I’m a frequent customer of the Oliver & Bonacini Cafe (but not since their renovations had completed–though the menu looks essentially the same) and I’ve been itching to try their other, higher-end locations. In this case, we had a few hours to spare and decided to go to CANOE (headed by executive chef Anthony Walsh and located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower)
(Parking was a nightmare, subway is the way to go!) As we didn’t plan this outing ahead of time, we were fairely casually dressed in a crowd of high-power business men and women. When we arrived on the 54th floor, a hostess in a dress suit and heels apologetically told us that all their tables were full and “would we mind sitting at the bar?” We didn’t, as we were promised a comprehensive view of the open kitchen. Those of you who have been with me on this blog know how much I dearly love behind the scenes actions. I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
Our view – the prep station. The gentleman in the centre was most helpful. He told time to explain each dish as it arrived. He was hilarious as well, it’s a shame I can’t remember his name. PS. The butter that came with the bread was super creamy, I completely ignored the spread next to it (pictured)
[Wellington County Steak Tartare] darling presentation. The combination of the varying textures and flavour profiles were really intersting (and no, I don’t mean that as a placeholder). The tender beef tartare and the crisp crunch of the ookstown chip was well balanced – as was the super moist buffalo mozzarella (which simply melted in my mouth) and that tart sweet raifort (rhubarb) juice!
[Oyster Boy’s Finest Half Dozen] I’m a bit squeamish about raw meats and fish – but this and the tartare course proved me wrong! The oysters are accompanied by shallot vinegar (on the left, and unappreciated by my palate) and the 54 smoker hot sauce. I liked the oysters at the bottom of the photo best, the upper three tasted, for lack of better words, too gamey/wild (and VERY salty).
[Blue European Sea Bass] The bass was cooked to perfection! The skin was crisp and the meat, tender. I wasn’t a fan of the curious orange cubes as they were very sour and felt alien to the dish. The beans were a bit bland too (apparently they are navy beans? They’ve obviously been skinned), although the puree and curry sauce helped.
My companion chose the lamb – to be cooked “medium well”. It’s such a shame because I stole a bite and it was fantastic. Just think how much better it’d taste at a rare-medium.
[Roasted Alberta Lamb] This dish was the most simply described on the menu. My companion was alarmed when I explained that risotto is made of “rice”. Nonetheless, the cut of lamb was superb – very lean but still full of flavour (and not too gamey). I liked the risotto better as a side than the beans. I forget what kind of cream came with the risotto.
[Cafe Latte Caramel] Nothing like a bit of coffee to end a meal. I’m not a big fan of foam – it seems pointless to me, but the generous drizzle of caramel sauce made it worth it. And the latte itself was rich and delicious!
[Smoked Almond Crumble, toasted pecan & birth ice cream] I had absolutely no clue how to approach this dish. How do you eat it? While I was disappointed in the portion of this dish, it was really fun to eat, and every bite was so full of flavour. There was also some ginger puree and dark chocolate cream in there.
I can’t find my receipt, but after a generous tip (everyone was seriously friendly and helpful! Superb service!!), it came out to over $100. I’d love to come back and try their other menu items – but I really want to go to LUNA first.
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