Sunday, February 13, 2011

WINTERLICIOUS: Contemporary French at Celestin

Another Winterlicious has passed us and time to reminisce about our last meal of the "season." Our first taste of Celestin was several years ago when Tony bought me a delicious birthday cake from the bakery. Truthfully, I had heard mixed things about the restaurant so I couldn't wait to check it out for myself. And really, you can't go wrong during Winterlicious - even if a 3 course meal were bad, it's not like you blew a lot of money trying a new place out.

Celestin is a fairly small intimate restaurant, contemporary in nature but not too sleek and still holds some traditional charm. The good and bad thing about Winterlicious is you don't need to spend a lot of time studying the menu, you only choose between a couple set options, but part of the fun is evaluating the options and deciding what to eat! In any case, we were quick to browse the menu and made our decisions.

There was no doubt what started I would have, the lobster bisque, one of my most favourite things in the world, how could I ever resist?? It was as delicious as I expected, with a light froth and solid lobster meat (it is my pet peeve when there is no actual lobster meat!). I definitely could have used more in my little bowl. Tony had a delicious ricotta gnocchi, was light and just right as an appetizer.

I had a braised lamb shoulder with prawns and white beans as my main, which was quite good except that I don't like white beans very much (I must have overlooked it on the menu!). Tony's roast sea bream was really good, the fish was prepared just perfect and served beautifully. Although both our mains were tasty, I thought the fish was more exceptional in its preparation. I love good fish when it is cooked to the right level with just enough flavour added.

I can't say the portions were exceptionally large so I definitely had sufficient room for dessert - a Creme Arlequin which was some version of a creme brûlée topped with this amazing layer of dark chocolate. It was amazing! We also had a Winter Pudding with caramelized apples, which was also very yummy. i think the best part was that the desserts were delicately prepared and not too sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed them both, but the Creme Arlequin was definitely the better surprise of the two.

Overall, we really enjoyed our experience at Celestin. The food was good, the restaurant nice and quiet enough to catch up with friends, and the service was friendly and intimate. It's a little more modern than Auberge, but food still quite good, although more simple. I appreciate when a restaurant doesn't overbook themselves for Winterlicious. We felt comfortable and had a nice time. As we looked around the room, it looked like a lot of regulars visiting. A nice side benefit is that there is a public parking lot across the street from Celestin - having parking is an underrated asset. We've wasted a lot of time driving round and around the block to find street parking in the mid-town areas and is very annoying, enough to deter me from visiting again.

623 Mount Pleasant Rd.

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