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Colborne Lane: First Impressions

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I celebrated my birthday with my family at Colborne Lane on Thursday night. It's an interestingly designed space that exudes warmth. We were seated at the long communal table that runs down the centre of the dining room, much to the initial looks of horror on my teenaged daughters' faces.

First off, having a food-picky 15-year-old amongst us who, every 10 minutes, wondered aloud whether we'd make it home to watch the 10:00 airing of Grey's Anatomy (we had 7:00 reservations), made for lovely dining conversation. One look at the menu and its descriptions had her trying not so hard to hide the scowl on her face and voicing her none too subtle grumblings. We managed to choose three items for her that we thought she'd enjoy, two of which were, in fact, hits. The 19-year-old is more culinarily adventurous, so she was not difficult to please.

The service throughout the evening was professional, although I'm not so sure that the servers have been sufficiently coached in the art of describing individual menu items. Many of my questions concerning the dishes were met with nods rather than vocals. Still, this being only the seventh night of operation, I don't feel that it is correct to dwell on this. Nor do I love "reviewing" a restaurant that is so freshly made.

My comments, then, will be brief. Any inadequacies will, I'm certain, be tweaked by the time of my next visit.

We ordered:

Lobster bisque
Lobster seviche
Seared tuna
Lentil soup
Caramelized vegetables
Wok-fried squid
Duck
Hen
Pork tenderloin/belly duo
Beef tenderloin/rib duo
Squab

Lavender parfait
Apple strudel
Hot chocolate cake

Please note that each dish is composed of numerous textural and sensory elements. I’m not about to deconstruct each dish here, so will simply offer my view of the overall success of the dish.

The lobster bisque was very strongly flavoured, obviously made using a very concentrated lobster stock; a little over-powering.

The lobster seviche was very tasty. I loved the texture of the lobster.

The seared tuna was delicious.

The lentil soup (for food-picky daughter) was excellent, gobbled up by said daughter, save for the basmati foam which was spooned out of the bowl.

The caramelized vegetables would have been enjoyed by above-mentioned daughter if she hadn’t been averse to the smoked Gouda drizzle. This dish was okay, nothing great.

The wok-fried squid was one of my favourites.

The duck was excellent.

The hen was beautifully prepared and delicious.

The pork belly was luscious and scrumptious. The tenderloin was cooked to well-done (although the waiter had advised that it would be cooked medium-rare), and was, not surprisingly, quite tough and tasteless.

The beef dish was devoured by you-know-which-daughter. Enough said.

The squab was wonderful.

The desserts were enjoyable, but I wasn’t blown away by them. Hubby has will power, hence only three desserts.

One thing that I don’t know how Mr. Aprile will overcome is the temperature of the food by the time it gets to the table. The kitchen is downstairs; the runners bring the food up the open staircase, placing food that is often lukewarm on the table. I happen to dislike piping-hot food and find that flavours are at their best when they cool down a bit; but I think I may be in the minority here.

Claudio Aprile circulated among the tables towards the end of our meal, and was obviously glowing and very proud of his baby.

All in all, this was a truly enjoyable evening. The plating and presentation of the food was lovely, and horizontal; no toppling of towers required. Some of the accompaniments to the dishes seem not to quite fit, but this restaurant is a work in progress. Give the artist a bit of time with his palette (and palate) and the canvas will be a masterpiece.

By the way, we arrived home at 9:55. And Grey’s Anatomy was lousy.

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  1. What did you think of the pineapple gelatin on the pork belly?

    1. Darn - I'm from out-of-town and I wasted a meal/opportunity back in November dining at Sen5es. I specifically went there to taste Aprile's food, and was VERY disapointed to find out that he was not longer in the kitchen. The food was nothing special.

      I will definitely try this new joint on my next visit. A couple of questions - How does the food compare to that at Sen5es when Aprile was in charge? What is the dining room like? Price range? What part of town?

      1. You didn't miss anything. His sen5es sojourn was extremely disappointing.
        The food at Colborne lane is much better focussed. Ingredients work together, rather than appearing to be randomly distributed (OK that's an exaggeration - at Sen5es there always seemed to be 1 ingredient that didn't work with the others).
        Prices are also somewhat cheaper - with wine allow around $250 for two including taxes & gratuities. It's located behind the King Edward Hotel right downtown.