Tag Archives: pasta

The Tulip Steakhouse

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tulip exterior

When you think of a steak dinner, the first thing that comes to mind would probably either be the word “fancy” or “expensive”, depending on your outlook on things and your social standing.  It makes sense: meat is valuable, and steaks are made up of the best, most choice cuts of meat.  To go along with the price of the meal, expensive restaurants usually lavish up everything: chandeliers light up the whole place, a small fortune of candle wax is used to illuminate each table, an expensive band is hired to play Beethoven’s Symphonies on their orchestra, the guests wear ornate ballroom masks [the kind that cover up your face], and all the waiters look like Batman’s butler Alfred.  Because of the fancy decor, the restaurant can then ram the prices through the roof, allowing in only the city’s most elite and rich clientele, which I’m sure the Freemasons and Illuminati of our society enjoy during all of their social dinners, because it perfectly encapsulates the classism in their ways.

Okay…. I may have let my imagine run a little bit there.  Truth is, I’ve never been inside a five-star restaurant–of any cuisine–and I don’t really know what they’re actually like [although I’m sure candle wax is quite expensive].  I’ve also never been in a steak restaurant before, indeed, I’ve never eaten steak before.  The closest I’ve experienced would be either ribs, different types of grilled meats or maybe gourmet hamburgers.  Meals that are certainly not, by any means, close to the level of a proper, certified steak.

tulip interior

The Tulip is an interesting place for steak-newbies to try out, then.  The place certainly doesn’t look like its high-end enough to serve proper steak: there’s no fanciness to the aura, the location itself is far away from Toronto’s financial district, and it doesn’t even remotely resemble a half-backed dystopian novel with heavy-handed themes about class divide.  In fact, The Tulip is rather plain-looking: like a diner which has a laissez-faire way of living up to its name by having a few floral paintings and the odd plastic flower lying about.  The seating area looks well-used and unassuming–but clean–and is accompanied by a nice little bar for those wishing for a pub-like atmosphere.  It’s very similar to a diner, in fact, The Tulip kinda is a diner, except when it’s not.  This place is kind of hybrid restaurant, and like those cars that run on both gasoline and electricity, it can go either way.  If you want to enjoy a coffee and all-day breakfast, you can come here.  If you want a nice, deluxe steak and house wine, you can come here as well.

tulip tenderloin

Mom’s tenderloin with broccoli

As one could tell, we can here to eat the steaks, and I was looking forward to the first one of my 19 years of living.  I ordered a Medium Top Sirloin [not medium-rare: medium] and I took the option of replacing the usual veggies and potatoes with spaghetti and tomato sauce, because it was strangely offered on the menu, and I figured they wouldn’t offer a combination that odd if it didn’t work out somehow.  My mom had the medium rare tenderloin with a side of mushrooms.

 

Before the big entrees, we were treated to a complimentary plate of buttered bread, much in the same way they do in the restaurants that [I imagine], those elitist, creepy ballroom mask-wearing people go to.  It was a pretty good appetizer: warm, very fresh and an all around bread-lover’s delight.  The crust had just enough resistance to be nice and firm, but didn’t hurt when you bit into it.  The inside was generously lathered in butter, and the bread itself was light with a full-bodied taste.  Pretty good way to start a meal, before the actual meal-part came to our table.

tulip bread

To start, the potions served here are quite generous.  Steak is very rich, and also can only be safely chewed in smaller mouthfuls, so the amount on our plates was quite enough.  And believe me, I’m the kind of person who usually feels mildly disappointed by a restaurant’s portion sizes.  The sirloin was visibly quite juicy, and surrounded by its own pleasant little bath of beefy water.  It had a very light char on top, just enough to give a gentle crunch to the overall texture, and did not in the slightest way taste burnt.

tulip spagetti

My sirloin and spaghetti

The meat itself had extraordinary flavour, one that was aromatic, multi-layered and plentiful in its dimensions.  Unlike a lot of meals, it kept giving off flavour as one keeps chewing, inviting you to take long, slow bites.  And that’s a good thing, because the texture itself was quite easy, with enough resistance to be toothy, but enough give to be comfortably edible.  It had the taste of fatty steak, but the texture of a lean steak: the best of both worlds.  All of this was accented by a light seasoning of salt and freshly grated pepper.

tulip medium rare

As for the medium rare tenderloin, I very much enjoyed the way that The Tulip treats their rawer meat.  There was just a mild bit of salt, and every bit as much taste as the sirloin, except contained in itself more with less juice overflowing.  The raw parts were soft and buttery, almost melting in your mouth.  It was a very relaxing dish to eat.

Both steaks were cut to avoid any of those unpleasant veins of fat, which I greatly appreciate because I find fat clumps impossible to fully chew.  They were also drained of all blood, also cleaning up any possible messes that those can make.  The steaks themselves were clearly select cuts, based on the quality and flavour of them.  Now that I’m 19 [Ontario’s drinking age], I recommend the steak with a beer of your personal choice.

tulip mushrooms

The mushrooms were pretty well-cooked, although there isn’t much one can really do to mess up mushrooms.  They might need to be salted or peppered to your own taste.  As for the broccoli, I quite liked how it was cooked: just enough to give it more flavour, but still allowed to keep its crunch.

tulip getti

Okay, now the part that you were waiting for: the spaghetti, how was it?  Surprisingly unique.  The pasta itself was nice and just the right amount of al dente, giving the kind of firm texture that you wish for when eating spaghetti.  As for the sauce, it was creamy and a little bit peppery.  It was seasoned with a tingling blend of assorted, Italian herbs.  The overall dish could be described as bright and cheery.

tulip chocolate cake

For dessert, I chose The Tulips’ “famous chocolate cake”.  As a genuine chocolate hound, and amateur connoisseur, I have some high standards for anything chocolate based.  While I like sweetness, I prefer if the dominant taste is actually chocolate, not sugar: I prefer a bitter dark chocolate over anything too sugary.  I also like cakes that have layers, and very rich and moist, with the icing designed to give another layer of chocolate flavour, instead of over-saturating with sweetness.  Above all, I want the cake to be heavy, but light to chew, packed with flavour and overall filling.  Fortunately, The Tulip managed to hit all of those marks.  Their cake was truly quite delicious.

tulip bleach

As for the service, I found it quick and unobtrusive, as well as mildly polite.  My mom found it cold because of the lack of small talk.  I say it’s up to you to decide which sounds more like your style: professional or engaging.  While I felt comfortable in the atmosphere, I’m also used to old, neighbour diners.  If you don’t like that kind of setting, let me just say the food far outperforms the decor.  The only complaint I would have is they cleaned something up with bleach during our meal, although I’m not sure quite what that was or how urgent it was.  The smell passed away rather quickly, but not before making its presence known.

When it comes to the pricing of a restaurant, I have kind of funny way of reviewing it.  Given that I’m a cheap skate, I always consider if something is too expensive or just not worth what you’re paying.  But, and I feel like this is different from how many professionals do reviews, I don’t consider anything to be too cheap, or the decor too tacky, as long as the food is good.  If you’re looking for a high-end steak restaurant so you can feel super fancy and spend as much money as possible–say, if you managed score a date with a Hollywood actor by convincing him/her that you’re rich, and want to see if you can fake it till you make it–this is not the place for you.  If you want a cheap or moderately priced meal, then… then you’re not going to be having steak.  But if you want to treat yourself to a nice, quality steak dinner–one that’s satisfying and won’t set you back more than is necessary–The Tulip is a good location to have that occasional, carnivorous treat.

The Tulip Steakhouse 1606 Queen St E

The Tulip Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wish

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I wanted to say that we haven’t posted for a while, so Wish is actually the last restaurant we went to when Summerlicioius was on.


We were seated outside by the staff and even though we usually don’t eat on patios, in this case I was happy as it was too crowded on the inside.

A montage of the inner decor and a glimpse of the tight seating

Is it me, or is it weird that they a deer head in this restaurant?


Their Prix-fixe menu for Summerlicious.

Our appetizers

First of I’ll start with the best thing; my shrimp.  Even though you could go without it, the sauce was quite lovely and the shrimp tasted very fresh.  However it was luke warm.  I’m pretty sure “sautéed” is different from room temperature.  Mom’s soup was probably the worst of the bunch as it was bland and with very little apple taste.  It was described as an Apple/Corn gazepacho and tasted mostly of corn and potato.  As for Nana’s salad, she said it could have used more salt but the goat cheese was excellent.

Sliders from left to right: Angus, Turkey, Salmon

Again, starting with the best, I introduce my three sliders.  I think by far the weirdest of the bunch was the turkey slider.  That’s because it tasted like they stole the meat filling recipe from a dumpling house and used it for burgers.  I’m not saying it tasted bad, it was actually the best of the three.  Which does not look to good for the other two sliders.  The laziest one by far was the Angus burger.  I’m pretty sure the mentality behind the making of this – if we use a more expensive meat, we won’t have to come up with a recipe that is above mediocre.  I thought there was too much dill in the salmon slider and while I will admit I m not a huge dill fan; it would have been nice to have another condiment or spice as well.  Even thought the dill critique is unfairly biased, the fact remains that this burger was also very dry.

Nana’s Fish & Chips

The fish and chips were definitely a pro and a con.  The pro being that they were not cheap with the portion of fish and it was pleasant tasting.  The con being that the batter was so greasily horrible that I actually threw my sample back to Nana’s plate. And consumed large amounts of Coca-cola to get the taste out of my mouth.

Mom’s pasta

In her own words..my Mom’s pasta was “atrocious and poorly executed”.  The rapini was so badly cooked as to infuse the entire dish with an overwhelming bitterness. It was inedible.  So basically, avoid this like you would a broken vial of smallpox.

I think I picked the best dishes from the prix-fixe menu, out of the three of us, so we’ll start with my dessert first.

My dessert – Molten Chocolate Cake

Even though it is decidedly easy to make a molten brownie, they still did a good job.  It was reasonably moist, and tasted mostly of chocolate as opposed to sugar.

Nana’s apple tart

Much like the Molten Cake, Wish picked another dessert recipe that is hard to mess up but unlike the cake this tart does have some flaws.  Nana said that she thought that it was too sweet and that the apples were mushy.  She prefers her apples in pieces, not like applesauce.

Mom’s Key Lime Tart

In short, the Key Lime Tart was awful. Too much dry chocolate crust and not nearly enough Key Lime. Seemed like a good idea but was bad, much like this restaurant. Also reflecting the fare at Wish; all three desserts were clearly pre-made frozen products.

Maybe the service is frozen too, because it didn’t take a long time to eat our food but we spent an hour and half here.  The waiter was not rude but he seemed bored and a bit snooty.  It could be that it took a long time to prepare our dishes, but considering it came to the table barely warm one can assume that it sat around for a while before being brought to our table.  The last atrocity which deserves a special place in my post are the fries.  As shown in the previous pictures, they were so cheap with the portions it would probably make most customers wonder why they even bothered to serve fries at all.  They appeared scraped from the bottom of a better batch as they were stuck together in greasy cold lumps.  For my closing, which will undoubtably show the quality of Wish,  I will end with one more picture.


They should use the Wish in their name to dream up a better restaurant.

Wish 3 Charles Street E
Wish on Urbanspoon

Gerrard Spaghetti & Pizza

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Despite how the name sounds, this is actually a pretty good Italian restaurant.  I would think that a name in Italian would be more becoming.  We have been in this area tons of times, but have never noticed this place.  We only found it by searching on Urbanspoon for pizzeria’s.
Perhaps, the reason we have not noticed Gerrard Spaghetti & Pizza before is because its a dark grey colour, so the outside doesn’t really catch your eye.


Gerrard Spaghetti & Pizza decor was different from a lot of the other restaurants we’ve been to.  For one; the tv at the bar at the back was playing some sort of soap opera (my mom has informed me it was the Young and the Restless).  Secondly; the napkins they gave us were cloth instead of paper.  Clearly we are easily impressed.

A restaurant that tells you - the wait is worth it

One thing that was really good about this place was the service.  It was genuinely kind, quick and respectful.

the Friulana pizza

Although I wanted something with more toppings than tomato, cheese, Italian sausage and basil; my mom made me get this so that I could actually judge the taste of the pizza and not be overwhelmed with a baker’s dozen of ingredients.  One thing that was cool about the Italian sausage – it was in thick slices (as if it was pepperoni but thicker) instead of being crumbled on top.  Both the sauce and the sausage were spicy so the pizza had a little zest to it.

Penne alla Vodka

The sauce you see here is a Rose Vodka sauce with pancetta added.  I actually thought this dish was quite nice but my mother prefers her Rose sauce a little more tomato-y.  Not to say that there was anything wrong with theirs, just a matter of different styles.

Lastly, we enjoyed how the portions were generous.  Both in quantity of food and quantity of sauce.  We hate it when restaurants give you a drop of sauce over pasta with the moisture content of dehydrated astronaut food.  And once again I have tied in a Sci-Fi theme into my food blog.

Gerrard Spaghetti & Pizza 1528 Danforth Avenue

Gerrard Spaghetti & Pizza on Urbanspoon