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Review:Toronto:Yorkville:C5

Note: Some of my pictures mysteriously disappeared from my media card.

About a year ago, the Royal Ontario museum announced Corbin Tomaszeski, best known for appearances on the Food Network’s Dinner Party Wars, as the new executive chef of C5, a lunch spot right in the museum which over looks the Toronto skyline. The space is almost uncomfortably vast and a bit industrial despite attempts to offer an upscale dining experience. The open kitchen is awkwardly placed and  seems more institutional than it does inviting.  I arrived for my 130 reservation (hours are 11-3) and had to wait 15 minutes to be seated due to what I was told was a busy lunch rush.  You cannot see the restaurant from the entrance, so I was surprised (and slightly annoyed) to see the restaurant less than half full when I was finally seated.

Must

Nothing beats a hearty, well-seasoned soup and C5 didn’t disappoint.  The chicken soup was served hot, full of vegetables and with a perfectly salted  broth fragrant with thyme. It was served with a  cheddar biscuit, the first of many examples of the  delicious baked goods to come.

The dessert sampler  for 2 was a great finish to the meal.  It offered  four different tastes on one plate: something baked, something chocolate, something fruity and something  creamy. In this case it was pumpkin pie with whipped cream, a chocolate fudge square , a fruit cobbler and a  custard flan.  Each of the desserts were prepared nicely and demonstrated yet another example of  a commitment to preserve the  fading art of  baking from scratch.

Dessert Sampler for 2

Maybe

The resounding theme of baked goods was evident again with  the chicken pot pie.  A flaky puff pastry surrounded a hearty bowl  of rich chicken stew.  The pastry was wonderfully browned and tasty but the filling was underseasoned.  I would have liked more thyme or even salt but all I tasted was a bland cream sauce.

The highlight of salmon tart  was also the crust.  It had a buttery taste but was very light and not t oo overbearing. There were abundant chunks of potato and salmon but, like the pot pie, just seemed to be missing a little something. It was a large portion but  just a lot of the same,  although I did enjoy the salad.

There was a feature menu featuring food from around the world.  I opted for an appetizer dish featuring hummus and a roasted eggplant spread served with  not enough pitas.  The hummus was unimpressive but the eggplant was nicely spiced and was not mushy like some other eggplant spreads.

Mundane

I made the mistake of talking myself into ordering the classic frites after seeing them delivered to a few other tables.  They were overcooked, served with a  less than impressive aioli and hardly worth the 6 bucks.

As mentioned, the service was not impressive.  Perhaps it’s set up to appeal to a slow-moving, pretentious subset of  the museum-dwelling artisans next door  but it  won’t appeal to the masses who are looking for efficient service with a smile.

My Take

C5 is a decent lunch choice despite the difficulty parking and  getting into the restaurant itself (the signage is bad and you need to venture through the museum  itself to find the right elevator). The service was a little stuffy and the decor too cold and cavernous which is a bit ironic for an art museum. Some may like the roominess but I felt a bit lost.  I wish the open kitchen was more of  a highlight but it is relatively inaccessible and unimportant in the scheme of things.

This menu was changed shortly after I went for  lunch and the new menu offers a appealing fall/winter menu with dishes including classic dishes such as Sheppard’s pie, poutine, coq au vin and an expanded side collection including a variety of fall vegetables.  It looks good enough for another try.  There also appears to be an expansion of vegetarian options including corn cakes, flatbreads and dinner salads. I’m just leery that decor and service  won’t match the warm appeal of the menu. If this was dinner party wars, it would be decent food and  great baking served in a garage by your mother-in-law, but with a really nice view.

C5 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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About Shawn Penny

I like eating, cooking and commenting. I try to tell stories as much as I review food. I'm not cool enough for masterchef but I'm cool enough to cook for my kids. I plan trips around where I'm going to eat..whether it be Michelin stars, triple D's or celebrity chefs. I write Fare..Eat..Ales to capture some of the surreal and sometimes painful experiences associated with my obsession. Follow me on twitter @fareeatales, facebook (fareeatales) or follow the blog!

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