Having some nice meals here and there in Toronto
Nove (Yonge south of St Clair)
Packed on a Tuesday night, noisy, but the maitre d' and chef were very friendly. Only our waiter seemed ticked off that we were only having appetizers (Eggplant Parmigiano) and a glass of Chianti each. It was a perfect sized meal for us and we didn't linger so not sure what the problem with him was. The meal and wine were delicious - lots of fresh tomato sauce, nice bread, light eggplant coating.
Origin (King and Church)
Packed on Thursday night. We were refugees from Kultura where we had one of those only-in-Toronto service experiences (and I say this after 2 months in Paris!)* We were assessed and delivered to the only quiet table and well looked after. The dishes were delicious if over-salted. I particularly enjoyed the spicy frites - sort of like a Spanish version of poutine with manchego and chorizo instead of curds and gravy. The duck wraps were yummy. The cod cakes looked like tim-bits but tasted ok. The pea soups of my friends looked, and were reported, good and warming on a miserable night.
Garbardine (Bay and Richmond)http://www.thegabardine.com/the_gabar...
Less packed on Friday night than during the week according to the staff. Tiny, a bit noisy from all the people standing around the bar, but with a quality menu with just the right amount of choice.
The four of us covered (and tasted)
- prosecco - apple cider and the only bubbly wine I have ever seen that had to be opened with a corkscrew (by design - no lip on the cork
- Smoked trout salad - not as elegant as Jacques on the Parc but tasty and not over salted or chemical-tasting and generous with the trout and not so with the celeriac remoulade - my personal favourite
- Caesar with soft egg, whole leaves of romaine, big pieces of bacon and a delicious dressing in a suitable quantity. We would have preferred a warm soft poached egg, but the cold soft boiled was acceptable.
- Beet salad was approved of
- Rabbit rillete was delicious
- Beet risotto with goat cheese and beet greens was very good though it lacked a bit of fresh herbs - tarragon maybe?
- Sautéed BC black cod with braised lentils and mushrooms got raves
- Roasted brined pork with creamed polenta and vincotto also wonderful - not too salty and though a bit chewy, it was very tasty - even the polenta got a rave from a non-polenta fan
- Steak and fries with fresh herb and shallot butter was really good in unexpected ways - good frites that really tasted like potatoes! And the steak was rare as requested, thick, juicy and crusted with a subtle mix of spices
We had the alcoholic pinot noir from Ampelos Cellars Lambda 2006, Santa Rita Hills, California which went very well with all the dishes.
- Burnt marshmallow ice cream sandwich was really good - though surprised some of us because we get the burnt marshmallow ice cream from Gelato Fresco and this wasn't - it was vanilla with a burnt marshmallow crust - perfect!
- Sticky toﬀee pudding with sweet cream and toﬀee sauce was a slightly dry or stale cake but if you mushed it into the generous and wonderfully toffee cream sauce you could actually get most of the sauce without having to lick the plate.
The service was casual and not especially professional (waiter didn't know the specials or the wine very well), but it reminded me of the Paris flavour - real concern that you had a good time and got what you wanted. It definitely wasn't all about the tip and or tturning the table!
And the quality of the food and ingredients was impressive - I hope they can maintain it, because I would like to go again.
*Us older folk like to arrive early for a bit of quiet dining before the hordes descend. In an empty restaurant surely it is unnecessary to crank the music no matter how unhappy you are with the change of ownership. Despite numerous requests, the music didn't die till the white-haired woman with the cane who had been sitting outside on the doorstep waiting for them to open and let her in out of a miserably cold evening had lost the last of her patience and we left.
In Paris I and my husband were ushered in out of only slightly inclement weather a full half hour before the restaurant was open. Why do Canadians not get it??!!!
60 Tycos Dr, Toronto, ON M6B, CA
169 King St. E., Toronto, ON M5A 1J4, CA
St Clair Restaurant
69 St Clair St, Chatham, ON N7L3H8, CA