Saturday, September 13, 2008

abbatoir cat

last night we had dinner with our friends, B & G. we originally wanted to go to foxley...but it was packed full of the members of broken social scene and their loser, plaid-shirted, trust fund skeevy hangers-on. it was an hour long wait. i refuse to wait an hour for tapas. especially on ossington. then we wandered over to pizza libretto. but it was packed full of the readership of toronto life who had left their babies and bugaboo strollers at home. it was an hour long wait. i refuse to wait an hour for pizza. especially on ossington.

i had a feeling this was going to happen. i'm starting to hate ossington as a street. i had compiled a list of backup options during the day because of the aforementioned feeling. we consulted the list and ended up at the niagara street cafe. the website has annoying flash and a ghey song. fast-forward that shiz. i would describe the menu as "new american" or "urban farmstead." i didn't make up those terms. the food world did. the space is nice, with a big patio...we opted to sit outside because the weather was sultry.

we started off with sliced and warmed fred's potato sourdough bread with a caramelized onion and arbequina olive oil jam. this was tasty (but i was also very, very hungry).
we shared a bunch of appetizers.

we had poached ontario artichokes with lemon vinaigrette and bacon mayo. this was tasty...they had cleaned the artichokes until you were at the mostly tender leaves near the had to pull the leaves off, dip them in the bacon mayo and then scrape them against your bottom teeth. my general preference is an entirely cleaned artichoke that you can just go to town on, but this was nice.

then we had their heirloom tomato and goat cheese tartelette with zucchini blossoms and greens. i didn't see any zucchini blossoms, but this was also yummy...the tomato was really ripe and the goat cheese had been whipped and was quite mild. the stack sat on top of a flaky pastry square.

rabbit rillettes with bacon jam, grainy mustard, and house preserve. i didn't taste any of the accoutrements but the rabbit rillettes was tender, delicate, fine textured, with a faint lemon flavour. delicious.

raspberry point oysters with cucumber mint salad, sugar-chili vinaigrette, and raspberry szechuan pepper granita. i tasted the first two accompaniments, but not the raspberry granita thing (probably superfluous anyway). the oysters were cold and the other elements paired with the brininess well...a good amount of heat offset by the crisp texture of the crunchy cucumber.

i went halfsies with the dotytron. i ordered the braised pig's cheek and confit of tongue with sprouts and lentil salad. i really loved the tenderness of the tongue and the braised pig's cheek had been crisped up and was super-tasty. the meat portion was quite small and i definitely did NOT like the taste of the raw, grassy sprouts with the lentils. it made everything taste really alfalfa-y and the greenness wasn't what the otherwise warm, round, plate needed.

the dotytron ordered the slow cooked cumbrae's brisket with asian greens, baby shitakes, and panko egg yolk. this i dug. the brisket was moist, fatty, rich, and beefy. the panko egg yolk was flash-fried and broke open over the whole dish (and we all know how much i loves raw egg yolk). i personally could have done with more conventional greens instead of the asian greens. i thought the baby shanghai choi was again, a little too "green" tasting and chewy for the dish. i think baby snap peas and baby carrots would have been a better match, but overall, i thought it was well cooked. i would order this again over my dish.
for dessert i ordered the almond milk panna cotta with macerated cherries and biscotti. i love almond milk, ESPECIALLY in a panna cotta. this flavour was quite subdued...i've had punchier, stronger almond milk panna cottas before, but it was a nice finish to a meal. the panna cotta was lighter than i personally prefer and the cherries were a bit of an afterthought. i think i also would have enjoyed the dessert if it had been served a little cooler. the biscotti was crisp and crumbly...i really liked the texture and flavour of it (faintly lemon).

the dotytron got the soma chocolate tart with salted caramel sauce and cardamom chantilly (whipped cream to you and i). the tart was rich and bitter with an acceptably flaky crust. the salted caramel sauce was barely present on the plate and the cardamom whipped cream was a nice gesture, but unnecessary.

overall, i'd go there again, EXCEPT for the fact that near the end of the meal, the nearby abbatoir must have received a shipment, because the air was suddenly suffused with a distinctly barnyard funk that tempered the experience slightly. if you sit inside, you're fine. we went on a hunt for the abbatoir and saw the back end of it, complete with a mangy, feral, abbatoir cat. i think the other thing about niagara cafe is that the menu is tiny, so if they don't change it up enough, then it wasn't so extraordinary that i'd rush back as there weren't that many things on the menu that i was interested in revisiting. the apps were stronger than the mains, i thought. it was quite affordable though. for 4 people, 2 bottles of wine, 3 courses each we paid $315 including tax and tip. i thought that was pretty decent.

today is a day of errand-doing. i've made a pie and blueberry muffins and done two loads of laundry and laboriously punched out 4 packs of stencil letters and alphabetized them to make the t-shirt making a little easier tonight. tonight is my dodgeball t-shirt making party. i'm not planning on staying too long...i'm also thinking of hitting up the why? festival...which is a party that my buddy c64 is throwing featuring bogdan raczynski from rephlex (aphex twin's label) records. i'm on the fence because i ALSO want to come home and sit on the couch and watch gossip girl and knit with the dotytron. it's a tough call.

i was going to go and check out grocery-store clothes at joe fresh...but the roomie wants to come too so i've put that on hold. i'm running on money fumes right now. september and august have both been uncharacteristically expensive months so i'm running on a deficit. luckily, october is a 3 paycheck month...the sucky thing is that the deficit i'm running cuts into my plans to dump my 3rd paycheck into my savings account which i'm trying to bulk up in case my contract doesn't get renewed. it's a tough life. the other sucky thing is...i do need to continue shoring up my work wardrobe with more professional fall/winter work clothes. i can't keep falling on the "casual" side of office casual.


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