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Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Marc - Baby, One More Time

What is it about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? I intend to revisit so many places, but finding time has become like trying to rescue a strip of bacon from a pack of hungry coyotes. I've intended to visit The Marc for months. My initial visit was in April and, following that, I intended to spend time on their patio. Summer flashed past and replaced patio weather with scarves and fallen leaves.

I finally, finally, returned to discover a new menu that retained some treats (helloooo beignets) from my initial visit. I dive into a Basque seafood stew that arrives cozily contained in its own miniature pot. The delicate, transparent broth boasts mussels, prawns, fish and a few veggies. It is uncomplicated and genuinely showcases the clean flavours of the sea. A glass of pinot grigio is an obvious partner.

Steak frites caresses a succulent slice of medium-rare beef with devilishly rich foie gras butter. Salty, crispy and addictive fries are amenable to a delicate smear of aioli. A butter knife lazily slides through the meat's grain - a spork would suffice for meat this tender. The frites, though we cannot finish them all, are morsels of deep-fried happiness.

I alluded to beignets earlier. I wanted to - and would have - returned for these fluffy indulgences alone. Beignets are small, doughnut-like fritters that originated in France but enjoy substantial popularity in New Orleans. The Marc, keeping with Gallic and Cajun tradition, sprinkles these delightfully asymmetrical spheres with icing sugar and serves them hot from the fryer with tiny dishes of salted caramel and creme fraiche for dipping. C'est bon. C'est tres, tres bon.

I lament my apparent inability to conduct follow-up visits in a timely fashion but, in the interest of keeping this post concise and keeping up my propensity to casually toss in cliches when necessary, better late than never.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Cafe Amore Bistro - All in the Famiglia

Imagine a small bistro owned and staffed by multiple generations of the same family. It's late at night, well after the traditional dining hour. The place is packed and multiple layers of conversation are mixed with lively music. Close your eyes and you might imagine sitting in an Italian osteria. Open them and realize you are nowhere more (or less) exotic than the mature neighbourhood of Delton.

This is Cafe Amore Bistro. One moves through an unassuming doorway into an electric plane of energy underscored by solid Italian fare. The concept is simple: one of the owners greets you, you peruse the menus (which hang on the wall in a most cavalier fashion), order, observe your surroundings and eat.

Penne. Sausage. Tomato sauce. Need I say more?

Pasta specials change daily; today, a Calabrese interpretation graces my plate. Properly al dente penne loll with slices of spicy sausage and vibrant tomato sauce. A small shaker of red chilies is available for those with a need to spice things up, but I am content to consume this bounty unadulterated.

A happy sandwich indeed.

A chicken pizzaiola panino (Remember: panini is plural and panino is singular...had to sneak that in there for it's one of my pet peeves) arrives next. A crusty bun cradles an entire chicken breast caressed by herbs and melted cheese. I cannot help but recall that a certain sandwich franchise proffered chicken pizzaiola subs several years ago. Purge those from your mind, for they are not a valid comparison. Cafe Amore's panini are fresh and sing with well-chosen flavours.

The house red, a Montepulciano, is ruby red, bold and luscious. Two dishes of sorbetto - orange and strawberry - conclude our meal. I am loathe to leave this distinctly international hub and return to the starkly residential scene outside. It doesn't, in my estimation, get any more authentic than this.

Cafe Amore Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Ragazzi Bistro - The Boys Are Back In Town

Not that long ago, in a neighbourhood not so far away, thrived a small pizzeria called Pizza Boys. Renowned for hand-tossed crusts, this family-run operation eventually changed its name to the more upscale moniker, Ragazzi Bistro. "Ragazzi," literally translated, means "boys" but part of me misses their cavalier birth name. I suppose it's my predilection for the classic and retro, as opposed to the modern (and hence my predisposition to listen to hair metal...but I'll save that one for another day).

A pizza, by any other name, tastes as sweet when it comes from the kitchen of Ragazzi. Stricken by a crippling combination of fatigue and laziness, I ordered a New York Spice pizza and (to my dismay) discovered that they no longer deliver. I muddled my way through traffic, driven (no pun intended) by the promise of melted cheese and tender crust. I traipsed like a half-starved zombie into Ragazzi's recently-renovated dining room.

A mere cardboard take-out box could not contain the beguiling aroma of New York Spice. I raced to the vehicle, locked the doors and wolfed down a slice. Heaven. Perhaps it was the self-contained atmosphere of my hermetically sealed vehicle. Perhaps it was my ravenous hunger. These are indubitably contributing factors, but I attribute my immense enjoyment of said pizza to the high level of skill present in Ragazzi's kitchen. Crispy-tender crust, zesty tomato sauce, bracing spices and an abundant blanket of stretch cheese. This Bonnie Doon spot, name change nonewithstanding, satiates and impresses. The boys are back in town. And they never left in the first place.

Ragazzi Bistro Italiano‎ on Urbanspoon


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