DISCLAIMER: This meal was provided free of charge to promote Azure's new renovations and menu
Nelson @ InterContinental Hotel: On Front Street, this restaurant is located at such a prime spot and they take advantage of this by situating the restaurant under a glass canopy. Neat environment for sure. The only downside of such a good location is parking, but they provide free valet parking to customers eating here. Something to consider next time you need to drive downtown and also looking for a meal.
I arrived a little late because of the JT/Jay-z concert clogging traffic in the downtown core, but Kitty tells me the chef came out and explained the restaurant and menu. It is a Mediterranean themed restaurant with a focus on fresh Canadian ingredients. We were here for the Summerlicious menu ($45) and although I'm usually not a big fan of Summerlicious because it can misrepresent a restaurant I don't think that's the case here.
First the bread service had four different types of breads too choose from. I liked that the sesame/poppy seed flat bread was not too salty. Kitty really liked the bread sticks.
The breads really shone when paired with the delicious garlic and herb butter. Personally I thought it tasted like a truffled butter, but they don't have that here. It was good though and I liked it.
Our waiter Joshua was really nice and a great server. This is exemplified by him making his own made up drink for us pictured on the left. He had a few names for it, but what it tasted like was a strawberry chocolate milk. It was incredibly good and mixed so well it didn't taste like there was any alcohol. Very dangerous. A really spectacular drink that I haven't encountered elsewhere.
I had a Pineapple Berry with Malibu rum, sourpuss raspberry and pineapple juice ($12). It was refreshing with fresh fruit in the drink.
East Coast Crab Cake: lemon and dill remoulade and summer fruit salsa. This really tasted of crab and not too heavily flavoured with other ingredients to mask the natural flavours.
There was quite a bit of real crab inside, so much so that there was even a tiny bit cartilage. I really liked how the outer shell was fried nicely and held everything together. Good starter.
I had the Market Greens and Blue Benedictine Cheese with pickled shallots, bartlett pear, candied walnuts and sherry vinaigrette. The blue cheese was really good in this salad and stood out from the rest of the interesting ingredients such as the plainer pear and walnut. A good salad that was also presented nicely.
Kitty had the Pacific Organic Salmon with orange and shaved fennel slaw, raisins, pistachio, asparagus and Pernod tomato puree. The salmon was incredible as the natural salmon taste really shown through. I wasn't a big fan of the veggies personally as I can only have fennel in smaller doses. The sauce tasted really unique and different but I wasn't a big fan of it. I later looked up Pernod and found out that it is a anise flavoured liqueur. Along with the fennel it was a double dose and while I don't mind anise I can't eat too much of it. Excellent salmon though.
I had the Canadian Farmed Beef Strip Loin with rosemary and garlic potato puree, baby vegetables, chard and port jus. The strip loin had a nice amount of fat to it making it absolutely tender and the outer crust was cooked to perfection. The outer crust was salty and full of the wonderful Maillard reaction infused flavour. Otherwise, the jus had a strong flavour to it that was fruity in nature. The veggies and potato were nicely buttery. The main attraction here is definitely the delicious steak.
For dessert we had the Ice-Wine Strawberry Panna Cotta with fig compote and carmel tuile. I liked the panna cotta because it wasn't too sweet had a more subtle vanilla-like flavour. The gelatin on top was heavily strawberry flavoured and the fig compote was almost too strongly flavoured compared to everything else. The caramel tuile was really, really delicious.
Lastly we had the Bailey's Chocolate Torte with vanilla mousse and summer berry compote. It was very smooth and chocolaty, but I really liked the raspberry/blueberry compote and thought it went really well with the torte. Yum!
So overall a good experience here with a great location/environment and friendly & attentive service. Although the food wasn't too unique (maybe that is because of Summerlicious), it was definitely well executed with some interesting details. Now that I know about it, I would visit again. Thanks for inviting me Azure!
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