Friday, January 31, 2014

The Senator: Toronto's Oldest Restaurant

When it comes to food options there is really not much "personality" or "character" happening in the Yonge & Dundas area. Most restaurants at or within walking distance from Dundas Square / Eaton Centre are large chains - Joey's, Hard Rock Cafe, Milestone's, Johnny Rockets, Spring Rolls, The Pickle Barrel, Baton Rouge, etc. Next time you find yourself in the vicinity I highly encourage you to take a very short walk (three minutes from the Eaton Centre at most) to 249 Victoria Street because tucked away and hidden in the shadows of all those corporate giants you will find the Senator, the city's oldest restaurant (Twitter: @TheSenatorTO, Facebook: The Senator).

The Senator is Toronto’s oldest restaurant, dating back to 1929 when it was just a house at the very same address. Since then it has became a Toronto landmark under the guidance of Bobby Sniderman. Bobby purchased the Senator in 1984 after a successful run at Sam the Record Man.

The restaurant is focused on using locally sourced ingredients as much as possible (i.e. beef from Cumbrae’s Farms and organic milk from Sheldon Creek Dairy). They also have a commitment to only use organic wherever possible. The Senator makes their own fresh-squeezed orange juice, stocks, sauces, and batters.

By the way it's funny how new restaurants these days strive for the retro / diner look while the Senator achieves this effortlessly. Love it!

I dropped by the Senator this week to check out their new dinner menu. Inspired by old world dishes, Senator classics alongside modern technique, chef Andrew Taylor (formerly of Langdon Hall, Sequoia Grove) revamped the restaurant's dinner menu for a whole new look.

To start, I ordered a negroni (on the left). In no way am I complaining but this negroni is probably the largest negroni I've ever had (they weren't kidding about the "tall" part). On the right is some non-alcoholic juice my friend Julia ordered.

Gin, Compari, Sweet Vermouth, Lemon, Tonic

We each ordered the Senator's $32 dollar prix fixe. Since all their appetizers and desserts are priced at $8 and mains at $18  (with the exception of their burger which is priced at $15), I guess any three course meal at the Senator will be $32.

Citrus remoulade and a sesame seedling salad

Apple cider pumpkin seed vinaigrette and pomegranate

Mashed Yukon gold, quince and cran compote

Hand cut fries, sauteed onions, tomato and lettuce



Julia and I were more than satisfied with our $32 three-course dinner at the Senator. Great value, quality ingredients and generous portion size...what more can you ask for? Especially in the heart of Toronto's shopping district? My favourites that evening were the Maryland crab cakes, the Cumbrae beef burger and the chocolate brownie sundae. Although not the prettiest of plates the crab cakes, with a crispy outer crust, were delicate and not too packed nor dense. The tangy remoulade went really well with it. My burger, cooked medium, was thick, juicy and really tasty...the side of fries were also dangerously addictive. Julia was very happy with her entree as well; just looking at those succulent pieces of duck breasts makes me drool. Despite it being slightly more moist in the middle, the sticky toffee pudding was unfortunately on the dry side (it could also be a lot more "sticky" with more toffee). The chocolate brownie sundae with chunks of moist, decadent brownie underneath those three huge scoops of vanilla ice cream was so simple yet so good. 

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

Senator Restaurant on Urbanspoon