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

CLOSED: Ici Bistro (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 538 Manning Avenue
Type of Meal: Dinner

Ici Bistro has a chef that certainly sounds French – Chef Jean-Pierre Challet.  Having been born and raised in Lyon, it’s refreshing to eat creations from individuals who have actually lived and breathed the lifestyle.  At Ici, the menu offer classics with a twist of fushion – think flavourful sauces and rich ingredients synonymous with French cooking but also additions of guacamole, ginger and Asian pear.

To begin, an amuse of salted cod and butternut squash fritters were presented.  Served warm, the fritters were soft, doughy and had a nice brininess from the fish.  

Ici has a fairly limited menu but each dish can be ordered as a small or large portion, allowing you to customize what you want as a starter. With the exception of the scallop, all dishes and prices listed below are for the small option.  Although many of us opted for two small choices (rather than one small and one large) we were more than satisfied as the dishes are so rich that it’d be hard to eat more of it.

My starter of avocado fritter, crispy squid and guacamole ($15) was very tempura like with the various nuggets of fried goods.  The guacamole was extremely citrusy but leant itself to being paired with the fried squid helping to cut through some of the oiliness.  The avocado “fritters” were actually just pieces of avocado battered and fried so I wouldn’t actually consider them fritters.  They were okay, but a bit much when there’s already guacamole on the plate, a different vegetable would have been preferred.

In tasting my friend’s lobster bisque ($16) I found it was very gingery from the minced pieces they put in the oil topping the soup.  It was calmed down once my friend had the chance to mix it into the bisque.  The presentation was nice with the crème fraiche foam (?) and the fried shrimp on top.

Duck is one of those proteins I love but never cook at home.  So, when I’m out and it’s on the menu I love to get it.  The breast in Ici’s duck magret ($22) was rendered well giving it a thin layer of toasted skin while the meat was a nice medium and tender.  The cherry wine sauce covering it was tarte and delicious, I just wished everything could be hotter (although it’s likely because they had to rest the duck prior to cutting). On the side, was a plump duck confit ravioli, though based on the thin wrapper is more like a dumpling, which was filled with flavourful confit meat.  Another strong tasting element was the truffle croquette; as soon as you broke through the bread crumb coating an ooze of chopped up truffle with cheese/cream flowed out.  The creamy truffle mixture actually went well with the slices of potatoes and green beans, the sole elements of the dish that were more neutral tasting.

My friend’s scallops ($36) were exquisitely presented in a tower form, cut in half with a layer of king crab in between then sandwiched in slices of crispy Asian pear.  Overall, was delicious with the scallop cooked well.  I found the pear accompaniment intriguing but the scallop’s flavour was masked by the other ingredients.  On each side of the scallop were a poached lobster claw and a potato and spring onion (?) risotto.

Having been slow cooked for four hours, the braised beef ($21) was tender despite the lean cut of meat. Sitting on a bed of mashed potatoes with a vegetable medley on the side the small portion was still quite a substantial meal.  Little nuggets of deep fried bone marrow mixed with slivers of beef were intense despite their size – I had a quarter of one and as soon as it hit the tongue a beefy fat flavour flooded everything (so watch out before you pop an entire one into your mouth).

For dessert we ordered two soufflés ($16 each) to share - grand marnier and chocolate griottine.  They were beautifully risen and each served with a sauce to pour in - vanilla custard for the grand marnier and a dark chocolate ganache with the chocolate griottine.  The only bad element was the pieces of fruit inside the batter - big pieces of orange rind and drunken cherries.  Personally, I hate fruit in desserts (with the exception of sponge cake, cheesecake, pies and crumble). Especially with the light bubbliness of a soufflé, the harsh pieces of fruit somewhat ruined it and I had to pick them out.

Despite having a relatively lean staff, service was friendly and attentive. The only strange occurrence happened when we asked the server a question about the menu; she had to revert to the lone waitress to answer that instead. Really, everyone who works for a restaurant should really know what they are serving.   Nonetheless, I enjoyed the experience and left full and sedated.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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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!