Bar Hop on King West

The first time I went to Bar Hop was earlier this year when I called out a bunch of friends to get introduced to the Monsieur. A parkour/lawyer friend of mine had suggested it and I’ve fallen in love with the place ever since!

Courtesy of Bar Hop

Located at 391 King Street West, right between Spadina Ave. and Peter St. in downtown Toronto, Bar Hop attracts young, casual but trendy professionals of all industries in for some good food and drink.

Bar Hop has 36 offerings of craft beer with rotating casks, so it’s entirely possible that you’ll see a completely different menu every time you go.

They don’t take reservations, so if you bring a whole group of friends (4 is usually the best) it might be a while before you’re able to be seated if you want to sit together. But, it’s definitely worth the wait.

I went with Chris on a random Wednesday night for some dinner and drinks. Even though I had went with the monsieur on Saturday, they already had a different beer list! I was a little disappointed because I had this fantastic beer on Saturday and I couldn’t remember the name of it to get another recommendation.

Bar Hop Toronto

Ah, well. I ended up going with Left Field’s Prospect, which is a single hop American IPA that was seriously light and refreshing but it had plenty of personality to keep me interested.

Chris got Beau’s LugTread, which is a kolsch style beer that reminded us both of Rickard’s but much less hoppy, way crispier and very fresh tasting. The only problem for her was that it made her fall asleep really quickly! (She’s a lightweight for beer. Wine, not so much.)

Bar Hop Toronto

For food, I was instantly won over by their Meat Pie of the night: smoked chicken, chunks of merguez sausage, roasted corn in a hot creamy pot pie. They had a pretty fun sounding vegetarian pot pie with celery root and red quinoa, but I have a soft spot for sausages and smoked chicken.

As you can tell, the dish was really generously portioned! They actually bake it in a small cast iron skillet and it gives a whole new dimension of flavour to the pot pie, which was already really delicious in the first place.

The chicken chunks were so succulent and the merguez sausage was balanced out really nicely with the roasted corn, and when eaten with a good beer… HEAVEN!

Chris got their Fish and Chips and Stuff, which I had on Saturday. Served with tempura battered green beans, apple fennel slaw and a pile of fries and house made tartar sauce, the haddock filet was delicate moist and wrapped in a crispy, airy batter.

After tax and tip, I paid about $30 for my meal and that’s a great deal for a fantastic venue like Bar Hop.

Verdict: 5/5! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back again very, very soon! If you’re in the area, you should definitely stick your head in and see if you can grab a seat. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

xoxo,

B.elle

Taste of Toronto 2014

I won a pair of tickets from a Twitter contest that Pommies Dry Cider held a while ago and it was such a fantastic evening! Thank you so much, Pommies!!

Taste of Toronto features a huge array of artisan vendors, top ranked restaurants and live music from all around Toronto and beyond. Instead of money, restaurants and bars will only accept Crowns, which are bought at $1 a piece.

This year, it was held at Fort York at the south end of Bathurst Street and Thursday was the perfect evening to go!

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I went with the monsieur and we first loaded up our Crowns card with $40, thinking that it would be enough for a few dishes and a couple of drinks. We actually had to go back and top it off with $20 because there was just so much to try!

The first dish that we tried was a smoked pulled duck taco from Barque Smokehouse (299 Roncesvalles Ave.) that was absolutely divine. The duck was succulent and soft, but perfectly seasoned with just enough of their special barbeque sauce. It was contrasted with some lightly pickled radishes, crispy fried onion and fresh green onions.

It was all gone before I could take a picture!

We tried a couple beers (100th Meridian is surprisingly refreshing but crisp), a Pommies each (delicious as always!), a sampling of a Canadian gin distiller called 66 Gilead Distillery (Black Dragon Sochu and Canadian Pine are both very tasty), and some tequila to round the night out (Tequila Tromba has a delicious cilantro, lime and jalapeno chaser for a hard night of partying).

In between all the drinks, we went and had some more of the finest food Toronto has to offer!

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From the famous Splendido (88 Harbord St.) comes pieces of sashimi salmon on a block of crisped rice with some avocado, pickled jalapenos and roasted sesame seeds on top. Something in the dish really made the salmon flavours pop and the whole dish was very well balanced.

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The monsieur got the fresh agnolotti with ricotta, mushrooms and truffles from Splendido. I thought 10 crowns would have gotten him two agnolotti but I’m guessing that the black truffles really raised the price! The agnolotti wasn’t overpowered by the truffles at all and the ricotta was decadently creamy with such a wonderful aroma.

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Lastly, we made a stop at the LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM (aka Ice Volcano)!

They didn’t accept crowns, so the monsieur bought some Nutella ice cream for us because he’s a total sweetie. I didn’t expect it to have dry ice at the bottom! And, it was one of the smoothest ice creams I’ve ever had!

As a pair of scientists, we were both VERY impressed.

Everything at the Taste of Toronto was luxurious, classy and it seemed like everyone was having a good time! I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing it again next year.

Thank you again to Pommies Dry Cider for the tickets! You can find their delicious Ontario cider at the LCBO.

Xoxo,

B.Elle

Kombucha Wonder Drink

Whelp… I caved in and did it.

No, I didn’t get a new, questionable tattoo or pole danced in Dundas Square. I actually went and tried kombucha tea!

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Kombucha Wonder Drink in Green Tea & Lemon – $2 for 250ml

Ingredients: water, organic brewed green tea (water, organic green tea leaves), organic kombucha (water, organic cane juice, organic oolong tea leaves, yeast and bacteria cultures), organic cane juice, organic lemon extract, carbon dioxide.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this new trendy drink, it’s tea with added live culture like yeast and bacteria to naturally create fizzy bubbles like in pop and beer.

“But wait,” you say. “The ingredient deck says that there’s organic cane sugar in the drink! Doesn’t yeast cause fermentation with sugary drinks?”

(You probably didn’t say that, but you might’ve. If that’s the case, you’re awesome.)

Why, yes! Fermentation DOES occur with certain sugar-based beverages. Not only is it the main reaction that creates alcoholic beverages like wine, beer, vodka and many blacked out, vomit-filled nights around the world, it also causes food spoilage.

I think you can see why I was so hesitant to try it!

Anyway, I found this can at the Richtree Marketplace convenience store in the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto and decided that it was a good day as any to be culinarily adventurous. I picked the green tea and lemon variation over the original just because I figured that some extra flavouring would help me get over the fact I was drinking yeast.

The lemon extract flavour did come out quite well with a good amount of sweetness and the astringency from both tea leaves was very noticeable, even through the very distinct yeast flavour.

And I mean VERY distinct.

The recurring thought I had while drinking the kombucha tea was that it felt like I was drinking a the dregs of a very strong, very yeasty and possibly spoiled stout mixed with sweet lemon tea. And that’s a really weird combination, even for me!

The most prominent factor for me was this: It left a very unpleasant aftertaste on my entire palate and left me kind of bloated, not unlike downing half a pint of Guinness in a few gulps but without the buzz that comes with it.

After doing some light research, I found out that kombucha’s supposed to be a sort of cure-all tonic back in the older days, but there’s no real scientific backing to any of these claims. This would be why I couldn’t find any health claims besides the organic certification on the can!

Verdict: 1.5/5 I do appreciate the all-organic ingredients that they sourced and the lemon green tea combination, but I can’t get over the fermentation flavour and how it tastes like a badly-made beer.

Have you tried kombucha tea? Do you like it? Maybe I need to try a different brand. Any suggestions?

Xoxo,
B.elle