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Category: Restaurant Eatings (page 2 of 5)

HillyBilly Heaven

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Smoky. Sweet. Salivating. Seductive. SCRUMPTIOUS SOUTHERN… sfood. This place is located at Upper James and Fennell in Hamilton, where I’ve recently moved. I’d been hearing a lot about Hillbilly Heaven BBQ joint for a while. They’ve been showcased on the Food Network, and the amount of word-of-mouth buzz has been insane. I hear it from everyone that it’s so amazing, so naturally, I had to go give it a shot. Oh lordy lord did I not know what I was getting myself into.

brisket

I ordered the BBQ beef brisket with a side of baked beans, because I am a sucker for baked beans. However, these beans aren’t like those sweet molasses beans you get with breakfast. No, no. These were smoky, filling, slightly spicy, and a hint of tart sweetness from the apples. And then there’s the sandwich. A bread that’s soft and yet doesn’t fall apart. It soaks up the meaty juices without getting soggy. That is a bread deserving of a place called Heaven. The meat is piled high on the bun. It’s soft, juicy, and peppery. Wonderful on it’s own, but they offer 3 kinds of BBQ sauce that to top your sandwich with: mild, medium, and hot. I don’t know how else to describe how amazing this plate was, except for the fact that the plate you see there cost me $8.95. Now do a double take. You saw that right. Under $10 for a sandwich the size of your head and a hog sized bowl of baked beans. Ooooooh mama.
chillay

 

You can expect the same with the pulled pork platter. The sandwich just as big and juicy and comes with a side of thick cut crinkle fries that are wonderfully seasoned and crisp. My cousin upped the ante by turning his side of fries into chili cheese fries for an extra $3.50 and making it into a monster meal.

Hillbilly Heaven is amazing and everyone should eat there. The staff are really friendly, the decor homely, and the food is just to die for.

Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys, the place I’ve oft heard about but never been to. On par with Burrito Boyz and Smoke’s Poutinerie for after-clubbing eats. BMB is situated on Queen West, just west of Spadina and I finally convinced boyfriend to go there for dinner. This proved to be the best decision I could ever make. Having known myself for 22 years now, I should have known walking in, that we would pretty much “accidentally” order everything on the menu.

We started off with two Banh Mi, the restaurant’s namesake. For those who don’t know, an original Banh Mi (which means bread or sandwich in Vietnamese) is a kind of Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette, has various unidentifiable meats and pâtés in it, topped with pickled radish, pickled carrots, cilantro, and chili peppers if you’re feeling feisty. We got duck confit, and pork belly, and just having one each would have filled us up enough without all the other things we bought. These were really good. Warm and meaty, it’s a nice mix of western and eastern cuisines. I liked them alright, but I think I prefer my original banh mi to these (which you can buy for $2.50 up the street) but that’s okay because they offer some other great things on the menu.

This is the beef cheek steamed bao. I love beef cheek because it is always so soft and moist, and this one had a great smokey flavour to it. Topped with cucumber, cilantro, and pickled radish and carrots, it’s stuffed in a steamed bao pocket. In Chinese, it’s called a “siopao” and in Vietnamese, a “banh bao”. It’s a white steamed bun that’s like a bread, but spongy, airy, and slightly sweet.

We move onto the tacos and I am a sucker for coleslaw. We ordered a squid taco and a kalbi beef taco and it came with all the fixings of a banh mi with the addition of the coleslaw and kimchi. Kalbi beef is a korean style short rib beef. It’s got a sweet flavour which contrasts well with the tanginess of the coleslaw and pickled carrots. Very yummy, very messy to eat. The three types of sandwiches are pretty much the same in fillings, but you can change up how you want it served: as a banh mi, a taco, or a steamed bao.

I saved you the best for last though, because this is what the people really come for:

Kimchi fries.

The perfect french fries topped with perfect pulled pork and perfect kimchi, as well as mayo and a bunch of green onions makes this dish, well, perfect. It’s like a poutine on steroids. The crispy fries compliment the soft, sweet pulled pork compliment the crunchy tangy spicy kimchi that makes this something you must try when you visit Toronto. You won’t find it anywhere else in Toronto, and any imitations  are just that. Imitations. Cause nothing comes close to the perfection of this dish.

Hank Daddy’s

Hank Daddy’s is a bbq food truck here in Hamilton that does the standard barbecue fare: ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork, among other things. Although I’ve been trying to lose weight, I couldn’t help but to venture off to this truck because it was parked down the street from me, and y’all know my addiction to food trucks. See here and here.

Hank Daddy’s is known for their unique pulled pork parfait, so of course I had to have it. It looks so cute, and because I was taking it home, they had the ingenious way of cutting out the bottom of a takeout container to protect the mound! Presentation really is everything because that’s what you’re really paying for. It was 10$ for two scoops of mashed potatoes, pulled pork, and some beans. The barbecue sauce alone was strange and I didn’t quite like it, but when mixed with the pulled pork and potatoes, they meshed surprisingly well.

I may be biased because I just love pulled pork, but I really enjoyed this dish, despite thinking that it’s not quite worth 10$. It was a nice small lunch, and yummy, which I think is the most important part. Next time, I’ll have to try the ribs.

 

 

Burrito Brothers!

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This place has been wildly popular since it opened a few weeks ago in downtown Brantford. I drove all the way to 38 Dalhousie because I cannot turn down a burrito. Downtown Toronto, you can get a good burrito at almost any corner, but they’ve been sparse since I moved further out west to Hamilton. I was ready for my fix. This place isn’t a chain, which is awesome, and every single ingredient is made fresh at the store, especially their amazing sauces.

This is is huge and thick and amazing. I, of course, piled on as many toppings and sauces as possible. This wrap is filled with so much yumminess and definitely fills you up. And, they do the thing that separates a great burrito from a wrap stuffed with edible things, they grill the outside of the burrito. That is the one thing that will determine if I like a burrito or not. The grill slightly crisps the outside and makes sure the whole thing doesn’t it fall apart. It is a necessity!!

They have so many fillings to choose from. Pork, pulled beef, chicken, and sweet potato. Wait, what? Sweet potato? YES, SWEET POTATO. And the sweet potato is SO good. I am a bonafide meat eater, and even I would get a sweet potato burrito. It’s hearty, the flavour is not too sweet, and has just the right amount of spice. The sweet potato is a must try. They also have a bunch of different salsas to choose from: pico de gallo, roasted tomato homestyle salsa, coleslaw, corn and bean. They even make their own queso fresca.

They make their own cheese.

I had to highlight that because that fact in itself is amazing. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of their sauces but they have crazy things like lime sour cream, special “burrito sauce,” and a range of hot sauces, one of them is actually CRAZY hot, and I am good at eating spicy food.

They also do tacos. They also do fish tacos. This one I made for myself, topping it with the things that I wanted (aka everything). The fish is soft, but the batter is right crispy. They make the fish to order so it is never soggy!

These are the fish tacos proper, which is topped with all the things that they recommend on a fish taco. These ones have coleslaw, onions, cilantro, lime sour cream, and queso fresca. One of them has the suicide hot sauce. Bullets were sweat that day.

They also do bomb nachos! Topped with meat and any other topping you could put on the burritos and tacos. The best part, after they put the cheese on it, they bake it in the oven to get all that wonderful melty cheese.

Melty cheese makes the world go round.

It’s statements like these that make me think I should write a book. I could be the new Deepak Chopra. “Look inside yourself, for you cannot change the world without faith in you. Inside of you, before anything, you should find the melty cheese, and with this power, the world is yours.” I’m a damn natural.

I didn’t get a chance to try their new burrito because it just came out today and only available for the month of October, but it’s a turkey burrito, with cranberry sauce and other things. I really need to go back this month to try it out because it looks so good. For all those who don’t want to cook, you can just bring your family into Burrito Brothers, and they can be your family too. HA.

I filmed my last visit to BB, and it’s part of my new vlog series on youtube! Unfortunately, my channel isn’t under the username Judskii but I’m looking for a way to right that wrong! My BB visit starts at 7:44.

Good night, and sweet burritos to all!

Porchetta & Co

Oh sweet, succulent porchetta. This place is just beyond amazing. Porchetta is a fatty boneless pork roast that is seasoned with many different herbs  and then cooked in a way that the outside is crispy, light and the inside is melt in your mouth tender. So good that even Anthony Bourdain came in for a bite.

The ciabatta bun is stuffed with 4 oz of porchetta, crackling, and topped with (Kozliks) mustard and frank’s hot sauce. This time I chose to get some bitter rapini on top because I love rapini. When people come to Toronto, they’re always talking about that damn peameal bacon, the prized sandwich of Hogtown. But let me tell you, this porchetta sandwich is SO much better than peameal bacon, and let’s just say, I have too much experience with peameal.

Let’s get back to the porchetta sandwich. The bun is soft and fragrant. The meat is soft, but the crackling gives that satisfying crunch. Boyfriend of course got his piled high with mushrooms and added a bunch of extra mustard on top. Biting into this monster is one of the most satisfying things. I can only wish to have this sandwich every day. 🙂

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Scaramouche

Scaramouche is one of my favourite restaurants, partly because it’s so expensive that we can’t quiet afford to eat there very often, meaning it’s such a nice treat when we do get there. Whenever I get to hang out with the boyfriend, I get to throw all my diet worries away and indulge, indulge, indulge. Above is the view from the south windows of the restaurant. I had been wanting to come here for a very long time since seeing their famous Coconut Cream Pie in an issue of Toronto Eats (arguably one of my favourite magasines) and so for my birthday in June, boyfriend finally took me! And it was so good that he made me promise to take him for his birthday too. And well, here we are.

They start off every dinner service with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I actually can’t remember for the life of me what this is, I think it might be some sort of salmon, but these are just to whet the appetite. They are cute, dainty, and leave us drooling for our meals!

My appetizer this time was a decadent dungeness crab ravioli (24$). The pillows were ultra light and melted completely in your mouth. The light tomato-based sauce was creamy and very rich. So good that we ended up dipping some of the complimentary bread into it so as to not waste a single drop. The crab was light and yet so intense in flavour. There were only a few raviolis, but as this is a french restaurant, small portions are expectant. I don’t care though because every bite is one of those movie moments where you close your eyes and just savour it.

The steak tartare (18$) topped with crostini and watercress, surrounded by a caper mustard. The first time we came, I just had to try the steak tartare because I’d never had a tartare before. Once it reached the table, boyfriend got super jealous because he didn’t know what tartare was but he looooooves his meat raw, or as close to raw as possible. The tartare is so delicious, nice and peppery, with a kick of spicy mustard, and the meat is just so soft and tender.

This was the lamb (46$) that we had last time, but since I hadn’t made a post, this is where I display it. Lamb is usually my go-to dish just because I love the richness of it with the light gamey flavour. The meat was topped with a classic mint pesto and served with goat cheese whipped potatoes. Everything was just so lovely and yummy. I love the arrangement of everything on the plate so that there are endless combinations of things to eat, each ingredient enhancing the flavours of the others. And oh my, how delicious and smooth those potatoes were.

Another reason I had wanted to try this restaurant was because they served elk/venison (46$), a meat that I had never had before! This meat was like a cross between beef and lamb. Super tender, a light gamey flavour, yet has the presence and sturdiness of beef. They were also wrapped in bacon, and really, who doesn’t like bacon. Plated on a bed of baby spinach, a lot of different types of mushrooms, and beets. Oh man I love beets. There was also a mustard cream that  tasted almost like really creamy quiche. I honestly don’t know what to say about any of these dishes because they are all just on a very high level of wonderful cuisine.

This time, boyfriend chose to stick with a standard filet mignon (47$). The meat was, of course, cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s served alongside green beans (which are sitting in the beef gravy. This is where you swoon) as well as porcini whipped potatoes. Let me tell you, this restaurant has got their potatoes DOWN. They’re light, full of flavour, and not at all overpowering. I probably stole half of his potatoes, and quite a bit of his green beans too. Sharing is caring.

Of course the first time we went, we had to have the coconut cream pie (13$). The crust is flakey to a fault, the pie sitting on top of some beautiful chocolate drizzle. White chocolate shavings on top of a mountain of coconut cream. Now let me start by saying that I don’t even like coconut shavings. There’s too much chewing involved but despite that, this pie was soooo good. The cream was intense, the chocolates, divine. It was a beautiful dessert.

This beautiful thing is the Valrhona Jivara Cylinder (14$). It’s beautifully presented and I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by it, but I ended up floored. The yellow spots are passionfruit curd. It isn’t sour like some passionfruit is and the seeds, when you bite into them are like little balls of sugar. On the left is a fresh banana sorbet sitting on top of nuggets of chocolate. The sorbet is fresh, tangy, and perfect after a meaty meal. The nuggets of chocolate actually pop in your mouth after you bite into them, not unlike pop rock candies. But let me tell you where the magic happens. It’s the milk chocolate cylinder on the right, filled with raspberry foam. But that’s not all it’s filled with.

Underneath the deliciously sweet, with a slight sour, foam, there looks to be a praline-like cream, and under that yet, there is milk chocolate mousse. This thing looks small, but it was so damn good, that I would pay 14$ just for that cylinder alone. So gosh darn delicious.

I wasn’t lying when I said boyfriend likes his raw meat. The first time this happened, I was slightly embarrassed, but I couldn’t stop laughing. This time, I didn’t think he would actually do it again. Sometime after our entrees were finished, I feigned a bathroom break and went to talk to our waiter to inform him of the birthday we were celebrating and if the kitchen could do something special for the dessert. And what does boyfriend order for dessert for a second time in a row? Steak tartare. The first time it happened, the waiter who was cleaning crumbs off our table actually stopped to look at him, like it was the weirdest request because well, it is weird. So yes, so manly that he eats a chunk of raw meat for a dessert, and I accept him for it. And they stuck a candle in it for me.

I really do love Scaramouche, and if I were hella loaded, I would probably eat here monthly, if not weekly. Both dinners cost us between $200 and $225 after tip, and that’s without drinking any wine or spirits. The food is definitely worth it though and the atmosphere is very nice, classy, and the perfect place to treat yo’self.

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