WINTERLICIOUS 2018: Handheld “deep dish” pizza…what???

So, we’re hanging out at Hotel Ocho, this funky boutique hotel in downtown Chinatown with a very modern resto lounge downstairs. Normally, this place serves up stuff like gnocchi, halibut and a steak ‘n shrimp surf ‘n turf, but for Winterlicious, they’re offering up a more upscale take on a whole bunch of American comfort food classics.

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Up first, we’ve got their take on a Kentucky hot brown, an open-faced sammich with turkey, bacon and tomato, all smothered in Mornay sauce, which is basically a bechamel with extra cheese. Now, I’ve never been down to Louisville, but this hot brown was straight outta Flavourtown! The only thing that was kinda weird was when they put spinach at the bottom…

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Now, I’ve never been to Chi-town neither–except for that time I ate Italian beef at the airport–but when I’m thinking deep dish pizza, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I was expecting a ginormous, multi-layered cheesy casserole that you had to eat with a fork and knife. But I couldn’t eat this one with a fork even if I wanted to–the crust was so crunchy, you couldn’t even cut it, bro! And while they said there was blue cheese and jalaepenos in there, I got neither the heat from the peppers nor the pungentness of blue cheese. I kinda wish I’d gone with the ribs instead.

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Now I can’t even think of a reason to go down to Mississippi, especially since the fire went out in Jackson, but I kinda thought a Mississippi mud pie would be a pie, and not a brownie. It was still a pretty tasty piece of chocolate, with some whipped cream on top, but I think they took just a bit of creative license with this one…

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WINTERLICIOUS 2018: All the meat you can eat for 43 bucks, bro!!!!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year–we’re talking Winterlicious, dude! The time where over 200 restaurants in Toronto are offering three course meals at some crazy cheap prices–or in the case of Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse, as many courses of meat as you can eat! It’s like a Flavourtown festival of funkaliciousness, heading straight down my piehole, bro!!!

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They start you off with the salad bar, which includes cured meat, breads and cheeses. The highlight has gotta be the cooked shrimp and mussels, although there weren’t many mussels left when I got there.

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Of course, you don’t wanna fill up on salad when there’s steak to be eaten. Their prime rib was tender, juicy and cheesy, with little bits of cheddar baked right in. I could pound about 20 pieces of this stuff, son!

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But, y’know, life isn’t always about the beef. Not when there’s some fresh-sliced pork shoulder to be scarfed, too!

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Daddy, would you like some sausage? Don’t mind if I do, son!!!

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Who can say no to chicken parm on a stick? I think I slammed at least six of these!

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Now you KNOW I can’t just say no to chicken wings, bro! These molten-hot flavour nuggets taste even better with some Cholula Chipotle sauce on ’em!

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Now, here’s something you won’t get at the Copacabana–it’s a yellow-bellied chicken liver! This sphere of internal poultry has definitely got a different texture, kinda chewy and not as meaty. I think I’ll stick with the steak…

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Now, you wouldn’t think I’d still have room for dessert at the end of this funkalicious flavourtrain, but this deep-fried banana is bananas–and bananas ARE good, bro!!!!

This deep-fried-pickle bacon cheeseburger is totally dill-icious!

So, we’re hanging out at BQM, this funky craft beer and burger joint right in the heart of Little Portland, Ossington just south of Dundas. This place has got one main thing on the menu, and that’s burgers, bro! (They’ve also got wings, poutine, and salad, but I skipped that last part.)

Now, when I go to a place that specializes in burgers, you KNOW I never order a salad! So I went for the funkiest meat on a bun on the menu. They call this one Dill-i-cio, and me, I call it magically delicious:

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got a thick ‘n juicy beef patty, with super-crisp and crunchy bacon, just the way I like it. There’s added crispy crunchiness from the lettuce, but you KNOW the panko-battered deep-fried pickle is what makes it, bro! You’ve got a bit of a kick from the sriracha, and some creamy garlic mayo, but man…this might be the crunchiest burger I’ve ever shoved straight down my piehole!!!

Legit lamb skewers at Toronto’s OG Middle-Eastern joint!

So, we’re hanging out at Jerusalem Restaurant, the first place in Toronto to serve up Middle-Eastern food, waaay back in 1971. Now, I’m a pretty big fan of this type of cuisine. You KNOW I love the shawarma bro, and I’ll scarf down pretty much anything with lamb in it. So when I heard they were serving up two lamb skewers with a whole mountain of fries for $17.95, I was all over that like Yair Netanyahu at a strip club, son!!!

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The lamb is super tender, with a nice grilled taste, but not too much charcoal. Fries are hot and crispy, and the salad has some green stuff in it. I don’t always eat salad, but in this case, the meat-to-veggie ratio here was just about right. I think I coulda gone with some more pita bread instead though, bro!!!

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Super-creamy lobster poutine at an oyster house, son!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love all kinds of poutine, but if I had to pick a favourite, it might be lobster poutine. When it’s done right, it’s magically delicious, bro! And I’ve had some pretty legit lobster poutines all over this country, whether at a German beer hall in Kanata or a one-off Poutine Week special at Baton Rouge.

So, we’re hanging out at John & Sons Oyster House, this cozy little seafood shack just a lobster trap’s toss from Bay St in the Financial District. This place has been serving up seafood for the after-work crowd since 2009, and they’ve got all kindsa stuff like clam chowder, calamari and fish ‘n chips. But you know I ‘m here for one reason, and one reason only, son!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got some thin, crispy Yukon gold potaters, with nice chunks of lobster, white cheddar cheese curds and a whole buncha bechamel, bro! The cheese is super melty, and the lobster tastes legit, but the thing you taste the most is the sauce. Don’t get me wrong, lobster might not really work with d’la vraie sauce en canne, but the creaminess of this dish is just a touch too much. I’m pretty sure I couldda polished off a plate twice this size otherwise…

It’s like the ham & pineapple pizza of tacos, bro!!!

So we’re hanging out at King’s Tacos, this funky family joint that’s been serving it up on St. Clair West since the 80’s. Now this place is the real deal, super-legit Mexican food, bro—they even import their tortillas from Mexico! And you know they’ve got lengua, they’ve got barbacoa, they’ve got tacos al pastor…but they’ve also got a whole buncha funky, house-made creations that you won’t find anywhere else—like these Hawaiian tacos, bro!

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OK, so here’s the deal. You pay 17 bucks and they give you a plate full of ham, pineapple, beef, bacon and cheese, with a side container of hot, fresh, corn tortillas. It’s a party in my mouth, bro! You’ve got the sweetness from the pineapples, a nice chew from the ham, some crispness from the bacon…and then you throw some beef in there. Dude, who needs pizza when you’ve got tacos???

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This is a Batch of the good stuff, right here!

So, we’re hanging out at Batch, this funky craft brew pub just a guitar pick’s throw away from Massey Hall on Victoria St. Now, this place is run by the fine folks at Creemore Springs, and while they’ve got a buncha Creemore brews on tap, they’re also serving up their own in-house Batch brand, like this here Witbier:

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This light, citrusy, easy-drinking brew tastes perfect when it’s like minus one-thousand outside and you kinda wish it was summer. But while it goes down smooth, it ain’t no light beer, packing a respectable 5.1%. Oh, and it goes great with Welsh rarebit:

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That’s rarebit, not rabbit, bro! This spongey, squishy bread is soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, kinda like a cross between banana bread and a soft pretzel. And then they just absolutely slather it with a warm cheddar cheese—man, you could put that on a flip-flop and it would still taste good!

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Speaking of tasting good, this pork belly sammy the TheBomb.ca, brosephus! You’ve got a perfect texture on the pork, with some crusty bits on the end, a whole buncha purple slaw, and some spicy, grainy mustard for that extra kick. Plus, their fries are freakin’ yuuuge! I could easily just polish off a plate of potaters alone!!!

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Now, after a pork sammy plus a cheesy pretzel, I like to kick back and relax with a warm, fruity seasonal beer, like this one, the Winter Warmer. This is one of those brews to savour by the fire after you’ve eaten your weight in sausage rolls. It’s got a similar heavy, fruity taste to the imperial stout I polished off at BeerBistro…except this one ain’t 50 bucks a bottle, alco-broski!