Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope y’all will be spending time with family and friends you love. Instead of dining at a restaurant with a special prix-fixe V-day menu, my husband D. and I opted to have our dinner 2 weeks ago at Splendido for their exceptional Winter Tasting Menu. The price was $125 per person for a 12 course feast, superb service and delightful ambiance. Some of the best service in all of Toronto with the chef presenting some of the courses himself, soliciting our opinion and answering all of our questions. They offer a 5 course menu for $75 as well.
Smoked Oyster Potato & Chive: an incredible start to our 2.5 hours meal. The oyster, on top of a whipped, creamy and velvety potato purée, was perfectly smoked, only with a subtle hint of smokeyness. All topped off with a crisp apple chip. Unfortunately, our waiter forgot to advise us of the Osetra Venetian Caviar supplement for $30.
Norwegian Salmon Sashimi Avocado & Nori: the salmon was organically presented on top of a polished stone. The sashimi itself was nothing extraordinary but I did like the crunchy nori tempura and that one slice of spicy pepper which cleared my sinuses.
Parsnip: Sorbet, Crumble & Foam. The creamy sorbet, bubbly foam and crackling chips were perfectly combined. This was an incredible frosty version of an underused winter root veg. The sweet and savouriness were well-balanced with a mild but very unique flavour. My second favorite course for the evening! What I love most about a tasting is the element of the unknown and this was definitely a very cool surprise.
Bolero Carrots Ginger, Coriander seed & Pumpkin oil: A four hours roasted carrot, pumpkin seeds and candied granola with a ginger jus. The carrot is taking a prominent role on many tasting menus that I’ve tried as of late. At esteemed establishments such as at Eleven Madison Park (New York) and L’Atelier (Ottawa), chefs take the ordinary carrot and turn it into an extraordinary fare. Still, just because you roast something longer doesn’t necessarily make it better. The carrot had a soft stewed consistency and was too sweet. I like my carrots roasted just enough so that the inside is soft and outer layer has a brown caramelized texture. Pumpkin seeds were a predictable pairing and the spiced granola was quite frankly very granola. Too add dimension, I would have preferred a less familiar toasted seed such as poppy, black sesame or buckwheat.
Jassen Farms Endive Crème Caramel & Garlic: at the bottom of the espresso cup, there was a layer of crème caramel, then polenta with sous-vide prepared endives, topped with garlic foam and a very generous shaving of Spanish Périgord black truffles. I loved the silkiness of the crème with the effervescent foam and the bits of tangy endives. Overall delectable but very sweet. This was also my first time trying black truffles from Spain. It added some earthiness but overall I prefer the aroma and intensity of white truffles.
Ingersoll Creamed Burrata Broccoli purée, Hazelnut & Honey: My least favorite course and redundantly presented on top of another stone. The poached burrata with puréed broccoli and lemon seemed very much like eating a spread without the cracker, piece of baguette or crudité. In order to have the cheese stand out, chef Victor Barry could have displayed it in a more playful manner.
Mille-Feuille Smoked Sweetbreads, Pomegranate navet & Vanilla jus: The sweetbreads were accompanied with button mushrooms and a mille feuille pastry. My sweetbreads were a tad bit too stringy for me but I enjoyed the crisp mille feuille and the tart pomegranate. The mushrooms didn’t add much value as its texture was very similar to the sweetbreads.
Spanish Périgord Truffle Agnolotti Seti’s Ricotta: The evening’s winner! After visiting Bologna, Italy, I truly appreciate a well made fresh pasta and Splendido did a phenomenal job. The whipped ricotta inside the agnolotti was frothy. The truffle oil had an enticing aroma and the black truffle bits gave the needed texture to complete a truly decadent dish.
Hidden Bench Hen’s Egg Smoked Pulled Pork, Garlic butter and Fried chicken skin: I love it when chefs incorporate an interactive component. In a hot mini cast iron we dropped the piece of herbed butter, cracked our own hen’s egg, mixed in the greens, added the pulled pork and topped it all off with deep-fried chicken skin. The flavour was uneventful but the preparation was fun. This course was appropriately placed right before our refreshing palette cleanser.
Cornet Blue Spruce Sorbet: Creamy yet still invigorating. The chef is following the trend of incorporating leafy greens into desserts.
White Chocolate Tamarind cake, Nutmeg & Orange: Our plate came with a single white chocolate sphere. The chef poured a hot orange bourbon sauce on top which then melted the chocolate and magically opened up the dessert. Inside we discovered pieces of blood orange, tamarind cake and ginger ice cream. The reveal and flavours were grand except the ginger ice cream was quite intense.
Petit Fours: The maple marshmallow was the most interesting but the other petit endings did not satisfy my sweet tooth as I’m not a chocolate lover.
Overall, a very elegant evening. A luxurious meal with some exceptional dishes. Definitely a worthwhile fine dining experience in Toronto to celebrate any occasion.
88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON
Tasting menu price per person = $99 or $150