Tag Archives: Burlington Ontario

Thursday Special: Serendipity (A New Tea House in Burlington)

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The quotation of Henry James on a chalk board greets me and my friend when we enter Serendipity Tea House in Burlington, Ontario. It helps to dispel our frustration after driving around the block twice before we can locate this place.

My friend and I make the impromptu decision to have afternoon tea. We have heard about a new tea house and decide to look for it. Just as it is named, Serendipity Tea House is our serendipitous find. I want to make this post my Thursday Special (hosted by Paula) for this week.

We feel quite comfortable in this small café with clean white table cloth and fine table settings.

The lunch crowd has left and we have a quiet time before other customers for afternoon tea arrive. The menu offers many choices for tea, and a lot in the fashionable category like green tea, white tea, herbal and caffeine free. I am a traditionalist, and so I only have English Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling and Earl Grey to choose from. My friend and I both settle for Darjeeling.

We also order the Classic Tea. It was a gorgeous presentation of sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries.  The cucumber sandwich is a real delight. The scones are warm and served with clotted cream.

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My friend and I chat over our tea for almost two hours. There is classical music in the background, the genre I like.  We feel we have our privacy even with other customers around in this quaint tea house. I had afternoon tea which was very enjoyable in a bigger hotel earlier this year; yet if I had to make a choice, I would come back to Serendipity.

POSTSCRIPT:  Serendipity Tea House has an entrance address: 477 John Street, Burlington, Ontario which is different from their postal address.

Serendipity Tea House on Urbanspoon

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When I REALLY Do Not Want To Cook…Or When My Frontal Lobe Goes On Strike

When I REALLY do not want to cook, and it happens once in a while after a long day at work or running around doing errands, I do not even want to decide what to get for take-out or find what frozen food I have in my freezer. My husband will understand when I tell him that my front lobe has gone on strike. To my less neurologically inclined readers, it is my suggestion to my husband that I do not want to do any planning, organization and execution, and the less decision-making I do, the better. This means that unless he is happy to cook and wash up, we’d better eat out.

We both had been following the Boston bombing the entire afternoon yesterday. We were sad, though relieved that a couple of friends we knew were out there had passed the finish line and cleared of the area, including their families who went out to watch.  I really did not want to cook. My husband was quick to come up with a place to eat when I told him my frontal lobe had stopped functioning. He remembered driving past an Indian buffet restaurant the previous week, and since both of us liked curry, it required no thinking at all on my part. So off we went to  Flavours of India, a small restaurant offering buffet meals at a great deal.

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The moment we entered, we saw a couple of friends. It turned out that they came to the restaurant often on the recommendation of a mutual friend of ours. We were greeted by a friendly waiter who showed us where to sit. Looking around, I found interesting artifacts from India on display.

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The good thing about buffet was that I did not have to read the menu and ponder among choices. There was enough food on display that decision making was reduced to ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There was a wide selection of food: soup and starters, salad, rice and bread, vegetable dishes and meat dishes. There was also a wide range of curry flavours, from mild to hot and the food display was clearly labelled.

I had some soup, and sampled the samosa, pakora and tikki.

Many Indian buffet restaurants fall into two problems . The first is to have trays filled with sauces and not enough meat for obvious budgetary reasons. Secondly, the taste of the curry is too uniform.  Flavours of India did not have these problems and I did not have to stir my ladle around to hunt for a small piece of meat. The sauces were colourful and each curry had a distinctive taste. Besides, inasmuch as we knew that there is butter and coconut milk in some curries, the items served in this restaurant actually tasted quite healthy.

There were enough choices for me to have two helpings of different meat and vegetables, accompanied by rice and naan bread, which were very good to soak up the sauces.

Indian desserts tend to be very sweet. I did not try the Kulab Jamun, because it was too sweet for me, regardless of the restaurants. However, I enjoyed the rice pudding which was creamy and refreshing. My husband and I ate and shared our thoughts about Boston. We had some peaceful time thinking about the unfortunate ones and their families.

Although Flavours of India is not a gourmet restaurant, it is a friendly, neighbourhood restaurant which offers good food for great value. I am happy to go back, whether or not my frontal lobe decides to go on strike or not.

Flavours of India, 1400 Plains Road East, Burlington, Ontario.

A Taste of Burlington: Red Canoe Bistro

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Restaurants in the City of Burlington offer A Taste of Burlington as their version of Winterlicious, which is a food festival  held in January to early February in Toronto. This winter event for Burlington runs from February 17 to March 10 this year. The restaurants selected by the Burlington Board of Tourism offer a prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner. No chain restaurants are included. Over the years, I have tasted some very fine food in this food festival. Red Canoe Bistro was our pick this evening for me and my family. We were offered an 8:00 p.m. reservation when I called. When we arrived, the other patrons also appeared to have just arrived, as they were still studying the menu, or being offered their drinks. Red Canoe exuded a cozy and warm atmosphere. There were about ten tables. Decor was simple yet appropriate for a bistro-style restaurant–photographs in black frames and colourful jars of preserves lined the wall behind the benches.

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Three waitresses were working behind the bar and they looked busy. Someone came to offer us water, but she did not notice that we did not have the right menu and when she brought the menu, she did not bring a wine list. Finally we ordered. There were three choices for each category of the three-course dinner, and we managed to select most of them among us to maximize the tasting.  While we were waiting for the food, we nibbled away the bread dipped in olive oil.

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For the starter, the choices were: Ontario venison chili with Ontario beans, Roast Ontario winter vegetables and spinach salad, and Ontario carrot and celeriac soup with roast cauliflower and tarragon emulsion.

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I liked my soup. It had the right texture and beautiful soup base. My husband and my son also found the venison nicely done, and not tough.

I was the only person who selected fish for the main course. It was Ontario bass with lobster and red lentil pilaf. The others all opted for the braised Ontario lamb shank. To go  with the majority, we chose an Australia Shiraz, which was my favourite and always safe to fall back on. Everybody liked the shank. I felt the portion of my fish was a bit small, but otherwise, it as a delightful dish, especially the lobster and the flavourful pilaf.

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For dessert, I chose the dark chocolate almond cake with soy yogurt, my husband selected the sweet ham pie and my daughter, an ice cream lover, went for maple apple strudel with maple walnut ice-cream. We all found the dessert a healthy treat with a sweetness that is not overwhelming.

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It was a lovely meal in taste and in choice of ingredients, for the menu was designed to feature Ontario produce and meat.  The only disappointment was the slow service, which could be condoned by the full house if not by the ample time we enjoyed for our family conversation. However, when it was really time to go since one of us had to catch an early flight the following day, we were waiting from being patiently to impatiently for the bill, while the waitresses were chatting behind the bar. I ado hope that the service will be improved when I return to the restaurant when it is not during a Taste of Burlington.

Red Canoe Bistro, 388 John Street, Burlington, Ontario.

Red Canoe Bistro on Urbanspoon