Tag Archives: kingston

a tasty trifecta

A few Wednesday nights ago C and I found ourselves in the midst of the busyness of the Christmas season and with the light at the end of the tunnel for both of our work weeks and the start of our official holidays soon, we wanted to do something special. The planning for that something special ultimately found it’s way to my “to-do” list and I spent the better half of that weekend racking my brain to try to think of something fun and un-boring. That’s when I came up with the tasty trifecta.

I got the idea from something my parents have been doing with their friends for several years now. They regularly have dinner parties with different themes, and one particular theme has them starting at one person’s house for their appetizer and then moving from house to house according to dinner course. So I spun the dinner into our version of a whirlwind tour of some of Kingston’s restaurants where we would move from restaurant to restaurant for three separate courses. So, hopefully this gives an honest snapshot of three different restaurants in Kingston for three different courses. Onwards with the tour!

The way that we worked out the night was that I would pick the first and third course and C would pick our second. Our first stop was The Tango for some tapas. I hadn’t made any reservations at any of these restaurants because I wasn’t sure about the timing of our meals and if we would spend longer in certain restaurants. Anyways…Wednesday night happens to be Manicure & Martini night at Tango but luckily we weren’t surrounded by a mob of chatty women wanting to get their mani on, so we had a really pleasant time enjoying the urban, albeit ridiculously dimly lit, atmosphere of Tango.

Tango also offers 25% (used to be 40%) off all their tapas on Sundays. The last time that C and I went to Tango it was for Valentine’s day last year. I had this brilliant idea of enjoying 40% off tapas on our first Valentine’s day together but when we were seated and I asked the server informed me that they took off the event since it was Valentine’s day. The moral of the story is: don’t go to Tango on any kind of holiday if you want to enjoy their event discounts.

Upon our arrival to the restaurant we were seated promptly (always a bonus) and at a decent table in the middle of the room to boot! The last time we were here we were sitting right beside the kitchen doors and every time our dinner table conversation would peak, it was like the serving staff knew to swoosh open the door. Another deal with our tour was that we were going to order things from these restaurants that we’ve never tried before.

I chose Gambas de Ajo (sauteed shrimp in olive oil and garlic, served with french bread – $12). Was it tasty? You bet. Was it worth $12? I’m not really sure. The shrimp was tender and not overly oily (look at that picture…those shrimp are practically SWIMMING in the olive oil!), as I first thought. A really really flavourful dish.

C ended up with Queso y chorizo con pan (manchego cheese with grilled chorizo served with a baguette and balsamic reduction – $11). She has a thing for chorizo. I wasn’t wild about this dish but she really enjoyed it. The chorizo was a little too…out of a package for me, it could have used a bit more time in a frying pan, maybe marrying with some other flavours like a bit of garlic or a bayleaf or thyme. The cheese was really sharp but turned out to be a nice pairing with the chorizo and french bread. I have to say that my favourite part of this dish was the honey and balsamic vinegar garnish on the side of the plate. We had never thought of putting that combination together and, man, it was awesome!

We then made our way next door to Olivea. Now, Olivea is kind of a mixed bag. C and I regularly come here for lunch and dinner and have had a pleasant visit each time, but our friends keep telling us that Olivea is definitely a try-only-once restaurant. So C and I continue to go there almost hoping to get a more informed opinion on the restaurant, but so far it’s been fine. The only complaint that I had about dinner that night was the service was a little sloppy. When I needed things the server was nowhere to be found and she fired our order to the kitchen late, which left us (read: me, C is always incredibly patient with waitstaff) grumpy and hungry.

If I was so grumpy and hungry, why aren’t I writing this post seething in rage? The saving grace of our time at Olivea was the meal itself. Well, my meal anyways haha…C’s meal was average. It’s nice to mention also that Olivea, like a few other restaurants in Kingston, are offering a winter prix fixe menu for $30. Now, since C and I were doing our little tasting tour we only wanted to eat mains. We ended up ordering off of their daily specials menu:

I ordered the grilled veal chop with fingerling potatoes, chantrelle (DROOL) mushrooms, green beans, and veal jus ($28). I would eat this everyday until I die. I’ll admit I was really irritated by the poor service but once I put a slice of veal into my mouth everything was rainbows and lollipops again. The potatoes were alright (they were NOT fingerlings though…), but the chantrelles…those were probably the highlight alongside the veal. They were a little bouncy but filled with all that delicious veal jus. Definitely definitely would order again.

C ordered the black cod with butternut squash gnocchi ($26). It’s not that the meal itself wasn’t cooked very well, it was that by the time we got our food we wanted to eat something that was bursting with flavour and a little more substantial. A stick-to-your-ribs kind of feeling. Black cod is a white fish and the flavour of it is crazy delicate. The fish was cooked well and the gnocchi were quite good too. We probably wouldn’t order this again unless we were looking for a lighter main.

After round 2 we strolled around downtown for a little bit to walk off our mains, then we made our way up to Megalos. Last year we came here a lot for friends birthdays and after some of C’s performances, but we haven’t quite made our way here as often this year. I really like it at Megalos. The waitstaff is always really friendly and prompt, and the owner of the restaurant is always on hand to ask us how we’re doing.

We sat down and ordered a couple of hot drinks to warm our bodies a bit and decided on getting our usual dessert, the Grand Finale (I know I know, one of our rules for the night was to order things we’ve never tried before…but hot dang our usual dessert at Megalos is good).

C got the hot chocolate ($3.95) and I got the spearmint tea ($2.65). Nothing too crazy about these drinks, I did like their loose leaf steeping in the tea though. Now, when the Grand Finale came I’ll admit that I wasn’t as excited for it as I have been in the past, mostly because at this point I’ve been filled to the brim with delicious veal and chantrelles. Regardless! We eat that delicious little dessert to the end. Tasty tasty tasty.

The Grand Finale is basically a dessert dough that has been baked with cinnamon butter, apple slices and then topped off with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and caramel sauce (for two $11). This dessert isn’t particularly fancy or elaborate but it’s 100% delicious. You really can’t go wrong with that ingredient combination. So sorry for the picture…we got too excited so you only get to see half of the Grand Finale!

By the time we got to the restaurant it was pretty late so we were practically the last ones left in the restaurant which gave us a nice opportunity to talk to some of the waitstaff and the owner while we were getting ready to leave. I wish all restaurant owners would peek their heads out but I understand that they’re busy.

So that was the end of the night. Three restaurants and three different courses. It was definitely an interesting way to experience a meal…and it was really nice to have time in between in each course where we could just stroll around. I would recommend doing this if you have around 3 hours to spare for dinner. We can’t really do our conventional ratings for the restaurants since we were there for only 1/3 of a meal, but we will try to tweak it a little bit.

overall

tango

3.5 (out of 5) for food

3.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

olivea

4 (out of 5) for food

2.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

megalos

3.5 (out of 5) for food

4 (out of 5) for atmosphere

Again, these ratings only reflect 1/3 of a dining experience in each restaurant so take them as you want. Always keep an eye out for special events at restaurants through advertisements or online. Most importantly keep supporting restaurants in downtown Kingston.

K

Tango on Urbanspoon Olivea Restaurant on Urbanspoon Megalos Restaurant on Urbanspoon
 

Harper’s Burger Bar – Hipster Meat Patties For All!!

Pokes and prods aside, I’ve been here twice: once with C a few days removed from opening day and another time with my parents for lunch. On our first visit the place was jam packed, the service was prompt and courteous, and the food was delicious. On my second visit the place was less packed, the service was horrible, and the food, after two trips, was forgettable.

Harper’s is one of the newer additions to the burger and fries scene that has taken downtown Kingston by storm. It’s located a little ways down Princess Street right beside the Sleepless Goat on Princess and Wellington St. It’s owned by the same people who own Le Chien Noir and Atomica’s near the Brock Street Commons but I have to say that I’m still undecided on how I feel about it. I still appreciate their desire to stick to local ingredients and to offer Kingston a higher quality burger, but their flip-floppy restaurant experience is lost on me. Anyways. Enough about my ambivalence and more about the review!

atmosphere
I think this, like our Geneva Crepe Cafe adventure, was a pre-fellowship dinner and we decided to go check it out on a whim (we hadn’t realized that it had opened already). When we entered the place was packed with people and we were lucky to get a seat so quickly. We sat in the middle of the restaurant which gave us kind of a nice view of everyone else eating, but I kind of wished we had gotten a booth. Oh well. As I looked around I noticed the demographic of the patrons, mostly young university students who look the part of the eco-movement. What was nice, though, was also seeing locals out and offering their patronage to Harper’s. I do honestly hope that this place becomes a fixture in downtown Kingston.

The space itself is intimate and dimly lit. I’m feeling mixed about the televisions around the room because while I really like watching Top Chef while I’m eating I feel like it cheapens the place a little bit. I really did like the exposed brick interior and the general decor the restaurant though.

Some cool things that they offer at Harper’s are a kid’s menu, a lunch special, spiked milkshakes, and blue plate dinners (hip diner versions of: fried chicken, salmon filet, and strip steak. Oh how I wish they would do a meatloaf). Harper’s is trying to play the part of trendy diner and after looking through their menu I’m mildly convinced. One thing to highlight is the lunch special which takes place daily between 11.30am-4.30pm, which includes their classic burger, a side of fries, and a fountain drink for $10. Not bad.

what we ordered

(our bad on the pictures…it was REALLY dim in there haha)

C tried one of their shakes (I have never understood her affinity to drinking things like shakes or smoothies while eating…) with her meal. She ordered their chocolate shake ($5 – made from Kawartha Lakes ice cream). It was crazy light (even I drank some!!) and didn’t have as strong as a chocolate flavour as I thought, which was really pleasant.

C ordered their Classic Burger with a side of onion rings, but added cheese and bacon onto her patty ($9.50). The onion rings were so forgettable. I can’t emphasize to you enough how forgettable they were. They were your run of the mill onion rings that you could have gotten from Harvey’s. We were both expecting some kind of fancy thick cut onion rings with panko batter or something. To be entirely honest I like A&W rings waaaaay more than the ones at Harper’s. The burger itself wasn’t bad, it was thick and relatively juicy, although C found it a bit too salty.

I ordered the sliders with a side of their Yukon Gold fries ($12.50 for your choice of three miniature versions of their signature burgers with your choice of side). Now, I’m really big on burgers and I couldn’t decide which veritable taste sensation I wanted to isolate a burger to so I opted for the sliders. I ended up getting: easy (Ontario cheddar, bacon, soya glazed mushrooms, HBB sauce), umami (brie, balsamic candied onions, tamari glazed mushrooms, white truffle aioli), and deluxe (Monterey Jack, avocado, local bacon, roasted garlic-rosemary aioli). I liked a lot about these lil guys. The sliders were a good size, nice variety of ingredients to taste different, and cooked well.

My only complaint was with the presentation of their lettuce, onions, tomato, and pickles. Come on. With all of the thought that went into the ingredient combinations of the burgers, you can’t think of a better way to present it than slicing them together and tossing it on the basket?

overall

3 (out of 5) for food

3.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

If you had asked me my thoughts after my first visit to Harper’s I would have raved to you about the service and food. But after my second visit I would tone down my zealousness towards it and tell you that it’s totally worth a try with an open mind.

I will probably go back when they (hopefully) switch up their burger menu a little bit or to try their blue plate dinners. Other than that I will be taking my (and C’s probably haha) burger patronage to Five Guy’s Burger and Fries over and over again.

K

Harper's Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Geneva Crepe Cafe – Don’t let the sign deter you

Many new eateries have popped up in the Kingston downtown Princess area this past little while. We are so happy about this, and we are looking forward to checking them all out. Our visit to the crepe cafe was a spur of the moment, post-dinner, pre-fellowship move. We had passed it so many times driving down Princess, but had never really gotten around to trying it. To be honest, we were a little hesitant (the signage is not particularly appealing), but we decided to go for it. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised by what we got!

atmosphere

The cafe is partial service (like Cafe le Matin) – so you order your food at the cash, and they bring it to you. They always have a sign outside with specials, so take a look at whether there’s anything you might like (this is how K decided his crepe choice). As you walk in, you see the crepe bar, and their menu is written above. There were quite a few choices, and after a tough choice about what to pair the nutella with, we ordered and grabbed some seats.

The front section of the cafe generally gets lots of foot traffic, so we opted for a table at the back. Despite there being quite a few occupied tables, it still didn’t seem too noisy.

what we ordered

Because this was meant as a dessert more so than a meal or other snack, we decided on sweet crepes. I don’t normally like savoury crepes, but perhaps one day we will go again and venture beyond my taste palate boundaries. In general, we really liked the crepe itself – it was nice and soft, with just a light crisp that added a great texture to the plate.

K opted for the Strawberry Delight crepe – a light crepe filled with strawberries and condensed milk, topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream). This is a combination he loves, and he was very satisfied with the flavour of the crepe. It had a good amount of sweetness, and is something we would order again.

I decided on the nutella and banana crepe (also a combination that I love very much). It too was topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream, but with some drizzles of chocolate sauce as well. I am someone who really enjoys sweetness, so the nutella wasn’t too overwhelming for my liking, but K preferred his to mine. One surprise sensation for me was that the bananas were hot! This made the crepe very warm overall, which I really enjoyed.

Generally, the sweet crepes are on the lighter side, but still leave you feeling satisfied. Word of warning – do not expect them to heap on mountains of fruit. the fruit is very thinly sliced, but it was a very appropriate portion for the size of the crepe. I was able to eat everything in one bite (not like at some places where half the crepe is falling off your fork because the ice cream is also melting simultaneously and there is so much fruit you cannot get all of it).

overall

4 (out of 5) for food

3.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

We had a good experience here, and will probably come again. The sweet crepes sit well in your stomach and leave you feeling good. However, it isn’t somewhere we see ourselves becoming regulars. The cafe fills a unique food niche in the restaurant scene of downtown Kingston and we are glad to see it doing well.

Head to Geneva Crepe Cafe at 297 Princess Street (Princess and Clergy) for a sweet (or savoury) treat!

C

Geneva Crêpe Café on Urbanspoon

Curry Original – We LOVE yogurt mint sauce!!

So…Curry Original downtown has become sort of a staple in our diet. Despite having been in Kingston for over 4 years, I had only come here once in the first four years of living here. However, this all changed when K and I started a holistic diet a few weeks back. Because of its rather stringent list of acceptable foods, we found ourselves at Curry Original many times, as it was one of the few places we could eat without breaking any of the rules. Since then, we have made many trips to this little place down on King Street, which is hidden from view of the main street by the much larger, much more imposing Lone Star Texas Grill.

atmosphere

As you enter, you venture down this awkward hallway where the bathrooms are. Do not be deceived – keep going through the second set of doors and you’ll be greeted by one of the owners (we love family-owned and operated restaurants!!). The restaurant itself is a pretty large space, but it is a bit too dimly lit. It also has a random back patio area that offers an almost completely obstructed view (which makes us wonder if it ever gets any use). There is always Indian music playing in the background, and rarely is it bustling at lunchtime.

what we ordered

No matter what you order, they always give you papadum, which is this thin, deep fried wafer made of lentils. It pretty much melts in your mouth and is very tasty. Unfortunately…K and I ate it all before we realized we should have taken a picture of it (sorry, we’re still new to this).

Today, like most days, we opted for the always-great lunch combo. For under $10, you get a mulligatawny soup (a hot chicken stock soup with lentils and veggies), salad (it’s really nothing special, but it lends itself to a more balanced lunch), and a main dish.

K decided to get the chicken tikka which is chicken breast cooked inside the tandoor oven and then doused in a rich tomato and yogurt sauce that is rich and sweet (K says: it is SO YUMMY :D).

I went for the Chicken Tandoori (which is only offered on the lunch combo menu on Fridays). The chicken is super tender and juicy because they cook it in the tandoor, and it comes with this fantastic yogurt mint sauce (SOOO GOOD). We have been trying to figure out what it’s made of so we can recreate it…but no such luck as of now. K says that the palao rice with this combo is a little bit dry, but this would change if they just had some chicken jus on the rice.

Last but not least, we ordered some naan bread! On our holistic diet, we weren’t allowed to eat this, so we pounced on it once it came. In his zeal, K forgot to take a picture before he ripped it apart. Below is a photo of our reconstructed naan bread =) It was a little bit burnt, but still a good side dish. The bread itself was very large, and the top was very soft.

overall

4 (out of 5) for food

3.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

We like Curry Original a lot, and will definitely be coming here again. We’ve been so many times for the lunch combo (the value is just too hard to beat), so perhaps it will be good to come for dinner one time. If we do, we’ll make sure to amend this post! A side note: we much prefer the downtown site to the uptown one (they don’t even give you yogurt mint sauce for the chicken tandoori!!).

C

Curry Original - Downtown on Urbanspoon

Cafe le Matin – The local Asian diner

Don’t worry…it’s not actually what you think.

Cafe le Matin (where Coffey’s Cafe used to be) is a relatively new addition to the Princess Street restaurant scene. Coffey’s was a place where we had eaten a couple of times before and were generally pretty satisfied. So when we heard that they had changed owners, we decided to go for some breakfast before C had class, and here are our thoughts!

atmosphere

We thought that Cafe le Matin had a really nice feel to it, your typical diner fare but your not so typical diner set-up. When you first enter you’re pleasantly greeted by one of the new owners (the diner is now owned by an Asian family, we love that it’s family run!). The seating area is cute with a bunch of random antique magazine articles on the walls and crates near the windows. I think my favourite part about Cafe le Matin, compared to other diner-esque places (eg. Morrisons or Star diner haha), is that you don’t come out smelling like you were eating your meal inside the kitchen.

what we ordered


C got the big breakfast (2 eggs, toast, homefries, choice of peameal, bacon, sausage, or ham, and coffee/tea) for just over $8. She opted for the peameal bacon and hot chocolate instead of tea. C loved the peameal but the bread was kind of your run of the mill Wonderbread-esque loaf, nothing too special. The food wasn’t greasy feeling and the big breakfast was really filling. (C says: That hair on the bottom of the plate isn’t from Cafe le Matin! It’s actually mine and we just noticed it while writing this post!)


I got the big breakfast sandwich (lettuce, tomato, mayo, bacon, cheese, egg) with an order of homefries and an orange juice for just over $10. The sandwich itself was just under $5. I’ve had the big breakfast sandwich before, when the place used to be called Coffey’s, and it was a really solid breakfast. I got the homefries on the side because I LOVE breakfast potatoes at these diner-type places. I loved that they used fresh, not frozen, potatoes and they gave me a pretty hefty portion.

overall

C and I like to have a rating system for these places so that you know how these different restaurants match up to each other. So for Cafe le Matin we gave it a:

3.5 (out of 5) for food

3.5 (out of 5) for atmosphere

While Cafe le Matin may not be your most upscale place to eat breakfast, it’s affordable and has a cute atmosphere. We’ll probably be making a few more trips there this year for some early morning breakfast. Go check out Cafe le Matin near Princess and Bagot (137 Princess St.).

C and K

Cafe Le Matin on Urbanspoon