Showing posts with label caviar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caviar. Show all posts

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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Edulis (Toronto)


Edulis is quaint. Walk too quickly and you may miss their storefront; the neighbourhood doesn’t feel like where one of Toronto’s best restaurants would be found. Tables are closely situated throughout the dining room, the dim candlelight some respite for privacy between you and neighbours. 

Upon entering the homey looking bathroom, I felt like I met a kindred spirit: framed all along the walls were tasting menus from notable restaurants! There were so many to read through … the November 2014 menu from Alinea (close to the time I visited the restaurant) and an interesting peeky toe crab from Daniel’s menu that peaked my interest. I almost felt bad; with only one stall, I was surely taking too long in the bathroom.

My only complaint for the evening is the actual ordering process. Edulis’ menu is short and sweet, but somehow turns into a five minute affair for our waitress to explain all the changes we can make. Some are additions (where you get another dish) while others a supplement (that replaces an existing one). By the end, I was a bit confused and tired; certainly it could all be simplified? Worst of all, you almost feel pressured to add something on, so it seems like Edulis’ regular menu would be insufficient, when it can certainly stand on its own.

What turned out to be my least favourite dish of the meal was the hors of d'oeuvre of imperial osetra caviar ($50) we added onto the meal (although my husband loved it). To me, the caviar was really fishy until you ate it with enough of the cream sauce. Moreover, the so call “caviar” wooden spoons we were given (since metal alters the ingredient’s taste) were much too thick to actually scoop up the delicate caviar without the help of fingertips. Where was the thin oyster of pearl ones that makes it so much easier?

In terms of the standard menu, Edulis presents two options: a smaller 5-course for $65 or 7-courses for $85 (per person). Understandably, the whole table has to order the same number of courses, but our waitress explains the seven course version isn’t that much larger as the two additional dishes tend to be smaller in size. Unfortunately, they can’t provide any description of what the menu could be given what’s served can change throughout the night depending on availability … talk about just-in-time inventory management.

The 7-course menu ($85) began with a simple bite-sized pintxo combining a large green olive and toasted bread drizzled with olive oil. It set the tone and reminded diners that they were in a Spanish restaurant with bold tastes to come. A larger basket of country style bread also arrived and we were warned not to fill up on it – we heeded the warning and took only a couple of bites. Nonetheless, the bread basket depleted by the end - the sauces were so good that we had to mop up every drop.


Take the light onion sauce accompanying the Nova Scotia tuna, which was served raw with crunchy seaweed cucumber, the sauce helped give a lovely essence to the fish without relying on the typical citrus or soy. What a refreshing bite that lightly stings the tongue, every bit of sauce was devoured.


The following lobster was delicately poached so it was just cooked through; still holding a bit of its translucence. Nonetheless, it was cooked and the natural sweetness shone through. Incorporating fava beans and crushed almonds, there was plenty of differing textures to the plate. The ajo blanco sauce is garlicky with a hint of citrus and a creamy finish – great against the lobster and for dipping bread.


Normally, a dish that’s lukewarm would be a turnoff, but the room temperature rabbit terrine actually was quite nice against the cool foam. Since it wasn’t too hot, the meaty terrine wasn’t a shock against the cool silky foie gras. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan chanterelles added a great light earthy essence and the white asparagus shavings and pine nuts a bit of crunch against everything. 


My first time having triglidae, or as Edulis described it as “sea robin”, I can see how this fish gets its moniker. Although it looks like a typical white fish, the meat was intensely dense so it seemed like flaky chicken - sounds weird but actually quite tasty. Along with sliced summer squash, a squash blossom, and diced squash mixed into the sauce, the dish was light and refreshing. The sauce was predominantly olive oil and tomato based augmented with a hint of citrus, while the fresh oregano went nicely with the acid in the dish … how I wanted more!


Wild Nunavut arctic char is supposedly a rare fish that can only be sourced twice in the year – a lucky coincidence we could sample it that evening. Compared to traditional Arctic char, this was leaner so a bit stronger in flavour without the hint of oil on the tongue. Of course, the beany sauce was fantastic and there was so much of it that I finished it off like soup.


The last savoury course is also the sole non-seafood dish, a dry-aged duck breast and braised duck leg that evening. Despite not having an ounce of crispy skin, the duck was nonetheless cooked wonderfully and had us savouring its simple flavours and natural juices. The roasted baby turnips were sweet against the savoury duck gravy and herby salsa verde. All in all, it was a rich and hearty ending compared to the other lighter dishes.  


After all these years, why is Edulis still one of the hardest restaurants to score a reservation to? Simply put, their food is fantastic! Their sauces can rival any French restaurant and for me tastes even better: despite having some butter and cream within the sauces, they’re well balanced so you get the silky rich mouth feel without the heaviness. Meanwhile, the proteins are kept simple and just cooked through (nothing was tough or dry), allowing it to compliment and not compete with the sauce. Moreover, the dishes generally have a number of textures so there’s often a pop of crunch, but done subtly so it doesn’t overpower the plate.

If you aren’t able to get a reservation, the restaurant does have a few tables on a covered patio, customers can’t order the tasting menu but are able to enjoy drinks and create their own cheeseboard from a large array Edulis carries.

The dessert was a raspberry mousse and sorbet with nuts. At first, I wasn’t overly excited – sorbet is so boring – but the flavours were, once again, well controlled so the sorbet wasn't too sweet or tart and the mousse not rendered into a sugary gelatin. I certainly could taste the fruit and the dessert had an almost Creamsicle finish.


Just when we resigned that it was all over, we’re brought over a rum baba with Chantilly cream. The server proceeds to drench the cake in a warm butter rum sauce and we're advised add some cream to each bite. Wow, what a great combination: first a hit of alcoholic rum, which is balanced out by the sweet cool cream and finishes with a slight saltiness from the sauce. What a lovely indulgent ending! I only wished they didn’t take away what little remained from the bread so we could soak up the rest of the rum butter sauce.


As I mentioned previously, Edulis is quaint. The small dining room can hold about thirty guests and the meal progresses slowly so you’ll be there for over three hours (although it doesn’t feel that long). Hence, I can see why it’s hard to get a reservation: they don’t try to churn multiple seating of guests through in an evening. With every course I wanted even more, anxiously waiting to see what the kitchen would come up with next. All the while, the wine continues to pour and the twinkling candles have a relaxing effect. All to enjoy one more bite of sauce-laden bread. 

Overall mark - 9.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 169 Niagara 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:


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