Spring Flowers and Bees

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Courthouse Market Grille

Photo courtesy of Liberty Group

I left my first candlelite dinner with a smile on my face. Mr. W and I had our dinner at the Old District area of Toronto, in one of the buildings attractive with its quaint facade, Courthouse Market Grille. I've longed to dine at this particular restaurant ever since I fell simply for how it looks. I was greeted with what I had expected, upscale and sophisticated dimmed dining room with cozy lights from candles here and there. The choice of music was by far what made everything completed itself.

Needless to say, was a price to pay for this level of accomodation. This dinner was supposed to be my 2nd Winterlicious, apparently the waitress had neglected informing me that before and after Valentine's they only offer the Valentine's prix fix menu and only start Winterlicious on the 15th up to the 18th. As I was urged with curiosity to have a fine dining for the first time, I okay-ed to go on with the Valentine's menu.

From here on, all I am going to talk about is the food as there was nothing worth mentioning about the mediocre service. Before proceeding to read, I must warn you that those who find high-class French and fusion cuisine to be something highly appreciated may find this content offensive.

The prix fix menu offers soup, appetizer, main course, and dessert. Let's disect each course one by one.

My choice was Roasted Cauliflower Puree with toasted pine nuts, cranberry relish and cilantro yogurt. While Mr. W chose Seafood Corn Chowder as I had expected. This was something new, I thought. Having sweet cranberry relish in the savoury roasted cauliflower puree really took this soup to the new level I had never experienced ever before. I was interested in this dish because it mentioned cilantro yogurt, but it didn't make a showcase appearance here. Overall, I would say this is a good exploration from usual cream soup. While Mr. W's chowder was watery and less tasty. I have no say on this one, but Mr. W definitely thought the soup was tasteless.

One of the best dish in tonight's dinner, Black Peppercorn Goat Cheese Souffle with avocado and granny smith salad and citrus and champagne marmalade. I really liked the souflle. Fluffy in texture and daring in taste. The crushed black peppercorns really provided balance to the creamy, tangy goat cheese. I really enjoyed eating the souffle with the avocado, not so much with the slices of granny smith. Instead, I enjoyed the granny smith on its own. I hardly touched the marmalade as I felt no connection with the savoury souffle. Mr. W's choice was the House Cured Atlantic Salmon with roasted beet and fennel salad, sweet corn griddle cake and watercress pesto. I had only gotten the chance to try on the cured salmon and the roasted beet, none of them match with my taste and in the end he could not bear finishing this appetizer. I'd say this dish would be much more suitable for those who are mature and experienced enough with the variety of modern French cuisine. I felt like far from experienced in terms of taste and class of food.

There was one definite choice for the entree as we both landed our choice on the Beef Tenderloin with grilled asparagus, truffled buttermilk bread pudding and blue cheese bordelaise. I asked for my steak to be medium well-done. Our entree was artfully presented just like our previous dishes and I began by having a bite on the souffle. My honest opinion, "Not bad but nothing out of the extraordinary." The same went for the asparagus and the tenderloin. To be harsh but honest, the steak had no memorable taste, meaning my impression on it was really unmatched with my high expectation. I felt like I was eating a blatant piece of
meat, nothing juicy, savoury nor even a bit tasty. On top of other thing, blue cheese became my worst nightmare. I don't know if it's just me who really have no taste for high-class food, or it really tasted like a dead stinky red ant. I believe the answer would be the former. I don't have any other way to express my disappointment other than by comparing it to other steaks I've had. In conclusion, Appleby's and Angus House's tenderloin steaks were so much better, enjoyable and memorable for its spices and condiments. Now you can tell that I have no appreciation on a nakedly grilled beef with no seasoning whatsoever.

Here we come to my favourite phase of any dinner, dessert! My choice was definitely Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse with poached mission fid, port compote and filbert wafer. To quote Mr. W, "The most decent part of our dinner..." As a lover of hazelnut, I would undecidedly love this dessert. However, the portion was way too much and left me wanting less of it at the end. How I wish I could have a smaller portion. The name itself was pretty self-explanatory and I believe you can use your imagination to picture the taste of it.

As usual, I would come up with a conclusion by the end of our full course meal which left me with a smile. Smiling as I thought how simplicity and familiarity of taste is always the best (while drooling over Pho Hoa, Pork Bone Soup, and yukimi-nabe). Not that I'm not open to new wave of food trend, but tonight's dinner was priceless for our experience but very pricy for poor tasting food that brought nothing but regret. None of the dishes did a good job on bringing pleasure in each bite, NONE. I wished I hadn't made the decision to stay and eat at somewhere we knew would be good. However, Mr. W had ensured me that it was a worthwhile experience, but I made sure I would never sacrifice that much money only for those physically attractive but tasteless foods.

My defense would be that I'm an admirer of foods that are loaded with spice, herbs, TASTE and seasonings. I can't stand anything tasteles, which is different from something that I'd describe as simple.

Pardon me for this harsh critique. I know I lack of experience in this area, but my gut said that this was not what I deserved from that high price. I there is any way that I can do to appreciate these foods, I would love to try. As you may have noticed, I am not being as excited as I was when I reviewed Boulevard Cafe. I was also upset because I couldn't take good pictures because of the dim lighting. Now I'm feeling bad for writing such a bad review on such a nice place.


Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

awwww! wish i was there

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

Great post, Ceendy!

If you didn't enjoy the food or the restaurant you have every right to say so. I've never been to the Courthouse Grille, but like you, have always wanted to try it.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Tania said...

Ceendy, I'm sorry to read that your dining experience was less than you'd hoped for!

As an avid Toronto restaurant-goer, however, I very much appreciate your honesty. The value of a good restaurant review lies precisely in it's honesty, in letting prospective diners know what you thought of it -- and that's what your review did. Unfortunately, the Courthouse isn't the only place where the food falls short of the decor and location.

I think you did an excellent job with this review! Bravo.

10:05 AM  
Blogger strawberry said...

Ivonne - Thank you for your compliment, much appreciate it.

Tania - thank you so much for thinking the same way as I did. I was quite hesitant while writing this review and afraid that many people would disagree. It's just so disappointing to have found out that their appreciation for food is not as high as their appreciation for decor. Thanks anyway! =)

11:06 AM  

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