Follow Me Foodie to Buick Encore’s Culinary Adventure!
A “Taste of Toronto” at Top Chef Canada Finalist David Chrystian’s Victor Restaurant + Lounge at Hotel Le Germain.
My Follow Me Foodie to Toronto adventure started off with my Buick Encore Culinary Getaway. My first meal was at Victor Restaurant where I tried Top Chef Canada 2012 finalist David Chrystian’s Toronto Tasting Menu. The next morning we took a road trip up to Muskoka, but of course before the drive we had to have lunch. Since we were staying at Hotel Le Germain, lunch was hosted at Victor Restaurant once again. Chef David prepared a special themed menu for the Buick Encore Culinary experience, and it was a great kick off to the next destination.
Since I had tried his food the night before I had an idea of what to expect, but his style and menu were quite unpredictable, so I was prepared to be surprised. Also, he happened to be on his day off the night before which may have made a difference in what I tried, so I was looking forward to his cooking and personal touch.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I tend to like to explore new restaurants when I travel, but I was pleased to have the opportunity to try Victor Restaurant twice. The different menus gave me a better idea of his capabilities and culinary vision.
Restaurant: Victor Restauarnt + Bar
Cuisine: International/European/Modern American
Last Visited: January 25, 2013
Location: Toronto, ON (Entertainment District)
Address: 30 Mercer Street (Inside Hotel Le Germain)
Transit: King St West at Peter St
Phone: (416) 345-9500
Price Range: $30-50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Executive Chef David Chrystian
- International menu
- “Toronto Tasting Menu”
- Global ingredients
- Vegetarian options
- Wine list
- Cocktail/bar area
- Open daily from 5pm to 12am
See my experience in the main dining room ordering from the regular menu here.
Photo from Toronto Life
For lunch we were hosted in their private dining room which was recently redesigned. Just like his Toronto Tasting Menu, his Buick Encore Culinary Menu was created with a lot of imagination and deep thought. He puts admirable effort into creating menus that give customers personal dining experiences that are still representable of him. Looking back at his dishes I am able to appreciate them more. In the moment it was a bit challenging for me to understand his intentions, but after discovering Toronto’s neighbourhoods and food scene I understood much better.
This menu was almost an edible translation of our Buick Encore culinary itinerary. The courses actually foreshadowed the series of events to come which I found very smart and well played. If you didn’t make the connection than the menu came off as random, but chef put a lot of effort in everything he cooked and made. This characteristic was consistent in all his menus and dishes even if his objective got lost in translation at times.
I actually enjoyed this meal more so than the Toronto Tasting Menu the night before, although there were highlights from dinner I would recommend. It’s a very unique restaurant and chef’s method of approach to food and menu conceptualization are one of a kind. Although this menu was custom designed, it showed the flexibility of Victor Restaurant and creative mind of Chef David.
Added note: Since this was a one time menu, I won’t go into as much detail.
On the table:
- They forgot to serve it when I had dinner here, but I got to try it the next day at lunch.
- It was a pretty standard and good baguette with a thin and crisp exterior and a moist chewy centre.
- I’m not sure if it is usually served warm because it was already on the table upon arrival.
- With fried sunchokes, brussels sprouts and cream cheese
- It was a creamy tomato bisque seasoned with his own “Toronto spice” which had flavours of cumin, cardamom, black pepper, and paprika.
- The spices tastes Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican which is no surprise since Toronto is so multicultural.
- The soup had flavour without relying on the spice and I liked the texture of crispy sunchokes.
- It was very French in style with the cream cheese quenelle which was supposed to melt into the soup, but the soup wasn’t quite hot enough to melt it.
- It was finished with a drizzle of olive oil and overall it was a memorable tomato soup that I enjoyed very much.
- Chicken tagine, dried fruits, mint puree, olives, sumac and crackling
- This dish brought me back to memories of Grant Achatz’s “Squab” course he served at Alinea inspired by Miró’s painting Still Life with Old Shoe.
- Chef David explained that this course was inspired by the “Group of Seven” who were a group of Canadian landscape painters from the 1920’s-30’s.
- At first I thought it was a bit random, but it all made sense when we ended up taking a coffee break at the “Group of Seven” Art Gallery on the road trip up to Muskoka.
- The chicken tagine was deconstructed and the chicken was treated as the blank canvas.
- My favourite part was the chicken leg confit underneath the slice of chicken breast.
- The dried fruits and sauces were the condiments or colour palates to “paint” the chicken. That’s how I saw it at least.
- The condiments also included cous cous, candied Indian fennel seeds, carrot purée, nutty rye breadcrumbs, and capers.
- There were sweet, salty, and tangy components and various textures and I found it a fun dish.
- Pan seared white fish with house sauerkraut, bacon, pickled asparagus and wild rice
- I didn’t get to do any ice fishing, but I did end up in Muskoka! See my post here.
- I’m not sure if the bacon was supposed to be a bridge from land to sea, or if it was supposed to be a fishing rod?
- Chef has such a creative spirit that I don’t think you can ever look too far into his food because he has probably looked further than you.
- I definitely noticed the pickled asparagus and house sauerkraut again and his love for pickling and fermentation is quite obvious with each dish.
- There was also a butter foam served with the fish, but it lost its body and was on the watery side, so overall it wasn’t my favourite.
- This was probably my favourite course as simple as it was.
- It actually tasted like the Tiramisu I’ve had from Italian mothers before.
- It was heavier with the mascarpone layer than the lady fingers and I could actually taste the mascarpone cheese.
- The lady fingers were nicely soaked and not too boozy with rum or heavy with espresso, or masked by chocolate.
- Overall I really loved it and they even whipped the mascarpone cream with vanilla bean seeds to give it more flavour.