Julia's Ristorante

A while back I had written about an Italian place on Dundas, and how I found my experience there to be...disappointing to say the least. Julia is a restaurant on Lakeshore that is the creation of the same owner, and my experience at Julia was night and day.

Julia is a beautiful location on the corner of a block on Lakeshore with a large patio in the summer. I would describe the decor as elegant chic with eclectic light fixtures and art on the wall. The restaurant is dimly lit with candles on each table to give it a cozy feel. 

The menu is a bit more upscale with an Italian/Latin fusion, and there are some really interesting choices. Our server was incredibly patient with us and knew the menu inside-out. She helped us pick between the dishes we were debating and her suggestions turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.

As we were waiting for our food, fresh bread was brought to the table (in a colander instead of a basket) and we nibbled on it with fresh oil and vinegar. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, but it was cold so that threw me off – not room temperature, but actually cold as though it was from the fridge. I found that odd.
We started with the Fondue which was a mixture of sharp cheeses that was kept warm over a tea light and served with cubes of bread and blanched asparagus and green beans. The vegetables were served cold, but nice and crisp, and their sweetness cut the creaminess/saltiness of the cheese nicely. It was an okay dish and fun to eat, but it wasn’t amazing.
Seafood Bouillabaisse was full of fresh seafood simmered in a flavourful tomato broth. There were crab legs, fish, mussels, clams, scallops and shrimps that were all perfectly cooked and tasted fresh. Nothing was over cooked or tough, and there was no fishy smell, to any of the meats. The broth was sweetened from the seafood and there was a slight kick from the seasonings that blended everything together into a delicious combination. Served with slices of bread for sopping up the broth, the dish was extremely filling and I would recommend it only if you’re very hungry or sharing!
Lamb Osso Bucco was a nice change from a standard osso bucco. It was served with polenta and grilled rapini which added delicious textures and flavours to the dish. The portion of lamb was huge and fell off the bone into tender, flavourful pieces. The sauce was tangy and slightly sweet with mixed well with the mild bitterness of the rapini. The creaminess of the polenta tied everything together wonderfully. 
 The food was delicious, and service was attentive without being overbearing. Our server knew the menu well and listened to our needs to make excellent recommendations. I would come back solely because the service was so excellent.

Julia's Ristorante on Urbanspoon
Julia's Ristorante
315 Lakeshore Rd. E., Oakville

Adobo Mexican Grill

Downtown Burlington has so many interesting and unique restaurants; I don’t think I’ve even been to half of them in all the years I’ve lived here. Jersey and I were out walking along the lake one night and decided to try out Adobo for some Mexican food.

On John St., Adobo is a small restaurant with a small patio and bright, inviting lights. We were greeted warmly when we arrived and ordered a carafe of sangria to cool off while we browsed the menu. Fresh fruit, plenty of ice and a generous portion of wine made it a delicious and sweet drink on a warm summer night.
The menu is by no means long, but the options are all made fresh in-house. We decided to share a couple of appetizers before dinner, so we opted for the Guacamole ($4.49) with fresh corn chips as one of our starters. The portion wasn’t big, but it tasted fresh and had large chunks of avocado and tomato in it. The creaminess of the guacamole was a perfect way to cut the saltiness of the crunchy corn chips. There were no preservatives, and the guacamole started to turn brown when we were nearing the end. 
Ceviche ($7.49) is a dish of fresh fish that is “cooked” with the use of lemon juice (and in this case, lemon juice mixed with olive oil). Big cubes of fresh white fish and tomato were simply tossed in the lemon/oil mixture with a dash of cilantro. The fish itself was delicious. Extremely fresh (no “fishy” smell at all) and meaty without being tough or chewy, the flavour was phenomenal. Served with fresh chips, it too was a small portion but a neat dish to share.
After our appetizers I wasn’t overly hungry so I opted for the Tacos with shredded pork ($7.79). When they brought it to the table, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting because it looked like a small salad served with a basket of tortilla shells. The idea is to use the shells to wrap the salad mixture into a soft taco/fajita. The shells were warm, fresh and delicious. They were corn shells, so there was a slight grittiness to the texture, but they didn’t taste like the shells you buy from the grocery store. The mixture included lettuce, cheese, pork, sour cream, salsa and diced jalapeno. The pork was tender and flavourful when eaten on its own, but I found that the taste got lost under the salsa and cheese when I ate everything together. The menu said that it came with two flour shells or three corn shells, and I found three corn shells perfect for the amount of meat/salad mixture they gave me.
Jersey wanted something different, and the owner recommended the Pork Mole ($14.99) as one of his most popular dishes. A homemade mole sauce covers a portion of pork so tender it can be shredded with your fork when it comes to the table, served with a side of rice and baked beans. The sauce was delicious. With each bite we tried we could pick out a different spice or flavour, and there was such depth to the dish it kept us wanting more. The pork was tender without being dry and soaked up the sauce beautifully. The rice was rice, and the beans had an odd taste that we didn’t quite enjoy, so we just focused on the pork and sauce.
Overall, it was a great dinner with personalised, friendly service. It was nice to sit in a place that isn’t a chain restaurant, and really enjoy our experience. The prices are reasonable, the food was fresh and tasty, and we had a really nice dinner without feeling rushed or crowded. We will definitely be coming back when we’re in the mood for Mexican. Ole!

Adobo Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon
Adobo Mexican Grill
399 John St., Burlington