This past weekend I gathered my friends to celebrate my thirty-something birthday. I had chosen Frank's Kitchen based on the good reviews I have read here and on other sites as well a quick bite I had a week back.
The place was cozy and homey- just as they promise/intended. I chose it because I wanted my friends to enjoy themselves without all the pretentious bullshit that seemingly comes with your meal at other Toronto restaurants. But more importantly the service was attentive, polite- truly impeccable.
We were a good size table (around 12 people) which included a collection of true foodies, as well as vegans, vegetarians and allergies for the kitchen to contend with. Frank and his wife Shaun were so accommodating that the dinner went without a hitch! As someone with family members in the food business I have gone to my share of high-end restaurants and I never recall such an eye for service.
What about the food you ask?
Well it starts off with a selection of breads and spreads made in-house. Toasty and warm...but oh so delicious. Honestly you can make a meal of the array of treats in the bread basket. Spreads include an eggplant and olive tapenade, a roasted red pepper hummus and some cloves of roasted garlic. The murmurs at the table when they arrived and as we dove into them where one of what would be a number of times when our ruckus laughter and talk quieted down just so we could enjoy what was placed in front of us.
Now I cannot give a full review of what everyone ate there was too many of us and I was throughout the night being treated to glasses of wine and other alcoholic concoctions. So you will have to deal with only my dishes and highlights of any dishes I got to taste.
Appetizers- I had the Beef Carpaccio with a French Bean Salad in a Truffled and Shallot Vinaigrette with a Foie Gras Torchon. The crunch of the French bean was such a pleasant surprise in relation to delicacy of the beef and the foie gras which just melted in your mouth. A dish I would totally order again and many at the table who ventured for a taste agreed.
One of my vegan friends though ordered the White Asparagus Salad with Forest Mushrooms in a Truffled Vinaigrette- this dish I can recall because we all were amazed at the amount of white truffles that were generously shaved over the whole plate. She never recalled having such a wonderfully decadent meal. As someone who could never imagine herself as vegan I couldn't help but feel a twinge of curiousity when that dish was presented and thankfully I was lucky enough to get a bite. A truly lovely earthy yet vibrant dish. A lovely luxury to have on one plate white asparagus and white truffles.
Main course- I opted for the Tuna that was the special that day. Properly cooked just seared and rare in the middle the tuna just melted in my mouth. I cannot explain to all of you how wonderful this tuna was other than to say it was all gone far too soon!!! The tuna came on top of a salsa of sorts, which for the life of me I cannot remember! Which I feel horrible about because this is not to say that it was negligible it was a lovely complement but my memory escapes me- I will of course be blaming the alcohol I had consumed all that night. The tuna shared the plate with one beautifully seared and deliciously sweat scallop on top of its own salsa (with zucchini and corn....the rest escapes me)- again a lovely pairing just that my memory is seemingly failing me... The nice surprise was that the salsa for both the tuna and scallop were different. So the scallop can come off as almost it's own dish even while sharing the same plate. I just took it as a pleasant surprise a lovely bonus to an already enjoyable dish.
Dessert- This was a surprise as I did not plan on ordering any dessert. Once though laid in front of me I could not say no. Dessert was a lovely chocolate molten cake that was paired with a lovely red cherry gelato. Once you manage to get the perfect bite- of the cake, the gooey chocolate ganache-like middle and the ice cream well that was pure bliss!!! A number of my friends rushed to order this heavenly offering for themselves...it was that well received.
Overall the dishes were what some might call simple (I mean these are not original by any means)- but I though found each one of my dishes to be sublime. It seems that Frank (yes there is a Frank) does not want to complicate his dishes- rather opts to let the ingredients shine through. In his hands that night they all did.
While some might not consider Frank's Kitchen a destination restaurant- then I guess for those who live in Little Italy (and I admit I am one) this is a gem of place and we are lucky bastards to have this as a welcomed addition to the neighbourhood. I know I will be going back.