Thursday, March 14, 2013


Last August, two of Susur Lee's sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee, opened Bent on the corner of Dundas and Markham (near Bathurst). Named after Susur's wife Brenda Bent (who designed Bent with business partner Karen Gable), the restaurant has the two sons managing the front of house while Susur (@susurlee) takes the reins in the kitchen (alongside chef de cuisine Bryan Gunness, formerly from Lee). Speaking of which, I've never been to Lee; I remember going to "Susur" once close to 10 years ago and "Madeline's" maybe twice before it closed in 2010. Yeah, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, I was thrilled about my dinner at Bent (Twitter: @BentRestaurant, Facebook: Bent Restaurant).

Lacquered wooden tables with long benches placed horizontally in a shiny, white-tiled room, Bent is quite a looker.

A very, very long sushi(?) bar.

You will find whimsical, childhood toys throughout Bent, like this mouse, for example, which I find rather creepy looking (the mirrored menu is very pretty though!) 

Sobieski, Clamato, Chili Oil, Sriracha, Coriander, Hoisin, Soya, Sesame Seed, Ginger, House Rim, Pickled Radish

Elderflower Liqueur, Hendricks, Gooseberries, Yuzu, Lemon Twist


Everything on Bent's menu is meant to be shared, and it is divided into dishes from the hot kitchen and the raw bar. 

Spicy Tuna with Avocado
Salmon with Shallots, Capers, Gherkins and Dill served with Sushi Style on a Crispy Rice Cake, Candied Nori

Shaved Red Onion, Cilantro, Crispy Shallots, Fresh Citrus Juice, Rocoto Chill Chinese Doughnut Fritter

Truffled Parsnip Puree, Fava Bean, Roasted Rosemary Duck Fat Potato, Sour Cream, Chives, Black Garlic

Filled with Pine Nuts, Ricotta Cheese and Spinach, Stewed Tomato Jam, Roasted Olive, Prosciutto, and Lemon Parsley Sauce on the Side

Five Spice Marinated Duck Breast, Confit, Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Pate, Chinese Pancake

DESSERT (complimentary)

A showcase of beautifully executed Asian fusion of East meets West, my dinner at Bent was phenomenal. 

The night started off nicely with an Asian Caesar. The cocktail was highly recommend by our server and was indeed, very good. A brilliant concoction of Asian spices and sauces with Clamato, it is currently my favourite Caesar in town (it's not always about crazy garnishes people!) The salmon and spicy tartare, on top of what resembles the base of a sushi pizza, was excellent; I was especially fond of the slight crunchiness of the rice cake against the delicate raw fish. Next up, the ceviche. Topped with crisps, cubes of fresh, meaty tuna and juicy watermelon sat on top of a pool of citrus juice...this was SO good. I used a spoon for this dish 'cause I couldn't get enough of that light, citrus juice, which gave a nice acidity to the ceviche.

The chicken breast, a new dish that night, took me by surprise. Never one to order chicken breast, or even chicken really, I thought I would give it a try (our server was also very convincing!) A visually beautiful plate of rich green and golden yellow, I was taken back at how much I enjoyed this dish. Stuffed with a medley of pine nuts, cheese and spinach, although subtle in flavour, the slight crunch from it really complemented the soft and juicy chicken breast perfectly (yes that's right, I said soft and juicy chicken breast!) I also loved the mildly spicy stewed tomato jam and the creamy lemon parsley sauce. Yum. The braised short ribs, however, was a bit of a disappointment; we liked everything on the plate but the short ribs themselves. The chive, sour cream and black garlic, along with the rich and fragrant truffled parsnip puree was absolutely wonderful, but the short ribs fell was incredibly dry. Last, but not least, the duck salad (it came last because we added it later). A play on the Peking Duck, Bent's duck salad comes with slices of perfectly cooked duck breasts, paper thin pancakes, and fresh slaw in a crispy edible basket. And as for the foie gras and chicken liver pate, you can use it however you please (you can smear some on the duck, or on the pancake, or even dip your finished wrap with it, etc). An amazingly tasty and fun dish. Oh and ironically, I'm glad we had the duck salad last; it was a nice, light finish after the two rich plates. It is pretty awesome that every table gets complimentary dessert (Bent does not have a dessert menu). I almost had to pinch myself when our server told us know...just to double check that I'm actually not at a Chinese restaurant (where free dessert is very common.) Anyway, forgive me as I don't recall the description of the dessert but we thought it was a damn good one. 

It should be obvious by now that l love the food at Bent. The overall experience though could be a lot better. For example: 

- The room was really noisy, especially when it was at full capacity
- Our table was abnormally small. With cocktails, water glasses, candle and plates of food, we had to make a conscious effort to be very careful with our movements. Getting out of my seat (I sat on one of the long benches) to go to the washroom was a mission in itself as there was barely enough room between tables for me to squeeze out (and I'm seriously not that big)
- Service! Our server was often times no where to be found, and if we do spot him he's never looking our way. We had to flag him down a couple of we do at Chinese restaurants! Also, our plates were never changed. I usually don't care about this but because our duck salad came after the short ribs and chicken, it was a bit surprising that our server didn't notice the pool of sauce on our plates. Even if our duck salad didn't come last, I think our plates should have been changed between the cold and hot dishes. We eventually had to flag our server down (which took awhile) and ask him to change them.

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