Wednesday, February 16, 2011

La Maquette (Winterlicious)

Believe me when I tell you that I was not thrilled at all about going to La Maquette for lunch. It was a work lunch so it wasn't up to me in choosing where to go (my colleagues haven't been before so they wanted to go). I've been to La Maquette several years ago for a Licious dinner and I remember the quality being really, really bad - I said that I will never go back again. I rate La Maquette as being the second worse restaurant only to Toula in terms of my bad Licious experiences (as a side note, Toula is the absolute worse restaurant of all time for me, the view there does not compensate at all for it's below average food. If you google "Toula Toronto review" and take a look at the reviews from restaurantica, urbanspoon, and yelp, you will see what I mean). I know judging a restaurant during Licious is not the best thing to do, but I can't help it if I don't want to go back. Bad memories linger!

It also doesn't help that my foodie friend, Vickie, blogged about her Winterlicious dinner at La Maquette just a few days before my lunch (read her post here). Vickie and I have pretty much the same taste in terms of what we like and not like, so reading and seeing her pics from La Maquette further dampens my enthusiasm about the restaurant (not like there was any to begin with). 

But hmmmm... let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised by my lunch at La Maquette this time around; it totally exceeded my expectations. The food was actually really good! And for $20, it was a steal. After looking at their Winterlicious menu, I noticed that their lunch and dinner menus are completely different. Maybe this explains why Vickie and I had such drastic experiences. And these days, I feel that a lot of restaurants in Toronto lack's really a hit and miss.

Anyway, here are some pics. This is the dining room on the first floor. I sat here for my Licious dinner a few years back. I do admit that La Maquette has very classy decor (I guess having a baby grand will automatically have that effect anywhere).

Staircase connecting the dining room downstairs and the atrium upstairs. Same baby grand on the left.

Other examples of classy decor: chandelier hanging above the staircase and huge gold-framed mirror on the wall. Do fake plants count too? Because there were a lot of those lol

This is their atrium. A lot of corporate lunches going on.

The other side of the atrium. 

Our table wasn't in the atrium, but rather, in a room to the side. We would've preferred the atrium for sure because of its open space.

One complaint right off the bat was the service. It took our server forever to come take our orders and it took him forever to get us our wine afterwards. It wasn't his fault per se, just that they were really understaffed. It was Friday, our room had 3 big tables, each table had at least 6 people, and only one server was in charge of the room O_o

Anyway, this is now one of my favourite white wines, Gewurztraminer. My boss really likes this wine and he orders it a lot. I don't think I have mastered how to pronounce the name yet.

Baby Spinach Salad - With crumbled Stilton and caramelized pecans in a sweet and sour dressing. Good salad, plenty of cheese (some are hidden on the other side of the plate). Not sure what the "sweet and sour dressing" was but generally no complaints.

Baked Bassa Sole - In a shallot, garlic and fennel cream sauce served with freshly steamed Baby Bok Choy and luscious beet risotto.

The sole was really buttery and soft and not dry at all, I could've easily had it with no sauce. Whatever seasoning they had on it was great, and the cream sauce had a good consistency. The beet risotto was cooked al dente, and I really liked the fact that it's a beet risotto compared to your everyday risotto (the red really stood out - pretty~). Three of my colleagues ordered this and they all loved it too.

Braised New Zealand Lamb Shank - Served with roasted garlic and goat cheese mashed potatoes with broccoli, carrots and sweet peppers in a red wine reduction lamb jus. A colleague had this and wow, ginormous lamb shank here (the meaty part was on the either side). She finished it all anyway because she loved it (she orders lamb all the time). Again, I emphasize this was a $20 lunch.

Warm Apple Crumble - Pink Lady apple stuffed with oatmeal filling and drizzled with a rich butterscotch sauce. I did not expect my crumble to look like this but ♥ it! Has anybody seen a crumble served this way? Not me. The whole apple, as well as the "crumble" on the top, was warm; the crumble was exactly like how it should be...crumbly =D

Best part was the sweet oatmeal filling in the middle of the apple. I would eat a bite of this with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and some of the butterscotch sauce...all at the same time.

My colleague had the La Maquette’s Traditional Crème Caramel - Rich custard topped with a soft layer of caramel. She loved it.

Everybody at the table was very happy and satisfied with the lunch, including me. When we got back to the office, my boss immediately made a reservation at La Maquette with his clients for the week after (by the way, you get 15% off your bill if you reserve online). If this is not an indication that they love their lunch at La Maquette, I don't know what is - La Maquette has successfully got a Winterlicious customer back for a regular lunch =)

La Maquette on Urbanspoon