Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bland Corporate, Peking Duck, Afternoon Jazz, and More!

Now, before getting into this post, I will take a moment to impart of distaste, you may even say disgust or in the right bad mood - hatred of all things corporate. Especially in the world of dining and drinking. It used to be when someone owned a restaurant he took pride in his establishment, and by virtue did what they could to make there establishment the best they could. Corporate avarice is slowly destroying the life force of dining and drinking by taking out the personality and character achieved from a strong hands on touch and presence of a single owner.

That being said, you might ask yourself why I would end up in an Alice Fazooli's. Well the answer is simple; I wouldn't. Or at least I wouldn't as long as I had to pay for it. Christina having 80$ worth of credit at Alice Fazooli's on Richmond brought me a long for dinner. We were seated in the bar area, which was blaring terribly pop music at volumes that could rupture ear drums and drive a lesser man insane. We split and appetizer, a couple of pizza's, and a dessert, all accompanied by a few pints of beer, and a hot liquor coffee as a digestif.

For our appetizer we ordered the Calamari with Salsa Verde Aioli, and a traditional cocktail sauce.

The Calamari was well cooked and well coated, although this isn't an achievement that couldn't be completed by any pub or restaurant worth a damn. The Salsa Verde Aioli, one of the selling points in what made me want to order this dish was an utter disappointment. Whilst not a bad sauce, there was very little in terms of taste that made me think Salsa Verde. In fact the sauce tasted just like any other Aioli you get calamari with. The cocktail sauce tasted pretty much like store bought.

The pizza's we split were a spicy chicken with banana peppers, and a Mediterranean, containing ingredients like eggplant, zucchini, tomato, olives, and feta. The pizza's inevitably were a disappointment, whilst not bad pizzas, for all the boasting of their fresh pizza dough, and specialty pizza ovens, the pizzas reached the table tasting excessively average.

We finished with a raspberry chocolate tartufo. And to be honest I can't say anything bad about this dish. It was tasty, and I have always appreciated the chocolate raspberry combination.

Now for all the disappointments within the food, it was inevitably exactly what I expected from corporate dining. Which is to say fake smiled service, stilted speeches, and the culinary equivalent of a 10$ "Rollex" watch bought off a shady street vendor.

I ended up suffering the consequences of coffee induced awareness till late into the evening, at least until the vodka took over and I could finally sleep around 4am. To my misfortune Christina had to be at a meeting at 9am, so I was to also rise at 8am to a hangover and a trek across town. Whilst she was at her meeting I took a nice stroll down by Lake Ontario, all the way over to the St. Lawrence Market. I stopped in looking for some ingredients for future use, well at least a price check on them. I was happy to have found out all I needed to know, which was Frozen Crawfish tails for 16.99, Gator meat for 14.99, Frogs legs 5.99, prepared frozen Unagi for 10.99, as well as Andouille sausage for 6$ a pack. After achieving my information I popped into the basement for lunch. I went to the Famous Italian Sandwich stand. My lunch consisted of a veal sandwich topped with onions, peppers, mushrooms, hot peppers, and tomato sauce. A bit heavy for my first meal, but to be there on an occasion where their was no line felt like reward enough. The sandwich was tasty, although I regretted not getting cheese on it.

Later in the day to celebrate the good weather we hopped over to Grossman's Tavern for the jazz matinee.

Eventually it got too cold to continue our patio seating, we went in to get up and close with the Jazz. Playing on the stage was Saturday afternoon house band, The Happy Pals, front by Patrick Tevlin (who also leads and plays in 3 or 4 other local Toronto New Orleans Jazz bands and a Ska band). It was a pleasure as always to soak in some good weather and good tunes, and catch up with some people I hadn't seen in a while.

After our music session had concluded we took a walk down Spadina to People's Eatery, to slate our hunger with some Peking Duck. Whilst happy to find out it was substantially cheaper then my regular Peking Duck joint, I was slightly conserned the quality may be sub-standard. After a sufficient (and usual) wait, my concerns were soon relieved, as well as my hunger. A fair sized plate of crispy duck skin served on a bed of crispy noodles, with thin crepes, julienned carrot, scallion, and cucumber, as well as hoisin sauce. Our 2nd duck course, consisting of stir fried duck meat with a heavy ginger and garlic flavour arrived with our other order of Spicy Beef Szechuan Style. I would rank the duck skin on par with my usually Peking place (Peking Man, Sheppard and Leslie) however the 2nd course was far superior. The Spicy Beef was excellent aswell. We washed our meal down with a couple Tsing Tao, then moved back to Grossman's to catch the end of the Happy Pal's set.

Cheers folks, till next time.

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