Tim Foolery

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Canoe – Fine Dining in Toronto

I needed to be in Toronto for work last week.  Almost every trip I take between ORD and YYZ results in delays, cancellations and without an extra “travel day” built in, missed meetings.  I’ve been burned too many times on this leg.  That being said, my meetings were Tuesday morning, so I flew into Toronto midday on Monday.  I was delayed a couple hours, but still arrived in plenty of time for my meetings.

Since I had an evening in Toronto without any business plans, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner and a quick search showed that Canoe met my needs. Basically, I wanted a highly rated and reviewed restaurant with a quality tasting menu.  Unfortunately, the only time I could book online was either 17h00 or 21h00. I called to see if alternate times were available – no luck.  Surprisingly, the day of my reservation (which I booked for 17h00), the restaurant called to confirm and I told them that 17h00 was an ungodly hour for dinner and they agreed. I was able to change it to an 18h45 reservation at the Chef’s Counter.

Canoe is located on the 54th Floor of the TD Bank Tower and offers stunning views of the city and the lake. The chef’s counter seating, that I had, didn’t have those views, but did provide for equally interesting views into the inner workings of their kitchen. It was a great view and period of observation. Their kitchen ran like a well oiled machine and wasn’t like those awful restaurant shows where Gordon Ramsey is screaming like a fool at everyone.

View from the Chef’s Counter at Canoe

Deeper View into the Kitchen from the Chef’s Counter at Canoe

Bread was served with a sun dried tomato and chickpea humus. The sourdough was wonderful.

One thing that this seat did offer that I hadn’t been exposed to before was how kitchens handle allergies. Almost every table that was served had some sort of allergy tagged to it: gluten, dairy, garlic, cilantro, egg, high pH. Are these people really allergic to these, or is it just a preference? One table eve  had a diner who claimed to be allergic to salt. I don’t really like poached eggs and I’ll mention that during a tasting menu, but come on…a salt allergy?

I started off with Canoe’s famous Dill Pickle cocktail, then moved into a couple glasses of wine as the meal progressed.

Canoe is famous for their Dill Pickle Martini. It was much better than I expected – a dill flavor and not very pickly.

Tator Tot
Acadian Caviar + Green Tomato Ketchup

Tator Tot
Acadian Caviar + Green Tomato Ketchup

A glass of sparkling rose was the perfect pairing following the Dill Pickle Martini

Stag Tartare
Cherries, Smoked Heart, Barbecue Gel, Pickled Ramps + Charcoal Oil

Creamed Corn
Quail Egg, Chanterelles, Sumac Popcorn, Marjoram + Buttermilk

Trout + Mussels
Steelhead Trout, Smoked Mussels, Roasted Baby Gem Lettuce, Anchovy + Taramasalata

Larded Beef Filet
Globe Artichokes, Wilted Kale, Black Garlic Aioli, Caramelized Molasses + Sunchoke

Tarragon Ice Cream
Hazelnuts

Wild Blueberry Nougat

Wild Blueberry Nougat

The Full Menu

At the end of the day, I would say this was one of my favorite meal experiences in Toronto. The food itself was great – showcasing vegetables at their prime (the Ontario Corn was something that everyone was raving about). My server was knowledgeable, personable and left me enough space to enjoy my meal, but didn’t forget me, like can happen so often when you’re just a single diner at a restaurant.

The meal at Canoe wasn’t cheap – and I made it even pricier by adding on an entree, so this isn’t a place I’d visit every week (unless someone else is paying), but I will definitely push for a return visit next time I cross the border.

What are your favorite fine dining places in Toronto? If you have an old staple that you visit regularly, I’d love to hear about it and add it to my list for future trips.


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