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'QUATRE-FOODIES' trying out 'QUATREFOIL' ( long with photos )

Four foodies, including fellow chowhounder skylineR33 and myself, celebrated Canada's Day by having a mini-chowmeet at the highly touted 'Quatrefoil' in Dundas. The incentive behind our willing to make the long, hour plus, drive to a 'culinary wasteland' for dinner rested solely on the credential of the husband and wife ( owner/chef ) team. Both of them apparently honed their skills under two of the most demanding Michelin 3* chefs - Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White!

The restaurant was located in a converted residential house with a huge tree-lined patio. Interior decoration was 'white dominated' modern and the ambience warm and cozy.

Our party settled for the $85, 6 course tasting menu. For a corkage of $25, I brought along a 1990 J.J.Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese to pair with the foie gras and dessert courses. Other wines were ordered off the wine list as the meal progresses.

Detail of the meal is as follows:

- Bread selection with Chevril and Tarragon herbed butter. Hot to the hand and emitting gorgeous aroma, these breads must be one of the most delicious 'restaurant breads' in and around the GTA!

- Amuse Bouche - 'Minature cod croquettes with Chipotle aioli and roasted red pepper coulis'. Crispy shell with a creamy yet slightly chewy interior, the piping hot, savoury morsel was delicious and made a good start to the meal.

- Appertizer 1 - 'Sea Scallop, white asparagus, quail egg, broccoli sauce'. The giant, sweet tasting scallop was nicely seared and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The sunny side up quail egg was a nice touch, offering the yolk for the pieces of fried broccoli florets to be dipped into. We all needed extra spoons to scoop up the delicious creamy broccoli sauce ( or soup?! ).

- Appertizer 2 - 'Quail, Chorizo, fennel, goat cheese, tomato jam'. The crispy skin roasted quail was 'just a touch' over-cooked. However, this was perfectly understandable due to the small size of the bird and the fact that we are in 'conservative' Canada and not France. The presence of the Chorizo was to provide the salty component to the dish. Unfortunately, the spiciness of the sauage was a bit too overwhelming! Moreover, we were puzzled by the pairing of the shaved fennel with the thick goat cheese? A more delicate and tangy dressing might be more appropriate?

- Appertizer 3 - 'Foie Gras Torchon, saffron shallots, Jerusalem artichokes, pickled honey mushrooms, Vanilla cream'. First off, plate presentation of this dish was A+! One of the highlight dish of the evening! The smooth, creamy and well seasoned foie was superb. The array of accompliments especially the pickled mushrooms were tasty and most 'interesting'!

Our late-harvest Riesling provides an almost perfect pairing for this dish. BTW, though it was a 1990 'aged Riesling', this wine still exhibits youth and liveliness. Dark ambered colour with honeyed, pineapple, lychee, floral and just a hint of petrol nose and taste, this is a one superb and complex wine!

- Fish Course - 'Wild Scottish Salmon, pea and Mascarpone ravioli, asparagus, peas, Porcini cream'. Although I am not a fan of cooked salmon, however, I did give an approval nod to this perfectly cooked piece of ultra-fresh fish ( crisp outside and rare moist interior ). A testament to the skill of the kitchen! The flavour of both the ravioli and porcini cream were both delicious and very intense. However, the use of both cream and cheese rendered the dish a touch on the heavy side!

- Palette Cleanser - ' Plum and Rhubarb Sorbet'. This was way too sweet for my taste! Not wanting to let it spoiled rather than cleanse my palette, I left it almost untouched.

- Meat Course - ' Venison, baby turnips and carrots, herb spaetzle, carrot marmalade, foie gras sauce'. This was undoubtedly the 'miss' of the evening. Though the double smoked bacon wrapped Venison stripped loin was perfectly cooked, the overall presentation and taste of the dish was very ordinary. The overly creamy and tasteless herb spaetzle and the super-sweet carrot marmalade were a bit redundant and out of place. The root vegetables were undercooked and tasted bitter. All in all, we found this dish to have too many taste components and a bit too ' muddled'!

( By now, we have come to the conclusion that the kitchen has a strong tendency to provide some overly sweet accompliments for the main dishes. As well, the liberal use of cream and cheese rendered most sauces on the 'heavy side'! I have nothing against this 'heavy handed' approach except that I have to work out extra hard to get rid of those calories! Ha! )

Dessert 1 - ''Goat cheese cake, chocolate crumbs, Blackberry sauce and sorbet'. This gorgeous looking 'de-constructed cheese cake' looked more like a Heston Bleumanthal MG creation than a Gordon Ramsay one. Beautiful to the eyes and tasty to the palette, however, once again, I found the S-shaped piece of cheese to be way too heavy, especially towards the end of a multi-course meal!

Dessert 2 - A complimentary ' Dark chocolate fudge topped with dark chocolate wafer, marshmallow and caramel sauce paired with a 10 year old Tawny Port'. It was good, but by now, I was stuffed and my taste buds started to feel numb!

Mignardise - ' Chocolate truffles and Black berries jello '. Too full to eat anymore, just a minute nip to get a taste of the products.

Overall, eventhough there were both hits and misses, the meal on the whole was an enjoyable one and very good value ( Toronto Life's 3* rating was quite correct ). Service was a delight with both wait staff and management extremely friendly, efficient and attentive.

However, in my opinion, it was the 'great company' that made the meal a memorable one!!

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  1. Great detailed report ! It is a very satisfying meal. My favorite of the night are the Sea Scallop appetizer and the Foie Gras Torchon. The Goat Cheese cake is one of the better dessert I have in Toronto (which I found the dessert in Toronto is always 'meh' from my experience). I like the dessert at Quartrefoil better than the one I had in the tasting menu of Splendido, C5 and Treadwell recently.

    3 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      Me too! Guess we 'neighbours' have similar tastes?!! Ha!
      However, I wish I could have a few more of those amuse bouche croquettes?! So yummy! May be I was starving then?! Imagine having a whole bowl of those freshly made ones to munch on whilst watching the NBA finals?!
      I found the cheese cake too heavy and the chocolate ones too sweet. May be I was too drunk and too full to tell?!!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        I can't finish the chocolate one too, it is just a piece of very sweet thing to me.

        1. re: skylineR33

          Actually, I'm surprise the chocolate did not taste ' chocolatey ' at all! Just sweet! Chocolate desserts from say Rahier taste much better!

    2. Wish I knew you were coming, that's a block from my house! There are a few other places sort of in the area worth visiting (thinking Locke st. in Hamilton, mainly) so you certainly could have done a combo trip but thanks for making the treck west!

      1. When did they open? It sounds like a reasonable value for a meal of that size, though it's too bad that some of the misses were big ones (like the venison dish). I suppose if you could get there while avoiding traffic it would probably be a good place to try!

        14 Replies
        1. re: tjr

          Thanks for the review. I've dined at Quatrefoil many times and have found that the hits far outnumber the misses. Generally, the restaurant does not disappoint. Your review is reasonably fair but I've got to respond to one of your comments. As a west-ender living in Burlington I do take exception to the comment "culinary wasteland." I hope that this comment was made with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek. There are many fine restaurants in GTA west and beyond that would rival many of the over-hyped, over-priced Toronto restaurants. Try Blacktree in Burlington sometime... I would put it up against any of the finest Toronto restaurants and Chef Matteo also has a fine pedigree having worked with many of Canada's best known chefs... Michael Stadtlander, Jamie Kennedy, Mark McEwan, etc.

          3029 New St, Burlington, ON L7N, CA

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Strong opinions can appear terse in writing, and food is a very passionate subject.

            What did you folks have for beverages after the palate cleanser that didn't work? I'm wondering if your perception of the sweetness might have been corrupted by the previous sweet overdose.

            1. re: Snarf

              Tons of iced water!
              You might have a point, however, the venison dish arrived after a fairly long wait. Previous sensation from the plum and rhubarb sorbet had already subsided!
              BTW, the chewy overcooked bacon, the overly creamy but tasteless herbed spaetzel ( without the herbs! ) and the undercooked 'bitter' root vegetables also contributed to the dish's unattractiveness and failure!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                You didn't try and match any wines after that? I would have thought that a nice spicy southern Rhone would have worked better with the venison...

                1. re: Snarf

                  We had the 2007 Montefalco Sangrantino Rosso from Umbria ( Sangiovese, Trebiano and Merlot blend). Quite tannic and full body. Need another few years.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Thanks for the subsequent reply. Nice to add the context.

                    Not trying to incite another riot of indignation, but I find I get more of an impression from the details of flavour and texture than I do from the comparisons to foreign restaurants. Though I did have my first 9 course tasting menu abroad in a lovely place on the pier in Aberystwyth in 1987.....

            2. re: Charles Yu

              Charles, I sadly beg to differ.

              Dundas/Hamilton is NOT a culinary wasteland. Granted the fine dining choices are extremely limited (BUT if you have read Charles' prior postings, so are Toronto's). However there is a growing food culture in this city that focuses on locavore dining and respecting the ingredients or else local family-run establishments that focus on a specific ethnicity or culinary style.

              Earth to Table (locavore dining at its best - pizzas and home made baked goods)
              Ancaster Old Mill (like the Toronto Old Mill, but done using seasonal, local ingredients, in a valley setting)
              Chucks Burger Bar (burgers, fries and poutine done right and with a wide variety of toppings, sadly the service is rarely up to par with the food)
              Cheese Shoppe on Locke (great sandwiches made from artisanal cheeses and meats)
              Karolina's (Polish family style dining)
              Mex-I-Can (Mexican streetfood in an authentic atmosphere)
              Chicago Style Pizza Shack (self-explanitory)
              Capri (old school red sauce Italian)
              Harbour Diner (diner food done right in a comfortable eclectic atmosphere)
              Papa Leos (breakfast and lunch done the way Leo wants it done - which is extremely good)
              Red Hill Coffee Trade (fair trade coffees roasted locally, guaranteeing fresh, high quality brews)
              Detour Coffee (fair trade coffees roasted locally, guaranteeing fresh, high quality brews)
              Matsu Sushi (best sushi/Japanese in Hamilton area that definitely goes toe-to-toe with many of Toronto's better sushi places)

              The food truck/community shares culture:
              Gorilla Cheese (grilled cheese done with artisanal cheeses and breads)
              Cupcake Diner (incredible cupcakes brought to you)
              Cupcake and Loaf (community share baked goods, focusing on organic, gluten-free, healthy)
              Plan B Organic Farms (community shared produce)

              Not to mention the Hamilton Farmer's Market, the Ottawa St. Farmer's Market and the smaller farmer's market.

              Hamilton may not have a plethora of 3-4 star dining establishments, but "culinary wasteland" it is not. Sorry Charles, I have to call you on this assessment. Perhaps you need to venture further than the QEW and 403...

              Harbour Diner
              488 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8L1J1, CA

              Chicago Style Pizza Shack
              534 Upper Sherman Ave, Hamilton, ON L8V3M1, CA

              1. re: Mike from Hamilton

                Hear, hear! As a fellow Hamilton resident I couldn't agree more. BTW, I would add the new NaRoma Pizza on Locke to your list. No pizza I've had thus far in the GTA can touch it IMO.

                1. re: Mike from Hamilton

                  Well said Mike from Hamilton. As a Toronto resident who lived in Hamilton for a few years, I must agree with you - and Hamilton's food scene has only grown since I've left! I would not only say it's NOT a culinary wasteland, I'd say it's a bit of a foodie gem, well worth exploring.

                  1. re: Mike from Hamilton

                    Even more to add - Rousseau House - try to find a better value than their Tapas Tuesday. Koosh down in Westdale. Bistro 1010 in westdale. Seven Windows has great food but if they don't know you, the service suffers

                    Seven Windows
                    432 Aberdeen Ave, Hamilton, ON L8P2S2, CA

                    1. re: Mike from Hamilton

                      Just as an FYI, the "culinary wasteland' comment is, I believe, a quote from Toronto Life's print version restaurant guide issue--I haven't seen it in a couple months, but it seems to ring a bell (and to Charles' credit he has the expression in quotes too).

                      @Mike--you forgot Roma pizza! That's what I miss most about Hamilton...

                        1. re: Olivia

                          Maybe Toronto Life also do not know Hamilton has such a good selection for pizza ?! Will definitely try to get a slice instead of eating in the Service Station next time I am on a trip to the west.

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Make sure to ask for Matteo's Seared Foie Gras - on the weekend it was the most delicious foie gras I've had in years - seared and served with duck breast and duck prosciutto a mango puree, roasted grapes and walnut halves. Then finished with a foam from the rendered foie.
                        NOT simple at all - but I revelled in the complexity - especially the textures that covered the entire spectrum - from chewy (prosciutto) through to foam (and crunch and sweetness, both from the puree, and the 'burst' of the grape).

                        I recall talking to David Lee (one of your favourites) about 'name' Toronto chefs - and how few had actually developed protegees (quick; name the chefs developed by the initials in your comment above) - I was trying to compliment David on this point. His reply was also instructive - "It also depends on the trainee!". Just having worked for/under a great chef doesn't mean anything! A close relative worked in (3 of) Marco Pierre White's restaurants (as a swing) and didn't EVER see MPW in the year he was there!

                    2. not sure if we ate at the same Quatrefoil

                      Chorizo was savoury - not overpowering - and complimented the quail and sauce to perfection

                      Venison was perfectly cooked and I have to disagree on the Spatzle - this rivaled similar dishes from Michelin restaurants

                      Presentation was rustic, yet artistic. And a perfect wine pairing for the venison - full bodied with black currant and earthiness.

                      Did not have the misses you had - all hits, all home runs

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pqpine

                        Your first posting! Welcome to Chowhound!
                        Our slice of Chorizo was too thick and more salty and 'hot' than savoury in our opinion

                        We agree the venison was perfectly cooked but the 'overly sweet' carrot marmalade' just overwhelmed our taste buds! Our 'herbed' Spaetzle tasted bland and heavy, not a nice match. A crispy potato pancake/rosti might be a better pairing. BTW, were your accompanied root vegetables bitter?! Ours was.

                        Agree with the great plate presentation overall. That was a high light of our meal.
                        Overall, we did enjoy our meal. A mis-firing here and there is not uncommon. As foodies, we are expressing our own 'personal' views, thats all. Even meals we had at Joel Robuchon or Alain Duccase were not be perfect with all 'home runs'?! Actually closest to perfection were meals in Spain, Tokyo and Hong Kong! How far things have gone!!

                      2. You were mistaken your very first bite. i am a small business owner (in the food industry) in Dundas. I was at Quatrefoil on Canada Day. The halibut croquette amuse bouche was paired with a saffron aioli and roasted red pepper sauce. Just saying, no chipotle aioli!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: leapinglilly

                          I'm pretty sure that between Charles' unimpeachable palette and the combined 40 odd years of Michelin starred dining shared among his guests they would be able to discern the difference between saffron and chipotle.

                          1. re: jamesm

                            This could be easily settled if someone were to just call the restaurant and ask... I'm certain they'd remember what they served on Canada day.

                            1. re: justpete

                              Such an inconsequentially small dollop on top of the croqette, whether its chiptole, saffron, ketchup or cocktail sauce. I'm really not that concern. The main thing was that, the offering was damn delicious!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                Indeed - was just a suggestion for those that were taking issue.

                          2. re: leapinglilly

                            Did you mean "halibut" croquette?....cod was mentioned by the OP.

                          3. Oddly enough, I was also there on Canada day. Although I thought it was good over-all, I thought there was a few miss-steps.

                            A) I didn't enjoy the herbed butter
                            B) Our bread wasn't warm - nor was it particularly good. Perhaps better if warmed?
                            C) I could not order the tasting menu as it was already 9pm when we arrived, and had not asked in advance. We were forced to order an app and main each ( this is understandable as by the time we were finished, there were only a few people in the restaurant - however, we were not warned that we needed to request it in advance or book a more appropriate time)
                            D) Our Apps were.. well, average. My grilled Scallop left quite a bit to be desired. My SO's Foie Gras Torchon had nothing on Splendido's Foie Gras Parfait, and we were left wanting.
                            E) The smores' dessert was adequate, over-the top sweet, but also used high-quality chocolate. The combination didn't work overly well, but we still ate the whole thing.

                            With all that said, our mains, however, were delicious. The demi-glace I had with my Venison was one of the best I'd ever tasted. My SO's Pickerel was incredible, and the accoutrements for both were delicious. My venison was also cooked to perfection (medium rare).

                            So, everything leading up to our mains was disappointing, but our mains made up for the appetizers. I would go again, but for the tasting menu instead.

                            I also would add that the service was good, and the decor was very nice.

                            Lastly - I did not have the aformentioned amuse bouche, unfortunately, so cannot help settle the debate!

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

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: justpete

                              YOU GOT THE PICKEREL!!!! I'm so jealous! When we pre-ordered our tasting menu, we were told we will be getting the seared pickerel. But instead, we got the salmon. Sigh!!

                              The 'hot to the hand' bread was actually one of the high light of our evening! Interesting yours wasn't even 'warm'?!!!

                              Our party all enjoyed the seared scallop dish whilst finding the sauce for the venison kind-of- bland! How fascinating we chowhounders can have such diverse palette and different experiences on the same night!

                              I'm so glad to read you use the words 'over the top sweet'!! in your write up. When I complained about a few components of our meal being 'too sweet' and spoiling some of the taste sensation, I read quite a few responses expressing skepticism and dis-believe about my write-up!

                              Lastly, no amuse bouche for you folks??! Now, thats a No!No! And its Canada's Day as well!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                Yes, the SO said the pickerel was out-worldly...

                                The hot-to-the-hand bread was cold-to-the-touch. When I read that your bread was hot, and being that one of my favourite things on earth is warm/hot bread, I was surprised, and extremely jealous.

                                (side note: Having warm to the touch, fresh baked bread at Marben today made up for it a bit - sooooo good)

                                With regards to the scallops, well, I would say you're right, except that I did not have a 'seared' scallop, I had a grilled scallop - what you ate looked nothing like my dish - no resemblance whatsoever.. and I think that Scallops lend themselves much better to being pan seared in butter as opposed to char-grilled. Your dish looks delicious.

                                And yes, the Venison demi-glace almost literally knocked my socks off - it was a great accompaniment to the Venison and Spatzle... I also might add that I am German, so I've had quite a bit of Spatzle in my time - it supposed to be bland to a certain degree, it's a bit like certain types of pasta - it's not so much the item itself that adds the flavour, it's the sauce it's surrounded in. It's really just a delivery mechanism for the sauce. But, given the inconsistencies in our dishes, you may have 'drawn' a completely different sauce...

                                As for the dessert, I found it odd that they would use a high-quality dark chocolate with an overly sweet marshmallow and graham cracker 'crust', although it could hardly be called as such - it was soggy to a certain degree - even though we ate it, I would hardly call it a refined combination.

                                And, I think we may have had an amuse bouche - I'm not certain, and neither of us can remember what it was - which may speak to how good it was - but I can certainly tell you that it was not a croquette. I do enjoy croquettes and would have remembered that.

                                488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA