Project:Fish (Toronto)


The bright Scandinavian feeling dining room is perfect for sushi, I like that airy feeling of cleanliness when eating raw ingredients. Even their service has an element of Swedish efficiency and organization, if Ikea ever served sushi, it would be similar to Project:Fish.

Shortly after placing our order for the premium set ($32), a trio of appetizers arrive: warm edamame dusted with pepper rather than salt, Albacore tuna slices dressed in a light citrus soy on a bed of seaweed, and a plain cabbage salad tossed in a what seems like sugar water... the cabbage salad definitely needs an upgrade.


Before you can get through half of the starters, the efficiency kicks in and the platter of sushi arrives. With great memory, our waitress rhymes off every piece and its garnish. It’s like reciting a memorized passage and done so quickly that I retained very little. Consequently, my post will rely on their menu and guessing what the ingredients could be.

I started with the warm pieces of oshi (pressed sushi that’s then topped with sauce and blowtorched). The salmon contained too much of the mayo-based sauce, which is generally the biggest drawback of Project Fish’s oshi – the sheer oiliness that you see pool under each piece. Maybe it has something to do with the timing of placing the sauce (pre vs. post press), but the greasiness really detracts from the rice.


The shrimp oshi worked better given the seafood itself is leaner. While one piece was earthier on account of the mushroom basil mixture, the other was refreshing from the plum paste – this is a nice one to finish off with as it cuts through the oshis’ heaviness.

Project Fish can even consider changing up the sauce combo. For example, with miso topping the mackerel oshi, it worked remarkably well, the salty sweetness cutting through the stronger fish.

As much as I normally enjoyed blowtorched sushi, the traditional pieces were more enjoyable. Some pieces had similar flavour combinations without being pressed: shrimp topped with mushroom basil, but was slightly sweeter due to the shrimp; albacore tuna with the refreshing plum accent; the typical salmon with mayo, but at least it was just a small dollop; and miso again, but this time a little too strong as it was placed on a much milder fish.

The plate would be even better if they had more pieces with brighter and lighter garnishes. Sure, they used plum, but surprisingly negated green onion, ginger, and yuzu, which although are common ingredients works really well with fish. Or even adding more vinegar to the rice and wasabi under the fish would help cut through the richer pieces.

It’s a fairly filling meal as it then ends with a kaisen rice bowl with spicy sashimi (made with various pieces of scrap fish, a great way for reducing waste) and blue crab salad (actually made with real crab). Overall, the bowl was too sweet for my taste. Perhaps they meant for this to be dessert, but I would prefer it to end on a stronger savoury element: element the sugar from the crab salad, make the spicy sashimi actually have some heat, and skip all the sweet diced pieces of tamago and just have on piece on the top.


Also, maybe the Ikea-like efficiency isn’t always the greatest idea, as it does detract from the experience. Aside from waiting until people are done with their appetizers to serve the main course, Project Fish should consider plating the sushi and oshi separately to draw out the meal – consequently, it may help ensure the oshi arrives warmer. Regardless, their reasonable pricing for fairly good sushi is a big draw. In any case, efficiency does have its perks.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 16 Park Home Avenue

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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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Project:Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mayrik (Toronto)


While downtown Toronto is filled with the O.G., new trendy, and fancy restaurants; and Scarborough, Mississauga, and Brampton are home to very authentic eateries; mid-town Toronto melds the two together to form a collection of restaurants that draws on traditions, but adds an element of familiarity as well. In no way is this comment meant to be a disparaging remark: mid-town restaurants offer a safe space to try different cuisines without feeling uneducated.

I’ll fully admit my experience with Middle Eastern food is still in the elementary stages. Since it essentially encapsulates Arab, Persian, Jewish, and Turkish food (to name a few), there’s a wide array of flavours, ingredients, and dishes to taste.

Mayrik serves Armenian dishes that are inspired by Chef Sebouh Yacoubian’s maternal kitchen, but updated with his own flair. For example, octopus ($32) isn’t something that you normally find on Armenian menus, but Mayrik prepares it excellently, on account of Chef Yacoubian’s lineage with the Greek Mamakas Tavern. It’s tender enough that a dinner knife slides through easily and grilled lovingly so the seafood develops a smokiness and the tendrils become crispy.


Both meaty and delicate, the octopus is simply seasoned, but add some of the mild harra sauce and it gets even better. Sitting on a bed of eech, a bulgur wheat salad, I can’t say it really compliments the octopus, but I guess isn’t a terrible choice either. The eech just seems to be missing something – more salt and even some of the tabouli would be nice.

The babaghanoush ($8) is the healthiest and freshest version I’ve ever tasted, the base merely well-roasted eggplant with a splash of olive oil and seasoning. Topped with a tabouli that’s equal parts parsley and bell peppers with a light splash of lemon, it helps to give the dish some crunch and freshness. The pink ribbons is a date tahini adding an element of sweetness while the pine nuts fairly neutral creating something to chew on.


Each dip arrives with two toasted pitas that are freshly prepared and hot – be careful when pulling these babies apart. The bread really hits the spot and would be even better if some of the dried parsley is substituted with salt.

Surprisingly, it’s the humble shawarma ($26) that elicit the most excitement at the table. A stunning affair with another hot fresh pita (thinner and more toasted) that’s topped with decadently oily and tender pulled lamb neck … make sure you have a piece of the meat solo before adding any accompaniments… it’s so good.


Mayrik keeps the condiments separate so you decide how much chimmichurri, pickled red onions with sumac, tahini, and pickles to include in the shawarma. My husband was able to add tahini to his heart’s content while I loaded up on onion and pickles, which I found help cut through the lamb’s richness.


Sharing is essential and this dish is fairly heavy. The lamb neck is loaded with oil, so although it can get messy, I suggest picking up the wrap and eating it taco style so the oil can drain out the other end. At least a tablespoon was left on the plate after I finished my half.

Plus, you need to save room for the kunefe ($16). The dessert consists of fine semolina dough baked with cheese and some custard creating a cross between a flan, cheesecake, and gooey cheese all melted into a pan of deliciousness. It’s certainly sweet owing to the brown sugar topping and the orange syrup that gets poured at the table. It’s rich enough to share amongst a table of four; a quarter is all you really need.


The other great thing about dining midtown is the calmer pace. Especially on weekdays when people just seem to have more time and there’s no reminder that meals can only last for two hours. At Mayrik, our waitress was helpful, in particular helping to navigate through the Greek wines, which I’m also inexperienced with. It’s my chance immerse myself in a new cuisine, without feeling like a dunce.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1580 Bayview Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Mayrik Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Soos (Toronto)


Not everything at Soos will taste like traditional Malaysian food. But then, they’re not trying to feed you typical dishes. Instead, Soos aims to use Malaysian flavours and ingredients in a modern manner, bringing street food to a restaurant environment.

Malaysians are known for their curries, which tends to be eaten as a snack rather than a main course. It’s thinner but still filled with tons of spices and flavours, milder than Indian curries and contains less coconut than Thai.

The curry accompanying Soos roti ($9) uses a base of dhal (a yellow lentil curry) and tops it with crispy fried curry leaf for some extra zing. But, what makes this starter incredible is the hot, fluffy and flakey roti that arrives with it. The lovely toasted airiness makes it so good I could eat it plain and these are truthfully the best roti I’ve ever had. If you’re sharing, one is not enough… get an extra roti for $2.


Meanwhile, the pork belly pancakes ($13) is so rich and decadent that an order can even be shared amongst four people. A thick slab of pork belly, covered in a thick sticky sweet and vinegary soy, is well rendered so the layers of lard aren’t too dense. Yet, it doesn’t just melt-in-your-mouth either – as you bite into it there’s still a chewiness that allows you to savour the flavours.


The crispy taro root pancake the pork belly sits on is fairly delicate, the root vegetable made into a batter rather than the slivers used in “bird’s nest” type dishes. So while the pancake is crispy, there’s still a soft chewiness in the centre. Although enjoyable, the dish could really use something fresh on the side, the small bit of scallions on top isn’t enough.

Something like the prosperity tossed slaw ($16) could work. I don’t generally love salad, but their slaw has some serious flavours and textures. Made with over 20 ingredients there’s refreshing, crunchy, savoury, sweet, and spicy elements all melded into one. There’s also a restraint to their yuzu plum dressing, which adds acidity but doesn’t render the slaw too tangy. Instead, it leaves a savoury taste to the salad.


The dish I’ve ordered on multiple occasions is their laksa ($18). While it normally contains chicken and prawn, Soos can transform it into a vegetarian version by adding extra tofu puffs (great for soaking up the hot and spicy curry broth) and more vegetables - the crunchy leafy gai lan and meaty oyster mushrooms are a great combination in lieu of meat. And really, the laksa is really all about the aromatic spicy coconut broth. Don’t let a drop go to waste … in hindsight, it would be perfect for dipping. Reminder to self: get an order of roti with the laska.


As an aside for vegetarians: while Soos already has a selection of meatless items, if you visit on Tuesday and Wednesday (previously Monday), their sister restaurant Fat Choi offers an entirely plant-based menu.

In general, their noodles are tasty. The char kway teow ($17) spends plenty of time in the wok, the flat rice noodles tossed with soy and their house-made sambal chili sauce so it develops tons of flavour and emits a heavenly smell. The dish is finished with egg, chives, and crunchy bean sprouts all topped with four massive tiger prawns. Even though the noodles are spicy already, Soos provides more of the sambal on the side for those who can really handle the spice. If you don’t use this on the char kway teow save it for the other dishes. Love the sauce? You can even get a jar to go ($11).


A bit of sambal works really well with the rendang beef short ribs ($28) since the heat helps to cut through the richness of the meat. While the rendang curry is blended with spices and Asian aromatics (ginger and garlic), it’s not a spicy sauce. The short rib, like the pork belly, is tender but not braised to the point that it’s melting away, there’s a slightly chewy consistency that allows you to taste the beef.


I just wish the dish had more curry to go with all the jasmine rice and roti. Oh, and of course, you’ll want an extra order of roti to wrap around the beefy short ribs so order it at the beginning or wait the eight minutes (you’ll need the breather).

After all of Soos flavourful and filling dishes, if you’re still hungry, the pisang goreng ($10) is a decent dessert. After all, what’s more Malaysian than deep fried bananas? It’s a surprisingly sweet dessert for an Asian restaurant – the combination of burnt toffee ice cream and candied nuts may be too much. With the ice cream being so sweet, the nuts could simply be toasted. Better yet, a more neutral flavour ice cream (like coconut) would be an ideal choice and leave more of the banana flavours intact.


But then, you don’t come to Soos if you want tepid tasting dishes. Their menu is designed to bombard your taste buds with flavour! And through all the dips, broths, and sauces, the most important side kick is… of course … an extra order of roti. Just get it.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 94 Ossington Avenue 

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Soos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Quetzal (Toronto)


Quetzal certainly looks and feels different compared to other Mexican restaurants. The dining room is white and sleek and there’s no images of skulls or Frida Kahlo anywhere, they’re bringing an upscale flair to Mexican cuisine.

Things haven’t gone so smoothly since its opening on August 2018. The restaurant had to temporarily close down in January when two of their chefs and co-owners quit, citing they felt overworked.  Chef Grant van Gameren stepped in and after adjusting the menu (so long, nine types of salsa) things are simpler but still relies heavily on the 26-foot wood-fired grill. They also stopped serving bugs and grubs (you heard right), with the exception of crickets found in their dessert (more on that later).

While some establishments serve complimentary salsa and chips, at Quetzal their amuse bouche is a tostada adorned with spiced salmon and guacamole. It gives you a taste of things to come - fresh neutral ingredients combined together to provide flavour, but nothing tastes overly harsh (any use of lime and cilantro is restrained).


The kanpachi tiradito ($21) is absolutely delicious. The fish is first grilled so the skin has a slight crispiness and a mellow smokiness that hangs in the distance. Yet, the flesh remains raw and after sitting in the light acid sauce starts to break up so it’s even tenderer than typical sushi.


Nonetheless, it’s a dish I’m torn about. Sure, it tastes great but when you’re visiting to experience bright Mexican flavours, you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with something that tastes like tataki. Perhaps it’s where this dish sits on the menu, under ceviche, when this is noticeably not ceviche. The flavours are rather neutral sitting in a liquid that’s not overly tangy and merely adorned with chili oil and micro greens. Delicious, but not Mexican.

Luckily, the memelas ($16) that followed has the traditional tastes. Blue corn masa tortillas are freshly pressed and toasted so they emit such a lovely aroma when mixed with the cheese and morels. It is dishes like this that reaffirms why I love sitting at the Chef’s table … the aroma, at its peak strength, may only last a minute so you want to be sitting close by.


Covered onto the masa are asiento (a thin layer of pork lard) and plenty of quesillo cheese so they form an almost squeaky cheese curd layer. It sounds like it’d be heavy, but with the plump morels and dollops of refreshing salsa cruda everything works nicely together. Just don’t bother eating it with a knife and fork – it’s difficult to cut through – hand-to-mouth is definitely the way to go.


Almost all the mains are cooked on the wood-fire grill. The whole grilled sea bream ($58) was an excellent suggestion from the chef near our seats (consequently, he’s also the one preparing it so we had an excellent view of our meal being created). Our waiter’s suggestion of adding on an order of tortillas ($2.75 for six pieces) was another smart suggestion as it helped make tasty fish tacos.


The sea bream is butterflied, deboned, marinated with salsa roja (a slightly spicy red sauce), and then grilled over the fire so the skin get crispy and the meat retains a lovely smokiness. On arrival, the fish is moist and tender, but because the plate is heated, starts to become overcooked halfway through the dish. Indeed, the heated plate helps ensure the fish stays warm until it’s served, but perhaps provide bigger sharing plates and suggest to customers that they move it onto these dishes, if they’d like the fish less done.

Having had the fish by itself and sandwiched inside warm soft tortillas, both work and taste delicious. However, since the tortillas are rather plain, I had to really layer on the salsa verde to give it flavour, so an extra dish of the condiment is required if customers pair the sea bream with tortillas. In fact, I wish there was the option to purchase an order of pico de gallo to add to the experience.


Quetzal’s dessert menu is sparse: with only two options, I almost wanted to call it quits and find something elsewhere. However, the helado de hoja de aguacate ($11) sounded so interesting that we had to taste it once.

You really need to dig straight through to the bottom to get a bit of the avocado leaf ice cream, chamomile and tropical fruit espuma, cocao nibs, and of course one of the candied crickets. It’s a dessert that reminded me of a margarita – there’s sweet citrus flavours that ends with a salty finish. As a person who only occasionally enjoys salty and sweet combinations, it really wasn’t something I warmed to.


And the candied crickets? If you don’t think about it, they’re really just crunchy bits in the ice cream. As soon as I saw a leg, my stomach turned and I could only manage it get down two of them. My previous statement that eating bugs should be left to Fear Factor contestants remains.

Quetzal’s service really excels compared to Grant van Gameren’s other restaurants. We were appropriately brought to an ideal spot at the Chef’s table: closest to the centre of the restaurant so I could still see what’s happening elsewhere and right by the fire but not under the drafty venting system. The experience was much better than the terrible encounter at Bar Isabel. Moreover, the Chef manning the fish and meat station immediately started speaking to us – offering suggestions on what to order, so there wasn’t that period of awkwardness when I wondered if I should ask questions.

For those who are really stuck on what to order, you can even ask the waiter to put together a customized tasting menu. In retrospect, that may have been a smart idea as he would have likely steered me towards a more traditional ceviche and away from the crickets.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 419 College Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Quetzal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yukashi Japanese Cuisine (Toronto)


In my youth, all-you-can-eat and chicken teriyaki was what came to mind when thinking of Japanese cuisine. Boy, have things changed. Now, the word that I associate with Japanese food is omakase – the concept of leaving it to the Chef to decide what to eat.

Generally, omakase menus aren’t the most wallet friendly. At Yukashi, while still pricey, they attempt to cater to different price points with 4-course ($75), 9-course ($150), and the one-week advanced notice Yukashi menu ($300+). There’s even a la carte options for those who don’t want to leave their taste buds to chance.


Eight stools flank the bar and kitchen area. These seats around the chef’s table are definitely the ones to try to reserve. Dinner starts with Chef Daisuke Izutsu grating wasabi, a noiseless affair until he breaks the silence and tells us we’re being too quiet. He gets us chatting and warmed up by passing around a miniature version of the grater so we can try to guess what it’s made from (inside out shark skin, if you want to sound knowledgeable).

Meanwhile, Chef Jin Lee tinkers in the kitchen. He doesn’t speak to the group, but is coordinating the staff within to make sure the hot dishes arrive at a well-timed pace.  Like the warm deep-fried sesame tofu appetizer that has a chewy soft consistency like mochi, but nutty and savoury. Flavoured with a thick fish sauce, it’s then topped with yuzu zest and wasabi to give it a fresh element.


Their “soup” course is actually a hearty chawanmushi, the egg custard surrounding slices of charred mochi and sweet clams so you’re greeted with different flavours with every bite. The pea sauce covering everything was a nice spring element but could be saltier, especially when the crab paste dumpling was also fairly neutral. Nonetheless, it was a tasty dish.


If you’ve been to other omakase restaurants in Toronto, generally sashimi and sushi will follow to finish off the menu. At Yukashi, they serve kaiseki cuisine so while you receive raw fish, there’s not an ounce of grain accompanying it. Kaiseki strives to use seasonal ingredients to create dishes with different textures and also highlights its natural flavours. Above all, it’s recognized for beautiful plating where an ingredient’s colours are used to create dishes that could be considered an art form.


The otsukuri embodied the concept perfectly where an array of fishes were dotted across the plate and combined with painstakingly slivered and twirled garnishes. While it comes with a dish of sweet soy, there’s also ground salt, yuzu zest, juicy seeds (to calm down the soy’s saltiness), and a host of other items to flavour the seafood.

Three fish are included: the famed otoro or cubes of fatty tuna that’s best described as sushi butter; a chewy red snapper; and the most interesting addition… smoked yellow tail. Cooked over a warayaki stove that uses smouldering straw, the yellow tail smells like a cigarette butt and even tastes a little like tobacco. While the flavours can be a bit overpowering (try it last), it’s really different from other fishes offered. In lieu of ginger, there are potato stems that have a juicy spongy texture and acts as a palette cleanser.


After having the otoro, their signature dish pushed my richness quotient to its limit. The uni niku starts with slices of Mizayaki wagyu: one that’s fattier so it simply melts and a relatively leaner slice that’s more flavourful. If it weren’t enough, the wagyu is then topped with uni (the creamy insides of a sea urchin) and foie gras. It all gets a good torching so that the fats heat up and meld together. Then try your best to wrap the glistening tower inside half a shiso leaf, and eat.


Chef Izutsu notes he got the idea for the signature dish when thinking of something that would have decadent elements that work together or alone. Indeed, it smelled amazing and if you like really really rich items you’re in for a treat. I’m glad there were only two slices … anymore and I’m not sure my stomach could handle all that fat. 

After having the sashimi platter, I thought we already had the “fish dish”, but then another intricately assembled seafood platter arrives, even prettier than the otsukuri. They call this the harvest plate and there’s so much to taste and discover: a cold seafood medley that’s almost like a ceviche except flavoured with a cherry blossom and sake (?) foam; marinated shrimp; roasted fish; deep fried bamboo shoot; lotus root; and skinned tomato. It’s certainly gorgeous to look at, but merely tastes okay as each element had to be prepared ahead of time so isn’t at its peak.


Between the seafood and meat dish, the chef serves the amuse bouche - monk fish liver with pickled radish. While it looks like it would be another heavy item, the pickled radish helped to balance the warm liver that tasted like a lighter foie gras. A good bridging bite.


In seeing the meat dish, I had high hopes that it would be amazing. Something that contains sakura sticky rice, duck, and egg yolk butter… what?! In reality, it sounds better than it tastes. We’re instructed to “break” the egg yolk butter into everything and mix it up. I abstained and broke off pieces and mixed it in every bite. This was a good call as the yolk really didn’t taste like much and the oiliness would have been too much. Meanwhile, although the duck had nice flavours and was tender, I was a bit disappointed that it was so cooked through that the texture resembled beef.


While you usually think of tempura as items dunked in a thick batter, at Yukashi it’s an intricate roll made from tile fish, shrimp, tofu skin and shiso. While it’s deep fried, it’s not battered so you end up with a relatively light dish, especially with the fruit sauce that accompanies it. Although I was expecting something savoury and crunchy, in hindsight, after all the heavier dishes proceeding the tempura, it was nice to have something delicate. 


Likely the simplest dish of the evening, the rice and dashi soup was also my favourite. I really needed that umami-filled hot broth that when mixed with the rice created a congee-like bowl. Restrained elements of kelp, seaweed and salmon roe kept it hearty and humble. I could have used another bowl.


In preparation for dessert, Chef Izutsu brings out what looks like a large cantaloupe. After breaking through the rough exterior, the fruit is pale green, a shade lighter than honeydew. I had my doubts … fruit for dessert? How boring. But then, I’ve never heard of a muskmelon.


Yukashi flies them in from the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, where these fruits are so coveted that people wait for hours and pay upwards of ¥16,000 (or about $200 Canadian dollars) a fruit! They command this price as all the small buds are removed at the beginning of the season so that each vine only grows one melon. All the nutrients and resources are directed into one fruit to create the juiciest and sweetest melon I’ve ever had … so maybe melon is better than red bean mochi ice cream.

Back to why I think scoring one of the eight seats around the chef’s table is important – it’s all about the experience. There are some delicious dishes at Yukashi, but there are also others that are pretty to look at but tastes satisfactory. So, what really made the night a success was being able to chat with Chef Izutsu. 


While prepping he’s serious and zoned in. Afterwards, a playful side comes out and he loves to chat (if you’re a chef, let him know as he’ll want to visit your restaurant). It's also a shared event with the other guests sitting around the bar – whether it’s seeing their reaction to dishes or eavesdropping on their conversation with the Chef. The experience is why omakase is now a phrase that elicit excitement for me. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 643A Mount Pleasant Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Arthur's Restaurant (Toronto)

One of my pet peeves is when restaurants present a terrible table despite me having a long-standing reservation. Because of this, my first impression of Arthur’s was already soured as after placing a reservation 3-weeks prior, I wasn’t lead into the dining room, instead seated in a booth beside the bar where it was noisy and chaotic as staff members picked up drinks and entered/exited the bar. In my books, bar seating should be held for walk-ins or those who specifically request it.

To make matters worse, the table hadn’t been cleaned since the last guests vacated so water rings and small sticky spots were still visible upon seating. And despite its proximity to alcohol, there wasn’t even a wine list presented. Let’s just say Arthur’s isn’t good at making first impressions.

While both our appetizers were essentially fish spreads, in reality they tasted very different. Immediately, in catching a whiff of the smokiness from the smoked fish spread ($16.95), I was drawn to it. And if it weren’t so salty, this could have been a great dish – there were ample chunks of fish, the spread had a great consistency, and the pickled onion garnish a great compliment.


Maybe if they provided more everything bagel chips the ratio of spread to bread would have been better, rendering the dish less salty. As it stood, even after loading up the crackers we didn’t get through half the dip.

Adding other items to put the spread on would also be smart as I found the smoked fish worked better with the gem lettuce leaves that accompanied the tuna tartare ($22.95) as it helped calm down the over seasoned spread. Meanwhile, the fresh but relatively mild tartare benefited from being accompanied by the bagel chips, which were saltier and added a crunch against the soft tartare.


Having had two seafood appetizers, meats were in store for the mains. The cheeseburger ($20.95) was done medium and a nice combination of the traditional garnishes. While it’s a decent burger, the beef patty was too dense (I prefer my burgers releasing a bit of juice and fat on bite) and the bun wasn’t the freshest.


The pastrami on rye ($22.05) is so heavy that you really don’t need any of the additional condiments. The bread is dipped in butter and grilled before sandwiching hefty slices of pastrami. I can see where the chef was going with the creation – pairing crispy oily bread against the relatively lean meat. But, being so oily makes it difficult to move between sandwich and wine glass (a warm wet towel may help keep the mess at bay). Plus, the greasiness and extra calories really didn’t add to the experience of the sandwich.


Having been to so many of the other Chase Hospitality Group’s restaurants (Chase, Planta, Kasa Moto), Arthur’s was by far the worst experience. Poor hosting choices and a dirty table aside, being seated at the bar also meant service was lackluster and we had to flag down servers on their way to the bar to place orders and get our bill.

If Chase thinks having less competition Midtown means they can throw pretty paint on a dining room (but not seat everyone in it) and call themselves a restaurant, there are tons of better options even within the same building (Cava for one). The only saving grace for the evening was the great conversations and companionship at the table. Arthur’s itself didn’t impress.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 12 St. Clair Avenue East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Arthur's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato