For my first visit to the Four Seasons in Yorkville a couple months ago I had cocktails and food at D|Bar, which is the the hotel’s lower level lounge and bar. I was there on a Monday night and found the place jam packed! There was a DJ playing music (at a very tolerable level so I could hear the person I was speaking with which was a huge bonus), and a special that night which was a glass of wine and charcuterie platter for $30. I actually got to meet the hotel’s charcuterie expert who handles all of the meat curing for the restaurant which was pretty impressive.
This visit to D|Bar prompted me to try the restaurant upstairs – Cafe Boulud. I am by no means a food critic, but I am going to attempt to explain to you what I ate, and how much I enjoyed it!
The restaurant itself is actually much more comfortable than I anticipated. At some of the other high end hotels in Toronto I’ve found that the restaurants tend to feel like you are eating in a hotel. Of course you ARE eating in a hotel, but when you are having dinner its good to feel like you are enjoying the ambiance the restaurant should have to offer. Although Cafe Boulud is a very spacious restaurant, it felt like our table was very cozy surrounded by banquet seating that lined the room. It may have helped that it was a very busy night! The restaurant has a loft design so the music from the bar below spilled into the restaurant.
Without planning it we visited the restaurant on the last night of Winterlicious, so we decided to give the limited offer menu a try.
I started with the Venison Pâté, which included gin jelly, pickled young juniper and country bread. After my experience at D|Bar I knew that I would enjoy this appetizer. It was presented in a very interesting way, but every bite of the venison was paired perfectly with jelly and picked juniper.
My partner in crime had the Smoked Haddock Chowder which was made with cured pork belly, haddock salad, celery and a potato crisp. I had to try this because the smell was amazing. I actually ended up eating half of this soup which had a bit of a kick to it.
Next up I tried the Celeriac Agnolotti, made with brown butter, apple compote and celery emulsion. I tried this based on the opinion of our server who said this vegetarian option was one of his favourites. I was pretty worried about this dish because it truly sounded like something I had never tried before. It ended up being the best pasta I have ever had! I think it was the brown butter that really had me sold, but I truly loved every bite and ate it embarrassingly quickly (which my date was quick to point out). I am a meat lover so I was worried a vegetarian option wouldn’t be what I wanted, but it’s been a week and a half since I had this pasta and I’m still craving it!
The Braised Beef Shin was cooked to perfection. It was falling of the bone, but unfortunately my date only gave me the opening bite and suddenly he realized he had eaten it all without offering me another taste. His performance almost had me fooled, but I’m pretty sure he just wanted to save it all for himself. His mock horror at not offering me another bite seemed a little suspect.
The finale to this dinner for myself was the Caramelized Pear Sundae with anise tuile, caramel sauce and calvados ice cream.
I also tried some of the Coffee and Cardamom Sundae with espresso gelato, chocolate sablé, and cardamom foam. I am not a huge coffee fan so I only had a couple bites of this, but for me the coffee flavour was not too overwhelming which was perfect.
The portions for this dinner were much larger than I expected. By the time I finished my dinner I wasn’t sure I would have room for dessert. Dessert ended up being huge, and I couldn’t even finish it!
Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu which was great because since most of it was French, and I needed a bit of translation assistance! He had tried everything on the menu which was very helpful in assisting me choose what I wanted for dinner. I hate it when you ask the server what their recommendations are, and they make all kinds of excuses as to why they don’t have a favourite or haven’t had time to try the menu. Our server knew the Winterlicious and regular menu inside and out. He also had some great wine recommendations as well to pair with our dinner.
Overall we loved our dinner and would be happy to return to try more of the menu. Valet parking is only $15 when you eat or drink at D|Bar or Cafe Boulud, which is the best rate I’ve seen in Yorkville for valet. Our car was ready and warm by the time we went downstairs for the restaurant, and overall everything was very easy. Our reservation had us sit down for dinner without even a short wait, dinner was amazing and the service was perfectly timed, and after paying and grabbing our coats we walked straight out to our awaiting car. The menu prices are definitely higher-end, but the Winterlicous option was a great way to sample the menu while leaving more in our wallets at the end of the night.
Cafe Boulud, Four Seasons Hotel, 60 Yorkville Ave., Toronto