Thanks to the recommendations of JennaBean and others on this board, I was taken out for a birthday dinner to George last night.
We would have loved to sit on the patio, if it wasn't for the 34 degree heat, so we enjoyed a very comfortable and private booth by the window. The restaurant wasn't crowded at all, it was a Tuesday after all, and the atmosphere was pleasant and calm.
We considered the five course tasting menu, but I was worried that there simply wouldn't be enough food. However, the seven course felt like overkill, so we settled on the five with a single wine pairing as I was driving. However, our very competent and friendly attendant split the wines for us, which was a very kind gesture.
First off, I did not expect to get a different course than my dining partner (my father) but it was a pleasant surprise. Although we each ate what was provided to us, I was pleased that we could switch if one of us took fancy to the others dish.
Forgive on the lack of details, there were a lot of courses and a lot of wine.
Amuse: Cod Salad
We both received an amuse bouche of cod salad with zucchini flower, which was tiny and exquisite. Very fresh tasting, with a great variety of layers and flavours. We received a sparkling white wine to accompany this dish.
1st Course: Deep-fried softshell crab with apple slaw (me), Mackerel Salad (Dad)
The deep-fried softshell crab was perfectly seasoned "Southern Style" and absolutely crispy-delicious. I never eat softshell crab, and it was so tender and meaty with that divine crisp exterior. The apple slaw was very fresh and a great accompaniment. To accompany this course, we received a very light rosé.
2nd course: Foie Gras with Duck (me), Foie Gras with Rabbit (Dad)
I had overlooked one thing when we were served the first course…I was so anxious to tuck in that I didn’t really think to question the server about what EXACTLY was on my plate. So, the first course was an exercise in testing the palate. There were sauces and purees that I simply enjoyed without knowing what I was eating. But when the 2nd course arrived, I really noticed that we received no explanation again. Just “Foie Gras with Duck for the lady, Foie Gras with Rabbit for sir”.
Don’t get me wrong, this dish was delicious. It was rich, meaty, and so moreish. But I had no idea what the sauce, puree, or accompaniments were. A fig was layered on top of the foie, which was layered on top of a heaping portion of duck breast (I assume) which was stacked inside some form of pastry (?) vol-a-vent style (?). Again, lots of assumptions. I should have asked, but again had not and missed the opportunity! This course was served with a lovely but light pinot noir, which I was thrilled with (dining companion was wishing for something heavier).
3rd course: Bison tenderloin (me), Alberta beef tenderloin (Dad)
This is where the problem with the different tasting plates arises…Dad looked longingly over at my bison while I scarfed it down so that he wouldn’t steal it. My bison tenderloin (perfectly rare, seared to perfection) sat on top of the tastiest, tiny scalloped potato and onion cake. It was ridiculously good. Dad loved his beef, but did pine so much for the bison that we ended up sharing. Wine accompaniment was a bold and hearty Zin, which I had our attendant write up for me so that I can seek it out. This was the simplest of the mains in terms of flavour combos and complexity, but it was hearty and satisfying.
4th course: Raw Cow’s Milk Cheese (me), Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Quebec (Dad)
Names escape me, but the cheese was a small (1oz?) portion with spicy walnuts, fig, and a fruit compote, with a side of tiny bread crisps. Wine (port) was a ten year old Tawny.
5th course: Cherry soufflé (or possibly bread and butter pudding) with fresh cherries and thyme, and chocolate ice cream (me), Cherry Panacotta, Biscuit, and two other cherry related desserts (Dad).
Desserts were presented as “Cherry Desserts”, and the panacotta pointed out to Dad, otherwise no explanation. We were having fun so none required at this point. The cherry soufflé / pudding was explosively hot and took a good ten minutes to cool to eat, so I enjoyed the rest of the dessert and wine while finishing. Dad’s four different cherry items were proclaimed “lovely”. Wine pairing was a sparkling red wine from Italy whose name escapes.
The verdict: George was a real wow for me, and will be my next go-to for an upscale dinner. Yes, the servers could have been more prolific in their explanations, but we also didn’t press for details. I felt it was enormous value for money, as the courses were not by any impression “mincy” or made from anything less than stellar ingredients. The ambiance and atmosphere would make for a very nice romantic dinner, albeit a noisy one if the room is full. Dare I say, the best meal I have had in the city since Lotus? We will be back!
Total without tax or tip: $300 for a two top.
111 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1S2, CA