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Pat Riley at Amuse (in the beaches)??

Was checking out the website for Amuse in the beaches and they have a new menu and Pat Riley is now their chef. Has anyone been since the change?

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  1. Wow, I was wondering when he was going to resurface! I really enjoyed his cooking at Perigee back in the day...maybe it'll be worth a trip out to the Beaches soon :)

    1. I just perused the menu. Wow! Finally a menu that's more than just buzz words strung together. The dishes are both sensible and exciting. The fact that they've wisely chosen to concentrate talent by being open for dinner only 5 nights a week only is brilliant and very considerate of the diners. I can't wait to check it out.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Googs

        That menu does look good, although the off the beaten path items aren't really that adventurous. Just curious, can you give an example of a menu that is just buzz words strung together?

        1. re: jamesm

          Pick any one of the goat cheese, foie gras, berkshire pork, wagyu beef, local, seasonal, artisanal, authentic offenders. Line 'em all up and shoot 'em I say,

          Case in point: http://www.globebistro.com/eat/dinner...

          I've never heard such horse hockey to describe chicken and grits with mash and greens. The tuna prep in the app's, oh pardon me, FIRST's is unspeakable. At least I wish they'd shut up.

          1. re: jamesm

            not sure if i overlooked it before or if it's a new addition to the website, but now they have a page for their "upcoming menu".... it's not as off the beaten path as i was hoping for, but still a huge step forward for what is currently there

            lots of off cuts and offal (tongue, sweetbreads, and neck) ... was on the fence before but now i'm excited and might check it out sooner than later.

        2. I called today hoping to sit at "Pat's Table" which overlooks the kitchen and is a real one-on-one with the chef, available Tuesday to Thursday. Sadly I needed a reservation at 8pm owing to my wife's work schedule, and they close too early to do a tasting menu at that time, 7:30 was as late as they could give me. Hopefully soon I can manage it - Chef Riley hopped on the phone to explain that "Pat's Table" could be tastes of items from the menu, and/or previews of dishes he is testing for future menus, and/or stuff he's inspired to make from his daily market visit. It sounds awesome, and I think any fan of his cooking from Perigee should grab the opportunity while it's there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: childofthestorm

            Any idea number of courses for the tasting menu and the cost? Perigee was over $120 for 8-9 courses?! How about corkage for BYOB?

            1. re: Charles Yu

              They were kind of vague about number of courses, and just said the tasting menu "starts" at $60 per person. I tried pressing the issue, but Pat basically said, this would be a conversation between us during the night, so I figure it's like a Japanese omakase, better watch the meter running! Still, gotta figure even if you go all out and creep $20-$40 over the $60 baseline, it's still great value to be one-on-one with Chef Riley.

              I didn't ask about corkage since my wine cellar consists of a couple of $15 bottles at the bottom of my pantry.

          2. ooooh! Pat's Table! Me wants. Thanks for the heads-up!

            2 Replies
            1. re: jlunar

              me wants too! before the end of this summer hopefully

              1. re: shekamoo

                the upcoming menu looks amazing. the 3 meals i had at perigee were among my top 10 in the city...

            2. Still haven't gone .. but 3 people from my work went together and the reviews were good. I think reading this thread, and upon hearing their reviews, I'll put it on my to-do list this summer.

              1. Having been to Amuse Bistro just once recently here are my thoughts.

                As the name says, this is a bistro. Anyone going looking for an haute cuisine experience will be disappointed. The single defining factor of a bistro is it's that place you can walk to from your front door. Amuse isn't a 'destination' restaurant. If you find yourself in the Beach or if you're one of the lucky Beach residents this is definitely THE place to dine.

                The website leaves one with the impression that it's an elegant room. While it has elegant touches I found it rather rustic. The front window seating area reminds me of a cottage addition. Seating is comfortable and fairly well-spaced given the tiny room. There's a semi-private room in the back that looks perfect for special occasions or dinner meetings. Service is somewhat casual, but efficient.

                Here's the only truly off-putting thing about the place. The patrons. Now I'm not saying that you have to break out a ball gown and tuxedo and I fully realize how snobby that sounds, but this drove jeans-at-dinner to the very limit. At one table there was a man in full track suit a la Sue Sylvester. Next to him was a ball-capped man in shorts. I'd have to say about half the room showed up looking as though they had just worked up an appetite cleaning out their garage. Oh and to the loud couple at 'Pat's Table': Lady, take that peace sign on your t-shirt as an indication as to how you two should behave. We don't aaaaall need to know how fabulous you two are.

                Were I chef I would be disheartened. (Pat Riley, keep your head up.) Especially so given the effort he puts in. He's a one-man show in the kitchen aided only by two timers and staff taking away plates the very second they're ready.

                Oh, the food. Right. Selections are spot on seasonal and creative. The composition of each dish was delicate, balanced, lovely. I couldn't detect a single grain of salt, though it must have been used. The stand-out appetizer was the parmesan custard with grilled asparagus. The custard was light in the mouth and imparted just the right level of influence without overwhelming. In fact, all of chef's sauces were clean-the-plate good. Mains were extremely generous in portion, overly so I'd say. He could cut the servings in roughly half and still you'd walk away content. Wines are well-priced LCBO bottles. Desserts were rather forgettable, but then again I didn't try the peppered strawberries. That's probably where I went wrong.

                All in all it was a satisfying night out. I wouldn't toss over my beloved Constance of Weezie's and the romantic 3 minute walk from my front door for it. We all find ourselves in the Beach at some time or another. There's FI-nally a place to dine!

                354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                1975 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1J1, CA

                19 Replies
                1. re: Googs

                  Thanks Googs.

                  Just to clarify, was Pat Riley the chef when you were there?
                  And may I ask how much the bill set you back for tasting menu?

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Having never dined at Perigee, I don't know what the man looks like, but yes I believe so. No Salieri could ever compose like Mozart.

                    I don't omakase with chefs I don't know. It defeats the purpose. You need to trust them, they need to know you. That way everyone gets to relax. If I became a regular I'd definitely go that way.

                    Six glasses of wine, 2 dessert wines, two appetizers, mains, and desserts later the bill came to almost exactly $200.

                    1. re: Googs

                      I forgot to mention that the $200 total is inclusive of taxes.

                    2. re: millygirl

                      I just checked Google Images. Definitely him.

                    3. re: Googs

                      Hey Googs,

                      A dress code just tells me that a restaurant is insecure about itself (as Ed's Warehouse was three decades ago). Amuse is, as you indicate, a neighbourhood bistro. I hope Pat Riley is sufficiently comfortable in his oeuvre to not care how I dress. The guy facing you at Amuse wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and crocs might very well be me ;-)

                      1. re: embee

                        Oh look, honey, I know I sound like a snob. Nothing could be further from the truth.

                        I do feel that if a chef is putting in that much effort, the very least a patron can do is respond in kind.

                        I know I'm welcome at Weezie's and will receive the same service no matter what I wear. I've proved that when I've arrived unplanned. I dress as a sign of respect.

                        Besides embee, we could all use a little Fernando Lamas in us.

                        1. re: Googs

                          Most chefs I know would rather you spent your cash on their food than a fancy suit. Although I was raised to put something respectable on before I go out to dinner doesn't mean I look down on people who don't.

                          Loud obnoxious patrons are a different story

                          1. re: downtownfoodie

                            I'm originally from Scarborough. The best I can muster is sideways.

                            1. re: Googs

                              I'm trying to picture a man in a Sue Sylvester track suit. Thanks for the laugh.

                              1. re: pescatarian

                                I'm with Googs on the sartorial point. I was thinking of taking an important client to Amuse because of chef Riley's reputation, and the availability of a "Chef's Table" experience, - AND as a bonus the location would allow a postprandial stroll on the boardwalk, (and hopefully some good biz negotiation!). Like Googs, no ballgown necessary, just a quick hose down and a clean set of clothes.
                                But I'm revising my plan - am going to try Frank's Kitchen instead, because I just don't want the distraction of fellow diners at Amuse who should have showered and put on clean clothes before venturing out to dine, but didn't.
                                Like you Googs, I am far from a snob, and I hate stuffy places, but I agree with you that it's a matter of respect for the chef and his house, and isn't it also just a case of basic "self respect"...? Who would actually enjoy going out to dinner feeling all sweaty and dirty in their "cleaning out the garage" gear? Sad that they do that, and sad that another poster said, the chef would be glad to have their cash, regardless of how they dressed.
                                I'll find another time to try Amuse - am very much looking forward to it. Thanks for your review.

                                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                  Do not take the view of a one time visitors opinion of the typical dress of the peeople at this restaurant... any restaurant in the city can have people walk in dressed like trash. I have been to Anuse several times and have usually found the people well dressed and well behaved. The last time the table beside us were in suits and dresses and the ladies at the chefs table in cocktail dresses. We on the other hand were in slacks and polo shirts and I felt a bit under dressed.

                                  I have heard good things about Franks Kitchen but with the soccer going on College st may not be the best place for a business dinner as the fans tend to get excited...

                                  1. re: chowspotting

                                    Well thank goodness for that.

                                    How many times have you been since Pat Riley arrived, chowspotting? Is there a difference between pre- and post-Pat? How about a review from an Amuse veteran?

                                  2. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                    I just want to clarify: you're going to take your business client to College St., which is jammed with souped up Mustangs and 905 girls in full teen prostitute regalia and most of the restaurant patrons look like extras from The Jersey Shore, but you won't go to a quaint old converted house in the beaches with a proven chef executing an interesting menu because you're worried one of your fellow diners may be wearing a track suit?

                                    1. re: pimentdespelette

                                      Frank's Kitchen turned out to be just the ticket for my client! 5 star attention and wonderful food. None of the negative ethnic stereotypes you mention were on offer, although I think that my client would have found them refreshing!
                                      I think Frank's Kitchen appeals to big wigs at Queens Park looking for great food but without the fussy silver domes and white gloves, or feeling they have to kneel down in front of a "famous" chef.
                                      I'll give Amuse a try for sure. But probably with friends first - just to try it before inviting business associates - I do love the idea of dining in a quaint house with a great chef at the helm, and I think clients would too. It's just a reality that suits in their suits sitting down to dinner for big bucks get twitchy if the people next to them look as though they just got done cleaning their garage - as the OP said.

                          2. re: embee

                            I seem to recall that the dress code at Ed's Warehouse was more of an "in joke" than anything else. If you did not have a jacket and tie, you were issued them promptly from a collection that must have come from a Mr. Blackwell museum (the bad list, not the good one). I knew people who would purposely go without for the experience.

                            1. re: Snarf

                              It certainly became one, but I have my doubts that it began that way.

                              1. re: embee

                                FWIW, Amy Pataki reviewed Amuse in the Toronto Star today. She wasn't blown away with either the food, nor the service. If I knew how to link, I would. Sorry.

                                  1. re: millygirl

                                    While Pataki certainly takes out the knife and fork for this one, basically she just took a different, more agressive route to say the same thing I was saying. Do not go to Amuse as a destination. Go if you're in the Beach in need of a meal. I note she enjoyed the sauces as much as I even though the point is obfuscated by ire.

                                    I was gentle with Amuse since Riley hasn't been associated with it all that long. Honestly, I think they should have kept his name off the website until he finds his footing. Soft opening anyone? Balancing his skills with neighbourhood tastes and people's expectations of him will be a challenge. I don't envy him in the least.

                                    Hopefully some day soon he'll mean to The Beach what Constance and Weezie's is to Corktown. The culinary beacon of the neighbourhood.