Last night we tried a Toronto half-secret: Monk Kitchen. Our friend Sue arranged it. Frankly, I’d never heard of it. It’s the restaurant inside a hotel I’d also never heard of. It was all very secret-like.
This was the menu, as best I remember it:
- shrimp in sriracha sauce on greens, paired with a Tawse Riesling
- lobster risotto with a bottle of Mas Des Bressades Tradition Blanc
- duck with carrot and parsnip, paired with an Argentinian Malbec that I didn’t see
- an intermezzo of frozen blood orange, pomegranate, and Campari
- veal with cauliflower puree, and a bottle of Ripasso which, again, I didn’t see
- a sugary cocktail with a strawberry in it
- five small desserts: pear tart, lemon tart, chocolate espresso brownie, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate mint wafer cake
Our meal was mixed. The shrimp, risotto, duck, and desserts were all very good. The veal — not my favourite meat, I must admit — was overdone, and the cauliflower puree was pretty bad. With a better main the meal might have been saved, but too many other things let us down:
- The wine pairings weren’t great — the Malbec overpowered the duck, whereas the Ripasso faded from the veal. Also, for a dinner like that, I’d expect a little more than a collection of $18 bottles I can get at the LCBO. The Mas Des Bressades was great though.
- No one replaced our cutlery after the shrimp course, so when the risotto showed up we were forkless. It took us a few minutes to flag down a server to let her know, and another few minutes for the cutlery to show up. They apologized profusely, but it’s just not something that you’d expect from a restaurant with this reputation.
- Our server was very sweet, but didn’t seem to know much about the wines…brought questionable selections for our friend who doesn’t drink red, actually called the Malbec “Merlot” when she brought it, etc.
Considering it carried the same price tag as other top-flight Toronto restaurants, the food and especially the service just didn’t match the price.
Cover photo by nevil zaveri, used under Creative Commons license