I haven’t written up every visit that I’ve made to alo only because having been so many times, I don’t want to keep listing the same restaurants over and over. However, whenever I visit Toronto, a dinner here is a requirement for me. I will always want to sit at the Chef’s Counter, if only because it allows me to sample more of the seasonal creations that appear on the menu ( and are generally not served at a table.
The small bites start to appear as soon as you make your opening drink selection. I chose to start with one of their non-alcoholic cocktails (they do not have a non-alcoholic pairing option). It was a blend of passion fruit and green tea – perfect for a mid-summer evening.
The first snack presentation was: a pomme soufflé puff filled with yuzu crème fraiche with chives and topped with ossestra sturgeon caviar; and a pastry roll filled with a foie gras parfait and a maple bourbon gel, with ends dipped in a peanut crumble that was slightly sweet with a touch of Anaheim chilis.
The next quick bite was a Prince Edward Island oyster served raw with their own mignonette of fresh cucumbers, sea buckthorn vinegar, tarragon oil and a bit of wild peppercorns for some spiciness.
This was soon followed by Hokkaido baby white shrimp with a dashi gel and some celery. On top were dashi-poached potatoes with kombu, Sancho pepper leaves and, and pickled myoga (Japanese ginger).
Fresh Hokkaido sea scallops were featured in the next presentation. These were served with lemon verbena and corn. The wafer provided a nice crunchy texture for contrast, and the salt and sweet flavor blend was a nice touch.
The next dish was lightly grilled kanpachi (amberjack) with black truffle dashi with butter. The warm dish was garnished with some samphire (salt-tolerant plant) and watercress. The crunchy skin was a nice texture to have.
I opted at this point to go with a Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley (kind of an unusual find on a by-the-glass list).
The next course was Alaskan King crab with crab and butter emulsion, courgettes, chanterelles, horseradish whipped cream and nasturtium leaves. This was served very warm, with nice flavors from the courgettes and the crab.
The pasta dish was tortellini with Idiazabal cheese (a smoky cheese from the Basque region of Spain, crispy and poached artichokes, and a Marcona almond/red pepper purée. This was very tasty.
The next course was lightly crisped Quebec pork belly, served with black bean sauce, pork fat emulsion, tempura of gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and a Chinese chive purée.
For the full write-up, click here.