Purdy’s Himalayan Pink Salt Peanut Butter

Chocolate and salt have been a popular flavour pairing of late, and you can find it in anything from a latte to chocolate dipped pretzels. The combination of the sweet and salty seems to enhance the chocolate-ness of whatever the item is, and makes for such interesting flavours.

Purdy’s has gone a step further and added peanut butter to the combination, and it adds a whole new dimension to the sweet and salty. Their Himalayan Pink Salt Peanut Butter milk chocolates caught my eye while I was out shopping – admittedly because the pink salt looked pretty, but also because I just had to know how it tasted. The girl behind the counter who rang my purchase up said that their salted chocolates (they also offer a caramel version) are some of their most popular items.
There are 18 two-bite pieces in each box for $12.95, and although it may look small, I found once piece at a time was plenty to satisfy my chocolate cravings. With the first bite, the peanut butter was the most overwhelming flavour with its creamy texture and slightly sweet taste. The milk chocolate was smooth and light; almost an afterthought to the peanut butter, but it mellowed out the thickness of it with its sweetness. And then it hits you like a tonne of bricks. The salt packs a punch, even though the pieces didn’t seem like they had many grains on it. I was surprised at how salty it was, and wasn’t prepared for the sodium attack on my tongue. The second bite was no better, and I was again overwhelmed by the saltiness of it all.
I think the idea of the chocolate-salt-peanut butter combination sounds much more appealing than the actual end product. I thought it was my low tolerance for salt that made me not want to try a second piece, but I passed it around to the family and everyone had the same reaction. I think if there was a way to use a less potent salt, it would be a much less terrifying treat. 

Purdy's Chocolates

PC Fig & Goat Cheese Blooms

I think if I had to live only on appetizers, I would be one of the happiest people on earth. My love for appetizers goes hand in hand with my penchant for small foods, and my love of variety. I would much rather taste and sample a bite of 12 different things rather than eat one large portion of a meal. I wonder if I have an attention problem because I am so easily tired of things and I want to move on to the next shiny/new/fun thing. Plus my curiosity (or is it gluttony?) makes me feel like I need to sample a bit of everything because I need to know what it tastes like. Appetizers then, are a perfect solution to satisfy my gastronomic curiosities because then I won’t indulge if they are portioned into bite-sized pieces. Unless they’re really good; in which case I’ll eat 29,382 of them and not bat an eye. Self-restraint is not one of my fortes when it comes to delicious food.

Recently, we went to visit some friends and instead of making a sit-down dinner, they set out a smorgasbord of different appetizers and snacks...it was pure heaven. One of the items they served was a PC brand product (Don’t you love that the no-name brand of PC has now become an actual brand? If you go into a grocery store now, there’s no-name, PC, brand name...I thought PC was the no name?? I get confused so easily at the store, I know.) from the frozen appetizer section of the store.
PC Fig & Goat Cheese Blooms are squares of frozen puff pastry topped with goat cheese and a dollop of fig preserves. It all sits in a foil cup, and come 12 to a box. You simply take off the plastic wrapper on the tray and pop the whole tray into the oven. The puff pastry rises and puffs up while it bakes and the cheese and fig turn into a gooey blanket. I did find that I had to watch it pretty carefully once it was in the oven since it started to burn on the edges long before its minimum recommended baking time. This is something to be mindful of when you’re baking as well.
You’ll need to let it cool for a few minutes before serving, because you shouldn’t be impatient like me or else you’ll burn yourself biting into the hot cheese. Let me tell you, it was not a pleasant feeling! Once cooled to a reasonable temperature however, and safe to eat, these blooms were delicious. The pastry was light and flaky, and the goat cheese and fig combined to create a flavour explosion. The ratio of cheese to fig to pastry was spot on, and each bite had the perfect balance of crispy, creamy and sweet. I could have eaten these all day (and would have, if we didn’t run out) and was impressed with the taste and the presentation. For a quick appetizer that feels fancy, these would hit the mark for any occasion. And if you do decide to serve them, you may want to get more than one box so no one fights over the last one.

Recipe - 5 Minute Cake

Since receiving an email with this recipe a while back, I have been curious if it would actually make an edible chocolate cake in the same amount of time that it takes me to gather the ingredients. Sure, I can bake a cake from scratch, or use a boxed mix – but sometimes I just want the taste of something chocolate-y without having the temptation of a whole family-sized cake staring at me.

I decided to test the waters and see if this actually worked – and I am pleasantly surprised to report that yes, it does work, and no, it does not taste horrible. I accidentally over-mixed it, so the end result was denser then I would have liked it, but I think if I was more careful, it would have turned out much better. The taste is fudgy and not overly sweet, and the addition of the chocolate chips gave it an extra bit of pizzazz. I was watching it carefully as it cooked in the microwave and was worried since it rose to twice the size of the mug, but once it settled it only filled about half of my regular sized coffee mug. I will say that it made my house smell absolutely divine as it was cooking and the minute or so of waiting was torturous to my impatient self.
This cake tastes much better while it is warm because once it cools it begins to harden – again, probably my fault because I mixed it too much, but something to watch out for. You could probably cook it for 2 ½ minutes for more of a molten lava cake with a gooey middle instead. I cut it in half to share with the boyfriend as a quick snack while we watched TV, and served it with chocolate/cherry frozen yogourt, a squirt of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top. It made something so simple seem a bit fancier, and I felt less guilty for serving up something so ridiculously effortless. So if you’re looking for a quick dessert for one or two people, this is about as quick (and easy) as you can get.

5 Minute Cake

4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp chocolate chips (optional)

1.       In a mug, mix flour, sugar and cocoa.
2.       Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix until combined, but be careful not to over mix.
3.       Fold in chocolate chips if using.
4.       Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Cake will rise over the mug – wait until it stops rising and sets in the mug before removing.
5.       Top with ice cream, whipped cream – whatever you want!

Makes 1 mug cake – can serve 2 if you feel generous and want to share.

McDonald’s Buttermilk Biscuit with Sausage

When I was younger and woke up ridiculously early on weekends (oh, to have that kind of energy again), sometimes dad would let mom sleep in and he would take me for a drive and we’d end up at McDonald’s for breakfast. I always insisted on getting the Big Breakfast, even though I never finished half of it, and he’d have to help me finish it off. Hrm. Maybe that was his justification for eating a breakfast and a half. I would totally do that if I had children. Then I could eat more without feeling guilty, because I was helping. And I'm super helpful, you know. Anyways, thanks for walking down memory lane with me; I’m glad we had this bonding moment.

It’s no wonder I’ve always had a soft spot for breakfast at McDonald’s since I associate it with my carefree childhood days. The other thing that I like about their breakfast is that the majority of the items are still available – the things I used to eat 20 years ago, are still on the menu today. There are of course, new options, but the main things, and the memories that go with them, are still there. It’s a throwback to nostalgia and in an age where so many companies are constantly trying to change things, I appreciate the sentiment. 

That being said, this review is for one of the new options being offered – the Buttermilk Biscuit with Sausage. We tried this during the initial launch when McDonald’s was giving them away for free, and I reviewed the Buttermilk Biscuit with Bacon here

When we ordered this sandwich, we were told we had to wait a few minutes because they were just cooking up a new batch. I love when this happens because it makes such a difference to get a hot, fresh meal vs. a premade sandwich that’s been sitting under the heat lamp. I was more than happy to wait.
Before the wrapper was opened, I did notice that this sandwich was greasier than its bacon counterpart. The wrapper was actually sticking in some parts because of the wetness...just something to note if you’re deciding which one you want to have.
The biscuit is larger than an english muffin, and toasted to a golden brown. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that it looks shiny on the top – whether it is from butter in the biscuit or the grease from the sausage, I couldn’t be sure, but it was an oily texture. The biscuit itself was flaky and tasted rich like butter, and added a nice flavour to the sandwich. Directly under the biscuit top was a thick layer of soft and fluffy eggs, followed by a piping hot sausage patty. The sausage was juicy, but very greasy, and actually dripped off the sandwich when I held it upright and facing down. (Ick.) The cheese melted to the sandwich really well because of the fresh sausage patty sealing it in with the heat, but as I said about the bacon biscuit, it didn’t add much flavour either way, and I wouldn’t notice much if it wasn’t there. 

I liked this sandwich better than the bacon option because it was piping hot and freshly made, and the juiciness of the sausage patty gave the sandwich some good moisture. However, the grease from the sausage patty could have (and should have) been drained better so it wasn’t left on the biscuit. I did like the taste of it, and I would order it again, but next time I’ll order it without the cheese and hope that the sausage isn’t so greasy.

McDonald’s Buttermilk Biscuit with Bacon

Breakfast foods are some of my most favourite foods and I could eat them all day. There have been many nights when I will make breakfast for dinner because I love it so. What’s not to love, really? The simplicity of most breakfast foods makes it so convenient to throw a few ingredients together and before you know it your whole kitchen is filled with comforting, delicious smells. 

Of course I’m horrible at actually eating breakfast when you’re supposed to, because I would much rather hit my snooze button for those extra few minutes of sleep instead of getting up early enough to eat something before I start my day. Weekends are a different story though, and I like to put some effort into making a proper meal to enjoy while leisurely reading the paper. 

For people like me who don’t wake up in time to make breakfast, lots of fast food places are open early with breakfast offerings for a quick pick up. McDonald’s has been serving breakfast for as long as I can remember, and recently added buttermilk biscuits to their menu – which was fully launched through a giveaway campaign earlier this month. For two days, you could walk into a McDonald’s during breakfast hours and you could get a buttermilk biscuit with sausage or bacon for free. As much as I love the idea (because who can resist a deal that good?), just think of how many biscuits they must have given away. 

We thought it would be busy with a huge line of people like us who were looking to grab a cheap breakfast, but the location we went to only had one person in front of us and we were able to get in and out in a flash. We tried both the bacon and the sausage option (which I’ll talk about in a separate post) and were optimistic because they smelled so good.
A certain place in particular that I’m thinking of has been offering biscuits for breakfast for the past while, and I never really liked them, so I was a little wary that these would be disappointing. However, after opening the wrapper and looking at the sandwich, I immediately noticed that this was larger and hotter than any of the breakfast biscuits I’ve had from other places. This was already off to a good start.
Normally, I would order my breakfast sandwiches without the cheese because I never really liked the taste of processed cheese on my food. But for the purpose of this review I ordered it straight off the menu to see what it was like. Upon first inspection, the biscuit was larger than I expected it to be. It was about the size of an english muffin, but thicker. The top was golden brown, and there was a generous layer of eggs, followed by three small strips of bacon (think one bacon strip cut in half) and then a piece of cheese. The biscuit was flaky and buttery, which is a very good thing for a biscuit, but the top was a little crispy from being toasted a little too long. The eggs were soft and fluffy, but the bacon reminded me of the microwave bacon strips you can get at the grocery store, and were a little chewy. The cheese actually didn’t add much flavour or creaminess to the sandwich to be honest, and I don’t think it would have made much difference if it was there or not.   

When finished, I found it to be a lot more filling and satisfying than the english muffin option – I’m thinking because it was slightly bigger, but it was also breadier. It tastes rich from the buttery flavour of the biscuit, and the boyfriend and I both agreed that one was plenty for each of us (whereas he could probably eat two of the english muffin sandwiches). Overall, I liked it enough to say I would order it again. The bacon wasn’t my favourite, but I would generally be more inclined to get a sausage option anyway. The biscuit itself is pretty good – if I could ask them to toast it a little less the next time I ordered it, I think I would like it a lot better. Either way, it still tastes much better than other biscuit breakfast sandwiches currently offered at other establishments.

Baton Rouge

Recently, the boyfriend and I had tickets to a show and had under an hour to find something quick and delicious to eat. Just outside the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts, we came across Baton Rouge and popped in hoping that we could find a good meal in a very short period of time. After confirming with the hostess that it wouldn’t be a problem (they get asked all the time from people who have tickets to shows if they can accommodate a quick meal), we sat in a big booth in the bar area. 

The restaurant itself is decorated in dark wood everywhere. The entrance doors are large and heavy, and the hostess stand was large and imposing. Everything seemed to be much more oversized than I’m used to, and I felt small in our booth.

There is a promotion on at the moment that is the Mardi Gras Prix Fixe Menu – for $25 you can have your choice of appetizer, entree and dessert, all in the Mardi Gras theme. Both of us opted for the fixed menu since it sounded like the best bang for our buck.

We both started with the Jambalaya Cajun Soup, which came with a side order of sweet rolls. The rolls were rock hard and as cold as if they were just pulled from the refrigerator. Such a shame too, since they actually would have been tasty if they were warmed up, with buttery, sweet dough. The soup was steaming hot and hearty, with rice, sausage, shrimp, chicken and plenty of vegetables. The flavour was amazing from all the different ingredients with the tiniest hint of pepper. It was a good way to warm up after walking in the cold.
The Penne with Shrimp and Sausage was a huge portion of pasta with a side of another sweet roll. This roll was room temperature, so it was a bit better than our soup accompaniment. There were large pieces of sausage that reminded me of the sausage the hot dog cart by my work sells, and a couple of big, meaty shrimps. There were large pieces of carrot in the sauce, which is strange, since I don’t think I have ever had pasta with carrots before, but it surprisingly suited the dish pretty well. The sauce had large chunks of tomato but it was runny and there was too much of it. 
BBQ Pork Back Ribs came with a large scoop of coleslaw, sweet potato fries and a Cajun dipping sauce. The ribs were tender and fell off the bones, but what I liked the most about them was that they were so lean. There was hardly any fat on them, and they were extremely meaty. The fries were hot and crispy, but the dipping sauce tasted like mayonnaise with seasoning salt. I much preferred the fries dipped in the BBQ sauce off the ribs. Finally, the coleslaw, though plentiful, needed more dressing and less parsley. All I could taste with each bite was parsley, and I only ended up eating a couple of forkfuls.
There were only two choices for dessert, and we chose one of each to be able to try them both. The Key Lime Pie was a disappointment for me, but the boyfriend said he didn’t mind it so much. My biggest complaint was that it wasn’t very lime-y. It tasted more like a cheesecake with a slight hint of lime. When I order key lime pie, I want the lime to be the featured flavour (I want it to punch me in the face when I bite into it, was how I explained it to the boyfriend) but this lime was pretty muted. Not to say that the pie wasn’t good, because it was very creamy and smooth and not overly sweet, but the lime was too subtle for me to consider it a true key lime pie.
Finally, the Bourbon Banana Bread was interesting and not at all how I thought it would be. The bottom layer was banana bread and the top layer was bread pudding, and the whole piece was drizzled with a thin caramel sauce of sorts. I was expecting it to be typical bread pudding with banana flavour? Not to say that it wasn’t good, because it was moist and sweet, but it just wasn’t what we were expecting. It was ok, but it was different.
We ended up making it to our show with a few minutes to spare, so we really appreciated the staff for making our order quickly and getting us out on time. I have to commend them because at no point did we feel rushed, or that we were being bothersome because they had to hurry with our order, and it still felt like we had a relaxing meal. Though not a perfect experience, you can’t beat the price, and I would give it another try. The Mardi Gras features run until March.

Baton Rouge Restaurant on Restaurantica
Baton Rouge Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Baton Rouge
5000 Yonge St., Toronto

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie and Grill

There aren’t enough holidays where we can eat turkey in my opinion. The stretch between Christmas and Easter (do people eat turkey at Easter?) is too long, and we should start eating turkey for lesser celebrated holidays, like Valentine’s Day o r St. Patrick’s. I’m sure the turkeys would appreciate not being a two or three time a year food, and then we get turkey every month! Who’s with me? Turkey lovers unite! 

... hello? 

Ok. So while I wait for the movement to really catch on and take flight, I will take comfort in turkey’s little brother, the roast chicken. See, this is why I can’t possibly be the only person who wants turkey all the time, because any time I try to go to Swiss Chalet when the chicken craving hits, there’s always a line up to wait for a table, and it’s always ridiculously busy...which was exactly the case the last time we went to the Appleby Line location in Burlington.  The restaurant has a take-out counter, and it’s attached to a Harvey’s in a strip mall plaza, so the parking is always really sparse. We were lucky and just as we were pulling into the parking lot, a car was leaving and we got a great spot by the door. (Doesn’t that just make your day? I love when that happens.) 

We sat on the bench in the lobby and waited for a good 15 minutes or so before we finally got a table. The restaurant was completely full, and there were servers running back and forth in every direction. We were lucky to get a booth in the back corner and took a few minutes to look over the menu and take in our surroundings. The restaurant itself is warm and cozy with dim, but not dark, lighting and neutral colours. There are a lot of tables and booths and if it’s busy, you can certainly hear the conversations at the table next to you because they’re so close. 

Our server was attentive even though his section was completely full, and I was impressed with his efficiency. (Side note: he looked like Alan Rickman, and it made me want to ask him what Hogwarts was really like in person.) He brought us our drinks and took our order without making us feel rushed even though we had questions about a few of the items. Overall, I was very impressed with the service we received. 

We started with the Cheese Perogies ($6) which were seven deep fried potato and cheese filled dumplings. They were sprinkled with paprika, which did nothing to help the fact that they were bland and disappointing. The dough was too thick and the filling tasted like plain mashed potatoes. The menu stated it was served with Cajun sauce, but it tasted and looked like sour cream mixed with paprika. I would take a pass on these if I was looking for an appetizer again. 
There is a special on right now called the Winter Warm Up ($14) which is a half chicken dinner with a soup.  The soup is comfort food to the max, with its large chunks of chicken, soft pasta and vegetables. The broth is well seasoned and it’s the kind of chicken soup that puts canned soup to shame. The roast chicken was juicy and flavourful and fell off of the bone. As a side, the restaurant was offering spicy fries, which we decided to try upon the recommendation of the server. I think they were confusing spicy with salty, because these were the saltiest fries we had ever tasted. If you look at the picture you can see the flecks of seasoning on the fries – that was pure salt. It was so salty we actually couldn’t eat it and had to send it back for regular fries. The server was apologetic that he had recommended them, but was more than happy to bring us fresh, hot, regular fries.
The other promotion on right now is the Chicken and Shrimp ($12) combo which is a quarter chicken with five garlic shrimp and rice pilaf. The shrimp were described as sautéed with garlic, tomatoes and green onion but there were neither tomatoes nor green onions on my plate. There was a slight hint of garlic, but it was all overwhelmed by the oil from the rice pilaf and the shrimp. My shrimp and rice were literally shiny due to the amount of oil used, and that made it hard to eat. The chicken was as delicious as the chicken in the other dish, and I enjoyed it very much.
Swiss Chalet is a good restaurant to go to if you are looking for comfort food at reasonable prices. The service is generally good from what I have experienced, and the wait time for food is average. The specials they offer seem to be hit or miss, but if you stick with the classics, they are generally your safest and most delicious bets.

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill on Urbanspoon
Swiss Chalet Rotisserie and Grill
1950 Appleby Line, Burlington


Montana's Cookhouse

The area surrounding my office has a lot of restaurants to choose from when you’re looking for lunch or somewhere to eat while you wait for traffic to die down at the end of the day. There are a lot of restaurants that serve the same kind of food, which is probably why I tend to forget that Montana’s is literally up the street, even though I drive by it every single day I go into the office. I just never think of it because there are so many options that we tend to go to that have pretty much the same thing. This one evening though, someone mentioned that Montana’s had donuts that were exactly like Tiny Tim’s (oh, summers at the CNE, how I have fond memories of you!) and I needed to try them to reminisce about summer during this frigid winter.

A group of us went for dinner one night after work and although it was prime dinner time, the dining room didn’t seem very full. The decor is a mixture between wood cabin and Texas cottage – complete with moose head on the wall. We were seated at a booth with a long, wide table and ordered our drinks. Speaking of tables, I hate narrow tables in a restaurant. I don’t know why restaurants insist on having narrow tables and really large serving plates. It’s cramped and I have to play Tetris with plates and cups and whatever else is on the table, just so I can eat. It annoys me to no end. There. I said it. It’s tough love, I know, but someone had to say something!  Thankfully, Montana’s didn’t have this problem and the four of us sat comfortably with our dishes.

Feeling nibbly rather than hungry for an actual meal, I split an order of 16 medium wings ($17.99) with one of my companions, with a side of French Fries ($4.99) and Cornbread ($0.79). The wings were tossed in a light breading and deep fried, then tossed in a generous amount of sauce. The meat was tender and moist and very hot in temperature, so they tasted fresh from the fryer. The sauce reminded me of bottled barbeque sauce with a bit of ground black pepper. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was very mild and a little sweet for my taste. The French fries were crispy and salty, but overpriced for the portion size. Lastly, the cornbread was a mini loaf that was unfortunately stale and cold, so it came to the table dry and hard. This made me so very sad because I love cornbread. :(
The Caesar Salad ($7.99) was a large portion that had shaved cheese, fresh bacon crumbles and crispy garlic croutons. Though generous in size, they kitchen was overzealous with the dressing and it was an extremely soggy salad. Not to generalize, but I find that salads in most restaurants are overdressed for my taste, so I always ask for the salad to be lightly dressed or have the dressing on the side. Lightly dressed usually comes out how I would normally dress a salad anyway, so it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything (and think of the calories that are being saved)!
Sweet potato fries ($5.99) came out in a measuring cup lined with paper with a garlic aioli dipping sauce. Though the presentation was creative and seemed like a decent sized order, upon further inspection we noticed that the fries sat high up in the cup and there weren’t really that many. They were hot and crispy, but were no different than buying a bag of frozen ones from the grocery store. The dipping sauce was creamy and full of garlic, which went well with the sweetness of the fries.
Lastly, the Cheeseburger & sweet potato fries ($11.99) rounded out everyone’s meals. The fries again, were crispy and hot, but no different than the frozen ones you can get at the grocery store. The burger was fully dressed on a poppy-seed bun that was not toasted and a little dry. The patty itself was overcooked, so it too was dry with a slight burnt taste to the edges. The cheese was nicely melted, and helped to mask the burnt taste a bit. Overall, it was a very disappointing dish.
Finally, the Shake ‘N Share Mini Donuts ($4.99) were brought to the table in a sort of mini-production. The server set the plate on the table and held a paper bag with the donuts in them, then put the sugar into the bag and gave it a shake before dumping the donuts onto the plate. There were eight donuts in the order, each piping hot and coated in icing sugar. The dough was light and airy, and the sweetness of the sugar complemented the dough nicely. It was served with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces, but we all found that they tasted best without the sauces. It was too thick and cold, which made the dipping difficult without getting icing sugar everywhere. The donuts were absolutely the highlight of the meal, and I would recommend them if you are stopping by.
Overall, there are a lot of restaurants that offer the same kind of food as Montana’s in the area that I like a lot better. Aside from the donuts, I’m not sure there is anything that we tried in this outing that really made it stand apart from the crowd of competitors. I would probably go back if a group of people wanted to go and it was their choice, but I don’t think I’d be back on my own accord.

So...we went for lunch. It was close to the office, we were driving around, and they have a "15 Minutes or it's Free" policy if you order off the lunch menu. The choices were fairly standard with mostly sandwiches and wraps with a side dish and pickle spear.

The Chipotle Chicken Sandwich ($10.99) was a breaded chicken breast tossed in their wing sauce and placed on a toasted kaiser with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. The chicken was tender with a crispy coating, and the sauce as mentioned above, was pretty standard. The bun was fresh and the toasting added a nice crisp. The fries were cold and needed salt.
The BBQ Peameal Bacon Sandwich ($8.99) was grilled pemeal coated in bbq sauce and topped with melted Colby cheese (is it just me or does that look like cheddar?). The kaiser was not toasted but had thick cut tomato slices and a leaf of lettuce. The peameal was dry but the bbq sauce helped moisten the sandwich. The cheese flavour was lost in the overwhelming bbq sauce, which is a shame because I really like Colby cheese...or maybe it was to mask the fact that it was cheddar. I'm still not convinced it's Colby. The sweet potato fries were the same as the review above.
The service was quick and friendly and our food came out in short order. If you're looking for a quick lunch that isn't anything fancy or exotic, this is probably one of the quickest sit-down restaurants in the area you can go to - we were in and out in about half an hour.

Montana's Cookhouse Saloon on Restaurantica
Montana's - Oakville on Urbanspoon
Montana’s Cookhouse
2530 Hyde Park Gate, Oakville

Snug Harbour

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of winter. Cold weather and me aren’t good friends, and don’t even get me started on the amount of snow that we’ve gotten this year. It makes me want to join my cousin in Australia right now, who is going through a pretty stifling heat-wave. Not to say that I particularly enjoy hot, humid weather (I think I like it less than the cold) but for one day, I’d like to not be chattering all day. I’m not even sure I remember what my fingers feel like anymore – and I always wear my mittens.

One of the good things about the winter months is that a lot of restaurants have promotions on to lure customers in from the cold. Case in point: Snug Harbour in Port Credit is offering half price entrees from Sunday to Thursday after 5:00 p.m. until the end of February. Not one to pass up a good bargain, I convinced the boyfriend to go after work one night for dinner.

Driving along Lakeshore, you can see the restaurant sitting at the edge of the pier overlooking the lake. During daylight hours, and especially during the summer, you have a pretty view of the water from the dining room or the extensive patio. The inside decor is dated, with a strong nautical theme throughout. Dim lighting and sparse furniture make for a fairly simple dining area.

On this particular night, the restaurant did not seem overly busy as we saw a few empty tables around us, but we were given a vibrating disc and were asked to wait a few minutes for our table. We sat near the hostess stand and waited as we saw table after table leave, until our buzzer went off and we were shown to a small table along the wall. As we sat and looked over the menu, we saw multiple servers walk by but it was a good twenty to twenty-five minutes before a server came by and told us she would be right with us. Since the restaurant did not look extremely busy (there were a couple of empty tables near us) and there had to have been half a dozen servers, I was pretty irritated. Thankfully, once we were acknowledged, the service improved tremendously and we were well tended to the rest of the evening.

It was explained to us that the half price deal only applied to the Pizzas, Seafood entrees and the Grill entrees, but that there was no limit to how many dishes we wanted to order. Considering the prices for some of the appetizers cost more than the cost of the half price dishes, we opted to share a Smoked Salmon pizza ($17 regular price) as our starter. Again, after waiting what felt like an unordinary amount of time for our appetizer, the pizza was finally brought to us. Six slices of thin crust (whole wheat maybe?) dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella, smoked salmon and artichoke were brought piping hot to the table. The dough had a crisp crust but a soft middle, so soft actually that it was easier to eat the slices with a knife and fork to prevent it from flopping around. The sauce was forgettable and tasted like a basic tomato sauce without much flavour, so that was disappointing. The star of the pizza was the thick slices of hot smoked salmon that was flaky and full of smoke flavour. I don’t tend to like smoked salmon because I find it too salty, but this smoked salmon was perfectly prepared, and coupled with the artichokes it gave it a creamy, earthy taste, that toned down the saltiness significantly. It made for a great start to the meal. 
We ordered a bottle of Beringer zinfandel from California ($33) which has now turned into my favourite zinfandel and we actually found it at the LCBO for $9.95 on another trip. (Which just goes to show the mark-up for alcohol in a restaurant is pretty ridiculous.) The wine itself is light and refreshing with a perfect amount of sweetness. I can see many summer nights in my future with this wine.
For a main dish, the boyfriend ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese ($21 regular price) which came out in a deep baking dish with two slices of garlic bread on the side. The garlic bread was generously buttered, but the bread was chewy which led me to believe that it was not the freshest loaf. The other downside was that the char from the grill was too much and it made the whole piece taste burnt. We opted to not eat the bread and focused solely on the pasta, and we were extremely pleased with our choice. There were large chunks of tender, sweet lobster meat and a generous portion of cheese-laden macaroni. The dish was creamy without being greasy and the top layer had a nice crisp layer from being baked in the oven. The pasta was served piping hot which delayed the cheese from congealing and hardening in the dish. Overall, a fantastic dish that was both delicious and so generous in size we almost couldn’t finish it (almost).
Lastly, I ordered the Seafood Trio ($24 regular price) from the Daily Feature menu with steamed vegetables as the side. The vegetables, if ordered from the menu, are tossed in oil and lightly pan-fried. I asked for them to be steamed, which is not a regular listed item, but the kitchen was happy to oblige. Big broccoli florets and baby carrots were perfectly steamed with just the right amount of crisp. The first item in the trio was the Pineapple Curry Mussels, of which there were three. The mussels were sweet and plump, with a piece of pineapple on each shell. The sauce was so mild that we couldn’t taste the curry at all, and it just tasted like steamed mussels. There were two Blackened Shrimp which were sweet and meaty with a delicious Cajun seasoning. Lastly, a filet of Blackened Salmon was perfectly grilled with a crispy outer layer and a flaky inside. The dish was rounded out with a large wedge of roasted acorn squash and corn salsa. The squash was sweet and soft, but the salsa was nothing special. The cool, sweet salsa did however make a nice accompaniment to the saltiness of the Cajun seasoning off the shrimp and salmon.
If you are looking for good seafood for reasonable prices, I highly suggest going to Snug Harbour during this promotion. Though there were a few hiccups, this has probably been one of my favourite outings in recent memory when comparing value for quality/quantity of food. At these prices, I think I need to be more convincing so we can go back a couple more times before the end of the month.

Snug Harbour Seafood Bar And Grill on Restaurantica
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Snug Harbour
14 Stavebank Rd. S., Port Credit

Lorne Park Bar & Indian Cuisine

Indian food is one of my favourite cuisines because of all the different flavours and smells that come from the variety of dishes. There is nothing quite like a hot curry on a cold day with fluffy rice or soft, chewy naan to instantly warm your belly.

Friends of ours recently moved into the Clarkson/Lorne Park area of Mississauga and we stopped by for dinner and a visit. We ordered take out from Lorne Park Bar & Indian Cuisine and decided that we would all get the butter chicken with sides of rice and naan. The order came with your choice of rice, naan or tandoori roti, but we wanted extra to soak up the sauce. 

For starters, my friends had the Vegetarian Samosa ($1 each) which is a pastry pocket stuffed with diced potatoes and peas. I found the pastry to be thick, which caused it to not be flaky as the description suggested, but the filling was plentiful and well seasoned. For the price, I would recommend this as a great starter to whet the appetite.
I chose to have the Non-Vegetarian Samosa ($1 each) which is the same pastry shell stuffed with seasoned minced beef. Again, the pastry was not flaky due to the thickness of it, and unfortunately I did not find the stuffing enjoyable. The texture of the meat was strange and reminded me almost of a pate because it was minced so fine. I kept picturing myself eating cat food each time I bit into it, and trust me, that is not an image you want to have when you’re trying to eat. Texture aside, the seasoning was similar to the potato stuffing in the vegetarian samosa and was quite flavourful. Though deep fried, I found both samosas to be crispy but not greasy, which is always a good thing.  
The naan ($2.50) and the garlic naan ($3) were fresh and delicious. Each order came with 2 half moon pieces wrapped in foil to keep in the warmth. The garlic naan was brushed with a generous amount of oil, diced garlic and parsley without causing the naan to be greasy. The garlic smell was intoxicatingly overwhelming when I opened the foil, but the parsley seemed unnecessary since I wasn’t able to taste it at all. The naan itself – both garlic and regular – was soft and chewy with crispy edges. It was not a thick naan, but it was strong enough to not be flimsy when dipped in the sauce.
The rice ($4) was ok, but not my favourite. There were bits of shredded carrot and seemed to have been cooked with some sort of oil because it had a greasy taste to it. The rice grains were fluffy and soft, but I couldn’t get over the greasiness of it and definitely preferred the naan instead.
The butter chicken ($12) came with plenty of sauce and between five and six large chunks of chicken about an inch or so in length and width. The meat was tender and full of flavour, having been cooked in the sauce. The sauce was mild and creamy, but too sweet for my taste. I generally like a butter chicken sauce to not have the sweetness, but I think it depends on the chef whether you get sweet or not. This one is definitely one of the sweeter butter chicken sauces I have tried, and it wasn’t my favourite.
Overall, I would give this place another try because I think the food has potential. Maybe I won’t order the same thing as I did this time, but the menu seems vast enough that several other items jumped out at me that I would love to have a taste. 

Lorne Park Bar & Grill on Restaurantica
Lorne Park Bar & Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Lorne Park Bar & Indian Cuisine
1603 Clarkson Rd. N., Mississauga