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Dec 6, 2008 03:49 PM

Greg Argent's new Resto, Forte - Review

Okay, this is going to be a quick and dirty review from a gal who calls it like it is:

This place doesn't have their liquor license, it was empty as all f*ck for lunch, but the meal was a fantastic meal.

Onion Soup Dumplings, Skate, Chipotle Dill Caesar Salad and Lemon Meringue pie for dessert.

It's been a long time since I had a meal like that in the city, to the point, I had to meet the chef. "Luckily" it wasn't busy at lunch so Greg came out - WHAT A GREAT GUY!!! He even had the server bring out some of his favorite cheese (Epoisse) for me to try - I felt like an all star.

With that said, let's go through the meal...

The restaurant is beautiful on the inside, open and airy. So comfortable.

The service fantastic! Quick, educated and efficient. Recommendations came out effortlessly, and I had no problems going with them.

Soup dumplings were delicious... Think French Onion Soup in a dumpling. Such a new and interesting experience, but a perfect amuse bouche before the meal.

The Caesar salad was so novel! Imagine the old standby, but presented in a crisp ringette and a unique dill and chipotle dressing that was interesting and compelling. Lightly dressed romaine radiated with dill while the chipotle added a unique bite that elevated the entire dish to something that reaffirmed my faith in Caesar salad.

Skate was grilled and served on a bed of fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts and carrots. The fish flaked like a well braised piece of beef and melted on the tongue. Greg said soaking in milk is necessary to remove the alkaline nature of the fish. He also assured it wasn't an endangered variety. He said, he enjoys how the flavour is buttery like that of crab, and it was. I had to protect my dish from my dining partner!

Dessert was a beautiful bite of lemon meringue. Pastry Chef Britney Peglar is another talent that defected from Rain and she brought with her a novel approach to pastry. I enjoyed her lemon curd - I find in Canada it can so often be muddled in its preparation. Too bitter, too sweet, too running, too thick, to pre-packaged. Britney's was a thick little disk that melted on the tongue and I wished it was bottled to take home.

This was all without wine pairings - keep that in mind.

Nota Bene is around the corner, and trust me, I had a PHENOMINAL MEAL there as well, however, Nota Bene's price point appears to be sneaking up since it's opening. Forte on the other hand appears to be committed to their prices as they are looking to reintroduce upscale bistro fare to Toronto.

I think I am in love with Greg Argent's cooking. Is he the head chef still at Cru?

My fear is that everyone's going to judge it harshly because they don't serve wine... well at the moment. Apparently the license has just been delayed but everything else is in effect. I just don't want this gem of a resto get an unfair chance because people are adament of their wine/food pairing.

Trust me, I'm gushing, but the food really does hold it's own.

Go for lunch and correct me if I'm wrong!

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  1. I went here the other day with a friend for a bite... no liquor license yet but I really enjoyed those French onion soup dumplings, the charcouterie board, and some melted cheese/veggie thing that was one of the more interesting presentations I've seen in a while. Also, the dessert with the candied lemons and marshmallows was pretty good too. I can't wait to return for a full meal with wine.

    1. Any word on when the liquor license is coming? I live in that 'hood and I'm eager to support any new talent in the area (actually, I'm thrilled to read your review!), but I admit that I'm probably not going to check it out until I can get a glass of wine with dinner.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rabbit

        well, they said it would be up any day now. I spoke to their Sommelier, Craig (omg, I forget his last name!) and he said they literally have their product waiting to get loaded up and shipped over at a moment's notice.

        spades - The candied lemon dessert is the lemon meringue, it's got little meringue puffs that are torched and a twice baked crepe on the side? The melty cheese thing was their raclette I would go so far as to guess.

        Trust me, I poured over that menu when I finally had a bragworthy meal in the city.


        Give the restaurant a call and see if the license came through yet. I think that's probably the simplest thing. I want to go back before the holidays for sure with friends and family.

        It is a beautiful meal!

      2. Contact info -

        133 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: JamieK

          In the absence of a working website, this offers some much needed info:


          2 Replies
          1. re: lheier

            Fantastic - thanks for this update!

            Meanwhile, does anyone know if they have a menu posted somewhere... I did a quick google but couldn't find anything??

            1. re: Rabbit

              I stole a menu!

              What do you want to know?

              What do you fancy? There is pasta, appetizers, daily specials, entrees and salads.

              Yeah, I hope ya'll and Chowhound start to dig me... I wouldn't call myself a foodie, but I am on a shameless quest to eat well in this city with so many bad options.

          2. I'm not sure this is going to work, but here are menus:

            8 Replies
              1. re: Rabbit

                Reasonably legible - but no mains included.
                And I assume you can order from the bar menu as part of a dinner. Anybody?

                1. re: estufarian

                  Here are the mains - but I'm sorry that this printing seems particularly tiny. I'm honestly not a total luddite, but I'm not sure how to do this better (tables prevent a simple cut and paste).

                  1. re: Rabbit

                    Thanks - the point has been made below that the price point is higher than the OP implied.
                    Mains are indeed $25-45. Nota bene mains are all (?mostly) under $30. So Forte is MORE expensive than Nota Bene - the opposite of what was indicated in the originating post.
                    Maybe that explains why the Forte menu isn't posted in their window.
                    Of course, the food may, indeed, be worth it - but at least now I won't get sticker shock!

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Hmm... Interesting that Open Table (see Googs' link above) shows a price point of $30 and under.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        Forte does not have an $89 main course... hahaha! OMG! I WOULD NEVER!

                        But word on the street is that Nota Bene is eeking their prices to deal with the "economic crisis" whereas Forte has scaled their prices to be effective regardless of the good or the bad. I think that's smart!

                        The lunch menu is my favorite, looking it over right now, I don't think it's a menu that forte has put together as a secondary course. I really believe it to be one of their better ones.

                        1. re: sweatersister

                          Not sure where the $89 main course came from. Not my post, nor the Splendido web site.
                          I don't care what rumours you've heard on what street.
                          The facts are that Nota Bene's main courses are nearly all under $30. Forte's at best match that and are up to 50% MORE. And that's usually the most expensive part of the meal. Because Forte doesn't have all its offerings easily accessible (e.g. wine list) I can't predict where I (or most others) would spend more. But appetizers seem similar in price. So why are you suggesting (in the original post and in this response) that Splendido is more expensive?
                          I still don't know if the food is better - which I also allowed for in my recent post - but my arithmetic skills have been substantiated many times.
                          Does not compute!

                          1. re: estufarian

                            Nota Bene has 33 oz. ribsteak for $89 under the "David's Private Stock" section of the menu, but I believe it's intended to be shared. (Or I would hope so anyway!)

                            They also have 12 oz NY strip for $45, and an 8 oz tenderloin for $42.

                            Those are definitely exceptions compared to the rest of the NB menu, though. All other mains are in the $20-$25 range.