Who Are We? We’re BFFs whose love of stuffing our faces has taken us to the US and Europe in search of the world’s top restaurants. But recently, we decided to have some food adventures closer to home. We’re setting out to try one new (or at least new to us) Toronto restaurant every week for a year – or at least until we can no longer fit into our clothes.
And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously. As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?
This week, we hit up Montecito, the huge new restaurant opened by a famous director and a celebrated American chef.
Address: 299 Adelaide St W
Vibe: A place to see and be seen
Closest subway: St. Andrew Station
Drink menu: Specialty cocktails, wine by the glass and bottle
Service: Very attentive
First Impressions: The Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner, and we think we already know where this year's hot spot is going to be. Film director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Meatballs) has teamed up with New York-based chef Jonathan Waxman to open a sprawling, two-story, 12,000-square foot, 280-seat restaurant just behind the TIFF building. They soft-launched a couple of weeks ago and are currently working out the kinks in the downstairs dining room before opening the upstairs area.
Montecito prides itself on sourcing their meat from local farms and suppliers, who are listed prominently on their menu. This commitment is apparent on their charcuterie board, which is comprised of house-made rillettes, parfaits and terrines alongside locally sourced cured meats. The three-liver parfait was the standout here, served in a little mug and topped with a layer of clarified butter.
Frisée Salad ($13)
This wilted frisée salad looks like it was made to be Instagrammed, with its big strips of lardon (pork fat), homemade croutons, slight taste of anise and a plump poached egg resting on top.
JW Potatoes ($8)
Jonathan Waxman brings his famous roast chicken from his New York restaurant Barbuto to Montecito, but we opted to skip it in favour of other entrées. We couldn't, however, pass up his equally acclaimed potatoes, which are fried and then dusted with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and rosemary.
Next up was the seared halibut with fennel, carrots and sauce vierge. The fish was wonderfully cooked and tasted slightly floral, with crispy, flavourful skin.
Our final entrée was also our favourite. Long slices of rare Muscovy duck were served on a bed of wilted greens alongside silky grits swirled with a chocolate-y foie gras sauce.
Cherry Crostata ($10)
We moved on to dessert with this Italian baked tart, which was topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cherries were tart and delicious (though we're hoping next time there will be less pits).
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Baked Alaska ($12)
This clever nod to Reitman's most famous movie layers marshmallow and white chocolate-marshmallow ice cream with sponge cake, which is then blow-torched (though our waiter tells us they will soon be flambéing it tableside). The result is a sweet, dense treat surrounded by chocolate and marshmallow sauces.
Final Thoughts: The sprawling setting, numerous servers (seriously, we lost count of how many people attended to our table) and Italian-by-way-of-California-inspired menu are sure to attract big crowds during TIFF and beyond. With entrees such as pizza and pasta starting at just $13, you can enjoy an affordable meal while you scope out the room for famous faces.