Sunday, February 08, 2015

Toronto's LUMA is lovely for late night or anytime...(2-7-15)

Last night my marathon of Die Walkure at the opera ended just after 9pm, so I headed several blocks from the Performing Arts Center to LUMA ( which as you can see from the website is part of the large empire of Chef Oliver Bonacini, a well known and successful entrepreneur in the food biz up here. LUMA is on the second floor of a movie theater complex and it has the window space over the street so while I sat, I had a great view of the CN Tower and its awesome nightly light "show."  Behind me on the other side is an open kitchen and the dining room is one large (and hence quite noisy space) with a large bar and lounge at the other end. The wall that separates the spaces has a great display of neat wooden plates. The fact that I was surrounded by two groups of loudly cackling women, made it worse, one woman was extremely loud, vulgar and bothersome; all the staff sighed when she departed.

My server Stephen was a gem and very helpful. There is a $35 three course Winterlicious deal that runs for a couple of weeks here like our own Restaurant Week back home. I saw some items on the a la carte menu I preferred, to which Stephen said "no problem." I perused the wine list and searched out some of the wines I had seen earlier in the day while shopping at the huge liquor store nearby for treats to take home from Canada and settled on a bottle of Norman Hardie "County" Unfiltered Chardonnay 2012 from Prince Edward County in Ontario (Niagara region). It was evident that Ontario has some of the best and largest limestone for wineries and the wine was full of flavors from that stone and the fruit; a chardonnay that is very French, yet very Canadian-no oak or butter, but superb. It was great with both my courses.

I started with the Smoked Klondike Potato Soup with Flaked Haddock, Braised Leeks and Tobiko. The rich warm soup had no cream, but was thick and tasty after walking the 10minutes in the strong snowfall. The flavor from the haddock and tobiko a fun burst.

There were delicious warm sourdough rolls with lemony-garlicky hummus.

Next came Seared Scallops (from eastern Canada) with Curried Cauliflower Puree, Kamet Cashew Pilaf with cashew pieces & Raisin Jus with marinated raisins and Cider Reduction.

There were four HUGE scallops on the plate seared to a crunchy top perfection and perfectly pink inside. The Kamet pilaf was new to me and akin to Kasha or barley and quite filling as well, so this is not a light dish at all. The puree was creamy and rich and each scallop sat on a wilted spinach leaf for texture which I loved. The cashew reminded me of the chef's crunch signature from the night before at George. Coriander Cress (we call that cilantro) was on top. The dish was a masterpiece of various flavors and I was so thrilled to enjoy it from off the set menu (even though there were nice choices there) as I really wanted fish for dinner.

Dessert was a cheese plate of 3 Canadian cheeses:

Le Mont Jacob from Jonquiere, Quebec was a semi-pasturized cow that was the least exciting but improved with a dribble of the honey that came with the dish.

Goat Cheddar from Lindsay, Ontario made in an English clothbound style was a nutty crunchy cheese with creamy intense flavor that I adored.

Bleu d'Elizabeth from Ste-Elizabeth de Warwick, Quebec was a superb crumbly organic semi-soft blue that I could easily have eaten more with.

I had ordered a glass of Cave Spring Riesling IceWine and when I drank the glass that arrived it was nit that sweet. It turned out Stephen had brought me the less intense Cave Spring Late Harvest Indian Summer Riesling, which was fine. After I realized the error he brought me a small glass of the much more expensive IceWine which was awesome and so sweet and perfect after everything--and he didn't charge me for that! I am so happy I have a bottle of the wine to bring home and cellar and enjoy again in 10 years or more!