Thai Senses

This is one of the restaurants that have been on my wish list to try for the longest time; mainly because friends in the area have sworn up and down that this is the place to go for Thai in the Halton region. We were out for a drive one afternoon along the lakeshore and decided to stop in on a whim to see what all the hype was about.

Situated right at the corner of Bronte and Lakeshore, Thai Senses is one of the bigger units in a plaza that faces Lakeshore, so it’s pretty easy to find. I’m not sure if there is a dedicated parking lot for the restaurant, but we found street parking without a problem.

Walking in, the restaurant is decorated with Thai-themed paintings and wall hangings, and there are tables set up in various corners with trinkets for sale: anything from jewellery to chopsticks. Although colourful and interesting to look at, I found it somewhat disruptive to have people lingering over the merchandise close to my table while I was eating. Perhaps if the restaurant centralized its wares into one area away from the dining patrons, it would be a better set-up.

The menu is extensive; and bound into a fairly thick book. We took our time looking through the various options and our server was helpful in answering any questions we had. Deciding to splurge a bit, we decided on two appetizers, two main dishes and a dessert – and we were more than stuffed afterwards.

The Roll Platter ($4.95) came first and consisted of a vegetarian cold roll that was packed with fresh vegetables and tofu, a vegetarian spring roll that had glass noodles, mushrooms and cabbage, and a shrimp roll. I admit I wasn’t blown away by the platter in terms of taste, but the cold roll was cold and fresh, and the hot items were steaming hot.
Mung Bean Noodle Spicy Salad ($9.95) we ordered purely because we had no idea what it was but it sounded interesting. Clear bean noodles are topped with a generous portion of chicken, calamari and shrimp (there were only two in the salad, but they were large) and then tossed with a spicy fish sauce. I liked this dish because of all the different textures and the freshness of it all. The bean noodles are very light – much lighter than a normal glass noodle, so the dish wasn’t as filling as you might think. The flavour was also light and could have used more sauce, but the spice level was impressive considering it was a salad.
I can’t go to a Thai restaurant without trying their Pad Thai ($11.95) and again, I was impressed at the amount of chicken and shrimp that came with the dish. The dish itself was cooked perfectly, the noodles were not overdone and there was no mushiness to be seen at all. The flavour leaned towards the sweet side with a healthy dash of tamarind to give it a tart taste. There were plenty of peanuts that came with the dish, and the crunchiness of the nuts added a nice texture to it all.
Ginger Beef ($10.95) was one of the best ginger beefs I have ever tried. Swimming in a sea of three kinds of mushrooms and vegetables, the beef was extremely tender and melted in my mouth. The ginger was generous and julienned into the dish, giving it an extra little spice with every bite. Though found under the “stir fry” section of the menu, the dish itself tasted light and not overly greasy. 
To soak up the sauce from the beef, we ordered a single portion of Coconut Rice ($2.50) which was incredibly fragrant and fluffy. The creaminess of the coconut milk is absorbed into the grains of rice and made a perfect accompaniment to our dishes.
Lastly, for dessert we ordered Sticky Rice with Ice Cream ($6.95) which was a mound of sticky rice covered in coconut milk, topped with sesame seeds and cashews. We had a choice of ice cream and decided to stay with the coconut theme and asked for a scoop of coconut. Oh my goodness. If I could eat this all day, I absolutely would. Such simple individual elements come together in a fantastic combination of texture and flavour. The sticky rice was sweet with the creamy coconut milk that lent a touch of saltiness. The ice cream was creamy, coconut-y and made the whole dessert complete. So so good.
Overall, Thai Senses was good and we would come back again. The portions are generous, the ingredients are fresh and they know how to cook things properly. Service is attentive without being disruptive, and there are some amazing dishes to be had here.

One of the daily group buy sites has a deal on for Thai Senses until the end of today: $5 for $15 worth of food. If you’ve been meaning to try it, this would be a good chance to get some good eats at a good price. I bought a couple myself; anything to give me an excuse for more of that dessert. If you’re interested, here’s the link to the deal – expiring in 11 hours!

Thai Senses on Urbanspoon
Thai Senses
2450 Lakeshore Rd. W, Oakville

Neurotic Nibbler News

Hooray for alliteration!

A few things have been going on behind the Neurotic Nibbler scenes - number one being I finally got an email address for the blog. Now, if you have suggestions for a review, or if you're a restaurant that wants to be reviewed, you can submit your requests to:

Secondly, and even more exciting, I now have business cards for the blog...and they are amazing, if I do say so myself! This way, when I leave a restaurant, I can drop my card off with the bill and the restaurant can visit the blog to see what I thought. Want to see what they look like? They're super cute!
Thank you so much to Melissa from iDesign for designing and printing off these beauties - and having to deal with my "I don't know what I" indecisiveness. Highly recommend working with Melissa if you need any design work!

So! If you're a restaurant, be on the lookout for my card. You never know when you might be nibbled!

New York Fries - Poutinerie

My very first request post (Hi, chilliwacklegend!) and I’m all too happy to oblige! Not sure if you’ve heard the ridiculously crazy/awesome radio ads for NYF’s poutinerie items, but they are pretty awesome. I mean, they got Gordon Pinsent to talk about denim-wearing kittens and unicorns – these poutines must be amazing, right? Besides, I like poutine, I like butter chicken, there really wasn’t much room for error...or was there?

Now, there are two camps of people out there – those who love the fries at NYF, and those who don’t. I fall into the in-between group, where I don’t mind them, but I don’t crave them like I crave fries from other places. I find them too...potato-y (and yes, I realise they are potatoes, but they’re too potato-y, and I’m sticking to it.) That being said, I like the rustic taste of them with the bits of peel still on, and the fact that they’re generally not greasy. Consider me the Switzerland of NYF if you will, neutral on all accounts (except for the gravy. I would bathe in their gravy.)

NYF Poutineries are select locations that have “special” poutine flavours in addition to the regular menu items: Braised Beef and Butter Chicken. The boyfriend and I purchased a small size of each while we were at Burlington Mall one day, and for just under $14 we had them both in our grubby little hands, ready to enjoy.
Butter Chicken (on the left) consists of the butter chicken sauce (chicken, tomato paste, cream, onions) and cheese curds over a bed of crispy, hot fries. The fries on this day were delicious. Crispy, hot and plentiful, they really filled the cup to capacity. There were curds, but they were drowned out by the sauce, so it was almost as though they weren’t there. The butter chicken sauce had potential, but I found it to be lacklustre in seasonings and heavy on the cream. The chicken in the pictures show large chunks that are bigger than the cheese curds, but the chicken was very minimal in our bowl, and was more shredded than cubed. That being said, the meat was tender when we could find it. Overall, it didn’t blow me away as I had hoped, but it wasn’t bad. Just needs a bit more seasoning and chicken.

Braised Beef (on the right) is described as “slow-cooked Angus beef, carrots, onions and mushrooms in a red wine sauce over real Quebec cheese curd and fresh cut fries.” Again, the fries were delicious and the cheese was minimal, but the braised beef and sauce was...interesting. The boyfriend liked this one better of the two, but I likened it to beef stew with a wine aftertaste. The beef was tender and the carrots and mushrooms were soft (not mushy), but the sauce just didn’t do it for me. I think it would have tasted a lot better if there was a stronger beef flavour to the sauce, rather than the sweetness of the wine.

New York Fries has a fantastic idea with the introduction of the poutinerie flavours, but the execution needs a little bit of tweaking to knock it out of the park. Off the top of my head, I would love to see a teriyaki chicken or meatballs in tomato sauce for something different.  Pulled pork with sweet bbq sauce and cheese curds would make my day. For now though, I’m going to stick to the tried and true classic poutine with extra gravy.

Recipe - Cheesy Potato Soup

I am not a soup person. Well, let me clarify that. I am a lover of noodle soups (which is very big in the Vietnamese culture), but I am not generally a fan of soupy soups. You know, the kinds you find in cans in the grocery stores...not my thing. I want body and texture to my soups, not the watery bleh-ness that makes me think I’m eating a bowl of savoury tea.

That being said, the boyfriend loves soup. He could eat soup morning, noon and night and be happy as a clam. I think I found a solution to the great soup divide, and it all came about because I had a bunch of potatoes and carrots that needed to be used, and used in mass quantities. This soup has the substance I need with its chunks of vegetables and potatoes, as well as the warm comfort that the boyfriend likes from a hearty bowl of old fashioned soup. I like the simplicity of this recipe that yields such a deep flavour, from hardly any work at all. In fact, the basic ingredients when combined in this bowl of awesome, all lend such distinct flavours that it tastes much more complicated than it really is. Just be prepared for a lot of chopping (I hate chopping).
 Cheesy Potato Soup

2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 6 large)
4 Cups, chicken broth (low sodium)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 Cups, milk
2 Cups, grated cheddar cheese + more for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional: chilli powder and garlic powder

1.       Heat oil in large soup pot and cook onions and carrots until softened.
2.       Add potato and chicken stock (should be enough stock to cover everything, if not, add more or water).
3.       Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, approx. 20-25 minutes.
4.       In separate pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add flour to form a roux, whisking to combine. Cook for about a minute.
5.       Add milk to roux slowly, whisking constantly to smooth out any lumps. Continue to heat while whisking until mixture thickens, approx. 5 minutes. (If mixture does not thicken, add a bit more flour).
6.       Once it reaches the desired thickness, remove from heat and stir in grated cheese until creamy and smooth.
7.       When potatoes are tender, pour the cheese mixture into the soup pot, stirring well to combine. Heat to simmer and cook until thickened. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. (For an extra kick, add chilli powder).
8.       Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top and serve with crusty bread.

Makes 6 large servings. Freezes well.

Wild Wing - Oakville

A while back, a few of us decided to go to Wild Wing in the AMC plaza close to our office for lunch. Wild Wing actually moved into a building that used to be an Irish pub that we had been to a few times before and always had a bad experience. We were optimistic that the bad luck from its predecessor would not rub off on its new inhabitant and we looked forward to an enjoyable meal. 

Walking into a Wild Wing is like walking into a saloon in a typical western movie. The tables, chairs, floor and bar are all wood and there are horseshoes and other cowboy paraphernalia all over the walls. Wild Wing also has pictures up of suggestive cowgirls with the names of the wing sauces as decoration. 

There were a few tables when our group of three walked in, and there was only one server working both the bar and the dining area, so our service was a little slow. We all ordered the lunch special of five wings and a side of fries for $6.49 and waited patiently for our meals.

After waiting nearly half an hour, our food arrived and at first glance, none of our orders looked appetizing. The wings were haphazardly tossed (two of our three orders, it looked like it was just poured on top, not even tossed) in sauces and our sides were cold as though they had been sitting out for hours.

Spicy BBQ was listed as bbq and hot sauces, but it tasted no different than the sauce you can buy in the grocery store. There was hardly any heat, and I would classify it as a medium on a generous day. The wings themselves were large in size with little breading, but they were soggy and lukewarm. The upgraded sweet potato fries were cold and stale.
Sweet Escape is honey garlic and gar par (their signature sauce of Caesar and parmesan) and it was a huge disappointment. Aesthetically speaking, this did not make any of us want to eat the wings. It looks like a blob of white goo was poured on the wings with some canned parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The combination of Caesar and honey garlic did not taste good, and again, the food was cold.
Lastly, the Spicy Gar Par was no better than the rest. The same Caesar blob was on top of what was supposed to be hot wings, but I would consider them mild at best. To be different, this was with a side of the chips (which I’m told are no longer an option) that were actually the best part of all of our meals. They were crispy and not salty, which was as good as we were going to get at this point.
Halfway through our meal, our server came to check on us and we mentioned that the sweet potato fries were cold. She apologized and went to make us a fresh batch – this time, they were hot, but the majority of them were so burnt we barely ate them. Though the gesture was appreciated, new fries that are bad are still bad fries.

Sadly, we did not have an enjoyable meal this time around. The food was unappetizing and the service was super slow (it took us over an hour to get in and out). The only “wild” thing about this experience is if we decide to return.

Wild Wing on Urbanspoon
Wild Wing – Oakville
2051 Winston Park Dr., Oakville

Zellers Family Restaurant

I always associate “family restaurant” with breakfast. I know there are other options, and they’re usually open all day, but the majority of the time that I find myself at one, it’s for breakfast – or they have an all day breakfast menu, and I love breakfast foods, so I’m ordering breakfast anyway. So. To recap: family restaurant = breakfast. That’s the kind of math I like.

We were out shopping early one morning and decided to stop into the Zellers restaurant for some quick breakfast because I remembered that it used to be pretty inexpensive when I used to go years back. I also remember liking their grilled cheese a lot, but for this trip, I really felt like breakfast.

The decor is a minty green and chrome mixture, which makes it look like an old-school diner. There is a children’s play area in one corner, and a large bar with stools along the back wall facing the kitchen. It was a seat yourself situation, so we found a small table since all the booths were either occupied or hadn’t been cleared yet.

The service here is friendly and genuine. There were two servers helping out the whole restaurant, and though it was a bit of a wait for our food, she kept refilling our drinks and apologizing for the wait since they were so busy. I didn’t mind too much since she kept us from feeling neglected, and I appreciated that she kept checking on us.

Eggs Zenedict ($8.99) consisted of poached eggs on a toasted scone with peameal and hollandaise. The hollandaise was supposed to have been sun-dried tomato, but they were out and gave us regular hollandaise instead. The scone was dry, but had no distinct taste, which made us wish we had ordered the regular Eggs Benedict instead. The egg was poached perfectly, and the peameal was average, but the hollandaise was creamy and warm. The dish was served with crispy potatoes and a fruit salad that looked more grey than it should have been (we skipped the fruit).
Seafood Crab Cake ($7.99) was a crab cake topped with a poached egg on top of an english muffin and smothered in hollandaise. This was the more disappointing dish of the two, since the crab cake had such a strong “fishy” smell to it that it really didn’t make it appetizing at all. The bright side is the egg was again, poached to perfection, and the english muffin was chewy and warm. I ended up removing the crab cake and just eating the rest on its own. 
Sadly, this breakfast was disappointing on a few levels. The good part was the great service we received from the ladies that served our table. Next time, I’ll stick to the grilled cheese, please.

Zellers Family Restaurant
777 Guelph Ln. (Inside Burlington Mall), Burlington

Bombay Grill

Years ago, my sister went on a kick where we tried various local eateries based on reviews (see, they work!) just to see if we could expand our horizons a bit. I had found positive reviews for Bombay Grill and we decided to try it out; however, when we pulled up to the plaza it was in, it looked like a ghost town and we were concerned. We tried it anyways, and haven’t looked back since – dare I say, this has been my favourite Indian restaurant in Burlington since that fateful day? 

My sister was visiting and we decided to go to Bombay Grill for a late lunch one afternoon, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that there have been renovations to the interior since our last visit. There are booths lined up against the wall, and they have been busy painting the walls to freshen up the look. The tables are covered in deep red linen tablecloths and soft music play throughout the dimly lit dining room.

We started with the Papri Chat, a cold appetizer of crunchy wafers topped with chickpeas, potatoes, yogourt and tamarind. I love the crunch of the wafers and the softness of the potatoes and chickpeas and all the different flavours that are in this dish. It really is an explosion of texture and flavour with every bite – from the creamy tartness of the yogourt to the sweetness of the tamarind...I could eat this all day. Granted, it looks like a messy blob when it comes to the table, but the taste more than makes up for it.
Beef Curry consisted of large, tender cubes of beef simmered in a thick curry sauce and served in a little silver bowl. The meat itself was melt in your mouth delicious, and the sauce, though seasoned well, did not have an overpowering curry taste/smell. I liked it, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
My sister and I can’t go to an Indian restaurant without ordering Butter Chicken, and Bombay Grill does not disappoint with this dish.  Moist chicken pieces swim in a creamy tomato sauce with the slightest hint of sweetness. The creaminess isn’t so overpowering that you tire of the dish, and makes for an excellent sauce for soaking up the naan and rice.
Speaking of which, the naan here is fantastic. Chewy and warm with crisp edges and brushed with the slightest bit of oil, one portion was large enough for the two of us to share along with the rice. A large plate of fluffy rice accompanied the curry, and I appreciated that it wasn’t greasy but was very hot. 

Bombay Grill has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and the food tastes fresh and delicious. The service is attentive without being overbearing, and the prices are average for the quantity of food you receive. Tucked away in a retail plaza, it can get surprisingly busy around prime meal times, but it is definitely worth the wait. For Indian food in Burlington, I have always recommended Bombay Grill to people, and have never had anyone complain. Try it. You’ll see what I mean!

Bombay Grill on Urbanspoon
Bombay Grill
3480 Fairview St., Burlington

Johnny Rockets

I’ve always had a soft spot for diners and the nostalgia that they try to recreate through their decor and their menu offerings. Johnny Rockets is a good example of a restaurant that tries to bring out the theme of old fashioned malt shops with their jukeboxes and chrome/red interiors.

Though a little pricy compared to most hamburger restaurants, with their burgers averaging about $8 (no sides), they do offer some interesting choices aside from your standard burger. Plus, their staff will randomly burst into song, and that’s entertaining for anyone.

The boyfriend and I started with the Cheese Fries, which was pricy, but we split it between the two of us as a shared side with our burgers. When it came to the table, it wasn’t anything like I expected because the sauce on top was vaguely reminiscent of Cheez Whiz and looked almost plastic with its shiny coat.  For the price we were charged, I was expecting something that looked and tasted like authentic cheese; not the sauce that was poured on. The fries themselves were hot and crispy, but the cheese sauce was so unappetizing we didn’t even finish the small portion we received. 
The Patty Melt was my choice (grilled rye bread, you hooked me again) and it was a thick, juicy patty with a generous helping of grilled onions and cheese between two slices of crispy grilled rye bread. Though the sweetness of the onion complemented the creaminess of the cheese well, the meat was juicy but kind of bland. I found the burger to be pretty average, up until the point the filling began to seep through the bread, rendering it a soggy mess. If there was a way to prevent that from happening, this burger would have been better.
The Smoke House normally comes on a regular bun, but the boyfriend couldn’t resist the lure of the grilled rye bread either and asked for it on the rye instead. The burger itself consisted of bacon, onion rings and cheese, but what really made this burger better then a normal banquet burger was the bbq-ranch sauce. The sweetness of the bbq and the tanginess of the ranch tied all the ingredients together into a flavourful burger. The bacon was described as applewood smoked, but it tasted like normal bacon to me. Again, the bread got soggy by the end, so it turned a messy burger into an even messier burger.
Overall, the burgers here are good but not fantastic, and I would avoid the Cheese Fries if I came back here again. I just think for the price of the food, there are similar if not better places I can go and have a better meal. In my opinion, the best value for the meal was the nickel it cost to play a song on the jukebox.

Johnny Rockets on Urbanspoon
Johnny Rockets
100 City Centre Dr. (Inside Square One), Mississauga

The Black Bull

I’m on a wing kick these days, so much so that I crave them every day. Don’t ask me why now, but there’s just something about the crunchy, hot wing that makes my tummy grumble lately. 

The Black Bull has wings for 49 cents on Wednesday, so I just had to go and get my fill. It was also PubStumpers night, so people are playing trivia as you sit in the bar area. Interesting element to add to any bar experience I would say.

The bar itself is split into a front room and a back room (where the trivia was being held) and then another back room with a pool table as well. The decor is dated, but somehow it actually lends to the quaint atmosphere of a cozy, neighbourhood pub.

The wing special requires that you order each flavour in quantities of five, and some sort of beverage (not necessarily alcoholic if you aren’t inclined). We also ordered a small order of Coney Fries ($5.49) based on the server’s recommendation. The fries were hot and crispy, but the chilli, although hearty, was skimpy and left the bottom of the dish plain and kind of boring. Our server noticed that our fries looked kind of naked and brought out an order of gravy for us which I thought was a really nice thing to do.
The Black Bull Butter wings were a tobasco base with a hint of butter. Generally I’m not a fan of tobasco sauces (ie. Frank’s) because I find them sour and not hot. I prefer the hot sauces that have the slow heat that builds instead. I also wish that there was more butter tossed with the sauce because it really didn’t have a butter flavour at all.
Dry Cajun wings had a nice saltiness without it being unbearable, but again, there was very little heat to the spice. I do tend to lean towards dry spices because I like the wing to be extra crunchy, but this seemed too mild for my taste.
Honey Garlic was one of the top sauces in my opinion. The wings were sticky, gooey and still kept the crunch from the deep fryer. There was a perfect blend of honey and garlic so the wings weren’t too sweet.
Jerk was the other winner of the night with its well seasoned, well flavoured spices. Again, the wings were still crispy even though it was a wet sauce, and there was a perfect amount of heat to them. I was impressed with the depth of the flavour as I ate these.
Lastly, the Lemon Pepper dry rub was average. There was a good lemon taste to the wing, with the slightest hint of cracked pepper mixed in. The spice was so mild though, it was lost in each piece, and needed a bigger punch. And yes, those are remnants of chicken feathers you see in the picture.
The price of the wings can’t be beat (it always hurts my soul to pay $10+/pound of wings) and the atmosphere is cozy. They have karaoke on the weekends, and that’s always a hoot if you’re looking for something fun to do as well.  I come here when I want cheap, simple wings and friendly service, and judging from how busy it was when I was here, I’m not the only one who feels that way. 

The Black Bull on Restaurantica
The Black Bull on Urbanspoon
The Black Bull
1124 Guelph Line, Burlington