The Gist: Café Boulud 2.0, the new and very much improved restaurant by world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is damn sexy.
Reopened Sept 10, just in time for TIFF, Chef Boulud has been in town, to ensure that everything is done to perfection.
The new contemporary space is a beautiful backdrop for the French dishes inspired by his upbringing in Lyon. Think classic comfort food dishes that are modern and infused with flavor, without complication.
Grub: In the words of Chef Boulud, "This menu is without a doubt very French in its DNA. But we are also in Canada, and we celebrate its ingredients in our dishes. I’m French, but I’m not the most traditional French chef. I have traveled, and worked with many great international chefs, and so that influence has naturally worked its way into my food. There’s a delicately spicy, aromatic Bouillion Pho from Vietnam and the Sea Bass Catalane made with romesco sauce that is a nod to Spain. This is the food that I like to eat, and I hope that Sylvain and I have created a menu that people want to come back to enjoy again and again."
Libations: The hearty wine list features tons by the glass. Cocktails stay classic with just two signature martinis (Tanqueray No. Ten Gin with vermouth and olive, Stoli 'Elit' Vodka with lemon and twist – both $18) and some fantastic creations like the Watermelon Smash ($16 – grapefruit soaked vodka, basil, watermelon, soda) and Armagnac Sazerac ($17- Armagnac, rye, lemon juice, absinthe).
Cocktail hour will be back with a vengeance thanks to these charmers and the gorgeous room.
Deets: The restaurant136 total seats; bar counter: 8; lounge: 10; in room: 110; semi-private dining room: 8.
Fixtures & Fittings: Martin Brudnizki Design Studio - who did The Ivy in London and Le Caprice in NYC, to name just a few - did a spectacular job in creating an exquisite room that is simultaneously fun and polished, cozy and sumptuous.
The mid-century look includes sexy, ribbed low-banquette seating upholstered in jaguar green and tan leather with tweed detailing and stunning swivel chairs in oxblood ruched leather that you’ll no doubt be running your hands over throughout the entire meal.
Walls got treated to spectacular blue herringbone Hermès wallpaper and finished in walnut, with corner tables featuring emerald green lava stone. A line of 14 bespoke double pendant brass lights take centre stage through the middle of the room were inspired by mid-century design maestro, Angelo Lelli.
The luscious dining counter boasts wood panels slicked with high gloss lacquer and topped with Calacatta marble featuring a bronze and glass gantry, and eight oxblood leather bar stools.
Off the Menu:
Frisée Lyonnaise ($19) with chicken livers, poached egg, lardons, and sourdough croutons, is the epitome of a French classic done with true elegance. Just try to not order it each and every visit - it’s impossible à faire.
Escargots Persillade ($19) will convert anyone who’s squeamish about snails. The texture is delicate, not rubbery, and the garlic, parsley butter and mushrooms all converge in a velvety decadence that you won’t soon forget.
Linguini du Sud ($18/$26) features an alluring combination of saffron pasta, arugula, clams, fennel, and lemon that is so evocative of the sea. Don’t be surprised if you hear the "caw" of seagulls above and the gentle lapping of waves in the distance.
Sea Bass "Catalane" ($38) is Spanish done with restraint. The vibrant romesco sauce, red onion, tomato, pepper and almonds that accompany and accent the delicate moist flesh, never, ever take away from it.
Blanquette au Vert ($29) –veal stew with herbs and green vegetables – is très sophistiqué no matter what the season.
Save room for dessert. The Baked Alaska for Two ($21) is a complete dream with pistachio & vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet, and fresh meringue flambéed with kirsch.
How Cool is This?! We Canadians think of chicken when we see a rotisserie. But here, Chef Boulud blows our mind with gleaming vertical and horizontal spits, unique to Toronto, that will be gently cooking everything from fish to lamb to vegetables to lobster!
At the Stove: Chef De Cuisine Sylvain Assié
FOH: General Manager of Café Boulud and dbar Balthazar Pellissier
Head Honchos: Chef Daniel Boulud
Breakfast Daily 7am-11am
Brunch Sunday 11am-3pm
Lunch - Mon to Sat Noon-3pm
Dinner Daily: 5:30pm to 10:30
Map It: 60 Yorkville Ave. (at Bay)
Phone It In: (416) 963-6000
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.
And stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Chef Boulud where he reveals his favourite spots in Toronto and why he loves this city so much.