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120 Diner

 After nine years of successfully running the club, Club 120. Owners Todd Klinck and Mandy Goodhandy decided to acquire the downstairs space that used to house Spring Rolls, and turned it into a casual restaurant. The two opened up 120 Diner last August 2014, and they aim to serve comfort food, and drinks at reasonable prices. The diner also has a fully equipped bar offering alcoholic drinks such as sangria, custom cocktails, craft beers on tap, and much more. 120 Diner is also open late until 2 am, which is perfect for those looking for late night eats in the downtown core. 

Additionally, for those who would like to order comfort food from 120 Diner for take-out, they can do so using Just Eat.

 I decided to get the Fried Calamari ($8.95) - with spicy mayo dipping sauce, as a starter. I was quite surprised with the portion size of the calamari, as it was more than enough for two people. It's of great value for those who enjoy calamari (like myself). A few pieces were overly deep-fried, but overall it was a flavorful dish without being too crisp or salty. The homemade mayo dipping sauce added a little spice to the calamari, which was good.

 For his appetizer, my brother opted for their Crunchy Coconut Shrimp ($11.95) - giant shrimp, battered, served with spicy chili homemade mayo. As stated on the menu, this is one of 120 Diner's top selling menu items. The dish itself was a sizable portion, and came with five large shrimps coated with coconut. I tried two pieces, and found that the shrimp was tasty, while the coconut crust provided a nice crunch to it.  

 For my main, I opted for the Grilled Cheese ($11.95) - 3 cheeses on rosemary focaccia bread with spicy chili mayo. What drew me to this particular item was the use of focaccia bread, as I normally see restaurants using regular white bread. The dish arrived with a warm and toasted focaccia bread cut in half, and filled with three different types of cheeses oozing out of it. It was a filling sandwich, and I liked how the different cheeses complemented one another.

 My brother got the Fish and Chips ($13.95) - haddock with fresh cut fries and tartar sauce. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised with the portion. The coating of the two pieces of haddock fish had a subtle crispy crunch, but the fish itself was flaky, and cooked just right. The overall execution of the fish was good despite its larger size. I also liked that it wasn't greasy at all, as it was not seeped in oil.
crispy and flaky but I think it may be better to substitute peanut oil to achieve a browner crust.
crispy and flaky but I think it may be better to substitute peanut oil to achieve a browner crust.

 Besides food, 120 Diner also offers entertainment such as karaoke nights, comedy show nights, and live music entertainment on certain days of the week. I had dinner on a Friday, and they had a comedy show that night. The show started at around 9 pm, and showcases local comedians performing a few minutes of their stand-up set. It was a full house that night filled with customers looking for a good laugh.

 To end the night, I ordered the Whopper Chocolate Malt Cake ($7.00) - decadent chocolate cake with crushed whopper chocolate icing, topped with whoppers. One of the main ingredients used in the cake was malted milk, which gives it a very thick chocolatey texture. As a chocolate lover, I enjoyed the strong chocolate taste of the cake. Lastly, it was topped off with a few pieces of Whoppers candy, which mainly added to the aesthetic.

Our server, Zane, was friendly, and genuinely helpful. He came to our table a few times throughout the night to check up on us, and promptly took away finished dishes. 

Like I previously mentioned, the menu at 120 Diner features a number of comfort food such as poutine, nachos, tuna melt, burgers, meatloaf and mash, and etc ... A majority of the food items are very reasonably priced for the amount of food that you get. Lastly, 120 Diner has ample seating with both table and booth seating to the side, which are aligned perfectly to face the stage. If you're looking for both food, and entertainment at the same venue, then 120 Diner is a good place to go. Many thanks to Todd of 120 Diner for the warm hospitality, as I had a fun and tasty evening.

 Also, 120 Diner is located south of Richmond St E (on the west side of the street), and there are plenty of free parking spots after 9 pm on Lombard St.

Address: 120 Church St Toronto, ON M5C2G8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/120diner

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

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Dolce Gelato

Dolce Gelato is a gelato shop with three locations in the GTA area. They offer a wide variety of gelato flavors served on your choice of either plain cone, sugar cone, waffle cone, or cup. Additionally, they don't only have gelato, as they also have several desserts available such as cakes, cupcakes, waffles, etc ...  J and I went out to eat dinner with his cousin, Jannie, at Grand Electric, last weekend. We decided to find a place for dessert, when Jannie recommended Dolce Gelato. The establishment was small with only a few tables, but it was bright and clean. Dolce Gelato has a "pay first" system, so you'd pay the cashier first, and then go to the encased glass to get your ordered gelato (don't forget the receipt).

I am starting to really love pistachio, so I was happy to see it as an option for the gelato. I ended up getting the medium 2 flavors cup ($5.50) - pistaccio sicilia and espresso. The girl behind the glass case was kind enough to offer me a taste test of their candied pistaccio (very bright green in color) as well. I thought that the candied version was decent as it was ultra sweet, but I liked the one that I got more. The pistaccio sicilia gelato was rich, creamy and full of flavor. The espresso had a good coffee flavor to it, but it didn't really go well with the pistachio sicilia when eating it at the same time. 

As for customer service, I thought that it was excellent. There were two ladies behind the counter (one on cash, and the other scooping the gelato). They were both friendly, courteous, and offered quick service. I will definitely be coming back here since it's so close by, and the warm weather is finally here.

Dolce Gelato E Cafe on Urbanspoon

J got the hot Belgian waffle with 1 scoop of mango gelato, and topped off with strawberries (~$7).

pistaccio sicilia and espresso
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Chung Gi Wa Japanese & Korean Restaurant

 Chung Gi Wa is a hidden gem located in Mississauga at the corner of Haines Rd & Dundas St East. The restaurant itself is pretty tucked away, as we only found the restaurant randomly while driving to Popeyes one night. We walked in and was greeted by a very cheerful server, and quickly seated in one of the available booths. Chung Gi Wa serves both Japanese and Korean dishes.

Similarly to all Korean restaurants, we were served several dishes of complimentary bachan which were refillable. The bachan that were available were kimchi, bean sprouts, radish with carrots, and glass noodles. 

On my first visit, I opted for the Kam Ja Tang ($7.99) - pork bone soup with potato and vegetables in hot broth served with rice. First off, I'd have to say that the pork bone soup was priced well (at least according to Mississauga standards) for what you get. The order arrived in a hot bowl with three large pieces of pork bone and potatoes. The dish was flavorful, and perfectly spiced for my liking.

Soon Tofu ($8.99) - soft tofu soup (pork) served with rice.

The two of us enjoyed the Salmon Maki ($4.99) that we got another order after finishing up the first one. There was a generous portion of fish and the right amount of rice making it quite tasty.

Sashimi Tempura Bento - sashimi (9 pcs), shrimp (3 pcs) with vegetables tempura, California roll (6 pcs), rice, miso, and green salad ($17.99).

On my second visit, I decided to try out one of the Japanese dishes on the menu. I opted for the Teriyaki Dinner - broiled beef teriyaki, rice, miso, and green salad ($15.99). The price was relatively comparable to downtown pricing (maybe $1 more), but overall it wasn't too expensive. I enjoyed the thinly sliced and tender beef, and there was a generous portion of beef. 

On both occasions, we had the same cheerful server who was friendly, and attentive. She came into the booth from time to time to check up on us, without being super intrusive.

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Canyon Creek Chophouse

 Canyon Creek Chophouse is a popular steakhouse chain offering "premium dining experience without the formality". They have several locations in the GTA, and the two that I frequent the most are the Front Street West location, and Queensway location. I find that they offer both consistent food and service, which is why I keep on returning to dine there.

BBQ Baby Back Ribs (half) ($21.95) - slow braised ribs, grilled and brushed in smoky glaze, with skinny fries and slaw.

Signature Aged Prime Rib (12 oz) ($27.75) - aged for forty days, marinated in our Dijon mustard seasoning, slow roasted for hours, and served with Cabernet jus and horseradish sour cream.

Certified Angus Beef Top Sirloin (7 oz) ($22.75) - full flavored steak.

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&Company Resto Bar

&Company Resto Bar is a unique venue located in Mississauga; just steps away from Square One Shopping Centre. The restaurant was established in 2011, and has since become a local hot spot. &Company Resto Bar offers contemporary dinner service in the evening, and then slowly transitions into an entertainment venue at night. Their slogan is "Life's better when you're in good company". Coincidentally, I was invited to dine at &Company Resto Bar for both a Zomato Meetup, and to check out their revamped menu headed by a new Executive Chef in the same week. This blog reflects both of my visits to &Company Resto Bar.

First off, I am going to start with their revamped menu headed by their new Executive Chef Ron Stratton. He was hired in November 2014, and came with over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, as he has worked in several fine dining establishments all over Canada. He has revamped the menu to center on "fine familiar" cuisine. Basically, Executive Chef Ron Stratton is taking familiar and conventional dishes, and providing a more creative take on them using high quality ingredients.

J got the Caesar Medley ($13) - candied bacon, crisp egg, and grana padano tuile on a bed of romaine hearts with red wine vinegar dressing. The chef's take on the uncut bed of romaine lettuce was a refreshing take indeed, as I have never seen a Caesar salad served this way before. Although J was not too fond of having to cut his own lettuce, he did thoroughly enjoy the crisp egg, and the tangy red wine vinegar dressing.

For my appetizer, I went with the Crispy Thai Calamari ($15) - flash-fried calamari with pickled vegetable salad and green curry coconut veloute. Out of all the appetizers that I have tried at &Company Resto Bar, this was by far my favorite. I loved how light the green curry coconut veloute sauce was, as it wasn't overwhelming at all. Additionally, the calamari themselves were crispy without being overly oily or heavily fried.

 For my main, I opted for the Hickory Smoked Burger ($27) - 8 oz. AAA beef patty stuffed with hickory smoked mozzarella, topped with crisp bacon, sunny side egg, rustic tomato ketchup, and lemon aioli, "Fred's" brioche bun with a side of root chips and signature dip. The burger was priced higher than average, but it was a large and generously packed burger. I thought that the hickory smoked mozzarella, and lemon aioli, added great flavor to the burger. Overall, I was impressed with both the presentation and taste, as the 8 oz. AAA beef patty was thick, and juicy. As for the fries, I was expecting thinner cut ones, but the side of root chips had an interesting crunchy texture to it.


For J's main, he chose the USDA ($36) - in-house dry aged 10 oz. steak with Ontario goat cheese scalloped potatoes, ratatouille vegetables and veal jus.

We shared the dessert, Brownie Banana Split ($12) - dark chocolate brownie with a banana spring roll, seasonal berry compote, ice cream and sorbet. The first thought that came to mind was that it was beautifully presented. I liked that the chocolate brownie topped with seasonal berry compote wasn't overly sweet. Additionally, the well-wrapped banana spring roll was a nice touch to what is normally a standard dessert. Perfect treat for chocolate lovers.

A couple days prior to the revamped meal tasting (reviewed above), I was invited to a 7-course meal tasting for a Zomato Meetup. Please note that the meal was a tasting menu so the portions served were not full-sized items.

A small team of bloggers started off with the amuse bouche - in-house smoked Ontario pork, oven roasted tomato salsa, crisp lettuce, cilantro crema, and corn tortilla. The smoked pork was served on a crunchy corn tortilla, and complemented the flavors of the toppings well.

The next item that we tried was two pieces of Cheese Sticks - in-house smoked mozzarella, Challah crusted, Arrabbiata sauce, which is on their late night menu. This was the chef's take on a traditional snack, as they were lightly seasoned and breaded. Overall, the cheese sticks were nice and crunchy, and the perfect complement to the thick spicy sauce.

Our second course was a Slider - AAA beef patty topped with marinated bocconcini, "Fred's" brioche bun, rustic tomato ketchup, and lemon aioli; another item on their late night menu. I liked the slider a lot, so I was pleasantly pleased when I realized that their Hickory Smoked Burger was the large burger version of it. The beef patty was extremely tender, and the marinated bocconcini was a wonderful addition.

The third course was the Duck Confit Poutine - hand cut Russet chips topped with Brome Lake duck leg confit, marinated curds, Tarragon gravy and crisp onions. Since this was a tasting menu, this was not the full portion of the dish. Some of the people at the table were not too fond of the idea of ducks (images of dead ducks hanging from the windows in Chinatown resonates in their minds). However, I grew up eating a lot of duck meat, so I was very familiar with this type of meat. The poutine dressed with duck confit did not disappoint. The Tarragon gravy added great flavor to the dish without overpowering the curds or duck.

Our fourth course can be found on their starters menu. We tried a piece of their Jumbo Tempura Shrimp - lime tempura with seasonal vegetables, and rice wine vinegar. The tempura shrimp was pretty standard, but I did like that the shrimp that they used was indeed jumbo size.

We had a quick intermezzo, where we were served raspberry sorbet with candied lemon, as a palate cleanser.

Next up was the sixth course, where we were served Salmon Wellington - Chinook salmon filet with light puff pastry, sweet corn puree, and red wine jus. I cannot recall any recent restaurants that serve salmon en croƻte on their menu, so this was a nice surprise. Furthermore, the lightly seasoned salmon was stuffed with spinach, and the puff pastry was perfectly browned.

Lastly, we ended the night off with Espresso Vanilla Beignets - nutmeg sugar dusted vanilla doughnuts with espresso creme anglaise. The deep-fried yet airy beignets were lightly dusted with nutmeg sugar making it a sweet treat. This was a great way to finish off a meal.

The full-service (with a bar) establishment is fully equipped to accommodate large parties as they also have a second floor. 

I was pleased with the attentive and friendly service that we got on both occasions. Our glasses of water were never empty, and dirty plates and utensils were quickly replaced. &Company Resto Bar is a great place to go for dinner with friends, and then dancing afterwards.

Thank you to Basel and &Company Resto Bar for the invitation, and warm hospitality. I had a wonderful evening as I enjoyed both the ambiance and food here at &Company Resto Bar.

Address:  295 Enfield Pl, Mississauga, ON, L5B 3E2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/andcorestobar

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

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