Splendido Restaurant Review

So I went to Splendido with a friend on Saturday night and it was, in a word, fantastic! Splendido is in Toronto, on Spadina. It’s not a huge restaurant, seats about 70 people, but on a Saturday night, nearly every chair is filled and you need to call ahead to make a reservation so you won’t be disappointed. You get what you pay for friends, and Splendido is worth every penny you’ll shell out.

They’ve built a reputation on their impeccable service, knowledgeable, competent staff and the genius of Chef Victor Barry. Incidentally, the owners are opening up a new establishment, with a totally different vibe come the fall. You’ll have to watch their website for information though, because until they take possession of the new location, we can’t publicly advertize it.

Coming from a Hospitality background myself, I know the difference between a great fine dining experience and an up-jumped restaurant that likes to think it’s haute cuisine. Splendido of course is the former, a true fine dining experience. Now for the important part, what did I eat that I can recommend to you? In a word everything, but for those looking for more guidance, read on.

Each dish at Splendido is prepared with the utmost care and premium ingredients. Much thought is given to placement, portion and presentation. It’s as important that the food be as attractive as it is tasty. We had bread to open our meal – a personal favourite of mine – and one of our options was the potato bread. I could have eaten nothing but that bread all night and been happy. It was dense and moist and such a treat; most people don’t know that you can actually use potatoes to make bread. You have to try this bread! We had ordered the foie gras and frites (with a malt vinegar mayo dip – yum!) but before they came out, the chef sent out a surprise: a cold pea soup with lobster. Now I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too. Cold soup, really? I will admit, I am not a cold soup person; never met one I liked truth be told…until Saturday night. It was this velvety texture and a perfect spring green colour. The soup tasted fresh, not as in the ingredients were fresh – though they were – but if fresh were a flavour, it would taste like this spring pea soup. It was subtle, pure and refreshing.

Down east it’s quite common to dip your French fries in mayo rather than in ketchup, but I usually stick to ketchup by personal preference. However, when I go down to the lake or to a chip truck for fries, I like nothing better than to salt them up and throw lots of malt vinegar on them. They’re so good that way, and I found these frites very reminiscent of that flavour. If Splendido served lunch, I’d totally go in for an order of frites and malt mayo. The foie gras was excellent as well; very rich, served with a piece of toasted brioche. Luckily, Splendido’s portions are appropriately sized so that you can get through multiple courses (think European rather than North American).

When I was in Rome, I was spoiled by the plethora of fantastic trattorias and the easy availability of really great pasta, so naturally I’m pickier about it than anything else I could order. But knowing that my friend would not have brought me to a place with less than stellar food, I ordered the special: Truffle Tagliatelle. With four simple ingredients (pasta, parmesan, butter and shaved truffle) I was transported to my own little world for a few minutes. Even the admittedly attractive scenery (by which I mean several members of the staff and other clients) could not distract me from concentrating fully on the gorgeous ribbons of tagliatelle on my plate. If you go while they’re still offering that special, give it some consideration. I guarantee it’s a choice you won’t regret. Even my friend was making yummy noises in the direction of my plate and she can’t eat mushrooms because she’s allergic. Though her gnocchi was equally delicious.

The Splendido culture is one that appreciates its clientele and this is another thing I absolutely love to find. When you find a place where you love the food and you go back on a regular basis, you get to know their seasonal offerings and the long time staff. Consequently, they get to know you and your preferences. It’s to their advantage to make you feel welcome and give you that little something extra that shows the client, as well as the new potential clients they’ve brought with them, what your establishment offers in the way of “above and beyond”. You would think then that everyone does it, but it’s just not true in a society that puts more emphasis on speed than on the experience of eating. Making clients feel welcome and important is however a skill that Splendido has mastered. When I came in with my friend on Saturday, she was greeted by name, everyone had a genuine smile for her and I found the atmosphere very inviting as we pulled up our chairs at the bar. Incidentally, the bartender made me a superb Long Island Iced Tea, a drink that has been sadly neglected in recently years for the lazy pour of a mix instead of the lovely melding of liquors. They’re multi-functional! Not only can you eat at Splendido, but you can get married there too. Splendido has hosted at least one wedding that I am aware of, and from a PR perspective, I can vouch for it being a unique, intimate venue for your next event. Just pop onto their website and have a look around for the details. If you consider yourself a foodie, or simply enjoy a fantastic meal in a great atmosphere, you’ll definitely enjoy your Splendido experience.

And that my friends is my culinary 2¢ for today.

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~ by leslies2cents on May 30, 2011.

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