Archive for canada – toronto

Colborne Lane (Toronto) – The Atrocity Exhibition

The plan was to drop down in Toronto, grab a nice dinner, and race off to the F1 Grand Prix in Montreal the next morning. I touched down and raced off but the Canadian culinary powers-that-be, with their perverse sense of humor, must have known I was coming. My suggestion was Splendido, a very good meal last time, but they were closed for a private event. My Quince-and-F1-loving friend said “Colborne Lane – it can be hit or miss but it should be fine enough…”

“It can be hit or miss…” Words that might echo forever.

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Sushi Kaji (Toronto) – Top 10 North America

Sushi Kaji happened to be 2 blocks down from my friend’s house. We met my other friend who told me to expect 2nd-tier sushi w/ cooked dishes that could compete w/ the Urasawa’s of the world. What we got was sushi whose fish was Yasuda quality (but not the rice) and cooked dishes that were a notch below Urasawa. There were moments of the sublime, but generally, each dish had a small problem. That sounds harsh, but this is a serious Japanese restaurant that I would put on the Yasuda level (maybe a small notch below); it’s no Urasawa/Kuruma/Sawa/Masa, but it could easily place itself on the top 10 in North America.

The space is nice & serene – typical Japanese fare but very tastefully finished. The dishes looked nice – I wish I had remembered the camera because my writing below does not give any justice to the beauty of the dishes.

1. Fried Shrimp w/ Mountain Potato & a Teryika-like sauce
The shrimp was cooked well but the sauce was powerful, a bit too sweet, and cloying. Good.

2. Squash Soup
Balanced but spicy upfront w/ enough thickness to make it satisfying. Very Good.

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Splendido (Toronto) – Almost There

Splendido is one of a handful of high-end fancy restaurants in Toronto, despite its name – Splendido Bar & Grill. My friend had some top-notch langostines & lamb on his previous few visits so he asked them to give us a shellfish-centric menu w/ some lamb at the end.

It was the best meal of the trip (Sushi Kaji a close 2nd, Eigensinn 3rd but probably b/c expectations were too high and they missed.) Splendido’s food can have too much going on at times, and the chef definitely likes his powerful flavors, but the ingredient quality is very good to great and when it’s on – it’s up there.

1. Trio of Scallops
a. Seared w/ Tuna Bacon & Maple Syrup -> The flavors went well together but the syrup was a touch too sweet and masked the (likely) natural sweetness of the scallop. Good.
b. Raw w/ Tamari Jelly -> Bright, clean flavors, unsure of origin of tamari. Excellent.
c. Raw w/ Tapanade -> Muddy, couldn’t taste the scallop. Ok.

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Eigensinn Farm (near Toronto) – Maybe Next Time

Eigensinn Farm is a small restaurant run by Michael Stadlanter and his wife Nobuyo. It is the epitome of the organic/regional trend since nearly everything served was grown or raised on or near the property. It’s a complete vertical operation -> Plant, grow, pick, slaughter, and cook.

The restaurant itself has attained myth-like status. You step through some mud and enter the dining room via their laundry room. A dog and cat might be patrolling the dining room. 12 lucky people are served on Fri & Sat only for a few months a year. Dinner costs around $250/person. There’s no wine list. The service is not professional – just enthusiastic students of the farm. French music might be heard at night emanating from the barn (a happy cow makes for better food.) A lot of quirks that give the place its charm and reputation.

The cooking has been compared to The French Laundry in its honesty and integrity. It’s consistenty ranked as the #1 restaurant in Canada. Unfortunately, my meal was not on the level it should have been. They had just returned from an extended vacation and they probably needed a few more days to get into the groove.

1. “Amuses”
A plate of various shellfish/fish.
- Malpeaque oyster w/ tarragon was refreshing, crisp, touch of sea. Very Good.
- White fish w/ bleu blanc & tarragaon was good, but the fish lacked flavor. Ok.
- Pickerel w/ jersulam artchicoke & ice wine reduction was the star of the show. Slightly sweet, nice texture/preparedness for a river fish. Very Good.
- Black cod w/ horseradish & orange – ok, satisfactory, but perhaps a bit too bland to really impress. Good.
- Smoked pork on sourdough – flavorful but nothing revelationary. Ok.

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