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Splendido - Best of 8 Years Menu

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The official changing of the guards has been announced.

General Manager Carlo Catallo and Chef de Cuisine Victor Barry will officially become the new owners of Splendido on July 1, 2009.

To mark the last eight successful years, Splendido is running an eight week promotion through May and June highlighting eight of Chef Lee's top plates. $125 / person.

http://www.splendido.ca/

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  1. these days, so much money. but my B-Day being in June is a sign I guess...I am making a reservation.

    1. I made a reservation already, after David Lee dropped by our table at Nota Bene and mentioned it...but I was wondering: since he is already spending so much time at NB, will he be back at the Splendido kitchen one last time for this tasting menu?

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinkprimp

        NVM, just picked up the phone and asked. The man who answered said that he'd be "conducting" so he might be in one day, and not on another...which is typical of an executive chef, right?

      2. what do other people think of this menu? worth it?

        7 Replies
        1. re: shekamoo

          I was at Splendido on a Tuesday at the end of March and both David and Yannick were there until about 9:30. Took advantage of the $98 tasting menu and free corkgage. Had a great time and the standout dish was the Squab Sous-vide that is being served on the 8-year celebration menu. Obviously $125 is a lot of money but a comparable meal in NYC, London, Paris.....Tokyo or really any other large metroplitan city would cost at least twice as much. Definately worht it (IMHO)!!!

          1. re: robb

            just to clarify I am not questioning whether splendido in general is a place worth the money it charges: I believe it is. I am curious about people's opinion on this specific menu...

            1. re: shekamoo

              It doesn't start until May so nobody knows yet. I'm sure somebody will post about it once one of us gets to try it.

              1. re: graydyn

                I must say I was aware of that, what I wanted to know was the choice of dishes from each year. people who have tried these may have a view about them..

                1. re: shekamoo

                  I do not think it iw worth it.. no truffles no caviar no game it just does not seem that exciting for $125

                  1. re: OnDaGo

                    Everybody uses truffles, caviar, foie, etc.... What's "exciting" about that? Actually, in Toronto, these ingredients have become quite ubiquitous. Don't get me wrong, I love them and they are delicious but the reason I love David's cuisine is that he's much more subtle in his flavour profiles than many other chefs in the city. Anyone can load up on expensive ingredients and charge $$$$. But not everyone can make a killer squab breast like that, and I certainly don't see squab on every menu across the city either.

                    SWS

                    1. re: OnDaGo

                      I went last week and there was caviar on the menu. Maybe he read your post and decided to add it. ;) Also one of the dishes was 'truffle scented' but I'm not sure if there was any actual truffle in it, or maybe just some oil.
                      There was some Wagyu in there too, and morels.

          2. Anyone's got a review yet? I'm thinking of making a reservation next month, so any reports would be great!

            1. Bumping this to see whether anyone has checked this menu out---I'm just wondering about the value...

              9 Replies
              1. re: markdsgraham

                I've got a reservation for June 26. My GF and I are going for my birthday and our anniversary, and I'm pretty darned excited. I have to say that the menu is not outrageously exciting. It seems very classic actually. But the wine pairings are spot on, and if the execution is there then it will be fantastic. I don't think there is any question of value. It'll be my first time at Splendido BTW! The will be a painstaking review to follow.

                1. re: haggisdragon

                  I hope you have a great time! I went mid June for my gf's birthday. They had a little surprise for her ( i let them know it was her bday beforehand). So if it is for bday and anniversary, i am sure they would give something special as well.

                  Btw, it was my first time there and the service is by far one of the best out there.

                  The tasting menu was great, with two more amuse bouche complimentary of the chef. The food itself was great - ranging from outstanding to very good depending on what you like to eat.

                2. re: markdsgraham

                  It's excellent - both in quantity and value. I tried it - sent some friends and they reported back with extreme compliments. We all felt there was 'almost' too much food.
                  The highlight (for me) was the squab breast - I can't recall ever eating better, more flavourful and tender squab. And the white Asparagus/ramps/morel dish was up there too (especially as I had a very similar dish at Grace recently that was a disaster).
                  The only disappointment (for me) was the Wagyu dish with sturgeon caviar. Perhaps it was intended to be a riff on 'Surf 'n Turf' - but for me the flavours didn't really work well together. I'm about to nominate Wagyu (Canadian version) as 'the most overhyped ingredient in town'! I've had Canadian Wagyu multiple times (it's trendy!) and just don't 'get it'! Haven't been that impressed with US versions either. (But was knocked out by an Australian Wagyu steak).
                  But the presentation/cooking/service combination at Splendido will certainly be missed by me - although I'm also looking forward to the 're-incarnation' (even more so if the Wagyu disappears!).

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Tried the Best of Eight Years tasting menu last Tuesday. It was excellent and worth every penny.

                    1. re: Bibingka

                      Can't wait, just booked for June 20th!! I like that the menu isn't over the top.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        I'll see you and Mr. Millygirl on the 20th as well!

                        1. re: Cam D

                          CamD, you may see me there also. I'm waiting to hear if Mrs fD wants to eat there that night. I told her it's all downhill for the rest of the year as the days get shorter.

                  2. re: markdsgraham

                    I went earlier this week, and the tasting menu was just fantastic. The flavour combinations, complexity and progression through the courses were amazing. Service was a little spotty for a restaurant of this caliber (forgotten water, a bit of confusion on the cocktail order) but still very good and nothing I could complain about at a lesser place. For your choices, you cannot miss the squab.. it was just one of those dishes that got better with each bite. We both had the wagyu which wasn't as good as the other dishes.. I'd recommend trying the halibut instead (although I didn't try it).

                    As for value.. well, it's really tough to say it's good value when you're paying $400+ all in for two, but if you have the means then it's something you probably won't find elsewhere once the changes take place.

                    To alleycat81 below, definitely get in touch with them.. they are very accommodating even this close to the end...

                    1. re: markdsgraham

                      Ended up trying this out soon after, with the family and gf, as a graduation gift. Not surprisingly, given the price, it was an excellent meal. We had the wine pairings and the gf had a vegetarian menu (for which they of course changed some of the pairings). I agree with most of the comments on the standout dishes. Was it "worth" it? Who knows, really? Probably it was.

                      Next, I have to get it together to try NB.

                    2. Really looking forward to tonight's reservation and tasting menu!!! However, my SO cannot have seafood. If he orders from the menu and I go with the Tastings, you think the timing and everything will compromise either of our meals? And would this just be too troublesome for the restaurant? Should I just suck it up and order from the Table d'Hote???

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alleycat81

                        No - just tell them the restriction (even better, just call and tell them in advance), and they'll substitute something (usually amazing) for your SO.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Yep, just give them a call in advance. They really do their best to work around restrictions and it's not just removing the item, but generally substitutions which can often be just as good as what was originally intended (as estufarian notes).

                      2. I was thinking of visiting Splendido for this menu - but given that David is really not at the helm anymore (no matter what they tell you) I really cannot see the value.

                        Think I will save the $400 some odd and visit Cyrus on our upcoming trip to Sonoma instead.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Sadistick

                          Your choice, obviously.
                          But David hasn't been there (effectively) since Nota Bene opened anyway. So Victor has been the 'main man' all this year.
                          I think David is a candidate for best chef in Toronto - not only because he's a superb chef - but he obviously has trained his kitchen to 'do it right'.

                          And Cyrus is also a great choice. The good news is you can't go wrong with either!

                          1. re: estufarian

                            Our party of four were there last night and had a wonderful time. OMG, I am still stuffed this morning!!!!! Can't even think about food today.

                            The food was, as expected, excellent - but like someone said above, almost too much. This though did not stop us from devouring it all, and even had the cheese plate which for me was a real highlight. That, the tuna tartare, amuse buche, white asapargus were my personal favourites. Oh and the sweet pea and lobster soup (how 'bout those tiny croutons!!) - divine. Hubby had the squab and thought it was wonderful.

                            The service was spot on. Victor Berry spoke with us a number of times. They're excited about the upcoming renovations and menu. Apparently it will be less formal and easier on the pocket book. Timing is right, and we can't wait. After next week they will close, and reopen late July. Can't wait to try out their new menu.

                            Hey wait a minute, didn't I just say I can't think about food today??

                            1. re: millygirl

                              I am glad that others have enjoyed this meal as much as they have described.

                              We had a slightly different experience. Four of us went a couple of weeks ago for this tasting menu, 2 male/2 female. The tastes were fantastic, but none of us left completely full. I wouldn't say any of us left starving, but we were certainly missing that satisfied feeling of having your hunger fulfilled. None of us are particularly large eaters either (both women are xs and often do not clear their plates at most restaurants). I know of another couple that had the same impression as we did.

                              1. re: igk

                                Igk, I share your sentiments exactly. Our party of 2 left quite hungry... at that price point, they should have at least increased the portion sizes slightly.
                                For instance, the wagyu arrived as one thin sliver of meat and as I ate it, I looked on enviously at my partner's larger portion of raviolo.
                                Also, some of the dishes were hit and miss (not something you would expect when this is their 'best of 8 years' tasting menu). For instance, the asparagus dish was swimming in a pool of butter sauce. The tuna tartar lacked flavour and was quite bland.
                                While the raviolo presented beautifully, we both agreed that the pasta was not tender but rather thick and hard.
                                For the most part, the dining staff was attentive, helpful, and friendly. The only hiccup was towards the end, when one of the wait staff brushed us off. Upon asking our feedback on the dessert and (I am assuming) not liking our honest opinions, the staff member replied with an "oh", and then presented us with the cheque ... it left the experience on a bit of a sour note.
                                After all I heard about this place and how stupendous the food was, we ended up with more misses than hits.
                                After some thought, despite some inconsistencies in service at Nota Bene, we would choose it over Splendido in the future, because the food quality and taste are present at a reasonable price.

                                1. re: sugarcube

                                  I think this is why I chose to hit up Splendido before they offered this "best of" menu. Akin to the 'licious events, the place is rammed, both kitchen and floor staff are pushed to the max and ends up being somewhat of a lacklustre experience. I had this same feeling on the last night at Susur - just the food was okay, the staff was okay, and it was all just... okay. But hardy the stellar experience one expects from a resto of that calibre - and I'd eaten at Susur twice before already, so that night was a real let-down.

                                  Luckily, I had an asparagus dish similar to that on the 8 years menu (minus the mushrooms, I hear), and I found that the best dish of the night for my meal at Splendido. I've posted my "Highlights of Splendido" in photos in the blog, though I ate there almost two months ago and uh.. some details are now fuzzy.

                                  The other standout I had that night was the soft-shelled crab. Lightly battered, crisp, and sweet with salt and soft inside and oh so good. Hadn't had that good a soft-shelled crab in a long long while -- and possibly not in Toronto.

                                  I just had a really excellent meal from start to finish with superb service. Nothing to be disappointed about at all, and probably my closest experience to The French Laundry in Toronto.

                                  ---
                                  http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                                  1. re: jlunar

                                    I know for certain it was not because they were busy, because when we left the dining room at 9:30, there were still a few empty seats.

                                    Also, to compare, we ate at Scaramouche and tried their 3 course 'summer lobster menu'. Although one could think this would be similiar to a 'licious event--- frenzied atmosphere, poor quality service and food (because of cheaper prices), the dishes were cooked well, tasted quite good, and were generously portioned. Mind you, while it wasn't mindblowingly good, I would agree with other reviewers when they called it a 'safe' place to dine at. We dined here on a Tuesday night and there was not an empty seat in the room. The service, from beginning to end was spot-on. The staff were friendly and very attentive. So, as one could imagine, we were quite letdown with our Splendido experience after such a great one at Scaramouche.

                                    1. re: sugarcube

                                      Indeed it would be disappointing given Splendido's reputation to have not been up to par!

                                  2. re: aser

                                    My impressions were primarily excellent. I found the portions sufficient, though I think having the meal stretched out over the long period of time made us feel more full. We were there Thursday too, so if you were sitting at the left wall we were prolly right behind ya.

                                    - loved the octopus, and it was complemented so well by the potato/mustard/bacon vinaigrette
                                    - the tartare was good (though underseasoned), but agree that it was outshone by that amazing ratatouille and a perfect quail egg
                                    - the white asparagus was the best rendition i've tried. the morels were nice, but i wish the ramps were still around
                                    - i'm a sucker for a good pea soup (and those hidden croutons were great), but my friend thought it should've been lighter and not so sweet
                                    - the raviolo was indeed too hard (esp. around the edges) but the rest of the dish worked really well (we avoided the wagyu)
                                    - the squab was a wonder, as has been detailed, and the boudin noir echoed a more potent and complex 'yuen cheung'.
                                    - the banana soufflé was a beautiful close to the meal

                                    Service was impeccable throughout, and we were graciously offered a tour of the kitchen. which led to a meeting with the very affable Victor Barry. Chef was still excited over signing the official ownership papers down on Bay Street that day, and shared with us his feelings on their new direction and some of the intricacies of the (surprisingly small) kitchen. I also saw an old buddy of mine (had no idea he had switched over to the cooking biz) in the kitchen as well, which was pretty awesome.