It's that time of year again - Taste of Burlington! Happening Feb 16th - March 9th. A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch party - and similar to last years, I spent the evening with Christine & Dave noshing and exploring the entire night away.
The night consisted of twenty six restaurants offering up food and drink samples. Although not a part of TOB, samples from Cameron's Brewing Co and coffee from Lakehouse Coffee House were also present. I was invited by Tourism Burlington but tickets were available for purchase as well. It was definitely my kind of event - you pay one fee and eat all you want. I roll my eyes at events where they charge an arm and a leg to get in and then on top of that - you have to pay for food samples!
Anyways, here is what we sampled that night - I'm happy to say I sampled more than half of the restaurants! I know - I'm a bad ass.
Ivy Bar and Kitchen (@IvyBarKichen) : Wild and Forest Mushroom Truffle Scented Cappuccino Soup with Parmesan "foam" and Garlic Biscotti - this was my first sample of the night - and the flavours were good but nothing but your average cream of mushroom soup. Read about my brunch experience with them here.
Red Canoe Bistro (@RedCanoeBistro) : Local Heirloom Beet Risotto with Goat Feta topped with a Naturally Raised Beef Ragout - this was pretty unique, I loved the textures and it was really comforting but I wish the flavours were kicked up just a notch and the dish was hotter - in temp not in spice.
Test Kitchen (@TK_Restaurants) : Tuna Canapés - from the new kids on the block, these canapés were beautiful - great colour and artfully presented. Too bad the flavours were very bland - you could hardly taste the tuna but there was good texture in the dish. Judging from the presentation style and technique, I'm definitely interesting in still checking them out though.
Downtown Bistro & Grill : Roasted Pork Belly with Potato and Celery & Radish Slaw - can't say no to pork belly and the croquette was a nice surprise - I could have done without the slaw and salad though.
Queens Head Pub (@pub_queenshead) : Sweet Potato Donut - a pleasant surprise from Queens Head, you never expected something so well executed to come from a pub. But just like the description says - it was a sweet potato donut and it was pretty damn awesome. These bad boys also won in the "best taste" category.
Celli's Osteria (@CellisOsteria) : Pork and Beans - Pan Roasted Sweet Italian Sausage in White Cannelloni Bean Ragu - the sausage was enjoyable and if the dish was served piping hot it would have been one of those belly warming dishes that you curl up with.
The Naked Sprout (@nakedsprout) : Prima Donna Primavera -spiralized zucchini, tossed in a sundried tomato marinara sauce, garnished with tomatoes, kalamata olives and a cashew meatbll sprinkled with brazil nut parmesan - although I've heard lots of buzz about The Naked Sprout, this was actually my first experience with them. I quite enjoyed the raw zucchini pasta - super hardy and flavourful… and it was like vegan I think? Right? I enjoyed something without bacon in it.
Pepperwoods (@pepperwoodgroup) : Bison Slider with balsamic tomato mustard and Brie - here's the thing about sliders - there should only be one slider in a room at a time. Three restaurants chose to do sliders and unfortunately I only sampled the first two - and I literally had a bite just to fulfill my bloggin' duties. They're a horrible representation of what a restaurant can do. They're essentially items you can order pre made and takes absolutely no creativity - no matter how many types of cheese, caramelized onions or fried eggs you throw on them. There I said it. *gets off soap box*
Paradiso (@ristoparadiso) : Angus Beef Meatballs with Mushroom Compote - Paradiso was my favourite pick at last years TOB but this years meatball was meh - it was nice and flavourful but the mushrooms served along side them were ice cold - horrible contrast in temperatures.
West Plains Bistro (@bistrobound) : Curried Cauliflower soup with dried mango, raisin and almond garnish - Beautiful soup served piping hot and I loved the sweet notes from the raisins. This dish won "peoples choice" as well. All it needed was crispy little morsels of pancetta or something nice and salty.
Ye Olde Squire (@YeOldeSquire) : Sticky Toffee Pudding - one of my other favourite dishes of the night and the most memorable was this beautiful sticky toffee pudding. It had all my favourite components - something warm, sweet, sticky and it was the perfect portion.
Turtle Jacks (@TurtleJacks) : Award winning ribs - I'm not sure what kind of awards these ribs have won but they were pretty good. Nice and meaty and fell of the bone without completely melting away.
Stone House @StoneHouseFood : Beer braised short ribs wit truffled turnip puree - this was also a pretty well executed dish. And kudos to the chef for making up a pretty plate for this shot! The truffle oil was a little strong but I didn't mind and the sweet and rich notes from the sauce were grand.
Fraticellis @Fraticellis : Garganelli with Bolognese sauce - meat sauce and pasta - didn't really tickle my fancy but I'm sure it was a fan favourite, it's such a classic dish.
Amaya Express @AmayaExpress : Leek & Parsnip Fritter, Butter Chicken & Rice - I really wasn't expecting much cause I don't really picture Burlington having any solid Indian restaurants but I was actually surprised at how excellent the butter chicken was. The sauce was both, rich and creamy and had the perfect amount of spice. After a little googling I discovered Amaya has quite a few locations in the GTA.
Spencer's at the Waterfront : Ice wine marshmallow s'mores : quinoa graham cracker, ice wine marshmallow and chocolate ganache - And the best food porn of the night has to go to Speners. Seriously, look at that beauty - and it was all hand crafted and made in house. I was thoroughly impressed! Read about my brunch experience with them here.
I'll be honest and say there were other dishes I sampled but they weren't exactly stellar so I didn't see fit sharing them with you. All in all it was a great night and I think the restaurants offered up a great selection of samples. I hate going to events like this and everyone cheaps out and offers up salad bowls and cous cous samples. TOB runs till March 9th so get your acts together and make the drive to Burlington already - parking is affordable and there is hardly any traffic - shocker right?
*Disclaimer// I received media tickets to this event