{Review} Wild Burgers got game!

Websitehttp://www.wildburger.ca/
Social Media Handles: @wildburgrr (Twitter & Instagram) and Facebook /wildburgerinc
Address: 709 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto ON
When I attended: December 2014, Bloggers dinners
Rating: $$, 5

Read on as I will give you a discount code to my readers just in time for the holidays to receive a FREE upgrade to a combo with the purchase of any burger. That’s a sweet deal!

Toronto needs a restaurant like Wild Burgers, a sustainable gastro-burger concept serving wild game meat. Chef Suman Roy first imagined the concept and the menu 11 years ago. More than a decade later, the restaurant at Mount Pleasant and Eglinton Ave. is now a reality.

With many burger joints in Toronto, what makes Wild Burgers stand out?

First off, they serve rabbit, ostrich, bison, venison, elk, kangaroo and wild boar burgers and each gourmet burger is less than $15 before tax. Of course, the restaurant did not forget about the beef and vegetarian options as well.

Secondly, the meat is locally sourced where possible. The beef and lamb are organic from Belanger Organic Farms and the meats are hormone and antibiotic free. Even the oil used for frying is recycled as a feed stock for bio fuel.

And last, the burgers and sides are amazing. The burgers are well seasoned, flavourful and juicy!

I had an opportunity to try samples of the sides, sharing plates, burgers and desserts with some of my top pics below.

I loved the sharing plates served on a wooden board. Wild pickle & things poutine had deep fried pickles, hand cut P.E.I potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion rings, sauteed onions, Korean chicken, kimchi, jalapenos, Canadian blue cheese, Thai sweet chili sauce and sundried tomato pesto. At first, I thought “who decided to throw a whole bunch of things together and then call it a dish?” Yes, this was totally a mish mash of ingredients but it tickled my tastebuds in so many ways. I loved it!

Wild Pickle and Things Poutine

Wild Pickle and Things Poutine

 

The wild poutine supreme with beef was another tasty plate.  This poutine included sauteed onions, kimchi, jalapeno peppers, Canadian cheese curds, jalapeno havarti with gravy and cilantro sauce. Yes!

Wild Poutine Supreme

Wild Poutine Supreme

Make sure to dip the fries in the house-made sauces including the spicy blackberry, sundried tomatoes and cilanto jalapenos. My only hope was that there would be a very spicy hot sauce in-house, as I like things spicy.

As for the burgers, I had a chance to try samples of the Indian lentil burger, venison, portobello and tuna, camel, kangaroo, the wild and spicy burger (beef) wrapped in bacon and the wild burger (beef) and I really enjoyed each of them in their own way. Surprisingly I  did not get burger fatigue after SO many burgers. Comment below if you want to know more about a specific burger that I tried.

My top 3 picks from the tasting:

‘The Wild Burger’ which is the Canadian Artisan beef burger with herbs and spices, blackberry sauce and aged white chedder. The signature burger deserves recognition with the meat served medium rare during the tasting.

The most popular burger goes to the ‘Middle Eastern Camel Burger’ and I agree with the people’s choice. I had a camel burger once and was thrown off by the dry patty. This one was different, the camel burger spiced with chilis and zaataar was juicy and came with a cilantro sauce, brie, baby spinach, mango and dried fruit salsa and onions.

Middle Eastern camel burger

Middle Eastern camel burger

Another stand-out for me was the ‘Birch Venison Burger’. I loved the blue cheese, crispy onions and fried egg that accompanied the flavourful burger.

Birch Venison Burger

Birch Venison Burger

What better way to enjoy some red meat, then some red wine. The Chateau Des Charmes wines from Niagara-on-the-lake was a nice compliment to the meal!

Wines with our meal

Wines with our meal

During your visit, make sure to give them my personal offer code ( YBB-01-10 ) to receive a FREE UPGRADE to a combo with a side and a fountain drink, with the purchase of ANY burger.  I will let you know when the code expires on my blog.

Overall:

I haven’t raved about a burger joint for a long time. I want to spread the Wild Burger love because I can’t wait to go back! The flavours and spice blend in each burger is carefully thought out. The sides are a must including the deep fried pickles or extreme beans, and the sharing plates.

*Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @themary_tang for delicious updates.

Wild Burger Inc. on Urbanspoon

Thank you to the Wild Burger team for the invitation and allowing my guest and I to try out a variety of dishes from the menu. The meal was complimentary but the opinions in my post are entirely my own.

{Review} Taste of the new Wahlburgers in Toronto at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Website: http://wahlburgers.ca/
Address: 46 Blue Jays Way (Soho Hotel), Toronto ON
When I attended: November, 2014, lunch

Although I was at Wahlburgers on opening night to get a glimpse of the Wahlberg brothers on the green carpet (read about the opening night), I decided to return to the restaurant on my lunch to try out the offerings. At noon, the restaurant was packed and pretty much the norm since the opening.

Front of Wahlburgers

Front of Wahlburgers

Paul & Donnie Wahlberg on opening night. Photo credit by George pimentel

Paul & Donnie Wahlberg on opening night. Photo credit by George pimentel

 

The decor is representative of the Wahlburger franchise with green accents all around. There are three sections of the restaurant, including a dine-in area with a bar, a ‘grab-and-go’ line where you can choose to take your food upstairs to the express eating area (like a food court), or do take-out. Great news is that the line ups for take out move quickly. Do note that there is a 18% gratuity added on to customers who dine-in or sit at the bar. If you do stay, there are plenty of TVs showcasing live sports games as well as clips from their reality TV show of A & Es Wahlburgers.

Dine in area and bar at Wahlburgers. Photo credit: George Pimental

Dine in area and bar at Wahlburgers. Photo credit: George Pimental

Express seating area upstairs

Express seating area upstairs

Now onto the food.  Is it good or is it a fancy burger joint with a celebrity name attached to it? My verdict is that is worth the visit.

You won’t get a sloppy joe or an over-the-top burger here. Instead, the burgers are simple made with locally sourced and house-made ingredients, with the burgers made with 100 per cent Canadian beef. The burgers are cooked to medium, unless requested otherwise. With burgers around $10, I think this is a great deal and the sides are a MUST. More about that in a second.

My friend and I split the BBQ bacon burger that was topped with white chedder, bacon, avocado, fresh jalapenos and BBQ ($9.95) as well as the signature burger (1/3 lb. $9.25). The signature Wahlburger burger stood out to me as the meat was tender and the combination of the Wahl sauce, dill pickles, government choose, lettuce, tomato and onions makes for a delicious burger. The Wahl sauce with ketchup, mayo and a blend of spices goes well with everything, so don’t be afraid to ask for more on the side.

BBQ Bacon Burger and Our Burger

BBQ Bacon Burger and Our Burger

The signature Wahlburger even comes in double decker and triple decker option. I need to do this! Also in December 2014, Wahlburgers will start incorporating Canadian-themed dishes as part of the “burger of the month” program.

Double decker Wahlburger. Photo credit: Wahlburger

Double decker Wahlburger. Photo credit: Wahlburger

As for the sides, I think they were the highlight of my meal. During opening night, the tater tots was what kept me and my belly happy in the frigid weather. At lunch, my friend and I decided to share the Yukon gold fries, sweet potato tots and the onion rings. The sweet potato tots had a crispy hash brown like texture and were ultra tasty. I did not know that something this small could blow me away. The onion rings were essentially red onion strings with a light batter, the way I like mine.

sides

sides

With our meal, we both ordered a frappes (milkshake) which brought back memories of being in an old school diner. Even cooler, Wahlburger offers adult frappes, yes with a shot of alcohol! Sweet!

Wahlburgers offers a variety of sandwiches and salads and a long list of alcoholic drinks including ‘Wahlcoctions’, wines and various beers including the ‘Wahlbrewski North’ pale ale on tap made by Mill Street Brewery.

The restaurant will be open seven days, Sunday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Reservations and call-ahead take-out orders will not be taken at this time (Source: Wahlburgers News Release, Soho Metropolitan Hotel).

Overall:

Wahlburgers is more than a famous name, their burgers deliver! The onion rings and potato/sweet potato tots are delicious and another reason to draw me back to the restaurant.

For up-to-date info on Wahlburgers , follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WahlburgersCA). Twitter (https://twitter.com/wahlburgersca) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/wahlburgersca/)

 For more delicious updates, follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@themary_tang).

Wahlburgers on Urbanspoon

* The meal was complimentary but the reviews in my post are entirely my own.

Kathi Roll Express, an Indian fast food restaurant (Avenue Rd. location)

Website: http://www.thekathirollexpress.com/
Address: 1753 Avenue Rd. Toronto, ON
Cuisine: Indian
When I visited: November 2014, dinner
Rating: $, 4

I had an opportunity to try out various menu items at the new Kathi Roll Express (@tkretoronto) location on Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence Ave, and excited to share my experience.

Front of Kathi Roll Express

Front of Kathi Roll Express

The new location is a smaller restaurant with a few tables compared to their flagship Yonge and Bloor St. location, making it ideal for take out. The decor is similar in both restaurants with creative milk crate light covers and Indian movie posters. With delicious curry on the menu only at the uptown location, it is worth to come out of your way to visit or to grab some take out before hitting highway 401.

Interior of Kathi Roll Express-Avenue Rd

Interior of Kathi Roll Express-Avenue Rd

light fixture

light fixture

Owner Sumit Kohli had travelled the world and finally settled on Toronto as a place to open up his restaurant. He noticed that NYC had kathi rolls but the popular street food consisting of a kebab in a paratha bread from India hasn’t been known in Toronto yet and he seized the opportunity. I think this is a smart business choice. I love Indian food but can’t pinpoint any fast food Indian restaurants with kathi rolls (aka kati rolls).

If you like simple and bland food, this is not your place. What you will get instead are slow cooked curries and delicious marinated meat bursting with flavour!

This is what I got to sample at the restaurant:

To start, I tried the chat papri (crispy fried dough wafer snack) and pani puri (hollow fried crisp usually stuffed with chick peas and herbs). I have had pani puri before, but this was the first time I ate it the way it should be served, dipped in a watery sauce and eaten in one bite. The inside consisted of chick peas, potato, mint and coriander with a green sauce with pureed herbs. With the starters, I had the mango lassi to compliment my meal. The straw was a bit too small for the thick consistency, so I gulped the drink down instead with the lid off.

Pani puri

Pani puri

chat papri

chat papri

Next, I had the lamb sheekh and the goat tikka. The lamb sheekh served  in a hot dog with mayo and mint will be on the menu for only $3.99. I think this is a great value. As for the goat tikka, the meat was extremely tender. I ate it so quickly that I forgot to take a picture.

lamb sheekh in a hot dog

lamb sheekh in a hot dog bun

For the main, I tried various Kathi rolls including the shami kabab (lamb), butter chicken tikka and paneer (cheese) shaslik. For the curries, I  tried the paneer lababdar, dal (lentil) makhani and the lamb rogan josh, served with fresh naan.

kathi rolls

kathi rolls

Inside of the various kathi rolls

Inside of the various kathi rolls

curries at Kathi Roll Express

curries at Kathi Roll Express

Although everything was delicious in its own way, my favourite out of the items were the goat and the paneer kathi roll and curry. The cheese was thick and had the consistency of a hard tofu. The cheese and sauce made for a delicious roll!

Indian desserts are known to be heavy but I wanted to end off the meal with something sweet. With the hot chai, I tried the milk cake, carrot pudding and barfi (the condense milk treat tastes better than it sounds!). My favourite was the carrot pudding. Having had the homemade version before, I enjoyed the grated texture and found this version to be less sweet than what I had before.

dessert

dessert

Overall: 

Kathi Roll Express is a great fast food option to grab snacks, rolls, rice platters and desserts. The items are well priced with the Kathi rolls around $10.  It is a one stop shop that’s quick without having the flavours comprimised.

For more information and up-to-date pictures, follow @tkretoronto on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you to Vicky @momwhomoms and Sumit for the invitation. * The meal was complimentary but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.

For delicious updates, follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@themary_tang)

Kathi Roll Express on Urbanspoon

{Event} “In conversation with Alain Ducasse” hosted by Chef Chuck Hughes at George Brown College

Event: Q & A with Michelin Star Chef Alain Ducasse, tickets $25
Address: Theatre 406, 290 Adelaide St. E. and Grand Atrium 300 Adelaide St. E., George Brown College, Toronto ON
When I attended: Oct. 15th, 2014

When I got an invite to attend an event hosted by the very talented and funny Chef Chuck Hughes, I was already intrigued. Knowing that he would be curating a conversation with world renowned Alain Ducasse, it was a done deal. I had to attend! Alain Ducasse is a pretty big deal in chef world, he was the first chef to carry 3 Michelin Stars in three cities and holds one of the most Michelin stars in the world throughout his career.

I attended the event with my blogger friend Linda (@integrityfilms)…also a Chef Hughes fan of course. The first hour was held in a packed auditorium at George Brown College where Director of George Brown’s Chef School John Higgins did the introductions. At the Q & A session, Chef Hughes did an excellent job trying to break the ice and engage Alain Ducasse in conversation.

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Some things I learned about Alain Ducasse at the Q & A session:

  • Favourite seasons? Spring and Autumn
  • If we wasn’t a chef, what would he do? Be a traveler or an architect
  • What does “local” mean to him? Not to import produce from France to his international restaurants. The opposite of globalization.
  • Will he open a restaurant in Canada? No, there is too much competition.
  • What would be his last meal on earth? Red mullet, grilled with no salt.

RECEPTION:

After the Q & A session, we had a wine and cheese reception and an opportunity to get books signed by the Chefs. At the reception, there was a huge arrangement of cheese to go with the bread from Petite Thuet. I was in cheese heaven!

Chef Chuck Hughes and I at George Brown College

Chef Chuck Hughes and I at George Brown College

 

BOOK SIGNING:

With the popularity of both chefs, the line ups to purchase the books and to get them signed by the Chefs was a long one, which meant the event went over the expected 2 hour time slot. There were two separate lines for the respective Chefs.  Like many other book signing sessions, the name(s) of who we want the Chef to address the book to, is placed inside the cover page using a sticky note to help move the lines quickly.

Chucks line was moving at a slightly slower rate because he made the time to chat and take selfies with his eager fans. Alain Ducasse’s line was moving at a quicker rate because there was little action on the Chef’s end.

Chef Chuck Hughes and I at George Brown College

Chef Chuck Hughes and I at George Brown College

I watched Alain Ducasse during the book signing session.  He would look at the sticky note, write the person’s name, sign his name, close the book and push the book forward to the fan WITHOUT looking up. Actually, he did not look at his fans once and kept his head turned towards a woman he was sitting with the ENTIRE time. He was smiling and chatting with her in French throughout the book signing session. I was really taken back by that!

Alain Ducasse during the book signing

Alain Ducasse during the book signing

 

I was near the back of the line and had a game plan to make Alain Ducasse look up for once. I ended up closing the book he signed (I did it a polite way of course), pulled out my hand to greet him and stared at him in the eye. He looked a little surprised. Linda had the better tactic, she spoke to him in French forcing him to look up at her. As I watched other fans line up, they were likely too shy to say anything to him. Maybe Alain Ducasse was not used to book signing sessions as it can be very draining signing books after books, but we made the time to show our support.

There is no doubt that Alain Ducasse will continue to have a successful career and will be well known in the Chef world but he can definitely learn to work on his charm. As for the handsome Chef Hughes, I am still a big fan!

As for the event, hanging out with Linda, eating tons of cheese and seeing Chuck made it worthwhile!

Paul and Donnie open up Wahlburgers in Toronto at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Website: http://wahlburgers.ca/
Address: 46 Blue Jays Way (Soho Hotel), Toronto ON
When I attended: November 15th, 2014

Wahlburgers opened their first franchise location in Canada on November 15th, 2014 at Toronto’s SoHo Metropolitan hotel and I was there! I froze for a few hours in the media pit in hopes to get an interview with Mark Wahlberg. No interview was conducted but thankfully I did get some wicked shots of the recently married Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy and Paul Wahlberg, the executive Chef behind the burger creations.

The opening was welcomed by a large crowd hoping to get a glimpse of the Wahlberg brothers with many disappointed (including me) that Mr. Marky Mark was not there at the opening. The “New Kids” fans did get their fair share of pictures of Donnie, who was my favourite of the NKOTB members growing up. The restaurant was closed to the public for about 5 hours where an episode of the reality TV show of A & Es Wahlburgers was being shot. At the opening,  lucky patrons and VIP guests got to try the tasty eats.

Crowds awaiting the Wahlberg brothers

Crowds awaiting the Wahlberg brothers

Paul, Donnie and Jenny

Paul, Donnie and Jenny

For some background, the Wahlburgers first opened the original location in Hingham, MA in October 2011 as a chef-driven burger concept. Like the Boston staple, the menu in Toronto places emphasis on its use of locally sourced and house-made ingredients. Wahlburgers are made with 100 per cent Canadian beef. The custom grind, created specifically by Chef Paul Wahlberg, comes from a local butcher and is cooked to medium, allowing the juices to flow. Wahlburgers  Canada is a collaboration of the Wahlbergs with Bruce Greenberg, President of Starwood Group; Michael Wekerle, Executive Chairman of Difference Capital and Henry Wu, President of Metropolitan Hotels. (Source: Wahlburgers News Release, Soho Metropolitan Hotel).

I did not try the burgers on opening night and decided to come back another day during a less busy time. Stay tuned for my review! I did have some of their hot potato tots, which was generously given by the restaurant to the cold media folks and eager fans.

Some menu highlights include:

·         Mark’s Choice: “The Thanksgiving Burger” made with fresh ground and seasoned turkey dressed with Paul’s orange cranberry sauce, homemade roasted butternut squash and stuffing.

·         Donnie’s Choice: “The BBQ Bacon Burger” topped with white cheddar cheese, bacon and avocado, finished with jalapenos and a house-made BBQ sauce.

·         Paul’s Choice: The Wahlburgers original “Our Burger” made fresh to order with the restaurant’s special blend of beef topped with government cheese (American cheese), dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion and finished with the signature Wahl sauce.

 Starting December 2014, Wahlburgers  will incorporate Canadian-themed dishes as part of the ‘burger of the month’ program.

Aside from the burgers, Wahlburgers offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, onion rings and other sides and a variety of alcoholic drinks including the ‘Wahlbrewski North’ pale ale on tap made by Mill Street Brewery and a selection of adult frappes, Paul’s grown-up, alcohol-fortified version of the ice cream beverage.

The restaurant will be open seven days, Sunday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Reservations and call-ahead take-out orders will not be taken at this time (Source: Wahlburgers News Release, Soho Metropolitan Hotel).

For up-to-date info on Wahlburgers , follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WahlburgersCA). Twitter (https://twitter.com/wahlburgersca) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/wahlburgersca/)

I will report back with my review of the burgers soon. For more delicious updates, follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@themary_tang).

Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Sweet Potato Tots  Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Sweet Potato Tots
Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Double Decker Wahlburger Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel


Double Decker Wahlburger
Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Wahlburgers on Urbanspoon

{Review} Rosedale diner serves duck confit poutine!

Website: http://www.rosedalediner.com/
Address: 1164 Yonge St. Toronto ON
When I visited: August 2014, lunch, 3 people
Rating: $$, 3.5

The restaurant is a short walk from Rosedale station and can be spotted with their rose emblem at the front of the restaurant. The interior was a typical diner with a rustic feel. The patio where we sat was a bit more eclectic and was a mishmash of colours and themes, which is also reflective of their menu. There was typical diner fare like burgers and brunch (available on weekends), as well as Middle Eastern dishes.

20140801_124205

20140801_140452

 

I first heard of the Rosedale diner on an episode of Diners Drivers and Dives (DDD) where Guy Fieri ordered the duck confit poutine and Asian sticky ribs. After watching the cooks make both these items on the episode, I know that a lot of work goes into each dish, which is what intrigue me try it out.

To start, I had a caesar and really enjoyed the fresh horseradish.

Caesar at Rosedale diner

Caesar at Rosedale diner

Next, I had the summer salad with watercress, watermelon, feta cheese and a berry dressing. Although the portion and presentation was great, the dressing was too bland for my liking.

20140801_131709

To make up for it, the duck confit poutine (poutine au Canard) and Asian sticky ribs were incredible! The duck was tender and the gravy was flavourful. I tried my friend’s sticky ribs, and it had a nice balance of sweet and savoury. Totally worth the finger licking at the table!

Duck Poutine off-the-bone confit w. québécois cheese curds, demi-glace gravy

Duck Poutine off-the-bone confit w. québécois cheese curds, demi-glace gravy

Asian sticky ribs

Asian sticky ribs

 

Overall:

I am not in rush to return to Rosedale diner as lunch was expensive and out of my budget at the moment. I spent almost $40 (before tax) for a drink, salad and a poutine. However when I do return, the ribs and poutine will be on my list again.  I have been recommended from a friend to try out their brunch menu and their coffee. If you have gone there for brunch, what do you recommend?

Rosedale Diner on Urbanspoon