Few and far between are situations that I can claim FOMO for; as opposed to converging a pack and following the same sequence of actions as others would adhere to during their stay, I tend to enjoy investigating the reasons for their visits much more.
Shops at Don Mills isn't a tremendously large space, yet it has appeared over and over again on my feeds, revealing romatic streams of bulb lights during dusk and vibrant umbrella arrangements on spring days. A solid four to six weeks have passed since I first pestered a friend to accompany (read: act as my chauffeur), but conflicting schedules and a potential overseas move halted this.
Majority of the nearby neighbourhoods were residential according to Google, so we decided to explore the lunch options inside the plaza once a parking spot was secured. When JOEY was ruled out for high occupancy levels, we made a beeline for Taylors Landing across the street.
Conveniently located outside the central square of Shops, the restaurant was a part of The Landing Group Bar Grill Hub chain, with a certain Taylor (or Taylors?) possessing ownership of the franchise.
The patio was closed due to heavy rain and medium-high winds, but there remained an abundance of seating inside. Such spots ranged from bar stools for prolonged conversations with the bartender (or drinking company), booths for intimate gatherings, and communal tables for large parties.
Our server, who appeared shortly after we were seated by the hostess, was an awfully friendly entity whose ability to offer informed recommendations, answer acute questions, and maintain smooth flow of conversation impressed me as much as it stunned me. He was a talkative soul with a bounty of knowledge and experience. It seemed apparent that he had resided with the Taylors Landing team since the beginning, which consequently paved the way for carrying conversations with ease and providing sufficient detail regarding menu items and kitchen operations. (Names have been omitted for privacy purposes, but the first letter is interchangeable with one of the aforementioned descriptions.)
Perhaps the crowds had been deterred by the grey skies, or perhaps it was the second-last day of long weekend, but the environment wasn't very busy. This was likely the reason why our server was able to thoroughly provide answers to my questions and even step aside from his regular duties to assist in napkin-holding (ie. light-reflecting). Regardless, these actions were commendable and left a lasting impression on me. I was aware that the scenario would have undoubtedly changed in a busier atmosphere.
Protein in the form of deep fried chicken was crunchy, flavourful, and, most importantly, tender. The surface of the waffles and bottom side of chicken were also glazed with a thin, syrup-like substance, contributing to the ever-coveted sweet-savoury combination. With the exception of the mushy sauce, the item was one of the more proper chicken and waffles that I had tasted. Full points would have been rewarded for a citrus- or floral-based condiment and if the overall composition was a little less satiating.
I must confess: the sandwich was incorrectly named, for it possessed no hints of citrus and only sported herbs in the form of pesto smeared atop a rigid slab of chicken breast. Chipotle aioli added a jazzy touch to the club sandwich's components, but not enough to camouflage the toughness of the lean white meat. Despite this, I still savoured every last bite of the dish - tastiness had not been compromised in the other aspects, after all.
Cocktails were avoided for the sake of driving, even though the suggestion definitely crossed my mind when we noticed the heavy pour taking place on the other side of the window.
Taylors Landing was a phenomenal experience that was well-justified in terms of quality, atmosphere, and service. I had originally expected higher price points for prime sustenance coordinates, but the generous portion sizes and complexity of flavours brought about surprise in addition to an elevated amount of joy.
We braved the weather instead, and chose to swiftly hop from one retailer to the next with hoods and caps over our heads.
It was much appreciated that our reservation could be postponed by to allow for travel time and parking.
It hadn't taken much effort to review the sticky one-sided menu easily before sundown, but as the sky dimmed to a boundless bistered blue, we relied on smartphone flashlights to examine the items placed before us.
A table that was seated approximately an hour or two after us depended strictly on the flashlight in order to read the menu.
Washrooms utilized the typical mass-produced pink soap, which seriously stripped hands of hydration. Facilities were maintained within the minimum degree.
Contrary to the image we had initially conjured, both plates were ridiculously small, containing the bare minimum quantity specified by its menu description. A second Seafood Trio was ordered to compensate. It made me wonder how mortals with extravagant stomach spaces would order at the establishment.
Adjacent to the tuna was solid slice of crostini with whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon, and pickled onions (in place of capers?). The dish was rather standard and utilized the same base as the complimentary bread basket.
I did not try the prawn cocktail and thus cannot comment.
Entrees arrived within fifteen to twenty minutes of appetizers being cleared away. All of them, with the exception of pasta, were presented in a similar fashion: with a haphazardly ladled strip of thickened coconut curry sauce and long grain white rice with lentils or plain roasted potatoes. Yellow baby potatoes were wrinkly and cooked to just pierce-able consistency; its soft and warm interior made it the more superior choice to rice.
The entrees also included an incredibly depressing slice of sweet potato with a confused profile of saltiness and abominable toughness. Steak knives not present either. I attempted to saw through the poorly prepared root vegetable with little luck, almost elbowing my neighbour for the sake of obtaining a bite of the dark orange matter. Steamed vegetables were average at best, though it would require incredible skill to damage a standard side element.
Impossibly rich cream sauce and a teaspoon of Parmasan topped off the concoction, much to my dismay.
I failed to perceive the advertised Kahlua in the Chocolate Mousse Cake, but admitted to its rich, decadent Swiss chocolate body. However, the dessert could have easily done without the needlessly thick, rigid crust; the bottom-most layer of compressed chocolate graham crackers could not be pierced even with several spoons pressed laterally at full force. This was an indication of over-chilling or an exorbitance of butter/lard in the mixture.
Overall, the cake lacked balance in composition proportions and wasn't as airy as typicala mousse formations. Moreoever, the evident use of heavy cream was a tad off-putting. The final product bore a stronger resemblance to cheesecake than mousse, which was still delicious but in dire need of tweaking.
The circular specimen was portioned into slices roughly 1 centimetre in thickness, which gained share-ability but dropped its aesthetic value. The smaller pieces were also more susceptible to melting, later filling the plate with a Chapman's like puddle of sugar-laden, full-fat milk. Although it is uncertain whether cream had indeed been swapped for the more economic variety of dairy, it can be deduced that the outer chocolate layer wasn't nearly as satisfying as the Chocolate Mousse Cake. The raspberry sorbet core was refreshing, albeit a tad high in terms of added sugar.