We had high hopes for Port, after being swayed by news of a fabulous upscale casual bistro at the Lakefront in Pickering.
We were ushered through the empty restaurant to the bar area thanks for forgetting to make a reservation on a Friday night. At 6pm, the bar was already full and buzzing. The bar area is very nice but with a casual vibe thanks to several flat screen tv's showing sports and news. The tv's were a bit of a shocker to me, but hey, we were in the bar area.
We were served promptly with drinks and ordered shared appetizers and mains. Appetizers ordered were Gyoza with three sauces (not my choice) and Gambas al ajillo. Gyoza were small, standard fare and reminicent of slightly upscale pub food. I didn't expect much more though. Chewy and doughy, the sauces didn't improve things much.
Mains were the real disappointment. My husband ordered the 16oz cowboy rib steak with "herb deconstructed compound butter" and garlic mashed potatoes. He claimed the potatoes a disaster, and while the steak wasn't great it wasn't bad either. But for $34 he expected a better grade of beef as it was a little chewy and sinewy. Strangely, the "compound butter" was placed on the potatoes, not the steak.
I had the trio of duck, which was "seared duck breast with cognac and black cherry preserve, confited leg of duck with bourbon and blackberry pan jus, and smoked bacon terrine and blueberry veal stock reduction on sweet potato rosti, string beans, and red pepper". What a shame though. The breast was beyond overcooked and tasted either reheated or left under a heat lamp until all pinkness was gone. The slices were cold and dry. The confited leg was tasty but cold. The terrine was not great and a very thin slice. It was cold also but it may come that way? Each item was topped with a very similar fruit based jam or jelly that didn't taste any different one to the other, and appeared to be made of frozen fruit. The worst though was the "rosti" which was barely beyond cooked on the outside, and soggy and undercooked on the inside. Certainly not a rosti. Each piece was placed on top of a rosti and they were huge.
Our dining companions had the special, braised short ribs, and the supreme of chicken. The short ribs got a shrug, by the supreme of chicken was enjoyed, although I do question her judgement! She left most of the yukon gold croquette that came with it, proclaiming she was full. I had a bite and it was flavourless and had no texture. Hideous.
Dessert eaters amongst us had New York style cheesecake which was very good.
We paid $360 for 4 people including tip, cocktails, and a glass of wine.
For the price, we expected better and have received better, even in the Pickering area. Burb's Bistro springs to mind as a bistro with better food and more reasonable prices in the same upscale casual dining atmosphere. We wouldn't return to Port though except maybe for drinks on their large lakefront patio.
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