Reviewed January 28, 2005   »   |     

Monte Cristo

5 Mercer St. - Toronto, Canada
Winterlicious Dinner review.

Antipasto - Grilled Calamari, marinated in a balsamic reduction, frisee, arugula salad with baby shoots – I swear some table in the restaurant was probably missing all the tentacles from their starter, as my 3 softly grilled calamari bodies were accompanied by at least 10 feelers. My other 3 dinner companions (who also followed my lead) received both accountable bodies and legs. Perhaps the chef took a liking to me, or just gave me all the tentacles that another table requested not to have. Despite the extra “protein,” the dish was lacking in flavour. I could have used a THICKER and either sweeter/tarter balsamic dressing. For someone who doesn’t overdress salads, this small watery drizzle (on the bottom of the plate) added nothing but moisture to the plate.

Secondi - Provini Veal Osso Buco, Veal shank, braised in red wine with Spanish onions, fresh Italian herbs in a plum tomato ragu – fall off the bone osso buco, was a delight to the palate. The marrow delectable, however there was not enough meat on the shank compared to the large plating dish (even though I believe I got the largest piece at the table, and incidentally the largest bone). Risotto Anatra, with funghi, duck confit, shaved parmiggiano & truffle essence - a sampling portion – succulent and cheesy, the porcini rich and the duck melting in the mouth. Al dente risotto was warm, creamy, and rich. I can’t imagine having more than an appetiser portion of this treat.

Assorted Sorbet – two small scoops (lemon and raspberry) accompanied by 4 fresh berries – standard fare. Wasn’t the passionfruit I was hoping for, but tart and a palate cleanser.

Conclusion: The live lounge music, catacomb rock and candle lit (even the ceiling lighting were giant candles) environment was both romantic old and modern in feel. Friendly, unpretentious waiting staff that are willing to take requests and clear plates from the table as not to clutter. Even the valets are super friendly (my friend lost her cell phone in the parking lot across the street and the valet came to help out, even getting the parking attendant angry that too many people were involved in this cell phone search). A place for drinks and dessert or a nice dinner (food was pretty reasonably priced with entrees in the high teens to 30s), but don’t expect blown away tastes. Slightly modernized Italian fare.


out of 5.0


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