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GEORGE - Wow!! ( an updated review; longish )

Charles Yu Apr 26, 2007 04:42 PM

A while back, I came across a number of write-ups which alleged that the overall enjoyment factor of dining in George has suffered a major set back ever since the departure of their award winning sommelier, Kim Cyr. However, recently, whenever there were discussions on the Toronto board that centered on 'must eat fine dining', George's name inevitably appeared high on the recommended list. With my last visit to George going way back to the Kim Cyr's era, I was curious and determined to give George a 're-try' and to find out the latest, first hand'.

Our party of four arrived at 7 on a Wednesday evening. I was astounded to find that the place was already more than half full with a number of 'party tables' occupied by 10 or more patrons per table. This sight automatically triggered an alarm in me since, based on past experiences, an 'overstretched' kitchen swamped with simultaneous influx of large orders, almost always causes it to buckle and succumb to pressure. The end result, long waits and inconsistantly prepared food. Well, we'll see!

To better judge the quality of the food, we all decided to go with the 8 course tasting menu. Whilst expecting 8 different dishes, we were all pleasantly surprised when the kitchen, even under intense presuure and controlled chaos, still managed to provide us with 16 different choices and a chance for us to share and savour the offerings.

As for the food, it was GREAT!! The majority of the dishes were well executed, both spectacular in taste and artfully presented. The theme, we deduced, was to have the same main ingredients cooked using different techniques ( a la Michael Mina of San Francisco?! ). The diversity of ingredients served included, house cured ham, soft shell crab, Moroccan octopus, Icelandic scampi, Texas wild prawns, quail eggs, foie gras, stuffed artichoke hearts, shredded oxtail, sweet bread, organically raised lamb and melt-in-the-mouth US prime fillet mignon....etc. Another point worth mentioning was that all dishes were accompanied with great tasting sauces of complex intensity that were there to augment but never once did they concealed or overwhelmed the main ingredients.

The final dessert platter, which consisted of warm souffles, heavenly fluffy lemon mouse tartlets, fruit puddings and '5' different chocolate/.banana concoctions were definitely inspired creations and all tasted awesome! Great finish to a great meal!

During the past few months, I was fortunate to have eaten dishes prepared from the kitchens of French Iron Chef Sekai and Michelin 3 star chefs, Pierre Gagnaire and Joel Robouchon. After my Wednesday outting, I am proud to say that some of the dishes from our own 'Toronto' establishment can stand proud and tall beside some of the aforementioned world famous 'stalwart' counterpart!!

KUDOS TO GEORGE'S CHEF AND HIS TEAM!!

I also recalled from previous postings, comments made regarding ' inconsistant/bad ' service of some high-end establishments in town,such as Susur and Thuet. Well, I am happy to say that our waitress of the night was totally professional, attentive and super friendly. With the restaurant packed solid by 9 pm, it was great to see her attending to our every need with a continously smiling face and not missing a single beat.

Lastly, for those Chowhound in search of the ultimate tasting menu and the 'total package' experience ( ie., food, wine. service and ambience ) in Toronto. Splendido and George are definitely the current 'one-two punch'. Interesting how both Splendido's David Lee and George's Lorenzo Loseto used to train under the famed Michelin 3 star chef, Antoine Mossiman?!!

  1. syoung Apr 26, 2007 08:04 PM

    George is quite good but I have to agree with skylineR33 to say as well that's it's not in the same league as Joel Robuchon. Not even close. But then again, JR is also in a different league price-wise as well.

    7 Replies
    1. re: syoung
      Charles Yu Apr 26, 2007 09:20 PM

      Do not get me wrong! My intention was not to compare George as a restaurant with any of Robouchon's Michelin star establishments. However, I would just like to point out that I have tasted certain individual dishes conceived by Lorenzo Loseto that are tasty and artful enough that can stand with some of Robouchon's.on equal footing. As one who has dined in Robouchon's Paris 3 star 'Jamin', before his 'first' retirement, his current L'Ateliers in Paris,Tokyo and Hong Kong. as well as his Asian flagship Galera a Robouchon in Macau. I would just like to say that even great master can misfire and produce food that might look good but are bland and short in flavour. I also recalled eating in Paris 3 star Lucas Carton, whence Chef Sanderen came up with a totally 'aweful' pig's liver with chocolate sauce!! Lastly, I have also recently received feedback from someone who had spend US$600 per person eating at Robouchon's Las Vegas restaurant that he thought was totally un-impressive and grossly overpriced. Bottom line is, at $115 for 8 course at George or even $130 for 7 course at Splendido, such food quality and price is pretty hard to beat!!

      1. re: Charles Yu
        barleywino Apr 26, 2007 09:55 PM

        Which Robuchon restaurant did your friend spend $600 per person at? Have not been to George (which I am now looking forward to trying) but fwiw Joel Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas is $360 per person for the 16 course menu. I did enjoy the tasting at Splendido but thought Robuchon was a definite step up in creativity and execution and worth paying the extra ~$3 per course for, imo.

        1. re: barleywino
          Charles Yu Apr 27, 2007 06:13 AM

          Restaurant was 'The Mansion inside the MGM Grand Hotel' in Las Vegas. Understand additional cost was for supplementary charges. On that particular night, apparently they charge $90 for additional foie gras alone! If one would like to add truffles to certain dishes, then sky is the limit?!!!!

          1. re: Charles Yu
            barleywino Apr 27, 2007 08:24 AM

            ah, the supplemental charges at JR will kill you, for sure. the charges for water alone (free tap water is not an option there!) can add up quickly. bring your own water bottle ;)

            1. re: Charles Yu
              skylineR33 Apr 27, 2007 10:51 AM

              Yeah, it is crazy expensive to eat at the Mansion. But I guess one has to pay a premuim to eat at an establishment of the "chef of the century" for some of the real top food and service from the master !!

          2. re: Charles Yu
            skylineR33 Apr 26, 2007 10:31 PM

            Not to mention the 16 course at JR which is $360, in terms of value, how about the 9 courses US$135 at L'atelier ? It is a better value than Splendido and George and the food is definitely at least a step or two up IMO. But may be certain individual dishes can match up but that's about it...

            1. re: skylineR33
              f
              fatboy44 Apr 27, 2007 10:12 AM

              I do agree, I ate at L'atelier de Robuchon in NYC a couple of times now and have a reservation again for early next week. We sit at the counter, my favorite spot, and order as we go along, have wine and stop when we had enough. 400 for 2. The food is among the best I've had, the presentation is unparralelled and the service is terrific. The chef de cuisine in the NYC location is Japanese and is an incredibly talented guy so Joel gives him a free reign. To run restaurants from a distance and maintain the kind of quality JR produces is in itself an accomplishment that not to many restaurateurs can do. Splendido can certainly not. I ate there when the chef was on a Holiday so I know. I ate at George last week and enjoyed it a lot, but, it is no JR by a long shot.

        2. skylineR33 Apr 26, 2007 07:12 PM

          Really ? Well, service is great at Splendido. I enjoy my dinner at Splendido and George. But for the food, I don't think it is comparable to the one I have at Joel Robuchon.

          1. Fwagra Apr 26, 2007 05:33 PM

            Thanks for the review, Charles. I agree. My experience there, while it was a while back, accords with yours. The place is a class act.

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