But seriously, one other thing that keeps me going back to any restaurant is when the establishment 'keeps it fresh' and by this I mean, you are not eating the same pasta dish for a year because the menu is in a chronic state of paralysis.
And this brings me to Aioli, located in Ellerslie Plaza in Maraval, which is still my fave restaurant. With the lunch menu being revitalised earlier this year, Aioli is keeping it fresh once again. Every time I go, there is something new, and something different for me to try, and I appreciate this, and I bet the Aioli-ites appreciate this as well. It is also a great way to entice new and emerging Aioli-ites and entice they did, when I was invited to join a great gang of foodie types, to try out Chef Johnny's brand new flatbread menu.
The menu was created for the lunch time crowd, those busy corporate types like myself who want a great lunch experience but in half the time; and really, it's perfect for just about anyone who likes great food and anyone who loves a bit of adventure with their food.
The flatbread menu we tried yesterday, which is reasonably priced in my opinion, consisted of:
Margherita - homemade marinara sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh purple and green basil. For those who may still be a bit hesitant, and need a little nudge, a margherita flatbread is a good introduction, until...
Garden Flatbread - zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, Humboldt Fog Cheese, homemade marinara sauce, Villa Manadori Balsamic. I loved this, primarily because the balsamic gave it that something special. For the meat lover like myself, this 'something special' made this veggie option a winner!!
Sardinia - Mozzarella cheese, buffalo mozzarella, micro basil, thinly sliced garlic, homemade marinara sauce, marinated white anchovies. Not much of an anchovy lover, but this was a great little flatbread. For me, the garlic...the garlic...the garlic. This was a wonderful blend of flavours - anchovy meets garlic. Amazing.
Chorizo di Funghi - Baby bella mushrooms, spicy Spanish chorizo, mozzarella cheese, homemade marinara sauce. I love chorizo, so this was bound to be good. Add the baby bella mushrooms and I was a happy flatbreader.
Shrimp and Manchego - Grilled shrimp, mozzarella cheese, Manchego cheese, fresh cilantro, meyer lemon. - Wonderful flatbread for the non-meat eaters, with that lemon zing giving the taste buds a real sucker punch.
Blue Steak Flatbread - Grilled sirloin steak, blue cheese, roasted garlic, caramelised onions. No wonder it's listed last on the menu. This is the king of the flatbreads - a real OMG moment. Seared ever so delicately with a blowtorch, the steak, combined with the blue cheese, with the caramelised onions and the roasted garlic - the highlight of the afternoon. Words cannot describe this epic creation and I loved it, and will hopefully be loving it some more, and then some more again.
And when we thought it could not get better, a special treat, and when I say special, I mean special. As a notorious pork lover, the introduction of the Carolina styled pulled pork on hops, served with a Cajun aioli, cole slaw and breaded and fried ochroes sent the table into a bit of a frenzy. This dish is trininista-certified for awesomeness - a platinum standard for anything pork! While it is actually NOT a menu item, I hope the response will get it on the lunch menu in the very immediate future.
The only bad thing about yesterday is that once again, I had to go back to work after the last morsel was consumed.
Keeping it fresh - that is what it's about. Keeping the experience new every single time. I appreciate that and Aioli continues to do it extremely well. Cheers.