Sunday, June 22, 2014

#FNLROM Strictly Forbidden

Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M5S 2C6

Date Visited:  May 30, 2013

Dancing with Dinosaurs!

How can you go wrong with a night at the museum exploring exhibits, dancing to live music and enjoying food & drink?  That is precisely the successful formula the Royal Ontario Museum embraces every Friday night from May to June, 7-11pm.  Aptly named Friday Night Live (#FNLROM), the event is more popular than ever with long lines of well-dressed party-goers down Bloor Street waiting to get in.

The Non-ticket Holder Line
The Ticket Holder Line

Now in its second year, the ROM is boasting a bigger and bolder experience.  New this year is the ability to wander through more of the museum and until close when previously patrons were restricted to the main floor after a certain time.  Beefing up security to offer this luxury is not cheap and this is no doubt related to the cash infusion that Ford has given the ROM as their new sponsor for FNL.  But of course, you now see a brand new Ford vehicle parked out front at the ROM when you line up to get in.  You can even visit the wing dedicated to Ford, where you have a chance to win a new car, sit in one while watching a video about The Forbidden City, and take a photo in front of a Ford and a fossilized dinosaur with an Indiana Jones inspired actor.  The props at your disposal such as fedoras, snakes, whips and swords make for an excellent shot!

The Main Dance Floor
Live Music on the Second Floor!

There were some returning food vendors such as Gourmet Gringos, Hot Bunzz, Tita Flips and Curbside Bliss but there were also many new entrants this year such as Liko's Hawaiian BBQ, M.e.n.u., and Randy's Roti.  Each food item costs 1 ROM Buck ($6) which can be purchased at stations scattered throughout the museum (think Itchy and Scratchy money but actually redeemable).  You can purchase a drink with 1 ROM Buck and you can choose from beer, wine, mixed drinks, and a bottomless soft drink (new this year).

So thoughts on some of the food vendors?

M.e.n.u. was serving up Asian fried rice balls - a pretty innovative idea.  The exterior is akin to an Italian risotto ball while the inside is stuffed with traditionally Asian flavours.  A ROM Buck gets you your choice of two balls.  The Porkzilla was a disappointment because the ball was considerably burnt on the outside and it ruined the ability to even taste the Chinese sausage or pork butt on the inside .  The pineapples and mayo on top couldn't save it.  The Gangnam Style ball played on the tried-and-true flavour combination of bulgogi and kimchi.  It had delicious Korean bulgogi beef on the inside and it was topped with kimchi and mayo.  Thankfully, the exterior of this one wasn't burnt.  Instead, this appetizing batter had a non-oily, crispy texture to it.

The Porkzilla (left) and Gangnam Style (right) Fried Rice Balls

Randy's Roti
Avoid the chicken roti at Randy's.  While there was nothing wrong with the roti bread itself, the chicken filling was bland and dry.  There was also this gritty ingredient inside the roti that added to an already unpleasant taste experience.

Chicken Roti
Randy's Chicken Roti - Unpleasant Grittiness with Dry and Flavourless Chicken

City Gourmet
City Gourmet was serving up roasted chicken sausages, grilled cheeses, and waffles.  Surprisingly, the chicken sausage was one of the better food options of the night.  The peppery chicken was loosely packed in its sausage casing and so each bite delivered delicious crumbling morsels into the mouth.  The sausage had a robust flavour to it and it was served on a bun with your typical condiments.

A Peppery Chicken Sausage on a Bun

Little Tomato
The Slow-Roasted Porchetta Sandwich:  The porchetta was juicier than expected!  It had an awesome fall-off-the-bone consistency.  The rapini relish cut some of the fattiness of the porchetta and the chilies gave each bite a nice kick.  In addition, the fried onions and crispy skin really made this sandwich pop!  The thick yet soft artisan bread absorbed all the great flavours and was drenched in a delicious pesto mayo.  It's a winner!

The Slow-Roasted Porchetta Sandwich

The Spicy Pierogi
An order of their traditional pierogies comes with typical baked potato ingredients such as bacon bits, green onions, cheese and sour cream.  That's definitely one way to elevate a traditional pierogi!  The potato filling in the pierogies was smooth and warm inside despite being mass produced.  The outer shell had some nice fry marks on it to give it some texture.  Good food vendor!

Deluxe Traditional Pierogies

The Peroni Bar
Peroni being a supporting sponsor, a dedicated bar was set up on the second floor for fans of the Italian beer!

The Dedicated Peroni Bar

Each Friday Night Live has a theme to it.  The theme of the night on May 30th was Strictly Forbidden.  That night patrons were allowed access to the ROM's current featured exhibit:  China's Forbidden City.

A fun time!

The next and last Friday Night Live of this year will be happening on June 27.  The theme that night will be ROM Proud, which will be an evening of celebration in honour of WorldPride 2014.

It will definitely be a fun night out - a great way to end of this season's #FNL!  Check it out!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Fry

So it's basically summer, the NBA Finals are on, the World Cup is on, the US Open is on and it's hot outside. Hot, muggy and often rainy. So what can you eat? The patio is sort of off limits, the bars are an option but the food is usually not great. I still want to watch the games though so what can I do? Enter The Fry! Newly opened at Yonge and Sheppard (in the old Armando's) the Fry has expanded down from Yonge and Cummer, offering Korean style fried chicken, soups, alcohol and TVs. Best of all is they generally offer all of those things in the form of combos. Fried chicken and beer in a frozen mug? Garlic and soy sauce fried chicken and soju? Spicy rice cakes, fried chicken and a Coke in a frozen mug? All with a side of special World Cup friendly hours? That's a recipe for success in my mind.

Delicious, golden, juicy, crispy chicken

The chicken was freshly fried, juicy and crispy. The chicken came out golden brown and not the dirty brown indicative of a slacking kitchen not changing the fryer oil. The service was friendly and fluently English despite only having one waitress for the packed resto - perhaps less attentive than normal but we had enough napkins and drink so not much more attention was necessary for the devouring of fried chicken.

Pickled cabbage, salad,
macaroni salad
Spicy rice cakes with cheese,
chicken and cabbage
Garlic soy sauce fried chicken

The bill came to about $55 for three of us. We ordered a half and half combo of garlic and soy fried chicken and original fried chicken along with a spicy rice cake and chicken dish (which was delicious). We had the usual palette cooling side dishes of pickled radish, salad and (maybe not so usual) macaroni salad. We also had one I've never seen before - seared corn with some kind of buttery, mayonaisse-y, cream sauce on it which was actually delicious. The right amount of sweet and salty without being overly greasy or heavy. With the aforementioned drinks in frozen mugs, we were very full but very happy by the end of the meal so I'd say the price was reasonable.

All in all, it was a great experience and I'd definitely expect to be back there soon!

The Fry on Urbanspoon