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Oct 15, 2009 12:15 PM

Splendido - The Next Generation

Since the ownership change, Splendido seems to have fallen off the radar on this Board. I was there the week it reopened but wanted a repeat visit to confirm my impressions.
And, simply, it’s still one of the top places to dine in Toronto.

The tasting menu has gone completely, and the ‘new menu’ is comparable in price to Nota Bene (surprise, surprise!). With a bottle of wine, our meal came to around $250 (including tax, but not gratuity) – but we essentially ordered at the top of the price range. It can probably be done for $200. Not the cheapest around – but about half of what I used to spend there.

But the best news is that it’s functioning on all cylinders. The tables are set a little closer together than before – but still more comfortably apart than most places. The food is superb – I’d place it in top 5 in Toronto (possibly top 3). The service is excellent; a little less formal than the previous incarnation, but still top notch (on my opening week visit it was a little sloppy, but all fixed in the recent visit).

We tried the Foie Gras Parfait as an appetizer. Essentially a ‘blend’ of foie and chicken liver (that’s the way to give a larger portion at a lower price) – excellent! The other appetizer was the daily ‘special’ – Pappardelle with black truffle. This was the most ’truffly’ of any dish I’ve had this year – superb aromatics and great taste.

Mains were a Haldimand County Suckling Pig; and Elk Striploin – I’m assuming the elk was cooked sous-vide as it was very tender and tasty. And the suckling pig had the right amount of ‘al dente’ to give it a great mouth-feel. Also accompanied by boudin noir – which I found a little too ‘smooth’ for my taste. I prefer the ‘country sausage’ texture (rather than a hot dog texture), although I emphasize this was NOTHING like a hot dog – just trying to describe the texture. Both were accompanied by local veggies, so Splendido is firmly on the ‘locavore’ track, if that is important. I just want good taste (and service and price – and anything else I can get thrown in!).

Overall a great meal. The room seems a bit brighter to me, and I saw people eating at the bar, so certainly a bit more casual. Well worth a visit.

88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

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  1. Bar menu! I keep wanting to try more of that. Been twice now since the re-open and while I haven't posted photos/comments yet, I agree that Splendido hasn't fallen by the way-side at all. I would still place it above many restaurants - Nota Bene included.

    -- -- food. is. love.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jlunar

      Sure it's now several months later, but my visit last week has prompted me to get my last few visits sorted out...!

      Full post with too many photos:

      I’ve found Splendido to do their veggies very, very well. It has been true of three out of four visits that a vegetable of some sort ends up being one of the favourites – if not -the- favourite – of the night.

      But first, let’s start with drinks!

      The drinks at Splendido are quite good and we’ve had the opportunity to try several of their cocktails (right) as well as a few staples like their martini (with a twist!) and a Caesar (left). My favourite among the cocktails is the Harbord 88 (right-most glass with sugar rim), a sweet and tropical concoction. The Anjou Sky (front, no straw) is also interesting with its pear vodka and juices with a sprig of fresh thyme.

      Pulled-pork poutine from the bar menu. I wasn’t sure of this at first, but I quite enjoyed the the perfectly cut and stacked potato pieces (a la Jenga), mixed with my cheese and meat. A good snack.

      This intensely green chilled organic pea soup was a particular favourite. It reminded one of my dining companions of eating peas fresh off the vine. Not on the current menu. Sadly.

      Farmer’s market roasted winter vegetable salad with broccoli puree, Olive oil emulsion, Walnut vinaigrette. All these awesome flavours coming together. Our favourite of the night and on the current menu.

      A lovely app to share: Victor’s foie gras parfait with toasted brioche. Quite light vs an all-foie mousse.

      Classic butter-poached lobster. Part of our self-cobbled surf-and-turf. Buttery goodness.

      To share, we ordered the roasted aacorn squash with toasted hazelnuts and the crespelle – crepes with pancetta and bechamel sauce. The squash was nice with the sweet hit from the maple and balanced by the hazelnuts. The crespelle is very classic european. Heavy, but tasty. We’d tossed that in as a random pick and was glad we did.

      Our picks from the current cheese board offerings: Roquefort Carles (France), Belle de Jersey (Québec), and Avonlea clothbound cheddar (PEI). We found the 18 month cave-aged cheddar best consumed by letting it dissolve in the mouth. You miss all the aromas and nutty notes otherwise. The semi-soft from Québec had a lovely mushroomy taste. And the Roquefort was pretty much all mine. I wasn’t complaining. Our cheeses were accompanied by an Oloroso cream sherry from Sandeman. Nice.

      On another night where we were eating at the bar, we were served this wonderful El Dorado 21-year old rum that was subsequently quested for in the following weeks. This is my new drink of choice. So smooth and lovely, without that bite.

      We skipped on dessert as we were quite satiated by the cheese sherry, though we did linger with some tea and coffee. All in all, a good meal. And that roasted vegetable salad lingers in my memory. So tasty.

      -- -- food. is. love.

    2. i haven't been to toronto in quite a while, but i go to nyc about 3 times a month (in case you need a recommendation :). what are the chances you would tell me the other four of your top 5?? please please? i am leaving for toronto this morning and i don't have a clue where i'm eating. we are staying in yorkville, though the location doesn't matter too much. also do you have any suggetions for drinks in yorkville? thanks!!!

      6 Replies
      1. re: zoni521

        Splendido is quite close to Yorkville, so that would work out well. For drinks in Yorkville, I'd go to the rooftop lounge at the Park Hyatt hotel, the bar at One in the Hazelton hotel or Avenue Bar at the Four Seasons (get a table by the window to people watch). That would be my order of preference, btw.

        Re: esturfarian's top 5, I'm *guessing* that two of them might be Colborne Lane and Blacktree. The latter is not in Toronto, so would rule it out. Colborne Lane can be fun, as they dabble a bit in MG techniques, though that is not the focus of the food. Hopefully, he'll see your post before you have to eat dinner tonight. But really, you can't go wrong with Splendido.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          great. what about Atelier? is canoe still a good place to go? i went years ago. so i guess i wouldn't even bother. but what about the bar room at splendido? is it less expensive. i am going away with someone sort of new. i am a huge foodie and have never held back from ordering 7 or 8 things so i can try a little of everything. but i don't know if he will feel the same way ;( have you ever heard of fressen? someone told me it is a great foodie place for those who like organic, all natural, vegetarian, etc . . . i am not a vegetarian, but id o enjoy that sort of thing as well. do you think i will have a problem walking in to any of these places? i know it is a little late and i have checked open table . . . all booked, but MOST restaurants leave a few tables for walk-ins. thank you thank you thank you : )

          1. re: zoni521

            Atelier Thuet is now Conviction. I'd skip it. Canoe is good, but it's not cheap either and I think of is as a bit "safe" (that may be an erroneous impression, as I haven't been there in a couple of years). The view is beautiful, though. If I had to choose between Canoe and Splendido, I'd pick Splendido. Splendido doesn't have a bar room, just a bar in the main room. I don't know anything about their bar menu.

            Fressen is not someplace you want to go to impress someone. Yes, it's vegan, organic, etc., but it's not fine dining by any stretch of the imagination and I wouldn't devote my one meal in Toronto to it.

            You could walk to Splendido from Yorkville -- maybe a 20 minute walk? Or it's a super quick cab ride. On the same street as Splendido are several really good restaurants -- Messis, Loire, 93 Harbord, Harbord Room (though I was less than impressed, others on this board adore it), Boulevard Cafe. All of these are much more casual and a couple of steps down in terms of calibre of cuisine. But if you don't want fine dining, per se, any of these could be a good choice.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              i am def looking for fine dining. fressen is a place a friend of mine suggested. i would only go for a lunch.

            2. re: zoni521

              Atelier is a club rather than a restaurant, isn't it?
              Canoe is still held in high esteem on this board and with Toronto food critics as far as I can gather. It's expensive.
              Fressen is a good place for vegetarian, IMHO, a little salty, but nice vibe, slow service. I wouldn't call it a destination place. Calico, owned by a former chef, has also gotten good press.
              Try out Nota Bene if you want Splendido-lite - it's helmed by the past-owner/Chef of Splendido and has delicious food.

              54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

              478 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V2B2, CA

              Nota Bene
              180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

              1. re: Yum2MyTum

                i do want fine dining. fressen is a place i would like to stop for lunch. i appreciate all of the info.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. do you know by any chance who's in charge of the kitchen @ splendido?

            1 Reply
            1. re: oohlala

              Victor Barry. He was Sous under David Lee and Chef de Cuisine after David spend 100% of his time at Nota Bene