Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's at Canoe!

Few restaurants in Toronto are better known than Canoe, where I had the fortune of celebrating Valentine's Day this year (albeit on Saturday the 13th because Feb 14th was dedicated to Chinese New Year!). Situated on the 54th floor of the The TD Tower, the view is spectacular! First, I have to mention that the service is amazing. Tony had mentioned we were celebrating our recent engagement and we were welcomed with champagne and congratulations from all the staff, from our hostess, the sommelier to our waiter. Nothing like feeling extra special on a big night out! I'm normally hesitant to go out for Valentine's because the set menus are not always the best. Canoe offered a wonderful 4 course meal with 3-4 options in each course - felt like a full menu to me! Tony and I also had the wine pairings, which we couldn't seem to drink fast enough to keep up with our meals.

Course 1:
"Lover's Breakfast" - I was in love indeed, foie gras with peameal bacon served with toast and a mini croissant soaked in a maple infused sauce. There was even a quail egg cracked on top! It was incredibly indulgent and still leaves me wanting more. I apologize I don't have any pictures to share of my favourite dish of the night - I'm always a bit embarrassed to take pics at fine dining establishments but I gave in after the first course, knowing I would have lots to say! Think of me next time you snark at the people taking pictures of their food :)

Hamachi and dungeness crab pizza - hamachi sashimi and served on tops of piles of dungeness crab on a flat bread (which I ate separately anyhow). While both were fresh, and paired with fantastic crisp wine, the foie gras was too amazing to compare.

Course 2:
I LOVE soup and was glad this was our second course. I went with lobster bisque, which although delicious, could not measure up to my all-time favourite at Cannery in Vancouver. There were only traces of lobster and I could have really used some large chunks of meat!

Tony had onion soup with duck breast, a unique combination that we have not had before. The onion soup was an exceptional quality, very sweet and light. We both happily lapped up our second courses.

We were given a nice pallet cleanser before the next course, sorbet in soda, a refreshing touch before our mains came.

Course 3:
I opted for the Mac n' Cheese, which is not a typical choice, but I was sure it is a dish Canoe is or was once known for. This was high end mac n' cheese, served with scallops and giant prawns, but ultimately, a case of "mismatched expectations" as my friend Stella would say. I was imagining a hearty seafood pasta dish, but instead there was no "mac" at all, but a rich cheese served over prawns and scallops with risotto and peas. To be fair, the dish was quite well done, but I dislike peas, and although it was on the menu description, there were a lot more peas than I had imagined! The taste of the dish was hardly what I expected. As a side note, I was imagining a lobster risotto I once had at Nu restaurant in Vancouver, which sadly does not appear to be on the menu anymore, but it was one of the best pastas I have ever had in my life!

The elk tenderloin main (1st picture above) was really wonderful , and served with a beautiful red wine. he meat was tender, perfectly seared to medium rare, and literally melted in your mouth. Was happy the waiter told us this was his preferred choice, over a regular tenderloin.

Course 4:
For dessert I had a delicious double chocolate tart served with raspberry mousse and hazelnut meringue. Tony had the pistachio financier, which is a small French cake. We both enjoyed the chocolate tart more but did enjoy the light financier.

Overall, Canoe was a wonderful Valentine's experience. Surprisingly, the restaurant was not very busy, but we were also lucky to be seated by the window away from the main dining room where it was much quieter. It is definitely a great splurge for any special occasion! I highly recommend the wine pairings if you have the opportunity because it really made our meal special and we enjoyed every glass.

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