Bob Blumer welcomed guests and gawkers to the Drake Hotel Monday night for a tasting menu based on his new show on Food Network, ‘World’s Weirdest Restaurants’ in which Bob travels the world in search of the most unconventional dining experiences. While airing segments of his new show, Bob entertained the crowd, and more importantly, fed them too.
The Drake was packed with foodie fans, excited for the wacky guest of honour, Bob Blumer, who did not disappoint. Waiting for each guest on their table was a clown nose, blindfold and the ever classy roll of toilet paper. Keeping everyone in suspense about the random objects, Bob wore several hats (including a monkey costume) and seamlessly worked the room into a feeding frenzy, whether it was dressed as a monkey serving beer, or dishing out hot curry from an actual toilet bowl.
Each course was a nod to a wacky restaurant from the show, which took Bob all over the world. Inspired by visit to a Kayabuki Tavern, Bob’s recipe for Chicken Karaage was served with sake, Mirren and ginger soy sauce. The chicken was tender and crispy, but the accompanying dip was overly salty. To balance out the saltiness, Bob the Monkey hand delivered pints of Sapporo to the crowd, a not so subtle signal to his experience in Japan, in which a team of monkeys are your underpaid and unhygienic servers.
Second course was based on his trip to NYC, in which Bob dines blindfolded. The theory being senses are heightened and as a result patrons are more adept at picking up things like texture and smell, instead of solely relying on your eyes. On the blindfolds went, and small plates were left for us grapple at blindly. At this point, I fully jammed my chin into what I later found out was a crab cake, which was accompanied by a parmesan crisp atop a tiny mug of beer and broccoli soup. I really enjoyed playing along and guessing ingredients, the broccoli was left mostly intact, but the beer was well concealed in the warm soup. Photo taking was a twitch harder, but it also allowed for some rather inconspicuous shots of our table mates (Dan, I love your Bill Murray shirt by the way).
The next screening was from a trip to Taiwan, in which Bob visits a restaurant called ‘The Modern Toilet`, a restaurant in which food is served in mini porcelain toilets, and guests are encouraged to order a number two (chocolate soft serve ice cream). At this point, a small army of chefs rolled an actual toilet out of the kitchen, and Bob proceeded to dish out piping hot curry to the masses. Now, some may be put off by eating out of a toilet, but diners here were ready for the weird, and noshed on the curry with great enthusiasm. This was by far my favourite dish of the evening, creamy and delicately spiced, the curry was rich and well matched with the braised short rib, thinly sliced steamed potatoes and fresh spinach garnish. Bob introduced another well-known Canadian chef, Vikram Vij (from Vij’s in Vancouver). It was his curry recipe on loan this evening, and although he originally referred to it as a `complete bastardization` of his dish, he relented and was thrilled to be a part of the evening, shaking hands with guests and posing for photos with star-struck foodies.
Last and certainly gimmicky least, we watched as Bob travels to Portland for donuts at Voodoo Donuts, a donut shop hocking mini voodoo donut dolls. Channeling our inner clowns and sporting the flashy red noses our dessert pairing arrived- three mini donuts from Toronto`s Glory Hole donuts, rolled in different flavour variations, cinnamon and sugar, icing sugar and well, bacon sugar?
Bob also let it slip that the talented Executive chef Anthony Rose from the Drake Hotel will be parting ways to cook up his own restaurant venture, I guess we`ll see if it makes the cut for season two of ‘World`s Weirdest Restaurants’.
World`s Weirdest Restaurants airs on Food Network on Wednesdays at 9pm and 9:30pm starting April 4th.