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Nov 28, 2012 08:22 AM

Edulis review (long)

My partner and I visited Edulis last Friday for an 8:30 reservation. After all of the hype re: enroute voting it number one, I was really excited to go.
A few notes on atmosphere- the room itself feels kind of like a grandmother's old cottage, but with the lights dimmed down to a sexy date night glow. It's cozy, warm and welcoming.

Service, for us, unfortauntely did not quite embody the philosophy with the same success. I saw Tobey (co-owner) interacting with diners, and I loved her social, yet gentle demeanor, but unfortunately we didn't get the pleasure to chat with her. While knowledgeable and certainly friendly, our server(s) seemed too busy to provide much more than the bare minimum of interaction and conversation. Despite the lack of personable chit-chat, everything ran incredibly smoothly with regards to beverages refills and cutlery. I should certainly mentioned however, that Edulis is not the place if you have any plans to attend to post-meal. While I quite appreciate the long, luxurious European dining style (there is nothing worse then feeling rushed out of a restaurant when you're paying $100 pp), I did feel we were waiting a little more than what would be ordinarily comfortable between receiving dishes. Case in point, our dinner from start to finish took 2 1/2 hours (the couple beside us had spent 4 1/2 hours there!) and we were very quite to order etc and did not linger post-meal. This is definitely something I would expect when indulging in a lengthy tasting menu (which we decided against last night because we did happen to have to be somewhere afterwards), but even my Momofuku 10-courser got us in and out faster. Again, I should reiterate, that it seems that a lazy lengthy meal is part of Edulis' European style, but still something to be aware of when planning an Edulis dinner.

The cocktail menu at Edulis is classic, yet unique. My partner had a Manhattan (not on the menu), as well as a glass of Cab Franc, while I opted for a Lillet Cocktail (Lillet Blanc, Broker's Gin, Elderflower and Basil), and later the Edulis Royale (Sparkling Cider, Coronation Grape, Cassis). The Lillet refreshing, floral and went down so effortlessly, you would have thought I was drinking water.

The food menu offered a sexy spin on classic European bistro fare. The flavours were discernible by the menu descriptions, and nothing came off as pretentious or over-reaching. Hearing that the Carte Blache (their 5 or 7 course tasting menus) was comprised primarily of menu items, we decided that we would prefer to choose our dishes to ensure that we got our must-have dishes (hello, foie gras, I'm talking about you). This is what we had:

Bread Basket- Simple and delicious with a fluffy rich white bun and a heartier whole grain selection.

Mixed Wild Mushrooms with Spanish Fried Egg and Brioche Toast- The flavours here were flawless. The mushrooms were cooked and seasoned perfectly, a celebration of earthy deep flavours. Cut by a bright parsley garlic olive oil, the egg and brioche brought a rich, decadent element that did not overpower the mushrooms. I had only wished that the egg had been cooked a little less (the yolk did not run as I'd hope), and the brioche had been toasted or seared well enough that it maintained some of its integrity rather than becoming an indiscernible disk of soggy carbs at the bottom of the bowl. My other criticism was that the dish was served luke warm. Unfortunately, this was actually true for every dish we had at Edulis.

Fresh Istrian White Truffle with Soft Eggs and Onion Puree- Probably the best truffle dish I have ever tasted. The onion puree had a sweet, slightly smokey flavour, with a pleasant mild acidic note. The eggs had a really comforting texture, gingerly speckled with fresh herbs to cut the richness. And thank you, Edulis, for doing truffle right. A delicate shaving of white truffles adorned the eggs so that the umami-rich flavour was distinguished, but not overwhelming.

Poached Foie Gras "Facon Michel Guerard" Du Puy Lentils, Smoked Apple Puree, Balconville, Crispy Chicken Skin Crumbs- For someone who ordinarily is not a huge fan of De Puy Lentils, this was a stellar dish, and worth holding out on the Carte Blanche for (or ordering it in addition to the tasting). The foie itself was generously portioned and incredibly buttery, contrasted with the supple pop of the lentils beneath. I appreciated the sweet and acidic note of the apple, and the salty crunch of the chicken skin. Way to make a girl love lentils.

Glazed Beef Cheek with Black Trumpets, Parsley Root Puree, Sunchokes, Herbs- The beef cheek was meltingly tender, and its deep rich flavour was complemented beautifully with the trumpet mushrooms. Both of these elements worked well with the nutty, sweet sunchokes and lustrously smooth puree.

Kale and Duck Leg Meat Ball with Stewed Potatoes and Hazelnuts- This was probably our least favourite dish, but by no means and failure. The meat ball lacked the moisture and the sumptuous mouthfeel I would expect from anything made of duck legs. The stewed potatoes and hazelnuts, however, were a dream. The potatoes were tender and beautifully seasoned, while the hazelnuts lent a contrasting crunch and nutty aroma. This would make for a beautiful holiday side.

Vin Santo Roasted Pear, Walnut Toffee Cream, Salted Caramel- Sitting before us looking like a Bon Appetit magazine cover, this was a light, yet indulgent and elegant dessert. The pear had slightly caramelized exterior, that when plunged into the caramel and cream below yielded a perfect bite of sweet, salty and richness. As someone who has poached many-a-pears, I found the roasting technique easier to eat (with a bit of care, you could cut it easily with a spoon), but a little bit more grainy in texture. Regardless, I literally ate everything in the bowl except the stem.

Spiced Apple Sorbet- Another light and refreshing end to a meat-heavy meal. The sorbet had all of those memory-evoking holiday spices, and without the weight an ice cream, I could actually appreciate the bright acidic apple flavour. A rendition of this may make an appearance in my freezer sometime soon.

So, for 5 savoury dishes, 2 sweet, 3 cocktails, 1 glass of wine, sparkling water and a cappuccino, the bill came to $250, a bit more than we normally spend, but the quality was testimony to its worth. I will definitely come for a return visit, and when I do, I'll plan for an all-nighter, tuck into a 7-course Carte Blanch, and try to spend some time chatting it up with Tobey. Congratulations Edulis on your recent success and accolades. There is definitely good reason why you've been voted number one!

See photos here:

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  1. Kind of surprised there aren't a lot of reviews of Edulis on here. Just had dinner here for the first time. Really great experience but now that I'm reading reviews online it seems its either a love it or hate it experience. Wildly inconsistent maybe?

    2 Replies
    1. re: radiopolitic

      i finally planned to go here this weekend and just tried to get a reservation, they got nothing (at least on opentable) until june 6th. can anyone testify as to whether they have walk in space ever? or am i doomed to wait

      1. re: disgusti

        Lots of walk-ins got turned away when I was there tonight.

    2. ate there recently ... service was great ... room is beautiful ... food was ok ... but not exactly best new restaurant in canada good ... maybe all the hype is overselling it? ... but both my wife and i left thinking it was just ok ... would go back? ... maybe ... but im not in any rush ...

      this in comparison to a place like bar isabel where i try to go anytime i have an excuse to eat out ... maybe the flavours are just too subtle for me? .. i don't know .. but definitely didnt live up to all the raves it's been getting ...

      2 Replies
      1. re: slants

        Remember, Bar Isabel didn't exist when Edulis opened.

        Bar Isabel is essentially reflecting urban Spain, Edulis on the other hand is more about country food if that makes sense. Personally I think Edulis is the better restaurant but it's as apples to oranges as you can get with two restaurants doing Spanish reinvented.

        1. re: bytepusher

          we ate there half a year ago.
          probably the most disappointing meal i've had in toronto in a while.
          could not see where any of the hype was coming from.
          the best dish was the white asparagus. take that for what it's worth.

      2. We went to Edulis in March. We were 'whelmed' - not underwhelmed or overwhelmed with the experience. I enjoyed the space but found the meal was so so. We were seated at our table promptly for a 9:!5pm reservation. We found that we waited quite some time between courses. We had dish envy when some of the pre ordered country style meals were delivered to nearby tables (the meals require a couple of days advance notice for prep). The service was so so. To be fair Tobey was serving on the other side of the restaurant and we did watch as she graciously catered to her tables. There was no stand out in my meal. And to be honest I was a little let down given how much I recommended the place to my dining partner based on the tremendous reviews.

        7 Replies
        1. re: mskatsam

          I wish I had paid more heed to your review mskatsam.

          Went last night with my husband. Everything was just a little off. A little too much of something here and not enough of something there.

          We asked for wine pairings and the wines were incongruous for 3 out of the five courses. Also, they gave us full glasses of wine and then charged us by the glass! I find that to be a bit of a rookie thing to do. Wine pairings should elevate the food and be just enough for that course.

          The service was great but we ordered three choices of cheese and were served 5 choices of cheeses with not everything that we asked for. Not sure why that happened.

          Would I recommend this place? No, but I do wonder if we would have had a different experience on a weekend as opposed to a weekday.

          1. re: Anita Nap

            I was there last night with my husband, too. We both had the 7 course menu, which we thought was a good value for the quality (and quantity) of food. A few dishes were a bit too salty for my liking, and my husband remarked that his octopus was quite tough, but nothing worth complaining about. The smoked duck was the highlight for me. I'll echo the sentiments about the "unevenness" of the meal - some awkward timing between courses, and glaring differences in the size of the plates (of the same course) that my husband and I received.

            Service was efficient and friendly, though not particularly polished, but it was fine considering the environment.

            Overall, we both thought it was a solid meal -- nothing wowed us, but nothing really disappointed us, either. It was definitely less special than I was expecting and hoping for, though, considering the hype (I really did not particularly care for the room). A good meal, but definitely not an occasion place, in my books.

            1. re: ramenramen

              I'm glad to see I'm not the only one not blown away by this place. I went a while back for the Sunday lunch, and while a couple of the dishes were quite excellent, the overall meal was good but not great. I felt kind of bad because the group I was with went solely based on me hyping it up (based on the internet hyping it up), and afterwards everyone looked at me like "Really? All that hype for that?" I think the saving grace was that it was quite affordable, otherwise I would have had more than just perplexed stares to contend with.

              1. re: ramenramen

                Bad nights happen and it sounds like it was a bad night. I last ate at Edulis the week before the CNS four star review and thought it was stronger than ever.

                It does leave some people cold, though. It's a gimmick free and understated restaurant that relies on stellar ingredients and rustic, classical preps. From an ingredient quality perspective, it's operating at a level few Toronto restaurants can touch (though few Toronto restaurants try to). It's a subtle place but a satisfying one if you enjoy that kind of cooking.

                There's nothing "rookie" about charging by the glass and giving full pours when a restaurant doesn't offer set wine pairings - plenty of well regarded restaurants do that, if the pours were too much, you should ask for halfs - though the pairings should match the food. That's their error.

                1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                  I am not trying to get into a flame war here, just clarifying my point.

                  I agree that it could have just been a bad night which is why I wondered about going on a weekend as opposed to a weekday. The components were there to make it terrific... just some things were a bit off. Compared to other restaurants that do similar things, it just didn't measure up for me.

                  Don't mistake that I don't understand or appreciate subtlety, I actually truly felt that the flavours and presentations were just not quite there; clearly also harmed by the fact that the wines were not paired well.

                  For example, I felt that the first dish played a lovely story on the palate, but the toasted rice crisps were begging to have more attention, and could have had it if there wasn't as much acid.

                  Just my opinion, I don't have any sort of degree or anything.

                  I may try again on a weekend...but I may also just try something else.

                  1. re: Anita Nap

                    What are the other restaurants in Toronto doing similar things?

                    1. re: Anita Nap

                      What restaurant in Toronto does 'similar things'? Please name some as there are none I can think of.

            2. Will be back in Toronto for a week and planning one tasting menu meal. I was deciding between Edulis or Momofuku. Any thoughts?

              6 Replies
              1. re: s0memale

                Likely little chance of getting into Edulis at this point. So perhaps that will make decision for you.

                1. re: mskatsam

                  He didn't say "in a week", he said "for a week", timeframe undisclosed.

                  That's a tough one, fan of both restaurants, in fact going to Shoto tonight. They are quite different, it really depends on what you are in the mood for, Shoto is more refined and takes Japan as it's very loose inspriration, Edulis is European country food.

                  If I was anticipating a cold day and wanted to be warmed up physically and psycically I'd choose Edulis.

                  1. re: bytepusher

                    I just tried to book a reso at Edulis for the weekend of Nov. 8/9/10 and couldn't get a table before 9 p.m. on Sat or Sun and none on the Friday.

                    1. re: JennaBean

                      Did you try calling? Most restos only make a percentage of their resos available on Open table (or whichever online booking system they use).

                2. re: s0memale

                  Momofuku Shoto has gone from strength to strength recently.
                  Strongly recommend it.

                  Only problem is the counter service which makes conversation difficult if more than 3 people.

                  1. re: s0memale

                    A little old, but I'm replying to this post specifically, because it poses my exact question: Edulis or Shoto.

                    Both are available to reserve (rare), and while Shoto was known to me previously, Edulis I hadn't heard of until I saw the "best of 2014" list, where it had such a strong showing.

                    I also can't ignore the PQR (price-quality ratio): Shoto (at $150) is twice the cost of even the largest (7-course, $70) carte-Blanche at Edulis. That's difficult to overlook.

                    So right now it's Edulis for me, but (I read somewhere on this board, and agree) there are not many reviews here on CH, Yelp is very mixed and thinly reviewed, so if I'm making a mistake, let me know.

                    I'd really like to see a post on the 7-course menu on Edulis - with all the votes it got overall, someone must have tried it.