In spite of glowing reviews, I'd never heard of this place until I stepped into it for lunch with 3 colleagues. Maybe that's because I've never been much of a steak fan: why pay so much for something I can quite easily make on my own with a good hunk of meat? And if you think about it, steak is usually a monotonous dish - you keep chewing on the same piece of meat for say, half an hour, with perhaps only occasional bites of sides like fries or some vague salad.Read MoreHide
Having said that, I liked the warm, contemporary setting of this place. It was cosy and homely, even though some of the tables were a tad close to each other. You can almost imagine yourself in a trendy New York neighbourhood, that is if you don't happen to look out the part-blinded windows to see the heavy foot traffic to 313 Somerset!
We all chose the set lunch ($35), which gives one the choice from a list of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts. I had no hesitations about choosing the porcini ravioli to start. This is a challenge for most cooks to get right, and I was going to judge them on the basis of this dish and not my main :-) While waiting, we got to try the bread served with whole cloves of garlic. A first for me: the flat bread scored points for being warm, but wasn't fragrant enough. I garlic was soaked in a small dish of olive oil, but again, I felt that it lacked taste. If they want to serve bread this way, they should source for the freshest, most aromatic garlic!
Happily enough, I wasn't disappointed with the starter, and would even say that this was better than my main. The porcini (a type of mushroom with woody, heady overtones) in the ravioli was very fine and extremely well-seasoned, and cooked just nice; the parmigiano shavings and the truffle sauce were the perfect companion to it. Ok, so it's very rich and sinful, but I have absolutely no qualms about putting on the extra calories for a treat like that!
For the mains, we could choose between a steak, a lamb rib and grilled salmon. The waiter took pains to explain the cooking style behind each choice. I was certainly not going to choose the steak frites, which is the most basic thing any bistro in France would have on its menu. Anyway how else can you cook steak, besides grilling and frying?? Thus I opted for the lamb rib. Admittedly, I wasn't too keen on the sound of the accompanying BBQ sauce, but we were told it was smoked with real hickory wood. When it came, the lamb was tender and meaty, just a little charred on the outside as is the trend nowadays. The sauce didn't have the cheap industrial taste either, but was deep and earthy, making it a good complement to the meat. I had a bite of the steak option just to satisfy my curiosity. Done medium rare, it was fairly tender, but had been cut too thin for my liking and lacked oomph.
I don't recall the name of my dessert. It looked terribly plain, like a chocolate swiss roll on a sea of crème anglaise. However, it tasted a lot better than it looked: the chocolate cake was dense and packed some real chocolate taste; the sauce was a little thin and insipid, but passable.
No complaints about the service, which was true to the spirit of the place: friendly and casual, helpful when questioned. All in all, this was a fairly good experience and I wouldn't mind coming back again on occasion.
I spent $45 per person.
Must tries: Porcini ravioli
- I also recommend this place for:
- Lunch, Dinner, Large Groups/Gathering, Children/Family, Romance/First Dates, Boys Night Out, Girls Night Out, After Work, Quiet
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