I went with three friends for dinner at Café Boulud (@CafeBouludTO) several weeks ago. Because the four of us are pretty much on the same page when it comes to what we like to eat, where we like to eat, and most importantly, how we like to eat, we all agreed that having Café Boulud's tasting menu with wine pairing was the way to go. In case you didn't know already, I absolutely adore tasting menus because I usually want to try everything.
Café Boulud is on the second floor at the Four Seasons above dbar, a bar and lounge which offers a more casual food menu (also part of the Boulud empire). Café Boulud has a very open, loft-like feel with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooks Yorkville Avenue and Bay Street.
Everything we had in our tasting menu that night can be found in Café Boulud's prix-fixe menu. Their menu is divided into four sections or "culinary muses": La Tradition (traditional French cuisine), Le Saison (seasonal delicacies), Le Potager (the vegetable garden) and Le Voyage (flavours of world cuisine).
Without further adieu, lets start with the bread basket. Café Boulud's bread basket is probably one of the most addictive bread basket I've ever had. Actually, no, let me rephrase that...it is probably the most addictive bread basket with the most addictive BUTTER I've ever had. A bit embarrassed to admit this but I think we went through three bread baskets that night (one of my friends actually continued to have bread after finishing his main course haha).
And the tasting menu begins...
Tai Snapper Ceviche - Celery vinaigrette, tapioca pearls, Persian cucumber and caviar
Vitello Tonnato - Celery, anchovy, caperberries
Lemon-Saffron Linguini - Littleneck clam, dandelion leaves, bottarga, pepperoncini
Nine Herb Agnolotti - Tomato concassee, baby artichokes, parmesan cheese and taggiasche olives
Kolapore Springs Speckled Trout - Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts fondue, hazelnuts, black currents, capers and lemon
Roasted Veal Loin - Cheeks and sweet breads casserole, oyster mushrooms, carrot confit...
with garlic-parmesan grits
Grilled Ontario Lamb Loin - Crispy belly, spiced eggplant, fregola sarda, tzatziki
Coconut-Roasted Pineapple - Lime gelee, coconut foam, banana passion fruit sorbet
Wild Cranberry Vacherin - Orange mousse, meringue, goat cheese, pecan sorbet
Chocolate Mousse Cake - Nashi pear, pomegranate pear sorbet
Cassata - Chocolate sacher, ricotta-cardamom mousse, candied fruits, coffee gelato
What an incredible tasting menu of contemporary and classic French cuisine. I cannot emphasize enough just how much we all enjoyed our dinner at Café Boulud. We each had our own favourites of course, but there was honestly nothing that we did not like, which is in my opinion, a rarity when it comes to tasting menus (note: the courses with two plates meant two people were given the same dish...we swapped after several bites so yes, I tried everything on this post).
I personally really enjoyed the vitello tonnato, an all-time classic dish. The luscious, sliced veal sitting on top of that creamy sauce (flavoured with tuna) was such a delight to eat. Both pasta dishes were wonderful but it was the linguini that made an impression. I thought the slight tang from the lemon really brought out the flavours of the clams and the bottarga (love fish roe!) The linguini was also extremely smooth to the palette and cooked just right. The medley of hazelnuts, black currents and capers with the trout really made the entire dish pop - extremely lovely components at play on the plate. Everything in the roasted veal loin course was delicious; the tender veal cheeks, sweet breads, oyster mushrooms, carrot confit and with a side of creamy grits?! Too good...that course made me happy :) What made me even more happy (deliriously happy, that is) was the moment I saw the four desserts arrive at the table. Oh. My. Goodness. Gorgeous presentation, yes? I was captivated by the sight of it all. Will you believe me if I say I liked all four desserts? Trust me, I did. We couldn't resist and also ordered a cheese plate and a cute basket of warm, spongy and fluffy madeleines (we are such pigs). Oh and before I forget, all the wine pairings were also spot on.