Ahhhh some fine dining. Before heading to Toronto, I got some suggestions from friends about where to eat, and I received plenty. Unfortunately I didn’t get to all of them, but one of them that was a must-visit for me was Lee, a restaurant owned by Susur Lee, of Iron Chef fame.
LEE is an exciting, vibrant urban destination. Crafted by Chef Susur Lee and his dedicated kitchen staff, the menu at LEE is a tapas style experience where guests are invited to share and sample a wide variety of smaller dishes. Visitors can expect rapid and professional service with a wine list of approximately 50 eclectically sourced wines providing the versatility needed to compliment the diversity of the dishes.
Finding the restaurant wasn’t easy, Sally and I actually got off the bus walked there from her place and walked right by it and didn’t even notice. We had to double back and look at the numbers to make sure we were in the right area.
The only signage is that amber bulge you see on the middle right of the picture below. No banner, no awning, no nothhhhing.
As soon as I received my work schedule in Toronto, I immediately made reservations with Lee, fearing that they would be super busy, and double checked with Sally and her schedule. All that preparation and panicking was for nothing because when we arrived, it was pretty empty! There was one party of 2 out in the patio seating..
And another party of 3 inside, which left shortly after we were seated.
Customized bowls with Susur’s name. When you’re famous, you can do whatever the f you want right? :)
To maximize the variety of food that we could try, we both ordered the 3 Course Prix Fixe for $28.
There were 2 starters to choose from, so we both got a different item to share. First up…
feta, fresh mint, balsamic jicima, & black pepper vinaigrette
Each mouthful of this salad was a marriage of flavours. From the sweetness of the watermelon, the saltines of the feta cheese, the spiciness of the black pepper vinaigrette and the sourness of the balsamic dressing, it was truly a little explosion in the mouth. While I enjoyed it immensely, Sally felt it was just okay. To each their own…
The other starter was a soup, and was not made for sharing in mind. Strange considering the above salad was more than enough for one serving.
Szechwan Hot & Sour Soup**
Chicken & shredded vegetable
The two **’s, according to the menu, denote that this is a famous Susur Lee dish. If it was meant to impress or wow, then this soup did not accomplish that. It was good hot & sour soup for sure, hit all the right notes on the spice scale, and was a pleasant sourness, but it was not “famous” as I was expecting.
Now onto the mains!
Caramelized Black Cod**
Citrus butter sauce, potato croquette
The entire dish was flakey, delicate and delicious, but just way too small of a serving for a main course. The sauce, though citrus based, was close to a sweet caramel-like taste..maybe butterscotch. Looks like butterscotch on the plate doesn’t it?
The other main course was ..
Korean Style Skirt Steak
Garlic mushroom, spicy ponzu, mashed potato
This was more substantial than the cod, and equally better in my books for an entree. Medium rare slices of steak with roasted white mushrooms all on top of a bed of mashed potatoes drizzled with ponzu sauce. I found it interesting to note that both mains used a citrus based sauce.
Molten Chocolate Cake
Chocolate hazelnut crumble, caramelized jackfruit, vanilla bean, ice cream
The vanilla bean ice cream melted quickly and had more of an icy texture than a creamy one, which I am going to guess is a result of it being hand made and not something scooped out of a bucket with plenty of preservatives. Of course I could be completely wrong, but it just had that very VERY slight gritty texture of ice crystals..
Had Sally break open the lava cake, but it was in the wrong direction…bah!
The tartness of the caramelized jackfruit within provided contrast to the super rich chocolate coating. Overall it could have been more “lava” like, and oozed some more, but that’s the difficult part about making lava cakes.
Tong Yuen Sweet Rice Dumpling
Chocolate ganache, shredded coconut, hazelnut, peanut, & sesame seeds (6 pce)
The description says 6pc’s but we only received 3. Perhaps it was because we were sharing, but I just thought I would note that.
Don’t those little tong yuans look so cute? Tucked neatly inside of these rice balls of delight was a chocolate-y nutty mixture. They were cooked just perfectly with the desired chewiness, sort of like rice mochi balls.
Both the desserts were great, and that’s saying something as I am definitely not a sweets person!
When it came time to pay for the bill, the HST threw me for a loop. You see, the HST hadn’t come into effect in Vancouver before I had left, so I was used to paying 5% tax on all my food. Here in Ontario, the only other Canadian province with HST, they pay 13%! It definitely hurts the wallet when you end up paying around 25% more each time you go out to eat now…
We both left extremely satisfied. Considering this is Toronto and also a famous chef’s restaurant, $28 for a prix-fixe menu at lunch is not a bad deal at all.. comparable to Market @ Shangri-La in Vancouver!