Sunday, March 14, 2010

A New Brasaii

It was a busy "eating" weekend for me. We went to Lee on Friday, a regular favourite, which was a little "off" this last time particularly in service, and to Prague for brunch on Saturday with some girls, which is always satisfying (even though they were sold out of my favourite tripe soup, I brought some home frozen). On Saturday, I was celebrated my birthday at the soft opening for Brasaii over drinks and small bites. I have been to Brasaii in the past for brunch, which was delicious. The restaurant is simple and modern and a great place for a party. It was only on calling that I discovered Brasaii had been closed for renovations and this weekend would be part of the soft opening. The event coordinator offered us a couple options, from plated dinners at multiple price points in the dining room or private room, to more casual hors d'oeuvres in the lounge/bar or even dining room. In the end, we settled on a casual lounge setting with a selection of food tapa style, allowing more options for the group vs fixed menu of chicken/beef/salmon (a little boring, right??). Our final menu selection was:

- mini grilled cheese, done with mozza vs cheddar, and served with ketchup....totally brought out the kids in us!
- shrimp tempura with spicy mayo
- panko crusted mini crab cakes, probably the best tasting of our selections
- sliders, a big hit, and must for parties with lots of boys...have to keep them full!
- mini philly cheese steak sandwiches

Our high table was perfect, right next to the bar, and the staff brought our food in waves, suitable to the casual atmosphere we were going for. The drinks menu was delicious (although the descriptions a little long), I particularly liked the bad moon rising martini and balsamic bramble cocktail.

The new Brasaii is a bit more glamorous than before and more flexible for different social occasions. The restaurant/lounge was filled up with a dress-to-impress crowd around 11pm, so it's definitely a good place to stop by on a night out. The private room looked like a nice space, but in the end, we were glad to have our high table on the edge of the main dining room. There is also a new outdoor patio area, reminiscent of Cheval's rooftop patio, which I've always liked. Brasaii will be a good place for drinks this summer!

Thanks to my friends to came out to celebrate - let me know what you thought of the new Brasaii!

Monday, March 8, 2010

All The Details Count at Sassafraz

Another weekend in Yorkville for us! On Friday we finally tried Sassafraz, known famously in Toronto for it's glitzy celebrity crowd during film fest. We walked in on Friday night happy to find there was room for us - and not just room but a lovely, romantic corner bench seat at the back of the restaurant. Being my first time there, I have to say I was surprised how large the restaurant truly was! Its vaulted ceilings and living wall give the right air of esteem for the restaurant.

Our waiter brought old school charm to service - he was soft spoken and pleasant. He was softly encouraging of the items we chose on the menu. We started with a clean, crisp tuna tartare topped with papaya, a nice refreshing flavour addition. For mains, Tony had rabbit ravioli scented with rosemary. While delicious, the 3 large ravioli pockets wasn't quite enough to be filling. Lucky enough, I opted for the cornish hen stuffed got it...foie gras! Although I have to confess the cornish hen was calling my name even before I realized it was stuffed with foie gras, that was really just a bonus! My meal was delicious, filling, and satisfying for my meaty craving. Our ends were chocolate cake (huge!) with raspberry mousse and an apple selection with green apple panna cotta, cider ice cream and an apple gyoza (my favourite). The BEST was our sample of riopelle, a lovely unpasteurized artisan cheese - hand crafted. It was probably the best $5 we spent for the night! Next time we will likely skip dessert and opt for more cheese samples. And finally, our bill came with a lovely hand made chocolate, which was absolutely delicious, I wish I had asked our waiter where it was tempted to go back just for another bite!

We were pleasantly surprised by Sassafraz after having heard mixed reviews, but we were very happy with our meal, and although a bit of a splurge, not at all unreasonable. It is surely a grand experience - the dining room is stunning! Every little detail from the way my strawberries were muddled in my drink, to the hand crafted cheese and chocolates made the restaurant an exceptional experience.