[Recap] Summerlicious 2015 – America

As promised, I’ll be running my Summerlicious 2015 reviews while we wait for Winterlicious to start serving! Don’t forget that reservations have already opened up for all the restaurants, and some of the popular timeslots for well-known restaurants have been quickly filling up. So take the time to read these reviews if you haven’t decided what you want yet, but don’t take too long :)

As we roll back to last summer, we start off with one of my favourite repeat restaurants – America. Situated on the 31st floor of the fancy Trump Tower in Toronto, we came back expecting no less of the great food we’ve always had at this place, back from since it began as STOCK. Since we came for lunch this time around, the natural lighting really helped with the photo quality! The last time I reviewed this place, all my photos were dark and purple-y, but now you can actually see all their food with the much better lighting! Let’s begin – but first I must apologize for the captions. Because it has been so long, I no longer have the original names of the dishes, so I tried my best to just explain what they are, but I’m sure the original naming was MUCH MUCH MUCH more appetizing and way more creative… totally my fault for not snapping a photo of all the menu items IN the menu!

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Artistic ceiling and wall decor all around
Artistic ceiling and wall decor all around

Yes, the restaurant is actually really nice when it doesn’t come out all dark in photographs :D

Very stylish menus
Very stylish menus

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Drinks (left to right) - African Berry Boat, Alice Mystery
Drinks (left to right) – African Berry Boat, Alice Mystery

Some very delightfully fruity and refreshing non-alcoholic beverages to start.

Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter
Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter

This was the first thing I asked about after ordering. If you’ve read my Winterlicious review for America, you would’ve known how hard I raved about this cornbread. I’m still raving about them. They are the most delicious cornbread I’ve ever had. The end. (Check out my other review if you want more actual info about them… lol)

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Appetizer - Fried Chicken & Matcha Waffle
Appetizer – Fried Chicken & Matcha Waffle

Insides of the Matcha Waffle
Insides of the Matcha Waffle

I knew I was getting this item when I saw the words “Fried Chicken” and “Matcha Waffles” listed under one dish. They’ve put an interesting twist on a very popular soul dish – adding some japanese matcha flavouring into an already well-known dish. It’s like putting two popular foods together and creating a fusion of popularity that people love to eat! I certainly loved eating this! The dish tickled all my taste buds. I could feel the sweet, salty, sour, and spicy all in there. The matcha in the waffle was very subtle. Overall a stellar idea for a fusion dish.

Appetizer - Soup with a side of Pork Belly
Appetizer – Soup with a side of Pork Belly

I know, my fault but I have completely forgotten what kind of soup this was, and my eyes cannot tell from this photo… and I don’t want to just guess and give the wrong info! But we know it’s soup at least! The soup was very very creamy and refreshingly cold. The pork belly was super chewy and salty, which added some contrast to the soup. The vegetables added a nice crunch to the dish. Yum cold creamy smoothness!

Appetizer - Fish Salad with Pickled Vegetables
Appetizer – Fish Salad with Pickled Vegetables

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this dish for myself, but I heard that it was a good standard salad. What you would expect it to taste like by looking at it.

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Entree - Pork Chop
Entree – Pork Chop

The pork chop turned out to be a bit dry since it was a very very large chunk of meat. But it was salty and had a strong good meaty flavour to it. The skin was very crunchy and crispy. All that it needed was maybe a bit of sauce to even out all that meats!

Entree - Pasta Nettle
Entree – Pasta Nettle

So the nettle part tasted (and looked) like a spinach purée to me, but I then found out that nettle is actually a very interesting type of plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica_dioica). The pasta broth was really really oily, but tasty with the large garlic pieces soaking in it. The pasta felt a tad undercooked to me, but wasn’t to the point that made it inedible. I guess I wasn’t quite expecting this kinda pasta and broth, so the dish was a little surprising. Taste was there, but didn’t really love it.

Entree - Steak with Beans and Rice
Entree – Steak with Beans and Rice

This steak was perfectly cooked – nice and tender. Probably the best made main item of the whole lunch. The sides gave it a Mexican taste and feel – with the spicy beans and rice. Not sure I love these accompaniments with a well cooked steak, but I think I just prefer to have the usual american staples like potatoes and veggies with it.

Entree - Salmon with Grape Sauce
Entree – Salmon with Grape Sauce

I liked that the salmon was topped with preserved grapes, but I didn’t like that the salmon was overcooked :( But as you know if you’ve read my reviews, I have a very specific expectation for fish cooking that most western restaurants do not meet. So I wasn’t surprised, but I very much enjoyed the presentation here that most restaurants do not do with fish dishes, and also the grape sauce was actually super duper tasty! Very interesting and unique sauce choice indeed!

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Dessert - Cheese and Chocolate and Accompaniments
Dessert – Cheese and Chocolate and Accompaniments

This plate was a great choice of sweet and salty for a dessert. The lavender crisp had a nice flavour when eaten by itself, but was sometimes overpowered by the other item’s flavours when eaten altogether. The dark chocolate with pistachios on top was a nice balance of sweet and bitter. The preserved apricot added an intense sweetness to the mix. The American cheese was of medium strength. The honey topping was what added depth to the other flavours in the plate’s combinations. [Courtesy of K2]

Dessert - Keylime Gelatin
Dessert – Keylime Gelatin

Didn’t get to try this one either :(

Dessert - Black Forest Cake
Dessert – Black Forest Cake

The cake was pretty standard. The cherries used were really fresh tasting, and the icing wasn’t too sweet. So I give it an “above average” rating for my cake standards in all black forest cakes :)

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Attire - Business Casual
Attire – Business Casual

It’s a fancy building and they certainly make you feel fancy in there. So feel free to fancy it up when you go here.

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And that sums up my review for America for the past Summerlicious season. Definitely a place to be if you’ve never been. The food is always worth it in my opinion, and it’s always nice to go somewhere that I wouldn’t normally go to for a meal (you’d know what I mean if you look at their regular prices). I haven’t posted up my upcoming list yet for the next event, but it looks like America’s lunch will be back in the mix for me and some friends :) Keep you posted!

It’s bedtime,
Dreamz*

http://americarestaurant.ca/
Restaurant: America Restaurant
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Maybe cuz it’s in Trump Tower, people will hesitate from now on ;) But I’d say reservations in advance is still best, especially for popular dining times.
Attire (Lunch): Business Casual (can get fancier for dinner)

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Winterlicious 2015 – America

America – sounds like a new restaurant to licious? But it’s not at all. This is the restaurant that is in the exact location and became the replacement of STOCK from last licious events. Still located on the 31st floor of Toronto’s Trump Tower and Hotel, the restaurant underwent a 1 week renovation last summer in order to transform from STOCK into America (read about it here). It completed just in time for Toronto’s International Film Festival (TIFF), so you can bet some celebrities (Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch) have already been here.

STOCK was definitely one of my faves for previous licious events, so I decided to try this new replacement as well. The pros – food is still amazing and of utmost highest quality. What would you expect when you’ve got some top tier chefs from around the city like Executive Chef Anthony Walsh, Chef Bill Osburne, and Executive Chef Markus Bestig. The cons – the lighting is the worst for photos! Hence you are going to be bombarded with a bunch of purple photos because they’re all #nofilter =) Sorry for my laziness in editing, but I hope you’ll get a true idea of how the food is like visually! And how even more upscale and hip they have made the new place!

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Yes, this place was very dark and purpley.
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Fancy booths for dining
Fancy booths for dining
America's modern take on their menus
America’s modern take on their menus

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Nicely made cocktails. A strong dose of alcohol and flavours as described!

Drinks (from left to right) - Hazelnut Fashioned, Cucumber Julep, Red Chilli Scotch
Drinks (from left to right) – Hazelnut Fashioned, Cucumber Julep, Red Chilli Scotch

I forgot about this bread because I was too busy with the cornbread below…

Regular Bread with Butter
Regular Bread with Butter

THIS CORNBREAD IS WHERE IT’S AT. It was soooo warm and delicious soft goodness I just wanted to have all of this as my meal. I was worried it would be too spicy for me, but instead it was the best cornbread I’ve tasted with a tiny kick and just a great blend of flavouring. With the butter melting on top the fresh hotness… it was absolutely a divine start!!!

Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter
Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter

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Hmmm… I just remember this to be very soft creamy cheesy. Very strong goat-like taste to it. Didn’t try too much because the flavour was too intense for my liking, but those cheesy fanatics will definitely find this rare and delightful!

Appetizer - Sheep's Milk Quark Cheese
Appetizer – Sheep’s Milk Quark Cheese

The soup was your typical bean soup. Tasted very good but nothing too special about it. There is absolutely no turtle in this soup. And this is how a turtle bean looks like: http://www.organicroad.com.au/media/images/content/detail/turtle_beans-text452.jpg

Appetizer - Black Turtle Bean Soup
Appetizer – Black Turtle Bean Soup

Hmmm, a good dish as well. Also what you would expect though with some nice cold salmon mixed with some veggies and crunchy texture bits and sauce. Not too incredibly memorable either of a dish of its sorts.

Appetizer - Heritage Salmon Poke Ceviche
Appetizer – Heritage Salmon Poke Ceviche

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Mmmm this meat was cooked perfectly. Just like how STOCK always had the best cooked meats, this dish at America also delivers at the same high quality level of cooking and seasoning! The steak was very tender and the cheek was so soft. An absolutely great plate of meat!

Entree - Wellington County Steak & Cheek
Entree – Wellington County Steak & Cheek

I honestly don’t remember too much about this dish other than the fact that it was deliciously cooked salmon as well. I’m not sure it was as perfectly cooked for fish as I’ve had at other places, but I know the flavouring came out very well overall. Nicely seared as well. An excellent seafood dish that would not leave you hungry.

Entree - Pan-Seared Salmon & Clams
Entree – Pan-Seared Salmon & Clams

I very much enjoyed the sauce used for this ravioli. It was very heavy indeed, but I was surprised how well the sweet-tangy lemon flavour was able to come out from this dish without overpowering anything. It also didn’t make the dish sour as you think lemon would in most cases. Definitely done exceptionally for a unique lemon-based ravioli, which would also be my first time trying such a flavour! Presentation-wise could be fancier from this place, but definitely a yummy dish!

Entree - Lemon Ricotta Ravioli
Entree – Lemon Ricotta Ravioli

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I was already pretty full from the very generous quantity of food served in this meal, but this was definitely not something to be missed. In all my fullness, I was still able to gulp down this dessert because it tasted amazing and it would be a waste to not finish every last bit of it! Incredible combination of ingredients and baked to perfection. A soft hot date-like pudding, with the cold ice cream melting atop, alongside a sweet caramel filled sauce and nice sweet soft apples!!! Oh and some candied pecans to add additional crunch! AHHHH *o* I want to eat it again right now! Definitely for those with a strong sweet tooth, but it’s not too sweet at all! Sticky though! The perfect dessert!

Dessert - Granny Apple Sticky Pudding
Dessert – Granny Apple Sticky Pudding

A very strongly flavoured panna cotta (and did I mention it was eggless for a dessert?!). I very much enjoyed it as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but replace the hard chocolate shell with soft jiggly pudding texture! Definitely a panna cotta to be remembered!

Dessert - Peanut Butter Panna Cotta
Dessert – Peanut Butter Panna Cotta

This was a plate of cheese dessert. I have to admit I’ve seen better plates of cheeses with better accompaniments. But this shall do as a plate of savoury cheese :)

Dessert - Cheese (Big Ed's Gouda)
Dessert – Cheese (Big Ed’s Gouda)

And with tradition, they’ve also kept the dessert-along-with-your-bill kind of thing going. This was a nice little marshmallow-ey chocolate bits. Continuing to add to the intense fullness that we were all feeling at this point!

Complimentary Dessert Chocolates
Complimentary Dessert Chocolates

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This place is in Trump! One of the fanciest and richest places! You can bet to be more upscale, especially since they’ve changed the environment to be this modern high end restaurant. Do dress it up rather than down if you don’t want to be frowned upon xD

Dress Style - Business / Formal
Dress Style – Business / Formal

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And with that, my foodies, I leave you with my America review. Very glad that I did end up trying out this place. I was skeptical at first because I loved STOCK and I was afraid this would change my fave licious place. But it has definitely become the second STOCK in terms of freshness and quality, so it will now stand in place of STOCK. Even though I really don’t like the name… could’ve been more creative there… and I’m Canadian… lolol. Definitely hit this place up. It’ll be so worth your time and money (especially during licious if you’re not a millionaire type).

Chowtown,
Dreamz*

P.S. One last review for Winterlicious coming then it’s all summed up finally! And we’ll quickly be on to Summerlicious soon ;D

http://americarestaurant.ca/
Restaurant: America Restaurant
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Might be a little off the radar from your usual crowd, because it did sound like a newer unknown restaurant. But they definitely filled up for dinner regardless. I would suggest to book at least a week ahead on a weekday, and even earlier for weekend seatings.
Attire: Business / Formal (it’s Trump, get fancy)