I wasn’t planning on blogging about my Valentine’s experience at Downtownfood. After all, it seems unfair to review a restaurant based one of its busiest nights of the year. However, seeing as Downtownfood laid down one of the best Valentine’s dinners to date, I thought, why the hell not?
Downtownfood knows how to set the mood for romance. Jazzy tunes played at a temperate volume. The menus were rolled up and tied with a red ribbon. On each table, tea lights burn luminously next to large cymbidiums. Considering the prices of flowers on Valentine’s Day (suppliers charge florists 3 times the usual amount), this was a nice touch.
I love our server Erin. The moment I had a need (e.g. more wine or another basket of that delicious homemade bread), Erin would magically appeared and inquire if I wanted more wine or bread. She also recommended some lovely wines by the glass. I enjoyed a glass of Joie Farm Rose – ($13.00), and Joie Noble Blend – 2010 VQA ($13.00).
Two set menus were offered – a 10 course meal ($80 per person) or the 6 course meal ($60 per person). We picked the smaller course as I didn’t want to over indulge in rich foods after recovering from the flu. Our first appetizer was a beet tartare. Roasted yellow, pink and spiced red beets lay side by side, garnished with garlic aioli, mustard greens and a circular wafer. The beets tasted like it was pickled. I love the flavours of garlic, cumin and the yogurt drizzled on the side, it reminded me of Indian cuisine.
Next up was the Tuna Tataki, seared line caught tuna with ponzu, green onion, garlic chips and spicy wonton chips. This was a light taster – 3 pieces of tuna sat in a subtle sauce. I could taste some citrus and and some Asian spices in the sauce.
The third dish was the Braised Wagyu Ravoli – handmade braised short rib ravioli in miso, foie gras, dashi emulsion and arugula. The was a generous amount of ribs and freshly shaved black truffles. This was the first time I tried black truffles – it reminded me of bacon.
I noticed at this point we haven’t received the fresh East Coast Bay Oysters with hot sauce, daikon and black caviar. However, a quick inquiry to Erin rectified the oversight. We were brought over the oysters within minutes, though it was missing the caviar. I would have liked it if the oysters were more chilled, but eating the oysters at room temperature allowed me to taste more of the oyster’s natural flavour – it was creamy and salty.
For our mains, I ordered the Pan Roasted Sablefish with French Lentils, Bok Choy, Shitake Mushrooms while L ordered the Confit of Duck with Braised Cabbage and Chinese Black Mushrooms. We traded halfway, and it turned out that the sablefish was his favourite while I preferred the duck. The fish was moist and delicately flavoured with a soy ginger and jalapeño salsa that reminded me of the flavouring in Tom Yum soup. The duck was amazing. The skin was so crispy and flavourful, while the meat was juicy and tender. The portion size of the duck was generous. You could taste the Korean influence, particularly in the spicy seasoning in the cabbage. I enjoyed the Chinese mushrooms – it was meaty and smokey.
Erin brought over our dessert – layered chocolate mousse with house made skoreo crunch. She also mentioned it was made by Downtownfood’s talented pastry chef, 20 year old Margaux. Margaux makes all baked goods in house – from the bread L and I enjoyed at the beginning of the meal to the marvelous desserts we sampled at the end of the night. Layered with white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate mousse, the deeper you dug into the dessert, the sweeter it got. The top layer of skoreo was soft and crumbly, it tasted like there was a bit of crispy crunch candy bar in it.
We also received complimentary cinnamon macarons and rosewater marshmallows. The macaron had just the right amount of cinnamon so it wasn’t overpowering, and it just melted in your mouth. Normally not a fan of marshmallows, I liked Margaux’s version with rosewater and the crunchy exterior layer of sugar.