3 friends and I had dinner at Alice’s Restaurant last night (on college, just west of ossington), the first time there for all. Even though we were given the option to sit in the back, we chose not to, so we could get more of the ambiance of the restaurant. Our server was great, very friendly and helpful with our questions about the menu.
Appetizers - I ordered the Caesar salad. It was not what I expected, as it came with whole leaves. Though I wasn’t thrilled about having to ‘work’ to eat my salad, it wasn’t a big deal, I sometimes use a knife to trim down big pieces of lettuce, so this time I had total control on the size of each bite. it might have been good to know ahead of time, or maybe this is some new trend in serving romaine lettuce that I'm not aware of?! The salad tasted great though, their take on the crouton (a thin slice of bread sort of like a bagel chip) was seasoned well, and had a great crunch, the dressing was just the right amount and did coat all the leaves, the lardons added a nice crunch and hit of saltiness, i would have preferred parmagiano cheese over the toscano but that's maybe just me. Other appetizers ordered at the table included a second Caesar salad, the arugula salad (simple but tasted great and very fresh), and crab cakes (can’t recall any specific the comments on this dish, but I think they were tasty).
Mains – I had the duck braised in red wine that came with pieces of crispy skin, served over a bed of beans and some veggies (can’t recall which ones). I’m not a huge bean fan, so didn’t eat a lot of it, but they went well with the duck. The duck itself was flavourful, but not a standout dish. Others at the table had the steak (I tried a piece, it was great, seasoned imo perfectly – slightly peppery, just enough salt, and I think it had a glaze or marinade that added the right extra dimension to round out the flavours), lamb, and the mushroom tower. The sides for those dishes were all well received.
Desserts – we indulged and sampled all 4 desserts (excluding the cheese course). Pumpkin cheesecake (not my personal favourite, but the rum sauce was nice), a poached pear rustic tart with sour cream ice cream (great combination of the ice cream with the pears, the crust was a bit difficult to pick up to eat in the same bite with the other ingredients, but it was crunchy, like shortbread), warm chocolate cake with creme anglaise and quince-orange compote (soft, melty, comforting, but seemed to lack good depth in the chocolate flavour – this was runner up for best dessert at our table, if it had a more rich, chocolate taste, it may have won), and the crème brulee. The crème brulee was great, served in a coffee mug, with walnut cookies on the side, the custard part was smooth and creamy and just sweet enough, the vanilla really came through, and we could see the dark specks from the bean at the bottom of the cup.
Dinner for 4 with the above items, 2 coffees and a bottle of wine came to about $230 including tax. They were really great and comped one of our desserts.
Overall, we appreciated the local ingredients, the service, our vegetarian in the group really enjoyed her dishes (as sometimes veggie options in restaurants can be uninspired or lacking in flavour), and definitely the crème brulee. I probably won’t be rushing back because I don’t live in the neighborhood, but I would go again, perhaps during another season to try out a new menu.