2018 March – Trip to Southern Ontario

We took a week’s vacation in March to rest, travel a bit, and continue renovation. Visited Cambridge, Waterloo, Ingersoll, and Brantford.

Our first stop was Langdon Hall.

We heard the fine dining was good there. It was… below average.

The exterior and interior are beautifully decorated. It’s just the food, at least maybe just the lunch, was lacking.

First up, cold stale bread from beneath the Maitre D’ desk. Easily one of the worst bread. They tasted like days-old bread from Food Basics and didn’t get covered up so it’s dry and stale.

We chose 3 entrées in order to be full:

$32 Braised Beef Short Rib, with Roasted Garden Carrots, Raisin, Bergamot, and Nasturtium = Dry meat, with wonderfully flavourful carrots.

$30 Heritage Pork, with Sunchoke and Hazelnut Purée, Orchard Apple, Crispy Croquette, and Sage. Probably the best out of the bunch. A good blend of textures and flavours.

$34 Duck Breast, with Fennel, Sweet Potato (purée), and Niagara Peach. Look at the amount that’s edible… Tasted like ham. Puree and peach were good, but for $34?

After a tour through the Cambridge Antique Market, we drove to our hotel stay, at Elm Hurst Inn. Very quiet little place. Used to be a cheese factory in the buildings nexxt to it, converted into an Inn.

Popular in the summer for weddings.

After an RMT massage for both of us, we went for dinner.

The dipping vinegar is what caught us. Never before have we had such a fruity vinegar! We were instantly hooked. Unfortunately they sold out of the vinegar, which they source from London.

However, we found a shop in Brantford Olive Oil Company that carries many other flavours! We got a few bottles. Good for dipping AND for Soda flavouring!

Standard caesar salad, but ooh, the cheese does stand out. Very good, I finished this easily.

The main courses were ordinary though. Chicken breast with vegetables was what I picked.

Some pork thing. I do appreciate the healthy balance of vegetables.

Crème brûlée was not bad, with a touch of sorbet.

Breakfast was included. The usual fare.

Little jars of jam always nice.

Afternoon, we looked for a tea house for high tea.

Quite a cute place. The couple bought the bakery, and then next door as the tea shop.

Biscuits were quite good, with a cheese dip. I liked these.

Then some sweet pastries that were okay….

The fruit jam, once again, excellent with the scones.

I ate all the cucumbers.

Deli were okay.

It was average in the end. I thought it was pretty good, but Toronto does have nicer ones Serena’s been to.

A trip to Ingersoll isn’t complete without a tour of the Cheese Museum.

Small little place. Quite a good tour. At the end we picked up some Gunn’s Hill cheese. I had originally planned to go to their actual shop, but couldn’t fit in the time. This was a very nice piece of cheese. We later also got some Gunn’s Hill “Four Brothers” cheese. Just amazing.

Final mean was in St. Jacob, at the Chinese tourist trap, the Olde Heidelberg Restaurant. I think due to forum posts and the proximity to UWaterloo, the customer base for this restaurant is 90% Chinese. It was awkward when the staff are the minority in this small small town. Service was very nice though, felt very welcoming.

The renowned pork hock. Lots of juicy fat.

I ordered the chili. It was a good meal.

We headed over to St. Jacob’s market after, and also another antique shop. It was quite a good little trip to the south.

The food overall were fairly okay, but I had much higher expectations for Langdon Hall.

The other highlight for the trip was the Adventure Games in Waterloo. Very fun escape room experience. Definitely will go back!

 

2017 December New York City Trip

While Serena has been to NYC several times (it is her favourite city, after all), this is my first time.

Given all the good reviews of Porter airline, we chose to ride Porter from Toronto to New York City. Spoilers: It was a 6-hour delay.

The flight crew from the previous destination got stuck, so they couldn’t get back to Toronto on time. Then you add in winter and snow conditions, almost every flight ended getting pushed back, but ours was … yeah…

We went outside to eat breakfast at the Thompson Diner, then came back, and still had plenty of time…

Anyway, eventually we made it to Newark, took a train into New York, and it was time for dinner!

Shake Shack!

Featured on the SeriousEats podcast, I recognized the fast food joint at the train station, and we had a quick bite there.

The style reminded Serena of the Burger’s Priest back in Toronto. It turned out okay. Not anything super amazing, but not bad. Fries were okay if you like the thicker cuts.

The transit system is a mixed bag. On one hand, it feels faster than TTC. Many more lines to reach your destination. But man… there was a panhandler who told me to “shut the **** up” when I didn’t give him money. Generally dirtier, darker, and sketchier.

For lunch, we went to Empire Steak House, close to our DoubleTree hotel. They had a lunch special. Food was average.

The interior looked fantastic. Not many customers, but clearly quite fancy.

Very ordinary salad.

The cream of broccoli soup was pretty good.

Mediocre pasta with ordinary sauce and bottled Parmesan…..

The steak was better. Mashed potatoes and broccoli were … Swiss Chalet level or lower.

Dessert was pretty nice. Tiramisu here. We didn’t eat the frosting.

Cheesecake was ordinary.

Essentially, it was a very ordinary meal for a regular price. Didn’t really match the decor.

It’s Christmas Eve, and not much is open. We walked the High Line, which used to be a railway, but instead of being torn down, they made a park along the length of it. It’s nicer in the summer when the vegetation is alive, but still quite scenic, and the houses around it have character, from run-down to sci-fi. You can see the Brooklyn skyline in the distance here.

After searching around for a while, we finally found a restaurant that’s open on Christmas Eve.

Takashi in Greenwich Village. Mostly grill-it-yourself style, specializing in hormon – internal organs.

We ordered an assorted platter. Here’s the sukiyaki as the safe choice.

Beef tartare.

A bitter salad, which was okay.

In general, we had a bunch of “okay” food.

Right across from our hotel, we had this restaurant that only serves 1 dish. There is no choice, just one thing: Trimmed Entrecote Steak “Porte Maillot” with its famous sauce, unlimited French Fries, and Green Salad for $29.95.

This is the Relais de Venise L’Entrecote

I generally like restaurants that only serve one thing, because they must do it well.

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote was pretty average….

Fries were quite nice. The trimmed steak was meh, and sauce was just mustard.

Don’t ask for ketchup, they forbid it. Famous sauce is the only sauce.

The sweets and desserts are the highlights of NYC. Here is an apple dessert from Paris Baguette.

On the last day of our trip, we went to Serena’s favourite pizza place, Vezzo Thin Crust.

I ordered a standard pepperoni and Italian sauce pizza. Not bad.

Serena ordered some Funghi and cheese slices. The herbs were quite nice.

The flight back was fine. Slight 30-minute delay, and we’re back in Toronto in the evening.

Popping by Lee Chen again, we had a simple dinner, which felt better than most meals from the trip.

We will go back to NYC some time. All things considered, the transportation was pretty good. December was a little too cold, but still better than summer.

You will notice an absence of outdoor photos, because it was too cold to pull out the camera outside!

Next time we go back:

  • More desserts!
  • More shopping!
  • Visit the food museum!