The Grove - Still Tops?
It is still my favourite in Toronto in terms of a great crossover of comfortable quietish atmosphere, friendly yet professional service and wonderful food and drink. I actually find that the perfect number of courses there is 4 - 3 savoury and 1 dessert. As long as you have an even number and half order a 3 course menu and the other a 5 and it all works perfectly and they will serve the courses according to your request. They will accommodate if you don't though.
We dropped in last night and ordered a 5 + 7, enabling us to try every item on the menu and provide a full report ;)
Plating design was consistently impressive and exactly half the dishes (6 of 12) were as delicious as they looked.
The meal started out with 3 amuses, the best of which was verdant shot of stinging nettle soup with a single escargot at the bottom (it could have been warmer).
The following dishes were terrific (most of which came early in the meal):
Hen of the woods, celeriac, dandelion, rye
Sunchoke, cep, apple, red wine
Lobster, fennel, carrot
Trout, meyer lemon, cucumber
Octopus, pork, smoked potato
And 1 dessert was phenomenal:
Grapefruit, white chocolate, pink peppercorn
I'd recommend a visit (if you choose these dishes) and are interested in a well executed tasting menu in a low key environment.
So what didn't work? If you visit before the menu changes, I'd recommend skipping the following:
Squash, curry, coconut - Doesn't compete with Sabai Sabai's squash fritters, gosh I wish they had a tasting menu!
Uni, prawn, pasta, egg yolk - The yolk sauce was much too rich and too salty. SO didn't have more than a bite.
There was a salty bread roll interlude with a shmear of salty butter, not remarkable.
Neither of the meat dishes were to our liking, both were roasted until oily and dry, shank and cheek respectively. I figure these lower cost cuts support such a great value tasting menu (but frankly I'd pay an extra $10 for better meat)...
Lamb, cabbage, caper, anchovy - The anchovy added nothing, a confusing combo. The cabbage was far too salty.
Beef, onion, black garlic - While the meat was unlovable, an onion skin chip was crisp and delicious, probably the most interesting new idea (to attempt at home) of the evening!
Rhubarb, goat cheese, black olive, kale - A total taste + texture fail.
Chocolate, peanut, yuzu, sesame - No chocolate to speak of, just lots of yuzu and peanut foam, not a winner.
With some editing you'll have an excellent meal (but choose the wrong dishes and the experience will be deemed a form over flavour misadventure).