Friday, January 26, 2018

#FoodPornFriday Dolcetto - a new favourite in London ON

Today's #FoodPornFriday takes us out of town, up the 401 and to London Ontario. 

I love London. My wife and I basically discovered London on our 1 year anniversary of dating. Back in the high school days. On the day of our anniversary on a whim, I bought up a Greyhound Bus ticket to London. We didn't prepare, we didn't pack, we just went. 

That was an awesome trip. The two of us wandered around downtown and found some amazing places like City Lights, L.A. Mood, Heroes and (the sadly closed) Commander Salamander. We had a 'fancy' dinner at the Marienbad Restaraunt (which I chose because Marienbad is the name of a city in Warhammer). Then we really pissed off our parents by finding a hotel and staying overnight. I'm pretty sure they are probably still mad about that one but it was worth it. 

Over the years we have been back many times.  We still love London. It's the perfect city for us to spend a few days away. It's not Windsor. It's not home. It's bigger than Windsor but not overwhelming like, say, Toronto. 

One of the best things about these trips is when we find something new. Over the years we've developed a list of favourite places to visit and eat. The Marienbad is still on that list. I don't remember the last time we were in London we didn't have at least one meal there. I'm always looking for somewhere new to try. A new favourite for us to frequent in future trips. Our last trip up there (in mid-December) I found Dolcetto.

Dolcetto doesn't look like much. It's in a big box plaza out on the outskirts of town. It's far enough out of town that we actually had a hard time finding it. It looks like just another "mall parking lot restaurant" and when we first pulled up I was worried we were going to be stuck with overpriced, overhyped, chain food. This fear was completely unfounded.

The restaurant is very nice inside. High end casual is probably the best to describe it. I felt comfortable in black jeans and a golf shirt but would have felt out of place is I was any more dressed down. I also wouldn't have felt at all out of place in a suit and tie. The place is huge, which is probably the main reason it's in a big box parking lot. Despite this reservations are strongly recommended. The menu, as expected, is a variety of Italian fare. Pizza, pasta, chicken, and fish. Prices range from $18 to $24 for most entres. 

My wife and I started our meal off with the Roasted Prosciutto appetizer. That's what you are probably drooling over up there at the top of this blog post. That appetizer is enough to make the drive to London worth it. If it was earlier in the day, I would be tempted to drive up there right now just for more roasted prosciutto. I honestly suggested to my wife we order a second plate after finishing the first. She talked me out of it.  

For my main, I ordered the chicken parm. Sorry, I should say the Pollo Parmigiana. D ordered the daily special which was a hunk of salmon that was like 2.5 inches thick on pasta that looked rather good even to me, who's not a fan of fish. We finished off the meal with some amazing Tiramisu. Usually, I'm not a big fan of Tiramisu but the waitress strongly suggested we try it and I'm glad we did.

It's also worth noting that we did not have the kids with us, but the restaraunt did have a kids menu. Actually it seems like the place was pretty popular with families as we saw a lot of big groups and tables with kids on our vist. I wouldn't think twice about brining our kids. 

Open Table has voted Dolcetto onto the list of the 100 Best Italian Restaurants in Canada (They aren't ranked, it's just a list of 100). An honour that we both felt was very well deserved. This was amazing Italian food. Some of the best I've ever had. Except for almost getting lost trying to find the place the first time our trip to Dolcetto was a fantastic experience. It's now on the list of must visit places for our future trips to London.

Friday, January 5, 2018

#FoodPornFriday - The Leaf is back, sort of, and better than ever.

Back in August, I posted a sad #FoodPornFriday post about one of my favourite local restaurants closing: The Leaf Grill. Well, it ends up that that was rather fortuitous as The Leaf is back, in a new form and better than ever.

At 5240 Tecumseh Rd East, the previous location of the Leaf Grill (previously the Maple Leaf Tavern) you can now find Factory House. This is a much more modern looking and feeling remake of The Leaf. It's the same owners and same head cook but the place itself is improved in many ways. Much of this is the look and feel of the place. The atmosphere is much better. the place no longer feels like a dive bar turned restaurant. It feels like it's own place with a mechanical, factory theme.

The menu also went through a big revamp. At least most of it did. Our first trip there I was very pleased to see that they still had Butter Chicken on the menu. Like the restaurant itself, it's an improved version of the old dish. The chicken now comes in a great looking copper bowl. The naan now comes on the plate and the spices in the dish have been kicked up a notch while not becoming too spicy. 

The Butter Checking form The Leaf
Really this new Butter Chicken matches the evolution of the restaurant well. Back with The Maple Leaf Tavern, this dish didn't even exist. You didn't go to The Maple Leaf to get fancy foreign food, you went for one of the best Clubhouses in the city and maybe some Molson Canadian.  With The Leaf, you suddenly had this amazing dish. Something new that proved that you weren't at the old Maple Leaf. Now with the Factory House, you still have Butter Chicken, the same dish, almost. It looks better, it's presented better and it tastes just a bit better. That's what Factory House is to me. It's just a better version of The Leaf. That's a very good thing.