen-Superstar Sabotage”, and “Chopped Allstars”.   She definitely knows about cooking under pressure and it is amazing that she will be participating in this year’s KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown on November 14th, 2015. It was inspiring to hear her speak about her motivation to be part of the event.

At the cocktail party, many attendees had an opportunity to purchase Chef Falkner’s “Demolition Dessert” cookbook. There was also a cupcake competition, where attendees had their homemade cupcakes tasted and judged by Chef Falkner. I rarely bake or have a sweet tooth, so I did not bring cupcakes to save myself from embarrassment from potentially having the worse tasting dessert.

Chef Falkner tasting the cupcakes

Chef Falkner tasting the cupcakes

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Here is a fun selfie we took (a repost from CBCFCookforthecure on Instagram)

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I highly encourage you to sign up this year to the KitchenAid Culinary Showdown on November 14th, 2015.  Why?! 

1. The fundraising efforts will be supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I truly believe that together we can create a future without breast cancer.  Last year, the event raised over $650,000.

2. If you love food and want to learn from top chefs and be part of a culinary competition mentored by the chefs, this is a lifetime opportunity that you would not want to miss. 

3. The culinary showdown has amazing Canadian Chefs. Chef’s participating include Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, Chef Ricardo, and returning champion, Chef Lynn Crawford.

4. This year, the organizers were able to get two talented American Chefs including Chef Elizabeth Falkner and one of my favourite chefs in the world, Chef Marcus Samuelsson!! I recently read his book “Yes, Chef: A Memoir” and I feel like I know so much more about him now and have been dying to meet him.

Participants who will raise $2500 or more and are the top 50 fundraisers will get to compete in the Showdown. I know the amount seems alarming but it is doable! I signed up last year thinking I would not be able to raise more than a few hundred dollars, and I proved myself wrong. Start early and you will be ahead of the game! 

For more information, please visit the Culinary Showdown Website on how to sign up.

Thank you to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for the invitation to the launch party!

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