Showing posts with label price fixe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label price fixe. 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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Smith Restaurant (Toronto)

Smith Toronto


Smith’s décor, much like sister restaurant Wish, is swathed in rustic elegance and has memorable eclectic details. How could I ever forget the pomegranates held in an enormous cast iron ladle gracing the middle of the table? The large picture book sitting in the corner that you had to ensure was a safe distance from the lit candelabra? Or the fact it took over a minute of circling the communal sink in the washroom before I realized to operate the bloody contraption there were small pedals on the floor...at the back?


Being a smaller restaurant, the service was a touch faster than the snail-like pace of Wish; there wasn’t the excruciatingly long wait times between courses. A meal in itself, the French onion soup came in a traditional vessel engulfed in cheese - the dish will surely excite any dairy lover. Although delicious, the sheer amount of it sometimes becomes too much as after a few spoons it feels like you’re eating the cheese rather than enjoying the actual soup.


The broth itself was adequately flavoured, decent amounts of caramelized onions gracing the bottom and the soup’s saltiness well balance to not cover their sweetness.  The thick round of toasted bread on top was delicious.

Even though the steak was cooked to the requested medium rare and adequately seasoned, the meat was sitting atop my favourite part of steak frites… the FRIES. Sure, it could help with the dish’s presentation by elevating the meat in the cast iron skillet, but NEVER at the expensive of ruining the fries. What could have been crispy delicious pieces of potato heaven (they were nice from the ones I could salvage around the side) was rendered into a soggy mushy oily mash, resembling what accompanies Swiss Chalet delivery.


With all the desserts sounding delicious, I was in luck when my friends agreed we had to order everything and share! The apple crumble was served hot allowing the cinnamon sugared oats to waft out a lovely aroma. There were tons of apples and a big scoop of cooling vanilla ice cream on top.


Despite being a tad watery, the lemon tart had a smooth sweet citrus custard and a crumbly buttery crust.


Admittedly, the Nutella bread pudding isn’t accurately named – the chocolate hazelnut spread not prevalent and the bread in a hunk rather in pudding form. But, this was still my favourite of all the desserts given it was reminiscent of Cinnabon and what’s not to love about that?


Of all the desserts, the dark chocolate cake was the ones I had doubts about. Sure enough, it was a heavy sweet dessert with the dense chocolate cake and frosting, ice cream, and candied nuts. But, sometimes you’re in the mood for a rich sweet and given we were sharing, having a couple of spoons was pretty delicious.



Brigitte, our server for the evening, was such a treat: genuinely friendly and seemed to love what she was doing. I know Winterlicious isn’t a favoured time for those who work in the industry – more crowds, more courses to serve and with the lower price points, sometimes less gratuities. So, it was refreshing that she had such a great attitude and zest for life. For that, I’ll ALMOST forgive the fries incident. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
Is Winterlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Winterlicious - $35
Regular menu - $47 - soup ($9), steak frites ($25) and dessert ($10)
Savings - $9 or 20%
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 553 Church 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:



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

Colette Grand Cafe for Dinner (Toronto)

For some reason I’m on a French food kick lately. It has something to do with their beautiful restaurants, equally artistic plates and of course the rich sauces. Having visited Colette Grand Café for brunch, Winterlicious seemed like an opportune time to return to sample dinner service. After all, the dining room is stunning – one thing off the list.

Although not the prettiest, Colette’s French onion soup was richly flavoured and loaded with slivers of sweet caramelized onions on the bottom. Plenty of cubed croutons floated on top, the corners retaining their crispiness despite sitting in the soup. There was also a sufficient, but not overwhelming, amount of gruyere cheese so it didn’t feel too heavy. If only there was more of the lovely broth itself; between all the onions and soaked bread, there was little soup to actually enjoy and made the bowl seem so shallow and sunken.


The heartiness of the beef bourguignon beckoned and despite being tantalizingly plated, the execution was merely fine. I'll paraphrase my friend who described the dish best - it's a good take on braised short ribs but it's not beef bourguignon. Most noticeably the dish lacked the adult flavours of a robust red wine or hint of brandy. But, it did have tiny pieces of a pickled vegetable scattered amongst the braising liquid (could be onion or celery) that provided a shock of freshness that’s unexpected but welcomed. Moreover, the silky celery root and potato puree was buttery and satisfying.   


As with my previous brunch experience, Colette's desserts have none of the pizazz you'd expect from a country that's synonymous with swoon worthy pastries. The horchata rice pudding was good, especially when mixed with the smooth orb of pistachio mascarpone cream in the centre, but hardly made you want to stop and savour it.


Despite being talked up by our friendly bubbly server, the chocolate brownie cake fell flat when it became evident it sat in the oven too long, so much so that a fork could hardly penetrate the cake’s edges. The second serving they brought out was better, akin to a crunchier Two Bite Brownie. The peanut butter anglaise, smeared on the plate, was fantastic.


Consider their off-menu dessert – salted caramel ice cream. It sounds plain but arrived topped with crumbled toffee and the best of the three. I guess that’s a reminder: sometimes it’s the simple things that can be the most satisfying. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Is Winterlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Winterlicious - $45
Regular menu - $47 - soup* ($10), beef* ($29) and dessert* ($12)
Savings - $6 or 12%

* As many dishes weren't part of their regular menu, the soup was based on wild mushroom soup, beef based on braised lamb shank and dessert a wild guess from me
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 550 Wellington 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!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Colette Grand Café - Thompson Toronto Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato