Thursday, February 6, 2014

Azure Restaurant & Bar (2013 Winterlicious)

What? Where did the time go? It seemed like just yesterday that I had my Summerlicious dinner at Azure Restaurant & Bar. Is it just me or do you also believe that the rate at which time passes becomes faster as one ages? It's really the only logical explanation! However, this theory seems to be flawed 'cause when I look back at my Summerlicious post it feels so long ago - summer itself seems so bloody long ago. It was July at the time and it was still bright out at 7pm...and get this guys: it was actually hot outside. HOT. OUTSIDE. Do you even remember how that feels like? Because with the ice storm, the polar vortex and all this damn snow I kid you not but I'm forgetting how it feels like to sweat.

*I apologize for the rant. I just came back from shoveling the driveway*

Meh, I guess what I really want to say is this: It's Winterlicious time again (Twitter: @LiciousTO, Facebook: LiciousTO)! From January 31 to February 13, foodies can explore and enjoy 3-course prix-fixe meals at over 200 restaurants in the city. It's a great opportunity to discover diverse cuisine in a variety of local restaurants (especially if you're on a budget!) A side note: It seems like Interac has replaced American Express as the official sponsor of Licious which means advance booking for AE card holders will no longer be available.

Anyhoo thanks to InterContinental Toronto Centre (Twitter: @ICTorontoCentre, Facebook: InterContinental Toronto Centre) I was once again invited to have dinner at Azure (#winterliciousatazure). If you're looking for photos of the restaurant please visit my Summerlicious post because I only took one photo this time...and it's this one:

Do you see a face? So cute, right?! This was the actual view from my seat; I couldn't help looking at "the face" from time to time and then catch myself smiling! Oh such simple pleasures (I'm such a dork).

One of the best things at Azure is their bread basket! I want it all but MUST RESIST.

For WinterliciousAzure is featuring a 3-course lunch at $25 and a 3-course dinner at $45 (you can view their Winterlicious menu here). Their 3-course dinner for two people looks something like this:

Mint yogurt, candied pecans, Ontario beets, crostini
If I wasn't made aware that the salmon was cured with maple whisky I wouldn't have picked up on the subtle flavour. I liked the mint yogurt in this dish; the fresh, peppermint flavour of the mint and the sourness of the yogurt worked really well with the salmon and beets. 

Roasted pears, double smoked bacon
(Photo was taken after a dust of pepper)
Rich and creamy, this bisque was really good. I was able to taste all the components in it; the parsnip, the roasted pears and the smokiness of the bacon.

Navy bean purée, pistachios, roasted cipollini, arugula, chive oil
I've been having some not-so-good experiences with overcooked fish lately but since I'm all about living life on the edge (ha!) I gave the arctic char a chance... and what do ya know! It paid off! The arctic char was incredibly moist. Although the skin could have been a tad crispier the dish was still very well executed - every component on the plate complemented one another beautifully.

Potato gnocchi, root vegetables, kale, gremolata
My photo doesn't do this dish justice because this hunk of veal shank was in fact really huge! Because it soaked in all the wonderful essence from the broth and vegetables, the braised veal was not only fall-off-the-bone tender it was also incredibly flavourful. There was a lot of "sauce" in the semi-hollow marrow which was neat (we dipped the meat in it). Together with the bed of potato gnocchi and kale this osso bucco will definitely fill you up.

Calvados sour cream, praline crust
This was such a tasty dessert...wish I ordered two! The combination of sweet caramel, the sour cream and the tartness of the cheesecake itself all in one bite was absolutely delightful.

Almond wafer, vanilla ice cream
I didn't enjoy this as much as the apple caramel cheesecake. It didn't have the richness that I look for in a chocolate cake (i.e. it wasn't "decadent" enough..if that makes any sense) 

I want to give a shout-out to our server, William. He is the most attentive, nicest and friendliest server I've had in recent memory. He made our dinner at Azure so pleasant. Thank you, William.

If you're on Twitter, make sure you tweet your meal review during Winterlicious with the hashtag #InteracFoodCritic for a chance to win one of 15 daily draws of $200, delivered through Interac e-Transfer.® More details here.

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

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