Saturday, December 8, 2012

One night, twelve chowders: 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Mmm. Chowder! Creamy, hearty comfort food. I crave it now more than ever as the weather turns chilly. Perfect timing for the 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown that the Vancouver Aquarium held in Toronto recently.


Twelve chefs shared their take on sustainable seafood / fish chowders in a friendly competition. Our favourite chowder was from Hapa Izakaya - Chef Takayuki Sato made his with halibut and also boiled down the halibut bones to help thicken the chowder. It had a decidedly Asian flavour with a squirt of Shiso-based sauce to top it off, but was still traditional enough to really hit the spot. Chef Amira Becarevic's Leek and Potato Chowder with Salmon and Mussels was a close second for us; she was there representing Epic, the restaurant in The Royal York Hotel.

The winner of the 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown People's Choice prize was awarded to Chef Richard Baksh of Earl's Kitchen and Bar (King St. W. location) for his Manilla Clam & Seafood Chowder. And the winner of the competition as determined by a panel of culinary judges was Chef Albert Ponzo from Le Select Bistro, who made a chowder with squash, seafood and sausage.

As Ocean Wise's goal is to educate Canadians about sustainable seafood options, here are ocean-friendly options for Ontarians:

Yours in food,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Smith Bros. Steakhouse & Tavern

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Smith Bros. Steakhouse & Tavern is a meat lover's destination with affordable prices. The steaks are wet aged for a minimum of 28 days, and come with a choice of sauces: Peppercorn Cream, Mushroom Cabernet, Teriyaki, and Crumbled Bacon & Bourbon.


Though wine is available, Smith Bros. advocates enjoying your steak with beer. They serve their own brand of $5 all-natural premium draughts in association with Great Lakes Brewery. They also have “The Tavern Sampler,” allowing you to try any 4 taps for $7.


I particularly liked how the sampler came on a numbered board so you could easily keep track of what brew you were sampling with every bite. Granted, 4 beers shouldn’t tax your memory that much, but it’s a nice touch as someone is bound to forget what’s what while engaged in lively conversation and delicious food.


Even if they do specialize in steak, a great draw at this steakhouse is the all you can eat Mussels and Fries for $17. It features PEI mussels steamed with Smith Bros. Premium Natural Lager, shallots and parsley. The matchstick fries tasted great. Their narrowness made them a little harder to handle (i.e. shove into your mouth), but gave you more surface area for flavour and added crunch. We also tried their hearty Steak and Potato Chowder, loaded with lots of meat.



For mains, we tried 10 oz. New York Strip ($24) with Garlic and Cream Mashed Potatoes, and the 12 oz. Roasted Rib Eye ($25) with Sea Salt Rubbed Russet Baked Potato. We also tried the Atlantic Salmon.


The steaks were moist, tender, and flavourful. The sides were also yummy. We especially loved the baked potato. The sea salt rub made the potato skins crusty and salty, an awesome contrast with the soft and moist potato and the cool cream.


For dessert we had a Triple Chocolate Brownie and a Crème Brûlée. The Crème Brûlée came in a generous serving and was perfectly torched. The Brownie was to die for. It was dark and delicious with different textures to it and came à la mode.


While Smith Bros. isn’t Jacob’s or or Hy’s, neither are its prices. It certainly makes enjoying a good steak a more regular possibility than for those super special occasions. It stretches casual dining without stretching your budget, allowing you to include more friends or family perhaps. And at the end of you’re meal, you’re more likely to have a smile on your face as you enjoyed great company, food and drink, in a a smartly decorated environment, after shopping perhaps or before a movie right across the street , at the corner of Warden and Eglinton.

Smith Bros. Steakhouse & Tavern
880 Warden Ave Toronto, ON
Phone: (416) 751-3100

Posted by: Mark Rodas