Brunch at c5 (ROM)
Have had 2 dinners and a drink in the past at c5 and very much enjoyed the experience so I decided to take my parents there for Father's Day brunch. They take reservations on opentable which I wish more places in Toronto would!
The room is excellent during the day, makes great use of the light and a requested booth near the window was held for us. I was somewhat disappointed with the menu which is almost completely different from the one posted on the website and lacking the more interesting entrees: benedicts with lobster or pork belly, truffle coddled eggs... The three of us ordered the charcuterie plate and a basket of pastries to start and entrées being: the steak frites (special), lobster gnocchi, and the crab bagel for me. My father ordered the prix fixe which is one item from each section (starters, mains, dessert) for I think $36.
The charcuterie plate was great, there was smoked salmon with cucumber foam, a slice of pork terrine, I think sopressata with marinated beans, and a chicken paté with flatbread. The portions are quite minscule (each item was 2 large bites) but we're not big eaters and the presentation beautiful. The basket of pastries had a regular croissant, almond croissant, a cherry danish, pain au chocolate, and 2 raisin scones. They were good but not terribly interesting or anything memorable.
For the entrées my father's gnocchi was good, very tender and the lobster very prevalent. The sauce was a simple olive-oil from what I could taste but highlighted the ingredients very well but at the same time I think there could've been more flavor intensity in the dish. Steak frites was a cut of cumbrae's, deliciously done with a great crisp on the outside. The frites were of the thin skin-on kind, very nicely fried (almost) as good as JK's. My crab bagel had I think proscuitto or another ham, chunks of fresh crab, and a beautifully poached egg held together with a black sesame seed bagel. It was good but a little salty and once again the ingredients came through very well but I'd like to see them take more liberties with trying interesting flavors or sauces. The cream dressing was a little blasé. Greens on the side were a little overdressed.
My father's desert was a 'strawberry soup' which were various fruits cut into pleasing shapes marinaded in a sweet strawberry sauce. There's a cream scoop of ice cream but I forgot the flavor. A little too sweet but fun to eat.
The service was average to good. I found our waiter to be a little too faux-professional, I got a slight chilly feeling from him but in the first half he was professional and very responsive. Towards the end though, we had to work to get his attention for water, ordering the bill, etc. I don't mind so much straight-through professionalism with no chit-chat, no smiles, etc. but I'd expect one to deliver on the impression - this hit a slightly off-note. The buspeople were a little more personable and just as efficient. I wouldn't say it was bad service though, just not what I was used to at c5 in the past (and not what I want from a restaurant in this range and class).
3 people, 1 prix fixe, 2 entrées, basket of pastries, 2 glasses of wine, and 1 coffee came to about $135 after tax before tip. All in all it was a good experience but I'm not sure I'd return: the service was only OK but more so the menu just didn't seem that interesting and the items were good but not fantastic for the price. I'll likely go back for lunch/dinner sometime and if they change their brunch menu up a bit will try them again....
But if you haven't been to c5 and want to see what it's like without commiting to a full dinner, brunch would be a good way to do that. It's also one of the better "upscale" brunch places in Toronto if you have out of towners, special occasions, or for business.
ETA: Thankfully our family is all small eaters but the portions are quite tiny, much smaller than a typical breakfast place and even smaller than what I would expect. I'd say that anyone going would want more than 1 entree to consitute an a full meal.
Wow, I just realised that was a long review of a brunch no less.
If I was the ROM I definitely would've wanted to hold onto JK but I think c5 has promise, just needs to refine it's menu more and be more confident in it's offering. The charcuterie plate for example had some cucumber foam over the salmon, not being a fan of foams I enjoyed the the restrained touch.
My last dinner a full tasting menu had similar 'hints' of really inventive and great food followed by something a little pedestrian. If they can even out the quality a little c6 has the potential to be a great middle/upper-class restaurant in Toronto.
You know, I read that the ROM hired an American firm to find their chef and thank god they found a Canadian to work at C5, but really! The ROM really blew it by losing JK and then hiring an offshore company to recruit their new chef. Come on, support Toronto, support Ontario, support Canada. Food IS politics. Period.