Where to go for my bday...
My bday is coming up, and I need a place to go for dinner. Here are the requirements:
1. Open on tuesday
2. Preferably somewhere NEWish, or at least noteworthy
3. Nice decor, great food
4.High endish, no budget
5. No asian, indian, ethiopian etc.. has to be "global/continental"
6. Its just the two of us, so no worries about large reservations etc
Any suggestions would be wonderful. I have looked through the boards, but I feel a bit overwhelmed and need a bit of direction to guide my research. Thanks everyone!!!
There aren't a lot of new openings that match your description. I can think of none, personally. The newbies seem to skew towards comfort/rustic/value. Of you wish to go with 1, 2, and 3 -decor I'd go with Woodlot. I've only dined once, but me likey.
Given that my latest meal at Scaramouche was reminiscent of their 'glory days', I would throw their name in the hat.
I looked at their menu a few days ago (as I am planning another dinner soon) and I was happily surprised by some of the changes.
When Frogett is on his game, he is arguably one of the (if not the) best chefs in Toronto.
So I guess I have a few planned birthday/post-exam outings... Luma and Woodlot next week, but Beast on wednesday.
When the cab dropped us off, my bf said "where they heck did you take me, Abbey?" Aka. this restaurant is on the corner of some little residential neighbourhood street. But that is just part of the charm of Beast
The room is very simple, but clean, cozy and well set up. The service was lovely, professional, friendly but not pretentious at all.
Now, the food was really good in general, but here is what we had...
Housemade Breads- Served warm, it was absolutely delicious.. but WHY do restaurants serve cold butter?
Foie Gras au Torchon with preserved cherry, brussels sprouts and hazelnut: Nice presentation, I didn't try it, but it got good reviews
Poutine (gnocchi, beef cheek gravy, creme fraiche): Lovely, I am surprised that I haven't thought of this before (or seen it done before).. Essentially gnocchi is LIKE a french fry, its potato, just with a bit of flour.. And these ones were fried and then topped with really delicious braised beef cheeks, and cheese curds. The gravy had a touch of a bitter afternote, but other than that, it was a really successful dish.
Duck Confit with celeriac puree, buttery cabbage and balsamic glaze: Both of us went for the duck main.. and GAH! I have been thinking about this dish all day long. The duck was SUPER crispy. I've eaten a lot of duck confit, and this was probably one of the crispiest I've had. So delicious against the soft, sweet and tangy cabbage, and the smooth celeriac.
Grape Sorbet with a mini PB&J sandwich: A baby portion, because but he said it was very decadent and rich for a sorbet.
Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee sauce and clotted cream: So delicious, but very very sweet. It was essentially a ball of pudding cake swimming in a pool of sweet, sticky toffee sauce. I tried not to eat all of the sauce, but I "accidentally" pretty much finished it. It was delicious at the time, but I had a "sugar hangover" (aka. Have felt kind of sick) the whole day after. Share this if you are going to order it.
So for all of that plus a beer, wine and a tea (btw, the tea is so cute.. its like a french press with a little timer on it, and when the buzzer goes off, it's "steeped" enough to drink), the bill came to about $135 before tip, after tax. I think that's pretty good. And you can even do a lot better at Beast since they have the 4-7 pm Happy Hour menu ($4 tapas!), and their main courses can be ordered in half portions.
I am looking forward to returning soon, especially because their "happy hour menu" (aka $4 tapas) seem like a great value...and would love to try their brunch menu too! Beast Benny with Braised Rabbit? Yes please! Thanks for the tip everyone.
330 King St W, Toronto, ON , CA
So round two. We went to Woodlot last night for my ACTUAL birthday celebration. I like the room, its very cozy, especially with the wood oven. We had a 6:15 reservation, and the whole place was full by 6:30, I was pretty impressed and happy to see they're doing well.
Service was.. friendly, but a bit scattered. I would say they could have used at least one more server on, as it took a long time to order/receive drink refills, plate clearance etc.
Started with their home made bread... I agree with one of the previous comments that it would be better served warm. This bread was so hard that I thought I was going to break a tooth. It was IMPOSSIBLE to cut (if they were going for the wood theme... they got it.. I felt like I was sawing at a piece of stubborn lumber).
The menu has changed slightly since others have posted.. There was no venison pie, and in place was some type of ham pie.
The lamb tart- my favourite of the night. That tart shell.. I thought about it all night. I wish I knew how to make a tart shell like that because normally I dont like tart pastry. It was a touch salty (from the cheese I suspect), but I like that. Some others might find it too much.
Gnocchi main with sausage- Fluffy pasta, nice fennel flavour in the sausage. A great, comforting dish for a cold weather weekday meal.
Pork chop- Deliciously juicy. I found the serving small-ish compared with the pasta main and others I saw circulating through the room. If ordered, I would definitely say you'd require a side or two.
Brussels sprouts- They were simple, but good.
Root vegetables- glazed with honey, they were nice and sweet. I would have preferred a bit of texture though.. I think they were just boiled/steamed, then tossed in the honey sauce, but I prefer when roots are roasted and a bit crispy.
Apple tarte tatin- I was a bit disappointed actually. It seemed overcooked to me to the point that the apples were no longer sweet, but rather, a bit bitter, and the pastry was dry. I have made better IMHO.
The bill was just over 100$ for a starter, two mains, 2 sides, a beer, sparkling water and 2 glasses of wine. I really dont think you can do much better than that, and I will definitely return to try some of the other offerings.
Does anyone know how often they change the menu??
Okay round three (this is it before Christmas!)
So I chose Luma because I felt the menu was "safe" enough for my picky parents, but interesting enough for a special evening. We also wanted to check out the Tim Burton exhibit, so we thought we would make a night of it.
Lets start with the room. I liked the simple, elegant decor. I like that the tables are very far apart. I am not really a "communal seating" person, so I liked the space.
The entire restaurant overlooks King St with a huge window, which WOULD have been nice to sit at, but it was FREEZING by the window, so I had to move. Something should be done about this.
Service was nice, friendly, professional. Our server was knowledgeable about the wine list and was kind enough to offer samples before we committed ourselves to a bottle. I do appreciate that, because its so disappointing to drink a glass of wine you don't really like.
Bread was served fresh and warm, a nice selection of raisin, whole grain and white baguette. Once again, cold butter. Is there a reason for cold butter? Does anyone like this? It just ruins the bread.
Potato and Leek Soup of the Day (x2)- Creamy, light, perfect for a cold night.
Burrata (fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette)-Wonderfully soft, mild cheese with a sweet selection of beets. I also really liked the pine nuts against the pillowy cheese.
Foie Gras Torchon with pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla- Huge portion, I thought. It was obviously no where near the best foie dish I've had, but I did love the pineapple with the macademia so I felt it was one of the most successful dish of the night.
Steak Frites with Luma pepper rub, northern woods mushrooms and truffle butter (x2)- I found the steak a little tough and overcooked, but again a big portion. The frites on the other hand were delicious. Very crispy and served with (upon request) a spicy ketchup and very garlicy aoli.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin- with braised beef cheeks, crispy potato chips, celery root puree, caramelized sunchokes, watercress and wild mustard jus- Like the steaks, the tenderloin again was a bit dry and overcooked, but the cheeks were very tender. I loved the seared sunchokes. I would order this dish again, just perhaps order it less done than I usually would.
Tagliatelle with confit duck, butternut squash, toasted almonds, sage and Parmesan- I really wished there was more duck, only like 1/2 oz, and a LOT of pasta. I just felt like the ingredients were so lovely (I mean... doesn't that description read nicely?) so I really wanted to like it, but together, it just didn't taste like that much. Could have used some salt (which I added, since they had salt and pepper shakers right on the table. Kind of a bad sign right there).
Side of frites- like I said, the frites were very crispy and perfect. But just be warned, they come topped with an obnoxious amount of truffle-scented (?) parm, which my family did NOT like as they don't eat cheese.
Side of sauteed mushrooms with garlic and thyme- Yum- very nice selection of wild mushrooms and a very big portion for the price ($6)
Opera Cake (almond sponge cake with layers of mocha buttercream and chocolate ganache) with popcorn ice cream and caramel popcorn (x2)- Nice creamy buttercream. The ice cream seemed to be just a vanilla but the "pop" came from some type of chocolate poprock candy underneath. I have seen this many times, but my food-virgin parents were amused. The caramel corn was fun, but a bit dry (probably wasn't fresh).
Lemon Tart with sour cream ice cream and blueberries- the star dessert, in my opinion. The lemon was beautifully bright, and the top was actually bruleed which added some texture to the dish.
Warm Pear galette with vanilla and ginger ice cream- Good, but not great. My sister had a hard time cutting through the puff pastry with her spoon so it was a bit awkward to eat, but tasted pretty good.
So lets do the tally.... For 4 apps, 4 mains, 2 sides, 4 desserts, 3 glasses of white wine, a half bottle of red, 2 cappuccinos and 2 regular coffees, the bill was about $400 after tip and tax. While portions were generous, and service was friendly, Luma still has a few bumps to smooth out before I would consider returning. The food was nothing noteworthy (though, I wasn't expecting anything groundbreaking), and it was very cold in there. Despite moving from the window to a booth in hopes of warming up, we were all freezing. But I still felt that it was a good choice for a "special occasion" family dinner if you have picky eaters to please. I hope they do work out the kinks, because it would be nice to have a good option on the theatre-strip of culinary wasteland.
330 King St W, Toronto, ON , CA
I *love* that sour cream ice cream from Soma. Whenever I'm at Oliver and Bonacini (Bayview Village mall), I'll ask for that on its own as a dessert.
Sounds like you had reasonably successful birthday celebrations! Glad to hear that Luma is continuing the O&B trend of good food and good service at reasonable prices in a nice atmosphere. I've never had a "blow my mind" meal at any O&B restaurant (even Canoe), but I've also never had a bad meal. It's nice that someone in this city is consistent.
330 King St W, Toronto, ON , CA