I’m in a chipper mood… and who wouldn’t be– since it is the weekend! Yay.
Anyhow, a few days ago, I was given an invite from the lovely people (this is you, Pam!) at Zomato (who also now own Urbanspoon) to meet some fellow food bloggers/ writers/ photographers at a dinner event. #ZomatoMeetup is a place where local food lovers can meet casually and speak about their love of all things edible– while eating– food, of course.
This event felt different; I definitely felt more relaxed than when covering a media story. Yes, periodically, our faces were buried in cell phones via tweeting FB-ing, Instagram-ing and the like… however, it was quite refreshing to discover that we were keen to make conversation with one another.
Our Zomato diners occupied two tables worth of people. This was a lot considering the restaurant is quite small– it is situated underneath the Copacabana (Brazilian) Restaurant. For a Thursday night, it was incredibly busy. By the time we left (around 10pm), there wasn’t a free table in sight.
Onto the food. Initial impressions— admittedly– I didn’t really have any. I’ve been to Brazilian (ayce) steakhouses before where they serve you meat on a large spit and carve table-side to give it a more upscale and personalized feel… I assumed it would be the same thing– just with seafood this time.
We moseyed on up to the grill where we could see a flurry of staff darting here and there. In front of the bar, there was a small buffet of cold crab legs, peel your own shrimp and salmon sashimi to start. These were great little starters to whet our appetites. The seafood was very fresh.
Our table was given a set of nigiri, sushi rolls, and raw oysters.
Sprinkled with lemon wedges, the raw oysters were pleasant and mildly sweet.
The rolls. The Positive: They weren’t overstuffed with rice and each piece was draped with slices of red tuna. The negative: the tuna filling wasn’t memorable and the heat (spice level) was non-existent. There was also a dynamite roll. The shrimp tempura was crispy and melded well with the avocado. They’re what you’d expect from a decent Sushi spot in Toronto.
The nigiri- do get: the eel and red tuna. Don’t bother with : the salmon, cooked shrimp, fake crab stick.
A word of advice– they’ll give you one of everything to taste… then the servers return to ask you what you’d like seconds of. Remember to save yourself for all the grilled fish that follows. They’re the stars of the menu– something we all temporarily forgot in our moment of #hangry. They dole out the fried stuff and the sushi first– don’t fill up on this!
Floating around were freshly baked lobster cheese biscuits and cornbread. At first, I didn’t know they were biscuits because they looked rather unappealing (sorry)– like flattened discs (perhaps, not enough leavening?) . However, the taste was pleasant enough. There weren’t any nuggets of lobster in my piece but they were generous with the cheddar. The cornbread was a northern style– very sweet with leavening agents– in fact, it reminded me more of a cake than a savoury item. Regardless, it was tender, with a moist crumb (probably would make a fantastic shortcake!) and chalk full of roasted corn flavour.
We also received Salmon and Tuna Ceviche: Unfortunately, it was quite unpalatable. It oddly tasted of sour, bitter, and spice. It was like a soupy concoction gone wrong. I’ve also never seen chickpeas in ceviche before.
The servers came around with their Rodizio style servings of:
Umadashi Scallops- a fantastic char flavour from the grill. These juicy morsels were loved by the table.
Garlic Shrimp – succulent, with a roasted taste and sweetness (I suspect from generous brushings of butter)
Passion Fruit Salmon – A wakening for the taste buds with all that citrus. It wasn’t for me.. perhaps because I typically don’t expect that flavour from salmon. However, the salmon was cooked a perfect medium (bordering on medium-rare) with a crispy chip skin
Teriyaki Salmon – divine. One of my favourites of the evening– kissed with spices and a hint of sweetness.. it was a perfect balance of savoury and sweet… and that crispy skin! Someone in the kitchen knows how to get their grill on.
Mahi Mahi Tandoori – dusted with curry spices, the taste lingers on the taste buds. This was an item that you either loved or hated. For me, I liked the taste but not the flaked/ stiffer texture of the fish.
Black Cod- it took awhile before this came out but it was worth the wait. With a umami glaze atop the fish, the large flakes were so succulent and meaty.
Bacon Wrapped Cod- not my favourite. Yes, bacon is divine.. but the fish is so mild and was completely overpowered by the salty meat.
Peanut Butter Chicken- the ‘rare bird’ of the night. Pardon the pun. We were all so intrigued by the name but the dish was a letdown. The piece I received was stringy and slightly dry. The peanut butter was not a satay sauce but more akin to smearing some Kraft peanut butter right on the chicken. I commend them for their innovation and wanting to try new things with their menu, but this one just did not taste good.
Buttermilk Ribeye- a smart way to tenderize and marinade the meat with something acidic. Definitely helps to ensure that any tough connective tissue is broken down and made tender. The char on that seared crust! Oh so addictive… especially when you cut into that velvety, soft interior.
Beef Ribs – I was expecting an actual rib (like ones you find at BBQ restaurants). Instead, they placed large nuggets on our plate which looked and tasted more like a braised brisket or short rib. I loved the first round– perfect meat to fat ratio. The next one I received was dry and stringy– I don’t fault the restaurant. It was probably because this cut was a leaner one.
Lobster Mac and Cheese- Very rich and creamy- although the noodles were slightly mushy (an al dente texture would have been more ideal), there were large pieces of lobster. The cheese was gooey and crispy all at once. Despite its small size, don’t be tempted to tackle this one on your own! It is actually very filling.
Dessert was grilled banana and pineapple wedges. The bananas weren’t that pleasant; unfortunately they weren’t ripe yet and rather starchy. The pineapple was juicy but could have used some more time on the grill as we all adored that charred flavour.
We ended the evening with goodbyes and a goodie bag from Pam. Thank you xo.