I celebrated Valentines Day here with the gf, and about time as I've been raving to her about a few of their standout dishes I've had here in the past.
Reservations were a must on this evening and we were seated immediately upon arrival with our coats checked. Decor is fantastic and can suit either a quiet or noisy dining experience, though this restaurant has taken upon the latter. Ambience continues to be borderline loud. I wouldn't say it's unbearable nor would you have to shout across your small table but a truly quiet evening out would be out of the question here (perhaps I am biased as I noticed they played a lot of my favourite music: Earth, Wind, Fire, Temptations, Isley Brothers). People must remember that this is not a fine dining establishment and compare it to others as such. This is most definitely a hotspot for the Downtown hip crowd therefore there are touches of ostentatiousness here and there.
We quickly picked out our dishes: the Venison Shortloin Carpaccio to start, the Congalaise, Artic Char and Lamb Tajine to share with the Pear Toffee Pudding to finish. My gf had the Blue Fig Martini while I had a bottle of Celis White. The venison was subtle and was accompanied well with the mild root vegetable julienne and chevril. The mussels are impeccable. Our Congalaise had a generous amount heat from the chilis while the lime and tomato pairing toned down the richness of the coconut milk. Copious amount good to share with 3 people. The frites on the side are not enough to sop up all the sauce - order the fresh, crusty house roll to soak up the rest. The Arctic Char was buttery smooth, and the lentil ragout was again a nice pairing, however ragout being a misnomer as the butter sauce was fairly thin. The fall-off-the-bone lamb shank was unlike anything you'd normally see done to lamb. The honey, cinammon and figs steer the lamb into a rich medley of sweet and savoury flavours, with the yogurt and African red chili pairings on the side help offset your tastebuds with a cool or hot linger. The toffee pudding could prop itself better as a finisher for our meal but was overall a nice, light offset.
Prices lean on the expensive side though the few standout dishes are worth the extra coin.
The service could step it up some to align itself with the better restaurants in town, but I'd hardly call it terrible. Service is somewhat casual though the ambience tends to call for it. Our server was polite and followed up after every dish (they sent out one dish at a time which we really appreciated).
What makes this restaurant so good are the unique pairings of ingredients you wouldn't normally find elsewhere, with a few dishes that make them memorable. To be truly above the pack refinements can be made all over though I think they're happy with how it is now. Their only flaw might be their hype.
Eminently good. Highly Recommend.