692 Mt Pleasant Road
With the recent glowing review of Square from toronto.com, I figured I'd check it out for Summerlicious.
Above all else, the food was great. There were a few service slips, but it was a busy night, with seemingly everyone opting for the Summerlicious menu. I got the feeling the staff was a little "on edge", but were doing everything in their power to remain pleasant and controlled. They were quite successful.
I began by ordering a bottle of Riesling (RIESLING KABINETT st urbans hof, mosel, germany 2002). It arrived slightly warmer than I would have liked (just over room temperature, whereas I believe Riesling should be rather chilled). A minor glitch. The wine was lovely. Fruity, slightly sweet, with a nice wet stone nose. I love Riesling. The sommelier tried to steer me towards a more expensive bottle, but I quickly extinguished his efforts.
First course: Sautéed Digby Scallops w/ Curried endive and golden apple confit.
Very nice. Perfectly sautéed scallops (slightly raw in the centre -- perfect). The curried endive had a nice snap to it (flavour-wise) which contrasted well against the rich, buttery (and sweet) apple confit. Beautiful plate.
Main course: Slow Braised Boneless Beet Shortrib w/ truffled mash and Square bacon.
Not a great match for my wine, but I really couldn't resist that menu description. So, I ordered a glass of Merlot to eliminate any worry (2001 MERLOT j lohr, paso robles, california). The shortribs were out of this world. Meaty, rich, tender and earthy. Home-style cooking, taken to a totally new level. The truffled mash were good, but could of used a bit more truffle punch (but for $30 for 3 courses, you're really lucky to get a mere suggestion of truffles in a dish). They were nice and creamy with a wonderful, luscious texture. The bacon was more of a garnish than an integral part of the dish, but holy shit! This was the best bacon I've ever had! They must cure it themselves, because I've never tasted bacon so complex. A bit spicy, a bit sweet, a lot porky. So good. I wanna go back for a big plate of it at breakfast. :)
Dessert: Citrus Panna Cotta w/ poached strawberries.
I'm not a big dessert fan in general, and this was just average in my opinion. I do like custard-based desserts (crème brulee, etc.), but this seemed to lack the richness that is usually very evident. Perhaps the citrus was playing a bit too drastic a role and therefore muting the richness a bit much. The strawberries were great. Perfect specimens. I believe they come from Anthony John's organic farm. Wherever they come from, they were great. Nice and sweet, with just a slight tart edge. Nice. As a whole, this was a successful course -- even for someone who isn't a huge fan of sweets.
The portion sizes were fine, but I could've used a bit more food. I debated ordering a cheese course, but by this time, the place was just booming and I felt I should let one of the many waiting couples have our table. We had gotten our money's worth, and FAR more by that point.
For a Summerlicious experience, this was beyond words. Even as a full-price meal this would've been grande. I highly recommend Square to everyone. I plan to go back very soon to see if I can arrange the chef (Neil McCue) to "just cook" for me (meaning, an on-the-fly tasting). I could eat course after course of this man's food.