What’s cookin’ good-lookin’?
I’m always posting about fitness and my competition journey and experiences but I went to a really cool restaurant yesterday for the first time in forever: Origin Toronto.
For the record – not to totally copycat Casey’s food blog series – but:
I AM NOT A FOODIE.
Man, hit me with a messy burrito from a hole-in-the-wall or some ribs from like, Shopper’s Drug Mart – hey, sometimes you gotta buy shit for a barbecue on a stat holiday! – and I am a happy blonde.
But I do have an appreciation for that Master Chef-type, solid-presentation-with-a-garnish piece-de-beauté meal.
So I went on a date last night – I know, I know – craaaazy since I’m always being bitter about the manz on Twitter. He suggested Origin – and it’s five minutes from my work and I didn’t want to get all sweaty, so hey, I said it sounded good.
Origin boasts that it is a ‘high energy global food bar that celebrates the diverse cuisines of the world.’
Looked at the menu online, like, a week beforehand because I didn’t want to be that girl who takes 400 years to decide she wants a salad with dressing on the side and could you grill the salmon instead of baking it, please and hold the croutons and add some shredded carrots?
K, I’ve never been that girl, but I’ve been known to take a long time to decide – I can’t help it that everything looks delicious!
So I decided that I would order the “Japanese style tuna salad + asian pear + avocado + spicy ponzu dressing” from the Raw Bar. (They have several different menus: Snacks + Sides, Raw Bar, Mozzarella Bar, Chilled, Hot, Sweet & Brunch.) Since we went for dinner, Brunch was not available, but that’s cool – a girl can only eat so many eggs in one day before she explodes.
Upon arriving, the decor was really fancy – but in a minimalistic, modern, hip new-Toronto way. You could either sit at the kitchen bar watching the chefs cook or they had the standard half-booth table and chair. We ended up sitting at a half-booth which is totally cool – I have eaten at a kitchen bar before at Electric Mud BBQ and it was fun but kind of weird sitting right next to your dining partner – besides I always made fun at these people sitting right next to each other when I worked at a restaurant, so I didn’t want to be a hippo-crit. WHAT IF THEY’RE A LEFTY/RIGHTY AND YOU’RE THE OPPOSITE?! It would be less of a dinner and more of a sword fight.
The first thing I noticed was that the table was really, really cool. It had some shiny silver molten covering under a layer of glass – like a coffee table or a shadow box. And maybe I was nervous – but the chair was really sticky and stuck to the floor making it awkward for me to sit at the table. (Could I be any more awkward and un-graceful?!)
The water was served in a glass carafe that resembled a vintage milk jar that someone would probably buy from Anthropologie for $30, when your grandparents probably have twenty in their basement/you could buy from a yard sale for a dollar. Plus, it was like every time I drank out of my glass – they were refilling it. Talk about stellar service!
(If it wasn’t just water, I’d think they were trying to get me drunk – nope; just keeping me hydrated. So kind and thoughtful for my health and well-being.)
After about 10-15 minutes or so, the server asked if he could take our order and I had decided I would get the Bangkok beef salad + peanut + mint + mango + fried shallot + nam jim dressing from the Chilled menu. My dinner date chose a watermelon + tomato + scallion aioli + crouton (It doesn’t appear on the online menu for some reason – perhaps it’s seasonal?)
I know, I know I changed my mind. I wasn’t really feeling raw tuna. Shocking, I know.
IT WAS SO GOOD.
The beef was flank steak cooked perfectly – kind of pink on the inside which is how I like it! The peanuts were delicious and the bean sprouts made it a complete dish. The nam jim dressing – a crazy smorgasboard for your tastebuds – was sweet, spicy, bitter and a little salty – just like the server had said. My only grievance was that there was cilantro on my dish and if you know me, you know that I think cilantro is the spawn of Satan himself.
And what did I do? I PUT ALL OF IT IN MY MOUTH! I thought it was mint! Ugh – scarring. That was my only grievance for the evening – warn me before you add cilantro on something – that’s all I ask!
/end cilantro rant
The service was fantastic – the servers moved like literal ninjas – filling your water consistently, patiently answering my silly question about nam jim dressing without being condescending (um, do you know what it is?), and coming with the bill quickly but not rushing us. The best part? They didn’t do that annoying checking-up thing where they ask you if the food is good precisely two minutes after you’ve started eating and your mouth is full and/or you haven’t even tried it yet.
I liked Origin, because they had a lot of food that fits my clean-eating lifestyle and the food seemed really fresh and thoughtfully-made: something I have begun to value on the rare occasion that I am able to go to restaurants during training. I love trying local places over big franchises any day.
And another awesome little plus for Origin? When you use their online reservation service, they give you the option of having flowers delivered to the restaurant – how cute is that?! (Probably one of the reasons Origin has been rated a top restaurant in Toronto for getting lucky – allegedly – according to my Toronto foodie extraordinaire friend, Teri.)
Would I recommend this to anyone? Of course I would. It’s local, has fresh and delicious food and has locations in key corners of the city: no one is excluded!
I rate this place three and half non-Anthropologie vintage milk containers out of five.