A special event was arranged by chef Victor Barry, a tasting (blind) of some exceptional steaks. But this was also a festive event so we began with 2 kinds of oysters, poached spot prawns, cured steelhead trout, scallop ceviche and dungeness crab, all on a tiered platter service. What a grand beginning!
Caesar salad with croutons, anchovy and pork belly with a parmesan crisp.
On the plate, 80 day, dry aged, USDA prime rib steak; 80 day, dry aged Cumbrae Farms "prime" rib steak, 70 day, dry aged, Cheese Boutique, grass fed, striploin and a "ringer". A great idea to do a blind tasting, but the presentation was inappropriate to properly compare the various steaks. Note the plate, 3 pieces of "ends" and one centre slice. The charred ends were just that, and that charred flavour created a taste conflict. Also, the central slice was perfectly cooked and the ends cooked well past rare. In a steak tasting, each piece should be cooked to the same doneness. Each piece should be cut away from the edge. Each piece should be roughly the same size and thickness. So, frankly, I really could not taste compare the pieces to properly distinguish between the various steaks. However, all the steaks were very tasty and the ringer, although less well aged, still tasted very good. The distinguishing taste of well aged steaks, a nuttiness with layers of beefy flavour, was highly pleasing for me. The texture of the steaks was good, but again, the texture that I would typically use to judge this feature was completely masked by the well charred edges. All of the steaks were juicy, but, again, this feature was muted, eating the well charred edge. Don't get me wrong, the edge pieces were very good and we were eating very enjoyable, great steak. But, edge pieces make it difficult to do a "steak tasting" comparison.
After the tasting, we were served great side dishes of truffled mac and cheese, mini baked potatoes liberally sprinkled with shaved white truffles, terrific crispy french fries, wonderfully crispy onion rings, and, perhaps the best creamed spinach that I have enjoyed at any restaurant, so good, despite being quite full, we asked for seconds.
Northern spy apple tart tatin, a beautiful presentation, served with creme anglais and vanilla ice cream. Certainly one of the best versions of tart tatin that I have tasted in Toronto.
We had the opportunity to enjoy some fine wines brought by the members of our group.