Showing posts with label duck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label duck. Show all posts

St. Lawrence Restaurant (Vancouver)


Eating at a French-Canadian restaurant in Vancouver seemed like a waste of a meal. But after hearing about all of St. Lawrence Restaurant’s accolades - #5 on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list and being crowned best new restaurant in 2018 by multiple publications – it also seemed imperative I visit a place that delighted Canada’s west coast. I envisioned a glutinous meal that would make us feel sick like Au Pied de Couchon, but thankfully found a more restrained offering that was hearty yet didn’t leave me clutching my stomach.

St. Lawrence offers a rotating prix fixe menu that changes roughly monthly and during our June visit happened to be a 5th Anniversary special ($85 for three courses) highlighting a mix of past favourites, traditional French offerings, and special dishes the chef wanted to whip up.

To start off, our table shared warm buckwheat rolls with a delicate pork spread, which was barely enough to smear onto the bread and left us wanting more. Our waitress warned us not to use the foie gras custard as a condiment since it is best eaten solo. Indeed, it’s like a decadent savoury and sweet panna cotta where the silky creamy custard is enhanced with crispy crumbs.

The height of the vol-au-vent puff pastry was astonishing, the hollow flaky pastry filled with pea sprouts that added a fresh element against the mushroom mornay sauce. Such a lovely quintessential French dish that forms the only vegetarian offering on their menu, not counting desserts.

We would have liked more chips for the bison tartar – it’s as if the had reached the bottom of the bag and threw on the final broken ones that were left – as the crunch goes so nicely with the delicate tartar. Nonetheless, the flavours were on point, enhancing but not overpowering the bison, and the creamy béarnaise sauce a great addition.

St. Lawrence smartly left the orange “jus” separated from the duck ballotine as to not cover the lovely duck flavours also pairing the fowl with a savoury citrus less sauce. The orange segments were ideal for cleansing the palette against the chunks of rich meat. If you’re in the mood for a substantial French main, this one will hit the spot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trout à la dieppoise, which was an ideal dish to highlight French-Canadian fare using fresh B.C. ingredients like the fish and side stripe shrimp. The seafood was delicately poached with not a speck of skin or shell remaining, so that each bite was merely covered with the white wine cream sauce. On the bottom, the various greens soaked in the last of the sauce to create a decadent warm salad.

This being my first experience tasting tarte au sucre, the dessert reminded me of a firmer butter tart without the runny centre. The fluffy vanilla cream and crunchy shortbread covering the sugar tart added a beautiful touch without any more sweetness. Overall, it’s a delicious and surprisingly light dessert.

St. Lawrence’s rice pudding tasted like airy sweet cream, the fluffy pudding a great consistency but the rice too hard. If the grains were only cooked longer, it’d help create a creamier concoction to better contrast with the crunchy pecans and salted caramel.

Reservations are pre-paid through Tock, and spots are limited given the restaurant’s diminutive size. In fact, they even created a slim high-top for two in the waiting area to allow those who are waiting to mingle or host those who want to converse longer after their meal is finished.

The intimate environment creates a warm casual feel, despite St. Lawrence’s beautifully plated cuisine. I’m glad we could tuck into lovely French creations without the pomp and circumstance. So, leave your ties behind and just arrive comfortably with an empty belly. 


Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Vancouver, Canada
 Address: 269 Powell 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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Merlot Restaurant (Toronto)


I love old school restaurants where the furniture is fashioned from solid wood and the walls are adorned with sconces and/or varied paintings and prints. A place where there’s a napkin, water glass, and place settings. Most of all, a place where the music blends into the background so you can still chat amongst the table.

To my delight, Merlot captures these qualities. You’ll find the traditional French favourites on their menu like escargot and steak frites, as well as interesting dishes like the “St. Tropez” fish soup ($15.50). The broth has a bouillabaisse feel spiked with more saffron and thickened with pulverized fish - personally, I would have preferred if the fish was left in chunks, so it’d feel less like eating savoury baby food. 

The texture improved once I dropped in bite-sized pieces of the toasted baguette topped with creamy rouille (a garlicky lemon and saffron aioli) and grated Emmenthal to each spoonful. Think of it as a lighter French onion soup that swaps out the onion for fish.

If there’s duck confit ($32.50) on the menu, most likely it’s what I’ll order. Interestingly, the duck leg arrives with no sauce giving it a lovely rustic homemade quality. You can certainly taste the duck and without sauce the meat has nowhere to hide, it needs to be done perfectly to taste delicious. In this case, it was.

Yet, it was the caramelized sautéed garlic potatoes that stole the show. Cooked in duck fat until a sticky and crispy crust forms, the spuds made me swoon with delight. Never swap these potatoes for fries.

The meal ended perfectly with a shared slice of tarte aux pommes ($13.50). The thinly sliced apples sat on a bed of apple sauce and a perfect pastry crust. Likely the apple sauce helps to add moisture without relying on syrup, which keep the tart light. While there’s nothing wrong with the apple sauce, using crème anglaise or some sort of custard give it a richer element. And get rid of the fruit coulis, it makes the plate pretty but takes away from the lovely apple flavours.

When I saw the handwritten check, I knew we were in the right place. I truly hope traditional restaurants like Merlot continue to thrive as they have such a lovely charm.

As we get into the summer, I’ll be returning to enjoy their patio, which hopefully will transport me to a Parisian café. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2994 Bloor Street West


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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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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

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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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CLOSED: Core Restaurant (Toronto)


Some time ago, I've lost my desire to go out for Summerlicious and Winterlicious meals. Once an exciting time of pursuing menus, gathering groups of friends, and securing reservations, some later experiences were disappointing and seemed too commercial. Yet, after seeing Core show up on two "Summerlicious menus you have to try" lists and actually seeing the tasty sounding dishes the $43 dinner had to offer, I rounded up a group of girls to give Summerlicious another chance.

Walking into the restaurant, things felt different. Core is smaller, so it felt warm and intimate. Service was definitely not a problem as they even paid attention to my always there request on Open Table and tried to accommodate to the best of their ability. Everyone we encountered that evening - hostess, sommelier, and waiter – were warm, friendly, and inviting. They also didn't leave anything out of the experience, still providing diners a large slice of their very airy and crusty house made sourdough bread.

Within the appetizers, the pork belly certainly sounded enticing, and having had a taste of my friend's, did have crispy well-rendered skin and moist meat. But, it’s the B.C. Albacore tuna crudo I ultimately ordered. Interestingly, the fish was cut in thick chunks, rather than thin slices, which helped retain its flavours against the mildly tangy citrus ponzu. The tuna was tender and flavourful and when combined with the chunks of sweet baby radishes and crunchy cucumbers made for a satisfying summer starter.


The duck two ways included two delicious pieces from the fowl:

  • Roasted breast cooked to about medium with crispy skin. While it could have been done a touch less, it was nonetheless moist and easy to cut through.
  • A large chunk of braised duck leg terrine, which was a tad salty with the duck jus but oh so tender. It’s like having a cube of pulled duck confit, just as amazingly tasty as it sounds.

If you’re fond of duck, it’s definitely the dish to order. Even though the braised cherries and heirloom carrots accompanying the dish sounded like it'd be two sweet sides, the saltier duck jus kept everything savoury and the sides went well with the fowl.

Dinner ended with the espresso panna cotta served tiramisu style, a rich espresso jelly topping the creamy base so you really get a hit of the coffee flavour. I wasn’t a huge fan of the crumble used as a garnish, but it’d be nice for those who want a contrasting texture.


Thanks to Core, I have a renewed interest in the Summer/Winterlicious series. You just have to be selective and try the less known restaurants. The little guys sometimes does it best. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $43
Regular menu - $56 - tuna ($16), duck duo ($30) and panna cotta ($10)
Savings - $13 or 23%
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 896 Queen Street East


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!


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Yukashi Japanese Cuisine (Toronto)


In my youth, all-you-can-eat and chicken teriyaki was what came to mind when thinking of Japanese cuisine. Boy, have things changed. Now, the word that I associate with Japanese food is omakase – the concept of leaving it to the Chef to decide what to eat.

Generally, omakase menus aren’t the most wallet friendly. At Yukashi, while still pricey, they attempt to cater to different price points with 4-course ($75), 9-course ($150), and the one-week advanced notice Yukashi menu ($300+). There’s even a la carte options for those who don’t want to leave their taste buds to chance.


Eight stools flank the bar and kitchen area. These seats around the chef’s table are definitely the ones to try to reserve. Dinner starts with Chef Daisuke Izutsu grating wasabi, a noiseless affair until he breaks the silence and tells us we’re being too quiet. He gets us chatting and warmed up by passing around a miniature version of the grater so we can try to guess what it’s made from (inside out shark skin, if you want to sound knowledgeable).

Meanwhile, Chef Jin Lee tinkers in the kitchen. He doesn’t speak to the group, but is coordinating the staff within to make sure the hot dishes arrive at a well-timed pace.  Like the warm deep-fried sesame tofu appetizer that has a chewy soft consistency like mochi, but nutty and savoury. Flavoured with a thick fish sauce, it’s then topped with yuzu zest and wasabi to give it a fresh element.


Their “soup” course is actually a hearty chawanmushi, the egg custard surrounding slices of charred mochi and sweet clams so you’re greeted with different flavours with every bite. The pea sauce covering everything was a nice spring element but could be saltier, especially when the crab paste dumpling was also fairly neutral. Nonetheless, it was a tasty dish.


If you’ve been to other omakase restaurants in Toronto, generally sashimi and sushi will follow to finish off the menu. At Yukashi, they serve kaiseki cuisine so while you receive raw fish, there’s not an ounce of grain accompanying it. Kaiseki strives to use seasonal ingredients to create dishes with different textures and also highlights its natural flavours. Above all, it’s recognized for beautiful plating where an ingredient’s colours are used to create dishes that could be considered an art form.


The otsukuri embodied the concept perfectly where an array of fishes were dotted across the plate and combined with painstakingly slivered and twirled garnishes. While it comes with a dish of sweet soy, there’s also ground salt, yuzu zest, juicy seeds (to calm down the soy’s saltiness), and a host of other items to flavour the seafood.

Three fish are included: the famed otoro or cubes of fatty tuna that’s best described as sushi butter; a chewy red snapper; and the most interesting addition… smoked yellow tail. Cooked over a warayaki stove that uses smouldering straw, the yellow tail smells like a cigarette butt and even tastes a little like tobacco. While the flavours can be a bit overpowering (try it last), it’s really different from other fishes offered. In lieu of ginger, there are potato stems that have a juicy spongy texture and acts as a palette cleanser.


After having the otoro, their signature dish pushed my richness quotient to its limit. The uni niku starts with slices of Mizayaki wagyu: one that’s fattier so it simply melts and a relatively leaner slice that’s more flavourful. If it weren’t enough, the wagyu is then topped with uni (the creamy insides of a sea urchin) and foie gras. It all gets a good torching so that the fats heat up and meld together. Then try your best to wrap the glistening tower inside half a shiso leaf, and eat.


Chef Izutsu notes he got the idea for the signature dish when thinking of something that would have decadent elements that work together or alone. Indeed, it smelled amazing and if you like really really rich items you’re in for a treat. I’m glad there were only two slices … anymore and I’m not sure my stomach could handle all that fat. 

After having the sashimi platter, I thought we already had the “fish dish”, but then another intricately assembled seafood platter arrives, even prettier than the otsukuri. They call this the harvest plate and there’s so much to taste and discover: a cold seafood medley that’s almost like a ceviche except flavoured with a cherry blossom and sake (?) foam; marinated shrimp; roasted fish; deep fried bamboo shoot; lotus root; and skinned tomato. It’s certainly gorgeous to look at, but merely tastes okay as each element had to be prepared ahead of time so isn’t at its peak.


Between the seafood and meat dish, the chef serves the amuse bouche - monk fish liver with pickled radish. While it looks like it would be another heavy item, the pickled radish helped to balance the warm liver that tasted like a lighter foie gras. A good bridging bite.


In seeing the meat dish, I had high hopes that it would be amazing. Something that contains sakura sticky rice, duck, and egg yolk butter… what?! In reality, it sounds better than it tastes. We’re instructed to “break” the egg yolk butter into everything and mix it up. I abstained and broke off pieces and mixed it in every bite. This was a good call as the yolk really didn’t taste like much and the oiliness would have been too much. Meanwhile, although the duck had nice flavours and was tender, I was a bit disappointed that it was so cooked through that the texture resembled beef.


While you usually think of tempura as items dunked in a thick batter, at Yukashi it’s an intricate roll made from tile fish, shrimp, tofu skin and shiso. While it’s deep fried, it’s not battered so you end up with a relatively light dish, especially with the fruit sauce that accompanies it. Although I was expecting something savoury and crunchy, in hindsight, after all the heavier dishes proceeding the tempura, it was nice to have something delicate. 


Likely the simplest dish of the evening, the rice and dashi soup was also my favourite. I really needed that umami-filled hot broth that when mixed with the rice created a congee-like bowl. Restrained elements of kelp, seaweed and salmon roe kept it hearty and humble. I could have used another bowl.


In preparation for dessert, Chef Izutsu brings out what looks like a large cantaloupe. After breaking through the rough exterior, the fruit is pale green, a shade lighter than honeydew. I had my doubts … fruit for dessert? How boring. But then, I’ve never heard of a muskmelon.


Yukashi flies them in from the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, where these fruits are so coveted that people wait for hours and pay upwards of ¥16,000 (or about $200 Canadian dollars) a fruit! They command this price as all the small buds are removed at the beginning of the season so that each vine only grows one melon. All the nutrients and resources are directed into one fruit to create the juiciest and sweetest melon I’ve ever had … so maybe melon is better than red bean mochi ice cream.

Back to why I think scoring one of the eight seats around the chef’s table is important – it’s all about the experience. There are some delicious dishes at Yukashi, but there are also others that are pretty to look at but tastes satisfactory. So, what really made the night a success was being able to chat with Chef Izutsu. 


While prepping he’s serious and zoned in. Afterwards, a playful side comes out and he loves to chat (if you’re a chef, let him know as he’ll want to visit your restaurant). It's also a shared event with the other guests sitting around the bar – whether it’s seeing their reaction to dishes or eavesdropping on their conversation with the Chef. The experience is why omakase is now a phrase that elicit excitement for me. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 643A Mount Pleasant Road

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!


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Don Alfonso 1890 (Toronto)


Don Alfonso 1890 originates from Sorrento within the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The Mediterranean restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars and is known for their extensive wine list. While I haven’t visited the original location, it’s described as a picturesque boutique hotel that even has an onsite cooking school. In comes the Liberty Entertainment Group (owners of Casa Loma, Liberty Grand, etc.) who convinced Chef Ernesto Iaccarino to partner with them to open the new Toronto outpost. Of course, Chef Iaccarino will stay in Italy, hence the Toronto kitchen is led by Chef Saverio Macri, who trained with Chef Iaccarino for months.


Set in the former Rosewater Supper Club, the space is even lighter and brighter than before. Sitting in the soaring dining room, you can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility and awe. A few large art pieces draws interest, but otherwise the space is relatively neutral, so you can focus on the food.


In keeping with Don Alfonso’s tradition of using local ingredients, dishes like the Manitoba bison and Nova Scotia ling cod has been customized for the Canadian menu. However, they do import some ingredients to retain the Amalfi Coast flavours. For example, the olive oil that’s carefully poured onto the bread plate (with an indentation that separates the oil) is from Tuscany, a great pairing with their airy and salty focaccia. Also make sure to get their hot crispy mini baguette, this goes wonderfully with the truffle butter.


The 8-course tasting menu ($150 per person with vegetarian option available) consists of five savoury and three sweet dishes, wine pairings are an additional $100.

A collection of canapés arrives on a tree limb shaped plate, where the actual canapés are meant to resemble fall foliage. Each bite is different: yellowfin tuna tartare and parsley crisp a light start; bison tartare with chili chip resembled typical beef tartare; sea urchin with squid ink crisp finishes off with a bitter bite; and finally, meaty and refreshing rockfish ceviche with turmeric crisp, my favourite of the bunch. While each canapé is quickly finished in two bites, it must take a long time to make four different toppings with four different flavoured chips.


Admittedly, when I first saw the ice creamed eel course my stomach turned. Yet, what arrived was pleasant and tasted like a salty cream, not unlike Cesar dressing without the cheese and garlic. Once mixed into the wild rose scented tagliatelle, which by itself is also powerful, the saltiness and the floral flavour worked remarkably well. However, I’d suggest adding the creamed eel gradually into the pasta as the ratio given is unbalanced – for Don Alfonso, doubling the pasta and reducing the creamed eel by a third is advisable.


For some protein courses, dishes allow diners to flavour the meat to their preference. The seared Muscovy duck breast comes with three sauces: a balsamic reduction, a star anise glaze, and royal gala apple purée. It’s a nice touch to be able to mix-and-match to my liking – surprisingly, I enjoyed the star anise glaze the most. The duck was beautifully seared, if only there was more duck and less sauce.


Where the sauces didn’t work as well was for the bison. The San Marzano tomato and red chili reduction was a splitting taste of Frank’s Red Hot and the salsa verde, something that normally goes well with steak, just didn’t pair well.


With the bison wrapped with swiss chard, mozzarella, and a buttery bread crust, the dish was a cross between beef wellington and chicken cordon blue. While my husband believes a chimichurri would go well with it, I think a simple jus mixed with a sweet element (like a berry or current) would have been great – perhaps a little safe, but at least tastier. Luckily, the meat was flavourful enough on its own that I didn’t need the sauce, it was merely disappointing that the meal didn’t end stronger.

For other dishes, we’re told to aggressively mix everything together… to have the elements individually would be too plain. Sure, the mackerel in the vermicelli di gragnano was done beautifully and clean tasting, but once combined with caramelized onions, Alalonga tuna purée, and crunchy Silician pine nut pieces, it was even better. Some patrons may find the dish salty; for me, it was perfect. So much so, that I may go back for a larger plate from their a la carte menu ($28).


The menu describes the merluzzo as having a ‘crisp’ herb skin. While it was a thick sauce formed with six herbs, the skin on the ling cod wasn’t crispy. In fact, it really didn’t taste like much - if anything, the zucchini puree under the fish was stronger and gave the protein flavour. Regardless, it was a lovely lighter dish, adding some vegetables into the meal.


A sizeable portion of Ontario strawberry sorbet arrives as a palette cleanser, in between the savoury dishes and dessert. The pistachio glass is a nice decorative touch.


Dessert begins with something traditional, a Neapolitan sfogliatella, consisting of a flakey phyllo pastry filled with tons of cinnamon infused cream. So much pastry cream that it felt like we were having cinnamon mousse - I say more cone, less cream! Moreover, the amarena cherry glaze should be drizzled around the plate, given it’s an acquired taste (depends if you enjoy maraschino cherries), which I would have preferred to avoid.  


The last dish ends with a bang … or billowing smoke. A tray of petit four arrives with dry ice in the centre, which makes for a great presentation while keeping the sweets cold. The pastry of the deconstructed cannoli was delicious, the nuts adding a great crunch, but the almond cream wasn’t for me. My favourite was the creamy hazelnut semifreddo, which went particularly well with cappuccino. And the last bite, a silky olive oil truffle on a crunchy pistachio biscuit, a rich sweet ending that’s also notably balanced.  


Although $150 tasting menus are widely found in major cities worldwide, in Toronto it’s still one of the pricier options. Aside from the sturgeon caviar (used sparingly with the ice creamed eel), the ingredients aren’t particularly luxurious, so why does Don Alfonso command the price?

Aside from the tie-in to the Michelin-starred restaurant, likely due to the sheer amount of people working. A team of two assembles the canapes dish, which as the evening progressed expanded to three – three people to scoop premade toppings onto crisps. Every table is served in unison, no matter how large. And even opening a bottle of wine is an elaborate affair with the sommelier wheeling over a cart (complete with lit candle), slowly removing the cork, pouring the wine into a large crystal decanter, before presenting the cork on a silver platter and pouring the wine.

Or maybe it has something to do with all the tableware they need to purchase. Every course is served on a customized vessel with matching silverware, believed to showcase the characteristics of the dish. 

In other words, Don Alfonso offers an over-the-top experience that’s rarely found elsewhere in the city. They make you feel special … where else are you offered a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar before leaving the restaurant? It’s the place to go for a special occasion or when you really want to impress someone.



For a glimpse of the experience, you can also visit the second-floor lounge where they offer an a la carte menu, a mix of some tasting menu dishes and others created especially for their smaller kitchen. You may not get served in unison and the wine may not arrive elaborately with a cart, but you can try the tasty vermicelli di gragnano mackerel.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 19 Toronto 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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