Monday, February 04, 2008

Winterlicious 2008 - Truffles Restaurant

Every winter the city of Toronto holds an event called Winterlicious, which presents the average person the opportunity to dine at some very fine establishments on the cheap. Over a hundred restaurants in the Toronto area present prix fixe menus, so someone like myself can actually afford to dine at a high-class joint (heh) such as Truffles Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. This place has earned the CAA/AAA Five Diamond award for the fourteenth consecutive year. Nice.

Oh, yes. For the princely sum of $35 apiece plus wine (plus taxes and gratuity), my girlfriend and I sampled some VERY fine food.

The set menu is as follows:

Butternut Squash Veloute
w/ Spiced Apple Relish, Bacon Chantilly
Warm Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese
w/ Bitter Greens, Pistachios, Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Organic Carrot & Chestnut Cannelloni
w/ Parmesan Snow, Watercress Emulsion
Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon
w/ Green Lentils, Golden Beets, Mustard Vinaigrette
Beef Bourguignon
w/ Truffle Pomme Puree, Red Wine Jus

Baileys Crème Caramel
w/ Bruleed Bananas, Vanilla Espresso Caramel
Warm Molten Chocolate and Raspberry Cake
w/ Cashew Nut Ice Cream

I had the Veloute, the Salmon, and the Crème Caramel. My lovely companion had the Dates, the Cannelloni, and the Crème Caramel as well. The waiter commented that not many of the Winterlicious guests had not chosen the chocolate. Hey, what can I say, we know what we like.

Quite simply put, the Butternut Squash Veloute is the best soup I have ever eaten. Full stop. It was smooth and creamy with small chunks of apple, hints of cinnamon, and topped with a dollop of cream and a perfectly cooked slice of bacon. And you know how much I like my bacon.

I took a chance with the entree, as I don't normally go in for either salmon or beets, but I thought "What the hell, you only live once". I'm glad I did, because it was absolutely delicious. There was a thick slice of golden beet with a mound of lentils, and the pan-seared piece of salmon on top. My god it was good. I'm even re-thinking my previous stance on beets, and how I don't really like them that much. I guess it's all in the preparation.

I'd been looking forward to the Crème Caramel ever since I first saw it on the menu on the website. Crème Caramel is (along with Crème Brûlée) my favourite dessert, and I was hoping for something magical. It was OK. It was perfectly prepared, with the brûléed bananas and the caramel sauce, and was very tasty, but I guess I'd been building it up in my head to be something mind-blowing, and it was only great. It seems weird to say "only" great, but that's how it felt.

Unaccustomed as I am to fine dining, the service was pleasantly impeccable. I guess the staff was motivated to get us in and out, but our reservation was for 9:00pm, and we were in the car by 10:05. It was nice, actually. As soon as we were finished one course, the server was there to clear the dishes, and to present us with the next one.

You may notice that there are no pictures with this post. I couldn't quite summon the nerve to take a camera with me to the restauarant. There were others taking pictures while we were there, and it didn't seem to be an issue, but I was just as happy to simply enjoy the meal without worrying about that, too.

Including the very nice glasses of Chardonnay (me) and Merlot (her), and my four-dollar cup of coffee (!), dinner was $120 with taxes and tip. Not bad at all.

Winterlicious 2008 runs from January 25 - February 7.

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