The Good Son: Macaulay Culkin Nightmares and Memories of Norman Rockwell

I have keen to go to the Good Son since it opened.  It’s on the fringes of the Ossington strip which means by geographical location they are mandated to incorporate some of the hipster doctrine into their existence ( in other words “embracing the local Queen street culture” as stated on their website). Good Son is a project of Vittorio Colacitti who gained national attention for his appearance on Top Chef Canada 4. His also has a biography page which, designed a bit like a dating site, outlines his many culinary achievements as well as telling us he is a rooster according to the Chinese Zodiac.

The restaurant’s  website presents Good Son as a surrogate for an old time family experience.  The landing page depicts three generations of a family sitting around the table for dinner which brings back my own family members for very different reasons. Since my family resembles the Lamberts from Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” more than the Cleavers, I think my mom disguised this dysfunction by hanging Norman Rockwell pictures all over the wall to create the illusion that we all sat down and ate mashed potatoes together.  Mr. Rockwell was a 20th century American painter who best described his own art by saying “without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed”.  Quite often this involved very normal families in very normal situations which was a far cry from my life.  The closest I got to a Rockwell painting were the shards of glass in the back of my neck after a sibling spat.  My sister narrowly missed hitting me in the head with a stuffed animal and smashing the glass in the frame of  “The Doctor and the Doll” painting instead. I don’t think he ever painted that.

Norman Rockwell's Doctor and the Doll
Norman Rockwell’s Doctor and the Doll

The name of the restaurant itself also stirs up a few memories. Macaulay Culkin took the world by storm as the cute kid in “Home Alone”. He further stole the hearts of America by starring in the tearjerker “My Girl” followed by a Home Alone sequel.  Things went downhill from there. Perhaps in a effort to expand his acting range, he teamed up with Elijah Wood (who at the age of 12 had the same impish look as he does now) in “The Good Son”, a so called psychological thriller which currently sits at 24% on rotten tomatoes.  Culkin plays a disturbed child who some would argue was a foreshadowing of some of his woes to come.  Wood, on the other hand, went on to fight spiders, orcs and other middle earth creatures to great fanfare in Lord of the Rings. In the end, I couldn’t help thinking that the creepy looking kid at the table on the Good Son’s homepage would eventually take the Macaulay versus Wood path and would likely ponder a “skating accident” as a fate for some loved ones a couple of years down the road.

good son
Life Before Hobbits and Michael Jackson

Despite this irrational fear of the website, I was keen to go because of  the fanfare over the food and drink menu.  I got to experience the latter at a Lucky Rice event I attended a few weeks before.  I remember the well dressed bartenders slinging gin filled concoctions garnished with things like pickled dragon fruit and other foodie furbelows.  I took a seat at the bar and scanned the cocktail menu.  I have no idea who Tony is but I went with “That Thing for Tony” which featured gin, citrus fruit, Campari and some fresh basil. My issue is always the fact that a gin and fruit drink shows up looking like something Mary Poppins would make.  This drink didn’t have the umbrella but did rock the orange slice which served as a  vessel to hold up the straw and combined with the pink was a bit of a kick in the nuts. Nonetheless, gin and campari is always a great combination and a whole lot of fresh basil added a garden vibrancy.

Have you met Tony?
That Thing for Tony $13

I started with the sweet pea tortellini ($18) and it didn’t disappoint.  The pasta was as tender as the peas themselves  and stuffed with a tasty filling which paid homage to this great summer legume.  The tortellini sat atop a sauce laced with citrus and butter flavours and was finished with some grated cheese. At first the portion size looked a little dainty but it was deceptively filling.  Overall, it was a smart and suave dish which honoured  fresh and available ingredients.

Pea Tortilllini $18
Pea Tortellini $18

At this point I needed another drink and since they take as much pride in their bar program as they do their food, I challenged the barkeep to do some alcoholic improv.  He gladly accepted the challenge and began the alchemy.  After a pinch of this and a dash of that he tasted, adjusted and presented his take on a basil smash while profusely apologizing for the brownish appearance but he promised it would taste good.  I wasn’t at all offended and in my head quickly named the drink “Look at my Divot” to reflect the fact it looked like busted up sod after a pathetic attempt with my five iron.  That said, it was a little more manly than drinking through a straw wedged in an orange slice.

“Basil Smash” or “Look at that Divot” $14

For the main, the barkeep suggested the bulgogi short ribs served with kim chee fried rice and a quail egg ($18).  Unlike the smallish pasta portion, this dish was huge. Although the ribs were a little tough, they were flavourful. The rice was equally tasty but a little greasy.  I loved the chucks of kimchi (or kim chee).  The quail egg was cooked perfectly..I just wish there was more of it.  Both the hot and the garlic sauce smeared on the plate were fantastic and removed any monotony of repeated bites of meat and rice. I also liked the abundance of the scallions on the dish from both a taste and appearance perspective.   All in all, a very satisfying (and large) dish in which I could only finish about a third.

Bulgogi Short Ribs $18
Bulgogi Short Ribs $18

My Take

The Good Son succeeds in offering high quality food and drink in a fashionable environment.  Given the creepy family on landing page,  horror movie buffs may fear that many of the plates hanging on the wall may become projectiles in a poltergeist rage.  In fact, I credit the web designers  whose family dinner masterly predicted the movie “The Visit” in which old people finally become the homicidal leads as opposed to the first victims in most other horror movies (just ask Mrs. Deagle in the Gremlins).  It is welcoming with a partially open kitchen and a very visible prep area.  As described on the site, the Good Son’s menu is “a reflection of the melting pot of cultures that has gentrified the Queen West neighbourhood in Toronto”. I agree….I had a little Korean, a little Italian and a little hipster.  One of the questions I always ask myself after a dining experience is “Would I come back?”.  I think this place has one of the most intriguing menus in the city and I felt I only scratched the surface meaning I’d definitely come back in a second to try something like the steak tartare (which I have heard is incredible), jerk shrimp or the burger. In the end, it’s much better than a Macaulay Culkin movie and  as inviting as a Norman Rockwell painting not to mention it’s oddly dreamy that Vittorio’s Chinese astrological sign is compatible with an ox.

The Good Son Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fabbrica; Fizzy Wine and Free Parking

There are many reasons to choose a restaurant.    In most cases, I have an extravagant formula that combines a number of factors including who I’m with, what’s trending, what my friends or websites suggest, how much I want to eat and whether or not booze will be involved.  Others are less calculating. I’ve had guests who have requested vegetarian, clean and/or gluten free food. I have one who avoids garlic and onions  and pork can be a sore spot. One of my most recent requests was simple:a place uptown with easy parking. Oddly, this proved to be a daunting task.  I could hope for the best and  try a place along Bayview or Yonge but parking availability is so random.  Knowing my guest liked Italian food, Fabricca immediately came to mind.  Located in the shops on Don Mills plaza, this member of Mark McEwan empire offers complimentary valet parking in addition to a parkade only a short distance away.

The spacious restaurant is complete with an outdoor patio, a full bar and a dining area with a view of an open kitchen which includes a wood fired pizza oven.  Despite the pseudo-casual atmosphere,  Fabbrica has all the components of a fine dining experience.  The waitstaff are classically trained and a nicely dressed expediter quarterbacks the kitchen team, ensuring that a salad is neither under- or overdressed or that a parsley leaf is not out of place.  I felt a bit like I was on an episode of Top Chef Canada for a second.

Picking a wine is always a bone of contention for me, especially when a table’s worth of palates are on the line.  I wouldn’t classify myself as a connoisseur but I can tell the difference between a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon so I could get by in a pinch.  However, I’m not the guy to go to as a spokesperson when it comes to the dreaded taste test.  Sure, I can speak in front of a room of 200 people but having to take the inaugural sip of pinot gris in front of a half dozen people is a daunting task.  That said, I have never seen a bottle sent back.  In fact, I was thinking it was more of a formality.  Not tonight though.  We order a bottle of Conundrum from California.  My guest took the honours and had a sip.  A perplexed look was followed by a second sip and an exclamation that the wine was fizzy. The waiter carried it away and returned shortly with a fresh bottle and an agreement that his call on the wine was correct. In the end, the conundrum was a great choice.

On this night I was in the mood for a salad and pasta.  I started with the misticanza salad consisting of  seasonal lettuce, fennel, celery, herbs and house dressing ($11).  It was delicious in it’s simplicity.  The dressing was refreshing and a perfect compliment to the fresh ingredients in the salad.

Salad
Misticanza Salad $11

For the main I ordered the fettuccine with sweet peas, artichoke, pancetta, and crotonese ($20).  The pasta was nicely cooked but the dish was too oily and the artichoke pieces were rather large and took away from the taste of the rest of the dish.

Pasta
Fettuccine (Partially eaten) $20

For dessert I couldn’t resist the rice pudding  with arborio rice, strawberry rhubarb compote and aged balsamic ($11).  Oddly enough, I’m not a rice fan but put it in a pudding and I’m a happy camper. In fact, it would likely be one of the five foods I would choose as a desert island choice.   The rice maintained its firmness among the creamy base.  The compote was hidden in the bottom but once accessible added a nice tartness to the sweet pudding. I thought the addition of the balsamic was brilliant and something I will do when I make rice pudding at home.

Rice Pudding $11
Rice Pudding $11

 

My Take 

Fabbrica is set up to appeal to the masses.  It has a bit of the old school Italian eatery mixed with a modern day spin, so it wasn’t  surprising to see an array of patrons filling the tables.  There was a delightful older couple who may have been celebrating an anniversary, a large table of businessmen laughing incessantly at their own jokes, a table of younger mothers (one of which began breastfeeding her child which raised a few eyebrows among the traditionalists) and even a suave young guy hoping to get to third base by treating his date to dinner including the sundae designed for two.   Then again, maybe the other patrons looked at our table as the pretentious one which actually had the nerve to send back a bottle of wine because it was fizzy. In the end, the Fabbrica experience was pretty decent although I was a little disappointed given Mark “Mercurial” McEwan’s high standards on Top Chef Canada.  The salad and dessert  were fresh and vibrant although the oily pasta was average at best. In the end, I think there are better options in the city for fine Italian fare but if the thought of parallel parking on a busy downtown street or dishing out $20 to jam into a makeshift lot makes you cringe then this may be your place.  Plus, you can mingle with “the haves” and get that Coach bag, Solomon jacket or go to across the way to McEwan for that expensive olive oil you always wanted.

Fabbrica on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:King West:Valdez

It can be argued that Origin may have been the “origin” of the current small plate trend in Toronto.  A couple of years and two new Origins later, Valdez opened.  The link is Steve Gonzalez.  A contestant on the first Top Chef Canada,  he has followed the leads of later contestants Carl Heinrich and Ryan Gallagher, who left previous posts at established Toronto eateries to gamble on new ones. Steve went from chef de cuisine at Origin to the proprietor of Valdez, a King Street Latin street food eatery which promises a return to Gonzalez’s Colombian roots and, of course,  a sharing and small plate concept.

The decor is a mix of a saloon and a Mexican cantina.  A large wooden bar is showcased in a long but narrow space filled with bright chairs and worn tables, both painted with reds and blues and greens. A large bar graces one wall of the long but narrow dining room. Coffee sack, art and other paraphernalia grace the walls of this stylish abode.

There is an array of standard cocktails (and a few crazy ones), beer and wine.  I opted for a Tecate, which was presented in psuedo-michelada style. Instead of a glass with lime juice and hot sauce (among other things), a lime wedge and a squeeze of hot sauce was strewn along the top of the can.  Served glassless, I opted to pop the wedge into the can and drink it like that.  I liked the combination although I found it odd that the option for no hot sauce wasn’t offered as I imagine it wouldn’t be for everybody.

The menu is simple, divided into 4 parts; ceviche (self explanatory), stuff (small plate) ,more (bigger plate) and dulce y algo (dessert). Well, maybe the ceviche isn’t so self explanatory. Given the diversity of the choices, I opted for the flight:

There is the traditional “cocktel de camaron” with tomato, citrus, cilantro, chilis and corn nuts. Pretty delicious.

There was the “passion” and “atun japones”, each offering a refreshing twist on tuna (albacore and ahi respectively) by meshing traditional latin and modern Asian flavours such as yuzu, ginger and ponzu.  An intriguing twist but something I would expect at one of the numerous izakaya joints at every street corner in town.

The “mixto” was a trio of octopus, mussel and squid bathed in squid ink with some citrus, maize and sweet potato. The ink was the overwhelming flavour, so some will take it or leave it.

The vegan ceviche was a mix of fruit and veggies which included jicama and other latin staples  in a simple citrus sauce.  Nothing remarkable.

Ceviche Flight $16
Ceviche Flight $16

From the “stuff” menu we opted for tradition, ordering the highly touted guac and chips, empandas and chorizo del jefe (sausage). The guac and chips created some controversy at the table.  I loved the guac.  It had a great texture and was well balanced with citrus and spice.  The chips were a combination of plantain, yucca, potato and taro which I thought was ingenious both to the eye and the tongue. The others at the table were more ho-hum about the guac.

Guac and Chips $8
Guac and Chips $8

The empanadas, on the other hand, were rather disappointing. Offering no flare compared to the rest of the menu, they were rather dry and bland to the extent where the delicious aji sauce which accompanied couldn’t save them.

Empanadas $8
Empanadas $8

The chorizo sausage was a bold and delicious addition to the menu. A squeeze of lime provided enough acid to intensify the well seasoned and moist pork sausage. It rivals some of the best I have had in Toronto. The arepas were nice as well.

Chorizo del jefe $8
Chorizo del jefe $8

As for “more”, we decided on two very different dishes; the delicate Giggie’s trout (togarashi+Quinoe+yuzu+mango+avocado+fried shallots) and the more manly Bandeja (seared pork+rice & beans+plantain+fried egg+avocado+arepa).  This trout dish was a  concert of primarily asian flavours around some beautifully cooked filets.  The dainty dish was a bit out of place served in a Mexican saloon but would be palate pleasing for a pescatarian who so happened  to tag along for the party.

Giggie's Trout $17
Giggie’s Trout $17

The bandeja, on the other hand, was the hardcore latin inspired dish more synonymous with the name Valdez. Bandeja simply means platter, but I would be prone to rename this bandeja buena mierda.  Hidden beneath a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg was rice, beans, avocado, arepas and most importantly, tender and juicy pork.   With each bite you got a little more or a little less of each component but each was an adventure in Latin America cuisine. No togarashi, no yuzu (although I love the damn stuff), and no ponzu.  Just simple, flavourful food presented with simplicity and respect.

Bandeja $19
Bandeja $19

My Take

Perhaps the word “Latasian” street food may be a better description of the food served at Valdez.  Although traditional Central and South American dishes are the foundation of the menu, the are a number laced with Asian flavours. The chips and guac and bandeja stole the show with the chorizo sausage taking honorable mention.  I was less impressed with the ceviche and trout, perhaps because my brain was programmed to consume the simple and standard flavours of Latin cuisine as opposed to those I can get at a hundred places elsewhere.  The empanadas were a bit of a bust minus the delicious aji sauce.  I enjoyed the Tecate, served  psuedo-michelada style, from both a nostalgic and taste perspective.

The decor and vibe is fun, trendy and even a bit dangerous. I was reminded  a bit of the bar scene from Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk to Dawn”. George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino wannabees line the bar except in this case, samurai sword wielding ninjas names Yuzu, Togarashi and Tobiko  enter the scene to join the locals in a battle against the blood hungry vampires looking for a late night snack. Ok, that may be a bit much, but if Steve Gonzalez can offer fried rice and frijoles, I can use my imagination just the same.

Valdez Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:Downtown:Reds Wine Tavern

Reds Wine Tavern recently underwent a metamorphosis in an attempt to appeal to a crowd outside of the confines of the financial district.  With a 2-million dollar renovation and the recruitment of Top Chef Canada favorite Ryan Gallagher from Ruby Watchco,  the new Reds promises an upscale yet casual environment to appeal to the Bay street traditionalist and the nomadic foodie alike. One of the highlights of Reds is the availability of over 75 wines by the glass in addition to the over 350 bottles.

I took a chance and asked for the chef’s table via open table with a few days notice knowing the chances were slim to none that I would succeed.  However, I found it a bit annoying to not have the request even acknowledged either in advance or when I checked in at the venue.  In addition, I had to wait at the front door to be seated since the remainder of my party (2 of 4) had not arrived.  They were stuck in a line of traffic on Adelaide which was being diverted around yet another falling glass disaster at the Trump tower two blocks away. We were finally seated at a rather large wooden table in the back corner of the second level overlooking the bar below. I quickly realized we were in for a noisy experience when I heard six or seven guys hollering obnoxiously over a game of table shuffleboard with ties undone and drinks in hand. I  felt like I was an extra in a  whisky commercial. Well…sort of.  Based on the amount of time it took us to receive any sort of service, I could of watched the commercial plus half a sitcom as well. A round of drinks eventually arrived and the food was slowly delivered afterwards.

Must

I must admit I was quite excited for a few menu items at Reds Wine.  I’ve often imagined my own ideal restaurant menu and deviled eggs are definitely on the  list.  Better yet, it was a trio of deviled eggs ($11), each containing all sorts of add-ins such as crispy onion, seafood and even a  delicious avacado and tender pea mixture.   Based on menus I’ve seen online since,  they may be like Cadbury Easter cream eggs; not around all the time but worth it when they are on the shelf.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs

The triple cooked smoked wings ($15) were braised with duck fat to facilitate a crispiness and flavourful skin while maintaining a tender and juicy flesh underneath.  The two house made side sauces  (especially the BBQ sauce) were a great match for both the crispy vegetables and the wings themselves.

Triple Cooked Smoked Wings
Triple Cooked Smoked Wings

There was a lack of consensus at the table over whether the chicken pot pie with fois gras gravy ($18) was a must or maybe but I’m writing the blog so I vote must.  The pastry was light and baked golden-brown.  The filling was brimming with flavour highlighted by the faint but evident taste of fois gras in a very distinct gravy and a array of fresh vegetables and tender chicken.  The only issue was the scarcity of the stew compared to the abundant crust which I can forgive in lieu of the tremendous taste.

Chicken Pot Pie with Fois Gras Gravy
Chicken Pot Pie with Fois Gras Gravy

Maybe

Another item on my imaginary dream menu is a variety of caesars, so I pleased to see a small variety here.  I opted for the charcuterie caesar ($11.50) which is a classic vodka caesar served  with cool things like Tabasco barrel-infused tomato-clam juice and  housemade hot sauce with a small side bowl of meat, cheese, gherkins and olives.   The complete package was fresh and fun but the drink itself was pretty bland. Perhaps a bacon and tomato jam would of helped…

Charcuterie Caesar
Charcuterie Caesar

The fish of the day items (around $25)  appear to be to the foundation of the menu, likely influenced by Ryan himself.  I ordered  the grouper but they ran out so it gets no points.  I tried the salmon which was moist but under seasoned and lost amongst the abundance of green lentils and apple fennel slaw (the latter was quite tasty).   The New Bedford scallops were large , cooked nicely and served on a pleasant fresh carrot puree with smoky bacon and some pistachio pesto.  The dish blended well and gets a resounding OK which is more than I can say for missing grouper and bland salmon swimming upstream in lentils.

Salmon with Lentils and Apple Fennel Slaw
Salmon with Lentils and Apple Fennel Slaw
New Bedford Scallops
New Bedford Scallops

Three types of mussels were available and we opted for the tavern caesar variety.  The broth was top-notch and the mussels were fresh, hearty and flavorful.  The $18.50 price is a bit high but they do provide a nice start to a good meal although I’m not sure about the bread sticks.

Tavern Caesar Mussels
Tavern Caesar Mussels

The dessert menu only offers three choices for $8 each.  As a table, we opted for the grasshopper parfait (in a mason jar, of course) and an apple tart.  I wouldn’t say it’s must have but it would appease a sweet tooth if you needed the boost.

Grasshopper Parfait
Grasshopper Parfait
Reds Apple Tart
Reds Apple Tart

Mundane

My vision of an $18 lobster guacamole was a bit different than 15 upright nacho chips stuck in a scarce amount of lobster,a runny guacamole and a blob of sour cream.  It’s not that the dish was terrible but if didn’t make me want to throw a flashy new $20 on the table and say thank you.

Lobster Guacamole
Lobster Guacamole

As mentioned above, the service started poorly and didn’t get a lot better. When we ordered wine to complement  the entrees it just didn;t come and otherwise check-ins were infrequent. A chat with a member of the waitstaff afterwards left me even more confused as I was unable to determine from his comments if it was a bad night or if short-staffing is a general philosophy of the restaurant.   It seemed both scatter-brained and laissez-faire and soured the overall experience.

My Take

The emergence of shows like Top Chef Canada and other food network shows have opened up diner’s eyes to some of the brilliant minds who define cuisine in Toronto and other metropolitan areas.  This has allowed a flow of celebrity character into many of the establishments opening up across the country.  Richmond Station in Toronto (Carl Heinrich), Sidedoor in Ottawa (JonathanKorecki) and  Charcut in Calgary (Connie DeSousa) are all stamped with a hip, youthful flare, open kitchens  and sophisticated menu which draws a diversity of clientele. Although the Reds menu synched with my imagination and met the grade, other than his name on the menu, Ryan’s presence seemed absent. The renovation to a relaxed environment has not trickled down to the waitstaff and service mentality. I will say that  Reds realized their mistakes and offered a solution which, in the end, was satisfactory to our dinner party.

I was thinking….perhaps dousing the shuffleboard champion with a charcuterie ceasar from 20 feet up would draw in the resounding claps of the Wiser guys to provide a much needed personality boost to an otherwise stuffy environment. If anything, it would appease to the numerous patrons around me who felt like they were witnessing cantankerous behavior inside a glorified frat house….minus the copious and timely alcohol…at least upstairs anyway.

 

 

Reds Wine Tavern on Urbanspoon

Review:Toronto:Downtown:Richmond Station

Richmond Station posts the following message on their urbanspoon page: “Richmond Station is a stopping place, a bustling neighbourhood restaurant in the downtown core. We are committed to delicious food and excellent hospitality.” A simple message but one forgotten by many eateries in the area.

Upon arriving for my reservation, I was brought to a table with a great view of the open kitchen. Unlike some other restaurants which boast retro soda coolers or toque-wearing moose heads, the decor is a simple white tile, black accents  and classy hardwood tables. I was impressed with the layout of the chef’s table which seats about 8 people.   The wait staff were equally as classy, dressed in black.  Even the chefs were traditionally dressed, donning crisp whites and black aprons.

Richmond’s open kitchen with chef’s rail.

The hostess was very friendly, sat me quickly, provided a menu and I ordered a fantastic modernized version of a whisky old-fashioned cocktail at her recommendation. The waiter arrived  shortly after and immediately asked me my name which he used for the remainder of the night.  His service was impeccable, making menu recommendations while confidently explaining the restaurants concepts and philosophies. He seemed by my side all night, filling my water glass repeatedly and often explaining the station’s journey to date.

Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Excellent hospitality…check.

Now the food.

Must

The featured New Brunswick oysters were fresh and shucked without a flaw. The presentation was like a visual aphrodisiac, served on a bed of ice  with fresh horseradish and house made condiments  including a tangy mignonette, fresh marinara and spicy hot sauce.  I witnessed a definite devotion to “excellent hospitality” from the kitchen when the lady beside me still received all of the accompaniments when ordering a single oyster. At $3.5 each, there may be a temptation to break the bank of these tasty critters even before tackling the main menu.

Oysters with condiments

I received a lesson in  what a real lobster bisque is supposed to taste like.  Ignoring the trend to call any soup a bisque because it sounds better, Carl Heinrich’s team reverts to old school French methods, producing a thin but flavourful broth emulsified with  classic ingredients such as cream and seasoned with tarragon.  The result was a marriage of tantalizing flavours and although it did start to separate a bit toward the end, most will easily consume the majority beforehand.

“Real” Lobster Bisque

Keep an eye on the blackboard.  On this night there was a duck breast served on a braised duck leg.  The shredded leg was thoroughly cooked but still tender while the breast was sliced a perfect medium rare.  Both cuts were graced with a flavourful sauce and served with some vibrant greens.  This dish may answer the old question..am I a breast man or a leg man?  Based on this dish, my answer is both. Then again, maybe it’s the oysters talking.

Duck Two-ways

Maybe

Also on the blackboard was a 6 oz beef offering for $26. Beef is usually a safe bet and Richmond Station was no exception.  The seasoned beef had a beautiful sear and was sliced medium rare but was difficult to see amidst the jungle of greens covering the perfectly cooked steak.  The meat itself had a fantastic flavour but I wasn’t  fond of the bed of overly buttered chopped brussel sprouts which laid the foundation for the beef,  which just made the already rich tasting beef taste even richer.

Beef Special (see blackboard)

Mundane

The regular menu features a starter section highlighted by a $13 lobster cocktail.  Lose any premonition of a tall glass overflowing with fresh, chunky lobster.  Instead, expect a more measly presentation of 4 deep-fried lobster pieces served on a piece of lettuce with a dollop of cocktail sauce.  Sharing means you’ll only get two (or maybe three if you can mildly distract your table mate).   If you’re going to go fishing at Richmond Station, spend $14 and get 4 oysters instead of these land-battered crustaceans.

Lobster Cocktail

My Take

Richmond Station’s urbanspoon proclamation  claim holds true lead by a well-trained, courteous staff and a trendy menu with classic French influence overseen by a proven champion in Carl Heinrich (who even came out to ask how the meal was). The classic decor follows suit, characterized by a modern but bourgeois surrounding  reminiscent of the style of Candice Olson as opposed to Red Green, Bruce Wayne or Beetlejuice.  In the end, both the concept and the location create a perfect storm, appealing to celebrity chef chasers, downtown dwellers,  floating foodies and those who appreciate french inspired food without the confines of  bistros adorning white table linen and equally stuffy service.   I’ll come by again when they open for lunch, but for now I don’t mind this train stop along my voyage in search of culinary pearls.

Richmond Station on Urbanspoon