Tag Archives: prix fixe

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
 

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AquaTerra – We LOVE regional ingredients!!

AquaTerra…how you have evaded our patronage, I will never know. This is by far one of the better restaurants in Kingston, in all categories of comparison (service, food quality, worth), and for some ridiculously strange reason C and I had never been there together. C is an AquaTerra regular due to her affiliation with TORF and has had several items on the menu before. I, on the other hand, am an ¬†AquaTerra virgin…NO MORE! And spoiler alert to the evaluation at the end, it won’t be the last time I go either haha.

atmosphere

AquaTerra is just inside the main lobby of the Radisson on Ontario St. and I guess for the past few years C has been trying to find a faster way into the hotel other than the main entrance but has yet to find one. So, we entered through the main entrance like normal people. Upon entering the restaurant you’ll get an almost lounge-y feel to to it, which isn’t a bad thing…I really felt like the atmosphere would’ve been more suited to a nighttime event rather than our casual lunch.

Also upon arrival the excellent service begins. The hostess and our server were almost borderline impossibly kind, which made our dining experience all the more enjoyable. You could tell our server’s passion was in serving fine food, which was so cool to see.

During the week AquaTerra offers a prix fixe menu for $15. This includes a soup or salad, a main, and a dessert with coffee or tea. For the quality of the food and the portion sizing, I would say that the $15 for a lunch is well worth it. On Sundays they offer a brunch buffet but I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. C and I had the prix fixe.

what we had

C ordered one of their refresher mock-tails, she found it a little too heavy on the spritzer with the mango flavour being dulled and the pineapple flavour being too much. Well, I liked it and I guess that’s why I drank most of it. $4.

This was their complimentary rosemary, chive, and red pepper butter to go with the bread basket. I’m not really sure if it’s a staple at AquaTerra or if they change these butters every week, but regardless it was tasty. The red pepper flavour comes through the most but it was definitely an upgrade over your standard butter. We LOVED that they used Pan Chancho bread.

We both got the soup of the day as our first course. This was a cauliflower based soup with chorizo blended in. The soup itself was seasoned wonderfully, although we wished that the chorizo flavour would’ve came out just a tad more. It was thick, creamy, and definitely an awesome starter.I highly recommend it if they ever serve it as a soup of the day again.

This was my curried chicken wrap (grilled chicken, sauteed peppers, onions, sweet curry mayo). It reminded me a lot of a chicken wrap that I had when C and I visited Mackenzie King Estates in Gatineau Park, except the chicken in the Aquaterra version was more juicy and tender. The curry flavour came out beautifully in this wrap and the fries were fresh and absolutely delicious. I wish there were more fries on the plate haha. The only thing that I would add to this plate would be some kind of aioli to go with the fries. Really solid dish though.

C got the AquaTerra burger (Kenview farms black angus burger, sauteed onions, maple dijon mustard). C added cheese for an extra dollar and other than that you would think that it’s your everyday kind of burger. But not all your everyday kind of burgers can taste like a smorgasbord of flavours in your mouth like this one was. The burger was juicy and chock full of flavour, cooked to absolute perfection (right at that point where the meat is cooked through, but there is this massive moisture retention going on).

Okay so by this point we’re actually surprisingly full. Almost to the point of satiation. But we must persist! Dessert awaits!

I got their warm chocolate bread pudding (served with caramel creme anglaise and pralines). I’ve had bad experiences with yucky bread pudding in the past so I’m not sure why I ordered this. I thought I would be way too full to eat anything more, let alone something that had the word bread in it,and the chocolate aspect of it sounded way too rich for me (for those of you that know me, you know that I really don’t like chocolate). I was pleasantly surprised with this dish. The bread pudding was warm and light, and by light I mean as light as a bread pudding can be. The chocolate flavour was relatively subtle contrary to its appearances (I mean look at that picture…it looks like it was left soaking in a chocolate fountain for twenty minutes). I didn’t end up finishing it because I was way too full, but it was definitely a good way to end of a meal.

C was even more full than I was so she got the ice cream. Their ice cream comes from a regional creamery called Slickers near Picton, ON. This particular day’s ice cream was made from local Concorde grapes. Our taste palettes were definitely not prepared for this one. When you usually think of grape you think of a clear, crisp flavour in some kind of juice medium. This was a very vivid grape flavour in a cream medium, so the creaminess really threw us off. It was really tasty and we really liked that they use regional ice cream. C and I will definitely be taking a trip to Prince Edward County to try more of Slickers ice cream. Oh, one more thing. Look at that portion sizing. THREE SCOOPS?! Too much for us, man.

overall

4.5 (out of 5) for food

4 (out of 5) for atmosphere

Eating at AquaTerra for their prix fixe was such a nice treat for C and I. We loved our server and the regional ingredients that were used. The presentation of the food was tasteful and the food itself was tasty (see what I did there? haha). Will we be back? Definitely. We need to go there at night and try their dinnertime menu and atmosphere. I wish we could have scored them higher for atmosphere but it was just too odd during the day time.

One more story. Our lovely server forgot to charge us for C’s refresher mocktail and instead of running back to the computer to print out a new receipt with the correct charge on it (which we would have been more than happy to pay), she waived it off and said it was her mistake so that was on her. Classy move. In exchange for a $4 dollar mocktail the restaurant will get our probable undying support and loyalty through our eating adventures.

Go check out AquaTerra near Ontario and Johnson (1 Johnson St.) inside the Radisson.

K

Aqua Terra on Urbanspoon