DH and I have been on the hunt for a “go to” little Italian restaurant. That restaurant that might not be the best of the best, but you frequent it whenever you are looking for familiarity, comfort, reliability of a good meal and one you can take your friends to.

DH loves Italian food and for most of the time we’ve been together, we’ve always had a little Italian spot we could count on. Over the years, our “go to” spot kept changing due to a decline in quality or maybe because our own tastes have changed.

For a better part of two years now, we haven’t had that “go to” spot. We recently visited Toscana Cafe, and I’m happy to say we’ve found our new little Italian spot.

Toscana Cafe started out exclusively as a wine bar. While the wine bar still exists, it’s since expanded to include a full dining menu, which we really enjoyed.

Taste of Tuscany Sampler Plate
An assortment of our most popular items perfect for sharing. Fresh House-Made Bruschetta, assorted Imported Cheeses, Toscana Mediterranean Dip, Kalamata Olives, assorted Italian Delicatessen Meats and grilled Garlic Crostini

We started the night with this sampler plate because there were so many appetizers I wanted to try and this let me try a lot at once. I thought the sampler plate at Toscana was just alright. I only enjoyed certain elements. I wasn’t a fan of the bruschetta which I thought had far more garlic than traditional bruschetta, but I did enjoy the imported meats and the Mediterranean dip. Next time I think I’ll try ordering one of the appetizers not featured on the sampler plate.

Filet Mignon and Scallops
Pan seared Angus Choice Filet Mignon served with Mushroom Spinach Risotto and Sautéed Fresh Vegetables and drizzled with Red Wine Demi-Glaze reduction

For my main course, I ordered their surf and turf special of the day, which was similar to the filet mignon entree on the regular menu except that there are also seared scallops.  I was really impressed with the quality of the filet mignon. Lately, I’ve been to a lot of restaurants that use a cheaper quality filet mignon, and you can definitely taste the difference. The meat was cooked to a medium rare as requested, and was tender and melt-in-your-mouth.

One of my favorite bites from my French Laundry experience were the gruyère cheese gougères. Gougère is a French cheese pastry puff. The ones we were served at TFL were so tiny, that we all left wanting more.

I was delighted when I saw that the new Bouchon Bakery book includes the recipe for the gougeres served at The French Laundry. I’ve made gougeres before and they weren’t too hard, but they also weren’t as good as the one I had at TFL.

Interestingly, the recipe published in the Bouchon Bakery book is not the same recipe published in the older French Laundry cook book. I guess maybe Thomas Keller has changed his formula.

I was craving pancakes the other day. My favorite pancakes are these sour cream pancakes. The sour cream helps get them so fluffy. But in sticking with trying to lighten things up, I decided to try to make a low fat version of the sour cream pancakes.