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Perigee Experience - Amazing!

This is a bit late as I was off last week for vacation and avoided the computer as much as possible, however a good friend and I had a lovely evening at Perigee on August 18th.

To start, we had walked around the distillery district for a while and made a stop at Soma for some Mayan Hot Chocolate and picked up some of their heavenly truffles...by all means try their 12-year old balsamic vinegar truffle - they are fantastic and the hot chocolate is incredible...

As our reservation was early (6pm), we were promptly seated at the central table, facing the kitchen and we watched the chef and rest of the staff finish their prep...

We ordered sparkling water to drink and I had one of their signature cocktails which included mango juice, coconut rum and mint liqueur, my guest had a glass of pinot grigio (2003). After discussing any dietary restrictions (I'm allergic to raw tomatoes) and dislikes, we both ordered the 6 course meal. Our drinks were brought along with an amuse bouche.

The amuse bouche consisted of a calamari tart (tiny and perfectly cooked), deep fried mozzarella tortellini (crisp coating with an al dente bite), a crab taco with avocado (too rich for my liking) and a wild mushroom strudel (flaky phyllo with woodsy mushrooms - very nice).

After the amuse we were given a plate of breads and spreads, including a lavash flatbread, sourdough and the tiniest rosemary panini (paninini?) I've ever seen. The spreads included a truffle white bean puree (kind of gritty texture with strong truffle flavour), a peppery olive oil and fresh churned butter (pure heaven).

After swooning over the fresh butter, our first course arrived, as you know, no one at the table gets the same item. My guest received tuna two ways - one as a tartare (sweet and delicate) and one cooked in a radicchio slaw. I was served striped bass with pears and radishes. The bass was buttery and delicate with a crisp seared side, very nice indeed.

For the second course, my guest received a grilled lobster tail served on a wild mushroom tart. This was a fantastic tasting item and the smoky flavour blended well with the woodsy mushrooms. I received two seared diver scallops with carrot ginger puree, sugar peas and an onion ring. The scallops were perfectly cooked (almost raw inside) and the carrot ginger puree was sweet and smooth.

For the third course, my guest was served sweetbreads poached in cabernet grape and raisin sauce served over a beet salad. I'm not usually a big fan of sweetbreads, but these were good, however they paled in comparison to the dish I got: peach cobbler served with seared foie gras. The foie gras was crisply seared on the outside and just melting inside. The combination of the foie and the sweet peach cobbler had my guest moaning with delight.

The chef, noting our enjoyment of some of the "nasty bits" came by with an interlude for us to try: foie gras mousse cheesecake featuring a foie grais mousse over foie gras pate in a parmesean crust made with melted foie gras instead of butter. This incredibly rich item would have been over the top (and quite possibly indeed made us sick from the richness) if it weren't served with a sour cherry compote and a pink grapefruit salsa. Beautiful and we both asked for a cake to take home...

We were then thankfully served a palate cleanser of a lychee sorbet (my guest) and a lemon sorbet (myself) both were astringent and refreshing.

The main course was served next, with my guest getting a smoked bison tenderloin served with vegetable ratatouille and roasted red pearl onions. The chef delivered my meal with a michievous gleam in his eye. I was served what was probably the best damn deli-style roast beef sandwich EVER. It consisted of rye crisps fried in duck fat with rare venison tenderloin, cabbage dill slaw with cornichons and dijon mustard sauce. This item was the standout of the meal and the flavours paired nicely.

For the cheese course, my guest was served a belgian hard cows milk cheese (sorry I forget the name) with an olive crisp and radicchio salad, I was served a blue cheese with white peaches and walnut oil. Both cheeses were strong and earthy and complimented their garnishes well.

We were then given a "pre-dessert" to ease our way from savoury to sweet. My guest was given a tiny scoop of sweet corn sorbet served on crisp corn bread and cilantro oil. I was served a banana fritter with chocolate ganache and yuzu juice. The combination of the rich chocolate and sour yuzu juice was fantastic!

For dessert, my guest received a hot chocolate custard with marshmallow whipped cream and sour cherry coulis. I received a lemon citrus napoleon with lemon poppyseed melba toast and wild blueberries. I love citrus and blueberries and enjoyed every morsel of this dish. The chocolate custard was not overly rich or sweet and was a nice combination of flavours.

When the bill was presented, we were given a dish which had a homemade marshmallow (tiny, perfect and delicate), a piece of candied ginger and a lemon biscuit.

Throughout the evening, the servers were attentive without being intrusive and took care of our every needs. The chefs were pleasant and detailed in their descriptions and made the evening a very enjoyable experience. Both of us agreed that we would go back to Perigee for a special meal in an instant!

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  1. Great review... we were just there about a month ago and it was stellar as always. For those who haven't been I can't recommend it enough.

    1. Thanks for the great review. Is Perigee in the Susur price range?

      5 Replies
      1. re: mickeyj

        5 course = $90
        6 course = $100
        7 course = $110

        I may be off by $5 on these... regardless, dinner at Perigee is worth the price!

        1. re: TorontoJo

          prices changed recently..
          5 = $95, 6 = $115, 7 = $125

          We went on saturday night and had a similar menu to what Mike from Hamilton had.

          We didn't get a dish presented with the bill though. Has anyone else gotten this before?

          Perigee certainly is one of the best dining experiences in Toronto... will have a review with pictures soon.

          1. re: thegreatfoodhunt

            I received the dish with the bill. Can't recall exactly what is was though??

        2. re: mickeyj

          Does anyone have any idea of the pricing with wine. Thanks.

          1. re: Mila

            55, 60, 70 i believe.. for the corresponding tasting menus

        3. Were the portions really small, or were you totally stuffed? And did you notice what any of the other diners were eating? This may sound uncultured, but the menu you described is one of the least appetizing I've ever heard.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ddelicious

            Just a slight caution.
            Both the tasting menu and the 'accompanying wines' are now the most expensive in Toronto (for example more expensive than the equivalents at Susur, Splendido, Sen5es and Truffles). Of course, if it's wonderful then good luck to them, but everyone should be aware of the costs.

            1. re: estufarian

              it's almost a better deal to go with the Taste of Perigee menu..

            2. re: ddelicious

              I thought that the portions were quite reasonable when I went. I had the 5 course. Apparently the amount of food is the same, but more rich if you opt with the 6 or 7 course.

              I was comfortably full when I left vs. Susur where I felt I needed to burst (it was worth it though).

              1. re: ddelicious

                I left satisfied but not stuffed. The first few courses were what one would call "small plates" and gave enough to give a good representation of the flavour but not fill you up.

                The main course was slightly larger (I got two medallions of venison tenderloin on the "sandwich").

                You have to realize that the chef does tailor your items to your dietary needs and likes and dislikes. One of the questions we were asked were if we had aversions to seafoods, meats, game and organ meats.

                My concerns were of whether the flavours would clash, especially the game and organ meats, but they were paced and the flavours seemed to flow well. It was a very well paced meal...

              2. Yes, I have to agree. This was the best dining experience I had on my recent trip to Toronto....I was also there on the 18th, having grabbed a last minute spot for one at the center table...and for this I owe a debt of gratitude to TorontoJo, since she urged me to reconsider my choice of George over Perigee, in the following thread:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                Thanks to her comments, I went back again to look at Perigee's website, realized that it was dining with a full view of the kitchen (my favorite way to dine alone), took a look at the weather report (which was threatening rain) and decided that a patio wasn't that big a deal, and made my reservation at Perigee. Am I glad I did: this was my most enjoyable fine dining experience in a long, long time, and more than worth saving up my Conference per diem and chipping in my own money to experience!

                I was puttting off writing a full report, because when I asked if it was possible to get a list of what I was being served (to avoid having to take notes) the server asked for my email and said it would be sent to me. I haven't gotten any email yet, so this lack of follow up (assuming it isn't yet to come) is really my only complaint about the place... I won't even gripe about the wine prices (as I have in most of my Canada reviews this summer) because actually, while they were high, I didn't think they were out of line, and the pours were *very* generous. In every case I got more than the 2 ounces stated per pour on the menu: in most cases it was more like 4 ounces...and all of the pairings were excellent, varied, very well thought out.

                So, great wine portions. and to answer ddelicious' question: portions were not very small, but nor was I totally stuffed, though I was definitely just the other side of satisfied by the end. I was happy just to walk the block or so to the main street from the Distillery to catch a taxi, and then collapse into bed...

                As for the menu I had, I can't remember all of the details without notes or that email, but I got the six course menu, and highlights included:

                -a bellini with fresh peach nectar to start: excellent, but I probably would have skipped it if I had known how generous the wine pours would be.

                -same lobster that Mike got; delicious, perfectly cooked;

                -the sweetbreads on beets, which I thought was outstanding, but then I didn't have the fois gras to compare them with... :-

                )

                -a pork belly that made me swoon (I love pork belly, and the Chef was pleased to see how my eyes lit up when it was put in front of me);

                -my main course was a venison 'pot au feu', which was absolutely stunning. Probably the best venison I've ever eaten. However, I put the dish name in quotes, because I don't think it was traditional: I believe the meat was roasted before being combined with the lovely, perfectly cooked vegetables...but, it is possible it was just seared first (?) In any event, it was tender and delicious.

                -I also had the lemon citrus napoleon; and those are flavors I love as well, although the lemon filling was a tad too sweet for my taste. Probably the lease successful course for me. Not that it wasn't very good: it was; it just wasn't a standout.

                -I also got a biscuit or cookie and the perfect little marshmallows with my bill.

                Service throughout was outstanding: informative and friendly without being overbearing, and timing and pacing was spot on. Moreover, the entertainment value of eating while watching the kitchen, being surprised with each course, and having the chef come over periodically to describe his dishes and give and get feedback can't be overstated. I had a lot of fun, enjoyed every minute, loved the food, loved the wine, and definitely would return in a heartbeat! Yes, also highly recommended. Thanks to all the hounds, and especially to TorontoJo, for this recommendation.

                5 Replies
                1. re: susancinsf

                  You're welcome! I'm so glad you made it to Perigee and loved it as much as I do. I love that it's fine dining that isn't stuffy or somber. I love the interaction with the kitchen, though I can certainly understand if some people would rather not see their food being prepared.

                  If you're ever back in town and uncertain whether you want splurge for another 3-digit meal, make a reservation for Perigee's dessert tasting. Totally decadent and quite reasonable ($40?).

                  Now susan... we just need your report on Chiado. I got the impression that you weren't overly impressed. :)

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    true enough...and it is coming, I promise...as soon as I get enough work done around here to justify my paycheck! :-)

                  2. re: susancinsf

                    Follow up:

                    I did get the email with dishes and wine pairings...here you are, with a few additional comments:

                    TUNA DUO WITH TUNA TARTARE ON FOIE GRAS MAYO, GRILLED RADDICHIO, PICKLED ONION AND A BALSAMIC DRIZZLED BREAD CRISP PAIRED ALOND SIDE COLD POACHED TUNA ON CHERVIL AND FOIE GRAS SAUCE, TORN RADDICHIO, BARBEQUED ONION BALSAMIC CROUTONS
                    DOMAINE PAUL BLANCK, PINOT GRIS, “PATERGARTEN”, ALSACE, FRANCE 2003

                    >Well, guess since I didn't remember this even though the OP had it, it wasn't the most memorable dish of the night...
                    ~
                    MARSALA GLAZED, GRILLED NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER KEBOB ON SAUTÉED WILD MUSHROOMS AND FRESH CHERRY TOMATO IN A PUFF PASTRY VOL-AU-VENT ON VANILLA MARSALA GLAZE
                    BOUCHARD FINLAYSON , “CROCODILE’S LAIR” , CHARDONNAY, OVERBERG, SOUTH AFRICA 2002
                    ~
                    BRAISED PORK BELLY ON A SALAD OF HONEYDEW MELON WITH GRAPEFRUIT, JULIENNE OF SNOW PEAS, STAR ANISE AND MUSTARD SEED VINAIGRETTE AND A FERMENTED BLACK BEAN AND BROWN SUGAR JUS
                    ST. URBANS-HOF, PIESPORTER GOLDTRÖPFCHEN, RIESLING KABINET, MOSEL SAAR RUWER, GERMANY 2003
                    ~
                    BRAISED PROVIMI VEAL SWEETBREADS WITH A SALAD OF WILD ARUGULA, TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS, GRAPES, RAISINS AND PICKLED BEETS
                    ALBERT MANN, “VIEILLES VIGNES” AUXERROIS, ALSACE, FRANCE 2004
                    ~
                    LYCHEE AND SAKI SORBET WITH PLUM JAM
                    ~
                    RARE ROASTED RACK CHOP OF NEW ZEALAND VENISON, CARVED OFF THE BONE, ON A POT AU FEU OF VEGETABLES IN A VENISON BROTH
                    AZIENDA AGRICOLA BIANCHI, GATTINARA, ITALY 1999
                    ~
                    > my memory was correct that this wasn't a traditional pot aue feu. It was outstanding...

                    VIEUX BRUGES AGED BELGIAN COW’S MILK CHEESE WITH FENNEL AND GREEN OLIVE SALAD, BLOOD ORANGE MARMELADE AND BLACK OLIVE BREAD CRISP
                    HENRY OF PELHAM, CUVÉE CATHARINE, BRUT, NIAGARA PENINSULA, CANADA N. V.
                    ~
                    GARAM MASALA SUGAR DUSTED MEXICAN STYLE CHUIROS WITH TAMARIND AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CRÈME ANGLAISE

                    >This one didn't do much for me, but I was started to feel fairly stuffed at that point...
                    ~
                    NAPOLEON OF LEMON, LIME AND ORANGE CURDS WITH POPPY SEED MELDA TOAST, CITRUS SALAD, FRESH WILD BLUEBERRIES AND WILD BLUEBERRY COMPOTE
                    ST.STEPHEN’S CROWN., 3 PUTTONYOS TOKAJI, HUNGARY 1999

                    The service was excellent on my visit, very unlike Kai's experience below, which would have disappointed me as well. From the perspective of a visitor, especially one dining alone, it was more appealing than Splendido, which struck me as being more like something I could find back home. With the possible exception of sitting on the line at Boulevard (where one can see the plating but not all of the kitchen activity), I can't think of any place comparable to Perigee's overall package in the SF area...

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Your menu certainly sounds good - I love most of those ingredients - lobster, churros, yum. However, my experience also included great-sounding ingredients with disappointing results. Our group of 7 were seated away from the kitchen, so I can imagine that as a solo diner, the view must have been great. I, too, got the sweetbreads (prepared differently) but they were blah. (The sweetbreads at Peller Winery were also blah. The best ones I've ever had were at Les Halles in NYC. I can still remember the exact taste - I have a sudden urge for a road trip! My mom swears by the sweetbreads at Cafe Jongleux in Montreal.)

                      1. re: Food Tourist

                        Please do try lamb sweetbreads if you can ever find them. I find they have a slightly nuttier taste. The first time I found them was in Spain, but have now found them 'occasionally' at Fat Cat (especially around Easter) and once at Czehoski.

                  3. I commend you on the level of detail in your review. Out of curiousity, how do you do that? Did you take notes or do you just have an exceptionally good memory.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Aardvark

                      I usually keep a diary of interesting food experiences I've had and request a copy of the menu from the restaurant if it's something that has particularly piqued my interest.

                      I agree with Food Tourist that a number of meals I've had in the USA have topped my experiences at many places I've been in Toronto. As I don't drink wine (due to problems with sulphites), the wine pairings being uninspired does not bother me.

                      I've been to Susur on a number of occasions and the past two times the service has been unfriendly and bordering on the downright rude. I have also come across instances where the dishes sound like an inspired idea to begin with but were near inedible due to the clash of flavours...yes they looked beautiful but food is to be enjoyed and tasted, not looked at.

                      But heck, my favourite tasting menu dining experience was at the French Laundry...NOTHING I've had since has beaten that...