A disappointing first dinner at Raw Aura
Rewind again to Friday, June 10, 2011…
After crossing the border into Canada, and only making one stop on our drive (at a winery for free samples!), we went straight to Raw Aura in Mississauga, Ontario for dinner. My Facebook and Twitter friend Doug McNish used to be the head chef there, so I’ve heard a lot about the place and was quite excited to eat there. Unfortunately, as you’ll see, it wasn’t everything I’d hope it’d be.
Matt and I ordered the Cinnamon Toast Crunch smoothie to start: almond butter, dates, banana, cinnamon, and maca. On one hand, it was truly uncanny just how much this tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal—the flavor was spot on. On the other hand, however, the smoothie was room temperature. I don’t know about you, but I like my smoothies cold. Even if they didn’t have the ingredients chilled, I’m really not sure why they didn’t blend in some ice or something. The off-putting temperature brought this otherwise-yummy smoothie down a few pegs.
For our appetizer, we got the Avo Tartare: chunky avocados tossed with shiitake mushrooms, green onions, hempseeds, and tomatoes in a lemon-herb sauce, served with pumpkin seed flatbread. This was the best dish we had all night. The tartare was delicious, although I avoided the smoky-tasting mushroom bits (I’m just not a fan of smoky stuff). The breadsticks were good too, very crunchy…almost too crunchy, though. I would’ve preferred them a little thinner and easier to bite through.
For his main dish, Matt ordered the Burstin’ Burrito, which looked quite promising…
…however, I’m sad to say, Matt didn’t like it one bit. The pumpkin seed taco “meat” was low on flavor and also very bitter. The wrap itself was unremarkable. And he almost couldn’t stomach the cashew sour cream—something about it made him downright queasy. The kitchen even remade it for him without the cream (which was very cool of them to do), but he still couldn’t eat much of it.
My meal also looked and sounded promising: Sweet & Sour Noodles, a mix of kelp and zucchini noodles tossed in an almond butter-maca sauce with red pepper, cilantro, romaine lettuce, red onions, and spiced almond bits.
Doesn’t that sound good? It did to me, which is why I was so dismayed by the outright lack of flavor in the sauce. It was just straight creaminess—I couldn’t taste almond butter OR maca in it, and it was extremely underseasoned. On top of that, the noodles and scant veggies were nearly swimming in the sauce, too much so for my taste.
We hoped some selections from the dessert case would redeem the meal…
…but our first pick, the Coconut Cream Pie, did not.
The flavor was so faint, I couldn’t make out any coconut at all. It was also far more icy than it was creamy—in the end, more like a barely-sweetened ice pop than a slice of ice cream pie.
Our other dessert, the Chocolate Mint Ganache, finally offered us some flavor. The minty center was almost as “fudgy” as the chocolate ganache on top, in a good way. Even though it was not very cold (I would’ve liked it more chilled), it was properly sweetened, and we enjoyed it overall.
On the upside, the service was great, and the restaurant itself was very cute and cozy. I’m not trying to trash-talk Raw Aura at all here—I’m just giving my honest opinions of what we found to be a disappointing meal. I’m really not that hard to please when it comes to restaurant meals, so it truly surprised me that I disliked this one. Many of the “problems” are easily fixable, too: more salt, more sweetener, more ice, more flavor. I give them full benefit of the doubt, though—in all likelihood, they were just having an “off day.”
QUESTION: Have you ever eaten at a much-hyped restaurant, only to be underwhelmed by the meal?