It was ironic that our Father's day dinner would be at S+L Kitchen & Bar. You see, it was the finale of Masterchef Canada and we were dining where season 2 winner David Jorge serves as corporate chef. Naturally, whenever we have something that is hyped up due to a TV cooking competition, expectations are heightened. Personally, I'd like to take a more balanced approach and look at the experience as a regular restaurant visit. Otherwise, unrealistic expectations can ruin what may have been a good time.
Situated in the former Ta-Ke Sushi Buffet, the restaurant has been subjected to some upgrades and the place is trendy and well-appointed. We started things off with a few appies including the Lobster Roll (we went for 3 @ $5.00 each). These were pretty good with a soft buttered roll featuring a mix of lobster meat, spicy mayo and chives. There was no filler in these where the lobster (could've been bigger chunks) was moist with an appealing rebound texture. The mayo wasn't really all that spicy, but the mix was well-seasoned. We also got the Calamari atop tzatziki and sprinkled with Za'taar seasoning. Crispy on the outside while tenderly chewy on the inside, the squid was well-prepared. I found the tzatziki to be rather mild, yet with some acidity while the seasoning on top was too sparse. Hence, some pieces had some spice and salt, whereas others did not have enough impact.
Specifically for my son, we got the Deep Fried Mac & Cheese sticks spiked with white truffle oil. In terms of execution, these were on point with a thin and crispy panko coating (being not greasy at all). Inside, the mac & cheese was flavourful while not salty and the texture was pretty moist for being deep fried. I found the amount of truffle oil a bit overwhelming though and largely unnecessary. Served on the side was a relatively muted arrabiatta sauce. As one our sides, we got a large order of the Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts. We ended up having a love-hate relationship with these. Texturally, these were awesome being meaty and firm with a light crispiness. However, the whole dish was far too sweet. It was like eating dessert. Even the bacon was lost in the process and despite the background smokiness from the deep fry, all we tasted was maple syrup.
For my main, I went for the Lobster Pasta featuring Creste di Gallo noodles, lobster and heirloom tomatoes in a rosé sauce. Although a bit saucy, the dish ate rather pleasantly. I found the rosé to be creamy and balanced. It was neither too acidic nor too heavy. Therefore, the lobster was not overwhelmed by any hits of tartness. As for the pasta, I loved the shape, but it was a tad past al dente. Viv ended up with the Master Chicken, named for championship plate that helped David Jorge win his Masterchef title. Well, this definitely lived up to the hype (if we were paying attention to the hype...) as the chicken was succulent and well-seasoned without being salty. The skin was rendered and crunchy being nicely seasoned. Even the large breast portion was moist and tender. One of the better versions of fried chicken I've had lately.
My dad decided to try the other signature item being the Sablefish served with fingerling potato salad. This was a beautiful plate of food visually where the pan-fried fish was kissed by a torch to finish. One bite and the fish was flaky, moist and well-seasoned. As much as sablefish can be a forgiving fish, this was still prepared "masterfully". It sat atop a miso mayo which was mild enough that it didn't take away from the delicate fish. Firm and well-dressed, the potato salad was pretty good on its own. Of course we couldn't get out of there without getting steak right? My mom did the honours with the 10 oz. Prime Rib in medium-rare. It was closer to rare though, yet at the same time, it was tender and buttery. The side of bourbon bacon cream corn was buttery and sweet with a hint of booze, but the bacon was rather fatty and lifeless.
With the kiddies, my son opted for his standby being the Wagyu Burger served on a brioche bun. This was pretty good where the beef patty was moist and almost juicy. It wasn't really meaty in texture, rather it was soft. However, it could be somewhat due to the fat content in the meat. The brioche bun was pillowy soft and slightly sweet. The side of hand-cut Kennebec fries were potatoey and only lightly crispy. For my daughter, she actually agreed to order of the kid's menu (she of the "I want to only order from the adult menu"). She ended up with the 4 oz Sirloin accompanied by mash potatoes. We asked for medium-rare and it turned out more rare (much like the prime rib). It was not as tender as we would've hope though. Also, we felt the mashed potatoes could've been creamier and seasoned more aggressively.
For dessert, we had eyes on the Chocolate Dome (by Chez Christophe) that revealed a chocolate brownie, ice cream and strawberries after being doused with a creme Anglaise. The brownie was rich and not overly sweet while the chocolate was silky and Chez Christophe quality. Nice theatrics with the dome melting after being doused with warm sauce. Overall, we quite enjoyed our meal at S+L. Was it perfect? Well no, but nothing ever is. But if we looked at specific items such as the chicken, sablefish and lobster rolls, those were on point. As for the others, as much as there were some deficiencies, it won't deter me from visiting again.
- Some really good dishes
- We got excellent service
- As much as there has complaints about the pricing, S+L is not anymore expensive than Earl's
- Music is a bit loud, hard to have a conversation
- Food took awhile to arrive
- Steak wasn't as tender as I would've liked