Table 34 Resto & Bar

So, I celebrated my birthday this past weekend. Another year closer to 30 (yaaaay…). I have to tell you though, I’m not that depressed about it. I’ve got a good feeling about what my 30s will bring, especially if things keep going the way they are. In any case, birthdays (for me at least) give me an excuse to eat whatever I want and share the experience with loving family and friends. One of my mothers friends suggested we try a new restaurant in downtown Burlington, Table 34. It was a great evening, with impressive food and great staff. As a new restaurant there’s a couple things to improve on, but that’s all a part of the experience. None of the issues that came up were nearly big enough to deter me from visiting again. The owner, Moe, was attentive, very accessible and present in the restaurant and quick to respond to any questions or concerns.

Note: I apologize for the terrible picture quality. I’m just starting to get comfortable with my DSLR and I hate a flashing camera in a busy restaurant. So, I held off and used my phone’s camera. Sorry!

I started off with the chef’s Caesar salad (no picture *blame hunger). It was a deconstructed salad with romaine leaves tossed in a house dressing, a slice of bacon and fried a Parmesan chip. The salad was good, however I found there was way too much dressing on the lettuce which really weighed it down. I’m also not a fan of chopping up my own salad. Especially if I’m having it as a starter, I want to be able to just dig in once it hits the table. This is just my personal preference and by no means takes away from the quality of the salad. The portion was large enough for two people to share and was a great way to start the meal. I really enjoyed the fried Parmesan chip, who doesn’t love crispy, fried cheese!

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I had the pizza special (obviously – if you don’t know me by now, I love pizza). I couldn’t believe the size of this thing. It’s definitely something you can share with someone you trust. FYI – Never share your pizza with an untrustworthy person. For the price (I believe it was around $21), I would expect it to be this big, approximately a medium. They used a bolognese sauce as the base which was incredible on the pizza. It had a perfect balance of ground beef and light tomato sauce which really added to the overall flavour of the pizza. The dough was thin crust and cooked well. Toppings included roasted red peppers, choirzo sausage and cheese curds. This pizza was full-flavoured and seriously took care of my pizza craving. I traded a few slices in return for bites of other dishes on the table and each person loved it too. I took a few slices to go and the whole drive home all I could smell was this pizza. Even though I was having a food baby, the aroma was making my mouth water.

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My partner in crime had the Alberta high river smokey mountain ground brisket & sirloin burger. Try saying that five times fast – it’s a mouthful, and so is this burger! It could feed a small country. It’s basically a meatball on a bun, and the consumer wasn’t really feeling that. There was a lot of beef and I believe if it was flattened out a bit with a more substantial bun it would improve the eating experience. Because there was so much juicy meat, the bun was ruined within a couple bites and it just became a huge mess. I had a couple bites and it definitely was delicious – obviously high quality meat and so juicy. Just a couple of adjustments will make this burger even better! The fries were also stellar.

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My bro ordered the chicken wings which came with the chef’s chili lime yogurt – the sauce of the day. They were served dry with the sauce on the side. Now, unfortunately my brother and I weren’t really impressed with these in the beginning. The wings were pretty small for what you’re paying ($18 for a pound), no seasoning on the wings and the sauce was watery and lacked any real flavour. We brought this to our servers attention and she immediately took them back to the kitchen to toss them in a different sauce. They came back with a BBQ and Sriracha sauce which was a huge improvement. This sauce had the kick my brother was looking for that the chili lime yogurt was missing.

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My g-ma had the fish & chips (from the lunch menu) which was a beer-battered haddock, side of fries and Chef’s slaw. My grams is a fish & chip aficionado to say the least. It’s basically all she ever orders, unless prime rib is available, then she’ll most definitely order that. She really enjoyed her meal and said the fish was cooked perfectly, full of flavour and the batter was light and crispy. So, two thumbs up for this fish dish – if it impressed my grandma, it should do the same for you!

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Two others in our group ordered the wild mushroom jumbo ravioli, one with meat and one without meat. The pasta was stuffed with smoked bacon and topped with sundried tomatoes, edamame beans and smothered in an amazing thyme fused cream and white truffle oil drizzle. I got to try a bite of this one and was really impressed. The sauce was so rich and flavourful and the ravioli was cooked perfectly. Definitely a must try! The only complaint here was that no freshly ground pepper was offered, which would have finished the dish off well. We notified the owner (at the end of the evening) and he ensured us he would let his staff know. Again, not a big problem!

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Another dish we ordered was the beef tenderloin. I didn’t get a chance to try it, however I was told it was delicious, cooked to their liking and had minimal traces of fat. The plating was beautifully executed with a nice variety of sides to accompany it including baked potato wedges and roasted veggies.

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We also ordered the T34 Charcuterie. This thing is so badass – there’s no better way to serve Charcuterie than on a large chopping block! I didn’t get to try any of the items as this couple arrived a bit later than us and we were all pretty well stuffed by the time it reached the table. It comes with an assortment of cured and smoked meats, pate, mustard’s and relishes, pickled vegetables, three cheese assortment, rustic bread and pickled quail eggs. A little bit of everything! A charcuterie is the perfect way to share a meal with a number of people. It encourages conversation and a shared food experience. Everything was beautifully arranged and prepared fresh. This is definitely something to try when you visit.

The bottom line here is that Table 34 is a great new spot in downtown Burlington. A few kinks need to be worked out but there’s no questioning the quality of the dishes here. You might leave with your wallet feeling a little less full in comparison to your stomach, but it’s well worth it. Everyone deserves to treat themselves once and a while and this could be the place to do that. The food was prepared fresh and served hot, the staff was incredibly attentive (shout out to our server Andrea for making our night extra special). The restaurant has such a warm, relaxing atmosphere and it’s obvious the owner really cares about the happiness of his guests. I watched Moe visit each table that night, making sure everyone was enjoying their meals and having a positive experience. I have no doubt that this restaurant will thrive and continue to grow with much success!

Table 34 is located at 1455 Lakeshore Road East, Unit 3 on the corner of Lakeshore and Locust Street.

Website: www.table34.com

Happy eating!

-Rach
Table 34 Resto & Bar on Urbanspoon

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Foodie Abroad: Barcelona, Spain

I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited Spain three times in my life. My first encounter took place during my high school years. My parents had recently split up and my father had taken work in Barcelona. Since he was going to be there for an extended period of time, he promised I could come visit. So, at around the age of 14, my brother and I set off on a plane to live in Barcelona for a couple of months. This was an experience I will never forget and I always tell people, I left my heart in Barcelona. Since then, I’ve visited with my family a couple years ago and went backpacking with friends this past September.

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This city is unlike any other. The people, culture and food provide such a rich and unforgettable experience every time. The night life is something to be experienced as well. I’ll always remember our first night in Barcelona with my family. Our body clocks were still in a different time-zone, and we were standing on the balcony at 4:00 AM on a Thursday morning. Our apartment was situated across from the Puerto Olímpico where the marina is lined with bars, lounges and restaurants. What we saw wasn’t your typical Thursday suburban morning commute, but a bustling down town city scene with people still leaving the bars and clubs.

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Tabularasa Photography

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On my most recent visit, backpacking with friends, our visit to Barcelona was short but sweet. We only had a handful of days to take in the sights and immerse ourselves in the culture. I have to say we did pretty good with what little time we had. Being so close to the beach (2 minute walk) we had easy access to amazing beach bars and restaurants. This was a huge must for me when booking our stay in Barcelona. I knew I wanted to be close to the water, not just for the beauty of the beaches, but the food and drink options too. Barcelona (anywhere in Spain, really) is the perfect place for delicious Mojitos and Sangrias. They know how to make them right every time and won’t cheap out on the alcohol. It’s an amazing experience being able to lay on the beach and walk only a few steps for a refreshing alcoholic beverage. Many of these little spots will serve tapas and small meals. We shared a delicious bruschetta appetizer and chicken caesar salad during one of our many visits.

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taken from restaurant website

We decided that Barcelona would be one of the cities where we would splurge on a fancy meal. We were on a pretty tight budget but at the same time, wanted to make sure we were’t selling ourselves short of any great culinary experiences. I have a favourite restaurant in Barcelona that I visit each time and knew my friends would love it just as much as I do. Restaurante La Barca del Salamanca is one of many amazing restaurants situated at the marina. It’s always busy, but with a huge staff and large dining area, the service is simply outstanding. The wait staff are friendly, kind, funny and always up for a chat. One gentleman I am very fond of has been there each time I have gone with family. Although he doesn’t remember me (I don’t blame him!), I’ll never forget his funny, professional and welcoming demeanour.

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Tabularasa Photography
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Tabularasa Photography

We treated ourselves well on this night and made sure to order what we knew we would enjoy. To begin our meal, I ordered Jamón Serrano (cured ham) and my friends ordered Gazpacho (cold Spanish soup), and a seafood plate. Anywhere you go in Spain you’re guaranteed to find delicious, cured hams that are perfect for sharing (only if you want to). Gazpacho is a unique soup made of raw vegetables and is traditionally served cold. The picture above shows the soup we had without the vegetables added. They came on the side so you could put the amount you desired. It is a vibrant, flavourful and refreshing soup on a hot summer night in Spain. Toast rubbed with garlic, tomato and olive oil was also brought to our table. This is a common tapas or starter dish in most Spanish cities and was also delicious.

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Tabularasa Photography

For our main course my friend and I shared the seafood Paella. When it first arrived at our table I thought to myself ‘this could feed a small country’  but we managed to get through pretty well the whole thing, that’s how delicious it was. Paella is regarded as Spain’s national dish but is traditionally a Valencian dish. Saffron and Rosemary are common seasoning in Paella dishes and the use of a cast iron Paella pan gives the rice and contents a smoky flavour and crispy texture. With a squirt of lemon, this dish was outstanding and a great way to celebrate our time in Barcelona.

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Tabularasa Photography

At the end of our evening at La Barca, we decided we didn’t need dessert. Mainly because we were so full we couldn’t possibly stomach any more food. That was until, of course, our server brought over a plate of lemon tarts and a bottle each of apple and lemon liqueur. We enjoyed many shots and countless lemon squares which definitely ended our culinary experience on a happy note. If you are ever near the Marina in Barcelona, please stop by and check out La Barca. You won’t be disappointed.

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On many occasions during our days out in the city, when needing re-fueling we would stop to grab a quick bite of tapas. Tapas is a Spanish cuisine that consists of small appetizers and snacks. We often ordered Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce or white aioli), Croquettes (small fried rolls of mashed potatoes and/or meat), toasts (sliced baguette with varying toppings of meat, vegetables and/or cheese) and Caprese salads (sliced tomato’s topped with fresh mozzarella and basil). Selections like these are meant to inspire and invoke conversation as those enjoying them are not focused on eating large meals. You’ll often find places that serve tapas have limited seating as to encourage diners to move around and converse while eating.

In Barcelona there’s something for everyone to enjoy, whether you prefer steak over seafood or are content with a small snack, you can find it here, done right. Rather than a fast food chain on each corner, you’ll be happy to find a small tapas bar or restaurant serving authentic, fresh Spanish cuisine.

If you’re still not sold or have any questions about Barcelona, shoot me a message. I’d be happy to offer my biased opinion and suggestions ;). I’ll just leave these here…

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-Rach

Earth to Table: Bread Bar

I’ve been waiting for quite a while (almost a year) to try this place out. I don’t know why it took me so long but that’s besides the point. I finally made it!. Since I’ve moved to Hamilton, whenever I talk to people about restaurants to try in the area, the Bread Bar is always one of their top suggestions. My dad wanted to come to Hamilton for dinner last week and it didn’t take much convincing on my part to get him here. He checked out the menu beforehand and was just as excited as I was.

As most of you know, traffic coming into the city during rush hour is rage inducing, so it comes as no surprise that my dad didn’t make it for 5:30. While I was waiting for him to arrive, I decided to sit at the bar with a nice glass of red wine. The staff was very attentive, keeping me company while I waited and ensuring I had everything I needed.

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At the bar they have bowls perfectly arranged with a selection of their house pickles, carrots and other veggies. I actually didn’t get to try any but they looked delicious. I think this is a really good idea in lieu of bread. It’s always nice to have something to snack on while you’re waiting for your food (or your dad) to arrive, and I think these veggies are a great alternative.

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To the right of the bar is a beautiful and tempting display of their baked goods. Their pies and cookies look phenomenal and there’s pizza available by the slice. Directly across from this display is a cold fridge where you can buy a pie or a selection of their desserts to take away. While I was sitting at the bar, sipping my wine, I watched one of the staff cutting the apple pie and I just thought to myself, you won’t find anything like that in a grocery store.

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A short while later my dad arrived (fist pump!) and we managed to get a table right away. I had been scoping out the room for guests that were finishing their meals as I was waiting and was able to score a table for two by the window. I mentioned that I really wanted to try the kale Caesar salad and luckily my dad was all for it. The kale leaves were very tender and added a wonderfully earthy flavour to the traditional Caesar taste. I’m most familiar with the curly-leaf kale compared to the flat, more tender leaved kale used in this salad. I’m not sure which variety of Kale they used here but I intend to ask next time I visit because it was delicious. I was really impressed with how well balanced this salad was, especially because the kale leaves were so soft, a heavy dressing would just drown the salad. It’s topped with a fair amount of parmesan, bacon and strips of white anchovy. I normally wouldn’t eat anchovies (on anything) but I promised myself I’d try new things. I’m glad I did because they were so tasty! They weren’t as salty as I remember anchovies to be and actually complimented the salad nicely.

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Mmmmm pizza. I love a good pizza. We got our own individual portions which were out of this world. The stone baked dough was crispy, fluffy and had almost a creaminess to it. My dad ordered the Bee Sting pizza which has tomato sauce, mozzarella, local honey, chillies, ricotta cheese and strips of spicy salami. The ricotta on this pizza is perfect because it provides a wonderful balance against the sweetness of the honey and heat of the chillies. Sweet and spicy go together like peanut butter and jelly. I think its a brilliant idea to pair them on a pizza. Needless to say, it works and it’s delicious.

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I ordered the Vampire Slayer. Not only is the name awesome but this pizza has brie on it. I’m a sucker for cheese to begin with but brie? C’mon, I can’t resist. It comes topped with a white béchamel sauce, roasted garlic cloves and arugula. There’s something about leafy arugula on a pizza that makes you think you’re eating healthy. The garlic wasn’t as overpowering as you might think. Roasting the garlic tones down its potency and brings out its natural sweetness. It was a delicious addition to the pizza combined with the creaminess of the sauce and melted brie.

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Thankfully, by opting to take some pizza home, we had room in our bellies to try some dessert. My dad initially wanted to try one of their peanut butter cookies but once we heard about the cheesecake they had that night, we couldn’t resist. It was topped with caramelised pears and drizzled with a sweet brandy sauce. The cheesecake was so creamy and melted in your mouth like cheesecake should. The pears were soft but still firm enough and provided a wonderful texture and sweetness alongside the brandy sauce. I’m going to go ahead and say this is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. No lie, I will tell my grandchildren about it.

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Earth to Table: Bread Bar is Located at 258 Locke Street South in Hamilton. If you’re from around here, you probably know there’s little to no parking on Locke Street, especially around dinner time. It’s best to find a free spot on a side street and walk over.

Website: http://hamilton.breadbar.ca/

Happy eating!

-Rach

Earth to Table Bread Bar on Urbanspoon

WASS Ethiopian Restaurant

Okay everyone, put down your forks. This is food you eat with your hands!

My boss offered to treat me to lunch a few weeks ago and suggested Ethiopian food. He said he knew of a great place downtown that had a pretty kick ass lunch special. I’d never tried Ethiopian food before, but I’m always up for trying something new – and lets be honest, free lunch? YEAH!

Initially, he ordered the meat combo lunch special but in a miscommunication, we ended up with vegetarian option instead. It really wasn’t a big deal to us and plus, we were too hungry to turn back and order again anyway. I’m actually really glad we ended up with the vegetarian combo. I love variety when eating a meal. I prefer to have at least three different things on my plate that I can nibble from, varying in texture, spice and flavour. The vegetarian option allows you to taste the many delicious flavours Ethiopian food has to offer.

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The lunch combos come served on whats called Injera, a raw,  flat sourdough bread made from whole grain products. It’s light and airy and soaks up the sauces perfectly. The vegetarian comes packed with collard greens sauteed with red onions, cabbage with carrots and potatoes, lentils with garlic, ginger and onion sauce, yellow split peas, a lentil stew and beets to finish it off. It’s a beautiful medley of flavours all wrapped up together. The beets and garlic offer a tangy bite and the rich nutty flavour of the lentils is wonderfully paired. The varying textures in this dish provide you with an exciting dining experience. The chilled beets are refreshing while the collard greens and cabbage provide a satisfying, juicy crunch. The warmth and creaminess of the lentils bring a welcome substance to the meal.  Overall, this combo will make any vegetarian smile!

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I’ve had the vegetarian option many times before, so I decided to change it up and try the meat combo for lunch today. As expected I was very satisfied with my choice. The meat combo comes with two meat selections, typically a chicken thigh and cuts of lamb and two vegetable sides. Although, I believe this can change based on what they have available that day. The meat comes served in a beautiful red pepper stew that is mildly spicy and full of flavour. The chicken thigh was a fair size and the meat itself was tender and falling off the bone. My only word of warning when ordering the meat combo is the amount of bones you will find floating freely in the sauce from the lamb. I do appreciate the fact that the meat is literally still on the bones and the flavour that adds, but it can prove difficult that with every other bite, you chomp down on a hard piece and have to spit it out. I’d recommend removing as many bones as possible before you eat.

Out of the two I’d have to recommend the vegetarian combo. It’s perfect for lunch as it’s not too filling and has a nice variety. However, if you’re a real meat lover don’t hesitate on getting the meat combo – it’s just as satisfying. For under $10 – these lunch combos will have you coming back.

On my next visit, I plan on eating in for dinner to experience their popular Ethiopian coffee ceremony and other dinner selections.

WASS Ethiopian Restaurant is located at 207 James Street South in Hamilton.

Website: http://www.wassethiopianrestaurant.com/

Happy eating!

-Rach

Wass Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Foodie Abroad: Lisbon, Portugal

I believe there’s many reasons why people choose to travel. Some may be looking for a change, a break from the routine in their daily life, to learn new things and meet new people. My decision to travel came after four years of hard work, life changing events and many unfortunately negative experiences. Although, all was not lost as I believe these experiences have pushed me to put all of who I am into my writing and combine it with my passion for food. What I’ve been through has led me here and I decided I needed not just a break, but a chance to explore new cultures, new cuisines and just enjoy some time to myself.

I left with my close friend, starting our adventure in Lisbon, Portugal. Much of their cuisine is centered around fresh seafood along with their signature dish, Bacalhau. This Portuguese specialty is a dried and salted cod and is used in many varying recipes throughout Portugal. We made it our mission to try it.

Grilled Salmon - Lisbon, Portugal

We only had a few days in Lisbon and didn’t get a chance to try many restaurants. Plus, being on a tight budget didn’t help either! However, we located a small restaurant down the street from our hostel which was usually busy every night (a good sign). On our first visit I ordered the grilled salmon. The picture I took really doesn’t do this meal any justice. The fish was grilled beautifully. Not only was this a large serving, it was juicy and meaty. Because it was grilled, the skin and the edges were smoky and crispy. With a spritz of lemon on top I was in heaven. After traveling all day, this was a welcomed meal. I had this dish twice while I was in Lisbon. My friend ordered the Bacalhau on our second visit which was equally delicious (no picture, sorry!). Bacalhau is a little more dense and is quite salty but delicious – a must try when visiting Portugal.

Pastel De Nata - Lisbon, Portugal

My brother had visited Portugal last year while backpacking Europe and insisted I try a Portuguese tart, or Pastel de nata. This delicious little thing is an egg tart pastry with a custard like filling. This is another common and popular staple in Portuguese cuisine and can be found in most pastry shops around the city. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find one you don’t enjoy. Served warm or at room temperature, these tarts are to die for and are the perfect snack while on the go. Although the filling is soft and creamy, its not overly sweet as I believe the eggs balance that out.

Gelato - Lisbon, Portugal

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Maybe it was the intense heat, or the seven hours of walking a day, but we tried many gelato spots during our travels. There just seemed to be shop after shop everywhere we went. This place in particular had a great selection to choose from. I got a scoop of pistachio and raspberry which were deliciously refreshing. If you haven’t tried pistachio gelato yet, you haven’t lived, my friend. One word of advice though, some places can charge an arm and a leg for a couple scoops of this heavenly goodness. Rightfully so, but if you take the time to find the right place, saving a bit of cash helps. This location was pretty pricy and you could tell by looking inside that you were going to pay a bit more. In future posts you will see the other spots we visited where we got more, just as tasty gelato, for less.

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If you’re debating whether or not to add Lisbon to your destination list, you won’t be disappointed if you do. Its an older but beautiful city with breathtaking views, wonderful people and of course delicious food. Just remember to bring your walking shoes as the cobblestone sidewalks are not very forgiving 😉

Next stop – Barcelona, Spain!

-Rach

The Harbour Diner

I’ve been to the Harbour Diner a few times before for breakfast (amazing) and dinner (amazing). On this occasion I went for my grandmas 87th birthday! I’ve never left this place unhappy or dissatisfied. If you’re craving a serious meal, you won’t be let down. The Harbour Diner serves up the ultimate comfort food. The serving sizes are huge so you’re guaranteed to leave full. Leave some room for desert though, as they always have fresh baked pies on the menu, and you don’t want to miss that (seriously, get a slice of pie).

There were eight of us for dinner so I took pictures a quickly as I could and noted their thoughts about the meal. I won’t be able to offer a personal review of each dish but I can guarantee you, we all left rubbing our bellies.

The birthday girl had the seafood soup to start her meal, which could be considered a meal in itself. My grandma could eat us all under the table so this didn’t phase her at all. I didn’t manage to get a picture of her soup but it’s full of delicious, fresh seafood in a light creamy broth.

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Turkey Dinner

Turkey Dinner: For her main meal she ordered the turkey dinner (obviously) which comes with roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas and mushrooms, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. She loves this dish, this is her second time ordering it. She said the turkey was moist, tasty and that the gravy was as good as she remembered. She particularly loved the stuffing and mashed potatoes. Again, this is a big meal – be ready for leftovers!

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The “Manhattan”

The Manhattan: After long debating what to order I settled on the “Manhattan” sandwich. I’m really, really, really glad I did. Even though I wasn’t too hungry, I managed to finish the whole thing. It comes with corned beef, fried onions, hard boiled egg, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and black pepper-chive mayo on marble rye bread. Let me tell you though, this sandwich is a handful but totally worth the mess. The marble rye bread was buttered which made the bread soft and even more delicious. Of course the best part was the corned beef. It was so juicy and tender and I love how there was so much of it rolled up in the sandwich. Each bite was full of meat. I also really enjoyed the hard boiled egg on the sandwich. It added a really nice texture that played well with the corned beef. The Manhattan comes with a side of Harbour Diner Slaw and a kosher dill pickle.

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Cobb Salad
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Special: Harbour Focaccia Melt
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Special: Sesame Chicken Salad

Other items that were ordered included the Cobb Salad and two of the specials for the night, the Focaccia Melt, and the Asian Sesame Seed Chicken Salad, as well as the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and the Lobster & Crab Macaroni.

Cobb Salad: I was considering the Cobb Salad against the Manhattan as it looked so satisfying. I will definitely try it next time I’m there. It comes with lettuce, turkey, bacon, tomato, avocado, hard boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese and spring onions tossed in their original “Brown Derby” dressing, which is a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs. This is definitely an entrée salad and large enough to fill anyone with a big appetite who may be looking for a healthier option.

Special – Harbour Focaccia Melt: This was another messy, handful of a sandwich, but the woman tackling it had no problem showing it who was boss. It came with corned beef, cheese, onion and a tequila lime barbecue sauce that was to die for. On the side was Harbour Diner Slaw, a kosher dill pickle and a fresh bed of lettuce with large slices of veggies. Just like the Manhattan, the main attraction in this sandwich was the healthy helping of tender corned beef. I hope to see something similar to this on the menu again as the sauce was delicious paired with the corned beef.

Special – Sesame Chicken Salad: This salad looked delicious. I didn’t get to try it but I was told it was very good. It came with carrot, tomato and peppers on a bed of California greens. The salads here are always fresh and come in large entrée portions so there’s no worry about going home hungry. There was a fair amount of tender chicken on the salad which was tossed in a sesame dressing.

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Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
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Crab & Lobster Macaroni

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: This sandwich comes with breaded chicken breast dipped in hot sauce, lettuce, tomato and blue cheese mayo on a kaiser bun. The young lady who ordered this said it was good but could have used a little more blue cheese, or at least a bit more blue cheese chunks in the mayo. The chicken breast itself was fairly large, lightly breaded and didn’t get lost in a pool of sauce which I thought was good.

Crab & Lobster Macaroni: I’ve been lucky enough to have tried this fun twist on home made mac n’ cheese before. No lie, my mouth is watering right now looking at the picture of it. The cheese sauce is undeniably rich and creamy. Add in the lobster and crab and you’ve got yourself a dream in a bowl, baby. I remember when I first tried this, I couldn’t even bring myself to put ketchup on it. Don’t do it! It’s not needed, I promise.

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The Harbour Diner is a wonderful little place to enjoy creative, flavourful, home cooked meals. The staff is very friendly and a pleasure to spend an evening with. Our server Rose was especially patient with our (sometimes crazy) party and was knowledgeable and attentive. Even the people enjoying their dinner in the diner are friendly. When we brought out my grandmas birthday cake and sang her happy birthday, everyone in the diner sang along. What a fun experience! Thanks for a wonderful evening and making my grandmas 87th one to remember.

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The Harbour Diner is located at 486 James Street North in Hamilton.

Website: http://www.harbourdiner.com/

Happy Birthday Grams!

-Rach

The Harbour Diner on Urbanspoon

 

Kelly’s Bake Shoppe

When I saw the opportunity to review Kelly’s Bake Shoppe I couldn’t turn it down. I mean, who doesn’t want to indulge in cupcakes, cookies and brownies in one sitting. Especially ones that are vegan and gluten free! I have to admit, only on a couple occasions have I tried vegan and gluten free desserts. A family member of mine likes to make them at home and I’m lucky enough to get to try them. They have always been delicious, and so I was interested to see what Kelly’s had in store for me.

I was so happy to see that Kelly’s is run by a mother & daughter team, Kelly Childs and Erinn Weatherbie. What a lovely and inspiring pair of women. There can’t be a better team than a mother and her gal! Their commitment and passion for delicious treats with healthy ingredients will keep you coming back.

Here’s a list of what they do and don’t put in their creations:

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First off, their shop is simply stunning. It’s so well put together and has such a calming, welcoming atmosphere. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and there’s so much to look at.

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They also have a freezer full of goodies you can purchase. I saw a couple of beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes that I’ll have to come back for. There’s cake pops, ice cream and brownies too. Basically heaven in a freezer.  Beside this is a display of t-shirts you can buy as well.

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Okay – let’s get to the goodies!

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I had such a fun time tasting these treats while taking notes on the delicious flavours and textures. I started off with the Mile High Brownie. Oh. My. Gosh. Is this real life? Is this even possible? I always had my doubts about vegan/gluten free desserts and thought, how is it that you can bake a dessert without using eggs or dairy? Well I hold my tongue (partially because it’s still freaking out about how indulgent this brownie is) but also because I was definitely proven wrong here.

No wonder it’s called the Mile High Brownie. This is the mother of all brownies – it takes you to another level. The brownie itself was moist and had wonderful texture – it was fluffy but still dense enough to be considered a brownie. Combined with the vanilla buttercream topping it melts in your mouth. Add in the homemade caramel sauce and chocolate frosting and you’re done for. You need a chocolate fix? This will do it. Although this brownie is nothing but indulgent, it’s not too sweet – you won’t find yourself getting a sugar overload, rolling on the floor holding your tummy. Simply delicious!

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Next up was the Dulce De Leche Cupcake. I’m not sure I can express enough, my sincere thanks to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe for introducing me to this delicious creation. Again with the vanilla butter cream and homemade caramel sauce – delicious! As if the caramel sauce dripping over the buttercream wasn’t enough, wait till you bite into this baby and find the secret caramel sauce filling. This cupcake is the perfect size too. For the amount of sweetness and richness you’re getting from the toppings, the cupcake on its own provides a great base as it’s not too dense or flaky. There’s a perfect balance.

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Next in line was the Black and White Cupcake. Now, I don’t like to play favourites but this one takes the cake (get it!). The texture of this cupcake was different from the Dulce De Leche as it was a little more airy and light. However, I think what sold me was the vanilla frosting with the chocolate ganache drizzle. The frosting was whipped to perfection with just the right amount of sweetness. As a whole, it offers a rich and irresistible chocolate flavour. Not only is it topped with chocolate ganache, but it’s also hidden inside. Another surprise! I didn’t know eating cupcakes could be this exciting.

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Last but not least were the World Peace (top) and Snickerdoodle (bottom) Cookies. The World Peace Cookie is stuffed full of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries and oats. I really enjoyed the combination of raisins and cranberries as it creates a nice chunky texture. The oats and the seeds fill up the cookie well making it a wholesome treat. The chocolate chips provide just enough sweetness to make you enjoy each bite. Overall, it’s a delicious cookie with fresh and healthy ingredients. The Snickerdoodle is a simple yet delicious cinnamon and sugar cookie. The aroma of the cinnamon was the first thing I could smell when I opened the box of goodies! I love this one – it’s soft, chewy and the sugar sprinkled on top gives it a granulated texture that plays well with the softness of the cookie. Scrumptious!

At this point you probably imagine I was crawling across the floor to my bed, fingers covered in chocolate and icing, overwhelmed by all the excitement. Or maybe not. Either way, I managed to get through each and every delicious treat – no complaints ;). I also had help from a very willing volunteer who assisted me with sampling the goodies. (Lucky bugger!)

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Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is located at 401 Brant Street in downtown Burlington.

Check out their beautiful website at: http://kellysbakeshoppe.com/ for bios, menus and so much more!

Happy eating!

-Rach