Azure Winterlicious Part 1
DISCLAIMER: This meal was provided free of charge to promote Azure's Winterlicious menu.
Nelson: Back here at this prime location, but this time for Winterlicious ($45). I really like how you can get free valet parking if you eat at the restaurant, because parking in this area of town is prime. The visual appeal of this location under a glass canopy right along Front is always impressive.
We started with cocktails. On the left is green tea martini with chilled green tea, absolute mandarin vodka, elderflower liqueur and agave syrup ($13). I didn't try any, but Kitty tells me the mandarin orange flavour was stronger than the green tea flavour overall. I had the Congnac Ice Tea with chilled black tea, Hennessey vsop, cassis, chambord and fresh lemon. It's a nice touch to have a real raspberry and blackberry on top as chambord is made from raspberries.
The bread service included bread sticks and a really nice white bun. Both were good on their own, but made even better with the garlic butter.
For the appetizer, I had the dried cranberry and apple salad with brie cheese, honeycomb, almonds, baby greens and sherry vinaigrette. The Brie was one of the hardest Brie cheeses I have ever had, but that isn't a bad thing. The honey that is drizzled on top of it really makes the taste pop. I have found yet another great combination to go with honey. The dressing was nice and light, the way I like my salad dressings. Overall great presentation and great taste.
Kitty had the maple whisky cured organic salmon with mint yogurt, candied pecans, Ontario beets and crostini. I found the salmon a little plain and not as strong tasting as I would expect a wild salmon to be, but perhaps it was partly the preparation. It wasn't too salty and a bit sweeter so it was nice that it was different in that respect. The sauce was good and lent some pleasant flavour to the whole dish to tie it together. But surprisingly the best part of the dish were the mini beets. They tasted more like potato than beets and were absolutely delicious.
Kitty had the pomegranate glazed artic char with navy bean puree, pistachios, roasted cipollini, arugula and chive oil. I was surprised that the fish was so similar to salmon, but apparently it is a freshwater fish closely related to salmon and lake trout with characteristics of both. The fish didn't really stand out in any way though. The cipollini, which is a type of onion was just a tad strong/raw, but it did stand out in dish.
I had the Ontario grain fed veal osso bucco with potato gnocchi, root vegetables, kale and gremolata. The veal meat around the bone wasn't as tender as I was hoping, but the bone marrow was excellent. Bone marrow is hard to describe, because by all appearances it looks like fat, but the taste is somewhere between fat and tendon with a very strong meaty taste to it. I love it. The potato gnocchi are so good that I could eat a whole dish featuring it. The gremolata, which is a meat condiment made from parsley, lemon zest and garlic is a traditional accompaniment to this dish and went really well with it. It reminds me of a Argentinian chimichurri, but I like this version way better. Perhaps it is not as strong, or has flavours that I like better, but maybe someday I can do a side by side taste test to determine the exact differences.
This is the banana walnut ice cream with house made biscotti and rum toffee sauce. I didn't have high expectations for this as banana ice creams can be mediocre, but this was absolutely delicious, defying my preconceived taste expectations. Maybe the rum toffee sauce made it taste that much better, but the banana and walnut were the strongest flavour components and were what made this dessert delicious.
The cafe mocha chocolate cake with almond wafer and vanilla ice cream did not stand out as much. The chocolate cake was as expected and had a hint of the mocha. I liked the almond wafer and vanilla ice cream and wished there were more of it.
I snuck a bite of the apple caramel cheesecake and it was delicious. The caramel was thick on top with a velvety cheesecake underneath that had an apple layer surprise. Probably the best dessert of the night.
Azure is trying to become more than just a hotel restaurant and I think they are doing a good job with the quality of the food.
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