Happy New Year everyone! I know I’m a few weeks late but there’s been a lot of big changes that happened in December. The end of one thing and a beginning of another. 2012 is a year to renew and evolve, change and be better.
December was a a big month at my place, Ben turned the big 3-0 and well there was so much going on that we didn’t celebrate much at all. I would be horrible to not plan a birthday for someone I love right? I thought for a guy turning 30, we should go somewhere that’s intimate, trendy decor, but still had a cool vibe. The first thing that came to mind when I was scouring the city to mark this special day was ALLOY.
ALLOY has been in the city for a few years and from what I’ve seen on Open Table it’s always booked when there’s a special holiday or Friday nights. Fortunately, I had the common sense to about a week or two early so we had at least a decent reservation time. I’ve also e-mailed restaurant to ask them if we could have a booth (if you check out their website, their booths are round so you have a sense of privacy). They responded to my e-mail pretty quick and when we arrived for our reservation they remembered my request, and gave us a booth. They also did a coat check for us too. Fancy huh?
Also the location of ALLOY is in the industrial part of MacLeod Trail, which I actually quite appreciate because there is plenty of parking to go around and it’s free parking which makes it even better. (Smart thinking ALLOY)!
When we arrived we received a complementary plate of olives, hummus and pita bread.
I’m not an olive connoisseur, but I’ve eaten a variety of olives and even eaten them raw (based on external family peer pressure but that’s for another blog…) and these olives were so so good. They were not overly soft or moist. They had pits and had a mild taste (not at all bitter if you ever tasted the real raw stuff) with a bit of crunch. I don’t know if ALLOY always gives complements like these or may change them up, but you’ll be in for a real treat if they do.
As Ben and I nibble on this plate we checked out their menu and we noticed a whole bunch of stuff we would love to try out, but we settled on two appetizers.
Both appetizers were really well executed. The salmon had a maple glaze and there was a vanilla yogurt dressing for the salad. I love it when there’s texture in a salad. The puff of shredded carrots with the wonton croutons (?) gave the salad the nice crunch that was needed with that bed of lettuce. The Ahi Tuna Tartar was great, I liked this better than the Candied Salmon Salad. It had wonton crisps, a layer of guacamole (or just mashed avocados) with chopped tuna that was dressed in a soya sauce vinaigrette. This gave me the impression of a dish that was a mix of Asian and South American influences. It was wonderful. It had a lot of things going for it, the saltiness in the soya sauce vinaigrette, the butteriness from the avocados, the crunch from the wonton chips. It matched really well together like a party of people you didn’t think would get along but they end up complimenting each other in the best of ways.
You’d think that we were full by now, but we still ordered our mains and honestly I kinda regretted ordering two appetizers because we both were getting full.
I’m so bias when it comes to meat. Every time I see duck on the menu 99.9% of the time I order it. Yup, I can eat everything from the head to toe from either duck or a goose- no questions. I can live just on that animal for the rest of my life if I have too and be completely satisfied. :) The Duck Duo here that ALLOY had on menu was an instant selection for me. It came with a nice tangy sour cherries sauce, sweet potato gnocchi, and it had both breast and leg of the duck. It was a combination of sour, sweet, and salty all in one. The duck was cooked medium which generally is in most restaurants. The sour cherries were great compliment to the gaminess of the duck. The gnocchi was great, it was pipping hot when I received my dish, but I will admit as it cooled I got more hesitant on eating it. The reason is because the sauce on the gnocchi had a hint of vanilla or tasted like vanilla so as it cooled it kinda reminded me of melted vanilla ice cream. If you order this dish, try to finish the gnocchi while it was hot unless you don’t mind that vanilla taste because it will stand out more the cooler it gets.
One thing about ALLOY is that they’re plating is really deceiving. Things do look so pretty and appetizing and because it’s plated so well, the portions do look a little on the small side. But once you get into it, you’ll find there’s actually quite a bit of meat. For example, the Beef Short Rib Ben ordered looked beautiful and I have to admit as beautiful as it was, the portion looked small. Though as we start eating our meals we noticed that there was enough and in fact Ben couldn’t finish his plate. The Beef Short Rib was cooked really well, it was very tender and had a sweet glaze to it too. The puree matched really well with the heaviness of the beef, and the yam chips …. I mean, you can’t go wrong with crispy yam chips. The veggies on the side were your standard steamed vegetables so it didn’t really hold much of an impression.
At the end of the night, the server came out with a surprise! He gave us a ginger spiced cake on the house for Ben’s birthday- with a candle and all, I didn’t take a picture of it since were so taken back but it came with vanilla ice cream and was warm. It tasted really great actually, not overly sweet but with a bit of a kick. It was really a pleasant surprise since we both did not expect it. They were already so kind to reserve a booth for us at our request that we felt taken back by this kind gesture. Honestly, it was very sweet surprise and it shows how much attention ALLOY puts not just on their meals but on their customers as well. Be prepared to spend when you come to this place, but know that the level of service and attention to detail totally makes for the great experience you’ll have.