The Strand Brasserie by Margaret Anderson painting by Kelly Ragusa
I had an exceptional dining experience at the Strand...
On a Saturday Evening late in May, I had an exceptional dining experience at the Strand Brasserie in Toronto, Ontario. Located in the old Strand Hotel at the corner of Victoria and Lombard near Toronto’s bustling financial district this stylish restaurant balances old and new; classic and contemporary with flair and confidence.
I was apprehensive about yet another visit to a “steakhouse.” The Atkins revolution has created an oversupply of the steakhouse concept restaurant in North America. With anticipation of yet another mediocre piece of steak that is called “prime”– accompanied by a baked potato and other side dishes that are large enough to feed a family of five–I was excited and impressed with the creativity and balance of well thought flavors on the dinner menu at The Strand.
Seated in a large booth surrounded by contemporary artwork one feels as thought they have been lifted to an urban oasis. Our waiter approached and appeared attentive without being intrusive. With his encouragement, I ordered the Strand Martini–a nice departure from the overdone cosmo. The well-mixed flavors of Alize, Chambord, lemon, lime juice and champagne produced a refreshing pop of flavor followed by a smooth finish without being overly sweet.
Traditional yet updated classics struck a cord with my date and his choice of appetizer. A fan of the tried and true lobster bisque– we were intrigued with the addition of truffle essence to this choice but not sold. Steak tartare served with potato roosti and a grilled calamari with a braised pork and mushroom stuffing/carrot sauce told us that we were not in our parent’s steak house.
The salad choices appealed to us both so I decided to try the Organic Arugula Salad with rhubarb, goat cheese, pistachios with a lemon vinaigrette. This was a winner. Just the right amount of citrus to balance the rich flavors of the goat cheese and pistachio. My date chose the Hearts of Romaine with reggiano and a roast garlic and lemon emulsion. Too much lemon made for a bitter finish with this salad, although the greens were fresh and were sprinkled with a generous amount of parmesan reggiano.
A tad disappointed with his salad choice, my date was elated with his selection of entree. A lobster ravioli and butter braised lobster with a saffron vanilla sauce was the stand out dish of the evening. The lobster appeared “poached” and its natural flavors were enhanced by the lightest touch of saffron and vanilla. The ravioli made of delicate, homemade pasta tied the dish together and provided a wonderful accompaniment to the lobster.
Encouraged again by our attentive server, I ordered the Strand’s Surf and Turf. The Black Angus tenderloin was cooked just as I had ordered, medium rare. The flavor of the beef was excellent. Accompanying the filet was a tasty, perfectly seasoned piece of chorizo sausage and two piri piri shrimps. The Portuguese flavors of the sausage and piri piri, (translated from Swahili means “pepper pepper”), transformed the standard surf and turf to an explosion of unique flavors. The heat of the pepper and sausage created a nice contrast to the rich beef filet. A creamy potato mash provided a delicious base to soak up all of the flavors in this signature dish.
Other entree choices include a US Prime New York strip steak or rib eye, Australian Rack of Lamb, Seared Duck Breast, Halibut Fish and Chips, and a Northern Coast Salmon.
Desserts are made in house–I chose the chocolate creme brulee, which was quite rich with a smooth texture and a robust chocolate flavor. My date had a delicious trio of gelato, which provided a light ending to a fantastic meal.
The Strand Brasserie is a lighter, fresher version of the classic steak house. The clean and contemporary ambience combines with a unique choice of menu options for a wonderful dining experience.
The Strand Brasserie 75 Victoria Street in Toronto 416.368.777