On the first truly cold night we have experienced since last winter, I decided to venture over to the Danforth to try the new fall menu at The Forth. After hearing great things and reading Adam Mazerall’s review from last June, which literally made my mouth water, I felt this warranted my traveling east on a chilly Saturday night.
The Forth is located just before Pape on the Danforth and is spread out over two floors with an elevator leading up to a rooftop patio, which is expected to open just in time for next summer. The space is grand and quite beautiful, though the high ceilings and spotlight lighting give it a slightly aloof feeling and, on a cold fall evening, a little more warmth would’ve been welcome. That said, this is nothing a big glass of red can’t fix.
The new menu features so many fantastic items, it made it difficult to order. Chef Chris Kalisperas, formerly of Brassaii, is well known for delivering culinary art on a plate, so my expectations were high. We finally settled on three appetizers (a little much, but that’s how difficult it was to make a choice), and two main courses.
The appetizers arrived, and right away our eyes were drawn to the carefully placed items on each dish – almost like the chef had painted the food onto the plates. I started with the octopus, which was served over a romesco sauce with both regular and purple potatoes, Marcona almonds and sprinkled chorizo bits. No surprise that the octopus was exceptionally cooked and, while I felt the potatoes were unnecessary, the crunch of the almonds and chorizo bits — combined with the Romesco and octopus — made for one delicious bite.
Never capable of going to a restaurant and not ordering the burrata, this choice for me is rarely disappointing. Chef Kalisperas pairs it with tomatoes, caperberries, chilli, basil, and olive oil, all of which add flavour to the rich and creamy cheese. For me, the highlight on this dish was the saltiness of the caperberry combined with high quality olive oil — both elevating the burrata to another level.
The third appetizer we indulged in was the steak tartare, which is one of the only menu items that was not removed from the summer menu. And I understand why. The tartare itself is full of flavour, but the deviled egg mousse that dots the chopped beef along with the house-made crisps and aioli makes it so that one mouthful simply is not enough. It may just have to become their signature dish.
The evening continued slowly as the restaurant became very busy — a problem that would make most Danforth restaurants envious, giving us enough time to digest our first course. Once the bison short ribs and lobster fettuccine were set in front of us, my stomach suddenly made room for more. Of the two mains, the short ribs took the gold. Clearly braised for hours, the bison pulled apart easily, and the meat was tender and delicious. Sitting atop a parsnip puree and honey sauce and served with brussel sprouts and potato croquettes, a bite of all the elements together danced in my mouth delivering salty, sweet flavours and soft yet crunchy textures. While definitely a heavier menu option and ideal on a cold fall evening, the portion size and combination of ingredients make for a very refined dish.
The handmade fettucine served with Nova Scotia lobster and a lemon sauce however, fell short. Given that lobster is ultimately one of my favourite foods, it was disappointing to see very few pieces of lobster. And while the pasta was light and airy, the overall dish lacked flavour. I quickly regretted not ordering the gnocchi, which sounds phenomenal — combining the potato dumplings with hen of the woods, sunchoke, and truffle. Ah well – next time.
While we would’ve loved to indulge in the dessert menu, our stomachs begged to differ. Next time, though, I’ll convince my date that three appetizers may not be such a good idea, and hopefully then we’ll get to try some of Chef Kalisperas’ sweet confections.
Have you been to The Forth? Let us know what you thought in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.