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Tasting menu tasting menu

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brushfire Oct 26, 2013 08:32 AM

Looking for a special tasting menu for a celebration in December. We don't want anything too stuffy ie Splendido, George. Maybe something closer to Shoto? More fun and lively atmosphere, interesting food and if it's not too expensive that would be a bonus! Just looking for more options. What are some recent favourites?

  1. estufarian Nov 2, 2013 08:04 AM

    I was at Actinolite this week and was very impressed with their tasting menu - extremely seasonal cuisine, so everything fresh.
    They've switched their format to 'tasting menu' only with a choice of 4 or 7 courses

    http://actinoliterestaurant.com/wordp...

    For me, the standouts were the carrot and Cep courses - I'd describe more, but I think the element of surprise would improve the enjoyment. The veal course in the 4-course is more substantial than any of the 7-course dishes, so it's not significantly less food (although it is a bit less).

    3 Replies
    1. re: estufarian
      b
      brushfire Nov 2, 2013 08:32 AM

      Actinolite looks amazing. Thank you for the recommendation. I'll be sure to try them out sometime if not this time.

      Still crossing my fingers for a Chantecler tasting reservation. Left message but havn't heard back. Otherwise it's Actinolite or Bero.

      1. re: brushfire
        k
        KAYLO Dec 7, 2013 01:40 AM

        I have eaten the tasting menus are Bero, Edulis, and Actinolite within the past month, and have eaten at all the others mentioned here at least once in the past year. There is no right answer, jsut as there is no right answer to the question , "What is the favourite flavour of ice cream?"

        I do not use a "value" factor, as I believe the market is rational and the relative pricing of these seems rational to me. each has strengths and each has weaknesses, too.

        But if a friend said she could get into all of them tomorrow night and which one did I want to treat her to, I would return to Bero first. It is one of the most comfortable(noise level, chairs, both very good!) , and the food has a high polish, variety and originality.

        Also, you may want to consider that there are fixed tastingws with NO choices, and semi-fixed. I had an ... interesting ... meal at Actinolite this week, but bad luck most of the items were things I don't much fancy, and even a talented chef couldn't change that. I eat EVERyTHING, but like most people, I have preferences. My least-favorite vegetable on the planet is cauliflower, and even though Actinolite's prep was the world's greatest cauliflower, well....

        I skew towards vegetables and fish, my husband always chooses meats, creams, pastas, so usually one of us is happier at any fixed menu than the other, and I pass him my foie gras and venison after one bite , and I get his lobster and celeriac salad...

        Edulis is VERY seafood heavy ...FIVE of the courses on our most recent visit, then one meat, and I loved it all, but my husband never orders fish voluntarily, so he took that one for the team. He agreed it was good, and cheerfully discussed each dish with me, but overall he would have been happier elsewhere. Bero has a few choices for each course, which makes for a better meal overall especially with a foursome.

        Actinolite is DEFINITELY well worth trying, but tomorrow night, please phone me and invite me to Bero!

        1. re: KAYLO
          b
          brushfire Dec 7, 2013 08:19 AM

          cool thanks for your reply!

          I've already made plans for actinolite but will definitely check out bero in the near future!

    2. t
      themiguel Oct 28, 2013 09:25 AM

      You could try calling right at midnight on November 1 to get into Chanteclers tasting menu. Seems right up your alley and has been celebrated by chowhounders and food critics alike.

      8 Replies
      1. re: themiguel
        jlunar Oct 28, 2013 10:20 AM

        Went last week to Chantecler. Still amazing. So amazing.

        1. re: jlunar
          TorontoJo Oct 28, 2013 10:48 AM

          So. Amazing.

          1. re: TorontoJo
            b
            brushfire Oct 28, 2013 10:35 PM

            Themiguel, have you had any experience with the tasting at chantecler or another restaurant mentioned on this thread? How do they compare?

            Jlunar, just read your blog on Chantecler, looks intersting.

            TorontoJo, I saw that you loved Bero. How do you think Bero compares to chantecler?

            Man, it just occured to me, what about kaji?

            1. re: brushfire
              TorontoJo Oct 29, 2013 04:09 AM

              Bero and Chantecler are totally different experiences and I loved them both.

              Bero is modernist cuisine with some Spanish and Basque influences. The chef builds beautiful layers of flavours and textures in each dish, and in the tasting menu, the progression of flavours from one dish to the next was really thoughtful. And while the chef uses modernist techniques, I never found that the techniques were over-used or overwhelmed a dish.

              Chantecler is contemporary Cantonese cuisine: dishes with classic Chinese roots, elevated with the skill of the chef's training in other cultures' cuisines. My table agreed that the closest comparison would have been what Susur Lee was doing at Lotus, way back when. If you grew up with some of these dishes and flavours, you will be blown away by how beautifully the chef executes them. If you didn't, I'm not entirely sure you would have quite the same level of appreciation for all of the dishes, even if you think a dish is good (e.g., I'm not sure that a perfect bowl of congee with dried scallops, grated matsutake mushrooms and fried garlic would send everyone into the raptures that my party went into -- but I'm telling you, it was a *perfect* congee).

              Bottom line: different, but equally delicious experiences for me. Both were around $70/person (pre-tax/tip). At Bero, that was for a 14-course family style tasting menu. At Chantecler, that was for a 10-course tasting menu. For pure value, I think my Bero dinner was a better value, though I don't think Chantecler is overpriced. So there you have my tiny $.02 worth.

              Oh, the atmospheres are totally different, too. At Bero, I totally appreciated that my table could hear each other without shouting. Chantecler is loud, though not deafening.

              1. re: TorontoJo
                b
                brushfire Oct 29, 2013 07:24 AM

                thanks for the thorough response! now I want to check out both.

              2. re: brushfire
                jlunar Oct 29, 2013 07:33 AM

                Agree with Jo's assessment.

                Chantecler is delicious, but the experience is really expanded when you understand the subtleties of the dishes. Chantecler is more casual and lively. Jeans and nice top kind of style.

                Bero is fancier-pants in many ways. Linen cloths, more refined environment. A lot of experimentation and play on the plate. Not where you go when you have meat & potatoes kind of people. You could still wear jeans and a nice top, but it can and does go dressier.

                I had The Grove's full menu a few months back and that was also really good. Lovely plating as well. Somewhere between Chantecler and Bero in style. Great experience there. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/s...

                I'd go back to Bero before The Grove, all else the same. I've eaten Chantecler's tasting menu three or four times now and would totally return again, sooner than later (possibly sooner than Bero).

                1. re: jlunar
                  b
                  brushfire Oct 29, 2013 08:53 AM

                  The Grove looks so fancy. The only time I've been was for a la carte. Never been for the tasting. It wasn't a great experience but i've heard much better things about The Grove since.

                  Between Bero and Chantecler i'm definitely more interested in Chantecler. But now i really want to see what Bero is all about. I'm sure the chef is reading this right now. I hope you keep the pork loin on the menu, I want to see what it's all about!

                  I just read Chantecler is doing lunch, maybe lunch at Chantecler and Bero for dinner!

                  1. re: brushfire
                    b
                    brushfire Oct 29, 2013 08:56 AM

                    OH! but Bero is not open on sunday and Chantecler lunch is only on sundays....all dreams are broken. Looks like Bero also increased their price. Chef's menu is close to $95 per person.

        2. y
          ylsf Oct 27, 2013 05:58 PM

          This thread might help you:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8894...

          15 Replies
          1. re: ylsf
            b
            brushfire Oct 27, 2013 08:34 PM

            Don't really care for shoto and bero. Bero seems like outdated trying too hard food. Plus it looks pretty sloppy. The grove is a good one! and I've never liked yours truly. Edulis was equally unimpressive....

            Thanks for pointing me to this thread ylsf! Richmond station is an interesting option. And how could I forget Chantecler! I havn't been back to Chantecler since they became so popular. I wonder if it's too late to book the tasting menu? Anyone been recently? What do you guys think between The Grove, Richmond Station and Chantecler?

            1. re: brushfire
              Charles Yu Oct 27, 2013 08:43 PM

              When did you dine there last? Can you please elaborate - " Bero seems like outdated trying too hard food. Plus it looks pretty sloppy."
              Planning for another visit next week! Thanks!

              1. re: Charles Yu
                b
                brushfire Oct 27, 2013 08:55 PM

                To be honest charles I've never been. And for all I know it could be great. But i'm not one for meat that cooks in a plastic bag

                http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/bero-toronto-restaurants/#bero-toronto-restaurant-13

                Gross.

                And sauces that are thickened with chemical. Plus if you were to do "fine dining" of that caliber you wouldn't even dare to put something like this on a plate.

                http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/...

                Just sloppy. And usually I wouldn't care if it tasted good. But to be at a white table linen place it just doesn't seem right.

                I've never been to the grove either but it just looks much more competent.

                1. re: justxpete
                  b
                  brushfire Oct 27, 2013 10:34 PM

                  Not to discount the chef's work though, please don't take it the wrong way. Just not what i'm interested in. Actinolite is a great idea missbingbing. Heard great things!

                  1. re: brushfire
                    b
                    brushfire Oct 27, 2013 10:37 PM

                    Actinolite

                    https://twitter.com/actinolitefood/media

                    clean, stunning.

                  2. re: brushfire
                    justxpete Oct 28, 2013 10:24 AM

                    Just an fyi - if you think cooking meat in a plastic bag is "gross", you should probably avoid around 80% of the restaurants in Toronto that are mentioned on this forum.

                    Most talented chefs in Toronto employ Sous Vide cooking techniques.

                    1. re: justxpete
                      l
                      LexiFirefly Oct 28, 2013 11:08 AM

                      Not to mention almost anywhere that serves steak these days.

                      1. re: LexiFirefly
                        b
                        brushfire Oct 28, 2013 10:32 PM

                        fair, but i still appreciate some good ol' fashion "real cooking".

                        1. re: brushfire
                          l
                          LexiFirefly Oct 29, 2013 05:50 AM

                          Me too. Apparently it's getting really difficult for high end places to find good grill cooks etc. as all the kids these days are super focused on the sous vide techniques. They spend so much time on that they don't know how to grill/sear steaks to a proper doneness!

                          1. re: LexiFirefly
                            b
                            brushfire Oct 29, 2013 07:22 AM

                            wonder if they sous vide at Harbour 60 or Jacob & co

                            1. re: brushfire
                              foodyDudey Oct 29, 2013 07:27 AM

                              Maybe they do, but it would not be the only option.

                              1. re: brushfire
                                j
                                JennaBean Oct 29, 2013 07:56 AM

                                I know for sure that they do not at Jacob & Co. They will give you a whole talk on the temp and method of how they cook their steaks if you ask. I asked once and got an unexpected 10 min response!

                              2. re: LexiFirefly
                                s
                                sbug206 Oct 29, 2013 08:07 AM

                                Sous vide has nothing to do with "proper grilling". Sous vide is not a "cheat" on traditional cooking. You cannot get the same results from grilling as you get from Sous Vide. It's obvious people who put down sous vide have no clue how it works and why it's chosen to be used. Sous Vide does not preclude finishing on a grill either.

                                1. re: sbug206
                                  l
                                  LexiFirefly Oct 29, 2013 08:40 AM

                                  I'm not putting it down in any way. I personally love the textural differences in certain meats via sous vide. I just know a lot if old school chefs that wish that the younger generation were exploring all of the various methods of prep as opposed to focusing mainly on sous vide as many view it as new and exciting. Myself included!

                                  1. re: sbug206
                                    b
                                    brushfire Oct 29, 2013 08:45 AM

                                    Who said anything about proper grilling. I just think that cooking a piece of meat in a bag and putting it straight on the plate is gross. It's true you can't get some of the results of sous vide cooking from real cooking but I don't really care. Meat that is perfectly consistent through out is boring. Why do you think some chefs sous vide at a higher temperature than the desired finished internal temperature? They're trying to achieve variance in texture of the meat, kind of like how the meat would be if it was cooked in a frying pan and not a bag in a waterbath. More cooked on the outer edges and whatever desired doneness in the middle. Longer sous vide process is different but in the case of the pork loin at Bero I think it's unnecessary....but there are so many other factors involved right? like not enough stove space or time it takes to make a dish or lack of competent cooks and cooking who knows? If the chef was looking for a colourless puck of pork loin he probably could have achieved the same by poaching but sometimes it's easier to sous vide. I have no clue how it works though.

                                    Now i really want to try Bero, I think I've made up my mind!

                  3. syoung Oct 27, 2013 03:13 PM

                    I haven't been for a while, but a foodie friend of ours just went to Yours Truly and said it was excellent. It's on Ossington, a bit far from downtown but may be worth the trip.

                    1. n
                      nogoro Oct 26, 2013 09:04 AM

                      I also enjoyed Bero and Grove

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nogoro
                        Charles Yu Oct 26, 2013 10:30 AM

                        +1 for both Bero and Grove! 2 out of 3 most memorable and enjoyable tasting menu I had this year were at these two places. The other was at Treadwell. Shoto was good but IMO overprice. A premium charged for the location and the David Chang's name?

                      2. MissBingBing Oct 26, 2013 08:47 AM

                        Actinolite? Edulis?

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