BRASSAII RESTAURANT & LOUNGE: a Weekly Culinary Thrill

As a belated Mother’s Day dinner in the city, I wanted to pick a place that was big on ambience, big on name (and a price tag to go with it, mind you), and a little something different on the menu. Brassaii had been on my list for awhile now, offering unique weekly menus of French-Mediterranean cuisine. Ours was the week of May 14-20, 2012.

THE FOOD (Score: 85%):

AMUSE-BOUCHE:

Tomato Oyster Gazpacho (Complimentary)

When a restaurant serves you an amuse-bouche, you know you’re in for a culinary treat. I had no idea Brassaii was such a high caliber restaurant, but I guess it doesn’t take much to impress me haha. The amuse-bouche tasted exactly like what it was – tomato gazpacho with an oyster in it. Very light and refreshing.

STARTERS:

ASPARAGUS – roasted + soft-poached egg + mushroom + parmigano + truffle ($15)

Let me just say that the waitress was nice enough to prepare us for this dish by letting us know there are 5 pieces of asparagus on this dish. Yes, I did the quick math and it’s $3 per asparagus for this dish haha. My wallet made a small yelp haha but my mom was really into the idea of this dish. Good thing we had it because it was absolutely delicious! It was fun cracking the tiny poached egg and watching the yolk ooze out onto the asparagus, but the flavours came together beautifully. A blissful brunch dish… for dinner. This dish surprised me the most.

SCALLOPS – seared + almond gazpacho + chickpeas + chorizo + pea shoots ($16)

I’m a sucker for scallops and I almost always have to have it if I see it on the menu. But be warned – some places overcook and under-season their scallops or give you miniature ones that I would never consider worth a hefty price tag, so it’s a good indication of what’s to come. Brassaii certainly delivered on that note, with the perfect texture and tenderness to my liking – not undercooked, not overcooked, and perfectly seasoned. And thank God for the portions because it was a mouthful of heavenly clouds!

MAINS:

TUNA – grilled yellowfin + parsnip purée + green lentils + citrus + capers + chili ($29)

The tuna was simply perfection and to my mother’s liking.

LOBSTER – whole, grilled lobster + pink shrimp salad + peas + chili + lemon vinaigrette ($39)

The lobster was fresh and succulent and would’ve been nice to have a larger portion. My father, who normally doesn’t eat too much seafood, gobbled the dish up in a matter of minutes.

ELK – Moroccan spiced + carrot purée + fava beans + grapes + oranges + hazelnuts ($39)

Our waitress warned us the Elk was very spicy, so my brother was assuming there would be a nice bite to this dish. When he bit into it, it was seasoned like any other piece of steak, but had zero heat whatsoever. I can’t take spicy myself, but was unable to find any spice in this dish either. Either the waitress got mixed up or the chefs forgot to pack some heat in this dish.

DUCK – roasted breast + confit leg + beluga lentils + pommes & leek purée + cipollini ($36)

The duck skin was incredibly crispy – perfect “skin chips”. The portions were ginormous though, so my brother had to eat the remaining confit leg off my plate.

SIDES – housecut fries + parmigiano-reggiano + garlic aioli ($7)

The fries were thin and crispy, and we thoroughly enjoyed the cheese shavings.

DESSERTS

BUTTERMILK PANCAKES – lemon-vanilla mousse + gin blueberry salsa ($12)

The pancakes were light and fluffy and worked well with the berry and mousse flavours.

COCONUT MACAROON & WHITE CHOCOLATE NAPOLEAN – sautéed mangoes & pineapple + rum ($10)

Despite the waitress liking this dessert the least, I went with my gut and choose this one on the merits of its exotic flavours. I loved this dessert, although it wasn’t as napolean as I would’ve liked. You can’t go wrong with coconut, mangoes, pineapples, and rum!

THE AMBIENCE (Score: 75%):

The outdoor patio seating in the walkway to the restaurant was casual and quaint. The lounge area was the first by the entrance, then the dining area at the back. It wasn’t as dark and atmospheric as the photos had implied, but it did hold a chic comfortable charm that was less than pretentious. Despite it being a quiet Tuesday, the restaurant had a private party booked that evening and also had an impressive amount of tables filled by 8pm.

THE SERVICE (Score: 70%):

Our waitress was average – she was informative when we asked about her recommendations and shared her preference, which is always appreciated. But her attitude was a little bland and needed to be injected with a bit more “pep”.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

My mother gave this place the honor of “Best Restaurant Experience….EVER!” I was surprised, but at the end of the day, this was a dinner for Mother’s Day, so on that note, it very well was. Otherwise, I was very happy with the quality of ingredients and portions, and would definitely return to this restaurant again to try a new weekly menu. If you don’t mind spending a lot on a meal, I would highly recommend Brassaii.

THE DEATS:

Brassaii Restaurant & Lounge
Dress Code: Business Casual
Our Tab: ~$80/person
Address: 461 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1K7 (west of Spadina Ave.)
Phone: 416-598-4730
Website: http://www.brassaii.com/

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