I love good food, and what’s better than good food plus a deal?? Every year Toronto has Winterlicious and Summerlicious when higher price range restaurants launch prix fixe menus with three courses for the general public. For 2010 , Winterlicious spanned from Jan 29 to Feb 11 and I try to book lunches as the menu options were mostly identical to dinner but cheaper. But seeing as I was working full time, that leaves only the weekends. I ended up with a lunch reservation at Azure Restaurant & Bar, a part of Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Toronto.
The restaurant, situated in a sunny lobby, was only half filled (I’m an optimist). My part of 3 were immediately seated in a quiet corner and we helped ourselves to crunchy breadsticks and warm bread. I had to stop my friend from ruining her appetite because she hadn’t had breakfast and was gobbling down bread with butter.
We ordered a different item for each course and covered all our bases. :) Here was our lunch menu:
Forest mushrooms, mushroom broth, vanilla foam
Confit Quebec Duck and Fig Salad
Arugula, green bean, clementine, roasted almonds, red poppy dressing
Smoked Atlantic Salmon
Smoked mackerel, tobiko caviar, butternut squash puree
Roasted Pork Loin
White bean puree, roasted beet and asparagus, apple balsamic vinaigrette
Braised Lamb Shank
Spinach and red pepper papadella, tomato, Oka cheese
or Polenta (we didn’t order)
Chocolate Bread Pudding, Vanilla Sauce
Churros with Caramel and Chocolate Sauces
French Apple Tart and Cinnamon
Our ratings of each appetizer varied. The mushroom soup was too salty, but tasted good with bread. The duck salad was mildly sweet and very appetizing, and it could be filling for small stomachs.
The smoked fish platter, which I ordered, was interesting. The smoked mackerel tasted very similar to smoked salmon except the texture was of cooked fish. The sweet butternut squash puree balanced the savouriness, and there were crispy sheets (of baked vegetables?) which contrasted the soft salmon and flaky mackerel. My favourite is the smoked fish platter.
The main courses were alright. The two generous slabs of pork lion were super tender. I would have loved more than the streak of vinaigrette for a moister dish and more flavours, as the yellow beets didn’t offer much to the taste buds either.
The lamb shank pasta was a rich flavourful pasta with braised lamb. I personally prefer lamb to be grilled quickly, not cooked so long that it loses its tender texture. It was a good pasta nonetheless.
Come dessert time, surprisingly our favourite was the chocolate bread pudding, mostly because it surprised us! Bread pudding might be a comfort food but not everyone thinks highly of it, but the chocolate bread pudding was very light and the chocolate was not overpowering. Too bad it was barely warm when it was served. My friends liked the apple tart a lot because it was light, even though it was messy to eat. Chunks of cooked apple rested on a flat round puff pastry, sprinkled with icing sugar and crumble, served with vanilla bean sauce. The churros were good, but prone to those with a sweeter preference.
In general, it was a worthwhile experience but not outstanding – does saying desserts were the highlight tell you how I feel? Food was special, and cooking was well done. The service was friendly, and atmosphere was quiet and relaxing. Great place for a sunny lunch during winter :)
My next review is Winterlicious dinner at the upscale Centro.