The Beech Tree (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 924 Kingston Road
Type of Meal: Dinner 

When you think of a quaint neighbourhood restaurant, The Beech Tree certainly looks the part. Its cozy dining room is wrapped in dazzling damask wallpaper and bright wainscoting. There’s a sophisticated homey charm to its décor.

But, it’s small size has drawbacks – one being waiting 25 minutes after our reservation time to be seated. It’s unclear whether they have limited dishware, but 10 of the 25 minutes was spent setting the table. Irritatingly it was a slow and inefficient process - three separate individuals bringing out dishware at varying times (one cups, another cutlery and the last napkins?). After each you think it’s done only to find the person go serve another table. The Type A in me cringed making me want to go help. If setting a table is going to take that long, I highly suggest just having a plate and napkin done, seat everyone and worry about the wine goblets and cutlery afterwards.

Alas, once seated I ordered a cocktail to calm the impatience. The Osborne ($10) sounded delicious made with cucumber infused gin, cucumber puree, Thai basil, lemon and lillet. It’s light and refreshing, a good drink to start with.

Thankfully, their food impressed. The pan-seared gaspe scallops ($14) was fantastic and beautifully presented on a platter. The scallops had a nice seared crust and was just cooked through. Even the items accompanying it were great – the tender house-cured ham and what I thought were soft creamy potatoes which turned out to be Jerusalem artichokes.  This is an appetizer that’s great for sharing.

The arctic char ($25) was cooked perfectly with a very crispy skin. The fattiness of the fish (less than salmon but more than halibut) went well with the heavier accompaniments – a thick butternut squash puree and a sweet curry corn patty. I also enjoyed the hit of chilies that was thrown in somewhere. Topping everything was a refreshing vinegary slaw that worked well to balance the sweet squash.

I was looking forward to the roast breast and fried leg of chicken ($22). Sadly the breast was overdone and dry. I salvaged it with the sauce verte drizzled around the artic char, using the oil to rehydrate the meat. The leg was much better with a crispy cornflake coating, which was well drained so wasn’t greasy at all. On the side were parsnip, brown butter, quinoa and a great smoked swiss chard (I would have loved more of the greens).

My other friends at the table decided to go with beef and that evening they had two options to choose from. On their regular menu was the grilled sirloin steak ($24). It arrived cooked well and beautifully presented with fingerling potatoes dusted with kale powder, mushrooms and a vegetable fritter.

Beech Tree was also offering a bone-in ribeye special for two ($60). Essentially a huge hunk tender meat rustically served with thick wedges of large mushrooms, potato gratin and creamed spinach. The steak looked fantastic and so did the sides – but the portion of sides given could be upped since it was meant to feed two.

The Beech Tree’s food is delightful and the surroundings cozy and comfortable. I’d hope our experience at being seated with an anomaly, but to be safe grab a smaller group or opt for an earlier sitting so the table is already set upon your arrival.

Overall mark - 7.5* out of 10
* Food wise it would have gotten an 8. But, the pitiful table set-up at the beginning lost them half a point.

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!