In celebration of our recent engagement, I arranged for a special Chef's Table dinner at Hemispheres restaurant (at the Metropolitan Hotel) for my fiancee and me. I should say that organizing this took a little work on my part, more than it should have. I had to call back a few times to confirm the reservation. Also, the people I spoke with, all of whom were very nice, were unclear as to whether there would be an extra charge because it was for only 2 people. In the end, there was no charge and we opted for the $150 8-course menu. We could not get the specialty wine pairing because there was only 2 of us, but if you had a group of 4-8 people, that would cost a total of $250/pp.
The evening was fantastic. The Chef's Table is a small private dining room attached to the kitchen. We really felt like we were the centre of attention of the kitchen the entire night. The service was excellent and each dish was introduced by the Chef as it was presented...
1. Sevruga caviar on fresh oysters...a healthy dose of caviar on raw oysters with a citrus salsa. Also contained fried shallots and garlic. Superb. With Veuve Clicquot NV champagne. Note: I was impressed that all wine was served in high-end Reidel glasses.
2. Warm lobster tail salad with toasted bell pepper confit and basil oil. This included a generous entire half lobster, grilled. It was cooked to perfection and matched well with the salad. With Veuve Clicquot.
3. Pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras with Sauternes jelly and caramelized pineapple ring. Generous serving of foie gras, but I found the pineapple a little too sweet. With Vidal icewine.
4. Dungeness crab soup with spicy crab cake. This was basically a phenomenally rich crab and lobster stock...simple, yet an explosion of flavour. I loved this. With 1995 Puilly Fuisse.
5. Steamed Alaskan black cod with caviar and champagne sauce. The fish was cooked brilliantly and the sauce was also excellent. This was topped with a julienne of vegetable which contained some ginger. This was a little overpowering at times. Barring that, this was the best fish I've had in Toronto. With the 1995 Puilly Fuisse.
6. Vodka and lime sorbet. A welcome respite.
7. Roast USDA Prime filet mignon with a ragout of chanterelle and pine mushrooms and truffle veal jus. A simple, decadent preparation of high-quality beef. Wow. This was great and was better than anything I've had at a number of Toronto high-end steakhouses. With 1997 Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon.
8. Warm espresso and chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream in brandy snap basket. It was very nice, but we were both so full, we really didn't appreciate this as much as we should have.
9. Coffee with petit fours..we took this to go!
Overall, a fantastic, truly memorable evening. We were treated exceptionally well by the entire staff. It was the best meal I've had in the city, but, in fairness, it was also the first such tasting menu I've had. I would strongly recommend this for any special celebration dinner. We were cautioned that sometimes the room might seem a little large for just two people, but we felt it to be very intimate and romantic. However, I think it would also be ideally suited for 2 or 3 couples.