Matahari Bar & Grill for a delightful lunch. It may not have been the best day to sit outside because of the humidity but gladly there was a pleasant breeze that comes by every now and then. Besides, the inside of the restaurant was quite dark and made me feel a little crammed. The ceilings were a bit low and the table she initially directed me to look rather small, add in the darkness made me feel anxious a slightly uncomfortable. Our server was kind enough to let me switch to a table on their patio and it was definitely a much better choice.
While waiting for mu friend to arrive, I sat under our umbrella-tented table. Funny enough, I noticed that right across the restaurant was the same restaurant we went to for Winterlicious, Bodega! In fact, I wouldn’t mind doing bit of a grub crawl of the entire street. Nestled around residential areas occupied by some students and families in one side and commercial buildings in another. Baldwin Street is an oasis for food lovers alike. You can find a variety of restaurants of different cuisines from French, Italian, Japanese, Bistros, or Malay. It shouldn’t necessarily be a surprised because of Toronto’s multicultural identity but I find that this location is different from other parts of the city because it doesn’t feel like you’re in an urbanized city. Walking through the street you will notice old homes adorned with ornate architectural featured amidst establishments. People walking their kids and chatting with their neighbors while a few feet away are groups of diners reading posted menus at the entrance of restaurants. In a big metropolitan city visited by hundreds or even thousands of tourists, sitting at a patio on Baldwin Street made it seem small, no, quaint.
Meanwhile, I should probably mention something about their food right? Matahari is a Malay restaurant. Not to be mistaken for other cuisines influenced by Thailand, Indonesia, India or China, Malay cuisine has their own distinct flavour combinations. They do in fact use curry, coconut milk, and various kinds of chili but they develop different flavours through using different techniques and traditions. For example, as my starter I had the Achar-Achar, which was mixed vegetable pickled and combined with a curry-like sauce. It was a tad spicy and tangy but also had some sweet notes from the pineapple. My main was Sayur Lodeh, which was vegetable curry, and for dessert a scoop of coconut cream ice cream. It was completely accidental that I had a vegetarian meal; actually I think it may even be qualified as vegan! And by far one of my favourite vegan/vegetarian meals. The spices combined with the vegetables heightened the flavours and made it fulfilling. Although, since I’ve noticed that I’m developing quite the sweet tooth, I have to mention the dessert!
Now, I’ve had plenty of coconut ice cream before but not exactly like the one that they offered. It tasted like coconut macaroons! Sweet and creamy with some pieces of coconut shreds finely chopped. They’re fine enough that when you get the ice cream it doesn’t look like there are any shreds combined with it but it does! Like an ice cream should, it’s cold, melts in your mouth, sweet but the coconut macaroon-like after taste hits you a little off guard. It’s such a pleasant surprise! Here’s the unfortunate part of this meal. The food was, the company was great but I would give their service maybe a B- or a C. Our initial female server was friendly, accommodating and overall pleasant. While in between courses another server brought our food and served us. He actually got my friend’s order wrong, so we had to send it back and he wasn’t very approachable. Customer service is an important defining factor to whether or not patrons will go back. And frankly, I was turned-off by this other server so I probably would not be coming back any time soon.