Where We Ate: Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse

To celebrate Matt’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, I treated him to dinner at Jacobs & Co. The restaurant is housed in a very large and sleek space, but I personally found the atmosphere to be a bit pretentious. The drinks were also really expensive, which was expected, but there were beers we normally get for half the price elsewhere, which is ROBBERY to me!

The service, however, was impeccable. All levels of staff were attentive and knowledgeable, especially our main server. We were definitely well attended to, which made it a good experience!

What We Ate

Jacobs Jacobs

  • Oysters: We opted for a mixed selection of east coast oysters, but we liked the Lucky Limes from PEI best!
  • Jacobs Caesar Salad with White Anchovy: This was prepared (perfectly) tableside—so much fun to watch and absolutely delicious. A must!
  • Duck Fat French Fried Potatoes + Potato Gratin: The sides come in half portions, which is great because you can try a couple of things. I really wanted their Brussels sprouts, but they were out that day!
  • USDA Prime Black Angus T-Bone Steak, Dry-Aged 125 days: 25 oz. of melt-in-your-mouth goodness! The server noted that the 125-day dry-aged steaks weren’t for everyone because it has a mushroom, Parmesan-like quality to it, but we loved it! Bonus: if you want, they can carve it up for you. Makes for easy sharing!

We even had a bit of surprise at the end! In another post about Auberge, I had mentioned how the restaurant had paid attention to a note I’d added in the Special Requests box of my Open Table reservation. This time, I included a request for a table in a quieter spot (if possible) because we were celebrating my husband’s birthday. Not only was this request granted, but they also came out with a little birthday dessert at the end of our meal! Very nice touch.

The overall verdict? The steak was perfection, and the service was on point, so we’ll definitely be back again!

Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Where We Ate: Nashville Edition!

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Nashville for work, so Matt flew in a couple of days later for a mini vacation. I got a few incredulous reactions to this—and to be fair, I guess it’s not the most conventional vacay spot for 2 Asians—but why not explore a new city? And like all good trips, wherever Our Happy Jar goes, good food follows…

Where We Ate

Etch

Our experience at Etch was great. Impeccable service and really delicious food! The restaurant is also right across from the Country Music Hall of Fame 🙂

What We Ate: 

  • Butter tasting (prosciutto truffle, smoked parmesan black pepper, ginger cashew, and malt vinegar butter): It’s really just bread and butter, but the butter is amazing! Mixing them together was even more awesome!
  • Tempura catfish with watermelon and blueberries: Yummy, but the least memorable.
  • Roasted cauliflower with truffled pea pesto, almonds, and feta crema: Delish!
  • Pork chop with gnocchi, trio of mushrooms, asparagus, basil, frisee, smoked ham jus potato, and chorizo: The pork was really tender… to die for!
  • Orange creamsicle (white chocolate vanilla bean ganache, orange sorbet, white chocolate crumble, mango orange sauce, lemon macarons): This was really light and so yummy, which was a perfect way to end the meal!

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Etch on Urbanspoon

The Pharmacy Burger Parlour and Beer Garden

The Pharmacy was really out of the way for us and hard to get to without a car, but it was definitely worth the trip. I know burgers are a dime a dozen, but the burgers at this place are out of this world (the photo below doesn’t do them justice)! I would go back again just for those burgers… the large selection of beers doesn’t hurt either! It was also like eating in someone’s large backyard—plants, picnic tables, strings of lights—which I absolutely loved. What We Ate

  • Farm burger: Tennessee beef, country ham, applewood-smoked bacon, egg, and maple mustard
  • Stroganoff burger: Tennessee beef, mushroom stroganoff bechamel, sour cream, caramelized onion, and swiss cheese
  • Black bean and corn salad and hand-cut sweet potato fries

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The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden on Urbanspoon

Husk

Husk was also a little out of the way, but not too far of a walk from downtown. It was a really cute restaurant set up in a house, with a herb and veggie garden out front. What We Ate

  • Deviled eggs with pickled ramps
  • Ember “grilled” pimento cheese sandwich
  • Shrimp and grits with mushrooms, ham, and egg: This was one of the best parts of the meal!
  • Buttermilk chess pie with Georgia peaches and cream: SO good… it reminded me of the basque cake from Bar Isabel!

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Husk on Urbanspoon

Rolf and Daughters

Another restaurant that was pretty out of the way for us (are you seeing a theme here?) Also, Rolf and Daughters has been written up extensively, so it was understandably busy. We were told that it’d be an hour wait, but fortunately, it was much shorter, and we got to hang out with drinks outside for a bit. The restaurant is located in an old warehouse, which was cool. What We Ate

  • Chicken liver pate with green tomato marmalade and cacao: YUM.
  • Dry-aged beef tartare with salsa verde and toast
  • Polenta with charred and pickled eggplant and bonito
  • Squid ink trofie,with shrimp, squid, pancetta, and lemon: Really, really good, but wasn’t quite like Joso’s squid ink pasta.
  • Mixed roast of pork with corn, squash, okra, and bay laurel: This was pretty awesome too.

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Rolf and Daughters on Urbanspoon

The Southern

Live music, oysters, and blood orange mimosas for brunch? Hell yeah! Matt’s fried chicken and waffles was pretty darn good too.

What We Ate

  • Oysters!
  • The Highway (fried chicken breast on a waffle with maple syrup): Crunchy, just the right amount of heat, and perfect with the syrup!
  • Steak & Biscuit Benedict (grilled beef tenderloin, poached eggs, and hollandaise on a blue cheese biscuit): Meh.

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The Southern Steak & Oyster on Urbanspoon

Mason Bar

Mason Bar was located in our hotel, the Loews Vanderbilt. We decided to go for happy hour (4 to 6 pm), which was awesome: $3 for all draught beers and half-priced appetizers! The bar is also really cool… all decked out in mason jars! The theme of the bar is especially cute to me because 1) so many happy jars! and 2) if Matt and I ever have a son, we want to name him Mason 🙂

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What We Ate

  • Crab corn dogs: These were surprisingly good. We expected mini corn dogs, but they were generous portions and stuffed full of crab meat! Definitely worth getting, especially at half the price.
  • Truffle fries

Mason's on Urbanspoon

Merchants

The restaurant is located in a beautiful building (which has a long history), and it’s right in the middle of Broadway, nestled among all the surrounding honky-tonks. Unfortunately, we were really full, so we only had a bunch of apps.

What We Ate

  • Duck fat tater tots with chipotle mayo, bearnaise, ketchup: So bad for you, but they are made perfectly crispy!
  • Fried green tomatoes with spicy pepper jam and house pimento cheese: This was only okay.
  • Shrimp corn chowder: Nothing special.

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Merchants Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

This is a good bang-for-your-buck place (their fried chicken plates range from $8.50 to $11.50 and are served with 2 sides), but I didn’t think the chicken was overly amazing. We waited in a long line though, so it’s obviously very popular!

What We Ate

  • Small white (breast and wing)
  • Large dark (2 thighs and 2 legs)
  • French fries, mac and cheese, southern greens, and potato salad

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Hattie B's Hot Chicken on Urbanspoon

Other Eating and Drinking

Nashville Farmers’ Market and Legato Gelato

We did a lot of walking on this trip, which was probably good because we needed to burn those calories. One of those long walks was to the Nashville Farmers’ Market, which was really fun! We obviously couldn’t buy any fresh produce, but we did get to hit up the Legato Gelato stand.

The guy there was very nice—he let us sample as much as we wanted—and the gelato was so good! We opted to try the donut gelato since that was something different, and it was surprisingly light-tasting but still sufficiently donut-y. I wish we had time to go visit their storefront location!

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The Breweries: Yazoo, Jackalope, and Tennessee Brew Works

These were all within walking distance of one another, so Matt and I decided to do a little brewery-hopping before our dinner at Etch. Yazoo had the best selection and a good sampler for us to try, I liked the picnic tables at Jackalope, and Tennessee Brew Works had a big patio, nice indoor space, and live music. Hitting up these breweries was so much fun, and I had a really nice buzz by the end!

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Phew… looks like we crammed a lot of eating and drinking in during our trip to Nashville! Our next trip is to Boston in September, so we’re looking forward to more good eats (and past favourites)… stay tuned 😉

Favourite Spots: Joso’s (Toronto)

Unfortunately, the hubby isn’t feeling too well today (poor guy), so we’re spending a low-key night in. The upside is that it makes for good blogging time!

As mentioned in my first Favourite Spots post, one of the places I wanted to write about was Joso’s.

What keeps us going back? The siciliana spaghettini!

Years before Drake rapped about it in 5AM in Toronto, Joso’s was already a restaurant that my best friend C and her family knew well. To this day (and it’s been more than 20 years since she’s lived here), she still raves about the siciliana at Joso’s!

While there are a lot of pastas that are made from squid ink, this dish is different in that regular pasta is cooked with cuttlefish that’s simmered in its ink. It’s deceivingly unappetizing-looking, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it—it’s AMAZING. I’ve been hooked since C got me to try it, and Matt, my friend A, and I get actual cravings for it!

Delish!

Delish!

On top of the regular menu, they also bring out a platter of fresh seafood that you can choose from; the server will go through each item, describing what it is, things like flavour and texture, and how it’s prepared (generally grilled with olive oil, salt, and pepper). It’s usually very good, but also pretty pricey.

Source: Joso's

Source: Joso’s

Overall, the restaurant’s décor is too eclectic for my taste, and I personally feel like it’s a little snooty—a lot of the clientele consists of older, richer people—so I don’t love the ambiance. But we’ll keep going back… just to get our siciliana fix on!

Joso's on Urbanspoon

Favourite Spots: Auberge du Pommier (Toronto)

Auberge du Pommier is by far one of our favourite restaurants in Toronto. We’ve been to this beautiful, cozy French restaurant many times over the years, and the food is always delicious!

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I also personally think that it’s less pretentious than some of the other fine dining establishments we’ve been to, and the service is impeccable. There are a bunch of places with great service, but if I had to pinpoint some great experiences, I’d choose Auberge (and one memorable visit to Estiatorio VOLOS).

Here are some examples to prove it:

The Washroom Story

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This happened during our very first visit to Auberge. Matt had gone to the washroom, and instead of letting me awkwardly sit alone, one of the managers came over to chat with me until Matt came back. He was genuinely friendly, and I appreciated the small but very considerate gesture!

The Mother’s Day Lemon Soufflé Story

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The year Matt and I got married, my mom was in town for Mother’s Day because it was the weekend before the wedding. It was pretty special because with me being halfway around the world, I hadn’t celebrated it with her in person in years. We took her to Auberge and had a delicious meal, but when it came to dessert, we hit a slight hitch.

Before I go on, I want to preface this by saying that A) Auberge has the most amazing lemon soufflé with white chocolate ganache and B) this soufflé-related incident has never happened to us again!

Source: Oliver & Bonacini

Source: Oliver & Bonacini

Anyway, we were told that the soufflé we ordered had collapsed. Our server was very apologetic and made our wait an enjoyable one by bringing us multiple rounds of complimentary ice wine and petit fours. A while later, more bad news: the second one had also collapsed. This time, our server returned with the manager, who told us that they were making a third one and that because of our wait, our entire almost $300-meal would be comped by the restaurant!

They then not only brought us the 3rd perfectly made soufflé, but also the 2 collapsed ones, which were just as delicious. Needless to say, we were stuffed and happy by the end of it all—we left them a very generous tip, and they left us with a great impression of the restaurant!

The Parents’ 30th Anniversary Story

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Last February, my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary, so when they came to visit us in Toronto during the summer, we took them out for a belated anniversary dinner at Auberge (my mom actually requested it!). I made reservations well in advance via OpenTable, and in the Special Requests box, I added a note indicating that we were going there to celebrate my parents’ 30th anniversary and that it’d be great if they could do something special.

Up until that point, I honestly didn’t know if restaurants actually ever read those notes—OpenTable even has a little disclaimer saying that they can’t guarantee that requests will be accommodated—so I didn’t really expect anything, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try!

By the time my parents were in town, I had long forgotten about that note, and we had another great dinner at Auberge. At the end of the meal, we ordered soufflés all around, and to our surprise, one of them came out with a chocolate-written “joyeux anniversaire 30ème de mariage” (happy 30th wedding anniversary)! Nothing extravagant by any means, but it was awesome to see my parents so pleasantly surprised and happy.

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Auberge du Pommier on Urbanspoon

At this point, I’m starting to sound like a spokesperson for Auberge, but really, the great food and service are what make this restaurant one of our favourite places in the city! Stay tuned for future blog posts showcasing some of our other favourite spots: Joso’sEmma’s Country Kitchen, St. Lawrence Market, and Evergreen Brick Works are some of the ones on the top of my list!