Chef’s House Restaurant
So having been on both sides of the counter in this King st East restaurant I can’t give a fair review on the food since I’m prone to forgiving mistakes a little more easily. However, I will try my hardest to be as unbiased as possible when judging my latest food experience there, since it was a fairly good one.
To explain the concept behind the restaurant a little better: it’s a very integrated part of the learning experience of both the culinary and the hospitality students at George Brown. In the kitchen at all times, you have a variety of experience levels but nonetheless a group of students learning under the guidance of the one chef responsible for each meal period. The floor staff is also in training, so service is a little slow but closer to the traditional service of fine dining (unfortunately practiced by beginners). The restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner during the week and although they take walk-ins, it’s better if you make reservations since it can sometimes fill up. The idea is to have all eyes on the people cooking your food and therefore put a little bit of pressure on a kitchen that is otherwise severely overstaffed. There’s several cameras catching the cooks’ every moves and projecting it on tv screens throughout the dining room. There’s also a multitude of bar seats right behind the garde manger station for all those foodies that want to feel a part of the action.
Before I get into many more details, I would like to say that the restaurant is definitely a steal price wise. A four course lunch menu costs $26 (2 for $19 and 3 for $23) and you don’t walk away hungry in any sort of way. The free labour at this place really allows them to bring in higher end products and sell them for significantly less than anywhere else. A similar concept is practiced at dinner as well but the prices increase slightly. The menu changes biweekly and reflects the availability of seasonal items and the ability of the kitchen staff.
We were in for lunch, our third time in under 6 months doing so and our opinion of this place still hasn’t changed. Although the menu had some hits and misses (generally not the fault of the concept but the cooking abilities of the staff) but overall left us very satisfied. I enjoyed a Baby Octopus, Chorizo and Chickpea salad as my appetizer (the salad part needed more dressing but over the dish was great), a cold avocado soup with a crab salad as garnish, cornish hen coq au vin with fingerling potatoes and a wild mushroom ragu (ABSOLUTELY amazing from start to finish) and a white chocolate and mascarpone (i believe) stuffed crepe with a rhubarb sauce ontop (also, the best part of the meal). My dining partner had smoked salmon with a poached egg for the app (yuuuuummy), crispy (maybe a little too much so) fried pork belly with baked beans and some sort of chewy, stringy green (definitely not a win on that one) and for dessert Earl Gray ice cream.
Overall, despite the hits and misses, I’ll always be returning to the Chef’s House to eat…. mostly because I want to feel a part of that wonderful kitchen once again!