Jack Tripper’s Closet, George Carlin’s Arrest and Flocking Good Chicken

Swearing is an interesting means of communication.  When used properly, it makes things funnier. I was watching John Oliver rant about the atrocities of the democratic and republican primaries last week and tipped my hat to his strategic use of the word “fuck” a handful of times. Personally,my swearing is catalyzed by two things: golf and drinking. A near perfect drive followed by a 10 foot flub is enough to put me over the edge and I swear a bottle of homemade wine shuts off whatever language etiquette  I may have.

Many marketing campaigns have been developed around altering the english language slightly to insinuate the use of at least some of Carlin’s list of seven words you can never say on television. In 1972, Carlin was arrested for muttering those same words (see below) during a Milwaukee comedy show.  Surprising enough, despite the increased acceptance of steamy sex scenes and extreme violence in the past decade or two, most of the words are still not allowed, at least on network TV. Luckily, the same does not apply to bloggers or other angstful social media zealots.

The use of manipulated swearing in marketing campaigns is as classic as a misunderstanding on Three’s Company.  I remember many instances in which Jack Tripper’s words and antics  were misconstrued by Mr. Roper and subsequently Mr. Furley. Today, it is an interesting observation to watch the stereotypes of almost 40 years ago.  Janet was the sensible, party-pooping and moderately attractive brunette and Chrissy was the bubble-headed blond.  Jack had to pretend he was gay in order to remain the girl’s roommate given the fact that multigender living arrangements (at least in the eyes of both Mr. Roper and Mr. Furley) were as controversial then as transgendered bathrooms are now.   Whether or not this was the first instance in television’s journey in the recognition and acceptance of gays remains a debate but an article I read while researching this blog (see link below) provides an interesting perspective.  Among other things, it suggests that the irony of Jack’s need to closet his heterosexuality against his landlord (ie. the man) was a direct reflection of the same struggle that homosexuals in the same era were living. The author also notes that the thought of even discussing homosexuality on television was absent in the seventies and really only erupted years later with the introduction of shows like Will and Grace and teasers like Rosanne Barr’s “bisexual moment”.

http://soref.tv/jack-tripper-good-for-the-gays/

What does all this banter have to do with a food blog? I remember going to a place called Fricker’s in Ohio in which you could order a “fricken big beer”.  Ok…friggin’ is not quite a Carlin no-no but I think it illustrates the concept well. Plus, I’m sure there is somewhere in the world where you can cleverly order an “I don’t give a duck sandwich” or something similar.

Enter Flock, a rather new chicken restaurant in Toronto.  It currently has a brood of 3 locations with a fourth which is almost hatched.  The Harbord street location (at the old THR and Co. spot) has a larger sit down area complete with “flocktails” and other bar service.  Otherwise, the other two are no booze take out joints with a bit of seating. The premise is simply chicken and greens.  One can opt for rotisserie or fried chicken complete with a variety of sides and/or a choice of five super salads with all sorts of toppings. In addition to all of that, there are endless possibilities when it comes to the use of the restaurant’s name in everyday speak.  Would it be flocking good or a flocking nightmare? Ha!Much like the sexual innuendos of Three’s Company, it never gets old.

My first experience was a take out lunch from the Harbord location for an office.  I grabbed some Flock Stock (ie soup) ($7) and a few salads including the power flock salad (Chicken, Romaine Hearts, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Pickled Onions, Marinated Black Beans, Daikon Soy Beans, Cilantro, Goji Berries, Crispy Chick Peas, Sunflower Seeds With Carrot/Ginger/SoyBean/White Miso Dressing) ($11.50 for full). Both were delicious and fresh. The salad was far from overdressed which maintained the crispy integrity of the ingredients.  The soup was herby and fragrant and highlighted by chucks of rotisserie chicken swimming throughout.

flock salad

The second time I grabbed dinner for myself from the Adelaide location.  This time I ordered a half chicken (with Caribbean pepper sauce)  with green beans on the side.  Once again I had no complaints.  The chicken was moist, the beans were cooked but firm and the crispy onions and kimchi were great compliments. I quite enjoyed the sauce.  It was bright with a good flavour and hear;a far cry from Swiss Chalet’s odd and confusingly beloved dishwater dipping sauce.

flock chicken
Half Chicken $9,50 with Carribean Sauce and a Side of Green Beans $5

My Take

Quick and healthy lunch choices can be difficult in a city filled with burger joints and taquerias on every corner, especially if you believe that Subway is nothing more than disguised junk food.  Flock fills this gap by offering food in which the flavour is achieved by spices and freshness as opposed to sodium and fat.

Much like Jack Tripper represented the evolution of the sitcom and George Carlin did the same for comedy, perhaps Flock presents the future of lunch in Toronto. After all, it’s flocking good chicken.  Shit….here come the cops.

Flock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

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Playing Hooky at Japango

When I’m at a week long conference, I take the opportunity to skip out for lunch.  I mean, the daily monotony of chafing dish chicken masked with corn and called Mexican or olives and called Greek gets a bit much.  The icing on the cake is when the next day’s soup looks surprisingly like what was on the buffet table the day before. So, when a colleague suggested we play hooky, I jumped on the opportunity to head out of the hotel for a quick bite.

I hadn’t been here for about 10 years.  The last time I went the team I was on had the whole restaurant booked (which isn’t hard to do since the place only holds 20 people or so). I remember my manager, who is one of the whitest people I have ever met (he was kindly referred to as a bag of milk at the beach once), telling us all to meet at “Jap ‘n Go” at 630 for dinner.  Since then, I haven’t had a chance to get back.  This time, we didn’t have a reservation but arrived before noon so we were able to get promptly squeezed into the corner.

The service was quick.  We ordered a mish-mash of sashimi and sushi rolls.  First to arrive was the typical bowl of miso soup.

Miso Soup
                                                                            Miso Soup

Next to arrive was the famous Japango roll ($13) and crunchy spicy tuna roll ($9).  The former signature roll is a California roll with torched salmon and scallop on top.  The fish was noticeably fresh and the mix of sweet and heat plus the slight char of the delicate scallop and fat of the salmon was a delightful mouthful.  The crunchy roll exuded the same freshness but the heat was a little lacking.

Japango Roll ($13) and Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll ($9)
                                             Japango Roll ($13) and Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll ($9)

The sashimi 2 platter ($25) arrived shortly after served with a bowl of rice.  It was a diverse mix of the standards including salmon and tuna and some pleasant surprises including some sort of seared whitefish (I’m not going to pretend I know but it had the taste and texture of halibut . Once again, the freshness was evident and the presentation was simple but impressive, although it was a little tight at the table.

Sashimi 2 $25
                                  Sashimi 2 $25

The final arrival was the dragon roll ($12) which is shrimp topped with eel and avocado. Once again, fresh was the word. The avocado was nicely ripened and the eel was umamic bliss.

Dragon Roll $12
                                Dragon Roll $12

My Take

Japango has all the makings of a great hooky destination.  You can sneak in between class, have a decent lunch and get back in less than 45 minutes.  While there, you are treated to fresh sushi with friendly and efficient service in small, modest quarters all at a price that I would deem “reasonable”.  When I mentioned “hooky” to my daughter, she shook her head and told me to “urban dictionary it fam”. I answered I use urbanspoon, not urban dictionary.  She rolled her eyes.  I guess in her eyes I’m as lame as someone who calls it “Jap ‘n Go”. At least we both like sushi.

Japango on Urbanspoon

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: I Met a Hottie at Dottie’s

I must confess that I didn’t do a lot of research prior to showing up at Dottie’s true blue cafe . Knowing it was a triple D and within walking distance of my hotel in San Francisco, I took a quick look at the menu and thought it was a typical breakfast/lunch cafe known for corn bread and jalapeno jelly.  My first hint that I had misjudged things is when I showed up at 9:15 on Thursday and there was a line.  I figured what the hell, I stood in line at State Bird Provisions the night before for 45 minutes with great results, so a short wait for breakfast in another odd neighbourhood couldn’t be that bad, even among the numerous schizophrenic homeless people who walked by looking to teach me a life lesson.   Since I was single, I managed to skip in front of 4 or 5 waiting couples and get a seat along the rail in less than 10 minutes. I felt pretty lucky having secured a second spot with a kitchen view in 2 days.

Rail view of kitchen
Rail view of kitchen

Shorty after, the seat became me became vacant and a woman I recognized from the line outside was seated beside me.  It was clear she was a regular when half the restaurant said hi to her when she sat down.  We quickly engaged in a conversation and I was able to get the following facts out of her:

  • The busy cook was the owner. He didn’t look like a Dottie.
  • The only time you can avoid a line is if you come during the week before 9 am.  If you come on it weekend, count on it being a day trip.
  • The old style brick walls at Dottie’s are somewhat unique to San Francisco and were not damaged during the 1989 earthquake.  I guess the three little pigs fable did have some scientific merit.
  • Dottie’s is known for it’s excellent baked goods (see sign below).  I was told that a gentleman comes in every morning and makes them in-house.  She pointed to a counter beside the kitchen where one could get any of the delightful treats to go.

The menu is large, especially when you consider the fact there is a blackboard full of daily specials including specialty sandwiches, frittatas, omelettes, french toast etc.  With all the temptation, I stuck to my general triple D philosophy which inlcudes trying their signature item/dish coupled with something I really like.  In this case, it was the louisiana hot link wth eggs served any style showcasing the grilled chili-cheddar corn bread and homefries with the jalapeno jelly of course.

It is very easy to destroy corn bread  and this was probably the best I’ve had including restaurants in Tennessee.  The jalapeno jelly was food crack (just to clarify..this was the hottie I met at Dottie’s and the not the aforementioned regular who was sweet but not my type).  Even the homefries rivaled some of the nest I’ve had.  They were tender and seasoned beautifully as also gave me a reason to use more jalapeno jelly.  The sausage was middle of the pack but didn’t impair my enjoyment of the dish as a whole. Some of the best breakfasts I’ve had have been from recommendations of Guy Fieri. Dottie’s is right up there with the likes of Lucky’s cafe in Cleveland and Honey’s Sit and Eat in Philadelphia.

Louisiana Hot Link with eggs any style $9.50
Louisiana Hot Link with eggs any style $9.50 served with chili-cheddar corn bread and jalapeno jelly

Following such a delicious breakfast, my eyes averted to the baked goods.  I already knew a jar of jelly was coming home with me so I supplemented it with a coconut chocolate chip muffin ($3) and a Dottie’s peanut butter bar($5) as a snack for the hotel room later. They were neatly wrapped in foil grandma-style which made me think of Dottie since it’s such a grandma name.  When taking pictures of these beasts, I put a fork beside them just  to demonstrate just how big they were.  Tastewise, they were delicious. The muffin was moist and abundent with coconut and the tasty base of the bar was covered in  with marshmallows and just the right amount of buttescotch chips.  I was thinking of inviting the whole floor over since I would have had enough for all of them.

Dottie's Chipotle Pepper Jelly $9
Dottie’s Chipotle Pepper Jelly $9..a buck an ounce…cheaper than crack.
Coconut Chocolate Muffin $3
Coconut Chocolate Muffin $3
Peanut Butter bar $5
Dottie’s Peanut Butter bar $5

My Take

I think the foundation of a successful breakfast/lunch spot is to offer a normal menu and jazz it up with either a signature item/dish, amazing baked goods  and/or a day to day menu highlighting whimsical ideas by the chef based on available ingredients.  Dottie’s does all three.  The corn bread and jelly was phemonemal, the baked goods sublime and the board was “chalked” full of inventive dishes. San Francsicans love their lines, but they also love their food. The service was as friendly as the diners who frequent the place. The vibe was busy, fun and friendly. Based on past breakfast expereinces, I was convinced I would name my next pet Lucky or Honey but after eating here I may need to put the name Dottie in the mix as well.

Food: 5/5 Guyz

Service: 4/5 Guyz

Vibe: 4.5/5 Guyz

Total: 13.5/15 Guyz

For a complete list of my favorite diners, drive-ins and dives, please click this link:

https://fareeatales.com/2012/12/22/diners-drives-ins-and-divesthe-list/
Dottie's True Blue Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:Corktown:Gilead Cafe

I have been trying to get to one of the evening events at Gilead for a while and finally had the chance back in June. It was one of the Friday night wine bars that are periodically run throughout the year,

I was a bit surprised by both the location and the decor at 4 Gilead in Corktown. It’s certainly not your typical wine bar environment, probably because it’s mainly only open for breakfast and lunch.   That said, you can’t judge a place by it’s decor, so I forked up ready to indulge on the Jamie Kennedy inspired menu.

After the decor, my second surprise were the clientele. I was easily the youngest patron in the place, maybe because it was 6 pm.  I felt like I was at an early bird dinner.  Even later, however, there was not the crowd I would have expected for an almost underground  one night wine bar experience. Well, except maybe for one jackass who showed up with his date and demanded the door be shut despite the fact it was 35 degrees and subsequently complained about every one of the  6 or 8 drinks he had in a span of an hour.

It only made sense to start with the featured drink, a Fragolina cocktail (wine, strawberry beer and a bit of lime) for $7.  It was very average.  The featured wines were a couple of Ontario red and whites for $7 a glass.

As I was waiting for a colleague, I ordered the poutine with braised beef and cheddar.  The fries were great.  The gravy was a bit salty which ended up being a theme for the evening.  The beef was tender, the cheese was scarce.  In the end, it was decent but not great.

Braised Beef Poutine $9
Braised Beef Poutine $9

I have an issue paying for bread but I was interested in the highly touted red fife sour dough, so I ordered some with two vegetarian dips for $5.   I think they were beet and some kind of hummus.   It was also served with a side of a spice mix which was not explained to me.  Not clear on the intent of this mix, I used liberally on a piece of bread only to find out it was 90% salt.  When I brought this up with the waitress, she scoffed and pointed out “It’s a french thing” and “it should be used sparingly ” on top of the butter.  After pointing out there was no butter at the table, I was told I shouldn’t have got it anyway since it’s only served with lunch.

On the heels of asparagus season, I wasn’t surprised to see it on the menu, simply served with a honey vinaigrette. For $7, it was too simple..9 boiled pieces painted with a mediocre dressing.  I found the green salad with sorrel dressing a bit better (it had a few radishes and sorrel thrown in)  for $7  but the dressing looked and tasted similar to the one used on the asparagus. The beet salad with lentils and feta looked great on the menu but once again has a taste profile not much different than the others.

Asparagus with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette  $7
Asparagus with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette $7
Green Salad with Sorrel Vinaigrette $7
Green Salad with Sorrel Vinaigrette $7
Beet salad with lentils and Feta $9
Beet salad with lentils and Feta $9

I was excited to try the pristine poached halibut with curried lobster sauce.  Once again it was a disappointment.  The halibut has the consistency of that piece of poached egg white that escapes and floats to the top of the pan.  It was rather bland and seasoned with large chunks of salt scattered among the bottom of the filet.  The lobster curry and bitter greens made the dish salvageable. At least if wasn’t ridiculously priced at $16.

Pristine Poached Halibut with Lobster Curry $16
Pristine Poached Halibut with Lobster Curry $16

I’m not really a flourless chocolate cake fan but decided to try it since it was served with a rhubarb reduction and cardamom ice cream, two flavours I happen to love in a dessert. I thought it was well done, especially if you incorporated the sweet ice cream, the bitter sweet cake and the sour reduction all in one bite.

Flourless chocolate cake $9
Flourless chocolate cake $9

My Take

I was excited to experience this drop-in wine bar, especially with an attractive online menu that featured a nice array of fresh and creative foods developed by one of Toronto’s iconic chefs.  Instead, I was treated to an experience that felt like a dinner at an old age home.  Each of the three veggie dishes  tasted almost exactly the same, the fish was overdone and salt was the predominant seasoning (don’t you know us old people can’t have too much salt).  I felt I was treated a bit like a nursing home resident as well, especially after being scolded about my shallow knowledge regarding  the use of salted herbs on butterless bread in much the same way one would after stepping off the property without permission. Maybe it’s better at breakfast or lunch but mention the word hip at this place during dinner  and most would immediately think it’s a high risk area for a fracture.

Gilead Cafe on Urbanspoon

DDD:Vancouver:Jethro’s Fine Grub

Dispatch: Hello, may I help you?

Me: Yes, I’d like to report a UFO sighting.

Dispatch: A UFO sir? Where are you?

Me: I’m at Jethro’s.

Dispatch: Jethro’s?  Are you in a trailer park somewhere, sir?

Me: No, I’m on Dunbar Street in Vancouver.

Dispatch: OK.  Why don’t you tell me what you saw?

Me: Well, I dropped into this DDD for breakfast and ordered some biscuits and gravy to start.  The gravy was out of this world. Hahaha…get it? Anyway, the gravy was rich and tasty and had a nice spicy kick which took a minute to materialize in my mouth. The biscuits weren’t quite cloud-like.  Well, maybe a heavy cloud.  Anyway, suddenly these two UFOs landed right at my table.

Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits and Gravy $5

Dispatch: Sir, have you been drinking?

Me: No, they don’t serve alcohol. I had a coffee though.

Dispatch: Ok.  Please describe the UFOs.

Me: They were about 12 inches in diameter and a couple of centimeters thick.  Light brown in colour and filled with strawberries and frosted flakes.  They were also covered in some sort of white  material. I’ll send you a pic.

Grrrreat Cakes $12
Grrrreat Cakes $12

Dispatch: White material?  Could it be whipped cream sir? What did you do next sir?

Me: Hmmmmm…ya whipped cream sounds right. Well, they looked good so I ate them. Or at least I tried.  I only managed to get through three quarters of one of them.

Disptach: Were they grrrrrreaaat!? (slight snicker).

Me: Well yes, that’s what they are called. Grrrreat cakes.

Dispatch: Oh.  Do you think it’s an isolated incident?

Me: No.  The staff were way too friendly.  And most of them have a lot of ink so I think they are actually maps that may in fact identify where the mothership is. I forgot my iPad at the table and they ran out after me to make sure I got it back.  Maybe they bugged it…

Dispatch: Ok sir.  So let me summarize.  You went to Jethro’s in Vancouver, ordered really good biscuits and gravy and what sounds like large pancakes stuffed with strawberries and frosted flakes.  They were both grrrreat. The staff is friendly and most are heavily tattooed and they chased you out the door to return the iPad you foolishly left at the table.

Me: Yes, that sounds right.

Dispatch: Well sir, I don’t believe they are UFOs.  They just sound like big, tasty pancakes. Pancakes don’t fly sir.

Me: Oh, the F stands for flying.  I thought it stood for fluffy.

Dispatch: You sure they don’t serve alcohol?

Me: Positive.

Dispatch: OK, I’m going to close this file sir.  I think we have all the information we need.  I suggest next time maybe you order an omelette, one of the benedicts or maybe the massive breakfast burrito. The variety is insane and the portions are huge.

Me: Ya, I think I saw the burrito.  It looked like a bus. The lunch sounds good too.  Thanks.

Dispatch: No problem sir.

Verdict:  5 Guyz

Jethro's Fine Grub on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:Ossington:Delux

I was driving down Ossington looking for a lunch spot and noticed a sandwich board advertising a Cuban lunch.  Intrigued, I parked and dropped in for lunch at Delux, which focuses on this side of the Atlantic during the day as a deviation from the French-inspired dinner service at night.I was quickly seated and found som irony in the fact that I was seated facing a wall size pictur of the alphabet in a plac that can’t spell th word Delux.

A menu offering on a clipboard was provided to me quickly.

Bottles of water served Ossington-style* were readily available.

Conch fritters were ordered as an appetizer. They were very good and served piping hot.

Dessert was not an option since I got the bill before I was even asked if I wanted any.

Expensive cocktails….$14 for a 2 oz mojito?

Fried ripe plantains were spiced nicely but were oversalted.

Guava juice for $3 was a refreshing option.

Ham on the cubano was abundant.

Indigestion ensued.

Jalapenos were served with the Cuban to spice it up.

Kicking myself for not ordering the rice and beans.

Lackluster dipping sauce served with conch fritters.

Mustard on the cubano was delicious and not overbearing.

Nice amount of melted swiss on the cubano sandwich.  Served at a great temperature.

Oysters are available for a bit over two bucks each.

Pressed cubano sandwich was quite good but not remarkable.

Questionable service.  She made no suggestions, was slow and somewhat apathetic.

Roast pork on the cubano was moist and delicious.

Salads looked good.  They were ordered by other tables.

Takes credit card! Woohoo!

Underwhelming decor.

Vegetarian choices include avocado, cheese and tomato sandwiches as well as salads and sides.

Wine list focuses primarily on Canadian and French with a few US, Spanish and Italian choices thrown in.

X is not the last letter in Deluxe.

You might want to share the conch fritters.  There are too many and they are too rich for one person.

Zagat ranking of 23 for food.  Lower for service and decor.

*-Ossington-Style water service usually involves a continuous supply of tap or still water served in some sort of glass vessel or carafe.

Conch Fritters $8
Conch Fritters $8
Cubano Sandwich $10
Cubano Sandwich $10
Delux Ripe Plantains $4
Delux Ripe Plantains $4

My Take

I must admit I was a bit let down after raising my hopes with the thought of an exotic Cuban  lunch.  The food was authentic enough but the service made me feel like I was JFK in a Cuban restaurant during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

This experience may have been an anomaly from a place which normally promises a favourable dining experience, but for now the absent E in Delux may represent “excellence” because it was definitely missing on this particular day.

Delux on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:Downtown:Sansotei Ramen

I dropped into this Ramen house around 11 am on a Tuesday morning, taking advantage of the fact that there wasn’t a crowd huddled around the door like you’d see during a Sylvester Stallone sighting.  The reasons for the mass crowds are threefold:

1.  It’s ramen and it’s Toronto.

2.  The place only holds about 30 people.

3.  The policy is wait outside because there’s no room inside.

The decor is plain.  The tables are bare.  The menu is a small laminated, folded card.  The tiny kitchen is barely visible in the back. No cliffhanger here…I followed my standard routine and ordered shio ramen with a side of gyoza dumplings.

The Ramen

It was quite a simple presentation, including green onion, noodles, a few bamboo shoots, pork belly and a softish boiled egg. It ignored the bells and whistles such as nori, pickled plums and goji berries. The broth was rich and full of pork flavor.  On one hand, it was not oversalted. On the other, it was a bit greasy which wasn’t  helped by the really fatty pork cut submerged in the broth.  The egg was cooked and seasoned well, the amount of onion and shoots were not enough and the noodles (ordered thick) were a bit starchy. In the end, it was a decent bowl and less than $9.

Shio Ramen
Shio Ramen

The Gyoza

The lipophilic  nature of Sansotei was evident again when I ordered the gyoza.  Four pieces  for $4.50 (I ate one before I remembered I didn’t take a picture) arrived Stallone style (slightly tanned and glistening with oil) and served with a tasty dipping sauce.   Despite being a bit greasy, the dough had a great texture (unlike Stallone  post Judge Dredd) in that it was not too chewy nor too crispy.  The filling was well seasoned and not watered down in a fashion similar to the plot of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Gyoza
Gyoza

My Take

Sansotei is a small, simple eatery with an equally simple menu.  It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other ramens, but despite being a bit greasy,  the rich broth is flavorful enough and is not oversalted.  None of the broths are vegetarian. The gyoza were terrific although a quick wipe with a napkin wouldn’t hurt.  I really need to do a ramen power  ranking but as it stands Sansotei comes in Stallone style again (an underdog who  proves to be a serious contender).  In the end, it may not the be the Rocky of all ramen, but it sure isn’t  the Rhinestone  either.

Sansotei Ramen on Urbanspoon