Showing posts with label fish tartare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fish tartare. Show all posts

156 Cumberland (Toronto)

156 Cumberland elicits a sense of mystery. Not in a murder mystery, speak easy, or blind tasting sense. Rather, you’re not quite sure what to expect. It starts with their name… merely repeating their central Yorkville address, good luck figuring out what this restaurant’s about.

Even their menu left me perplexed, a simple one liner printed at the bottom ‘Hanjan, dujan, sejan, floor’ – 156 Cumberland Team. Google translates this for me as ‘One drink, two drink, three drink, floor’. So, there’s a sense of cheekiness and a Korean inspiration to 156 Cumberland.

The beef tartare ($15) are flavourful bundles of joy – for your mouth that is. Sweet, savoury, and spicy elements combine with the minced beef before being stuffed into fried tofu skin. An egg yolk drizzle adds a thick creamy element while the chives a burst of freshness.

If the avocado mousse wasn’t so over salted the hiramasa ($25) would have been perfect. A generous portion of yellowtail incorporated a hint of heat from white kimchi gel and horseradish along with briny bits of oiji (a Korean pickle). While the avocado helps bind everything together, it was overly seasoned, so I ended up scraping most of it off to allow me to taste the fish. The little toasted seaweed chips were a great choice to scoop this up.

The intensely flavoured appetizers did leave the Korean bouillabaisse ($34) tasting flat. Perhaps it’s why the kitchen chose to serve the bouillabaisse with the white kimchi on the side. Ultimately, it lacked the saffron hit that makes the seafood sing. At least there was a decent number of clams, bay scallops, and haddock and the thin circles of rice cake were an interesting chewy texture against the seafood.  

The #AvecJayden’s white kimchi ($8) supports a fellow chef – the sous chef of Richmond Station who began perfecting his recipe during the pandemic and later starting an enterprise to sell it. Given it doesn’t rely heavily on spicy gochujang, Jayden’s version is light and fresh so didn’t detract from the seafood.

Give me an entire dish of sujebi ($37), the slices of silky Korean pasta swimming in a decadent buttery sauce. Chunks of duck leg, meaty maitake mushrooms, sweet corn, and fried sage made this the highlight of the meal.

There wasn’t an ounce of fruit in the banana milk tiramisu ($13), but I don’t mind. My best guess as to where the banana was incorporated may be the cake. Regardless, the dessert satisfied and aptly fit the menu’s description as being not too sweet.

The kitchen’s efficiency seemed to put a strain on the front-of-the-house. Even though service was friendly, they were so busy running food and drinks that switching plates became an after thought. A new plate would be ideal between the starters and the bouillabaisse, at least we managed to get one for the sujebi after waiting a bit.

Dinner also seemed rushed with little time between dishes. I didn’t feel like I could really settle in and relax without letting the mains go cold. Slow down 156 Cumberland and let the diners converse and drink. After all, how can we fulfill ‘Hanjan, dujan, sejan, floor’ if we’re out after two?

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order: sujebi and beef tartare
  • Just skip: Korean bouillabaisse

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 156 Cumberland 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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The Shore Club Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 155 Wellington Street West
Type of Meal: Dinner

Having recently returned to the Shore Club (read about Winterlicious experience here), one thing is for sure - their impeccable service has not changed. Once again our waiter, John, was extremely friendly, service was always attentive and our courses served in unison. They have done away with the black vs. white napkins, but this is likely due to switching to a lint free supplier. In terms of their environment and attention to customers there are no complaints here. 

During this visit I ordered off their regular menu and decided to go with the fish options given the restaurant is named the Shore Club. Alas, they may not be adequately named as my husband's meat-based dishes were definitely the better choice of the evening.

To start, I had the fish tartare trio ($19), which from left to right consisted of tuna, sea bass and salmon. The tuna was my favourite given it had the most taste from being marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil with chopped green onions mixed throughout. The salmon, combined with mayonnaise and dill, provided traditional flavours and was decent but did require some added salt table side.

My husband and I both agreed that the sea bass needed improvement – being such a neutral fish it had the opportunity to take on great flavours! Yet the chef did nothing so that it was essentially chopped up pieces of tasteless fish. It would have been nice to build on the fish's profile with citrus, chili and/or fresh fruit to give it a ceviche feel (a nice contrast to the other two offerings). The highlight of the Shore Club's fish tartare was the abundance of crostini provided; an adequate a number of pieces accompanied the dish so there was plenty of bread for the fish in the order.

In contrast, my husband's steak tartare ($18) was one of the better versions I've had in Toronto. Traditionally made with pickles, horseradish and onions it was well flavoured and a great consistency. Made with a good cut of tenderloin the tartare became soft and creamy, but the horseradish and maybe mustard mix throughout really deepen the taste nicely to complement the beef. As a warning, this is a fairly heavy dish so consider sharing it.  Combined with a salad it could have been a meal in itself! 

Continuing with the fish theme, my main was the stuffed rainbow trout ($31). I was flabbergasted with the portion of fish received; seriously, it was an entire deboned fish. If only it was cooked less it would have been better as I found the fish was starting to become dry. Additionally, it needed more stuffing as I really couldn't taste much of the dungeness crab or shrimp within the fish. Perhaps, the Shore Club should consider adding vegetables into the stuffing to provide moisture when cooking the fish as well as some contrasting textures and flavors. All in all, I enjoyed the deboned fillet and piping hot temperature the fish arrived in, just the doneness and flavours need to be tweaked.

My husband kept it simple and went with the bone-in rib steak ($42). I have to admit it's hard to go wrong with meat with plenty of fat marbleization and a bone to add flavor. My suggestion, if you go to the restaurant, is to stick with meat as they seem to prepare it better. Unlike our previous visit, the steak was cooked evenly so whatever problems the cooking surface was experiencing before seems to have been fixed. The meat could've been cut thicker, but it’s a personal preference (I'd rather have a thicker than wider steak) and could have been a better quality as we did find there was a fair amount of it that was simply too grizzly and hard to cut into.

Sorry but forgot to snap pictures of the sides. As a table we ordered green beans ($10), the steakhouse fries ($8), scalloped potatoes ($10) and mashed potatoes ($9) to share. You can refer to my previous post for thoughts on the green beans and fries. Of the other potato dishes the mashed definitely had the better flavour profile and was fluffy and well salted. The scalloped potatoes showed promise, they were cooked to a nice consistency, but was bland as it seemed the cream sauce didn't have much salt in it at all.

It's fairly surprising that the Shore Club seems to do better with Winterlicious. For the amount paid for the meal, I was disappointed with the offering as many dishes simply lacked much flavor or interest. Admittedly, the portion sizes are much bigger, but I would much rather have a smaller but better tasting dish.

Sadly, my opinion of the restaurant actually decreased since coming back for the regular menu (awarded a 7 for Winterlicious but only a 6 for this visit). Thankfully, the attentive and friendly service was still alive and that is something (along with portion sizes) that the Shore Club will always have going for it.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!