Thursday, December 15, 2005


100 Cumberland St.
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A6

When shopping in Yorkville (not that frequent an occurrence, I assure you) we would inevitably walk by Sassafraz, the so-called "celebrity hotspot". I never imagined I would actually go there, preferring places focused more on food than on marketing. So I was surprised to learn I would be headed there for a bachelor party of all events. With a bunch of non-foodie type people to top it off.

The initial impression lived up to the marketing hype. Parked out front on the narrow, slush filled street was the first Maybach I had seen in person. Inside I was greeted by a fairly typical modern, contemporary restaurant design. Not much to comment on, so I'll skip to the chase.

As I was there for a social event and not so much for the food, I don't remember much from the menu except for what I ordered. And the chef's name, which was prominently plastered all over the menu. The amuse bouche was a slice of beef tenderloin seasoned with well, pepper as far as I remember.

For an appetizer, I had the Stilton and Duck confit salad. Upon presentation, the stilton was poured around the ring molded duck confit which was topped with some julienned vegetables and light greens. The duck was on the salty side, and not as tender and flavourful as I had hoped for. The sauce/cheese was quite good, but there was quite a bit of it and it didn't work all that well on its own near the end.

For the main course, I ordered the venison tenderloin and osso bucco with a barley risotto. Looked good on paper, not so great in practice. The venison was very flat, seasoned with a one dimensional peppercorn rub. The meat was tender but lacked in taste. The prune (I think) sauce was very sharp and contrasted too much with plain meat. It just didn't work together at all. The barley risotto was fine, and the only saving grace to the dish.

The service was professional and well rehearsed, but we ended up waiting about 45 minutes for our appetizers and another 30-40 minutes for the main course. It was partially our fault for being about 1 hour behind our scheduled reservation, and there were a few other large groups in ahead of us. It probably also didn't help that we (as non-connoisseurs) shied away from the $100+ bottles of wine on the menu which put off our French waiter.

Overall, it met my expectations, including the part about not expecting to see any real live celebrities. Would I go back? Perhaps when I'm rich and famous.

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