Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Il Terrazzo, a romantic old world Italian restaurant

With a rustic cottage-style decor, there was something about the ambience that was really alluring at Il Terrazzo.  We were seated in a lovely indoor patio with a warm fireplace nearby and surrounded by brick walls.  Thank goodness because despite being summer already, it was really freezing out.  The restaurant was at its full capacity on Canada Day with people constantly coming in and out.  It was absolutely chaotic inside.  Nonetheless, I was thoroughly impressed by how quickly the food came out altogether from the kitchen.

My initial impression of the restaurant was that they would be serving traditional rustic Italian fare, but, in fact, their creations were much more redefined than I imagined.

We were offered a basket complimentary bread with tasty mixed olive tapenade.  If only we could take a jar home too.
Some of our favorite dishes had Asian influence in flavors and I shall start with the marinated smoked ahi tuna salad with perfectly seared scallops and seaweed salad, cucumbers and tomatoes. It was absolutely scrumptious. It was acidic with slightly sweet note and salty from shoyu.
Funghi fried mushrooms were earthy in flavour. We dug into a heap of spinach dressed in light olive, balsamic vinegar and a generous amount of pine nuts, prociutto, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, shaved parmesan.
Something warm and hearty at the table; a tomato soup with basil and gooey mozzarella chunks.  The bread quickly disappeared as I dipped it into the soup.
One of our favorite dishes that stood out the most was the mussels in what appeared to be tom kha gai-inspired broth.  Tom Kha Gai is a coconuty Thai soup with a ton of herby flavours, much like its famous cousin Tom Yum.  The creamy sauce was still rich, but not overwhelmingly so.  The pickled jalapeƱos, sundries tomatoes kept everything balanced and all the flavors really came through. I think we all savored every last drop and I'm going to try to recreate a similar version at my kitchen.

The heavier dishes started to arrive.  Misto Di Carne a la Casa, a trio of cabbage roll, duck confit, and lamb chop. The duck was tender and flavorful with crispy skin served on top of mashed potato, brocoloni, and lentil.  The lamb chop was too well-done since B requested medium rare.  Nonetheless, she still complimented on its excellent seasoning. The cabbage roll was filled with veal and wrapped with crispy prociutto.
The next dish, Carre D' Agnello,  ordered by P, a roasted rack of premium Australian lamb with rosemary jus.  This time the lamb was really too well-done.  P, the biggest carnivore, refused to put up with it sent it back. When it came back out, it was medium rare, exactly she asked for.  The lamb was served on top of Tuscan white bean ragout and grilled asparagus.

Linguine Marco Polo was a unique pasta dish and a rather large portion. It was a very vibrant dish with many textures and flavors coming together; the pesto, sweet mangoes, crunchy cashews, acidic tomatoes, roasted peppers.   We didn't finish this but it made a great leftover for the next day.
Another one of our favourite dishes was pulled pork cannelloni with cheesy cream sauce.  It was a dish absolutely to be savored. The pork was tender and very well seasoned baked with fresh pasta and swimming in mozzarella cream.  It was topped with sauteed bacon, red onion, and what appeared to be a tart cranberry sauce.  All I gotta say is, "Mmmmmm".
Despite we were at food coma at this point, passing on the famous tiramisu was still something we couldn't compromise. And were we glad we didn't settle. The tiramisu was one of the best we ever had. It was moist, smooth, and rich in coffee flavour, but enough that one would probably finish a large piece by themselves.

Il Terrazo offers a classic old world vibe with a unique spin on traditional Italian dishes.  We would definitely call it a go-to place when in Victoria.

  Il Terrazzo on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bon Rouge revisited

I first visited Bon Rouge just over 2 years ago for a Sunday brunch and really fell in love with the warm and intimate setting.  Most especially, the cozy patio at the front entrance decorated with cute pots of little flowers hanging all over.  This year we came back for another visit and looking for the comfort food this French bistro has to offer.
The French onion soup was the first thing on the list.  Of course, it was just as good as we remembered; hearty with a rich and flavorful broth that wasn't too salty.  Oh, and you can't go wrong with a layer of gooey melted gruyere.
Cheese and charcuterie plate with pate de maison. Artisan cheeses richelieu and creamy Brie de mode was wonderful with the sweet and slightly tart quince jam. The house pate was a gelatin texture with pistachio and went great with pickled peppers.  The server even gave us extra crostinis for the plate.  It was overall a good deal for $9.
Next up was the prawn crepe which was quite the comfort food.  It was basically a deconstructed crepe with 5 individual succulent prawns with fennel and leek in Pernod cream.  I wouldn't have been satisfied with just those but a side of salad with crumbled goat cheese really brought everything together.
While I was focused feasting on everything else, I kept hearing a buzz about the albacore tuna nicoise salad on the other side of the table.  It was definitely the crowd's favorite as there was barely any left by the time it got to me.  Perfectly seared strips of tuna on top of greens, haricot vert (aka green beans), roast potatoes, spinach, tomatoes.  There was a small poached egg buried just off the the side.  While I love soft poached eggs, this salad was probably better without.  The combination of olive tapenade and pesto was scrumptious.

I normally wouldn't order bouillabaisse, nonetheless, I was impressed by Bon Rouge's version.  The  broth had a lot of depth and rich in natural sweetness of shrimp. Add lemongrass, lime, and kaffir leaf, we have a Tom yum.

Bistro "croque madame" was a good breakfast/brunch dish.  Nothing like a protein-filled sunny side up with  ham on toast.  I really wish there was way more cheese and the sandwich was otherwise pretty dry.  Luckily, it came with tomato soup.
For dessert, we picked two; apple tart and strawberry cheesecake with lemon curd.  The shortcake was fluffy and spongey with zesty lemon flavour, soft whipped cream and fresh strawberries between layers.  It was a fair size for sharing.  Between the two, the apple tart was the winner. There was south apple filling and the crust was sweet, thin and crunchy.  Too bad half the ice cream already melted by the time it got to the table.

Bon Rouge Bistro on Urbanspoon