A while back, I came across a number of write-ups which alleged that the overall enjoyment factor of dining in George has suffered a major set back ever since the departure of their award winning sommelier, Kim Cyr. However, recently, whenever there were discussions on the Toronto board that centered on 'must eat fine dining', George's name inevitably appeared high on the recommended list. With my last visit to George going way back to the Kim Cyr's era, I was curious and determined to give George a 're-try' and to find out the latest, first hand'.
Our party of four arrived at 7 on a Wednesday evening. I was astounded to find that the place was already more than half full with a number of 'party tables' occupied by 10 or more patrons per table. This sight automatically triggered an alarm in me since, based on past experiences, an 'overstretched' kitchen swamped with simultaneous influx of large orders, almost always causes it to buckle and succumb to pressure. The end result, long waits and inconsistantly prepared food. Well, we'll see!
To better judge the quality of the food, we all decided to go with the 8 course tasting menu. Whilst expecting 8 different dishes, we were all pleasantly surprised when the kitchen, even under intense presuure and controlled chaos, still managed to provide us with 16 different choices and a chance for us to share and savour the offerings.
As for the food, it was GREAT!! The majority of the dishes were well executed, both spectacular in taste and artfully presented. The theme, we deduced, was to have the same main ingredients cooked using different techniques ( a la Michael Mina of San Francisco?! ). The diversity of ingredients served included, house cured ham, soft shell crab, Moroccan octopus, Icelandic scampi, Texas wild prawns, quail eggs, foie gras, stuffed artichoke hearts, shredded oxtail, sweet bread, organically raised lamb and melt-in-the-mouth US prime fillet mignon....etc. Another point worth mentioning was that all dishes were accompanied with great tasting sauces of complex intensity that were there to augment but never once did they concealed or overwhelmed the main ingredients.
The final dessert platter, which consisted of warm souffles, heavenly fluffy lemon mouse tartlets, fruit puddings and '5' different chocolate/.banana concoctions were definitely inspired creations and all tasted awesome! Great finish to a great meal!
During the past few months, I was fortunate to have eaten dishes prepared from the kitchens of French Iron Chef Sekai and Michelin 3 star chefs, Pierre Gagnaire and Joel Robouchon. After my Wednesday outting, I am proud to say that some of the dishes from our own 'Toronto' establishment can stand proud and tall beside some of the aforementioned world famous 'stalwart' counterpart!!
KUDOS TO GEORGE'S CHEF AND HIS TEAM!!
I also recalled from previous postings, comments made regarding ' inconsistant/bad ' service of some high-end establishments in town,such as Susur and Thuet. Well, I am happy to say that our waitress of the night was totally professional, attentive and super friendly. With the restaurant packed solid by 9 pm, it was great to see her attending to our every need with a continously smiling face and not missing a single beat.
Lastly, for those Chowhound in search of the ultimate tasting menu and the 'total package' experience ( ie., food, wine. service and ambience ) in Toronto. Splendido and George are definitely the current 'one-two punch'. Interesting how both Splendido's David Lee and George's Lorenzo Loseto used to train under the famed Michelin 3 star chef, Antoine Mossiman?!!