Cover photo by nevil zaveri, used under Creative Commons license

Monk Kitchen

Last night we tried a Toronto half-secret: Monk Kitchen. Our friend Sue arranged it. Frankly, I’d never heard of it. It’s the restaurant inside a hotel I’d also never heard of. It was all very secret-like.

This was the menu, as best I remember it:

  • shrimp in sriracha sauce on greens, paired with a Tawse Riesling
  • lobster risotto with a bottle of Mas Des Bressades Tradition Blanc
  • duck with carrot and parsnip, paired with an Argentinian Malbec that I didn’t see
  • an intermezzo of frozen blood orange, pomegranate, and Campari
  • veal with cauliflower puree, and a bottle of Ripasso which, again, I didn’t see
  • a sugary cocktail with a strawberry in it
  • five small desserts: pear tart, lemon tart, chocolate espresso brownie, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate mint wafer cake

Our meal was mixed. The shrimp, risotto, duck, and desserts were all very good. The veal — not my favourite meat, I must admit — was overdone, and the cauliflower puree was pretty bad. With a better main the meal might have been saved, but too many other things let us down:

  • The wine pairings weren’t great — the Malbec overpowered the duck, whereas the Ripasso faded from the veal. Also, for a dinner like that, I’d expect a little more than a collection of $18 bottles I can get at the LCBO. The Mas Des Bressades was great though.
  • No one replaced our cutlery after the shrimp course, so when the risotto showed up we were forkless. It took us a few minutes to flag down a server to let her know, and another few minutes for the cutlery to show up. They apologized profusely, but it’s just not something that you’d expect from a restaurant with this reputation.
  • Our server was very sweet, but didn’t seem to know much about the wines…brought questionable selections for our friend who doesn’t drink red, actually called the Malbec “Merlot” when she brought it, etc.

Considering it carried the same price tag as other top-flight Toronto restaurants, the food and especially the service just didn’t match the price.


Cover photo by nevil zaveri, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Trixt, used under Creative Commons license

Hold on loosely

Yeah, I have too much to clean up after that party to spend time describing it. I’ll just cover what was consumed and let you extrapolate from that.


  • Hidden Bench 2008 Terroir Cache Meritage
  • Kew 2013 Fume Blanc
  • Le Clos Jordanne 2009 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay
  • Megalomaniac 2011 Bubblehead Sparkling Pinot Noir
  • Norman Hardie 2008 Cuvée L Chardonnay
  • Piper Heidsieck Champagne
  • Tawse White 2011 Members Select Chardonnay
  • Tawse 2011 Spark
  • La Vielle Ferme 2013 Recolte
  • Chateau Prieure Canteloup 2009 Cotes De Bordeaux
  • Wolftrap 2013 White
  • Rosewood 2012 Sussreserve Riesling
  • Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial
  • Henry Of Pelham 2012 Sibling Rivalry Red
  • Gustave Lorentz 2011 Riesling


  • 6 bottles of Duggan’s Sorachi Lager
  • Gulden Draak 9000
  • Affligem
  • Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA
  • 1 growler of Beer Academy Kolsch
  • Beer Academy Oatmeal Brown
  • Beer Academy Black Lager
  • Goose Island Matilda
  • 9 pints of Nellie’s Hoppy Birthday Brew (our first self-brew effort)
  • 3 bottles of Chimay Blue
  • 2 more bottles of Affligem


  • 1 bottle of Patron Silver tequila
  • nearly an entire bottle of El Dorado 12 year old rum
  • half a bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon
  • a mickey of Ballantine’s whisky
  • the .38 Special: a signature cocktail concocted by our good friend CBJ, to celebrate Nellie’s 38th birthday


  • Jesus, I can’t even.

Between what was brought for a gift or what was left behind, we made out pretty well:

  • Bouchard Pere Et Fils 2012 Petit Chablis
  • Desiderio Jeio Cuvee Rosé
  • Gardet Chigny-Les-Roses Brut Tradition Champagne
  • Angels Gate 2010 Mountainview Chardonnay
  • Blu Giovello Prosecco
  • Marc Kreydenweiss Barbarelle 2007
  • Coastline Paso Robles 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Il Sestante Amarone Classico 2008 Tommasi
  • Flying Monkeys Chocolate Manifesto Triple Milk Stout
  • St. Bernardus ABT 12
  • Citadelle gin
  • Bowmore 12 year old scotch
  • Macallan Gold scotch
  • 2 bottles (!) of Grey Goose vodka

Of course, this was also left behind:


Cover photo by Trixt, used under Creative Commons license

Cover photo by Cliff, used under Creative Commons license

“Maybe in America, Irish. Maybe in America.”

I’ll admit, when I saw the ads for Captain Phillips (imdb | rotten tomatoes) I thought it was going to be lame. Mediocre. A studio cashing in on a rah-rah story of Navy SEALS saving a hijacked ship captain, with Tom Hanks getting the paycheck. But then it was scoring great reviews, and I realized it was directed by Paul Greengrass. Then it was getting nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars.

So last night we watched it, and yeah…it was really good. I mean, the whole thing was good, but the last fifteen minutes were about as tense and impactful as anything I’ve seen in a movie recently. The film by which I measure all tension crescendos is United 93, also directed by Greengrass, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Tom Hanks was his usual amazing self and, frankly, those final minutes gave him a chance to flex in a way I haven’t seen in years. And all four actors playing the Somali pirates, but especially Barkhad Abdi, were tremendous.

Highly recommended.


Cover photo by Cliff, used under Creative Commons license