Thank you to everyone who participated in my first Let’s Do Lunch Downtown contest this month.
The winners of the gift certificates were:
$50 gift certificate to Old Spaghetti Factory: cathy kenny
$25 gift certificate to Dessert Sinsations: Kate
If you didn’t win this round, don’t fret. I’ve got more stuff to give away.
This time I’ve got a $50 gift card to The Beachcomber and a $25 gift card to Modern Restaurant.
To enter, leave a comment below telling me which one you’d like to try along with a way to contact you. (You can leave your email address in the form–it will be kept private.)
You’ve got until Monday at 9am to enter this one.
The Forks Market, 948-0020
If winter is starting to get you down, you need a trip to a tropical location. Not in the budget? No worries–I’ve got the solution for you right here and it won’t cost you more than dinner!
Beachcomber’s restaurant, located inside The Forks Market, and its fun and whimsical Caribbean and nautical themed decor will put you in the mind of warmer climes, while filling your belly. (Although they do have one of the best patios in the city overlooking the river–so you’ll need to go back and enjoy that come June.)
The menu combines seafood, salads, steaks and pasta.
I really enjoyed the sun runner’s steamed mussels. One of their signature items, the flavours are really smoky and intense. And of course there’s plenty of sauce left to sop up with bread afterwards–one of my favourite things in the whole world. I also really liked the Kumala sweet potato fries that come dusted with Cajun spice for a little kick and served with spiced mayo for dipping.
As an entree you could opt for the Alaskan King crab legs (with butter of course), the paella packed with salmon, halibut, prawns, scallops, chicken and chorizo or my personal favourite–the fish and chips. Fish and chips is one of those things I have a really hard time bypassing on menus and this version is crispy and delicious.
For those who like their protein to have legs, the tender lamb kebabs are seasoned with garlic, herbs and spices. And you can’t go wrong with a big old plate of pork back ribs–dry rubbed and slow roasted, served with hickory BBQ sauce.
While you’re there, check out the drink menu as well. They’ve got all sorts of tropically inspired concoctions that come in glasses as big as fishbowls and bursting with fruit. I tried the watermelon bellini which came decorated with a big slice of dragon fruit. Definitely celebration worthy!
354 Portage Avenue, 415-7515
Today I headed to the newly-opened Modern restaurant, housed in the former location of Rinkside at 354 Portage Avenue. While you’ll recognize much of the interior from its previous incarnation, that’s where the similarities end.
Modern specializes in East African cuisine, featuring the stews, bread and spices of Ethiopia. It’s one of my favourite types of food full of comforting dishes and tongue tantalizing heat. This is the kind of food that takes hours and hours to make, in order to develop its deep, complex flavours. The most common spice used in Ethiopian cuisine is one called berbere–a blend of chili, garlic, ginger, cloves, allspice, coriander and more.
I can’t think of anything more perfect to warm the soul on a cold January day.
My lunch companion and I decided to opt for the “buffet”, in this case, a large platter topped with a variety of things so we could try it all. (And it was a ridiculous steal at just $15 for the whole thing.)
The large platter came in the traditional way, blanketed by a piece of injera–the flatbread of this cuisine with a taste similar to sourdough. Heaping piles of lentils, meat, veggies and sauce were then doled out on top of the bread, where the juices soaked down into it. A few more injera were served on the side and these became our eating utensils as we tore off little bits and used them to scoop up the food. (They’ll bring you a fork if you ask, but c’mon, live a little.)
My favourite was the tender beef stew. Its rich red colour lending a clue to the intensity of flavour waiting. It boasted a delicious combination of spicy, sour and sweet. Alongside were red and yellow lentils, each with their own distinct earthiness. I also loved the collard greens that came steamed and mixed with house made cottage cheese, making it rich and creamy. One unique offering I hadn’t seen before was a shredded pile of injera mixed with spices that heightened the delicious natural sourness of the bread.
There is a variety of other dishes on the menu including lamb tibs (boneless cubed lamb sauteed in spices) and chicken stew (a spicy dish made with berbere and clarified butter), as well as some other vegetarian options including chickpeas and split pea curry.
Needless to say, we left stuff and satisfied. A great option for lunch, the atmosphere is relaxed, casual and distinctly modern. (Ha, see what I did there?)
There’s a great promotion happening at Portage Place.
Purchase a $60 Portage Place Gift Card and get an additional $10 Gift Card free! Plus enter to win a $500 Portage Place Shopping Spree!
Offer valid from March 16 – 27.
I’ve also got a $100 gift card to give away to one lucky winner! To enter, go to the Downtown BIZ Facebook page and like us. If you’re already a fan, then you’re automatically entered! The draw will take place March 16.