Zomato recently launched operations in Toronto earlier last week, and the app is now live. What is Zomato? It is an online restaurant discovery guide that has a great following in many cities in countries of India, Turkey, New Zealand, Portugal, United Kingdom, and many more. The Toronto section is their first venture into the North America market of food review apps. The service is available on both the web at https://www.zomato.com/ and mobile (iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, or Blackberry). More information on the mobile apps can be found here.

The team behind the Toronto section of Zomato has taken the time to curate detailed information for over 11,000 restaurants in the GTA. Not only does it offer information on restaurants; it also allows users to create and build a personal network with other fellow foodies. They have incorporated various social features that allow interactions between users (such as follow people, like their reviews, comment on the reviews, upload pictures of the food, etc ...).

Zomato also has a section on the main page where it will suggest nearby restaurants that are based on specific categories such as steakhouses, gourmet pizza, or even pocket friendly.

All users and business owners have access to all restaurant information on Zomato. The information is updated by the Zomato team monthly to make sure that all information are up to date.

I downloaded the app from the Apple Store earlier this week, and tested it out myself. I found the app interface to clean and easy to access around the information. All information on each restaurant are clearly displayed with the address, the Geo-location, menu, reviews and photos uploaded by various users. The app also allows users to bookmark, check in, rate the restaurant or even check it off if you have been there before.

I am on Zomato, so if you'd like a newsfeed of my reviews on the app, then you can follow me at https://www.zomato.com/foodaholic_to. See you online :) 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zomato

Photo screenshots of the app are credited to Zomato.

[App/Tech] Zomato

by on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Zomato recently launched operations in Toronto earlier last week, and the app is now live. What is Zomato? It is an online restaurant disco...
 Ichimoto is another AYCE in the Richmond Hill area that I have tried in the past two years. It's located in a plaza, so there are plenty of free parking spaces if you decided to drive up there. I am no stranger to the concept of AYCE sushi, as I have been to a few around the cities. At times, I do like the idea of eating a variety of different dishes instead of opting for simply a bento box.

Prior to this visit, I have never eaten at Ichimoto before, but my brother was a repeat customer. He insisted that they were pretty consistent with their food, and treated me for my birthday. The weekend price was pretty on par with other AYCE establishments, as it was $21.99.

Quite a few people online have complained about their small portions, which I don't understand. It's an AYCE, so you have the option to order more if you're still hungry, and wanting more. I on the other hand like the idea of smaller portions as it allows myself to try out different items on the menu.
The overall food selection was pretty good as they have a little bit of everything; appetizers, cooked dishes, hand rolls, sashimi, sushi, and desserts. They had a decent selection of rolls, and the rice in these rolls wasn't too abundant or tasteless. I really liked their sushi pizza, and fully enjoyed the spicy mayo that they used to topped off the rice patty. Most of their cooked food was solid, and I liked that the cuts of the salmon sashimi had a good texture to it. 
As for service, I believe that they do have a 2 hour seating limit. However, we didn't feel rushed by any of the wait staff at all. Although they weren't very talkative, they did promptly clear our plates and refilled our glasses of water and coke throughout the meal which is always a plus. Overall, I thought that Ichimoto was a pretty solid AYCE in terms of what you pay for.

Address: 360 Hwy 7, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1B1

Ichimoto on Urbanspoon

Ichimoto Japanese Restaurant

by on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
 Ichimoto is another AYCE in the Richmond Hill area that I have tried in the past two years. It's located in a plaza, so there are plen...
We often eat at some of surrounding chain restaurants after movie date nights at the Queensway Cineplex. Although, my SO lives downtown, he likes to drive us up to the Cineplex on Queensway as it's painfully difficult to get parking downtown especially on Fridays and Saturdays. We have dined at various Milestone's Grill & Bar on a few occasions, and I have to applaud them for consistency. At times, I find that chain restaurants can be a hit or a miss depending on the locations, but Milestone's Grill & Bar has been consistent with both their service and quality of food.

We were slightly disappointed that they were sold out of Prime Rib that night. I am assuming that it's one of the most popular cuts on the Milestone's Grill & Bar's menu. We decided to still get steaks - just different cuts.

I opted for the 8 oz Top Sirloin ($23) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables. My choice of side from the list was the red skin fries. I ordered my steak medium, and it turned out pretty tasty. The seasoning wasn't overwhelming salty and the meat itself was tender. However, I didn't really like the small salad portion that came with the dish. It barely had any green lettuces in the mix, but rather large chunks of peppers and onions.

My SO got the 12 oz Rib Eye ($32) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables with the choice of a baked potato with house-made sour cream, horseradish and chive sauce for a side.

Milestone's Grill & Bar offers casual fare at comparable prices as their competitors such as Joey's, Kelsey's, Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Moxie's Grill & Bar, etc ... The overall atmosphere at this particular location was more low key with ample seating in the dining room. I have been to the Yorkdale location twice, and that location was louder compared to the one on Queensway. Overall, I thought that the service was good as our server was attentive despite waiting on four other tables in our allocated area in the dining room.

Address: 1001 The Queensway Toronto, ON, M8Z 6C7

Milestone's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Similarly to the Yorkdale location, the Mississauga one isn't very consistent either. The last time I was here, my steak wasn't that great. I wanted a medium 8 oz rib eye, and my dish arrived kind of burnt.

Milestone's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Milestone's Grill & Bar

by on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
We often eat at some of surrounding chain restaurants after movie date nights at the Queensway Cineplex. Although, my SO lives downtown, he...
 Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers! 

I absolutely love to BBQ (especially during warm weather); whether it be wings, ribs, chicken, or shrimp. So when I heard about this giveaway; I didn't hesitate in wanting to share it with my fellow BBQ & food lovers.

How would you like the chance to win 1 out of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers?
Ontario Gas BBQ (World's Largest BBQ Store) is running an amazing contest right now called Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza. The five winners of the contest will get to take home a Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers, and this will be determined on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at their store (3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8).

Ontario Gas BBQ is a privately owned Canadian company, and is currently the World's Largest Barbecue Store. They have been serving Canadian barbecue lovers for over 30 years now. Despite their name, they don't just display and stock gas barbecues. Rather, they have over 150 different barbeques from propane, natural gas, charcoal, electric, smokers, pits, etc ...  In additional to barbecues and smokers; the large BBQ store also offers parts and accessories for sale. Everything for your BBQ needs.

Ontario Gas BBQ also has a large Charcoal Room, which is larger than many of their competitors' stores. The room features charcoal from around the world (such as Canada, US, Mexico, South America, Africa and Indonesia), and they stock over 10 brands of premium hardwood charcoal. What's so great about the charcoal they offer? Well, they contain no additives, no chemicals, no softwoods. Additionally, they undertook major expansion back in 2009, and the store now exceeds 50,000 square feet making them the World’s Largest Barbecue Store.

The Prize

5 lucky winners will be randomly drawn at the Ontario Gas BBQ store, and will win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers (pictured below). Perfect for the 2015 BBQ season next year! 

Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smoker
How Do I Enter?

Go to this page at http://www.bbqs.com/up_in_smoke_ballot for the ballot form. Print out the ballot, and fill out all of the required information. Bring the completed ballot to the Ontario Gas BBQ store located at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8, on Saturday, October 25th, 2014 between 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm to be entered into the draw.

Winners do not have to be present at time of draw, but you do need to get your ballot in before 12:30 pm though. However, it'd be great to stay to enjoy all of the festivities that Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza has to offer.

Draw Details

Date: Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Location: Ontario Gas BBQ at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8

Giveaway Start

There will be 5 draws (first draw is at 12:30 pm and last draw is at 2:30 pm) on Sat, Oct 25, 2014.

Free Sandwiches

You don't have to be present during the draw (as long as your ballot is in between the set times of 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm). However, you should definitely stay as Ted Reader's Hoptimus Prime Fire Truck will be in the lot giving away FREE pulled pork sandwiches to the first 200 people who donate a minimum of $5 to Camp Bucko. It's for a good cause as it's a camp for children who are burn survivors.

Hope everyone can make it to the Ontario Gas BBQ Store at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8 on Oct 25th :)

Get Connected with Ontario Gas BBQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OntarioGasBBQ


 Reds Midtown Tavern is an upscale tavern and is the second location of the original Reds Tavern that's located in the Financial District. Additionally, the two locations actually share the same menu. Despite its namesake, it's not exactly located in midtown, but rather at Yonge and Gerrard. I came here for a friend's birthday, and his girlfriend booked the private dining room that was located in the back of the restaurant for us. 

The menu was printed on a double-sided board with the average casual fare such as sharable appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, etc ...

While perusing through the drinks menu, I realized that they have an extensive list of alcoholic drinks. They have roughly 20 or so beers on tap, various cocktails ,and wine bottles. To toast the birthday boy, the table got a bottle of Domain Luquet Roger (price's unknown).

Three of us at the table decided to share a platter of freshly shucked oysters (1/2 dozen) ($14) - served chilled on frozen river rock with freshly grated horseradish, green apple mignonette and wasabi cocktail sauce. The oysters were indeed fresh and was priced fairly.

The steak frites 14 oz rib eye ($34) - AAA Canadian‏ Beef, truffle parmesan frites, wild mushrooms, Madeira jus, was a lot larger than I expected. However, the steak was mighty tasty as the steak itself was tender and full of flavor. I really enjoyed this dish and recommend it.

I love chicken wings a lot, but unfortunately the ultimate chicken wings ($13.25) - Buffalo butter sauce, fresh market vegetables and blue cheese dip, didn't do it for me. The wings themselves were of a decent size, but I wasn't too fond of the taste of the butter sauce.

I was able to add a fresh sidecar salad to my chicken wings order to make it into an entrée for an additional $5.95. I added a knife & fork Caesar which was tender romaine lettuce with mild white Spanish anchovies, shaved Parmesan, bacon and garlic confit dressing.

Mediterranean braised lamb shank ($22.95) - 8-hour slow-cooked lamb with creamy polenta, green beans, orange gremolata and black olive relish.

Lobster cobb salad ($26.95) - East Coast lobster with crisp pork belly, 63-degree egg, fresh croutons, cherry tomato and a poached shallot dressing.

Chicken carbonara ($17.95) - a creamless twist on a classic. Rigatoni, sweet garden peas, confit garlic, smoky bacon, chives and a perfectly poached egg.

One waitress was assigned to our table for the entire dinner. Overall, I thought that she did a wonderful job of managing everything by herself. She was friendly, conversational, and our glasses of water were constantly refilled throughout the night.

Address: 382 Yonge St, Unit 6, Toronto, ON, M5B

Reds Midtown Tavern

by on Tuesday, October 07, 2014
 Reds Midtown Tavern is an upscale tavern and is the second location of the original Reds Tavern that's located in the Financial Dist...
Trattoria Mercatto is a casual-fare Italian restaurant located inside of the Eaton's Centre. I was invited to attend the "Antipasti With Us" event in late August along with several local food bloggers. This was a collaborated event between Trattoria Mercatto and Toronto Eaton Centre. We enjoyed an afternoon of delicious antipasti and cocktails at Trattoria Mercatto.

** All photography taken by Mauricio Jose Calero courtesy of Toronto Eaton Centre. **

Trattoria Mercatto's contemporary decor with its high ceiling, large bar, and spacious seating provided a very welcoming atmosphere. The space was bright with the natural lighting shining brightly into the restaurant which was a nice change from the trend of dimly lit establishments even during lunch time hours. 

 We started the afternoon with a refreshing glass of Nonna's Little Secret - vodka, hibiscus, rosehip, house-made peace tea, lime. The sweet tasting cocktail was good to start the meal off with, and compliment both the Barbabietole Arrosto and Carpaccio Di Manzo dishes.

 Next up was the Barbabietole Arrosto ($11.95) - beets, burrata, arugula, almonds, aged balsamic. The roasted beets were topped off with fresh burrata cheese to create a surprisingly good contrast of sweet and zesty.

 The Carpaccio Di Manzo ($13.50) - beef tenderloin crudo, brandy crema, pickled onions, grana padano, arugula, was a well presented dish and the thinly sliced crudo went well together with the tanginess of the pickled onions, and arugula

My personal favorite dish from Trattoria Mercatto was the Calamari Fritti ($12.95) - fried calamari, fennel and garlic crema. The calamari were perfectly deep fried without being overly oily, and the portion was rather large for an appetizer dish. Additionally, the garlic crema was creamy in texture and delicious with the calamari. I could actually eat the entire plate by myself; it was that good. I thought that this particular dish complimented well with the chilled Prosecco Serenissima - Italian bubbles.

The Frutti Di Mare ($11.50) - marinated shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, red onion, crostini, was the second seafood antipasti dish that was served. The overall presentation of the seafood in the jar served on a wooden board was seemingly creative.

The dish was also served alongside with a large cup of Estrella Damm - Spanish lager. It definitely complemented the two seafood dishes that were served especially the Frutti Di Mare as the light and smoothness of the lager balanced out the dish. Trattoria Mercatto offers various kinds of alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages to go with your meal, so there's something for everyone.

The Short Rib Crostini ($12.50) - sticky beef short ribs, fior di latte, grilled sourdough, basil, was a flavorful dish. The beef short ribs was slowed cook which made the meat very tender, and the accompanied sourdough dough was tasty.

The Polpette - veal and pork meatballs, roasted eggplant and tomato caponata, grana padano, was served in a small pan, and contained three large meatballs. 

The last dish of the day was the Diver Scallops ($13.50) - fennel, orange, pine nuts, chili, agrodolce, which was wonderfully seared and seasoned. It's always nice when the dish is also aesthetically pleasing in addition to it being tasty.

Overall, I had an enjoyable afternoon at Trattoria Mercatto with my fellow bloggers. This is a great place to eat when you're in the mood for some tasty Italian comfort food made with fresh ingredients. The staff and owners were all friendly, and attentive. They also have a few communal styled tables so it's very accommodating for larger parties or you could pop in after a long day of shopping. A big thanks to everyone who made the wonderful afternoon of antipasti possible.

Address: 220 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1 (inside of Eaton Centre)
Website:  Trattoria Mercatto and Toronto Eaton Centre
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mercattoTO and https://twitter.com/toeatoncentre

** All photography taken by Mauricio Jose Calero courtesy of Toronto Eaton Centre. **

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

Trattoria Mercatto on Urbanspoon

Trattoria Mercatto

by on Friday, October 03, 2014
Trattoria Mercatto is a casual-fare Italian restaurant located inside of the Eaton's Centre. I was invited to attend the "Antipa...