Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Q BBQ Public House

164 Beverly Street
Cambridge, ON


In her opinion:
To be honest, I've been kind of avoiding Q BBQ Public House...not because I had heard bad things about the quality of the food or service but simply because it was the old Oliver's! I should never judge a book by its cover and believe me this cover has changed it foolishness or stupidity but I have now rectified the error!

After a long and emotional day, we decided to get take-out. We wanted something that we could blog about! So after a little ride around town we finally remembered Q BBQ. Once we looked over their take out menu we decided on the "4 Meat Family Platter". This allowed us to choose from ribs, brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked meatloaf, smoked peameal and smoked wings. We opted for the ribs, brisket, pulled pork and pulled chicken. It also came with 3 small sides - we picked creamy mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and cheesy red skinned potato gratin. Although we could have picked from fries, bbq baked beans, house made slaw, side caesar salad, side garden salad, baked potato, cinnamon whiskey apples and smokehouse chili.

This was actually a lot of food. We still have tonnes of pulled pork and chicken leftover. I was really really impressed with the ribs, brisket, creamy mash potatoes, mac and cheese and the cornbread. I will say that the pulled pork and chicken were also quite delicious. They had a very pleasant smokiness to them but I think for my taste, I would prefer more sauce on them. The cheesy red skinned potato gratin was also good but not my favourite of the sides we picked.

The brisket was melt in your mouth delicious. The ribs were smoked to perfection...not falling off the bone but I prefer them that way anyway. The creamy mash potatoes were seasoned to perfection and absolutely delicious. Comfort food at its best. The macaroni and cheese tasted homemade and not out of a box. Super creamy. But the best part of the meal was the cornbread. This was hands down the best cornbread I have ever eaten. The right amount of sweetness. I could easily eat these little beauties anytime. So incredibly good. Delicious.

I would definitely recommend Q BBQ to anyone who likes good bbq.

In his opinion:
This newly refurbished restaurant has been catching the eyes and taste buds of many people in Cambridge. Partly because there is a true lack of competition for this type of food in this town but mostly because it is quickly inheriting a cult following, much like its previous incarnation.

Lately, I have not had a food conversation without someone asking the question of "have you tried this place?" or "when are you going to blog about this place"? So, before I was trapped in another of those one sided conversations, it was time to try it and blog about it.

The outside seems to have just had a fresh coat of paint from its Oliver predecessor. On the inside, a totally different story, it is like a new re-incarnation and for the better I must add.

We decided to make it a take out night since we had a long and draining day,  mourning and celebrating the life of someone dear in the Cambridge food scene, George's Restaurant owner, Paul Seto. We picked up the extensive takeout menu and went straight to the family platter, which allows you to pick 4 types of meat, 3 sides and 3 corn breads.

We opted for the brisket (5*), ribs (4*) and pulled Pork and pulled chicken (3 1/2*). The brisket is absolutely the star on the plate. Soft, perfectly cooked and seasoned, melting in your mouth and making you want to beg for more. I wouldn't be surprised if someone gets this deal and get brisket for all meats...oh can only double up, and on 2 dishes, pulled pork and brisket.

The ribs were tender and perfectly BBQ'ed. The sweet and tangy bbq sauce is impeccable and works well with the brown sugar rub used to give it an amazing taste. Both the pulled pork and pulled chicken are very good, even though they relied on their respective sauces for much of the flavour.

For the sides we picked creamy mashed potatoes that were actually very creamy and tasty, something you don't usually get in take out food. We also ordered the macaroni and cheese which was very good and lastly, the cheesy red skin potato gratin, the only disappointing dish of the whole meal. Potatoes were too hard and not even the sauce could save them.
The cornbread on the other hand is truly out of this world, some of the best I have ever had. Glad it came with 3 large pieces...

The Good: Great BBQ place, well located, super tasty and well seasoned food.
The Bad: The potato gratin was a major disappointment, but the only thing that wasn't very good.
The Verdict: Surely a great addition to the Cambridge food scene, can't wait to go back and try more of their dishes.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 olives as rating

Q BBQ Public House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Bombay Grill

110 Main Street
Cambridge, Ontario

In her opinion:
Indian cuisine twice in one weekend...there is a foodie god!!! When my better half asked if I wanted to try this new Indian place in downtown Cambridge (Galt section) to blog about it...I was not saying no!

Our readers have probably figured out by now that Tips Are Included! loves Indian cuisine. The exotic spices and flavours speak to us! It make us happy because as our palates progress and our foodie spirits wander we have realized that bland, everyday franchise food is not for us!

Oh yeah, the Bombay Grill...let me get back on track here! The Bombay Grill is a small storefront on Main Street. It has a very good take out menu and that is what we did on this particular Sunday. After checking out their menu we settled on "the Butter Chicken", "Chicken Tikka Masala" and "Beef Kahari". You have a choice of rice, naan, green salad or papadum with each non-vegetable entree. We got two rices and a naan and then just ordered a second naan off the menu.

At first, I thought it was a little expensive for the amount of food we got. The whole thing came to $42.00. But what I needed to realize was that this was not buffet. Once I tasted the food...I again realized that it was so worth the price. The naan bread was excellent. The beef kahari was good. A lot of flavour rolled up in this stew like dish. The chicken tikka masala was excellent. The flavours well balanced and delicious. But the show stopper was the butter chicken. I am not a huge fan of butter chicken...I consider it the safe pick on Indian menus! The thing that non-risk takers pick because their friends made them eat at the Indian restaurant. But...and it's a big but...the butter chicken from the Bombay Grill is to die is well cooked boneless tandoori chicken in a flavourful tomato, cream and butter sauce. This is not fatty, flavourless butter chicken that I have had in the past and turned me off of the stuff for what I thought was forever! So so delectable.

The Bombay Grill is close to home! That I like. It serves really delicious Indian food at reasonable prices! That I also like. But the fact that we have another Indian option to pick from...that I love! Namaste!

In his opinion:
Yep. I know what you are thinking...Indian again! We decided to make it an Indian weekend and it totally worked out. I have driven by this place conveniently located minutes from my house a few times and decided that it was time to try it. We also had someone leave a comment on our Facebook blog page recommending we go and try this place.  Bombay doesn't get any more Indian than that for a restaurant name.

This Bombay grill seems to be affiliated to the Bombay Grill franchise that has locations in Milton, Ajax, Markham and Burlington. Their website makes no mention of a Cambridge location and the Cambridge location's take out menu only mentions one other location. Some marketing confusion and hopefully it's not a case of the battle of the copyright names. I should also mention that this restaurant is fully licensed under LLBO...bonus...Cheeta Beer is awesome!

I walked in to get some take out after extensively browsing their menu online, and the first signs were positive. There were East Indian people eating there (always a true test to ethnic food) so that was a good start. I had placed my order in advance and it was ready as I walked in, so brownie point number two.

The restaurant itself is narrow and long but with adequate seating, although I reckon that take-out will be a big part of their business. The staff was very pleasant and and efficient, seeming generally content with my business.

On to the food. We ordered 3 main dishes to go with our rice and naan bread. It seemed plenty for 2 people, with the leftovers becoming the base for our next days meal. The naan bread was fresh, soft and tasty and so was the rice. The meat dishes were well seasoned and with distinctive tastes (something that doesn't always happen).

I will start with the star dish, the Butter Chicken. I know what you are thinking, non-Indian people always have butter chicken...but we must be consistent in order to properly compare, right?

Anyway, I would go out on a limb to say that this was one of the best I have ever had. The butter chicken sauce was  smooth, creamy and just with the right amount of spice. Kudos to the chicken used, as it was tandoori chicken meat unlike some other places.

The Chicken Tikki Masala was almost equally as good, with a good range of spices and again some good chicken pieces.

The Beef Kahari ended up being the disappointment for me. It was just ok, tasted a bit flavourless. I couldn't taste any yogurt or ginger garlic paste at all in the dish. It just tasted bland but nevertheless, still edible. 

The Good: Great location, very versatile menu with lots of choice and a killer butter chicken dish. 
The Bad: Beef Kahari was a letdown for me, unfortunately.
The Verdict: Lots of selection, friendly staff and location will surely make this place successful. A great choice in Galt's downtown core and a much better choice for Indian then the other existing Indian place which shall not be mentioned.

I give it 3 out of 5 olives as rating

The Bombay Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, 21 January 2013

Winterlicious 2013

Property of's Winterlicious page.

We had almost forgotten to post this...but it's important for all the foodies or nouveau foodies to know about this!

So it's about that time of year when food gods and goddesses (or simply put restaurant owners/chefs/etc.) make it possible to experience some of Toronto's best restaurants at a fraction of the cost.  From January 25 to February 7, 2013 you will be able to enjoy a fantastic lunch or dinner at one of these restaurants without hurting your wallet.  Winterlicious is an opportunity!  It is a chance to enjoy a 3 course prix fixe menu for either lunch or dinner from $15 to $45 dollars per person not including drinks, taxes or gratuity.  Lunches are $15, $20 or $25 depending on the restaurant.  Dinners range from $25, $35 or $45 again depending on which establishment you pick.  Along with the prix fixe menu offered at 191 of Toronto's best restaurants, there are also several culinary events planned which you can enjoy.  These events range from $38 for Guilty Pleasures (described as Toronto's favourite fashion brunch) up to $125 for such events as Pasta Knowledge with Mama Rosa (growing your pasta knowledge with 7 Numbers chef Rosa Marinuzzi).

Tickets for the culinary events are already on sale.  Ticket information is available on the Winterlicious site.  Reservations for the prix fixe lunch or dinners began being taken on January 10, 2013.  Again the phone information is available on the website.  So click on the Winterlicious Restaurant List 2013 and figure out where you want to eat during this event.

Don't miss your chance to take part and truly enjoy a food experience within reach at a place that may not be...

In her opinion:

I said it last year and I'll say it again! Do it!  Oh, you so want to do it!  It is worth it.  We have been going for several years since we first heard about it on CityNews and we have never regretted it!  Enjoy!!!

In his opinion:

There is no better chance to taste culinary excellence at a fraction of the cost. Whether you like restaurants that are trendy, fine dining, ethnic, seafood or steakhouses; there is a selection for every taste. It's a great way to indulge without breaking the bank.

Currently, in its 11th year, Winterlicious grows every year in popularity and more restaurants are added in each edition. I can personally attest that this is my favourite time of the year, aside from Summerlicious (more on that later in the year). Go on and make reservations to some of the best restaurants in Toronto.

Flashback Review - Dune Restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten

One and Only Ocean Club
Paradise Island, Bahamas


In her opinion:
This flashback is from a restaurant visit from a while back. It was 2006 to be exact! We were staying at the Riu Palace Paradise Island next door to the Atlantis Paradise Island and the One and Only Ocean Club...a few months after Daniel Craig had filmed Casino Royale there and sported those hot swimming trunks

By this time we were already experienced foodies and therefore wanted to make our all-inclusive holiday even more special by having lunch at a memorable restaurant on the island. So when researching possible venues somehow Jean-Georges Vongerichten's name showed up. He had a French-Asian Fusion restaurant at the One and Only Ocean Club called Dune. So we made a reservation and took our little man for lunch.

The setting is absolutely beautiful. This is Paradise Island after all; but, we are also talking about a hotel belonging to the Leading Hotels of the World. Therefore, the setting is breathtaking. Think ocean breezes, wood, lily ponds, sand and the smells of some incredible food.

We ordered a couple of glasses of wine to start. I don't really remember which wine I ordered but from the photographs of the trip, I believe it was a rose of some kind. And of course a bottle of sparkling water.  

I ordered the "slow cooked salmon with a tomato and onion salad with a basil vinaigrette over a creamy polenta". 

I don't remember every detail of the main course but I do remember that it was delicious. I remember how well cooked the salmon was and how the tomato and onion salad was the perfect acidic match to the creaminess of the polenta.  I guess it was much more memorable then I had thought.  Excellent.

I may not remember every aspect of my main course but I do remember was called the "White Plate". It consisted of a chocolate lava cake, cheesecake, lemon meringue tart, banana cake with caramel ice cream, a hot chocolate parfait and a guava pavlova. I never forget a good dessert.

This dessert was beyond good! Everything about this "White Plate" was out of this world good. I especially remember the banana cake and how incredible it was.  To this day whenever we talk about food and unforgettable food experiences, this white plate comes up.

This whole meal was exceptional. Dune was breathtaking and wonderful. The actual whole experience was unforgettable. Even if I don't remember the little details of the meal, I remember the experience as a whole. The One and Only Ocean Club is a magical place...after all, if it's good enough for James Bond, it was good enough for us! 

In his opinion:
Vacationing in Paradise Island in the Bahamas has many upsides. The beautiful beaches, the Atlantis Hotel, the fact you are staying on an island outside of the main island and also The One and Only Ocean Club. This is the famous ultra luxury resort, famous for many things but especially for being the backdrop in the 2006, James Bond movie, Casino Royale.

Daniel Craig made it even more famous by delighting women as he came out of the water in his tiny shorts and by winning a vintage Aston Martin in a poker game. Nevertheless, since the $12,500 per night villa that was used in the movie was not in my budget, we decided to at least go there for lunch and tour the grounds that include the Versailles Gardens.

Arriving at chef's Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant Dune means that you have to walk through the Main House at the One and Only Ocean Club and that in itself is an experience. The former private residence screams opulence and provides customer service beyond the normal. The restaurant itself is perched atop a white sand beach with stunning and dramatic ccean views. It truly offers a magnificent dining experience that you don't expect from a beach side restaurant.

The menu offers a good choice of blended French-Asian cuisine, topped with Bahamian touches and local ingredients. There are two separate buildings in which you can dine in. The open air beach front bar is like a dream come true for any seaside dining lovers. The adjacent building has a more formal feel but still with a luxury beach side flair.

As you might imagine, the menu is predominantly seafood and as fresh as can be. Immediately, one item on the menu caught my attention and I had to have the local lobster sandwich. This delicious sandwich was served on home made bread, sliced in half and with a generous amount of lobster, green chili mayo and severed with ultra thin sweet potato fries. 

When you are beach side, you always try to stay light and not overeat but there was still room for dessert. In comes the "White Plate", a chef's specialty plate which features samples of 6 of the tastiest desserts I have ever had. This dessert tasting plate consisted of banana cake with caramel ice cream, lemon meringue tart, chocolate lava cake, hot chocolate parfait and guava pavlova. Just writing this made my mouth water...

We then roamed around the One and Only Ocean Club gardens, imagining what it would have been like to rub shoulders with 007 himself, even though the film crews were long gone by then. Every time I watch that movie, the Bahamas scenery, especially the One and Ocean Club scenes bring me back to my almost Bond experience. To top it off, when we asked for the front desk to call us a taxi back to our hotel, they provided the One and Only Ocean Club's private Cadillac Escalate to takes us back. Now that is service.. and we left in style.

The Good: Great food, amazing desserts, spectacular setting and a touch of luxury to wrap it all up.
The Bad: It's all the way in the Bahamas...that really sucks!
The Verdict: Amazing setting in one of the world's leading hotels, topped with a touch of Jean-Georges' cuisine, what else can you ask for. A wonderful treat that made our vacation even more special.

I give it 4 out of 5 Olives as rating

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Fusion Indian Buffet and Cafe Lounge

855 King Street East
Cambridge, ON


In her opinion:
Cambridge has a new Indian restaurant...that makes this girl very happy.  Indian cuisine is easily one of my favourites. I love this type of food with its exotic spices and flavours. Fusion is a buffet restaurant and unlike many buffet restaurants, they have not sacrificed flavour and freshness for quantity. It is located in the Preston area of Cambridge. This is a very large space divided into two areas...a buffet restaurant and a cafe lounge area serving Indian snacks and beverages (they have a liquor license). 

The food selection is extensive. There is a fabulous selection of food to pick from including favourites like butter chicken and curry goat to more exotic picks like rogan josh and chicken karahi.  

I went up twice to the buffet for main courses. My first plate included curry goat, chicken wings, vegetable korma, beef rogan josh, chicken karahi, rice, samosa and naan. I was very impressed with the flavours of the food. It tasted freshly made, well seasoned and delicious.

On my second trip up I had the fish pakora, lamb vindaloo, rice, mixed vegetable and a delicious shrimp Jaipuri. The fish pakora was so incredibly good. The lamb vindaloo was exceptional. 

I was very impressed with the overall experience. There was an excellent selection to pick from, the food was fresh (we saw the chefs continually bringing out new dishes to refill the buffet items) and it tasted great. I must say that their tandoori chicken is one of the best I have ever eaten. It was also very nice meeting Heidi (the manager) who made our visit very pleasant. I'm extremely glad that Cambridge has another Indian restaurant to choose from. Namaste!

In his opinion:
Usually when lovers of Indian food hear about an Indian buffet they usually run for the hills or simply dismiss it as "Canadianized Indian" or "fast food Indian'. For the most part they are right. This is not the type of food that can be made quickly or without a certain dose of labour and love, and still end up with a great product.

Thankfully, there are some exceptions, some restaurants that combine good Indian food and serve it buffet style. This new restaurant, Fusion located on Preston's King Street in Cambridge is indeed one of them.

As you arrive through the doors you will be stunned with the amazing square footage that this buffet restaurant boasts. I don't mean like it has many table on top of each other that you can hear everyone's conversations, I mean you can almost play indoor soccer in this space. Upon the surprise of the size, you soon will be surprised again finding out that adjacent and connected through the back, the restaurant continues with the same length as the buffet side, in their alcohol licensed Cafe and Lounge.

The buffet is quite extensive, maybe the most extensive one that I have ever seen with many stations, choices and great layout. The prices for the buffet are beyond good for what you are getting but most importantly for the quality of food that awaits you. The highlight at first glance are the 2 "live stations" in which someone makes the Naan Bread right there in front of you and also the station where the Chicken Tandoori is made, one of the best I have ever have, I must admit.

The stations are well divided, with items ranging from appetizers, main dishes, rices, desserts and salads. Almost every traditional Indian dishes are here, and well represented, including some extra special ones like Lamb Vindaloo and Rogan Josh beef. Overall, there is no shortness of choice and indeed something for everyone, regardless if you are Indian or have only selected dishes you like.

The restaurant also sells a "take out box" from the buffet for a modest $6.99, as well as a catering services which I'm sure will be very popular, very soon. We had the pleasure of talking to the manager, Heidi. She was very pleasant and excited about this new family venture.

I enjoyed all the dishes that I tried and especially their naan bread that was extremely fresh and soft. Highlights for me were the Chicken Tandoori (really amazing), Fish Pakora, Punjabi Kharis (Boona) and vegetable pakora. I highly recommend that everyone  take their time while enjoying the buffet, given the amount of selection.

The Good: Good Indian food, in buffet format for only $8.99 for lunch and $11.99 for dinner, you just can't beat that. Great friendly staff helps the atmosphere and the feeling of "welcome".
The Bad: Not sure Preston is ready for such a large Indian restaurant but I have my fingers crossed that it does very well.
The Verdict: Go try it, it's well worth the price and more. A great Indian buffet is hard to find, but we are lucky enough to have it in our city.

I give it 3 out of 5 olives as rating

Fusion Indian Buffet and Cafe Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe

115 Dundas Street
Cambridge, Ontario


In her opinion:
I was pretty excited when the Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe opened up in Cambridge...its fourth location (they have St. George, Paris and Waterdown locations as well). I heard that their apple fritters were to die for...well that meant we needed to go and try them. I had originally wanted to go for fritters and coffee only, but when Sunday came and lunch time hit, why not go for a meal instead.  

Walking into this eatery and frittery, you are welcomed by a warm interior, nice furniture and a wall of apple fritter observation area, a muffin display case, and a long bar where you can sit and watch the open kitchen at work. This is indeed a welcoming is large enough to have a large screen with a comfy sitting area.  Overall, the type of place where you can hang out reading and enjoying a coffee, sit and enjoy the company of friends, have lunch or dinner with the family or surf the net with their free wifi. 

As I indicated, we went for lunch...not knowing what to expect, I  was pleasantly surprised to find a very nice lunch selection. I ordered a diet coke to start. I decided to have the "Quiche du Jour" served with a side salad, bacon or ham. Today's quiche selection was sun-dried tomato, onion, spinach and feta. I choose the "Mama Mia" salad. This consisted of cranberries, cashews, feta, raspberry vinaigrette on spinach.

The quiche was light and fluffy. It reminded me of a similar quiche that I had at Angelina's in Paris, France. Just really really good. The flavour was perfect. I'm glad that I went with the Mama Mia salad. This salad was packed with amazing flavour and textures. It had the chewiness of the cranberries, the crunch of the cashews, the saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of the vinaigrette. A really enjoyable salad.

We ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a freshly squeezed orange juice for our son. I asked that the grill cheese be made on white bread and that instead of including both the Monterrey  and cheddar cheeses that it normally comes with, that it just be made with cheddar.

Let's say that this was delicious sandwich...unfortunately, not processed enough for our super picky son. He ate a quarter of it and said he was I've written before...there's no accounting for taste.

To end our meal, we had to have the apples fritters of course. So I decided to order "Hot and Cold" - three fritters served with ice cream. I was super excited to this dessert.

In a word...excellent! The apple fritters are absolutely out of this world good. They are light, fluffy and flavourful. The apple has the right amount of crunch to it...with the ice cream...I can honestly say I have found my new obsession. So so wonderful.

Overall, this is a very nice new addition to Cambridge's coffee house scene. The food is really good and the fritters are outstanding. We will definitely return.

In his opinion:
It seems to me that specialty coffee places are popping up everywhere these days. It seems that not that long ago, we were stuck having Tim Horton's horrible tasting coffee that only becomes drinkable with its trusty sidekick "cream". Thankfully, things have changed and the choices are plenty.

The Brown Dog is a little different then your average coffee shop. It boasts a very spacious room, with multiple seating areas including a media room where movies are playing non-stop on a big screen and also a kids corner to satisfy the young ones.

The menu is quite extensive and blends the usual coffee shop amenities with some delicious options for lunch or even dinner. Then there are their famous apple fritters that are delicious on their own but much better with a scoop of ice cream.

This day we decided to actually go for lunch and make a meal of it (no pun intended).

I got myself a vanilla latte and a montecristo sandwich. The latte itself was good, maybe not Starbucks good but good nevertheless. Foamy, tasty and with cinnamon sprinkled on top. The montecristo sandwich was actually much better than the coffee. The bread was panini toasted, with multiple layers of delicious ham, almost non-existent cheese and with a layer of spinach which was a nice touch. It tasted fresh and delicious.

Of course we could not leave the Brown Dog without having their specialty fritters, including their now famous apple fritters. We ordered some to have right there, with a side scoop of ice cream and also some to take away. The fritters are indeed very good, arriving warm and freshly made. My only remark is that the apple slices stay a little too rigid (uncooked) for my taste, but it provided a good contrast in texture to the soft dough of the fritters.

The Good: Great choices of food, good coffee and amazing fritters. 
The Bad: The space is a little too large, you feel that even though it's warmly decorated, it still feels a little cold, warehouse like.
The Verdict: Great addition to Cambridge's coffee scene. The free wifi will surely attract the laptop and tablet crowd. The owner is very pleasant and the staff courteous. Overall, a very good place for coffee, fritter or lunch.

I give it 3 out of 5 olives as rating

The Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Dundee Diner

1166 Queen Street
New Dundee, Ontario

*As of January 19, 2014 this little gem closed forever...a very sad day in the foodie world!

In her opinion:
So it's a new year... that means, new restaurants! We wanted to try something new and therefore turned to our favourite source for restaurant reviews...Urbanspoon! After going through the list of area restaurants, I decided that Dundee Diner in the heart of New Dundee needed a visit from Tips are Included!

This is a diner in its truest sense...old advertisements on the walls, red booths and regulars (including George who we met today! This really is a little gem! After we took our seat we were quickly greeted by Maggie - the owner's daughter and the restaurants only waitress!

She took our drink orders right and proceeded to fill them quickly. After looking over the menu, I decided that I wanted to try their "Michigan Hot Dog". It's described on the menu as "two hot dogs covered with meat sauce. Served with coleslaw and French fries". I also ordered a side of gravy to go with it.

This is pure comfort food. I love hot dogs as my darling husband pointed out to me today. I have never had a "Michigan" hot dog! It was two delicious hot dogs with soft buns like I like them covered in a delicious well seasoned meat sauce. It was served with really good fries. I need to send a special shout out to the gravy. It was really really good. These are huge portions. I didn't quite finish the whole thing but I certainly tried. 

Now, our super picky son - yeah, the one born to foodie parents that hates food was with us today. He kept staring at the dessert case. 

He finally spoke up. He said, "I want the white cake with the cherries on top". I thought it was a white cake so I asked Maggie what it was. She informed me that it wasn't cake but instead it was their "Skor Montreal Style Cheesecake". So we ordered a slice for Ethan thinking that he wouldn't like it and we would end up having to finish it.

Well, Mr. Ethan started eating and he kept eating. He actually ate a fair portion of this absolutely delicious cheesecake. Keep in mind that this was a huge piece. When he was done, he said, "That was fantastic!". I don't think you could get anymore praise then that...this is a kid that does not like food! When I had a chance to eat was outstanding. Smooth, sweet and delectable. So yummy!

Overall, I really liked this place. It is a good natured type of place where you will be made to feel welcome, the portions are huge and the food is really really good.  We will definitely be back...especially for that fantastic cheesecake. Check them out on Facebook.

In his opinion:
The small town diner where the decor is circa 1950's, the customers are the daily regulars and the food is homemade style can be found in almost every small to medium size town in North America. Some of them are worth the visit and others fall a tad short on the delivery.

This gem in New Dundee is the perfect example of the ones that are worth a visit. Family owned and run, it is very welcoming with a bright familiar atmosphere that keeps you returning and usually staying a while.

This restaurant is only 12 minute drive from our house and shines as the place to visit in the small town of New Dundee. It is easy to find on Queen Street and has a constant flow of town regulars and some people from the neighbouring cities as well, it seems like a "where everybody knows your name" establishment.

The sign outside boldly states that they have the "Best Hamburgers and Ribs in Southwestern Ontario". That's a confident statement to say the least and one to be argued by the purists. Regardless of the self-accolades, I decided to see for myself about the level of the food and approve or disprove the claims.

We were greeted by our waitress, Maggie (the owner's daughter) and put in our drink orders while browsing the menu. Lots of familiar homestyle dishes, some Greek selections to honour the owners heritage and also some items with names that seemed creatively selected.

I decided to stick with the basics and try their Louisiana Burger off the "Traditional Favourites" section of the menu. I had seen it briefly mentioned online and it seemed like an easy way towards verifying the banner claims of "the best". 

As we sat there waiting for our food we witnessed the owners interacting with all the customers, most of them seeming to be locals and regulars to the restaurant. We also found out that it is a place where folks in town gather to watch sport events, from football games to Wrestlemania events, the ladder advertised on a small sign by the bar.

The food was served and the first observation is the portion sizes are crafted for hungry bellies. My hamburger was served with coleslaw, excellent tasting gravy on the home cut french fries. The hamburger itself is a bacon cheeseburger smothered in their famous BBQ sauce and usually topped with fried onions, which I declined due to my cooked onion phobia.

The bacon was extra, extra crispy but the soft, juicy patty smothered in BBQ 
is surely the main attraction of the burger. It tasted very good but the fries were way to large for my stomach. Always a sign of a good meal when you can't finish it due to size.

I also need to highlight the desserts. In our sights and practically calling our our names throughout the meal, there are a selection of desserts behind glass. A variety of homemade cheesecakes and pies and they all looked amazing. While eating, we ordered a slice for our son who had noticed the cheesecakes even before we did. He had his portion of it as we finished our meals and we helped him finish it. Well...almost helped him finished, but we couldn't due to the enormous size of the slice. All in all, it was amazing and single-handedly worth the drive to New Dundee for it.

The Good: Great atmosphere, engaging staff and tasty, huge food portions await everyone that walks in. 
The Bad: We didn't get a chance to try any Greek dishes, or the famous ribs but there is always the next time.
The Verdict: Well worth the drive to New Dundee unless you are already in New Dundee, but in both cases, the owner staff, the food and the amazing desserts are plenty to make you go try this restaurant. Can't agree or disagree with the "best burgers" claim in the banner but it was indeed a very tasty burger.

I give it 3 olives out of 5 as rating

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Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Cambridge Mill - Take 2

130 Water Street North
Cambridge, Ontario


In her opinion:
Last year as we sat enjoying our New Years Eve dinner, we decided to start this blog which has brought a lot of fulfillment and enjoyment to our lives. So it was fitting that we returned again for New Years Eve!

We were seated promptly in a lounge room table. Our server, Angela was awesome. She was very attentive and friendly. She took our drink orders - a glass of Riesling for myself and a glass of Chianti for Edgar.

To start, I ordered the Seared Sea Scallops with Crispy Pork Shoulder. It is described on the New Years Eve menu as being served with "smoked carrots, parsley and orange vinaigrette".

This was extremely delicious. The scallops were huge! Succulent and perfectly cooked. The crispy pork shoulder was a very pleasant surprise. Crispy, moist and flavourful. The accompaniments were perfection. The carrots and orange are a match made in heaven. I was very pleased with this appetizer.

For my main, I ordered "The Arctic Char with Potato Gnocchi". It was accompanied with mussels, chanterelles and roasted carrots.

This was an exceptional piece of fish. The Arctic char was cooked perfectly. The skin was crispy, the fish moist and tender. The potato gnocchi was soft, fluffy and delectable. It was served with a caper sauce which added the right amount of acidity. I really enjoyed the black olives, Brussels sprouts and tonnes of capers that were scattered on the plate.  This was a flavour explosion on the plate. So so good.

I was pretty full after this amazing meal but I wanted to end the meal off right. So I ordered a coffee and the "Chocolate Nemesis" for dessert! This is a flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sorbet.

I love chocolate and raspberry. It reminds me of trips to the Westdale TCBY when I was McMaster! The cake was moist and delicious. The centre was molten chocolate heaven. I loved the lightness of the sorbet and how it balanced the density of the chocolate cake. Just excellent.

I enjoyed our New Years Eve dinner very much. It thrills me to know that we have this caliber of food in Cambridge. The Cambridge Mill should be very proud of themselves for producing excellent, high quality food!

In his opinion:

The return to the place where the food blog idea started seemed inevitable. Exactly one year and 100  posts later, I find myself commemorating a full year of blogging about my favourite!

I returned to Cambridge Mill for New Years Eve for the second year running and arrived with my typically high expectations. The restaurant and its surroundings seemed more refined, more regal. Maybe due to the fact that last year's New Years was their first and a mere 6 months after their re-opening but nevertheless, it looked very nice and welcoming.

We were shown to our seats in the lounge room but when my wife asked if we could have any other of the empty tables around us, we were told that there were no other tables available, even though the very same table that we desired sat empty for the full time we were there. Not a great start to the night for sure.

We were greeted by a very attentive waitress, Angela who promptly took our drink order. Chianti was my choice for the meal and it was actually very good. We were served three types of bread, olive, multi-grain and white baguette with whipped butter. We also had two separate managers visit our table to ensure all was good and that's a show of good customer service.

Browsing the menu was fun but I found myself undecided. Inevitably I  had picked the dishes that seemed to be calling my name and realized that both of them had scallops in them, so I decided to change my appetizer for a better contrast on my palate. 

My choice of "pork belly poutine' seemed like the perfect way to start the night. It sounded delightful and just the kind of start to a meal I needed. Fresh cut fries, melted Pine River cheese curds, jus and hollandaise sauce. The succulent perfectly cooked little squares of pork belly were the perfect topping and the dish was extremely tasty.

For my entree, I ordered "Fresh Orechiette with Seared Scallops" - a pasta dish from the 'Land and Water Section" of the menu. At first glance I cannot hide the fact that the huge scallops served made the plate very appetizing even before a single bite. They were also perfectly seared, very fresh and tasty as well. The orechiette pasta was cooked beyond al dente but worked well with the softness of the scallops. The mid texture of the double smoked bacon, as well as the feel of the kale in between it formed a formidable mix of textures. Thrown in the mix were also roasted parsnip, pickled mustard and seed vinaigrette.

As I glanced over the very limited dessert menu for that day, I found myself not ordering any dessert for me, and instead had my customary espresso that was made a bit too weak. I got to taste my wife's dessert and although very tasty, would not have been my first choice.

Overall, the food was great, I left full and happy with the quality of the food.

The Good:Great meal and a wonderful atmosphere. This restaurant has what it takes to continue to gratify its customers with a delightful meal experience.
The Bad: Having 3 burgers on the menu from $21-24 is a bit presumptuous, almost arrogant to say the least. In many 4 Diamond star restaurants in Toronto there would be at least some foie gras to justify such a price. Let's hope that this doesn't turn into a theme in which people would shy away due to overpricing on "regular" dishes.
The Verdict: I love having Cambridge Mill down the street from my West Galt home and truly appreciate all the work that the Ciancone family put into this historic landmark in Cambridge. It is exactly what we needed to elevate our  eclectic but sporadic food scene.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating

Cambridge Mill on Urbanspoon