Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gastronomic Heaven at Colborne Lane

We've had many amazing food experiences in Toronto, from affordable cultural fare to phenomenal fine dining. One of our favourite places to splurge is Colborne Lane; in fact, it's not nearly as expensive as say Susur or Rain ever was, but the food is truly outstanding. We had decided to stop in last year after reading about it in Toronto Life's best new restaurant list, an excellent source for foodies for any of you who don't follow/subscribe but live in the city!

Colborne Street itself is a quaint location, almost secretly tucked near King and Church, a cute brick strip with oldish charm. On one of our first visits, we saw a wedding party doing photos outside - I can definitely see the attraction. We've had nothing but great service at Colborne Lane, and luckily, we've also walked in and taken a seat at the bar before - does not take away from the amazing food experience at all. On a previous visit with my friend Surina, we were spoiled with delicious food, drinks and even some complementary ice wine as we waited for our dessert (apparently it was a slightly long wait, but our dessert actually arrived as the wine did). Tony says it's a benefit reserved for ladies dining out - whatever the case, I appreciated the effort!

All the food at Colborne Lane is complemented with clean and simple sauces/drizzles - while these are typically visual embellishments, sauces here are a critical part of the meal. We would try to maximize the different accompaniments on each small morsel of food. We had 4 tapas to start, with our favourites being a delicious scallop with a selection of light sweet sauces and fruit that I can't name but can still taste in my mouth. We also tried the prawn ceviche, much better than we expected and accompanied by dabs of butternut squash/roasted red pepper/black squid ink sauce.

For mains, we had miso glazed black cod with sesame panna cotta. On the weekend, I had not-so-eloquently described to Amber that panna cotta was "a white custard-like thing"....not quite right and doesn't do it justice; but truly, I have had different iterations of panna cotta at different restaurants so I really couldn't say for sure how it would be served! The point here is that the sesame panna cotta was delicious - and the best I have had - uniquely served as a part of the main course! It sort of looked like tofu, but a fairly firm texture, and not overpowering in taste, and of course very complementary to the black cod. The lamb loin was no less amazing, exceptionally tender and served with quinoa. We were ecstatic about our all our savoury dishes so far, but more was to come!

The highlight of the night was dessert: warm doughnut + nitro creme fraiche + pineapple. The experience started with the manager bringing a giant mixing bowl table-side flowing with liquid nitrogen (really!) . Next, he mixed in fresh made cream with no preservatives or even eggs and other blenders. We couldn't see what was going on IN the bowl, but as the liquid nitrogen evaporated we eventually saw the cream start to turn into ice cream, looked something like cookie dough. He invited us to dig our spoons in - it was SOO AMAZING! I'm not even one to typically like whipped cream, cookie dough etc, but THIS...heavenly! It was light and fresh, truly a taste like no other. The dessert is delicate and time sensitive - a warm doughnut (think fluffy fried sugar doughnut ball) was the main served with the ice cream, which quickly started to melt as it cools to room temperature. Not to worry, we didn't waste anytime inhaling the doughnut and the cream! This was a splurge worth every penny!

Colborne Lane is on both our top 3 lists in Toronto. Tonight we were out on a mini celebration, so I couldn't have been happier to make a visit. Looking back at the pictures, I wish the restaurant had more light so I could have fully appreciated how beautiful the food was!

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