Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pho Xe Lua: I'm Trained to Visit

On Family Day Monday my wife visited the Art Gallery of Ontario for a day of art and culture.  For lunch we thought we would poke around to see if the newly renovate Art Gallery had any good place to eat with decent pricing. 

We knew the FRANK Restaurant would be out of the question as it looked very pricey so we thought we would try the AGO Cafe in the basement of the museum for some sandwiches and maybe a drink.  Then we saw the price of $8.00 per sandwich and, oh yeah and extra $1.00 if you wanted a drink with it.  $9.00 plus taxes for a saranwrapped sandwich and can of Coke? Really? 

We left the AGO for Spadina Avenue looking for some good Asian cooking.  We ran across the Pho Xe Lua (254 Spadina Avenue, Toronto) which we  had before and enjoy visiting a frequent basis. 

We entered and walked up the stairs where we were greeted and seated immediately. The serving staff brought us tea and picked up our menu order.

The Order: #108 - Pho with rare beef noodles and meatballs, #102 Pho with rare beef and tripe and gobs of tea to wash it all down.

The Pho was exactly like the Pho we normally enjoy at the Pho Xe Lua Vaughan location.  The Pho was excellent beef broth with rare beef and noodles.  My wife's pho, the #102, was just as she had at the Vaughan location. 

The only hiccup was when we asked for the bill.  Like the Vaughan location, we really did not have a designated server, as customers you just wave down any passing waiter or waitress for assistance. 

We inquired with a server who was at the cash machine behind our table for our bill.  He looked mystified as to what we want and inquired where table 61's (our table) bill was punched in. He went to another machine at the kitchen area.  He looked at the screen there and was interupted by another customer who was dropping off payment. Next thing we knew this server was walking to the other end of the restaurant to serve another table. 

We flagged down a waitress who was at the machine.  She printed our bill in less than 15 seconds and handed it to us with a smile on her face like we were her best customers.  

Despite the small hiccup in service I would still recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for Pho and moden vietnamese atmosphere.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Annalisa Asian Fusion a Fusion of Goodness

This past Wednesday my sister, brother and I headed up to Annalisa Asian Fusion Cuisine & Lounge (15171 Yonge Street, Aurora) for some good Asian food.

We entered Annalisa's one of our favourite places to eat in Aurora as it provides something different than the usual pub or Canadian food many places in the Aurora area serve.    

Annalisa's is a little weird in terms of the number of people it serves.  I have been to this restaurant a number of times at various times of day and differing days of the week to find the place with no more of 2 to 4 tables occupied at time.  Wednesday night was no different as we spied 4 tables occupied while we were quickley, yet courteously, seated and our order was taken.

The Order: Special Pho with a glass of Pepsi. All you can eat Sushi and Pad Thai.

Our food came almost together as the waiter made several trips from the kitchen and the sushi bar.  

I had forgotten how to order Pho as normally at my wife's and my usual Pho place I order it without the tripe, so I ended up with the  tripe and almost gagged a couple of times. But that was my mistake and the not the restaurants.  Otherwise the pho was excellent.

My brother had the never ending supply of sushi.  I'm not really one for sushi, but what was being prepared was well presented and, as my brother kept asking for yet another order sheet, the sushi was excellent. 

My sister had the pad thai and didn't seem to quibble over the taste or portion size.

Overall, Annalisa is a great place for those looking for a variety of Asian foods as well as for those in Aurora looking for something different from the usual pub and fast foods.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starbucks Aurora Works for Me

Last Thursday I was off early to Aurora to attend an Aurora Chamber of Commerce Speed Networking event representing where I work.  I arrived in the area early so I thought I would stop off at a local coffee shop. 

Starbucks (2 Orchard Heights Blvd, Aurora) is an internationally well known coffee chain.  This partcular location is a little different as it is located within the St. Andrews Shopping Plaza which is a pedestrian open air plaza that can only accessed by parking the car in the surrounding parking lot and hoofing it into the interior or around the edge of the plaza building.  This allows the for patios and outdoor walkways to exist.  Too bad St. Andrews removed their water feature and replaced it with ongoing gardens, the water did add to the ambience but I guess the cost of filtering and cleaning the man made stream was prohibitive. 

This particular Starbucks would be great in the summer to enjoy an outdoor patio seating with a coffee in hand.  Too bad I was forced to stay inside by old man winter.  But at least there was free Wi-Fi and the usual great tasting, yet overpriced, coffee that Starbucks is known for.   I only needed a coffee at this juncture of my travels,  I was after all expecting breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce of event, so no need to spoil my appetite.

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