Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sassafraz (Summerlicious 2012)

Our first Summerlicious pick for 2012 was lunch at Sassafraz. Now, Sassafraz is by far one of the prettiest restaurants (How can it NOT be? It's located in the heart of Yorkville!!) I've been to for Summerlicious. But their food served for the Summerlicious menu can only be summed up in one word: underwhelming




SASSAFRAZ
Where: 100 Cumberland Street
Toronto, ON
M5R 1A6
Price: $25 for Summerlicious Lunch

The interior of Sassafraz is gorgeous. Light, airy and so classic.



Part of the restaurant was under a skylit window!

The skylight

There's also a wall with plants lining it and a waterfall

This is the other side of the restaurant. More for casual diners who are NOT there for the 'licious menu

Our table setting


Summerlicious Menu 2012
Complimentary bread and butter

Started off the meal with some bread and butter. The bread was still hot - which is a good sign. Warm bread is fresh bread. This bread was tasty too - slightly salty, lusciously soft and warm enough that it caused the butter to melt on the surface. Mmmmm..

Vichyssoise with lobster and truffle essence
Our starters! For those who don't know, vichyssoise is thick soup make of pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold.

Usually J and I try to get different dishes so we can try more but we both decided on getting this one just because the other dishese didn't seem as appetizing.. Thank goodness, this was definitely the winner of the meal! Sassafraz's vichyssoise is usually on the menu every year, so we were persuaded into getting it. Their vichyssoise was refreshing. The lobster meat tasted very fresh (rich with that awesome lobster taste) and the truffle oil was minimal (for obvious reasons) but prominent.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon
with lemon caper orzo, green beans and blood orange emulsion
The presentation was VERY underwhelming. We eat with our eyes and when you first see something like this - it just looks.. well. boring! BUT...this was pretty good - the salmon was moist and very fresh. The orzo was cooked al-dente and so refreshing from the lemon and capers. Complimented each other perfectly.Very good dish in general! On the other hand.. J's chicken.....

Roasted Chicken Breast
with double smoked bacon and red onion quinoa
braised leeks and natural reduction
This was the roasted chicken breast - again, very disappointing presentation and the taste did not make up for it either. While the skin of the chicken was cooked to a crispy perfection, the meat itself was disgustingly dry. Dry to the point where the meat was almost the same texture of eraser shavings..

The quinoa was very good, although J is found out right then and there that he was NOT a fan of quinoa. He ended up eating my orzo and I, his quinoa  (which I found delicious!)

SO. DRY.
It got to the point where J had to take sips of water just to chase down the chicken. It was like eating cardboard...

The chicken was absolutely AWFUL. For a place as upscale as Sassafraz, we were really expecting them not to mess up something so simple. It was almost inedible.

Banana cream tart, toasted coconut mousse and mango sherbet
Again. Note the too-simple presentation. Lack of real excitement at all, really...

Inside the banana tart
The banana tart was actually quite good - the banana was rich in flavour and coconut was very prominent. Absolutely delicious! The mango sherbet was also very refreshing and vividly flavoured with mangoes.
Gotham City cheese with flatbread and assorted dried fruits
J's dessert was the Gotham City cheese paired with flatbread and assorted dried fruits. It was as underwhelimg as it looks. The most exciting pairing on this dish was probably the dried cherries which were intensely flavoured to match the strong taste of the cheese.

Needless to say, we were slightly disappointed with Sassafraz. We had heard so many good things about it but we weren't WOW-ed. The dry chicken really set us on a sour note and a negative perception of the place. Perhaps we chose the wrong dishes or their chefs were having an off day. Either way, we did not find Sassafraz as enjoyable as we were hoping.. :(

Our bill came to $32/per person in the end (tax+tip included). As such, you really are paying for the ambiance of the restaurant more than the food.

I have heard that Sassafraz has an amazing dinner menu (in comparison to their lunch) and is much better in terms of quality. That is inexcusable, with the reputation it has, I do believe that both it's lunch AND dinner should be up to par!

For the 2012 Summerlicious menu for Sassafraz, click HERE


Sassafraz on Urbanspoon