Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Starving for some Waffles!

Starving Artist
1078 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto ON M6E 1A5

There is plenty of waffle worship at this second Starving Artist location that recently opened up in Corso Italia a few weeks ago.  This is a waffle shrine... waffle art grazes each and every wall and everything on the menu is served with waffles!

The server was warm, friendly, bubbly, and enthusiastic. She took our drink orders even before we sat down.  We ordered an Americano and a PB Chocolate Banana Smoothie to start.  It was nice of our server to give us two straws so that we could share and have an "Archie" moment!

The Sammy Benny - Instead of traditional English muffins, the capers, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, and Atlantic smoked salmon sat atop waffles.  The dish also came with a side salad of mixed greens lightly dressed with balsamic and baked beans (which can be substituted for fruit).

As you may know, it is incredibly difficult to cook the perfect poached egg.  Poaching an egg is the technique of cooking an egg by submerging in simmering water.  However, the difficulty is ensuring the egg white adheres and surrounds the yolk.  Often the egg white separates and becomes wispy ruining an afternoon brunch.  Techniques such as creating a vortex or whirlwind to the water before dropping in the egg, using a strainer or plastic wrap to cook the egg, or even adding vinegar to the water  have all been used to prevent this from happening.  You also want to have a nice runny yolk and so often the egg is cooled in cold water before serving to prevent overcooking.

Having said all that, the poached eggs served here had an excellent presentation. The egg yolks were encased in perfectly domed egg white.  The Hollandaise sauce coated the eggs and had a nice sheen to it.  Together, the appearance of the poached eggs reminded me of scoops of ice cream.  They looked very appetizing!

The eggs were poached well.  The egg white of each egg was firm but deliciously tender.  The yolk was warm and runny - liquid gold!  The Hollandaise sauce was creamy and had the the right consistency. The capers were pickled well and had a tangy flavour.  The salmon was a tad fishy though. While the waffles were warm and fluffy,  I was not convinced that the sweetness of the waffles worked with the savoury components.  The combination was a bit strange.  If you ask me, I would still swap a traditional English muffin for a waffle.

Each fully loaded potato waffle came with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and chives on top. There wasn't a trace of bacon as promised on the menu though.  Disappointing.

The actual "waffle" was browned nicely and had a nice crispiness. However, they may have cut corners with the potato - the texture and taste was consistent with instant variety.

As a side note, the syrup on the table wasn't maple syrup. The syrup was most likely high fructose corn syrup since it seemed too sweet and too watery.  Although I don't expect most establishments to have real maple syrup, I didn't think it was appropriate to put this imposter in such a fancy bottle. 

Although there were some disappointments, there are enough reasons for a return visit.  Outstanding service and wonderfully poached eggs.  I would get poached eggs next visit but sans salmon... perhaps bacon instead since I missed today's appearance.

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