I have to say, I was avoiding Nota Bene for the longest time. I aways heard good things, but nothing to motivate me enough to go, especially since I heard the atmosphere wasn't exactly "warm".
Well, we finally went tonight for my wife's birthday and I have no regrets. The food was very unique, fresh and full of great flavour. The atmosphere was quite cold and hotel lobby like, but it is tastefully done and perfectly fine. It does get a little loud and the crowd is a bit staunch for my liking, but not a huge issue at all.
We started with the special Italian buffalo-style cheese that they only get twice a year and it was quite spectacular. I've never tasted cheese so rich, creamy and sweet all at the same time. I couldn't quite catch the name of the cheese, but it's rare and I apparently wouldn't be able to find it anyway.
Second we enjoyed a crispy duck salad and lobster salad, which were both great. Nothing too special, but just great quality ingredients and nice flavouring. The duck was really crispy and delicious. The lobster salad had generous portions of lobster and double smoked bacon - very nice.
For mains, I had the brisket burger (the 19.00 one, not the 40.00 wagu) and my wife had the Tuna tar tar. I wasn't expecting much for the "budget" burger, but it was as a good as any that I've had in the city and I've had many 20.00-40.00 burgers and this tops most. Cooked to perfection, rich in flavour, nicely toped with blue cheese and a perfectly crisp homemade bun. The frites were a little disappointing and not worth the calories - a better side could have really taken this over the top. My wife really enjoyed her tuna, but I didn't try and can't comment. The presentation was impressive - it's the dish they have a pic of on the website.
With all this food, we didn't have room for desert, but my wife did manage to try one of the salted truffles, which she loved. She actually begged me to get another one after we already got the bill. This is where I think they Nota Bene went wrong. I had already got the bill (almost 150.00 for 2 people) and my wife was hinting to the waiter that she wished she got one more. The waiter said he would bring another and I foolishly and perhaps greedily expected him to comp us for this in the end (they were only 2.25 each for Pete's sake). When he brought it to us, he asked for the bill back as I was about to sign to adjust it for 2.25!!!! I think that's really weak for a restaurant of this calibre and a bill that size...especially when it was my wife's birthday. Anyway, maybe I'm being cheap, but that wasn't a great way to end what was a truly great meal and dining experience.
I'll definitely be back and I'll make sure to order all the truffles before I get the bill!
180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA