Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Auberge Avec Canoe (Toronto)

Something magical is happening at Auberge Du Pommier: Auberge avec Canoe, where the restaurants’ chefs are collaborating on special weekly menus that are still French, but with a lighter touch that’s perfect for the outdoor dining experience. Canoe’s affinity to Canadian ingredients is brought over and gives the dishes a refreshingly modern feel.

Having eaten at Auberge and Canoe on several occasions, the mash-up brings out the best in both restaurants. Possibly it’s due to a 4-month hiatus from a fancy meal, the copious amount of wine with dinner, or the fact the kitchen is dedicating all their attention to a mere dozen tables, but this was my best experience from the two establishments.

Their tasting menu ($80) begins with a loaf of pain au lait, the airy warm milk bread brimming with flavours – herbs baked into the bread and a delicate roasted shiitake & nori butter to spread over it. Any heaviness is offset by the pickled mushrooms with garlic scape served on the side. How did they get the scapes to taste so mellow?

In celebration of the land and sea, an oyster shell arrives with a bed on Haida Gwaii (in British Columbia) uni custard that’s silky and sweet. It goes nicely with the savoury chunks of seaweed-cured beef tartare mixed with smoked oyster that’s present in smell but disappears into the meat. As a contrasting crunch against the soft tartare, a mound of tart preserved white asparagus relish brings a lightness to the entire dish. Get a bit of everything in each bite as the combined flavours and textures is what makes the land and sea shine.

The three bites of foie gras parfait provided just enough decadence without leaving us feeling too full. The heavier mousse is balanced with the plum’s acid and edible florals, its silkiness enhanced by the bits of toasted torn brioche. This harmonious balance of indulgence vs. freshness, smooth vs. crunchy, and savoury vs. sweet is a common theme of the menu.

Perhaps the dish that was most Canoesque was the Ontario duck duo. The restaurant cooks meat beautifully and the lovely rendered duck breast was no exception, seasoned perfectly so that the fowl’s flavours weren’t masked with salt. A log of seared confit dark meat is the duo to the dish – so rich and flavourful that you’ll remember you’re indeed at a French restaurant.

If you’re not full already, the lovely fried panisse (a smooth carb that’s like polenta but milder) topped with miso cream and roasted cauliflower will leave you holding your stomach.

Auberge’s Ontario peach cobbler pays homage to the south with the typical biscuit substituted with a sweet corn bread. While the dessert could have been heavy, the lemon verbena custard gives it a bright finish along with the juicy peach slices throughout. By the end of dinner, it’s getting dark, so the caramel popcorn tucked around the cobbler provides an unexpected bite.

The final nibble is a cube of strawberry cheesecake that’s a great interpretation of the traditional dessert: creamy, buttery, and full of berry notes.

Just like another O&B experience, the COVID safety protocols are in full force: well-spaced tables, masks whenever you’re not eating, QR code menus, cutlery tightly wrapped in napkins, minimizing pouring of liquids in an effort to not contaminate food, and clearly marked walking ways so customers are not wandering around and remain socially distanced indoors.

Despite being reminded about the COVID conditions from all the procedures, Auberge’s terrace is serene and a wonderful retreat. The stone patio surrounded by trees wrapped in small lights transported us to another environment. And for a couple of hours, everything felt normal again. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4150 Yonge 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!

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Dreyfus (Toronto)


On my last two visits to Montreal, I’ve tried to secure a reservation at Joe Beef with no luck. Not even when I offered to go on a waiting list - the famed restaurant could never fit me in. Consequently, when I heard their chef de cuisine, Zach Kolomeir, was leaving Montreal to head to Toronto to open Dreyfus, there was hope that I’d finally try their no-nonsense French creations.

A group of girlfriends and I tried to get a reservation at Dreyfus; once again, securing a table for four was impossible. So, I finally changed tactics and decided to visit with my husband instead. Finally, I was able to secure a Saturday sitting without a hitch. Sure, it took half a year, but I was finally on my way.

Once you see the dining room, it’s understandable why acquiring a spot for more than two people is so difficult.  There’s only two larger tables in the whole place and then a row of singles that I guess could be pushed together to form larger tables, but for whatever reason are kept separate. It’s very intimate seating – you will over hear your neighbours’ conversation and most likely need to push your table to touch theirs to get in and out if you’re seated on the bench.

In a nutshell, the restaurant is cozy. This goes for the esthetics, temperature, and service. Your experience will be elevated if you’re served by Keegan deWitt. It’s rare that I try to figure out who our server is, but this guy is AMAZING – Dreyfus, do whatever you need to keep him. Keegan exudes passion without being preachy, is attentive without being annoying, and his knowledge of wine puts most sommeliers to shame.

In fact, a love for a wine is an important quality for working at Dreyfus. They don’t have a wine menu. In fact, there’s no drink menu period. So, our first interactions with Keegan revolved around what we wanted to drink: flat water and a bottle of wine.

We answered a few questions and he comes back with four bottles. In a succinct two-minute presentation, he goes through each bottle explaining their flavour profiles and the wine’s region, ending off with the cost of each one. Prices vary from $85 to $250 and we decide on the Domaine Viret Mareotis ($125). The first sip confirmed that Keegan got us.

So, when he came back to ask what we wanted to order and provided us the option of letting him ‘bring us an experience’, how could we resist? Again, he asked a couple of questions about dietary restrictions and how hungry we were on a scale from 1-10 (a 7 seemed safe) and that’s all we had to do.

It helps as they tailor the size of the starting nibbles to the table. Normally, the first three dishes are $16 each (unclear how many come with each), but for our table of two it was trimmed down to a smaller portion of one or two each (the perfect amount) and the prices also lowered to $12.

The canapes de topinambours ($12 for 2) went so well with the wine. Roasted Jerusalem artichokes forms the base of the canapes, instead of bread, giving the dish a creamy finish and a warmth that’s so lovely for the winter months. Forget trying to hold this in your hand as the artichoke is smothered with light tangy cheese and a warmed sardine that adds a nice muskiness against the slice of ham on top.


There were spinach dip oysters ($12 for 2) topped with feathery parmesan cheese, a dish that sounds heavy but actually quite nicely balanced. Oysters aren’t normally something I enjoy, but the mollusk was covered with so many things that it didn’t have a prominent in taste.


You can’t go wrong with the pommes dauphine ($12 for 4). These lovely potato puffs are as light as air – like a savoury honey cruller for those who have been around a Tim Horton’s. They’re fluffy and aromatic, by itself a delicate and creamy choux pastry, but arrives with thick crème fraiche topped with micro cubes of shallots and a generous portion of caviar. It takes the dauphine to a whole other level of decadence that made us swoon.


A skewer arrives and we’re advised the white chunks in the brochette de lotte ($24) are monkfish. The dense meaty fish was tasty, but perhaps could be cooked a touch less. Yet, any mild protein that sits in such a tasty sauce could do no wrong. It’s described to us as curry, but so light that it reminds me of a thicker and richer bouillabaisse. We must have been looking at the remaining sauce longingly, as a staff member asked if we’d like some bread, which was met with a resounding yes.


While I don’t know a lot of French, one word I do remember is cheval - on account of religiously visiting the now defunct Toronto night club. So, when the tower of filet de cheval lyonnaise ($33) arrived, I pushed thoughts of My Little Pony out of my mind and decided to just enjoy the dish. To be honest, if you didn’t know what cheval means, you’d think its veal or a light beef that’s tender and lean. The silky red wine jus keeps any gaminess at bay.


Dreyfus knows their way around a spud as the lyonnaise potatoes sandwiched between the cheval and the egg are heavenly. Essentially, they are thinly sliced potatoes that’s pan fried in parsley butter (forming lovely toasted edges) and mixed with well-caramelized onions. Just imagine scalloped potatoes, but even better, in my opinion. Mixed with some egg yolk and au jus, I probably could have a plate of the potatoes with eggs and been a happy camper.


To end, this main is smartly paired with an endive salad ($17). Dreyfus’ version of a Waldorf salad, the dish is one I normally detest - fruit (apple) mixed with nuts (walnuts) and topped with a blue cheese dressing? Yuk! Maybe it was the warm wine flowing through my veins, but it all worked together, including the thinned blue cheese dressing that adds tang without funk. Plus, the rosettes of curled cheese were so nice and creamy that I had a second and third helping.


After everything came, we assessed and indeed Keegan was true to his word – at the beginning he noted he’d make sure we’re satisfied but not disgustingly full. Rejoice, there was still room for dessert.

Once again, there’s no menu, instead another server explains she’s the walking dessert menu and lists off three options. The pear strudel ($11) sounded rather plain, but seemed like a dish I’d enjoy. Oh boy, did I enjoy it!


It took a while to arrive because it was being reheated and/or cooked. My first taste: crispy layers of phyllo pastry, warm chunks of cinnamon tossed pears, and creamy whipped cream. It was heavenly, the dessert I didn’t know I wanted to myself. My husband must have sensed something… after a few bites, he smartly left the remaining strudel with me.  

Find a lover or a buddy, hell, even a stranger off the street. Just book a reservation for two at Dreyfus! Whatever you do, do not visit with more than three people as you’ll be squished into a booth at the front of the restaurant that makes a sardine can look spacious; looking at the three couples packed in the table gave me shudders as I flashed back to an unfortunate incident at Grey Gardens.

Also, visit with an empty stomach and an open mind. And, there should be a level of trust as dining omakase style is the way to go. Just don’t be a hero and think you’ll share the strudel, that decision was the only mishap of the evening.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 96 Harbord 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!

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Quatrefoil (Dundas)


For my husband and I, each summer brings a week (at least) of staycation, where we take time off work and spend it exploring Toronto and its surrounding cities. Any locality that’s a 2 hour drive or less is fair game for a visit and after four years there’s still plenty of places to see.

Hamilton and its surrounding neighbours have been a favourite haunt. A typical outing consists of driving for an hour, hiking through beautiful scenery to stretch our legs, changing as discretely as possible in the car, strolling through a quaint town, and having a lovely meal to cap off the day.

August 2019 brought us to Dundas, Ontario and dinner at Quatrefoil. Their town is made for the eco-conscious with numerous stores selling sustainable and earth-friendly products (I found some great reusable produce bags for grocery shopping).  The end of the walk lead us to a quiet side street and a house that’s morphed into a restaurant. While the outside is a historical home, the dining room looks rather modern, complete with Instagram friendly white marble table tops.

On Fridays they offer a five course tasting menu ($72 a person) with wine pairings (additional $55). Like traditional meals, it starts off with an amuse bouche, a portion of braised veal cheek situated on a light tapioca cracker with dollops of crème fraiche. It’s a tasty bite, but a tad salty even with the tangy yoghurt.  


Followed by a great selection of bread including brown sugar pumpernickel (great combination), chewy French bread, oily poppy seed puff pastry, and a decent cheese and chive puff. It’s an enticing place and I had to try a bit of everything.


Quatrefoil presents beautiful plates. The seared sea scallop arrived with a lovely golden crust and while it was starting to split, the centre was cooked perfectly remaining tender and sweet. The buttery sauce was lightened with strawberry vinaigrette and the dish kept fresh with sweet spring peas and crunchy fennel. It paired wonderfully with the Chablis.


For a sweet and savoury course, I rather enjoyed the compressed cantaloupe salad. The melon was squeezed until the juices are removed so you get its sweet essence but it doesn’t overwhelm the other elements. It went nicely with the creamy whipped ricotta and the garlicky pesto and arugula keeps the dish savoury. It’s all topped with slices of summer truffle – eat these with the ricotta as with the strong pesto its mild flavours become lost.


The apex of the night was the Arctic char where the fish’s meat was flakey and tender but the skin could be a touch crispier. Paired with a tomato vinaigrette – a popular choice - at Quatrefoil it’s seasoned beautifully so you get a fresh tomato jus that’s also flavourful. The warm quinoa base acted as a great side.


Sadly, the last half of the meal is where the menu starts to falter. Tenderloin, when left in a longer cut, can be finicky to work with given it’s thicker in the middle and tapers off at the end. This leaves the thickest part of the steak arriving medium rare while the rest of it was really overdone – the heated plate probably didn’t help.


Without a proper steak knife, cutting through the thinner portions was difficult. Yet, the passable beef aside, the rest of the dish was tasty – the red wine and shallot jus lovely and slightly thickened so it clings to the meat. All the accompaniments were also great: meaty maitake mushroom, crispy broccolini, and the scrumptious potato and cheese croquette… it was the highlight of the dish.


The strawberry crémeux looks pretty but is a really sad dessert. Our waitress takes a fairly long time explaining all the individual sorbets (yogurt cheesecake, strawberry, and strawberry cream) and describes the dish as having an olive oil cake. It took me a while to realize that this “cake” was actually the crumb that propped up the decorative leaf.


I’m done with the deconstructed dessert and wish the preparation would just go away. If this is meant to be a trio of sorbets than give a larger scoop of each and call it that. Meanwhile, if this is meant to be a cake than just create a cake. As it stands, the meagre portions and laying each element out on a dish just seems like a lazy excuse to not employ a proper pastry chef.

Sweets are definitely not Quatrefoil’s forte, even the final bites were a letdown: the cappuccino macron too sweet and while the dark chocolate and strawberry truffle had promise (well balanced flavours and good quality chocolate) the shell was too thick.



Nonetheless, the friendly service and easy going pace of the dinner is what makes dining at Quatrefoil a treat. They were also accommodating, allowing me to get half a wine pairing so that I could have a taste with every dish without falling asleep on the hour drive home.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dundas, Canada
 Address: 16 Sydenham 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:




Laissez Faire (Toronto)


You do you … the modern day equivalent to living a laissez faire lifestyle. It’s a romantic thought, being able to live as you please, be as you please - and at the new Laissez Faire – eat as you please. Their menu strays from their French name and also offers Italian dishes for good measure.

It’s not always done well, the porcini truffle arancini ($13) are the worst I’ve ever had: the risotto so dry that the ball starts to crumble and the mixture bland so everything relies heavily on the marinara (thankfully, fresh and delicious). As a plus, since it is deep fried rice, even being the worst it’s still edible, but certainly not one you’d want to serve a true Italian.


The squid ink tagliatelli ($21) is 100% better. Dark ribbons of pasta encompasses a seafood flavour but not in a fishy way. It’s covered in a sauce that’s not overly thick but salty enough to really give it a briny sea essence. Plump sweet clams and crunchy bread crumb provide a nice contrast to the pasta, while there’s just enough dill fronds to add a hint of freshness without morphing the dish’s earthiness.


Safer sharing plates are some of the cold seafood options. While we weren’t advised what the oysters were that evening (only that they were from PEI), the dozen ($32) tasted clean and fresh, accompanied with the traditional vinegary onion mignonette and grated horseradish. 


Meanwhile, the albacore tuna ($17) has a real nuttiness from the black and white sesame crust. It’s slowly seared so the seeds are just lightly toasted and the tuna wrapped in a thin cooked ring and warmed through. Really swipe the fish around the plate to get all the herby aioli on the plate.

For something incredible, you have to be willing to dive all-in … calories and cholesterol be damn! Just bite into the pork belly ($17) and enjoy the crispy skin that’s the perfect ratio of fat for flavours and skin for chewiness. A thin sherry gastrique and bits of pomegranate add a slight sweetness against the otherwise savoury dish. It’s so good that a table of four may want to double the order so you can each have another piece.


The duck confit ($21) was another strong dish with the traditional crunchy skin encapsulating soft rich meat. Pairing the fowl with salad was a great idea to keep it lighter and allows a diner to still enjoy some starters.


Aside from the food, two things really stuck out for me. Firstly, the odd portion sizes at Laissez Faire. While the small and large plates weren’t overly big, the sides like roasted Brussels sprouts and parsnips ($14) were massive. Who knows, maybe it’s their way of making diners eat their vegetables. Yet, there’s so much bacon incorporated into the dish that vegetables seem secondary. Moreover, the sauce is way too sweet and the pickled mustard seeds, while a great idea, needs to be applied with a lighter touch. Maybe it’s me, but I want my vegetables to actually taste like vegetables.


Portion sizes were wonky in the dessert department as well. The apple tarte tatin ($11) is barely sharable compared to the brioche panna cotta ($14), which actually resembles a regular-sized dessert.

Nevertheless, both are decent – the apple tatin served as a deconstructed version consisting of well-poached apples with a thinned caramel sauce on top of a piece of really buttery pastry. The flavours are bang on, just the form was a bit disappointing as I was actually hoping for the traditional tarte format. The panna cotta has the requisite creamy texture with a strong vanilla flavour. I could have done without the bits of crunchy brioche crumbles, which takes away from that lovely silky texture; yet, I can see some liking the contrasting texture and hint of saltiness it adds to the dessert.


The second thing that stuck with me, albeit I didn’t realize until I was writing the blog post, was how wildly inaccurate the prices charged for the desserts were from the published amounts. On the menu, it’s listed as $9 for the apple tarte tatin and $11 for the panna cotta, while what’s actually charged is $11 and $14, respectively. Perhaps a $1 difference is reasonable when there’s a last minute change, but to add $3 to each dish is terribly inconsistent. Sadly, the caliber and size of the desserts definitely aren’t worth the augmented price.

Maybe it all comes back to the laissez faire attitude – who cares if prices are incorrectly charged, the Italian dishes aren’t necessarily the strongest, or the sides are the same size as mains? Just go with it and pop another bottle of bubbly to forget about the situation – oddly, we did end up getting a BOGO 50% off deal for the Prosecco without realizing it. After all, it all works out in the end… just chill out.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 589 King Street West

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!

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Alobar Yorkville (Toronto)


After opening the best restaurant in Canada and one of the fanciest diners in Toronto, what else can Chef Patrick Kriss do? He’s stepped out of their Queen West building and into Yorkville where the newest edition, Alo Bar, resides. Somewhere in between the tasting menu and casual eats spectrum, Alo Bar offers an a la carte menu with fancier dishes in a cozy dark environment.

As with all of their restaurants, you’ll be served fantastic bread. At Alo Bar, a cube of buttery brioche that’s so fluffy and aromatic that no condiments are needed. Even the hunks of sourdough that comes with the burrata ($16) is dangerously delicious, well grilled so it gives off a lovely smokiness amongst a liberal drizzle of olive oil. It’s so good that it almost steals the show. 



Nevertheless, the burrata is comforting, sitting in a pool of vibrant olive oil with figs done two ways – fresh and preserved in mustard oil, which is a delicious compliment with the neutral cheese and toasted bread.


For a dish that’s normally lighter, Alo Bar’s tuna tartare ($24) can hold up against beef any day. The delicate fish is chopped into small pieces and when mixed with the seasonings, copious amounts of grated truffle, and chanterelles becomes a rich spread against the thin rice chips. 


With a variety of sides, many could work as starters. I could barely make out the shishito peppers ($10) under the salty cotija cheese and creamy garlic sauce with a dash of tajin (a Mexican pepper seasoning)… there’s seriously more toppings than peppers. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, I can see this side being a great option. For me, it was too overpowering. 


The French fries ($10) were thin and crispy and would have been perfect if they weren’t SO salty. The only way to neutralize the flavours was to dip it in the aioli to form a barrier against the salt and my tongue. If only I could actually taste the potatoes. 


Even the cauliflower ($12) was heavy, despite the menu describing it as being accompanied with grape, mint, and almond. The combination was covered with a sweet syrup and the cauliflower cut into such small pieces and so well roasted with oil that it almost seemed deep fried. By the middle of the mains, I was seriously craving something fresh.

Something like the wedge salad ($18) that came at the beginning of the meal would be nice. The fourme d’ambert dressing brings a taste of blue cheese, but it’s sweeter and milder. Bits of bacon are mixed into nutty grains that goes surprisingly well with the crunchy iceberg lettuce. For a seemingly simple salad, it tastes surprisingly complex.


Maybe it was just our menu choices, but we ordered everything that’s sinfully opulent. By itself, the agnolotti ($28) is already a fairly flavourful pasta - stuffed with a sweet potato, parmesan, and piquillo pepper mixture so there’s a sweet, savoury, and spicy element. This is then covered with a cream sauce that’s undeniably rich, reminding you why the dish is more French than Italian.


It seems like the Muscovy duck ($42) is dry aged, so the meat is gamier than normal. Yet, you almost need a stronger flavour to hold up against the star anise flavour, which gives it an earthy licorice taste. Personally, I preferred the duck plain since the breast was cooked beautifully with a crispy skin. Save the bites of salty confit leg with poached plum for the end.


Be sure to save room for dessert. Alo Bar’s chocolate cake ($14) arrives as a slab with beautiful layers, each bite dense, creamy, and chocolatey. It would be nice if the caramel ice cream was replaced with something stronger ... a coffee based ice cream with a hint of bitterness would be great with the chocolate cake.


The menu’s description of the cheesecake ($14) doesn’t do the dessert justice… after all, does one get excited over cheesecake with cherries? Yet, when the Basque-style cheesecake arrived, the brûlée exterior was so dark that we thought it was chocolate. Upon cutting into the sizeable cake, we're greeted with a white creamy interior. It’s a luscious cake that’s sweet and cheesy, the caramelized sugar crust going nicely with the sour cherry jam. If you only have room for a single dessert, I highly recommend this one.


After experiencing the magic of Alo and Aloette, it’s difficult not to have high expectations. While Alo Bar is good, I didn’t leave with that same sense of excitement. Nonetheless, it’s a good option in Yorkville and Alo Bar’s lounge atmosphere is ideal for a night out. Consequently, if you’re looking for a quiet romantic meal, the loud music with bass vibrating through the banquette may not be the best option. Of course, it’s Yorkville and the neighbourhood parties. Now, with rich indulgent dishes, Alo-style.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 162 Cumberland 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:



Scaramouche Restaurant (Toronto)


Yes, you’re in the right place. It seems wrong, as you pull up to an apartment building, but Scaramouche is located in the corner of Benvenuto Place. From the outside, it seems like an odd location for a restaurant, let alone one that has operated in Toronto for almost four decades. Yet, when you make your way into the dining room and are greeted with the view of the city’s midtown parklands and skyline, the residential neighbourhood is forgotten.


Tip back the shot of chilled celery and parsley soup and it certainly feels like you’re in a restaurant… slightly creamy before ending with a spicy horseradish kick. Equally refreshing are the half a dozen oysters ($30), freshly shucked with a bit of the red wine mignonette.


It’s hard to describe Scaramouche’s menu, possibly Canadian with European influences. These elements came together with the gnocchi ($25), a special for the day, combining in-season white asparagus and wild leeks. It was a fantastic starter! The creamy gnocchi well toasted in a golden crust and huge chunks of duck confit strewn throughout, enough that a larger portion can easily make this a main. Lastly, pieces of spongy morels, adding a different texture and soaking in the delicious duck jus.   


Unbeknownst to me, my order of roasted St. Canut suckling pig ($43) was replaced with a seared Nagano pork loin ($38). I wish they would have informed me of the change as when you expect something capped with crispy crackling skin, the medallion was an instant disappointment. Note to the restaurant: always inform your customers of replacements, I would have gone with the duck instead.


While the dish didn’t wow me like the starter, it’s a solidly constructed plate.  The meaty piece of perfectly cooked pork paired well with the traditional trimmings: luscious parsnip purée and lightly pickled apple. The fingerling potatoes are sautéed with bacon to give it an extra zip.

On the other hand, a taste of my husband’s lamb ($49) left me wanting more. The tender chops were crusted with an herby salsa verde to keep it light. Every element of the plate – peeled cherry tomatoes, crunchy beans, and a lemony eggplant purée was enticingly refreshing and bright, screaming of warmer weather even though Mother Nature wasn’t completely agreeing with us. Forget the typical heavy lamb with gravy and potatoes, Scaramouche’s interpretation is exactly what I want.


For dessert, their coconut cream pie ($14) is well known. Three distinct layers of sweet coconut custard, light chantilly cream, and tons of white chocolate shavings – so much that it had to be swept to the side. In comparison to the rest of the pie, the crust it thin and delicate, but still incorporated enough butter that even a bit of the crispy pastry with the cream was delicious. This is a pie for coconut lovers as the custard contained A LOT of it.


I welcomed bits of savouriness from my husband’s cheese plate ($16) to balance out the sweet dessert. The Wookey Hole cheddar is described as being aged in lime stone caves in Somerset, England, where it’s said to take on an earthy taste. Truth be told, I couldn’t distinguish any mineral elements, but it was flavourful, without being overpowering, and had a light nuttiness.


The cheddar was balanced by a lighter 12-month Manchego from Spain where you taste the dairy while enjoying the harder slightly crumbly texture of the cheese. Of course, the cheese board arrives with typical condiments – interestingly a tomato chutney (instead of something fruit based), perhaps there was already enough fruit in the pear and cranberry bread crackers.

It’s taken me a while to make it out to Scaramouche. This year’s birthday seemed like an opportune time to finally make it out to the iconic fine dining establishment. Possibly, it was even a bit reassuring, since the restaurant is older than me. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1 Benvenuto Place

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:

Scaramouche Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato