Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is it me? Or do I have Elk Stuck in my Teeth?

So, here in the fine city of Toronto, twice a year is held a 'licious' event, either Winterlicious, or Summerlicious. The purpose of this event is that certain upscale restaurants around the city offer a prix-fixe menu, comprised of 3 dishes - a starter, a main, and a dessert. And as every summer and winter season come, I usually seem to miss them. This winter being the exception.

Last week, after a delirious search (including a wrong set of directions, and incompetent directory assistance) , my dining companion, Christina, and I found our way to Trios Bistro for lunch. All and all a pretty good lunch, with tentative service.

Tonight Christina and I made it over to JAMcafe, at Ontario and Carlton for the last day of Winterlicious. After arriving and realizing neither of us had made a reservation, we were told it was an hour and a half wait to get a table. Grudgingly we accepted the hour and a half and went to a neighbourhood dive bar where I tried to read the Chinese subtitles on the TV - to not much success - whilst waiting for our pitcher of beer. After our drinks we made our way back to the restaurant. We were seated at the back of the restaurant, next to the washroom. Normally a seat as such would be less then preferable, however the washroom was down a flight of stairs, and after the pre-dinner beers, there is nowhere I'd have rather sat then next to the nearest available piss receptacle. The following dishes were consumed at our table;


Caesar Cardini, Croutons, Oaxaca Cheese

I started with the Caesar, very basic, lettuce croutons, cheese, dressing. The dressing tasted home made, however the anchovies were over powering resulting in a fish sauce -esq smell to it. The Oaxaca cheese was nice, although the croutons were a little too crunchy making them impenetrable by fork, and nearly teeth to boot.

House Cheery Wood Smoked Muscovy Duck Breast Salad

Christina opened with the smoked duck salad. Having a small taste I thought it was far superior choice, the duck was quite tasty, but not over powering, the maple syrup vinaigrette was a nice addition. Christina was not overly impressed with the texture of the duck.


Confit of Duck, Home Smoked Emmenthal Poutine, Preserved Cheery and Rosemary Demi Glace

For my main I moved onto a emmenthal poutine topped with duck confit. Ecstatic for this dish to arrive and slate my thirst for delicious poutine, enevitably I felt dissapointed. I felt the home smoked emmenthal was overly subtle, and the duck tasted more like chicken then duck. The demi glace was a nice touch and added an interesting dimension, and the duck pulled off the bone and mixed into the poutine helped to complete the picture. All in all, this dish tasted like the fries and "duck leg" may as well have come from Swiss Chalet. Tasty, but disappointing.

Braised Orr Lake Acres Elk Osso Bucco

Feeling adventurous, Christina ordered the Elk Osso Bucco. Whilst not overly thrilled with her choice, I thought it was on par with my main, which is to say tasty, but did not live up to its potential.


Brioche Bread Pudding, Brandy Caramel Sauce

To conclude my dining experience I went away from my instinct, which was the apple Cinnamon crumble, and had the bread pudding with brandy caramel sauce. Finally, at long last in this up and down dining experience, we have a clear winner. A truly tasty dish, which is a feet for someone who typically is not big on dessert.

Flourless Valrhona Chocolate Torte, Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Christina was not overly vocal about this dish, perhaps her love of all things chocolate took over and she was just to focused on finding the room to cram the chocolate into. In my brief taste I thought it was so-so, a little on the dull side for my tastes, not being a huge chocolatier didn't help I'm sure. I felt it was a little bland, although I did enjoy the cinnamon whipped cream.

All things considered, two 3 course meals, two glasses of wine, a chic atmosphere, and Tom Waits in the background, may just be worth the 40$ a person.

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