Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Fresh Look at Seasonal Farmers’ Markets







A Fresh Look at Seasonal Farmers’ Markets

 



 BY BRYAN LAVERY


Every year I look forward to the start of the outdoor farmers’ market season. In warmer weather, I generally frequent farmers’ markets and farmgates which help to sustain economic activity on a local level. The new economic reality is that farmers’ markets have become a source of competitive advantage and the preferred food-retailing operation for many consumers. Studies reveal that most market shoppers are inspired to eat seasonally, which leads to altered buying and cooking patterns. It is important to keep in mind that farmers’ markets achieve an imperative part in local economic development by providing a location for local and small business incubation, generating an economic multiplier effect to neighboring businesses, and redistributing customer dollars within the community.


The “eat and buy local” movements have taken Ontario by storm, and there are hundreds of farmers’ markets dotted across the province to prove it. It is a great way to savour the terroir and talents of a community.  Here are some of this area’s best-loved seasonal farmers’ markets:


The Soho Street Market

The Soho Street Market (located in front of the Goodwill Centre at Horton and Wellington) is the new kid on the block and has quickly become a community hub. The night market offers an open-air market experience. It’s operated by the Soho Community Association for the purpose of providing local produce, farm fresh fruits, and artisanal handcrafts to visitors and residents. Since its inception it has been a smash hit. Edgar and Joe’s Café stays open late too.  Every Friday night from 4-9 pm. www.sohomarket.ca

Covent Garden Market Farmers’ Market
They grow it, raise, bake it, or make it! That's the mantra of the Covent Garden Farmers' Market a 100 per cent producer-based market. Every Thursday and Saturday from May until December, you can expect super fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, local wine, samplings by local chefs, live music and children's programming. For current news, recipes and seasonal information about the farmers' market please go to their blog. www.coventgardenfarmersmarket.com
Thursdays and Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm. May to Christmas, weather permitting. 


Hyde Park Outdoor Market

Hyde Park Outdoor Market opens May 9th. There is an     interesting complement of year round indoor vendors, and additional vendors at the seasonal outdoor market. There is a large patio with landscaped gardens to sit and relax while enjoying the market experience in London`s north west. Hyde Park Market is located at 1331 Hyde Park Road, south of Gainsborough. There are additional parking spaces at The Crossings just under the railway overpass. Open Saturday 8 am–5 pm and Sundays 9 am–3 pm. www.hydeparkmarket.ca


Masonville Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market

Masonville Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market features over 40 farmers, artisans and food producers. It is organized by the Western Fair Farmers & Artisans’ Market. There is free parking at the Masonville Place parking lot. Fridays 8 am–2 pm, weather permitting. www.londonsfarmersmarket.ca


Slow Food Perth County's Sunday Market

Since its inception, Slow Food Perth County's Sunday Market has been a hit and a go-to food destination. Market-goers appreciate the good, clean, fair principles of Slow Food as well as the exceptional and produce and artisanal products offered by local vendors who have a passion for their offerings. In season, Stratford Market Square, then the market returns to The Falstaff Family Centre. The market remains outdoors right through the planting, growing, and harvest seasons, until mid-October. Sundays 10 am to 2 pm. 


St. Thomas Horton Farmers’ Market

Horton Farmers’ Market is a best-in-class market destination that promotes civic pride, shapes local culture and supports the regional economy by providing access to high quality food producers, craftspeople and artisans. If you are looking for farm fresh produce and meats, homemade preserves and baking, as well as handmade crafts and artwork, the Horton Farmers' Market is the place to be! They strive to have only local producers and craftspeople represented, giving you a taste and experience unique to St. Thomas. Manitoba Street, ½ block north of Talbot Street. St. Thomas, Open Mother's Day Weekend to October 31, Saturdays 8 a.m. to 12 noon. www.hortonfarmersmarket.ca


 The Goderich Farmers’ Market

The Goderich Farmers’ Market on the Courthouse Square is sponsored by the Goderich BIA. The outdoor farmers market is operated by the Goderich BIA. On the Courthouse Square vendors offer fruits and vegetables, honey, maple syrup, plants and flowers, pork products and fish, baked goods, preserves and handmade locally produced crafts. The popular farmers’ market operates every weekend from spring to fall.  Saturdays, 8 am to 1 pm., Victoria Day to Thanksgiving.



The St. Marys Farmers’ Market

An exclusively producer –based market, the St. Marys Farmers' Market continues its proud tradition of offering a wide range of fresh, locally produced foods, arts and crafts from around the county. Special events such as their monthly pancake breakfasts, as well as the finest meats, produce and baked goods brought to you by local farmers and other members of the community. The vendors at the market are all local farmers, home bakers and local craftspeople. Saturdays, 8 am to 12 Noon, May 16th to October 31st. www.stmarysfarmersmarket.ca


Strathroy Farmers’ Market 

Strathroy Farmers’ Market is one of the area’s oldest open air farmers’ markets and has operated since 1861. The market takes on Market Square behind the town hall in Strathroy on Saturdays from June to October. The market (open 8am–12 noon) is a member of Farmers’ Market Ontario.


Downtown Woodstock Farmers’ Market


Downtown Woodstock Farmers’ Market is a vibrant outdoor local market in the heart of downtown Woodstock on Museum/Market Square. The market features fresh, seasonal produce, eggs, meat, dairy, baked goods, flowers, plants, artisans, crafts and more. Museum Square and Dundas St., Woodstock, May to October, Thursdays 12 noon to 5 pm (sometimes later).  www.downtownwoodstock.ca 


Grand Bend Farmers’ Market

Nestled on the West Coast of Ontario, the Grand Bend Farmers’ Market welcomes you to a season of fresh, locally-grown produce. The offerings of the 25-plus producer-based vendor group ranges from organic vegetables, beef and pork producers to flowers, bakers, artisans and more. If the vendors don’t grow it, produce it, make it or bake it, it can’t be found at the market. They try to offer a varied selection of products from all areas as we draw from the three counties of Huron, Middlesex and Lambton. 1 Main St., Grand Bend (Colonial Hotel Parking Lot - enter off Hwy 21.) Opens the first Wednesday after Victoria Day and closes the last Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 8 am to 1 pm. www.grandbendfarmersmarket.ca

Point Edward Moonlight Farmer's Market


Point Edward Moonlight Farmer's Market to launch on June 25th. Local food will be back in a big way this summer, right under the Bluewater Bridge in Point Edward. Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation is the lead in the new farmers' market featuring an enticing assortment of local products every Thursday evening from 4 to 8 pm, beginning June 25th.



 Farmers’ markets have become a favourite pastime. Petrolia also has an open-air market on Saturdays from the end of May to Thanksgiving. The Forest Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market features local producers and artisans showing home-grown local produce and products on Fridays from 8 am to 1 pm. May to October






London's Local Flavour Culinary Guide 2015



London's Local Flavour Culinary Guide 2015
 
 In London, Ontario there are many culinary professionals who are actively embracing new and original versions of the farm-to-table experience. They represent the vanguard of the modern Ontario culinary scene and have a reputation for ingenuity and creativity. They possess exceptional, compelling culinary philosophies and are committed to fostering a cutting-edge culinary repertoire by sharing their knowledge with fellow professionals and patrons.

We have cooks, restaurateurs, farmers’ markets, publicans, retailers and food-lovers who are not just advocating “eating and drinking local” and “eating seasonal,” they are enthusiastically and creatively promoting and developing new region-specific cuisines. They have a reputation for referencing both the local terroir and the heart of Ontario country tradition for inspiration. As for their cuisine, it’s made from scratch and it’s ground-breaking. They are implementing time-honoured traditions and trusted techniques yet delivering ingredients in fresh ways while focusing on the local sourcing of ingredients, nutrition and environmental sustainability.

Many of these trailblazers are profiled in the London’s Local Flavour 2015 Culinary Guide. While we celebrate local farmers, our true food stars are innovating in kitchens throughout the city, offering up some of Ontario’s finest food and pairing them with a rich variety of craft beer and VQA wine tasting experiences. 
The increase in London’s range and choices in culinary offerings reflects both our growing ethnic diversity and an increased demand driven by sophisticated consumers who are seeking bolder, more exotic and authentic tastes from a variety of cultures. Our various restaurants, new and old, distinguish themselves with both tradition and up-to-the-minute adaptations of our region’s characteristic flavours and ingredients. 

Culinary tourism and the local food movement are not trends, but a change in the collective mindset of communities across Canada. When it comes to food what’s local is usually what is best. Nowhere is the love of all things culinary more evident than in the popularity of culinary tourism in Ontario. London is a natural hub for this and, in fact, culinary tourism is booming in our city and all around us. Authentic culinary tourism is the experiential ‘taste’ of a place rooted in its terroir. It starts with agriculture and the people who grow our food.

 The Local Flavour can be picked up at the airport (and with the limo drivers there), the train station, tourist information centres and the farmers’ markets. Lots of copies are distributed through the restaurants and other participants, and the libraries.

Tourism London of course sends out copies with enquiries and pitches to groups, as does Downtown London, and the Convention Centre, where copies are also circulated.
 
Whether you’re interested in one-stop shopping at one of our specialty food shops, or at our many farmers’ markets for a diversity of local products, or just want to explore the unique destination restaurants throughout our city, we know you’ll enjoy the vast choice of dining and drinking options London has offering a taste of our "Local Flavour."


http://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/38694799/londons-local-flavour-2015 

True Taco in Old East Village Continues to Wow Diehard Taco-Lovers


 








True Taco Continues to Wow Diehard Taco-Lovers

True Taco Authentic Comedor Latino continues to wow diehard taco-lovers by providing superior Mexican and El Salvadorian cuisine in newer and much larger premises on Dundas Street in London’s Old East Village. The latest news is that they have applied for a liquor license. There is nothing quite like like ice cold cervezas or a shot of tequila to accompany a Latin-American meal.  
Owning a restaurant was a long-time dream for Luis Rivas who conceived the popular True Taco restaurant as an unpretentious Latino oasis, after perfecting his signature taco and salsa offerings, and building a loyal clientele at the Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market. The satellite operation is reminiscent of the hole-in-the-wall taquerias and street stand taquerias in Latin America.

As far as trends go in restaurants, few dishes loom as large as the taco, a generally inexpensive restaurant bite that has created a cult of aficionados. The restaurant industry has been in a state of gourmet taco consciousness for some time. Much like the slider craze, tacos continue to be the new canvas of the gourmet world.  Delicious fillings like swordfish, scallops, foie gras, don’t come cheap in higher end restaurants, of course. But it’s worth paying for a great taco prepared with high quality ingredients and extra attention.

Rivas opened a restaurant in Old East in 2009, just a year after starting out in the market. Last year he expanded to a bigger location across the street from the original. Rivas estimates that 40% of True Taco’s clientele originated from what has become his satellite operation at the Saturday WFFAM. There is a tremendous amount of repeat business. Rivas credits the clientele of the Aeolian Hall and the emerging culinary scene in Old East Village as part of the restaurant’s continuing success and higher profile.

True Taco quickly made its name and built a reputation for quality, authentic Mexican and El Salvadorian food. It all started with just a modest offering of 4 really delicious tacos and a limited menu of other specialities. “The big favourite being the taco al pastor made with juicy pork loin, pineapple, onion and cilantro that just melt into the meat." says Rivas. The other taco signature specialties are prepared with a choice of chorizo, beef barbacoa, or beef tongue, and a selection of homemade sauces. At the restaurant there are 16 fresh salsas to choose from. The nacho chips are house made, artisan corn tortillas and produced nearby in Alymer. True Taco offers a spectacular all-day breakfast of huevos rancheros, sunny side up eggs with homemade sauce served with beans (locally sourced) and tortillas at both locations.

Favourites include the delicious pupusas served with curtido (traditional cabbage relish) and homemade sauce. El Salvador’s signature dish is the pupusa, this thick handmade corn or rice flour tortilla that is typically stuffed “de queso” (cheese) or chicharron (cooked pork ground to a paste consistency,) served with refried beans and loroco (a vine flower bud indigenous to Central America) and curtido. Other traditional Central America offerings include: burritos, taquitos, quesadillas, enchiladas and corn-husk wrapped pork and corn meal tamales. The guacamole is always fresh, bright green and outstanding.

One of the most delicious things I have eaten was a hot-off-the-grill golden brown gordita served with refried beans, at True Taco at the WFFAM. The Mexican gordita is quite similar to the Salvadoran pupusa. Gorditas normally have an opening at the center of the tortilla and generally have more filling than pupusas (hence the name gordita—"little fat one or little fatty"). Another standout is the chicken Milanesa.

 789 Dundas St;
 519 433 0909

Western Fair Farmers and Artisans’ Market (Saturdays 8 to 3pm)
www.truetaco.com

 



 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rock Au Taco in Downtown London










Rock Au Taco



The 28 seat boulevard patio at the Early Bird Diner and Rock Au Taco is open for the season. Gregg and Justin Wolfe opened “Rock Au Taco” next door to the Early Bird Diner, downtown London’s red-hot, retro diner last year. (The diner’s popularity inspired a great segment from “You Gotta Eat Here!” from the Food Network.) The small takeout taco bar at Rock Au Taco with limited seats, also serves the Early Bird patrons if they want anything from the taco list.

Trying to give London something it didn't already have, the Wolfe brother’s brought authentic southern Mexican street food to downtown London, with their food truck style tacos: cheap, quick and tasty. Rock Au Taco features signature tacos with fillings such as beef cheek and beef tongue, pork belly, fish, potato and re-fried bean. They’re topped with freshly made salsas, pickled onions and other garnishes. There is also a proper whisky/tequila and cocktail list, ice-cold cervezas, and the Mexican beer/cocktail hybrid michelada. The michelada, one of the most popular drinks in Mexico, is a beer-based cocktail made with lime, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and often tomato (or Clamato) juice, all served over ice in a glass with a salted rim.

This is classic gourmet grub to go and a great take on Latin-American inspired street food.

Rock Au Taco and The Early Bird

355 Talbot St., London

519-439-6483



www.facebook.com/EarlyBirdLondon 



















Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wild Leek and Asparagus Vichyssoise


Ontario Wild Leeks or Ramps

Wild leeks, sometimes called ramp, is a wild onion native to North America. The wild plant of the lily family is much stronger to the taste than the cultivated leek – almost peppery. The whole plant can be eaten, either raw in a salad or cooked. A word to you foragers, only take what you can eat for yourself and for preserving, and please don’t take the root. Trimming the shoots alone is enough, and it is best to leave the bulb in the ground for another season’s growth. Forage where the plants are plentiful and only pick individual plants within bunches.

Asparagus
Store fresh asparagus with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel. Keep them wrapped in plastic and in the refrigerator.
When preparing fresh asparagus, snap off the butt end of each spear. Save those woody ends to make soup stock.
Not only is asparagus low calorie and fat free, it is also an excellent source of folacin, antioxidants, thiamin, and vitamin B6.









Wild Leek and Asparagus Vichyssoise

  • 2 pounds asparagus, tips reserved, stalks cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup wild leeks
  • ½  pound potatoes, peeled and cubed (preferably russet or Yukon Gold)
  • 3 cups strong vegetable stock (or more as needed)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper


In a saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus tips until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain the asparagus tips in a colander and refresh under cold water. Pat dry, halve the tips lengthwise and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus, potatoes and stock, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the cream, salt and white pepper. Let the soup cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.

The Blu Duby: The Restaurant is Approachable as it is Beautiful



BY BRYAN LAVERY





Photographs by Steve Grimes








Blu Duby owners, Joe and Cheryl Duby, have built a diverse and loyal clientele by combining an accessible menu and wine list with upbeat ambience. The restaurant is a hybrid of casual dining and fine dining. Their vision has been to create a community, bound together by relationships with their team of hospitality professionals and a "remarkable dining experience". The Duby’s have created an atmosphere where people can come and enjoy a drink at the bar, a few appetizers or a full dining experience in a casual, yet elegant venue. Their goal: “A remarkable experience designed to accommodate every budget.” The result: a casual streamlined operation with a recession-friendly, contemporary menu, that appeals to a broad demographic.
The restaurant achieved  the Duby's  goal of being remarkable right from day one by providing a warm and welcoming ambience with plenty of style. Opening to immediate success in mid-July 2012, in the revitalized interior of a former warehouse  (briefly the late but lamented Braise Restaurant) and adjacent to the boutique hotel,  Metro, in downtown London.


Joe Duby is a well-known restaurant professional with  years of solid experience and a large and loyal following. He had spent the eight years managing Waldo's on King before embarking on Blu Duby. Cheryl Duby is an admired and well-respected businessperson, co-founder and President of Bigger Solutions Inc., and President of International Automotive Solutions. Both of the Duby’s are hands-on.
Together, the Dubys picked a team of dynamic hospitality professionals who are known for their customer service skills, clever repartee, and wit. They realize that there is not a single member of a restaurant staff whose behaviour does not affect the patron's experience, in one way or another. Daytime manager Mathew Mckenzie, William McKillop, Ray Nernberg, Scott MacDonald, and Toni Mansilla make up just part of the winning team. Part of the Duby’s acumen has been to employ the perfect blend of critical talent.


The restaurant is as approachable as it is beautiful. The dining rooms sports modern sophistication with its chic décor, combined with an innovative approach to family-friendly comfort food and artful cuisine. The restaurant has contemporary lighting fixtures, comfortable black chairs and tables provide contrast to the reclaimed exposed brick walls, solid maple hardwood flooring, fourteen-foot ceilings, and a structurally solid post-and-beam construction. The brick walls and other “sharkskin” coloured accents make a perfect backdrop for Artist Greg Benz’s modern abstract paintings. Great tunes playing in the background add a soothing but upbeat tempo.


The restaurant’s cooking repertoire keeps changing, and the presentation is both stylish and contemporary.  The culinary team prepares most everything in-house from scratch. Chef Jamie Craig's casual bistro-style selections and tantalizing vegetarian choices are on offer, as well as many comfort food favourites that have been updated and re-imagined. Craig brings a culinary philosophy of appreciation for fresh quality commodities and consistent proper preparation. In addition to his passion for cooking, Craig finds great satisfaction in helping to discover and develop the talents of younger chef apprentices. He keeps his own skills current  and sharp by participating in tasting events and culinary festivals like Savour Stratford and Canada's Gold Medal Plate event.


Join Blu Duby for appetizers and wine, a quick lunch, or an upbeat evening of remarkable service in a high-energy environment. Contemporary bistro-style selections and tantalizing vegetarian choices are on offer, as well as many classic favourites that have been updated. The restaurant’s cooking repertoire keeps evolving, and the presentation is both stylish and simple. The menu is an eclectic collection of Asian, Continental and Mediterranean influences and features items such as vegetarian spring rolls, Moroccan skewered chicken, grilled lamb lollipops as well as roasted rack of lamb, or grilled beef tenderloin.


 Blu Duby offers lunch engineered to fit into the most limited break, perfect for busy professionals working Downtown. You will find everything from comfort food in the braised beef onion poutine to light, healthy fare in a variety of fresh salads. With many gluten-free choices and vegetarian options to choose from, diners are certain to find something to enjoy. Recommendations include:  hand-rolled gnudi and rocket (arugula); crispy-skinned salmon;  and of course, Malaysian pad Thai with coconut milk, ginger, tamarind, brown sugar bean, cilantro, green onions and cashews.
Small plates include: fresh mussels with micro-frites and a choice of sauces, Asian-inspired spring rolls with shrimp, and seafood potato skins with aged cheddar chive-crème fraiche.
Other notable items on offer have included: supreme of chicken is stuffed with leeks and walnuts and served with a sauce of garlic and cream; jalapeño mac and cheese with conchiglie, lardons and panko breading can also be served as a vegetarian option; duo of duck with seared breast and leg confit with black currant demi-glace and roasted garlic mash.

The restaurant features a diverse wine list offering wines at a variety of price points with half the list by the glass. The list features wines from both mainstream regions as well as off the beaten path.
On weekend nights the restaurant draws a solid bar crowd. The dinner business is strong and the restaurant has become a downtown lunch hot spot. Walk-in business is always encouraged, and the star attractions are the hospitable owners and the staff. The Dubys also have an expertise for the corporate and private dining sector of the business. Several separate areas can be easily transformed into private dining rooms to accommodate parties. There is also small outdoor patio on Dundas Street.


32 Covent Market Place, (Blu Duby has access off both Covent Market Lane and Dundas Street.)
519-433-1414


www.bluduby.com
Monday to Thursday 11:30 am - 11:00 pm 
Friday to Saturday 11:30 to 1:00 am


Sunday 3:00 to 9:00 pm









Friday, May 8, 2015

WHERE TO EAT INDIAN FOOD IN LONDON, ONTARIO

Where to Eat Indian Food in London, Ontario

 



Among the cluster of local Indian restaurants is Massey`s Fine Indian Cuisine on King Street in London beside the Only on King. On the occasions that I have visited Massey`s, the dining experience has been memorable. Massey`s strongly represent the category of chef/owner-operated restaurants. Chef Patson Massey and his wife and business partner, Anisha, seem to always be on hand while the restaurant is operating. Chef Massey shows his expertise with the combining and roasting of exotic spices, subtle and complex, bestowing and building flavors to great effect.  Massey`s is just around the corner from two other noteworthy Indian restaurants: The faded Jewel of India and The Curry Garden which has recently relocated further south on Richmond Street. 
Of course, no discussion of Indian food in this city would be complete without mentioning The Raja Fine Indian Cuisine on Clarence Street.

 



The Raja Fine Indian Cuisine : Honouring Tradition, Technique, and Flavours

 
 
 
 


 By BRYAN LAVERY

Indian cuisine is a vast and sophisticated subject. India’s states and territories differ, cuisine-wise, as much if not more than the regional cuisines of other countries. Caste, culture, religious doctrine, geography, and climate have all played an immense role in preventing the emergence of a truly definitive national Indian cuisine. Despite the diversity, coalescing threads surface on closer inspection.

However, most of what we consider authentic Indian cuisine is a product of the British imperial influence, which resulted in a prolific Anglo-Indian restaurant cuisine that panders to the global masses.

I initially became familiar with this style of restaurant cooking while living in England on two separate occasions. Going out for an “Indian” or a “Curry” or getting an Indian “takeaway” was a national pastime. The idea of a curry is, in fact, a definition that the British imposed on India’s cookery to describe any spiced dish under the generic term “curry.” Historically, Indians referred to their individual dishes by very specific regional names.

Living in England, I was struck by the emergence of authentic regional Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi restaurants and the elevation of these unique cuisines to as elegant, sophisticated and refined as any other cuisine. Today, the Indian food industry in the United Kingdom accounts for two-thirds of all eating out, and is estimated to serves about 2.5 million customers every week.

The opportunity to eat fine “Indian” cuisine that honours tradition, technique and authentic flavours does not present itself often. The Raja serves upscale Indian cuisine in sophisticated and elegant surroundings by a knowledgeable, well-trained staff. The service is white linen, deferential and friendly.

After being seated, diners are offered crisp, crunchy poppadums served alongside a dazzling selection of vibrantly coloured condiments, ranging from sweet to sour to spicy, to get the taste buds tingling. The condiments include: gooseberry, coriander, tamarind, mango, yogurt and mint, and lime pickle. 

There are also a number of exotic breads (naan, roti and paratha) on offer to accompany and complement various courses, all freshly baked in Raja’s tandoor (clay oven). The delicious Peshawari naan is crisp, hot and infused with almonds, dried apricots, raisins, flaked dried coconut, and whipping cream, and seems more like cake than bread.

Many dishes beg for overindulgence. Share the mixed platter with vegetable pakora, chicken tikka, sheek kabab, and onion bhajee, all served on a sizzling platter. Or pick a garden salad or soup course (the menu includes mulligatawny and lentil),  then choose from chicken, beef, lamb, vegetarian, or seafood dishes, which run the gamut from mild to very spicy. From the ubiquitous Punjab-inspired butter chicken: boneless, marinated in yogurt and spices, cooked in the tandoor and redolent in creamy tomato gravy;  to the hottest of dishes on the menu, vindaloo, made with your choice of lamb, beef, or chicken. Another house specialty is the unusual Bengal Duck, which is prepared with sweet chili sauce, coconut and almond, and has a decidedly complex hot and sweet taste.

At Raja, Rogan Josh is tender morsels of braised beef, slow-cooked with an aromatic spice mixture and yogurt. Yogurt is frequently used in Indian cuisine as a marinade to tenderize the meat. Rogan Josh derives its name from its rich appearance, which is generally a result of ground chilies or brightly coloured good-quality paprika combined with fresh tomatoes. Rogan Josh takes on a contemporary twist with lean lamb chunks, ghee, garam masala, garlic, ginger, and fresh cilantro.

The flawlessly prepared Pulao rice, aromatic basmati with onion, cumin and mild spices, ordered separately, is not an afterthought but an integral part of dinner. As well, vegetarian selections figure prominently here, as in all Indian cooking. There are nearly a dozen meticulously spiced vegetarian dishes on the extensive menu. Vegetable specialties include: Aloo Gobhi (potato and cauliflower), Chana Masala ( spicy chick peas), Sag Paneer (spinach with homemade cheese), Bharta (spiced roasted eggplant), and Daal Tarka (lentils in garlic). Vegan dishes are also available.

The menu features an intoxicating selection of fish and seafood dishes, such as King Prawn Jhalfrezi (stir-fried with fresh green chilies, tomatoes, green peppers, and fresh coriander, and finished with fresh ginger and garlic), fish (salmon), Masala, and King Prawn Sag.

The Raja has plenty of personality, and the dining room has character and sophistication with its marble floors, deep red painted walls and white accents. The service is deferential and rivals anything in the city.

428 Clarence St. (North of Dundas)

519-601-7252

www.rajafinedining.ca

 
Lunch: Mon.–Sat. 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Dinner: Mon.–Sat. 5 pm. – 10 pm

Sunday Closed (Open for Dinner on Mother's Day)