Tag Archives: restaurant review

REVIEW: Leven’s Coffee Company

9 Feb

Leven’s Coffee Company
Sonnenschein Way
Saskatoon, SK

http://www.levenscoffee.com/

As I have posted in previous entries, I am a coffee nut. I am constantly on the search for the perfect bean to brew, best espresso based drink, and the best cup of brewed coffee. I have brewed coffee using many different methods and each have their merits, I guess. This is evident by my coffee brewing gadgets on the counter.

My search for the perfect bean has brought me to Leven’s Coffee Company. I have heard a great deal about this company as of late… they have been on Facebook, Twitter and on the news promoting their fundraiser for a boy named Ozzie. Ozzie has a rare disease called Moebius. You can find out more about Ozzie at http://imsupportingozzie.com

What makes Leven’s unique is that they roast very small quantities of coffee, thus keeping it always fresh. This allows them to offer a fantastic variety of beans and roasts without the risk of massive amounts of waste due to the coffee becoming stale. When you order a press coffee or buy a pound of beans, you are literally enjoying coffee that has been roasted within the last day or two. Some of the coffees offered are Mexican, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Sumatran, and Dominican, all of which are Cafe Femenino ethical coffees. I tried the Dominican Republic beans.

I choose to brew my coffee using the pour-over method. There are many different techniques and tools for a pour-over, but I choose to use the Melitta method. According to Melitta.com, this method of pour-over was the original drip method of brewing coffee. It was invented by Melitta Bentz in 1908. Her invention permanently changed the way coffee was brewed. It utilizes a cone shaped brewing vessel and a cone shaped paper filter. After adding ground coffee you slowly pour over hot water (just slightly off the boil).  This method, in my honest opinion gives, the perfect cup of coffee. Most coffee officianatos would call me silly and say the coffee press is the only way to truly enjoy coffee. Though I love the coffee press and the results it brings, I personally think that the coffee brewed using the pour-over method is more intense and has a fuller body, rounder mouth feel, and has a more delicious, complex flavour. In future posts I will explore this method (and others) for brewing coffee.

Coffee only stays fresh for up to 14 days after roasting. Since the pound of coffee I purchased was roasted just hours before, it will stay fresh for as long as I am using it. I usually go through a pound of coffee in about a week or two so this is perfect for me.

I visited Leven’s Coffee Company on Saturday to see what all the hype was about. They had just recently opened their new location at the Farmer’s Market on 19th Street. During my visit I asked many questions and they were all answered thoroughly and friendly. I asked about all of their coffees, their roast colours, and the levels of acidity. Since I really don’t like overly tangy coffees, I requested advice on what I should choose. In the end he suggested the Dominican coffee. He knew exactly what to suggest and it was right on the money.

As soon as I got home I ripped open the bag and gave it a big sniff. It was delicious!!! I quickly ground and brewed a cup. As soon as I poured water on the grounds the smell was amazing and the bloom was beautiful. After brewing was complete, I cleaned up, took a picture, and then sat down to enjoy this incredibly fresh cup. It was AWESOME! Honestly, it was the best cup of brewed coffee I have ever had. The flavour was rich, intense, toasty, full-bodied, and had a very balanced acidity. It is as perfect of a balance as I have ever had.

Leven’s Coffee Company roasts simply the best beans in the city. No other roaster can come close to the quality and freshness as Leven’s. As soon as I finish up this pound I am heading to Leven’s once again! I can’t wait to try the other coffees!

Leven's Coffee Company on Urbanspoon

REVIEW – Fixin’s Homestyle Eatery

2 Feb

Fixin’s Homestyle Eatery
106 Circle Drive West
Saskatoon, SK S7L 4L6
Phone: (306) 978-6506

http://www.fixins.ca/

A couple of weeks ago my fiancee stumbled across a link on Facebook. It was a advertisement for Fixin’s Homestyle Eatery located in the Travelodge Hotel. The website was colourful and the pictures of the food looked delicious and high quality. Somewhere on the page had a listing for their different buffets. The only one that caught my eye was the chicken and rib buffet. This is how it is described on their website:

Evening Buffet – $12.95
Fridays & Saturdays, 4:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday, indulge in
“Chicken & Ribs.” Buffet features homemade Soup of the Day,
fresh salads, crisp vegetables and delicious homemade desserts

Saturday comes along and we were out and about in the Circle Drive area at supper time. We decided to try Fixin’s. Ummm, where do I even begin to review this restaurant? While dishing up at the buffet and while eating, I began to compile a list of adjectives that adequately describe the experience. My list included such words as nasty, cheap, gross, disgusting, yucky, abominable, awful, beastly, crappy, cruddy, crummy, detestable, distasteful, foul, grody, gruesome, hideous, icky, loathsome, lousy, nasty, nauseating, odious, offensive, raunchy, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, rotten, sickening, stinking, and vile. The sad part was that not one of them adequately describes how bad this place is. This place makes Saskatoon’s lousiest buffets (Smiley’s and Johnny Boys) seem incredibly appetizing.

First of all, the price of $12.99 listed on the website is not correct. The real price of the buffet is $16.99. It’s too bad we didn’t know until the end of the meal. The first warning sign should have been the lack of people eating. There were only three others in the whole restaurant. Though my gut and common sense told me to run, my fiancee and I decided to stay for some weird reason. It was ribs and chicken night, so I was somewhat interested. I was kinda looking forward for some tasty pork! I got pork, but it sure wasn’t tasty. Though the ribs were slathered in sauce, they didn’t have any seasoning or spices on them. The ribs were covered with chunks of fat that should have been trimmed off before cooking. The ribs were not smoked or grilled. They were steamed in the oven. I can tell this because the meat was flavourless and mushy. Dry baked or smoked ribs are very tender, but still keep their meaty texture. In addition to nasty meat, the BBQ sauce was bland and very low quality… it tasted like Kraft brand bottled sauce. The chicken was just plain gross. It was swimming in oil and a “BBQ sauce” that tasted like cranberry sauce. The chicken pieces were not seasoned or grilled before cooking in the oven. The chicken still had the skin on, and because it was baked in the oven in a pan of sauce, the skin was wiggly and slimy. I’m guessing that the cooks just threw raw chicken into a baking pan, poured sauce on it, and threw it into the oven. This is NOT how you make “BBQ” chicken and ribs.

Other items on the buffet included white rice, mystery yellow rice, corn bathing in a cloudy liquid, and many nasty salads. They looked like they sat out at room temperature for hours and were sopped with bottled dressings. There were pickles, pickled onions, stale cheese, and some jello-salad type substance. The desserts were ok, but they were old, stale tasting, and were NOT homemade like the website said.

I don’t want to seem like a negative nancy about Fixin’s. There is one thing they did very well. The only part of the meal I really liked was the water. It was really cold.

So if you want to eat terrible food while getting ripped off, try Fixin’s!!!

Fixin's Homestyle Eatery on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review – Urban Diner

27 Dec

Urban Diner
12427 102 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
780-488-7274
www.urbandiner.com

This review has been a long time in the making. At first, I wasn’t going to spend the time reviewing a restaurant in a different province. The more I thought about it, people need to know about this place! There were many delicious looking items on their breakfast menu, but only one deserves any special attention in my opinion… but I digress.

My fiance and I spent a few days in Edmonton this September. Our trip was capped off when we saw Weezer perform at the Sonic Boom festival on the Northlands grounds. Anyone who is a Canadian Weezer fan knows that seeing them live is a rare and cherishable event. We spent time at our downtown hotel, visited the West Edmonton Mall a couple of times, and two fun filled trips to Ikea. Good times! In addition to these fun activities, we also dined at numerous eateries. I must say I was disappointed by the food. We based all of our selections on reviews found on www.urbanspoon.com. The one place that had the highest percent of satisfied customers was Urban Diner. It was rated a 90% by Urbanspoon users. We just had to try it!

Before we dined at Urban Diner, we worked up an appetite shopping at Mountain Equipment Co-Op just a couple of blocks away. We found some sweet backpacks and head warming accessories. The restaurant was VERY busy when we were there. From what I’ve read, it is like that constantly. The interior was clean, modern, and rustic… a very cool little joint that’s for sure! They pride themselves in scratch cooking and locally sourced ingredients.

Enough with the chit-chat, lets talk about what really matters… the food. One thing that struck me as odd was that they serve breakfast exclusively until 2pm. Initially I was disappointed because we had eaten breakfast at the hotel earlier. I was looking forward to the burgers I’ve read about. Since this was not possible, I had to suck it up and order breakfast… again. The breakfast menu looked really good! Most items were old standards, but with twists. Here is a link to their brecky menu. I originally thought I wanted some sort of eggs benedict, but when I saw it was was like… NICE! It was the ‘Breakfast Burger’!!! I ordered it when the server came by.

When it came, my eyes widened! This beautiful sandwich of yum had black forest ham, crispy bacon, meatloaf, fried egg, cheddar, cilantro lime aioli, all on a onion kaiser bun!!! It came with a side of mediocre deep fried hash browns. This burger was one of the greatest things I have ever eaten! All of the toppings were amazing, especially the meatloaf! Mmmmmmm, meatloaf. Each bite was like a back rub. If I kept on about how flippin’ awesome this burger was I would just be repeating myself over, and over again, so I’ll stop.

So, if you are ever in Edmonton, please heed my suggestion and go try the breakfast burger! I’d even drive the 5 or so hour drive just to have it.

Urban Diner - Downtown on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review – Weczeria Food and Wine

4 Aug

Weczeria Food and Wine –  616 10th Street E, Saskatoon, SK, Canada  –  306.933.9600

http://www.weczeriarestaurant.ca/

A week ago, my girlfriend Alison and I realized there was a special day coming up on the weekend and were looking for something very special to do. We thought why not try Weczeria Food and Wine. We have heard many good things about this restaurant and decided to give it a go. Their philosophy behind food is refreshing and sustainable. They only (when ever possible) source ingredients from Saskatchewan and/or Canadian farmers. Also, which I found cool, the menu changes daily.

We arrived early for our 6pm reservation and met the Chef and his wife (both are co-owners) outside getting some fresh air. Though they didn’t seem open yet, they were willing to bring us in and feed us. Not wanting to take away from their last few minutes of free time, we opted to take a few steps away to Starbucks to get a coffee fix until 6. We finished our drinks and began our 50ft journey back to the restaurant.

Walking into the restaurant I felt a warmth (no because it was REALLY hot in there) and hominess to it. For fine dining, the décor was refreshingly modest and unpretentious. The floors were aged wood, and the walls were adorned with pictures of the farmers the Chef sources food from. There was also a wholesome and complex food smell coming from the kitchen. The hostess was genuinely friendly and bubbly when we were met at the front door. When we were sat, we did not wait long at all to be met by our server (which happened to be the owner/wife of the chef). She was so warm and genuine in her welcome to us. She began to explain to us the whole concept of their food vision. Instead of menus, Weczeria uses smaller chalkboards at the table to display their items. This makes sense if the menu is changed daily.

All of the items on the menu looked so tasty! Labeled was the protein, and 4 or 5 other ingredients. There were no fancy, and wordy explanations to make their food seem more important… just simple list of ingredients. We were torn by which items to order, but finally decided on the following:

_______________

Starters

Gnocchi with asparagus, bacon and Parmesan cream sauce (there is no picture available because we ate it all before we could photograph it)

Trout rillette with crustini

Entre

Wild Boar topped with apricots, on a bed of wild rice, and surrounded by carrot, asparagus, spiced walnuts, and chive oil

Dessert

Fig and blue cheese bread pudding, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Raspberry chocolate cake

Wine

Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon

_____________

The Trout Rillette (pate type spread) was unreal! Alison does not like fish that is too ‘fishy’, so I think she was a little weary when I ordered it. The first taste proved to be perfect for her. It was mild and very fresh. The Rillette came in a mini pickle type jar with crustini and rhubarb compote. The trout was great by itself on the crustini, but was really good with the added rubarb. The sweet/sour of the rubarb cut through the fattiness of the rillette.

Though the Rillette was great, I wish I ordered the Gnocchi that Alison ordered. It was unreal! If you are unfamiliar with Gnocchi, it is a potato dumpling pasta. The sauce was very rich and went well with the sautéed pasta. The Gnocchi was very tender and fluffy, and the asparagus was perfectly tender. It was quite literally one of the best things I have ever tasted!

For our entre, we both ordered the Wild Boar. The meat was perfectly cooked medium rare and extremely tender and juicy. Roasted apricots, asparagus, garden carrot, wild rice, spiced walnuts, and chive oil accompanied the boar. The vegetables were so tender and fresh, and the walnuts were an unreal combination with the boar. The only issue I had with the dish, and it is purely a personal opinion, was the apricots. Though correctly prepared, they did not work well with the boar. I am not the biggest fan of apricots, and I think that peaches or nectarines would have gone better.

For dessert we both chose an item to share (the dishes look messy because we had already dug into them before we could take a picture). Alison ordered the flourless chocolate cake, and I chose the fig and blue cheese bread pudding. Both items were excellent, with the winner going to the bread pudding! The cake was VERY rich and ultra chocolaty. It was a very dense flourless cake with the raspberries baked into it. The only dish that could even attempt to beat out the Gnocchi was the bread pudding. I have never had anything like it! The cheese was subtle and salty, and was balanced by a yummy sweet fig flavour. The pudding was topped with two fig halves, and an incredibly creamy homemade vanilla ice cream. In addition to dessert we had an good cup of coffee. I really like the service of the coffee at Weczeria… it came in a single cup french press. The flavour from the press was excellent.

I would urge you to try this wonderful find! Though a little expensive (not that expensive for fine dining in Saskatoon ), it is worth it, and is a great place to spend a special time. The food was so good, and ingredients so fresh, I would say Weczeria is the best restaurant in the whole of Saskatoon.

Weczeria Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review – Saba’s African Cuisine

23 Jul

Saba’s African Cuisine –  901A – 22nd Street West, Saskatoon, SK  –  306-933-4447  –  Hours (Tuesday to Sunday — 4:30pm to 10:30pm)

http://www.whattodoinsaskatoon.com/ads/pages/saba/default.htm

My girlfriend and I have heard so much about Saba’s from our good friends Doug and Darla. In fact, I think it’s their favorite restaurant. We have wanted to go for a long time but it has never worked out that we could go. So last night we were able to check it out!

The space was quaint and simple… nothing fancy and pretentious here folks. The restaurant was clean and full of light, and the washrooms were sanitary and didn’t smell foul (which is rare for most places here). The walls were adorned with traditional pieces and knickknacks from their home country. There was no indication on the menu what country they were from, but from some research into the dishes and sauces, it is most likely Ethiopia.

The first thing that really struck me when entering Saba’s was the smell. IT WAS AWESOME! I could smell warming spices and MEAT! My mouth began to water profusely. I was excited for what was to come.

Since we were not familiar with the menu our friends ordered for us. They ordered the meat combination (they also have an extensive selection of vegetarian dishes), which excited me. The food took quite a while to come out, but that is to be expected for homemade dishes I think. The wait was well worth it!

Injera roll for eating

The first thing to come out was the Injera. Injera is a very yeasty sourdough flat bread with the texture and appearance of a crepe. By itself, the taste was not my cup of tea, but was assured that it would taste great with the food. The whole point of the Injera was to use it as the utensil. This was cool because I’ve never eaten like this before. The food came out soon after the Injera. It looked simple and smelt really good. I could smell chiles, allspice, and coriander. All selections were on top of a large round of Injera. All items on the platter tasted really good. The flavours were balanced and not that spicy hot. The only item that was somewhat hot was the chicken and egg in the middle of the plate. The platter included:

Meat Combination

Sega Tibsi / Kulwa (Mild): Tender cubed beef sautéed with onions, rosemary, tomato and jalapeno, served with salad (or Alcha or Rice) and spicy awaze sauce on the side.
Tsebhi Sega (Meat) (Medium): Tender cubed beef seasoned with fresh onions, garlic and ginger, sauced with butter and berbere sauce.
Tsebhi Derho (Chicken) (Hot): Tender chicken sautéed in butter and seasoned with garlic and soaked in berbere (hot red powder pepper) served with boiled eggs.
Alcha: Mixed vegetables, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, cumin, tumeric and some spices.
Alcha Birsen: Yellow split peas cooked in specially flavored mild sauce.

The hot sauce we asked for. Completely homemade and very unique.

The service was good but minimal. We were given a jug of water at the table at the beginning. Our friends ordered a beer at the start, but they were not asked if they wanted another one. What really impressed me was when Saba (Chef and owner) came out and asked us what we liked best and that she would bring us out more if we were not full. Now that is how you treat guests!!! We didn’t take advantage of her generosity, but did order two small sides of the cabbage and spicy beef.

All in all, Saba’s is a great little hidden gem. I look forward to going again and trying some other items off the menu. I urge you to try this great restaurant. Please be prepared to wait for your food, but don’t let that turn you off.

Please visit Saba's African Cuisine on Urbanspoon for more reviews.