Milagro Cantina, Queen West

Photographed and attended by Richard Eng  Twitter  |  Instagram

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Unabashedly Mexican in décor but still has a modern and clean aesthetic. It consists of open spaces with a 3rd floor lounge and a 2nd floor patio. There is plenty of space for group dinners. Chef Arturo Anhalt is always looking for that agave taste and prefers tequila with a bit of that harshness. White tequila has the purest agave taste and darker tequila has more caramel and oak flavours seeping in.

Don Julio Blanco  |  Strong agave flavour and a slight burn in the throat, indicative of a classic tequila.

Santa Sabina  |  Refreshing, light tequila taste without the alcohol bite accompanied by a nice cucumber.

Margarita Oaxaquena  |  Smokey, oaky, tequila flavour, spiced rim, lime aroma. Made with Mezcal, “overcooked” tequila so a lot of that smoky flavour penetrates.

Virgin margarita w/ cucumber puree  |  Cucumber puree and lime juice was a nice combination. Margarita experience without alcohol burn.

Rosa Canela  | Spicy but not overwhelming with a hint of sweetness from the cinnamon.

Homemade tortillas, salsa and guacamole  |  Guacamole was fully flavored, chunky, avocado flavors comes out nicely. Salsa was lighter and more watery than usual, more like a gazpacho.

Ceviche  |  Consisted of mango, whitefish and onions. It had a light seafood flavour, the fish complemented the mango well. Full of flavour and was refreshing.

Quesadilla with chorizo |Filling and salsa verde dip was smooth and spicy.

Pulled pork tacos  |  Soft tacos, plantain topper with black bean base. Soft all around, meaty, umami flavour, plantain sweetness complemented the pulled pork.

Baci Ristorante

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1530 Stone Church Road East, Hamilton

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We celebrated my dad’s birthday with delicious Italian food and great service. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the Best Western Premier C Hotel behind Carmen’s Banquet Hall on Stone Church. I would suggest making a reservation because the dining room is pretty small, but it’s simple, elegant and comfortable. There are 5 flatscreens that occupy the walls, beautiful artwork, a stunning bar, an open kitchen and an awesome oven for the pizzas. All staff members are super friendly and polite. I would come back again just for the atmosphere! But moving onto the food. 

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Cozze Genovesi  |  Fresh P.E.I. mussels steamed in a tomato, white wine, onion and pesto provençal [$12]

We were greeted with fresh dinner rolls that looked like soft scones and a platter of pickled mushrooms, balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip, and a tomato spread? I wasn’t sure what it was, but it tasted yummy. The dinner roll was a bit dense for me, but dipping it into the saucy mussels made it better! The mussels were a great start to our dinner. The chunky yet thin sauce gave the mussels an extra zing from the tomatoes and white wine. I wanted to drink the sauce like a soup.

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Via Pescara  |  An aromatic blend of shrimp, scallops and mussels, in a light garlic, white wine tomato sauce [$18, $9 All pastas 50% off Sunday-Thursday]

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Calabria  |  Bell peppers, chicken, bacon, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella on a tomato base [$16]

First of all, pastas are half off from Sunday to Thursday. The portions are also HUGE, I’m in love.

We went with the seafood pasta with linguine. You can also choose from fettuccine, spaghetti or penne. They also have whole wheat and gluten free noodles, but they cost extra. The noodles were cooked al dente and was lightly coated with tomato sauce. It was a delicate dish with delicate ingredients and flavours. I liked that they kept it simple and light without any overpowering ingredients. 

The pizza was soooo good as well. The crust was thin and crispy and the ingredients were balanced. They also gave us interesting looking knives to cut our pizza, they kind of looked like stubby steak knives. So yea, pizza was great. We only ordered three things, but that was more than enough. We didn’t have any room for dessert. Not even a small slice of cake for my dad’s birthday! That’s alright, we’re not really dessert people. We’d rather stuff our faces with savoury foods, yum.

Overall, my first impression of Baci was great. Chill atmosphere, nice decor, friendly staff, comfortable dining area with fresh and simple food. I gotta go back and try other menu items! I’ll be back soon!

Seared New Zealand Rack of Lamb
These came pre-seasoned and vacuum sealed. They were already French trimmed but I cleaned them up a bit more before cooking. I usually just sear these and pop them in our Flavourwave for a few minutes, but the machine is busted. So I ended up pan frying the rack in my cast iron skillet. I’ve never seared a rack of lamb for the whole duration of the cooking period and I didn’t read a recipe before attempting this, so I went in blind. 
1. I had the heat on medium to medium low because I was also caramelizing onions in the same pan.
2. I seared it fat side down, then all the other sides, including the ends.
3. For the next 20 minutes, I stood around and made sure all the sides were seared equally.
4. The cooking time wasn’t my main concern. My method of telling the meat’s ‘doneness’ was by pushing on it with my tongs. A more precise method would be using a meat thermometre.
Rare [115 - 120F] - Not much resistance, pretty squishy.
Medium Rare [125 - 130F] - A bit of resistance and bounce.
Well Done [140 - 145F] - Don’t even bother. Joking! Well-done would be firm.

Seared New Zealand Rack of Lamb

These came pre-seasoned and vacuum sealed. They were already French trimmed but I cleaned them up a bit more before cooking. I usually just sear these and pop them in our Flavourwave for a few minutes, but the machine is busted. So I ended up pan frying the rack in my cast iron skillet. I’ve never seared a rack of lamb for the whole duration of the cooking period and I didn’t read a recipe before attempting this, so I went in blind. 

1. I had the heat on medium to medium low because I was also caramelizing onions in the same pan.

2. I seared it fat side down, then all the other sides, including the ends.

3. For the next 20 minutes, I stood around and made sure all the sides were seared equally.

4. The cooking time wasn’t my main concern. My method of telling the meat’s ‘doneness’ was by pushing on it with my tongs. A more precise method would be using a meat thermometre.

Rare [115 - 120F] - Not much resistance, pretty squishy.

Medium Rare [125 - 130F] - A bit of resistance and bounce.

Well Done [140 - 145F] - Don’t even bother. Joking! Well-done would be firm.