Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Stonegrill on Winchester: A Review
One of the purposes of this blog, is to share with the world my experiences with quality hospitality environments. Today I'm gonna discuss a fantastic culinary experience that I had the privilege to share with my girlfriend Lauren at "The Stonegrill on Winchester" over the weekend.
Its not often that I go to a restaurant only to be blown away by their originality, excellent service and top quality food. As we drove down Parliament street into the heart of Toronto's iconic Cabbagetown district, I was reminded slightly of why I tended to avoid this neighbourhood so much. The stretch between Queen and Gerrard is run down with no shortage of interesting characters walking about. Yet what a surprise it was to turn onto Winchester st and find a wonderful oasis of a restaurant that shone like a beacon of change for the entire area. After a quick run around the block of older residential homes we found parking easily and headed inside.
I was immediately impressed by the ambiance of the place. The lights were turned down low yet not low enough to be overtly dark. We were immediately greeted extremely pleasantly and led to our corner tables. The restaurant was well spread out and we had a direct view leading into the kitchen where we had the opportunity to send many complimentary glances the chefs way.
The emphasis at The Stonegrill in on taking your time. You order your appetizers and there is plenty of opportunity for conversation before they arrive. The quality of the appetizers was terrific as I had the Sea Scallops which came individually placed over incredible cilantro pesto in little Chinese soup spoons. Perfectly cooked with some ingenious presentation, my taste buds were practically dancing. I think I will go for the tartar the next time I'm there as I am a big fan of Sambal sauce and I don't believe I've ever had quail egg before.
The real quality of The Stonegrill doesn't set in however untill the main course. Now one could do this two ways. Take the safe route and pick from one of their excellent main course items, such as the Surf and Turf burger which Lauren had. The meat had a real homemade burger feel to it and came shaped as a nice big patty. The lobster meat was a garnish on the burger and combined with the guacamole, was just phenomenal. Despite only having a taste, I could have easily gone for more. For the real meat lovers however, The Stonegrill has a selection of fine cut meats ranging from 10 oz AAA certified Angus beef to more obscure choices like swordfish and ostrich. These come out raw sitting on top of a volcanic stone that is heated to 750 degrees. The meat then cooks right in front of you playing havoc with your senses until you decide it is done. I like mine medium and 8 minutes of cook time had the most perfect juicy steak ready to eat with just a seasoning of rock salt so the true quality of the meat comes out. Pure heaven.
Finally you can't have a solid meal without a shot at dessert and my creme brule was very well prepared with a hint of orange jam and cream on the side. Just a superb roundup to a great meal.
Cabbagetown has taken its fair share of stick in recent times, but it seems that efforts are underway to boost the image of this landmark Toronto area. The Stonegrill on Winchester is leading this charge from the front, bringing some quality food and class back to an area that richly deserves it.