Hello, my name is Adam… and I have finally gone to Canoe.
Yes, for someone whose restaurant going frequency is borderline neurotic, I had – until Tuesday, that is – yet to transport up the 54 floors of the TD Bank Tower to revel in the glory that is Oliver and Bonacini’s crown jewel.
Canoe is consistently raved and lauded both locally and nationally. Everyone just ‘knows’ it, y’know? I’ve yet to meet anyone who has anything but glowing compliments of the food, the service, the Bay Street-suit vibe. So it was an obvious choice when selecting the restaurants on this year’s Winterlicious tour.
Nicki, Rachel and I power-lunched like it was our job. (Actually, I suppose it is.) High in the sky, we looked out Canoe’s vast windowscape and saw… clouds. (Tuesday was rather dreary.) No matter, the beautiful presentation of the nine plates that graced our table was sight enough.
We went through most of Canoe’s Winterlicious lunch offerings, save for an appetizer of soup and the panna cotta dessert. Visually, the most appealing plate of the day was the Sheep’s Milk Quark. Stunning. That whole “we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths” adage is likely strewn around Canoe’s kitchen, scribbled on post-it notes as daily affirmation.
I needn’t go into too much detail about the courses; the pictures speak much louder than my adjectival prose ever could. But, here are a few things I learned from dining at Toronto’s golden child of a restaurant: Salmon is always better with a nice crispy skin and horseradish slaw. Maple gingerbread pudding will always delight more than traditional bread pudding. Beef brisket needn’t be fatty to be flavourful. Always order a latte at the end of your meal in hopes of receiving chocolate hazelnut biscotti.
Like Luma and Auberge du Pommier, other points of pride for Oliver and Bonacini, Canoe truly realizes the tenets of Winterlicious. Service didn’t miss a beat. The meals are – as I’ve been assured by many – as flawless during the prix fixe festival as any given day. And the lack of pretense in a restaurant of Canoe’s calibre is as refreshing as ever…