CLOSED: Bestellen (Toronto)

Bestellen makes a meat-lover’s heart go a flutter with promises of dry-aged beef and house-cured charcuterie. When the restaurant offered both on their Summerlicious menu ($35), it became a no brainer that a visit was in order.

The charcuterie was made for me with thinly sliced basturma, coppa and prosciutto; all cuts where the meat and fat are distinct, not a salami in sight. Prosciutto is a commonly loved with its large slices of leg meat. Personally, I prefer coppa as it has a richer flavour and having the fat in the centre of the meat gives it a different mouth feel.

Bestellen charcuterie

Bestellen introduced me to basturma, a dried cured beef. The curing process must have involved plenty of peppercorn as the earthy heat from the spice was prevalent. Much leaner than pork, I found the basturma was best eaten plain. Whereas, the toasted olive oil laced bread with grainy mustard went best with the fattier pork options: the bread's heat nicely warming up the fat.

After such a great starter, the dry aged striploin was disappointing – salty so that any chance of enjoying the beef’s flavour was minimal. Being a leaner dry aged cut, I didn’t anticipate the steak to be juicy. However, I did expect the aging process to condense the meat’s flavours and the connective tissues to break down so it’d be more tender than it was.

Bestellen striploin

The wedges of roast potato were even more salty; I had to wipe it against the edge of the plate before it was edible. Only the charred rapini was spared. One redeeming quality is the kitchen did cook the beef to the exact medium rare doneness requested.

Dessert was surprisingly good. The warm lemon and pistachio cake a great combination – the nuttiness of the pistachio balanced by the citrus. Also, the nest of candied lemon on top had just the right amount of sweetness to set off the neutral cake. The chocolate budino’s texture was oh-so silky and jazzed up with the addition of salted caramel.

Bestellen budinoBestellen cake

Bestellen’s softly lit environment is great for dates but its loud music makes conversing difficult. For a restaurant that encourages large groups with a family style whole suckling pig, côte de boeuf and Sunday chicken dinners, it should really lower the volume so that guests don’t need to shout to be heard.

A printed wine-by-the-glass menu would also be nice, even if written on a chalkboard. Our waiter was friendly and helpful, but I felt a little bad for him as multiple people asked about it and he had to dutifully recite the list and answer pricing/country of origin questions every time.    

From reading other reviews, it seems Bestellen does meat dishes well (think charcuterie, beef tartare and their burger). But, it’s not a steakhouse and this is where opinions start to falter. In the end, the charcuterie peaked my heart’s interest, but the striploin makes a long-term relationship doubtful.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $35
Regular menu - $47 - charcuterie ($13), striploin ($28) and cake ($6)
Savings - $12 or 26%
* The striploin and cake were based on the cornish hen and a wild guess from me
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 972 College Street

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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!

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