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Bymark

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Original Visit: September 18, 2013

Bymark is a fine-dining restaurant helm by the well-known chef Mark McEwan. It's located in the Financial District in downtown Toronto, so it's rather accessible by car and TTC. It was a rather spontaneous dinner as we didn't know what restaurant to go to until the last minute, hence the later than usual dinner time.


 The four of us (including his parents) were given the menu to peruse.


 We were offered complimentary toasted bread with butter while we wait for our food. The server went around with a basket of four different kinds of bread (I forgot the names).



 Being the only one at the table who loves oysters with every meal; my significant other got the oysters (4 got $15.40). It was market price so if you get oysters; the prices will fluctuate depending on the seasons.


 As I read through the starters; the lobster poutine definitely caught my eye. I decided to start with the
lobster poutine [crisp frites & classic bearnaise] ($27). The dish arrived, and it was a lobster shell containing golden cut fries and topped with warm classic bearnaise sauce. I was pleasantly surprised that the shell contained a good chunk of white lobster meat, and it was very filling.The bite-sized lobster chunks tasted delicious with the rich tasting sauce. Additionally, the fries were crispy and weren't overly oily.


 As for my main course, I opted for their surf and turf ($44). The dish arrived beautifully presented on a white plate and decorative with garnishes and cooked vegetables.


 The scallops ($38) dish.


My significant other decided on getting the U.S.D.A. 16 oz. Rib eye ($50). According to their menu, all of their rib eye steaks "are dry aged eight weeks." 


Overall, I had a lovely dinner at Bymark, and everyone else did too. I thought that our server was knowledgeable, and attentive despite having to wait about 4-5 other tables around us. The atmosphere is perfect for family dinners, casual business diners, and special anniversaries as well.


RATINGS:

Quality of Food: 4.3/5
Service: 4.3/5
Overall Dining Experience: 4.3/5
Price: $$$$

Address: 66 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5K 1M6

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Tab Payments: Mobile Payments for Dining

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Tab is a recent Toronto startup that aims to make dining out seamlessly easy. The free app has been out for a couple of months now, and can be downloaded in both the App Store and Google Play. Tab has partnered up with several restaurants where customers can pay their bills with the Tab app; eliminating the use of a physical credit card, or cash.
 
Tab currently has a roster of more than 20+ restaurants participating with this form of payment. Some restaurants that are accepting Tab are The Chase, Valdez, Thompson Diner, The Happy Hooker, Gusto 101, Copacabana Brazilian Adelaide, SPiN Toronto, and many more. The complete list of participating restaurants is here.


It's very easy to pay with Tab, and it can be done in 3 steps.

1) Check-in (create or join a tab).
2) Tell your server ("I am paying with Tab").
3) Enjoy your meal and pay with Tab at the end of the meal.

The app is very easy to use once you set up a profile (don't forget to add a picture of yourself and credit card information). Have the app opened when you're dining at one of the participating restaurants, and the location finder will automatically geolocate the restaurant on the app. Tab is pretty much a mobile wallet that not only allows you to pay/tip using your phone, but you can also split the bill amongst your friends (granted that they use Tab as well).


I was invited to the Leave Your Wallet at Home Wednesdays last week by Tab; held at the Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse. Each Wednesday for the month of August, both Tab and Uber, are featuring one restaurant where people can dine at. The deal is great as users get $20 off their bill if they use Tab to pay (using promo LeftMyWallet), and 20% off their Uber ride (using promo code: NOWALLETWED). This Wednesday (Aug 20); the event is being held at Spin and then Cafe Bar Pasta on August 27.

Last week Wednesday, I arrived at Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse around 7:30 pm for dinner, and was promptly shown to my seat. I am currently working on my full-review of Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse, which will be up soon.

Our server arrived at our table, and we told her that we were paying with Tab that night. She brought out the Tab-provided iPad and found our profiles on Copacabana's list of diners, and started our Tab. This was my first time trying out the app, but I thought that the app's interface was very sleekly designed, and it wasn't hard to use. Nearby restaurants are displayed clearly (with their address, how far they are from your current location) when you have your location settings on.


I found that by using Tab; it did provide a more personalized experience. Our server's photo and name were clearly displayed in the app, and our names were on it too. Depending on the customer service provided; you can also customize the tip by going into Payment => Default Tip to enter the tip percentage.



After we finished our meal, we checked out and paid with Tab. My receipt was emailed to me right away with the breakdown of the cost (including price of meal, tax, tip, and credits). The price at Copacabana was set, so it was easy to check the breakdown of the bill. However, I am not sure if the Tab bill will provide the breakdowns of every item ordered at other establishments with individual prices. However, the overall process of paying was quick, and we left soon after with no problems. Thanks to both Tab and Uber for hosting a fun event!

Bonuses:

New to Uber? Click here and get $20 off your first ride by using promo code NOWALLETWED.

 $10 Off Tab? Use my promo code TABLE0BB to get $10 off your first Tab meal.


Download: App Store
Download: Googleplay
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tabpayments 
Instagram: http://instagram.com/tabpayments/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tabpayments


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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was completely subsidized by Tab. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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Sweet Note Desserts

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I met up with a friend for dinner at Korean Grill House up in Richmond Hill for dinner. Along the way, I was telling him about a dessert place called Sweet Note Dessert that I wanted to check out. We were surprised to see that Sweet Note Desserts was in the same Commerce Gate plaza as KBBQ. So we decided to head there after dinner at Korean Grill House for some desserts.

Sweet Note Desserts is a small dessert establishment offering milk bottle desserts, meringue melty, cupcakes, fresh butter cookies, and more. It's located in a rather busy plaza with a ton of restaurants and tea shops, so parking on the weekend might be a little difficult. A little after 8:30 pm, we entered the bright and cute establishment, and were greeted by the server. She was friendly, and told her that the soufflés take about 30 minutes to prepare. We per-ordered two and paid, and left our cellphone so she could call one of us when it was finished.


A majority of customers that Friday afternoon got their packaged desserts to go. However, there is a small sit-down dessert area where customers can enjoy their desserts and chat. Their sit-in dessert menu is rather limited but these desserts are freshly made upon order (soufflés and crème brûlée). I have a major sweet tooth so even on a full stomach of KBBQ meats; I still wanted to try out the soufflé.

Sweet Note Desserts offers two kinds of fresh soufflé; vanilla or chocolate. Additionally, you have a choice of one sauce from the following list: chocolate, raspberry, mango, strawberry, or guava sauces. Each order of soufflé is $8.75, which to me is a complete steal.


My friend got the vanilla soufflé + sauce ($8.75) - mango sauce. 


I opted for the chocolate soufflé + sauce ($8.75) - strawberry sauce. DISCLAIMER: mine got deflated because I was too busy trying to take a decent picture of my friend's item -___-" So it wasn't because the dessert was poorly made; I just took a little bit longer than I expected. I enjoyed the soufflé as it was airy, and fluffy. Before mine was deflated; it looked visually appealing and it was quite large. I didn't think it was overly sweet, but I liked the balance of sweet and sour that the sauce itself added to the flavor.






You can follow me on my personal Instagram at http://instagram.com/miso___sw33t =)

Address: Unit 61-63 505 Hwy 7 East Markham, ON L3T7V6

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[JAPAN] Afternoon Tea @ Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

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As mentioned previously in another post; I had planned our itinerary about 1-2 months prior to our trip in December. I wanted us to experience afternoon tea in Tokyo so I decided to do some research. After reading reviews on about 5 places; I ended up booking a reservation for two at Ritz-Carlton Tokyo one month in advanced for a 2 pm time slot.

We had a very busy day ahead on December 15, 2013. We woke up from our hotel, ate our continental breakfast, and then got ready for the day. Our plans included Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, Sumida Aquarium, and end the end by going shopping at the Tokyo Skytree Solamachi (popular shopping mall in Tokyo). The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is located in the affluent area of Roppongi (Tokyo Midtown) where it's bustling with tourists. However, the streets leading up to the hotel was relatively quiet. Afternoon tea takes place at the Lobby Lounge & Bar located on the 45th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. We were seated in the middle of the establishment, but I could still see the spectacular view of Tokyo from my sea.

 The wait staffs were all refined, polite and extremely helpful. My cup of tea was never empty, and they often came by to check up on us. Japan doesn't have a strong tipping culture, so they refused to accept additional tips. Ritz-Carlton Tokyo does have a mandatory 13% service charge but that's clearly stated on the bill and menu.
Sign that points to the steps of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.
The lobby with the elevator to the 45th floor.
Lobby Lounge & Bar.

In terms of prices; afternoon tea in Tokyo seems so much more expensive compared to the places in Toronto. The afternoon teas available in Toronto are no more than $50 per person. However, this was our first time in Japan, so we wanted to make the best of it. I opted for the Afternoon Holiday Tea (¥5,000) and he got the more expensive option; Ritz-Carlton Afternoon Tea (¥7,500). The second one had more delicacies such as foie grias terrine and caviar which I got to try as well.

There was a bit of a wait but our 2 three-tiered metal stands finally arrived with its elegantly presented items.

The menu and plate setting.



Afternoon Holiday Tea (¥5,000) --- $54 CAD

Pate de Champagne, champagne jelly
Crab Charlotte
Turkey sandwich, cinnamon honey flavor
Jambon, cream cheese in crepe
Goat cheese, chestnut crostini

Strawberry yoghurt verrine
Paris-brest
Macaroon
Truffle
Caramel orange chocolate
X-mas cookie

Lemon & raisin scone with clotted cream

Close ups of some of the items from the Afternoon Holiday Tea.

The Ritz-Carlton Afternoon Tea (¥7,500) --- $82 CAD

Foie gras terrine, truffle coulis
Salmon mousse, smoked salmon
Smoked scallop and tuna tartar, sour cream
Chicken terrine, mushroom, dried tomato
Crab, avocado, caviar
Prosciutto ham, prosciutto mousse

Strawberry yoghurt verrine
Paris-brest
Macaroon
Truffle
Caramel orange chocolate
Christmas cookie

Lemon & raisin scone with clotted cream

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Yonge Sushi

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About: Meeting up with friends in the area over lunch on the weekday means limited time. Normally, we only have about an hour or so to eat. In these cases, I prefer meeting over lunch at an AYCE. There are many reasons such as more variety of food, good price, and most of the time the service is quick. This time, it was at a small AYCE joint located on Yonge/Lawrence called Yonge Sushi. The restaurant was much smaller in size when compared to other establishments in the area. The overall atmosphere of Yonge Sushi was pretty casual, and a good place for a quick and casual lunch.

Price: The price was very appealing as their lunch menu was a mere $11.99 per person.

Food: Yonge Sushi offers the standard sushi fare as most places. Now, they don't offer anything out of the ordinary but the overall standard of the food items was solid. We started off with the usual starters; green salad, miso soup and edamame. My favorite cooked dishes were the scallops, beef ribs and chicken teriyaki. I was moreso pleasantly surprised that they served beef ribs on the lunch menu as it's usually a dinner item. I definitely racked up on order of ribs. The sushi were decently made, and did not fall apart at all. Also, they didn't overkill on the amount of rice used in their sushi; the fish to rice ratio was good. However, one thing that I did noticed about their nigri was that the fish was extremely thinly sliced. That they offered for lunch is value for money, and I'd definitely come back if I am ever in the area.


Address: 3421 Yonge, North York, ON, M4N 2N1

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Montana's Cookhouse

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 I find chains rather difficult to review as there are no real consistencies. I have been to Montana's Cookhouse before, and had a forgettable dining experience. However, it was not at this location  Prior to a movie date at Cineplex Cinemas Queensway, J and I, had dinner at the Queensway location. The restaurant is situated in a plaza full of other chained restaurants. Of course with the theater nearby showing the latest Marvel movie; most restaurants in that said plaza were bustling with hungry customers. Montana's Cookhouse provided a comforting and casual environment. They use brown paper as tablecloths; as customers can write/draw on them while they wait. I'd say that the place is more family-friendly as opposed to a date spot.


The menu is extensive, and offers similar fare as other chains from steaks, ribs, sandwiches, appetizers, etc ... I had tried their steak before, and wasn't a fan of it. I decided to opt for their Rib N' Wing Combo's pork side ribs combo ($23.99) - a half rack of our Honkin' Beef Ribs, paired with four double-dusted chicken wings, with your choice of rib and wing sauce. I chose cracked black peppercorn sauce for my ribs and honey garlic for my wings. It was very well-portioned and I didn't leave hungry, that's for sure. My dish arrived with all of the necessary fixing including fries and coleslaw. The ribs were delicious and had a nice smoky flavor to them. I wasn't a huge fan of the wings though as they were quite small and a little overcooked. Both the fries and coleslaw were okay; nothing special.


Cookhouse top sirloin 8 oz ($19.99) - a tender, juicy Canadian AAA top sirloin, aged 28 days and fire-grilled to order. All steak meals are served with one of Southern baked beans, corn or coleslaw. Additionally, there's a choice of one side and an order of crispy Cajun onions.

This particular location fared a lot better than the other ones that I have been to. Service was a little slow but I could chalk it up to being a busy Saturday night. The food did take a while to arrive, but at least our server was friendly and made conversations with us.

Address: 1007 The Queensway Toronto, ON, M8Z 6C7 

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Johnny Rockets

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The Niagara Falls location of Johnny Rockets recently made headlines regarding Aretha Franklin as she wanted to eat her take-out order in the restaurant. I have seen the chain whenever I am in Niagara Falls, but I have never personally ate there. However, I have finally tried Johnny Rockets about a month ago at their Dundas location (near Eaton's Center).
  
Johnny Rockets is an American franchise with multiple locations all throughout the world. There are four different locations in Canada, and the one we ate at is nearby the Eaton's Center. The restaurant's concept is to retain the classic restaurant look from the 1950's; so pretty much diner-style.



As you can see from the picture; the decor was dated as they want to retain the 1950's look. There were a few booths along the side which was where we were seated. On each table was a mini jukebox machine that plays music when you insert a nickel (5 cents) into it but it was non-functional.



Johnny Rockets is known for their thick and creamy shakes and malt, and offers several flavors. We decided to get both the vanilla original shake ($6.49) and strawberry original shake ($6.49). I liked the milkshakes a lot as it was tasty and rich. You can really tell that Johnny Rockets uses real ice-cream and whipped cream for their milkshakes instead of artificial ingredients.


The grilled cheese ($6.99) - our grown-up version of the grilled cheese with your choice of four slices of cheddar, American, Swiss or pepper jack on your choice of bread, was one sandwich cut into two slices. It also came with a side of french fries. The grilled cheese looked rather lackluster, but at least there was plenty of cheese. Unfortunately, the two slices of breads were lukewarm so I didn't fully enjoy the second slice as it was rather cold when I got to it. I did like their fries though as it was crispy and non-oily.


JL opted for the Route 66 ($11.99) - this favorite is named after the iconic, carefree, American Highway Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and mayonnaise, which also came with a side order of either salad or fries. You can also add additional toppings for $1.79 each (onion rings, jalapeno slices, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions or gravy) and $1.99 each (2 slices of bacon, chili). The burger may be a tad overpriced due to its small portion, but he liked it regardless.

I find that with chained restaurants; one can either like it or hate it. With that being said, I am rather indifferent towards Johnny Rockets.The food wasn't completely inedible or bad, and I really did enjoy their milkshakes. However, there was nothing spectacular about the food or service.

Address: 22 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5B 1R4

Johnny Rockets on Urbanspoon

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