Once again, we were faced with finding a kid-friendly place to celebrate my mom's birthday. As mentioned many times, chain restaurants are not one of our preferred options. With the prices they charge these days, we might as well do some fine-dining or near fine-dining. Seeing how we had just visited EBO lately, the hotel restaurant seemed like a good idea. Of course, not are all made equal. There are some that exist merely to provide food and little else. So we really wanted to avoid those. Hence, we figured YEW at the Four Seasons would be a good bet. Think of it. One of the nicer hotels in town should in theory offer up a solid dining experience. I guess we'd just have to see if that would be true in reality. As we were just about to go, both my dad and son were not exactly feeling all that well. So we ended up to be a table of 4 rather than a table of 6. Darn. Less food = less pictures. Oh well, that just meant we had to eat more to make up for it. LOL...
As we were led to our table, it was very apparent that this was a kid-friendly restaurant. We could clearly see half of the tables were families. Excellent. Exactly what we had hoped for. In fact, much like EBO, the kids eat for free. Even better. When you have places such as Milestones charging $10.00 for their kid's meals, doing simple math, you quickly realize that it actually could cost more to eat there compared to places such as EBO and Yew. So remember my comment about eating more? Well, seeing how there was a combo price for all 4 appetizers from the cooked seafood bar, we got them all. We started with the Crab Cake, which was a fried ball of crab, cilantro and ginger. The balls were crispy with lots of fluffy crab meat. The sweet crab went well with the red pepper aioli. Next up was the Scallop Tempura with nori and a soy-chili dip. The tempura batter was light and crisp while the scallop itself was meaty. The soy dip was very light and only exhibited a moderate amount of spice. We were indifferent about this appie.
Our next dish was Calamari fried with capers and lemon. On the side was a smoked paprika aioli. Once again, there was good evidence that their deep-frying skills were good since the calamari was crispy. The squid itself was tender; but they could've let up on the batter. It was slightly too thick. The dip was a nice compliment to the calamari. It was smoky as advertised while not overpowering. The fried lemon was an interesting addition even though it wasn't really that good to eat. For our last appie, we had the Sauteed Prawns in garlic and chili finished with lemon and basil. It rested on a bed of fennel and squid ink. The prawns were cooked perfectly being crisp with a nice snap. There was a bit of spice and some smokiness. It was a tad on the salty side; but it couldn't be accused of being underseasoned. Not sure how the fennel or squid ink tied into this, but they were both interesting.
For our mains, Viv decided on the Seared Ahi Tuna with roasted little gem tomatoes, eggplant puree and cilantro chermoula. Although the fish was prepared nicely rare in the middle, the entire dish was far too salty. The exterior of the tuna was salty. The tomato was salty and the chermoula was salty. It would've been okay if only one item was salty since it could be balanced out by everything else. However, if every component on the plate is too aggressively seasoned, it becomes difficult to eat. My mom had the Surf & Turf consisting of beef tenderloin, butter poached lobster, cauliflower puree and sweet peas. She asked for medium-rare and it was closer to medium. The meat itself was super tender. Easy to cut and chew. The cauliflower puree was kinda bland while the peas were indeed sweet. The poached lobster was done perfectly. It was sweet and buttery with a fresh lobster snap - probably the best part of the dish.
For myself, I had the Duck which consisted of a roasted duck breast & crispy leg. It was served with braised endive, heirloom beets and an orange-star anise jus. I found the breast portion of the duck to be very tender and moist. It had a nice gaminess to it. The crispy leg was exactly that with nicely rendered skin and well-seasoned meat. The silky sauce was sweet with a hint of licorice from the star anise. The beets were a on the softer side while the endive suffered from over seasoning. It was just as salty as the items found of Viv's dish. Now for the most important meal of all... My daughter's Spaghetti! Hey, this is the reason we ate here in the first place. So as mentioned, kids eat free when accompanied by a paying adult. The spaghetti was fine. The noodles were cooked a little longer. I'm sure it was intentional for the kiddies. The fresh pasta sauce was good and my daughter enjoyed it.
At this point, we were thinking of dessert. I wasn't exactly sure what to order and how much. Then I noticed on that the desserts on their menu were tapas-style. Cool. Smaller portions which cost significantly less. $3.00 for one or $8.00 for 3. This way, we could try more without ordering too much. So we ended up sharing 6 desserts. I knew Viv was going to be skeptical of the idea of 6 desserts, so I ordered it while she was in the washroom. LOL. She had no choice! Since it was my mom's birthday, they also included a complimentary dessert for her. In fact, all of our desserts were on the house. So for our first dessert, we had the Lollipops consisting of white chocolate filled with matcha cheesecake. We liked how these were interactive and fun to eat. The cheesecake was actually quite good in texture and taste. I wasn't a huge fan of the meringue on the outside. I guess it had this Baked Alaska thing going on. We would've liked a more prominent matcha kick though. Next we had the Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee with pineapple compote. This was really smooth and not overly sweet. We could taste the vanilla; but it was somewhat muted by the delicious sweet pineapple compote. We didn't mind though since it added a refreshing; yet sweet kick to the brulee. Personally, I would've liked a bit more torch action on the top.
Moving along, we had the Raspberry Parfait which was accompanied by lemon creme and hazelnut crumble. For a parfait, this was an interesting presentation. I found the deconstructed plating whimsical. However, call me a purist, I didn't feel like I was eating a parfait. Maybe that contributed to my indifference towards this dessert. It had all the components such as the fruit and cream; but I just wanted it all in a cup instead. Now dessert wouldn't be dessert without chocolate right? So naturally, I selected the Chocolate crunchy bar with candied hazelnuts and caramel sauce. This was a high-class candy bar. For me at least, the candied hazelnuts were the highlight of the dessert. The sweet crunch added the necessary texture to the smooth chocolate. I found the dessert as a whole not crazy sweet despite the notoriously sweet ingredients.
When we were presented with our selection of dessert tapas, we were a bit confused since the parfait didn't look like a parfait. Hence, we originally thought the Strawberries with whipped white chocolate ganache and coconut meringues was the parfait. Hey, it looked more like a parfait than the parfait itself! This was a light offering, particularly after the chocolate bar. Once again, the dessert wasn't excessively sweet. The strawberries and sauce was a nice contrast to the smooth rich ganache. The last dessert was the Egg Tart consisting of duck egg custard with ginger and sugar. This somewhat reminds me of a cross between a Chinese egg tart and steamed milk custard. I found the custard to be rich and full of depth. It could be partially attributed to the use of duck eggs since both the whites and yolks are richer. I could definitely taste the ginger which helped temper the sugar content. The tart shell itself was thin and slightly hard. All-in-all, a good tart.
The dessert tapas was a real treat since they were universally above-average and we could share them. We were also pretty pleased with most of our appies, especially since they were not expensive. However, there were some issues with the mains. There was far too much salt used in many of the items and that ruined what could've been a very good dish. After all, other than the steak, the proteins were cooked perfectly. A few tweaks and things will be alright. The fact that they are kid-friendly (with free kid's meals to boot) and are reasonably-priced, I am willing to do a return visit.
- Kid-friendly (and they eat free too)
- Love the high ceiling and spaciousness of the dining room
- Service is attentive
- Most of our mains were overseasoned