CLOSED: Four Restaurant (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 187 Bay Street (Commerce Court, Concourse level)
Type of Meal: Dinner

Despite Four's convenient location to work, it's been a year since my last meal, so my coworkers and I decided to head there after work. After we got over the disappointment of the end to $4.44 weeknight martinis, we decided to stay for some wine and dinner.

Four's atmosphere is like many Financial District restaurants - dim lighting, high top tables, leather chairs and open concept so you can see who you know there.  Also like many establishments, Four's new cocktail menu has also moved away from the fruity martini cocktails and has done a throwback to the old fashioned cocktails filled with bitters and non-vodka based spirits.

If you haven't heard of Four before, their claim to fame is each dish is 650 calories or less. Sounds great at first, but after eating an appetizer, main and dessert - 650 calories can really start adding up!
Their new menu consists of 50% tried and true favourites and 50% new items. We decided to order a mix of tapas to start:
  • Soft shell baja fish taco ($10) - a sizeable portion of fish accompanies each taco but the flavour itself is bland. The fish, appears to be baked, would have benefited from being cooked on the grill to add a smokier taste. The tacos were in need of more pico de gallo and jalapeno crema to flavour the plain fish and tortillas. Even some chopped fresh cilantro would have been a good low calorie alternative to adding a bit of texture and flavour to the dish.

  • Salt cod fritters ($8.50) - thankfully, this dish was more flavourful after having the fish taco, but perhaps too salty given the combination of salt cod and chorizo. Mixed predominantly with potato (rather than in dough mixture) and baked (rather than fried) made the fritters resemble salty tater tots to hot crisp fritters. This was my least favourite of the tapas.

  • Prosciutto flatbread ($10?) - Although the dough was a bit thick compared to most flatbreads, I liked it. Similar to a crispy thick pizza dough, it was warm, had a nice airy texture and well-seasoned. The toppings, however, was an interesting combination - prosciutto with blue cheese. The flavours didn't compliment well given the blue cheese sauce pretty much overpowered everything. I seem to recall a few arugula leaves sprinkled on the flatbread. Perhaps, the dish would have benefited with a bigger handful of arugula to cut through the heaviness of the cheese.

As my main, I opted for the halibut ($22.50), which sadly was another disappointment. The fish was overcooked so that the flakiness of your typical halibut was ruined. It sat on a roasted humitas which resembled a thin baked cornmeal pancake - also bland and could have benefited from some chopped fresh herbs or jalapeno mixed into the batter. Perhaps, the worse combination with the dish was the tomato tortilla slaw - literally strips of baked tortilla strips sprinkled over the fish. Given the fish and roasted humitas was so dry already, the dish needed something fresh, juicy and flavourful; tortilla strips did not achieve this.

My coworkers seemed to have chosen the better dishes, based on the piece of protein I tried from each:

  • Thai roasted chicken breast ($18), was the best of the bunch. The chicken was flavourful and tender from the coconut lime broth accompanying the dish. It the restaurant wasn't so health conscious some crusty bread to soak up the broth would have been amazing.

  • Jail island salmon ($20), a dish from their old menu which is like any typical salmon. Unlike my halibut it wasn't quite as overcooked.

  • Grilled beef tenderloin ($25) was cooked well, tender and the beet sauce paired well with the beef.

To cap off the meal we each picked a shooter sized dessert ($2.50) - chocolate mint, tiramisu, cherry cheesecake and one other flavour. The tiramisu was drier compared to my previous experiences, but overall the desserts were good enough to satisfy our sweet tooth without being heavy.

The service was average, everyone was very attentive for the key moments (drink order, food order and bringing the bill), but, when it came to refilling wine and water glasses this is where improvements could be achieved.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

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!