Black-and-White Damask and a Melty, Crunchy Smoked Salmon, Guacamole Sandwich – Atelier Cafe, Part II

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Atelier Cafe, to me, is a fab place for a get-together with your girl friends.  Or just a group lunch in general.  The space is very open and it’s very conducive for small group gatherings.  The decor is beautiful with the black-and-white damask patterned walls, black plushy sofa seats, and floral patterned ottomans to sit on.  Very posh, very avant garde.  It’s the kind of place I envision when my girl friends and I say, “let’s do lunch” and want the feel of being fancy pants without actually being fancy pants.  Atelier serves both breakfast and lunch and their menu specialty lies with their sandwiches, as well as some salads.  I know Atelier is a cafe by day and a nightclub and lounge by night, but since I only plan on coming here for lunch and maybe trying a breakfast item or two, no goods on the nightclub scene here!

Looking at Atelier’s tomato focaccia sandwiches makes my mouth hang open.  The sandwiches are HUGE!  I refer to them as “brick” sandwiches because they honestly look as big as bricks!  I know I ordered a whole sandwich meal for myself but I have to tell you, it’s good enough to feed two people for lunch, especially considering you get a side salad along with it.  The tomato focaccia sandwich meals come in two “brick slabs”, which makes for easy sharing if you’re there with others.  If you’re on your own, I think it’s great for portion control.  Eat one sandwich “half” (which in my opinion functions as an entire sandwich) and take the other to-go.  Unless of course you’re a piggy like me and you attempt to eat the whole thing in one shot and then you moan and groan about how damn full you are afterward.  Whoops. 

Anyway!  The tomato focaccia bread that they use for a number of their sandwiches is fantastic.  They press and grill the sandwiches so that they come out beautifully crunchy and crispy and everything on the inside is melty and soft and gooey and YUMMY.  Oh!  And the side salad was delicious too.  Green spring mix salad topped with an amazing 7-grain salad mixed with a mustard vinaigrette.

You all know how much I love salmon, so I got myself the smoked salmon sandwich.  The sandwich didn’t come exactly as it stated on the menu, but quite frankly, I loved the way my sandwich came out and I’m glad it ended up the way that it did.  It was only a minor substitution and I loved it.  The salmon sandwich on the menu had cream cheese, guacamole, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, and capers and what I actually got was all of the above minus the alfalfa and with baby spinach instead.  Oh man, HEAVEN.  The sandwich press made the cream cheese and guacamole all melty and it was SO GOOD.  The guacamole was oozing out of the sandwich and onto the sides – can you say party in my mouth??  It was everything I could have hoped for in a great sandwich – great texture and flavour from the bread and all the filling meshed together.  Even though my boyfriend didn’t enjoy his pulled pork one as much as he would’ve hoped, I thoroughly enjoyed my smoked salmon one and I would definitely go back to try some of their other sandwiches.

All of their sandwich meals come in under $10 with the more expensive ones priced at $8.95.  Like I said before though, they’re great for sharing because of their size, so feasibly, you could the split the meal with another person and have yourself a $4.50 lunch.  Along with tomato focaccia, they also serve some of their sandwiches on dark rye, sourdough, pain au lait rolls (crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside), and even on a pretzel!  They also provide the option of making your sandwich on gluten-free bread for an additional charge of $1.  Do they have a vegetarian sandwich?  Indeed they do.  They have a grilled veggie sandwich served on their tomato focaccia with bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, alfalfa, and goat cheese.  When I get around to trying this one, I will definitely add it to the Vegetarian Sandwich Series if it’s up to snuff.

They serve a number of meal-size salads including couscous, nicoise (tuna with potatoes, green beans, and hard boiled eggs and other vegetables), turkey (a Thanksgiving inspired type of salad with cranberry compote and vegetables), and a caprese salad with tomatoes and bocconcini cheese.  They also have plenty of drinks on their menu including coffee, espresso, lattes, and loose leaf brewed tea from Tealish, but if you’re not in the mood for any of that they have pitchers of ice water with cucumber by the cash that you can help yourself to. 

Annnd, they have cookie creamie sandwiches from Bunner’s Bake Shop here!  Squee!  If you’ll recall, back in April I made two very large blog posts about Bunner’s Bake Shop during Veggielicious and in a nutshell, Bunner’s Bake Shop is an amazing vegan, gluten-free bakery that also serves a number of nut-free and soy-free goodies at well.  So if you love Bunner’s and can’t always make the trek out west to The Junction or if you’ve never tried any of Bunner’s baked goods and want to but also can’t make the trip, you can grab one (or more) of their amazingly delicious cookie cream sandwiches!

If you’re looking for a pretty lunch cafe with a nice, open atmosphere and awesome sandwich portions, I’d totally recommend giving Atelier a whirl.  I really love their tomato focaccia bread and I’m looking forward to my next visit so I can try out something else.  And maybe next time I won’t walk out of there waddling on such a full stomach!

*****

Atelier Cafe Lounge is located at 510 King St. West, west of Spadina Ave.  They serve both breakfast and lunch during the day and turn into a lounge and nightclub at night.  Once I get their operating hours, I’ll come back and update!

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The Love For Cream Cheese Never Ends: Vancouver Rolls at The Sushi Shop

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If you’re a cream cheese fanatic like I am, The Sushi Shop is PERFECT for you!  Not only is most of the menu dedicated to maki rolls and its variants (think square and rectangle sushi!), there are plenty of options for the cream cheese lover 😀  One of my absolute favourite combinations is salmon, avocado, and cream cheese (or just salmon and avocado in general) and The Sushi Shop offers an amazing roll called the Vancouver Roll (in a set of eight) with delicious thinly sliced smoked salmon (not to be confused with regular salmon sashimi – smoked salmon has that great slightly salty, cured flavour to it), avocado, and light cream cheese.  You all know how much I love this place and there are so many reasons why.  Their selection of cream cheese varieties is just one of them!  The Vancouver roll is served in 2 ways on the menu.  You can either order a set of 8 medium sized rolls for $5.95, or you can order the Express Lunch combo G (served from 11am to closing) which includes 12 medium maki rolls, 4 of which are the Vancouver roll.

The Sushi Shop offers these maki rolls with cream cheese and I plan on eating my way through all of them!  I’m actually well on my way there, I’ve tried 4 of the 5 so far *looks sheepish*:

  1. Akanasu Hosomaki (set of 6 small rolls): sun-dried tomato pesto, light cream cheese, sesame
  2. Vancouver Maki (set of 8 medium rolls): smoked salmon, avocado, light cream cheese, sesame
  3. Miami Sumomaki (set of 5 large rolls): soya sheet, smoked salmon, avocado, orange masago, green onion, light cream cheese, tempura, spicy light mayo, sesame
  4. Fusion Sumomaki (set of 5 large rolls): grilled salmon, basil pesto rice, light cream cheese, cherry tomato, cucumber, snow pea sprouts, lettuce, spicy light mayo, sesame
  5. Inferno Sumomaki (set of 5 large rolls): tempura, light cream cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto, red and orange masago, green onion, spicy light mayo, spicy sauce, sesame   

The sumomaki roll varieties can also be ordered as a hand roll, so there’s a few extra options there as well.  YAY!

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen my scrapbook layouts and I’ve made it easier now to peruse through them 😀  I’ve added every single post featuring a scrapbook layout since I’ve started this blog to the category “The Kitchen Table”, so if you’re a scrapbooker like me (or just like to look at pretty paper things), feel free to roam around in there!  I take a lot of pride in my work and I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been reading and following the blog, it means a lot to me.  It’s been so much fun sharing and creating new things for the blog and I love talking about lovely things like craft supplies and brands and paper and all that good stuff, so don’t be shy if you want to hit me up just to yak about scrapbooking.  I just signed up for a Twitter account several days ago, so if you want to follow me, you can find me @AtebyAte; I would love to get to know other foodies and fellow scrapbookers!    

*****

The Sushi Shop is located at the intersection of Yonge and Carlton St. (3 Carlton St.), with 2 other take-out locations serving the downtown core, one being in the GO train station concourse and the other near Maple Leaf Square at 25 York St (closed Saturday and Sunday).  According to Google map, there is also a location on Bloor St. E at 175 Bloor St.E (Saturday and Sunday closed as well).

Scrapbooking materials used: baby pink, cherry red, and goldenrod yellow cardstock (Recollections); pink and green argyle patterned paper; alphabet stickers (K & Company); medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success); scalloped edge decorative scissors (Provo Craft).

I Love Cream Cheese and Sashimi – Crunchy, Sweet n’ Sour Moscow Rolls and Little Red Tea Cups at Ginza Sushi

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I’m so excited to finally share my new scrapbook layouts with you all!  I had a huge backlog of pictures that was taking me forever to get through and even though I still have hundreds to organize, I’m making progress! 😀  I never like to rush through a layout and I take a lot of time and care to draw out layout sketches, figure and write out which pictures I want to scrap and in what sizes, the whole nine yards.  And it’s so exciting to get to a new batch of photos even if the photos themselves aren’t the newest; it’s the inspiration and freshness that makes it fun. 

So this is what I would refer to as my personal love letter to cream cheese.  Oh how I love this stuff.  I eat it on bread, with potato chips, mixed in a little pasta sauce, in sushi…I will even eat it by itself on a spoon.  Tis how much I love it.  It’s any wonder I’m not fat.  So imagine my joy several years ago when I discovered sushi concoctions like Philadelphia rolls with smoked salmon, or Philly rolls with avocado and sashimi.  Cream cheese IN sushi!  It’s like the food angels fluttered down to Earth and bestowed these delightful morsels of heaven just for me.  And you can bet that I’m keeping track of all my favourite maki rolls that include cream cheese and where to get them.  A girl’s gotta be organized when it comes to this stuff!  One of my personal favourites so far?  The Moscow rolls from Ginza.

The first time I went to Ginza was a year and a half ago and I loved it from the get-go.  I actually fell in love with it even before I stepped foot in the restaurant!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a bit spoiled having the internet at my fingertips and I look up restaurant menus online like crazy when I know I’m going to a place, providing they have a website.  I study the menu with the intensity I probably should have allocated to studying for exams in school, ha. 

Even before the eating experience has started, you can gauge how you feel about a place from their menu.  For one thing, you know the prices.  If it’s unaffordable, you don’t go – it’s that’s simple.  Second, if you’re indecisive like me, it’s makes your life a hell of a lot easier!  You can go into a place at least with an idea of what you want instead of taking eons to decide after you’re seated and everyone is giving you the death stare to hurry the hell up because they’re starving.  And sushi menus are always so much fun to go through! 😀  Since being introduced to cream cheese in sushi, anything of the sort jumps out at me and like a little blinky light, “Moscow Roll” was my little sushi beacon.

 

The rolls are just amazing.  They come in a set of 5 large rolls and are coated in crispy breading for some awesome crunch.  The Moscow Roll contains salmon, tuna, hamachi (yellowtail or Japanese amberjack), tangy cream cheese, and plenty of green scallions sprinkled over top.  And the sauce!  It’s a fusion of sweet chili sauce and sushi mayo drizzled all over and as you can tell from the photos, it’s like an artistic sushi painting! 😀  The taste is wonderfully complex.  You have the texture from the crispy breading, the soft buttery texture of the salmon and fish, and the richness of the cream cheese completely mellows and balances the spiciness of the sauce.  The cream cheese totally knocks it out and it’s just a yummy, messy dish of sushi happiness!

You can tell that I am one happy foodie 😀  Ginza is lovely and not just for the food but also for the atmosphere.  I’ve only been to the Yorkville location on Bay St., but to me, it is the epitome of modern meets fresh meets clean.  It’s peaceful and it’s fresh and vibrant.  And I am especially in love with the little red tea cups!  It gets my heart racing when the utensils and accessories are bright colours and I cannot tell you how much I want to take these cups home with me because they are so pretty oh my goodness.  *laughs*  I’m a tea accessory geek!

Ginza currently serves 4 locations in Toronto and the GTA, with the newest one located in Maple on Major Mackenzie Dr.W and Dufferin St.  That location actually works out okay for me considering I live in Markham, but for those who live in the 416, there’s no need to fret because there are 2 other locations you can gorge on sushi at: Finch Ave. E between Leslie and Bayview in North York, as well as Bay St. and Yorkville which is the one I’ve been to. 

Prices vary depending on the type of food you’re ordering but I’d say a meal would normally average around $6-$10 on the lower end and $12-$15 on the higher end if you’re ordering sushi combinations and such.  Let it be known that Ginza is not exclusive to sushi alone, but also serves Thai and Japanese dishes.  Outside of sushi, you can order tempura, soba noodles (which I’ve tried as well), rice, meat cutlet combos with noodles or rice, and a number of different soups and appetizers.  The quality of food is superb and I really enjoy the selection.  So the next time I go, I’m totally going to try out some other maki rolls and report back!  Oh, and hug and squish my beloved red tea cup ❤

*****

Ginza is located at the following 4 locations:

  1. 7330 Yonge St. (at the intersection of Clark Ave. and Yonge St. in Thornhill)
  2. 652 Finch Ave. East (located between Leslie St. and Bayview Ave. in North York)
  3. 1255 Bay St. (north of Bloor St. W just off of Yorkville Ave.)
  4. 9960 Dufferin St. (right at the intersection of Major Mackenzie Dr. W. in Maple)  

Ginza also offers a 10% student discount at certain locations, so call ahead and ask if you want to take advantage.

Scrapbooking materials used: white and gray cardstock (Recollections); red alphabet stickers (Recollections); patterned journalling cards (Anna Griffin, Darcy collection); sushi menu sticker (Jolee’s). 

I Heart Sushi Shop: The Smoky Salmon & Avocado Hand Roll and Cream Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato Rolls

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When I eat at sushi places, it’s kind of like playing a mental game of Where’s Waldo.  I’ll scan the menu, mentally discard the options that I don’t care for (those who clearly don’t look like Waldo), take mental notes of the ones I might be interested in and remind myself to go back to them to reconsider (the areas that are really busy and confusing that need greater attention a bit later if I don’t find Waldo after the first go-around), and the kinds that make me squeal with excitement and convince me via words and/or pictures that I NEED to try this.  Cue the sushi radar alarm: Ding-ding-ding, meep-meep-meep, Waldo has been spotted!  No further searching necessary 😀  That is certainly what happened my first time eating at Sushi Shop; my sushi radar was on overload!  So many rolls that encompassed my two sushi weaknesses all rolled into one: salmon and cream cheese!  I love trying different things at sushi places, but those are the two things I can never resist.

I love cream cheese so much, and I’m also a sucker for things like pesto and sundried-tomato, so the Akanasu rolls (a set of 6) with creamy, tangy light cream cheese, sundried-tomato, and sesame seeds, were a total no-brainer for me.  It’s like this sushi bar and I were meant to be!  And all the Sumomaki rolls (sets of 5 large rolls) are also offered as hand roll varieties so I salivated a la Homer Simpson style at the description of the Smoky: fresh salmon sashimi, thick slices of avocado, orange masago (fish roe), spicy light mayo and sauce, and a huge truckload dumping of crunchy tempura, all wrapped up in sushi rice and seaweed.  Hand rolls are fun because 1) who doesn’t like food you can eat with your hands?? and 2) it’s like a sushi taco or burrito, woohoo!  Every mouthful is pure deliciousness.

Oh gosh, this meal had “Deb” written all over it ❤  Salmon and avocado are pretty basic staples in a lot of sushi and of course, freshness always plays a role in how good it is (frozen salmon?  no, thanks.  Lukewarm salmon?  I’ll pass on that too, ew) but what really makes this fantastic (besides the freshness of those two things) is the crunchy tempura and spicy sauce.  It is texture like you wouldn’t believe.  You have the smoothness of the salmon, the buttery meltiness of the avocado, and then the crunch from the tempura that just explodes and melts in your mouth.  Imagine the crunchiness of amazing onion rings.  It’s like that only in my opinion, even ten times better than that!  And don’t even get me started on how lip smackin’ my cream cheese and sundried tomato rolls were!  Sushi Shop is my absolute favourite and I’ll be hard pressed to find one that rivals the quality, freshness, and uniqueness that it offers.  But that’s fine by me.  Mental games of Where’s Waldo sushi-style are amusing 😀

*****

The Sushi Shop is located at the intersection of Yonge and Carlton St. (3 Carlton St.), with 2 other take-out locations serving the downtown core, one being in the GO train station concourse and the other near Maple Leaf Square at 25 York St (closed Saturday and Sunday).  According to Google map, there is also a location on Bloor St. E at 175 Bloor St.E (Saturday and Sunday closed as well).

Scrapbook materials used: purple, bubblegum pink, pale pink, and emerald green cardstock (Recollections); white paper; patterned alphabet stickers (K&Company); silver alphabet stickers (Sticko); magenta, pink, and purple adhesive gems; flower paper punch; medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success); black Sharpie felt tip marker.

Big Sushi Pizzas and Philadelphia Rolls at Big Sushi!

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I took a picture of the menu and thought it’d be cute to replicate it, so I drew the fish on the paper menu for my scrapbook layout 🙂  And this lovely sushi restaurant lives up to its name!  Big Sushi, located at 388 Bloor St. W (west of Spadina), was an accidental discovery half a year ago last June.  Since then, I’ve been back twice and I’ve enjoyed my food immensely!  As Richard and I were strolling along Bloor St.W a few hours before meeting up with friends one day in May, I was overcome with an intense pang of hunger.  With me, this happens often.  I know, how embarrassing.  It’s like being with a 2-year-old who whimpers when she’s hungry and wants a graham cracker but doesn’t have one!  I get hungry often and I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by so many good eats when I’m out on the town; this belly of mine can sometimes be unpredictable!

So, back to that sunny afternoon in May.  As I wrote in my Sushi on Bloor post last month, the strip on Bloor St.W between Spadina and Bathurst is bursting with a plethora of sushi places.  Perfect, ripe for the picking! 😀  When we passed by the restaurant windowfront, I did a double-take as once again, you guessed it, I was lured by the delicious-looking photos of rolls and sushi and sushi pizza *cue Homer-like drooling*.  I didn’t want to be impulsive though, so we kept walking…and came back 15 minues later when I couldn’t resist temptation any longer.  Go figure.

I ordered the Philadelphia/Philly roll and other than  The Sushi Shop, Big Sushi serves some of my favourite cream cheese rolls, eeee!  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I LOVE CREAM CHEESE!!  *cue cheerleader pom pom waving here*  I am a cream cheese fanatic and I love it with and on everything!  These Philly rolls were fantastic.  Rolls with crab meat, cucumber, avocado, and cream cheese.  The combination of cream cheese and avocado just melts right into the crab meat and they are so hella satisfying.  I’ve tried several different kinds of rolls with cream cheese from different sushi places and although they’re good, these are GREAT ❤  And the spicy tuna (pictured below)?  Oh, these bad boys will leave you panting.  But in the best way possible, I promise! 😀  Those who find some of the spicy roll varieties too tame at other places will enjoy these ones. 

Big Sushi is absolutely PERFECT for those who enjoy bigger portions and fabulous, budget-friendly prices!  Almost all the maki rolls come in sets of 8, and they have lots of roll combinations that allow you to try 3 different kinds.  For those who are super ravenous, it’s fantastic and it’s also great for sharing.  The prices are also really good.  For many of the rolls that come in a set of 8, prices hover around $5.50-$6 which is very reasonable for downtown sushi.  Not to mention, you get what you pay for; the roll sizes are fab and they load them up with lots of yummy ingredients.  No dry mouthfuls of rice here!

The larger portion sizes reeeally shine when you order the sushi pizza.  The sushi pizza is amazing.  Normally, you’re accustomed to seeing sushi pizzas a little bigger than a coaster.  Not the case at Big Sushi.  If you were to place the sushi pizza on your face (which I really wouldn’t suggest you to do; everything would fall off), it would cover it up entirely.  And you get bang for your buck.  Sushi pizzas usually come in at around $7 depending on the type of sashimi you choose.  For $7.50, you get a meal-sized sushi pizza with not only special sauce and fresh slices of salmon sashimi draped on top of the cripsy slices of breaded rice, but you also get slices of avocado and shredded crab meat, all topped with a sprinkling of tobiko/fish roe.  Did I mention it’s amazing?  Because it is!  It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s filling, and it’s generous. 

And really, when you go out to wine and dine, you want to know that the place you’re eating at has the heart and generousity that wants you to eat and wants to give you good food.  Big Sushi is a great place and I’m glad I “accidentally” stumbled on it that sunny May afternoon.

*****

Scrapbooking materials: gray and speckled beige cardstock (Recollections); black construction paper; sushi stickers (Sticko and Jolee’s); red alphabet stickers (Recollections); adhesive pearls and gems (K&Company); silver, gold, and red metallic gel pens for the drawing of the fish on the menu.