I had a wonderful tasting menu at a relatively new restaurant called Canis Restaurant last week to kick off the weekend! 😀 I’m so glad that my foodie friends invited me to try this with them as I probably wouldn’t have gone here any time soon by myself.
Canis Restaurant is located on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto close to Trinity Bellwoods Park. They only have a tasting menu or prix fixe menu for you to choose from. Their tasting menu changes seasonally as that is the main focus of their restaurant. They focus on seasonal ingredients served with the idea of simplicity in mind. From their website:
“Inspired by the bounty of Canada, our dishes highlight the freshest, and seasonal produce. Rooted in the philosophy of bistronomy, we honour the profile of the ingredients by creating simple and accessible dishes.
This is our interpretation of Canadian cuisine.”
Anh booked the reservation of the three of us for a Friday evening dinner at 5:45 p.m. I arrived at Canis Restaurant early by 5:30 p.m. I was one of the first customers that evening as I took our table near the large windows and entrance of the restaurant. I really liked the simplistic style and look of the restaurant. Simple is best.
Raymond arrived soon after the female server brought me some water and we were asked at least two times about if we wanted to order a drink. It seemed a little pushy to me to be honest.
Anh was running late and didn’t arrive until about 6:20 p.m. During this time, our server did approach our table to inquire about our last party member. She curtly informed us that there was a two-hour sitting policy and that we would have to give our table back by 8 p.m.
When Anh arrived and heard about this, she asked the server (this was a different one from our original) about the sitting time policy as it wasn’t noted on their restaurant at all. The server informed us that since there was another party booked at our table for 8:10 p.m., we just had to make sure that we vacated our table five minutes before their arrival. This was fine.
We knew we were going to order the seven-course tasting menu and carried on with that.
The much-anticipated tasting menu commenced shortly afterwards! 😀 For every course that we had that night, there were at least two servers who delivered the food to our table simultaneously to ensure that we each received all of our dishes at the same time. You can expect professional and tailored service here at Canis Restaurant.
The first item at our table was the bread course which were three slices of sourdough bread set on a deep set plate for each of us and an in-house made salted chive butter and ricotta cheese with garlic to share. This was incredibly delicate and I loved the wooden serving handles for the butter and cheese.
How is it that something so simple as sourdough bread tasted so good — not too hard that it scraped the roof of your mouth yet soft enough in the middle — and how some other bakeries/restaurants cannot even produce the same sourdough bread?
In any case, this was a delicious bread starter. I especially loved the salted chive butter. It was so good! I was the last one to finish my bread and had the pleasure of scrapping up as much as I could to put onto my bread. 😀
Our first course was a “tuna, blonde cucumber, green tomato”. Like other high-end and quality-focused restaurants, often the menu doesn’t inform you of everything about their dish (I’m thinking about the menu at Dandylion). Thus, there were other ingredients in each of the courses that we received that night which I may not have all the details and ingredients of here in my blog post.
This was a salad deep set in a bowl with tuna, salmon roe, and carefully sliced cucumbers and halved fresh green tomatoes. It was an artistic presentation for sure. The tuna was hidden underneath the greens (I didn’t take a photo of them after the blonde cucumbers were pushed aside). This was a really fresh dish and I was pleased that there were more chunks of tuna fish within the bowl than I had anticipated. The flavours were fresh and definitely not strong at all.
The second course was a “beef tartare, sorrel, yogurt” — I absolutely LOVE beef tartare! I was curious to see how this restaurant would fare with its beef tartare because I can honestly say that there aren’t many restaurants that prepare this raw beef dish well enough for my tastes.
At first look, this dish is just a plain clump of grass. LOL 😛 However, the server told us that to eat it, we were to mix all the components together. I remember she informed us that there were also red onions within the dish too (which I did see upon mixing all the ingredients together). They were chopped so finely that you could barely notice them.
I’ve never eaten beef tartare in this fashion before with sorrel greens and I found that the texture was very different from just eating the chewy and soft raw beef tartare in previous meals. It was a fresh-tasting way of eating it.
The third course was “squid, pea, parcel”. This was a much bigger portion than I expected. Again, the dish was served in a deep dish where the ingredients were presented in the most beautiful way with edible flowers and even some chopped scallop bits (that weren’t detectable at all but definitely there). The squid was prepared in ribbons and it made it look like we had noodles at first. I was also impressed with how much squid there was inside this dish! Considering this was more of a “fine dining” restaurant, I felt that this dish could even have been enough among two people. However, I was happy with the larger portion and don’t mean to complain about that at all.
The squid was firm and soft; not chewy at all. The best part about this dish was the hearty broth that was present at the bottom of the dish. We took no shame; we all slurped and finished up this delicious broth before the bowls were taken away from us. 😀
The fourth course was a fish dish of “halibut, lovage, scallop”. This was the epitome of a fine dining dish where every single component was obviously and carefully thought-out and carried through. It was beautiful!
I was incredibly impressed with the taste of this dish. The halibut was cooked so that it maintained extreme moistness and firmness with the green sauce bursting into each bite — unfortunately, I don’t have the name of the sauce. It was just delicious! The greens on top, as Raymond mentioned, were indeed a bit bitter and perhaps the only downfall of this dish. Everything else was delicious!
The fifth course (so fast!) was a meat dish. We were presented with these very sharp and impressive knives before our course arrived. (Speaking of which, we were presented with new cutlery after every single course to ensure that our utensils wouldn’t cross-contaminate flavours from each course — I loved this attention to detail.)
Our fifth course was “beef short rib, broccoli, zucchini”. This was probably my favourite executed dish of the night. I love creative ways to serve up a dish! First, a large platter of the beef short ribs was placed on our table. This was kept warm with some cloth covering up something (that the server described — speaking of which, it seemed like a different server served up our courses every time… I found that interesting) with some pine leaves too.
Meanwhile, we were served the broccoli and zucchini on individual dishes. This was so neat! I absolutely loved the way that the charred zucchini acted as a “boat” for the broccoli florets to rest upon. It was adorable. Also, I loved how the stalks of the broccoli were sliced up and cut into squares. This acted as such a gorgeous presentation.
The server (or chef) explained the dish to us. Instead of having the customer grab the beef short rib themselves to place onto our own dish, he did it for us. Naturally, I filmed this too. 😛
Oh, man. This was a delicious beef short rib course!! It was probably one of the best brief short ribs I’ve ever had. It was cooked and seasoned to perfection. It was a little fatty which made it that much more mouth-watering and perfect. The sharp knife really helped to cut up the slab of beef short ribs easily too (there were no bones).
The broccoli zucchini boat was good too but nothing outstanding in terms of taste other than earning dozens of points for its unique presentation. Health-wise, I didn’t like that the zucchini was charred completely over.
Alas, that completed our savory dishes of the night. Onwards to dessert we moved, of which there were two courses!
The first dessert was more like a palate-cleanser for us. This was a “raspberry, buttermilk”. It was called “buttermilk snow” by the server and there were edible flowers on this as well. (There were a lot of edible flowers in our meal in various courses that night.)
This was so aesthetically pretty and I admired it thoroughly before digging in. To put it plainly, this actually tasted like I was eating soft snow. It was another highly unique dish! The raspberries had nothing special to them so the main draw of this dessert was definitely the buttermilk snow. It was refreshing and cleansed our palates.
Our final course of the night was the “koji, almond, white chocolate”. This was a classic case of “saving the best for last”!! In short, I loved this dish! I really like chocolate anything and the white chocolate ice cream in this was spectacular!! ❤ Firstly, how beautiful was this dish! There were also halved cherries in it too. The texture and flavour of the white chocolate ice cream was rich, creamy, and perfect. It tasted so good.
I don’t think I’ve had koji before. Wikipedia tells me that koji is “a filamentous fungus (a mold) used in Chinese and other East Asian cuisines to ferment soybeans for making soy sauce and fermented bean paste, and also to saccharify rice, other grains, and potatoes in the making of alcoholic beverages such as huangjiu, sake, makgeolli, and shōchū.” It didn’t taste like anything too specific but was a perfect crunchy component to the cold and creamy ice cream. I also really enjoyed the rich almond pieces that acted as art pieces to the dessert too. Such a perfect dessert! 😀
To our surprise, we were served a final finisher for the night. These were coffee canelés, “a small French pastry flavoured with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard centre and a dark, thick caramelized crust.” (Again, thanks Wikipedia!)
This was another unique food item that I’ve never had before. The coffee canelé was really crispy and semi hard on the outside while its interior was soft and custardy. I wasn’t the hugest fan of this but I appreciated it all the same.
That’s all! Thank you so much for reading my thorough and detailed review of my first visit to Canis. I think it’s the perfect place for a foodie willing to splurge on an incredible meal for the eyes and for the stomach. The tasting menu cost $85 for seven courses (with the starter bread and bonus final dessert) so it really was worth it for all of the detail, professional cookery skills, and fresh seasonal ingredients. Book this place for a fancy date or sophisticated dinner with friends. 🙂