One of the things we did in Toronto was go to this fabulous new restaurant: Colborne Lane.
After The Fat Duck experience, Laurel and I were looking forward to trying another molecular gastronomy restaurant, and though Colborne Lane can’t quite compare with the Duck in sheer playfulness and entertainment, Claudio Aprile is one fine chef. He knows how to handle his ingredients to get just the flavors and textures he wants, and he incorporates enough MG tricks to make it all fun and a bit surprising without overdoing it.
Without hesitation, we both chose to go the tasting menu route, and we were very full, very happy diners at the end of our three hours. Here’s a brief recap of the meal:
- amuse bouche – watermelon granita with frozen (nitro’d) feta, pumpkin seeds, and spearmint leaf
- Riesling – St. Urbans HOF Kabinett (2007)
- wild salmon tartare and salmon sashimi; cauliflower tempura and puree; saffron aoli; cucumber pearls; powdered sour cream; sprig of dill
- crispy wokked squid; mango ketchup; peanut brittle; crispy fried leeks; chinese sausage
- spicy tomato soup with cilantro; dehydrated olives; mozzarella foam; capers; dried black olive noodles
- miso-glazed cod; crushed pistachios; fried tapioca; baby bok choy; sesame panna cotta; chive and scallion sauce
- Rioja – Ondalan (2006)
- shredded pomello; lemon curd; frozen lemon pearls; peach lemon ice cream with pop rocks
- tripled seared sirloin; short rib; bacon foam; bacon dijon mustard crisp; roasted potato; salsa verde and smoked tomato sauce; green bean and bacon and mushrooms
- passion fruit popsicle coated with mango-raspberry jelly; freeze dried raspberries
- dense chocolate bar covered with edible gold leaf; rooibos ice cream with chocolate snow; brûléed banana
- white chocolate covered frozen coffee “nitro bomb”
For both of us, the high notes in this dinner were the squid, cod, and sirloin/short rib dishes. I have never had squid that tasted so good, or that had such a perfect texture. Miso-glazed cod is not an invention of this chef (you see it all over the place), but it was so wonderfully cooked, tender and flavorful; the fried tapioca added a touch of fun and texture. The sirloin and short rib dish was simply stellar. One small piece of each, cooked just right. The sirloin was tender and juicy and almost delicate – completely beefy yet not heavy; the short rib was dense and rich and overflowing with complex flavors.
In my opinion, the only real mis-step was the coffee “nitro bomb”, not because it was bad (it was fine – though it paled in comparison to the mouth cleansing nitro bite that opened our Fat Duck dinner), but because it was last. I just don’t like coffee flavor that much, and it pretty much obliterated any other lingering flavors from the rest of the meal. But I won’t hold that against Chef Aprile.
We liked it so much, that we joked about going back for lunch the next day. It’s too bad we didn’t.