It's that time of year again...
I always look forward to Summerlicious since it means I get to try out 3 course meals at exciting restaurants in Toronto for a fraction of the price (similar to Winterlicious). Sadly, sometimes it's also a fraction of the meal, but at least you get to sample the restaurant and explore their offerings.
On to the food!
Last Winter, I tried to make reservations for The Chef's House after my coworker tried the Winterlicious menu and told me that the food was great there. Unfortunately, the restaurant was fully booked for the rest of Winterlicious, so I made it a priority to use the American Express Card to go to the Front of the Line and book my table at The Chef's House early.
The Chef's House is a restaurant associated with the George Brown's Hospitality and Culinary Arts School. Students learn about cooking and service in a real life situation.
The $25 Prix Fixe Dinner menu
(* items that I would recommend and/or re-order)
Bread and Butter
The butter was deliciously creamy and soft.
House Smoked Duck Breast, Mixed Bean Salad, Citrus Dressing
The individual components were nicely done. I enjoyed the duck and mixed bean salad separately, but I didn't think they worked well together. I wasn't sure if it was a play on textures or a play of flavours, but I think I missed it.
Cheese & Tomato Galette, Tossed Baby Arugula *
This galette was my favourite appetizer: the pancake was not too doughy and the cheese and tomato were spread evenly throughout the middle. The tapenade enhanced the simple flavours of the galette by adding a contrasting salty and tangy taste.
Compressed Watermelon, Melon Juice, Grilled Squid
This was interesting; the grilled squid was nicely cooked and there was a spiciness to the overall dish that I thought might have come from the melon juice (is that possible?)
Presentation wise though - it was a little strange.
Beef Short Rib, Mild Spicy Bean Sauce, Summer Vegetable Couscous
The short rib was okay, probably not as tender as I would have liked.
The sauce and couscous were okay, even though I'm not a fan of couscous.
Pan-Seared Arctic Char, Grilled Fennel & Bacon, Hollandaise Sauce *
The arctic char was delicious - they make a really mean fish.
I loved the combination of the grilled fennel and the bacon with the fish as well.
The hollandaise sauce worked really well with this dish - it was totally spot on.
Roasted Beretta Chicken Breast, Corn & Pea Succotash, Shallot Jus
First thought: Wow, that is a huge piece of chicken.
The chicken was cooked nicely, I would have liked it more if the chicken absorbed more of the flavour from the shallot jus since it tasted just like normal chicken.
The succotash was really nicely done and it added great colour and a nice sweetness to the dish.
Peach Upside-Down Cake, Sour Cream Gelato
After my other experience with specialty gelato, I had high expectations for a warm, sweet cake paired with a sharp and tart gelato. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark.
I liked this dessert the most out of the three options, but I wasn't wow-ed by it.
Banana Cream Tart, Mocha Chocolate Sauce
It looked amazing, but I didn't like the banana cream in the tart.
Lemon Sherbet, Italian Meringue, Berry Compote
The sherbet was really quite sour and I think the original intention was that the meringue and berry compote were supposed to balance it out. However, I found that the coldness of the sherbet just made the sourness stand out more and the meringue was just too sweet. The combination didn't work for me.
Overall: For Summerlicious, I think The Chef's House is a great restaurant to try out and the food is quite reasonably priced. You never know, maybe one of the chefs preparing your meal could become the next big Chef (like Mark McEwan)