Sometimes there’s something very cool in your city, but you never get around to checking it out – like The Chef’s House. Last night I changed that.
The Chef’s House is a real, live resto run by students. It’s where the culinary students at George Brown College refine their chops (and if you’re lucky) wow you with their cooking skills.
Okay, it sounds risky. You have to invest at very least $39 on a newbie in the kitchen, but it’s worth every penny.
First off, the place is spanking modern with lots of light pouring in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Chrome, glass and shiny wood all conspire to say “moderne” and good riddance to the dowdy and institutional Siegfried House, the students’ previous digs.
The guy who greets us at the door is all smiles. Our server is all smiles. All the tall white hats working away in the open kitchen are beaming. Ditto for the Chef of the Week who comes sashaying by our table mid-course. It seems the entire staff here is on happy pills and once we tasted the food, we knew why.
The menu is short and sweet like a good prix fixe should be. You can choose items from the top page (which hones in on The Chef of the Week and his or her top dishes) or you can pick from the standard options on page two.
Three courses cost $39; four cost $49. You have to choose at least one entrée, but otherwise, you can focus on the front of the meal or the sweet end of it.
Danny and I dove into the breadbasket while Ann Louise remained loyal to her carb-shunning program. These rolls were hot from the oven with rich, flaky interiors. An above average start to a meal is always encouraging…
Then the scallops arrived: two plump sea scallops, the top and undersides butter-seared to perfection then blanketed with a see-through-thin slice of guanciale (cured pig cheek).
Next stop: gnocchi in a light cream sauce, flecked with fresh Lobster chunks, bookended by two of the sweetest roasted tomatoes found in February.
As I moaned over the gnocchi, Danny enjoyed a roasted beet salad (Toronto’s formerly trendy and now just annoying menu staple). Meanwhile, the fragrance of Ann Louise’s soup overtook the table. Arranged in a yin-yang pattern, the soup was half wild mushroom and half roasted rutabaga, finished with a hearty dollop of truffle oil. Rich and intensely satisfying, the soup was making our girl happy happy.
Oven-roasted halibut arrived next with an herbed crust, served on a creamy bed of parsnip puree. There was also foam, with a cappuccino-like name and a list of ingredients so long our server had to pull out crib notes to recount them.
Despite all attempts, Danny did not talk Ann Louise and I into a shared dessert.
Maybe next time.