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Apr 13, 2010 03:40 AM

Does anybody think Colborne Lane is lame molecular gastronomy the way I do?


I was taken to Colborne Lane two years ago. Luckily I did not pay for it, because a friend of ours owed us a favour (and now I wish he would have brought us somewhere totally different to return our favour!).

The tasting menu (and confusingly paired wines) we experienced at Colborne Lane was a complete joke on a molecular level, lacking zero cohesion, creating what I could only call culinary confusion on a grand scale never seen before. Even thinking about the menu causes me pain, as well as the wines paired that went from Riesling to Syrah, Beer to Chardonnay, and back to a Cabernet Sauv., and back to a white wine... For sure, this was the worst molecular gastronomy menu I have ever experienced to date. I have no idea why so many peoples in Toronto seem to rave about Colborne Lane...

That said, last year my partner and I finally had the opportunity to dine at the best molecular gastronomy and wine pairings I've ever experienced (yes, better than my luncheon experience at 'The Fat Duck', as well as dinner at 'El Bulli'), a restaurant called 'Noma' in Copenhagen, Denmark. ( Colborne Lane gastronomy is a joke compared to what I experienced at 'Noma'.

After experiencing chef Redzeppi's molecular cuisine at 'Noma', I feel totally embarrassed as a Canadian to think that fellow Canadians believe that Colborne Lane is actually interesting, or, worse, that Colborne Lane is somehow worldy as a Canadian representation of molecular cuisine.

Does anybody else think Colborne Lane is a joke when it comes to proper molecural gastronomy?

Colborne Lane
45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

  1. "Molecular Gastronomy" is just a catchphrase. It doesn't mean any one thing, and different chefs interpret it in different ways. I enjoyed my meal at Colborne because the food was prepared well and it tasted good. The room was beautiful. The service was a bit perfunctory.

    It wasn't a life changing experience, though, and I never felt an urge to go back. To call a popular restaurant "lame" and "a joke" that makes you "embarrassed to be Canadian" because it isn't as good as El Bulli and some restaurant in Copenhagen seems a tad extreme, to me. I guess it's all about expectations, and you've evidently set the bar very high.

    1. I don't think CL bills itself as a molecular gastronomy restaurant. It plays with these techniques (more and less successfully, in my experience), but it strikes me that this is a label that has been imposed upon it by the Toronto food community more so than because Aprile is trying to bill himself as a chef that specializes in this technique. I think Torontonians have been excited to see someone around here playing with such innovations, but perhaps in our enthusiasm we've saddled this restaurant with a responsibility that it didn't really want (Defender and Innovator of Molecular Gastronomy cuisine in Toronto.. and perhaps Canada!!).

      Aprile doesn't seem to be doing much mg at Origin, so I don't think he wants to stake his reputation on these techniques.

      I've enjoyed CL and I'm looking forward to going back, but to compare it with El Bulli or The Fat Duck seems unfair to me. I certainly agree that CL's wine and booze program needs work, but some have reported recent improvements in this department (I hope!).

      Fat Duck
      210 Kortright Rd W, Guelph, ON N1G4X4, CA

      1. I thought the tasting menu at CL was underwhelming and overhyped by this community. I will not return there for that price. having said, comparing it to the late El Buli, The Fat Duck and Noma seems a bit unfair, as these are(were) probably three of the top 5 restaurants in the world. CL would probably be a joke compared to those three, but then that should be expected. my problem with CL is that it doesnt deliver even at its own level, that is, a TO $100 tasting menu. others here will disagree.

        1. My major criticism about Colborne Lane is that the food is ' lame on taste'!!!
          Though not 'super star' status like El Bulli or Fat Duck, I found the two pre-eminent North American restaurants offering some form of molecular cuisine - Alinea in Chicago and WD-50 in NYC both have 'better tasting food' than CL! The 'frozen beets' that I had at CL recently actually tasted kind of gross and overwhelming.
          IMO. CL has way to go in catching up with its North America counterpart let alone the two world class European stalwart!

          Colborne Lane
          45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

          3 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            I have to disagree about WD 50. My meal at CL (a year ago) while not nearly as interesting and "revolutionary" on the plate.. was MUCH tastier.. Everything I had was actually enjoyable.. while my meal at WD-50 was.. gross. Of the 10 or so courses we had, only 4 or so were edible. My boyfriend still claims it was one of the worst meals he's ever had, not even considering the 500$ price tag.

            1. re: hungryabbey

              A year ago, Claudio Aprile was still overlooking the kitchen at CL. Nowadays, he is no where to be found! Also, I found Aprile's cooking at Senses much tastier than CL.

              As for WD-50, well, to each its own. After reading someone posting on this board in the past claiming the 'Old' Splendido was a scam, I'm not surprise to read 'anything'!!
              Another great example of different viewpoint is NYC's Babbo. Both S'pore chowhounder Fourseason and myself gave it a thumbs down after our chowmeet there. However, NYC chowhounder Kobetobiko raved about it!

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

              1. re: hungryabbey

                I was avoiding this obvious troll thread - but can't let this slip by.
                I think wd-50 is the most EXCITING restaurant I've been to in North America - every time is different. Certainly there are some misses but when you walk a tightrope, sometimes you fall! And the failures are 'memorable for their awfulness' - foie gras with anchovies can never be erased from my memory. HOWEVER wd-50's hit rate (for me) is far higher than Colborne Lane which is just derivative - having said that, Colborne is now producing very good food - possibly the best I've had there. But the main difference is the wine list, where wd-50 is spectacularly creative, and very reasonably priced (Colborne lane has a disastrous list, regularly out of stock on the few wines that match the cuisine, and has obscene mark-ups). At wd-50, with the tasting menu, I pay around retail (US not Canadian) and can have flights of several different sakes or sherries (for example). After 6 visits, Wylie was in the kitchen for 5 - a greater hit rate than at Colborne Lane.
                And don't get me started on the difference in service! Leagues apart.
                I'm back in New York next month - and wd-50 is definitely on my list.

                Colborne Lane
                45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

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