A Morning Date with Edgar & Joe

Edgar and Joe's Cafe Interior | London, ONI am a diehard advocate of, in my humble opinion, the most important meal of the day – BREAKFAST! Whether hot or cold, at home or out, I always start my day on a full stomach.

The boy is, by now, familiar with the sound of my alarm clock gently tinkling in the darkness. It urges me up at 6am (two and a half hours before I leave for work) so that I can indulge in my ritual of a steaming cup and a warm breakfast. Always warm! My tastes run from a smooth egg scramble with bacon to warm apple and cheese filled crepes. Sunday is always a Dutch Baby extravaganza! All a bit time consuming in my bleary eyed state. But well worth it.

However, I cherish the days when I can hand over breakfast making duties to the experts. Enter my other favourite boys, Edgar & Joe‘s. Edgar and Joe's Cafe Sign | London, ONIt’s a little spot that has found a firm hold in London’s blossoming downtown.

Part of the Goodwill Industries, it touts itself as a cafe with a purpose, serving fresh, local, and affordable food that keep the patrons coming back.

Chalkboard Menu at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONInterior of Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONDecor Lighting at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONCoffee Preparation at Edgar's and Joe's Cafe | London, ONItems for Sale at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONItems for Sale at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ON   Table and Decor at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONDecor at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONBarista Preparing Coffee at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONCappuccinos at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ON      Cappuccinos at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONBreakfast at Edgar and Joe's Cafe | London, ONSo if your tummy starts to rumble at the sight of the last pic, grab a spot at Edgar & Joe’s and start your day off right!

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Dipping into Delicious at Revive Kitchen

20160806_173043 It has been a little more than a week since the end of another successful Londonlicious event. Although the boy and I popped into a few favourites, Revive Kitchen, a new kid on the restaurant block, was the best of the lot.

We had passed by the location on Wellington a number of times, staring at the paper plastered windows and wondering what would take the place of the former Organic Works Bakery.  To my delight, the new restaurant anchoring the up and coming SoHo neighbourhood and headed by the gracious and affable Executive Chef Alfred Estephan and Chef de Cuisine Ashton Gillespie, not only incorporated the delicious treats of Organic Works but upped the ante on innovative, elegant cuisine in London, Ontario.

Lighting, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario       Patio, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario, View from the kitchen, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioRevive sign, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario        Restaurant interior, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioWine selection, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioChef Alfred Estephan, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioView of kitchen, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioGenerous portions of seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients blend into offerings that are at once comforting and familiar, yet have a contemporary twist in preparation techniques, combinations of flavours, and presentation. And the light filled restaurant has a quiet elegance that doesn’t take away from the food. I personally enjoyed the huge window that allows for a theatrical view into the kitchen where the magic happens (although my highlight was taking a sneak peak behind the scene with Chef Alfred…it was an honour!).

Beef sirloin dinner, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario      Lamb shank dinner, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioTomato appetizer, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioCappuccino semi fredo, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario     Strawberry short cake, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioRestaurant interior, Revive Kitchen, London OntarioAlthough I encourage all of you to reserve a spot for lunch or dinner and indulge in Revive Kitchen‘s offerings, if you only have a moment for a coffee and a quick treat, stop in at the coffee bar for a warm cup  and a fresh, organic, gluten and allergen free sweet delight.

Coffee bar, Revive Kitchen, London Ontario

I hope you take the time to visit this new addition to London. It is well worth it!

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Mythic Grill, A Taste of Greece in London

Entrance to Mythic GrillDuring the most recent wave of warmth and sunshine to grace London, I was inspired to venture outdoors in search of some Mediterranean cuisine. For a long time now, I had heard rumours of a restaurant hidden in the downtown core renowned for not only their food but also the service. With an eye out for this Greek oasis calling to me like a siren song, I answered the lure of the Mythic Grill.

Exterior view of the Mythic GrillCorner booth at Mythic GrillDining room at Mythic GrillAlthough the restaurant boasts a small patio which is extremely popular in the summer months, we make ourselves comfortable in the small, jewel coloured interior of the restaurant. The design aesthetic is definitely not minimal or pared down but envelops with a rich, dark vibe that automatically makes it an intimate, romantic experience. And making great use of my knowledge of ancient Greek archaeology, I catch the nod to Crete’s history and it’s ancient Minoan culture in the form of inverted columns and the wall paintings.

But I’m not here for a history lesson. I’m here to satisfy my craving for great homemade Greek cuisine. With a little prompting from our very attentive waiter, we make our final selections.

Mythic Grill menu coverWe start with the salty Saganaki appetizer that comes with a shot of flaming ouzo and an obligatory “Opa” that I could do without. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this gorgeous hunk of melted cheese once it hits the mouth. We don’t even bother with the accompanying pita so as not to spoil the taste.

Saganaki - flaming cheeseAs for the entrees, I chose the traditional moussaka tower of beef, eggplant and bechamel sauce, while the boy satisfied his seafood craving with a plate of fried calamari and roast potatoes smothered with creamy tzatziki. The food was so plentiful that I didn’t have enough room for dessert, especially after looting some of the delicious morsels from the plate across from mine.

Moussaka dinner with riceCalamari dinner with roast potatoesMythic Grill did not disappoint. In fact, based on our brief experience, I wasn’t surprised how quickly the dining room filled up in a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations. However, from the numerous greetings exchanged between the guests and waitstaff, it was clear that this restaurant has a loyal following. And now they can add another two to their growing list of fans.

Diners at the restaurant

An Italian Christmas with Massimo Bruno

Massimo Bruno Toronto studio kitchenThis past Sunday the boy and I had an opportunity to indulge in a Christmas feast in Toronto, Italian style. With promises of abundant food and a gregarious group of strangers (soon to be friends) squeezed in at a communal table, we were ready for a real European dining event!

Our host, Italian chef Massimo Bruno, had organized another of his popular, always sold-out Supper Club dinners. This one around the holiday theme, the fifth annual “Buon Natale” Christmas in Italy. The holiday dishes featured were many of his favourites, and the evening was dedicated to his Mama who would be celebrating Christmas back in Italy. The dinner was held at his cooking studio on King Street East where many of his Supper Clubs and cooking classes are held.

Massimo Bruno - Italian Chef in TorontoMassimo Bruno checking for his Supper Club guestsChristmas in the Massimo Bruno kitchen studioLike a great host, Massimo kept an eye out for his guests, welcoming each personally, and entertaining the rest of the room with great Italian humour, as we waited for everyone to arrive. Whether you were a Supper Club virgin or a frequent diner, you were made to feel right at home. And with a “bring your own wine” policy, the atmosphere was more than merry. Although, the boy and I didn’t bring any wine since we were driving back to London after dinner, more than a few of the guests offered to share their libations with us.

But of course, we were there for the amazing food. The warmth of the studio was only intensified by all the cooking in the open kitchen. Massimo, along with some help from his brother and friends Giovanna, and Enzo, prepared the feast in front of our eyes. And cooking for such a large group is no small task.

Enzo cooking in the kitchen studio at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubSunday sauce at the Massimo Bruno Supper ClubAntipasti in the kitchen at Massimo Bruno Italian Supper ClubAnd we came ready for a feast!

Antipasti
Homemade focaccia
Calamari fritti (fried calamari)
Bresaola, Grana e Rucola (cured beef with arugola and parmigiano cheese)
Baccala’ frito (fried cod)
Burrata e pomodori (burrata with tomatoes and basil)
Lenticchie e Salsicce (sicilian lentils with barese sausage) 
Primi
Il Ragu della Domenica (Ziti pasta with big Sunday sauce)
Mafaldine ai Frutti di Mare (curly fettucine with seafood sauce)
Secondi
Agnello al Forno (baked lamb with shallots and white wine)
Insalata (salad)
Dolce
Flourless ricotta lemon cake
Pandore
Panettone
Espresso

Massimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Tomato focacciaMassimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Bresaola and arugulaBurrata plates at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubAs soon as the food hit the table, I didn’t know what to try first. The burrata’s cheesey exterior revealed a flowing cream centre that paired perfectly with the fried tomatoes. Thin slices of bresaola were coated in a thin layer olive oil and shavings of parmigiano. Homemade barese sausages swam in tiny lentils and were the perfect start on a cold evening. Small plates of these antipasti were placed along the table and everyone passed them around for second and third helpings.

Massimo Bruno Supper Club - Italian antipastiMassimo Bruno Italian Supper Club DinnerGuests at Massimo Bruno's Buon Natale Supper ClubAfter these “small” bites, I couldn’t believe there was more food to come. The variety was amazing and the chatter around the table grew in the casual family atmosphere. I felt like I was having dinner with all my extended family and cousins back home. Massimo floated around the room chatting, taking photos, and generally ensuring that no one went hungry.

Massimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Shrimp pastaZiti with Sunday sauce at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubWine and photos at Massimo Bruno's Italian Supper ClubFinally the dishes were cleared and the desserts and coffee passed around. I’m positive I wasn’t the only one thinking of unbuttoning my pants or looking around for couch for an after dinner nap. The best evidence for the quality of food and dining atmosphere is a doodle filled wall full of thanks and comments from past guests.

Thank you's at Massimo Bruno's kitchen studio in TorontoThe drive to Toronto was well rewarded with the best Italian food and atmosphere I’ve found outside of Italy. If you’d like to experience it yourself, head over to Massimo’s site and discover something unforgettable.

Buon Natale a Tutti!

Destination Dining in London

Dining Room at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioIf you’re looking for a casual, modern restaurant that serves housemade Italian food in London, Ontario, look no further than Dolcetto Risto. Located in the southwest corner of the ever expanding city limits, this Italian restaurant is quite the distance from the dining-focused downtown core. The location is actually part of an outdoor mall, surrounded by a gym, a grocery store, a bank, and a coffee shop. That is not necessarily a bad thing since parking is more than ample. And in my opinion, every part of this city deserves a unique dining spot and this one, because of its location, is definitely a destination.

In a style I like to call Scando-italian, the large open dining room features polished concrete floors, streamlined wood furniture and accents, and large windows that allow in generous light and open to a patio in the warmer months. The neutral vibe reads calm, but the atmosphere is lively and energetic, especially when you peek into the kitchen which stands in full display to the rest of the dining space.

View of Bar at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioDining area at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London Ontario Regardless of where you are seated, the food remains the draw. The boy and I have made the visit a number of times. Each time we make an effort to try something different but a few items stand out as favourites. The large veal and ricotta meatballs, the calamari salad, and the creatively garnished, thin crust pizzas top the list.

With the weather on the milder side this weekend, we found ourselves in the Byron area and I suggested Dolcetto as a lunch spot (the boy didn’t need much persuading!). Seated by the large windows and basking in the sun streaming in, we placed our order. We started off with complementary fresh focaccia and an olive oil and balsamic dip. The soft, salty bread soaked up the oil beautifully and helped to bide time before our meals arrived.

The attentive server kept our water drinks filled until our food was served. The boy chose a trio of crispy arancini (risotto balls) on a bed of tomato sauce.They arrived hot and crunchy on the outside and hot and cheesy on the inside. I wanted a heartier meal and chose broad pappardelle noodles topped with a short rib ragu in a wine sauce. I was surprised at the amount and, to be honest, I couldn’t finish the entire plate. Of course, it was a great excuse to have it for lunch the next day.

Foccaccia with olive oil and balsamic dip at Dolcetto Risto in London OntarioArancini at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioPapardelle with short rib ragu at Dolcetto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioA forkful of papardelle at Dolcetto Risto in LondonAnd if you haven’t guessed by now I have a bit of a sweet tooth so no dining experience would be complete without dessert. We chose to share a double plate of cannoli. The sweet ricotta cheese filling was speckled with chocolate from a local producer, Habitual Chocolate (I absolutely love it when local businesses support each other – a huge kudos to Dolcetto!). However, unlike the traditional version of a cannoli shell, Dolcetto makes they’re own using a pizzelle press for a lighter and fresher taste. The result is a large crispy exterior which is the perfect foil to the creamy core. A perfect pairing with a cup of strong coffee!

Double cannoli at Dolcetto Risto Italian Restaurant in London OntarioNow I can’t wait until the weather gets warm and once again I indulge in some freshly baked pizza and a glass of wine on the patio. I hope you guys can find your way here and give this Italian restaurant a try!