Address: 60 Yorkville Avenue (inside the Four Seasons Hotel)
Type of Meal: Dinner
After reading the disappointing critic reviews about Café Boulud, my excitement to try the Toronto output of the NYC’s celebrity chef’s restaurant waned. Since they were part of Summerlicious this year, it was the perfect opportunity to try them and the experience was surprisingly wonderful.
Situated in the new Four Seasons Hotel the lobby is opulent and a great improvement from the old Yorkville location. Located on the second floor, Café Boulud’s dining room is much larger than I would have imagined and toned down compared to the hotel. Paintings and artwork adorn the walls and shelves amongst an eclectic mix of “natural” materials such as wood, stone and glass. A mishmash of chairs, some a reminder of ones you’d find in an office, are sprinkled throughout the restaurant. Somehow the hodgepodge of décor works, although a bit busy for my taste.
Alas, it’s really the food that matters and the night started off on a high with the seared Digby scallops. Two large Nova Scotia scallops arrived sitting on a sweet corn succotash and avocado mousse, with a flavourful shrimp chip topping it all off. The scallops had a beautiful caramelized sear on them and were perfectly cooked - warmed and barely cooked throughout. Sadly, what I loved most was the humble sweet corn succotash which was a rich stew of large corn kernals in a buttery sauce. I simply want to slather that over everything – fish, bread, rice, you name it!
The roasted Cumbrae beef was laid out in a beautiful fan topped with a generous dollop of salsa verde. Tender and lightly seasoned, the tenderloin allowed the salsa’s fresh herbs and hint of vinegar and chilies to shine through. Large sticks of fries accompanied the dish making this a great alternative for meat and potato lovers. The fries were amplified with fried salted rosemary which is my new favourite combination for potatoes.
My husband’s Mediterranean daurade (a fish that’s also known as sea bream or orata) was good – the fillet’s skin was crispy and meat flakey – but wasn’t a match for the beef, in my opinion. The boulliabaisse sauce was deliciously thick and deep tasting; almost like having lobster bisque, but without the bisque’s creaminess.
For dessert I opted for the tonka bean sundae, which my patrons agreed was the best of out the three offerings. I loved all the flavours and textures that were in the sundae. The ice cream was maple caramel and had a hint of coffee to it so gave the sundae a deep butterscotch smell. You really need to dig into the bottom of the sundae as sitting on the bottom are pieces of chopped pecans, cubes of brownie and crushed chocolate cookies. Surprisingly, where the tonka beans, the namesake of the sundae, comes in is in the dollop of Chantilly cream topping everything. After some research on Wikipedia, I now realize they are essentially like a vanilla bean. Sadly, not being a whipped cream fan I had scooped it out so really can’t comment on the “tonkaness” of the dessert.
You certainly won’t leave hungry given the respectable dish sizes and a generous bread basket and plate of savoury cheese puffs given before the meal. Unfortunately, I was hungry and dove into the carbs before snapping a picture. If you order the daurade, save a slice of the bread so you can dip it into the delicious sauce.
Overall, my experience with Café Boulud was thankfully much better than the critics. My husband and I agree that we’ll likely return to try out their regular menu where tasty sounding dishes are abound. If you’re looking for a Summerlicious choice, try out Café Boulud. With $45-$55 bottles or a $25 pairing option, now is the perfect time to try out the restaurant at a decent price.
Is Summerlicious worth it?
As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).
Summerlicious - $45
Regular menu - $63 - Scallops* ($16), beef ($36; although on normal menu is a "duo") and sundae* ($11)
Savings - $18 or 29%
* The scallops and sundae aren't on their regular menu; prices based on the octopus appetizer and panna cotta
Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Overall mark - 8 out of 10
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!