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Colborne Lane

by Ross Bruniges on February 7th, 2012

At a glance

Colborne Lane

Chef: Claudio Aprile

Reservations: 416 368 9009

Rating: 9 out of 10

Cost : £75-£100

Location

45 Colborne Street

Toronto

M5E 1E3

Map

Location map

Don't just take my word for it

Colborne Lane on Urbanspoon

In photos

Colborne Lane

Lollipops

More pictures

On a recent trip to Toronto I was lucky enough to be treated to a number of great meals- sushi, burritos (Toronto is surprisingly good for burritos), stadium food, gastropub cookery, more Canadian bacon than is probably good for me and of course the Canadian classic dish of poutine – chips, gravy and cheese curds, which is as good as it sounds bad! On a free night I was looking for somewhere to eat and looking for something a bit different and found that at Colborne Lane.

A bit of research shows that the chef, Claudio Aprile has strong roots in London having taken over a Notting Hill restaurant formerly run by fusion food expert Peter Gordon and bringing in plaudits for his versions of fusion classics blending Japanese and South American flavours. While the website gives little away of the contents of the tasting menu the dinner menu highlights that his style of cooking remains firmly in the fusion space.

A dish of ‘cured salmon’ is served with yuzu, ginger, cucumber and nori and presented in a delicate arrangement of sauce filled tubes that when cut through and paired with a slice of moist, sweet salmon provide a delicious vegetable crunch and sharp slice to your mouth. It reminded me very much of a similar dish I had at Viajante a few Christmas’ ago. A great way to start off a meal and a standard kept up for the rest of the meal.

Cured salmon

Next up was a dish that I felt had routes back to England, and something I could imagine coming straight out of a Peter Gordon kitchen; a smooth, creamy lobster bisque with cauliflower, coconut tofu and saffron; topped with a big juicy prawn and chilli flakes. The soup was a great fusion of flavours and super rich with the addition of the coconut enhancing the lobster bisque. Tofu probably isn’t my fave thing and it could probably have been left out but thankfully it didn’t taste horrible, if of anything. The foie gras course was probably my least favourite course with the foie being served in a mousse and piped through a piping bag in a way that made it look a bit like meaty whipped cream. The rich flavour was offset well with earthy beetroot puree, crisp fried brioche, caramelised pear and blueberries – great ideas that I think would have worked much much better had the foie not been messed with as much.

Thankfully next up we had a dish of mixed beetroots (I counted at least 3 different varieties) with radish, goats cheese fritters and walnuts. Always a fan of beetroots the pairing with hot cheese fitter and crisp radish offset the deep earthy beetroot taste perfectly; there was also plenty of it so I was very happy with that!

Heirloom beets

The meat courses gave us trout and pork. Following on from the lobster bisque and prawn starter the trout was accompanied with a big fat scallop. I like scallops but I’m not sure if we really needed it. The main event here was trout, crisp, well seasoned skin and moist fish. The sweetness of the flesh worked with the smooth sweet potato and when that ran out it worked equally well with the fennel. Pork is coming back to fashion in the UK and I was pleased to have it served here and it was a rather English tasting dish with pork crackling, whole grain mustard and apple. Last time I was served pork crackling in America/Canada it was looked at in a rather disparaging way – indeed I ended up being the only person to eat it (win for me) so I hope this was a successful dish for them – it brought back many memories of home for me.

Pork

Puddings were next and the flair of the kitchen, and sense of fun was on display. Like something out of a rather lower budget Heston’s Feats we started off with a fun course of lollipops. Two mini sugary sweets on sticks sticking out from a plant pot delivered to the table. Potentially a little bit tacky but I don’t think anyone can deny that the combinations of apple/bourbon and chocolate/banana didn’t work. And it was great fun eating from a plant pot!

Another Heston style dish was last and we were presented with some nitrous cooked ice-cream. I was a bit surprised when the theatre of cooking it at the table was rather numbed by whisking the dish away after it’s completion but from the kitchen came a generous plate of lemon creme fraiche, hazelnut, blue-berries, pumpkin, honeycomb and clotted yoghurt. I think a spoonful of all the ingredients at once would have been a bit much and confusing but combining each ‘side dish’ with a scoop of either the yoghurt or the lemon creme was great, and again it was a good sized plate – a good way to finish the meal.

The storm – various puddings on a plate

I had plenty of options of places to eat in Toronto and I picked Colborne Lane as I thought the cooking look unique with plenty of good ideas, and I was really happy with the meal I had. Front of house was, at times, a little bit random, wine service didn’t seem to be quite in-sync with the kitchen and I was once left without a fork for a meat based course but they did have a large business group in and serving all those courses at once to over 10 people must be a bit of a nightmare. I was surprised that many of my friends in Toronto, and even the cab driver who took me there didn’t seem to know much about it. It’s a place I would recommend visitors in town go eat at.

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