Friday, January 13, 2012

Toronto: Splendido


like a shooting star
:The Annex:

I don’t 'fine dine' as much as I’d like because it’s terribly costly. Not to mention that most of my friends who appreciate food snobbery (in all its ostentatious  glory) don’t live in Toronto. That said, I do it enough.  I've tried Auberge, once, Canoe, once, Sotto, once...and so on and so on.


The exceptions to the "once" rule are what I consider the best, because I walk to the beat of my own drum.  Perhaps I just don't understand the rating systems or the opinions of arrogant know-it-alls who work for some publication (unless, of course, said know-it-all is Andrew Knowlton or Jeffrey Steingarten, my two critic crushes).

Splendido is such an exception. I have eaten here three times. My favourite item on the menu is the lamb. It's always amazingly spectacular.

Generally I find it difficult to write about restaurants in this category because there is only so much one can say without sounding repetitive or pretentious. I have read enough reviews about Toronto’s “top dining destinations” to know that reviews are often hoity-toity, difficult to understand and occasionally have an air about them – “subtle and pleasing flavours...smoky and texturally appealing with a soft finish...lingers on the palette...", etc.

I will keep mine as monosyllabic as possible.

Let me set the stage.  Last week a group of us gathered in the private dining room and prepared ourselves for pre-set menu 3. Do keep in mind that the opinion expressed herein includes feedback I received from everyone, and I was eating in the company of some serious foodies. They’re all about Michelin Stars and Red Hats and other ranking systems I know nothing about.

Canapés

Vickie’s Veggies Early Fall Greens Salad
Apple, Walnuts & Blue Cheese
British Columbia Chanterelle Mushroom Salad
Celery Root Puree, Truffle Vinaigrette, Triple Crunch Mustard
Roasted Sunchoke Soup
Black Truffle Coulis, Pickled Sunchoke, Sunflower Oil & Granola
Victor’s Foie Gras Parfait
Niagara Bose Pear Puree, Walnut Oil, Pickled Mustard Seed & Chayote

Agnolotti
Pumpkin & Ricotta, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds & Amaretti
Linguine
Parmigiano Reggiano & Burgundy Black Truffle

Pastured Veal Tenderloin and Smoked Brisket
King Oyster Mushroom, Cippolini Onion & Bone Marrow Jus
Mediterranean Sea Bass
Roasted Endive, Confit Grape, Verjus & Pine Nut Vinaigrette
Papparadelle
Wild British Columbia Mushrooms

Chocolate & Caramel Verrine
Peanut Ice Cream & Caramel Espuma
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Cranberry, White Chocolate and Concord Grape Granite

Each guest orders one item from each group. Amongst all of us, we pretty much covered the whole menu, save and except the Fall Greens Salad and Pappardelle. Personally I love pappardelle, but if I see bass on a menu I get tunnel-vision.

Service was excellent. Charming and relaxed, instead of pompous and polite.

The canapés were stellar. The oysters blew my mind. I generally prefer my oysters plain but their apple-garlic mignonette was a perfect pairing.

Poseidon's present to mankind, gingerly prepared by Splendido
The potato-leek soup with rosemary biscuit and parmesan tuille (cheese baked into a chip).
Warm, subtle and creamy.
Victor's Foie Gras Parfait was plentiful and served with a nice buttery brioche. 
 
I love foie gras.
The linguine was rich and earthy.  The general consensus was that they could have been less generous with the truffle.  There was so much it was a bit overpowering. 

Linguine - I slurped it up in about a minute

Agnolotti - Sweet & Cozy

I stole bites of the tenderloin where I could, much to the chagrain of my friends.  I can't help it - I steal food.  Both the tenderloin and bass were perfectly cooked and delicious.

Beneath that skin was beautiful, tender, soft, milky white meat.
Panna cota.  Didn't quite reach the bar that Buca set.
Think Peanut Butter Parfait to the Power of 100
Everything was amazing. Beautifully plated, perfectly cooked, well-seasoned, and a nice mix of traditional flavours and contemporary ideas.

The average cost was about $200 per person, including wines and drinks.

Applying my system,I asked myself was it worth the money? My response, absolutely.

Will I be going again? Yes, but not this year. I can only wrap my head around spending that much at one restaurant a year. It’s how I stay accountable for the things I choose to spend money on.

Splendido has been a fixture on Toronto’s fine dining scene for a long time. They focus on locally sourced, seasonal, high quality food. They have had a few changing of hands (the last time I went, in 2009, David Lee was the co-owner and Chef), but whether there are new faces front or back of house, the food and experience has remained consistent. Fine dining should start at Splendido...

So you can end here.
Food heaven.
Splendido on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Sharing is caring. And remember, love to eat and never stop shopping. Mass consumption is only bad when you don't use your brain. Besos.