The Return of the Special Occasion Restaurant
The snackbars, gastropubs and tapas joints? I dig ‘em. If the food and drink is good, I’m there. But what if you’re celebrating a special occasion, or you just feel like having a more upscale dining experience in Toronto? Even the more fine-dining openings in 2015 seem to focus on the fussy food, as opposed to the space, or the overall experience.
For our 24th wedding anniversary, me and the Mrs. decided to try the renovated Cafe Boulud in the Four Seasons Hotel. Much has been written about the new look courtesy of London-based designer Martin Brudnizki. It is both flashy and comfortable, with a decidedly 80’s retro-feel, in both the fixturing and colour pallette. Be sure to tell the staff that you’re celebrating an occasion (presuming you are) and you’ll be seated in the banquettes.
The menu is, for the most part, classic French cafe. There are a few surprises, such as pastas or pho. But all the classics are there: pates, charcuterie, steak-frites, etc. At Cafe Boulud you’re paying for the execution and the attention to detail; like the house-made goat ricotta cheese spread brought with your basket of bread.
We started with cocktails. She had the cheekily named Currant Affair ($16) made from brandy, cassis, lemon and absinthe, while I had the Martin Brudnizki ($14), a superlative gin and tonic spiked with lemon and rosemary. It was so good that when my wife switched to red wine to accompany the main course, I ordered a second.
For the first course I selected the Handcut Bigeye Tuna Tartare ($18) which was Moroccan style tuna, chickpeas, harissa, argan oil, mint and yogurt. It was deliciously light and the best thing I ate during our visit. Naomi ordered the Soupe de Potiron ($13) a butternut squash soup with pumpkin seeds and masala spice; it was extremely well executed.
While we’d heard much about the fish quenelles, Naomi ordered the Sea Bass “Catalane” ($38) a perfect filet of white fish served with Romesco sauce and sauteed broccoli rabe. I went old-school and ordered the 8 Oz. Flatiron Steak ($29) served with Bearnaise sauce, crispy Pomme Frites, and Gem Lettuce Salad with Shallot Dressing. The meat, sourced from Cumbrae, was minerally, and perfectly medium-rare.
Despite 24 years of marital bliss, my wife and I do not agree on desserts. She likes light fruity concoctions, while I like them rich. Although not our normal choice, we saw so many tables order the souffle, we just had to try it. There’s a 15 minute wait for the Grand Marnier Souffle ($14), but it’s worth it. The dramatic dessert is served with an orange creme anglaise, poured into the souffle, tableside. A perfect end to our very special occasion meal.
For more information visit cafeboulud.com/toronto/ Cafe Boulud, 60 Yorkville Avenue