Bars/Lounges · Beer · Restaurants

Ricardo’s Hideaway – Date night

It was Friday night and I wanted to go out. Despite that night being the start of The Big Taste festival, a nine-day event of restaurant specials, I opted out. Though the reputable restaurants that participate in The Big Taste offer wicked value – a three-course meal for $20.00 and up, I don’t like the crowd and how crazy it gets. Having said that, I do have my eye on Model Milk and Workshop Kitchen and Culture. I’ll be heading to Workshop for lunch this week but I also want to try their dinner menu. Perhaps I can convince my friend Legal to skip lunch and go for dinner after work instead?

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I picked Ricardo’s Hideaway, as I visited previously with my friend Blondie and the food looked fantastic. L bumped into someone he knew from work – Roman. Kudos to Roman for the warm welcome and suggesting a delicious rum – Ron Abuelo (seven-year|Panama|$5.5). I love rum even more than tequila.

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The seven-year rum was smooth and sweet and reminded me of whisky. A nice way to toast to the night. We both opted for beers, as I spotted Banded Peak Chinook Saison and L wanted the Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. The Driftwood was really tasty – bright with notes of grapefruit and not too hoppy. I like that glasses are smaller, so the beer stays colder and fresher for longer.

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For food, we ordered cashews ($5), crab legs ($14) with melted butter, jerk chicken ($16), roti ($5) and rice and beans ($5). I noticed enough vegetarian items on the menu for my buddy Jaime.

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The cashews were warm and reminded me of Christmas. The seasoning had either cinnamon or nutmeg in it.

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The jerk marinaded crab legs were a delight to eat. We were provided with all the proper utensils to crack and pick the meat out. The crab was grilled and blackened, spicy and full of chunks of goodness.

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The highlight of our meal was the jerk chicken, which incidentally is my worst photo of the night. Next time my husband and I are going to order a full portion. The half order contained four succulent pieces of chicken.

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The chicken was garnished with cilantro, which I detest, but even that noxious herb couldn’t hide the fact this was an amazing bird. The skin was crunchy, the sticky sauce was spicy and sweet. The meat was top quality, juicy and white. If you go out for cheap wings, you’ll appreciate this bird. There’s no blueish veins or bruised meat. I’m willing to bet that before this chicken crossed the road to Ricardo, it led a happy life.

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The rice and beans tasted clean, a refreshing contrast to the flavour explosion from the chicken and crab. The beans didn’t have that nasty metallic taste and mushy texture you get from canned beans.

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The roti was fabulous. Flaky, light and buttery, it was the perfect vessel to wrap around the chicken. The roti came with herbed butter.

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I’ve been cutting down on my alcoholic intake, but the pina colada ($10) might undo all my healthy intentions. This drink brought me back to when I was 20 at my first all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Except Ricardo’s version is far superior – sweet from pineapple juice, creamy from coconut milk and boozy from rum. I remember why I avoid pina coladas. It goes down way too easy. And I’m better this little cocktail was packed with at least 450 calories.

L and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The music was fun and tropical. The crowd wasn’t douchy. The environment was unlike the other bars and pubs along 17th Ave, it felt like I was transported to an island. Ricardo’s Hideaway gets two fat thumbs up from me and makes it as my top pick as Flavour of the Month. Yeah Boyyy!

Ricardo's Hideaway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Mexican · Pubs · Toronto

Toronto – Day 3: Carousel Bakery, Under the Table, Clinton’s Tavern, Tacos El Asador, and Corso

Our last day in Toronto. We woke up and walked over to the Carousel Bakery in the St. Lawrence Market. The set-up reminded me of the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, except St. Lawrence had zero vacancy and was filled with vendors selling gorgeous and high-end cuts of meat and seafood. The floor below was filled with food stalls and gourmet kiosks, selling caviar, smoked salmon and international goods.

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L and I shared the Peameal Bacon Sandwich ($7.00), as we knew it would be a food heavy day. The meat was hot and salty, nicely crisp on the outside. The Portageuse bun was the soft squishy type that allowed our tastebuds to focus on the bacon.

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We took the subway to Cabbage Town, as I wanted to see the neighbourhood and L wanted jerk chicken. I picked Under the Table based on Yelp reviews. I am happy to report that the food is worth seeking out.

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We ordered a couple of beers and shared a plate of Jerk Chicken ($12.99) with rice and salad. Though it wasn’t busy inside, it took about 30 minutes for our food. I didn’t hear a microwave in the background, and from the way the food tasted, I’m guessing a lot of care goes into the food. The chicken was succulent, subtly spicy and delicious.

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We went back to our hotel to pack and called Uber to take us to Korean Village. By the way, I love Uber. It’s way cheaper than taking a taxi, faster and you can track where and who is picking you up. With the exception of one driver, all were professional and helpful.

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As we were early meeting my friend Phoebe, we stopped into Clinton’s Tavern. Beers and wings were cheap on Tuesday. L and I shared an order of hot wings ($6.00) and Steamwhistle beer ($5.00). The meaty wings were burn your hands hot, the skin had a nice crackle to it. I also liked that the hot sauce was served on the side, so the wings remained crispy and we could control how much sauce was on it.

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When Phoebe arrived, we headed over to Tacos El Asador for tacos and pupusas. Tacos are made fresh for you and if you eat inside, there’s hot sauce and onions you can add to your dish.
taco store

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The food was so tasty, I forgot to take some pictures. Good thing we ordered seconds. We each ate a fish, shrimp and pork tacos and a mixed pupusa. The pupusa was really tasty though a little oily. I preferred the seafood tacos over the pork. The fish was light and flavourful while the shrimp was richer noticeably more of of that pink cream sauce.

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Without drinks, L and I paid just about $28.00. Soft tacos are about $3.70 and pupusas are around $3.00 each. The burritos looked good and very filling.

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L and I still had time to kill before our flight, so Phoebe took us to Tallboys. I love this place. The drinks are so cheap and the servers are so nice. Though it was busy, we never felt rushed even though we just sipping on our happy hour beers ($4.40) and wine ($5.00). The food we saw other people ordered looked good, such as the burgers and tacos.

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At the airport, we made one final pit stop at Corso. Our experience at Corso was the exact opposite of Chili’s

The prices of beer are listed in the menu (crazy, I know). Our food came out quickly, which is much appreciated as you don’t want to miss your flight. The prices of booze and food, selection and quality of food were far superior. I don’t understand why the Calgary airport cannot have a place like Corso. Does the Calgary airport want to punish locals? I don’t get it.

calamria

The calamari wasn’t just the generic ringlets, but also contained the lovely squid legs. The batter was light and melted in your mouth. There were lots of left over fried batter bits on our plate, which I scooped it up to eat.

I’m glad we only spent three days in Toronto. I ate and drank way more than I should. Toronto is a destination for any Canadian foodie.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Corso - Toronto Pearson International Airport Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato