Quantity Vs. Quality A Winterlicious Wrap-Up

Winterlicious 2009 – This year it was eat or be eaten.  

My belly runneth over the waistband of my jeans and for your reading pleasure my intense 4 day jam packed dining out extravaganza.  The good, the bad and the ugly.
We begin one week ago today –
Wednesday February 4 
Dinner Companion – Mr. Homer
Homer and I had dined at Thuet’s other restaurant Bite Me in the fall and enjoyed it.  Since the Atelier is right in Homer’s work neighbourhood we decided to try it out.  And despite a rocky start when Homer tried to make a reservation and the host (or whomever answers the phone there) said the word “deuce” to many times to make a normal person comfortable, we had a truly excellent meal.
What I ate:
First Course:  Roaster Butternut Squash Soup Garnished with House Made Ricotta
Perfect for a cold winter night, warm and comforting.  Both Homer and I agreed if this had been the only thing on the menu it would have been worth it.
Main Course:  Hand Rolled Gnocchi with Tripe and Braised Pork Belly
Delicious and soft gnocchi with a light tomato sauce.  The pork belly was melt in the mouth but the tripe was a bit chewy and off putting in the dish.  While I don’t regret ordering it, Homer’s choice of the Truffled Chicken Pot Pie nearly made me reconsider, it smelled like heaven.

Dessert:  Lemon and Chocolate Verrine
Tasty but not too lemony, a nice light finish to the meal.

Service:  Polite if slightly rushed, but not uncomfortably so.  I only managed 1 glass of unmemorable wine which is usually a sign of how fast they are serving.
Go Back at Full Price:  Yes!
Thursday February 5
5:30pm (the ONLY time we could get)
Dinner Companions – Mr. Homer, Ryan Cripps and Michael Lazarovitch
Having never tried Mildred’s Kitchen in the previous incarnation I had no idea what to expect.  What I got was a gorgeous white space, with so much room I forgot where I was for while, namely attached to an office/mini mall/tower.  Another Liberty Village hot spot, I had read many reviews about crusty service but our gal was nice as could be.
What I ate:
First Course: Roast Cauliflower Soup with Curry Oil
While not as lush as Thuet’s this soup was still a winner.  Velvety and deep the curry oil was a bit over powering at points but not enough from deter me from eating the whole bowl.

Second Course:  Grass Fed Ontario Pork with farro and caramelized onion risotto and veg.
An honest and pure dish this was a great example of something simple done right.  It just felt fresh.

Dessert:  Profiteroles with Lindt milk chocolate ice cream and chocolate drizzle
To be frank, not as delectable as I thought it would be.  The profiteroles were pretty dry though I guess maybe they had to be in order to keep this towering dish upright.  Ice cream was delicious though.

A drinking note about Mildred’s:  I ordered the Malivoire Gamay which I had never had before.  The waitress said they can barely keep it in stock.  I see why, I could bath in this wine.  Go get it now.
Service – as mentioned terrific.
Go back at full price – Yes
Friday February 5
Dining Companion – Ms. Jenn Scott
Ok, so this is not really part of Winterlicious, but they do have the same sort of promotion going on right now so you should get your butt there before Feb 13.
I had the great treat of being able to sit at the Chef’s Table at Marben this past Friday.  I wish I could tell you everything we ate, but it is sort of a glutenous haze, because you see my friends we did a BLIND TASTING.
I do however has four words for you:
Fois Gras Creme Brulee – Just as decadent as it sounds.  
A gorgeous space as well suited to dining as it is to drinks with the girls (or guys) this Wellington restaurant is really a sort of hidden gem.  Executive Chef Craig Alley is not only a heck of a nice guy he also knows what he is doing.  If you have a special occasion, I highly recommend hitting up Marben and treating yourself to the Chef’s Table.  Or just head down on a Friday for some drinks and a great time.  And say high to my buddy the GM Chuck Howard (see photo below of him and Craig).  They’ll take good care of you.
Saturday February 6
8:00pm (or try 8:30pm)
Dinner Companions:  Mr. Homer, Dan Misener, Jenna Zuschlag Misener, Amber Rutherford
I didn’t mind the wait or the too crowded dining room or the rubbery calamari.  I didn’t even mind our servers apathetic service, but when he plunked the cheque down before I could even put dessert spoon to mouth the straw she broka my back.  We had just, about 10 minutes ago ordered another bottle of wine and for all he knew we were moving on to the Veuve, guess he never will.
What I ate:
First Course:  Calamari all Griglia
While it was rubbery the flavour was still there with the tomato and avocado.  Safe to say this was actually the best part of the meal.  Sigh.

Second Course:  Stinco D’agnello (or Lamb)
Stin(K)co is right.  This flavourless giant lamb bit was the source for the title of the post, Quantity vs. Quality.  It felt thrown together and uninspired.  I didn’t finish it and after I told Homer this when we got home he said I should have given it to him, he was still hungry since the gnocchi was minuscule.

Dessert:  Tiramisu
Not bad, not good, but not bad.  Light and mild but again nothing you couldn’t buy at the grocery store.
Service:  Our server was apathetic and trying to rush us out after having been seated late.  You get a fail my friend.  The host was a greasy haired guy who didn’t seem to care that that bar was already full and asking us to wait there crammed us at the end by the door, good thing it was warm out! However one of the auxiliary servers was quite friendly when Jenna found a hard bit in her calamari, turns out it was spine of the calamari which he explained to her. Not good but still at least he was honest about it.
Go back at full price:  Um, no.
Coming soon – I’m in a New York State of Mind. 
Even Sooner – I am back in the Kitchen.

One response to “Quantity Vs. Quality A Winterlicious Wrap-Up

  1. Jenna

    I had the Gamay at Mildred’s on Monday – holy sweet baby jesus you were so right. It’s amazing. I must find the source and replace drinking water with it.Also, I found out a few days afterwards that the server at Tappo removed Dan’s dinner plate before he was even finished eating his meager portion of gnocchi!That dinner was a bit hard on my gut the next day, and my pocketbook for the rest of the month.Great post!

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