LUMA: Really wanted to like it more





647-288-4715    |    $9-26 lunch entrees,  $15-36 dinner entrees

Dropped by for a Friday lunch on the patio with high expectations. 

Food

The menu was promising for lunch, with items I’d expect to only see on a dinner menu: burrata, roast pork belly, veal flank steak, etc. Unfortunately, I’d categorize the menu as hit and miss based on our group’s experience.

Hits:

Mixed Drinks - ‘Fruit of the luma’ and ‘blackberry charger’ are both cleverly named, not too sweet, and perfect on the patio.

Coconut Poached Red Snapper - Friend of mine enjoyed the lightness of the perfectly cooked fish with the mix of root veg, ginger, lime and tofu. There’s a bit of heat here as well.

Ricotta Gnudi - Light and fluffy, tasty mushroom foam (there’s a ton of it, actually covered the gnudi entirely), and chunks of Parmesan made this affordable lunch portion ($13) a good value.

Misses:

Grilled Octopus - Always a good test for a kitchen. Good flavours (not great) when you got everything in one bite: pickled eggplant, candied olives, romesco, arugala. Problem was there was barely any eggplant or olive on the large portion and the romesco was bland. In addition, the octopus, while not rubbery, wasn’t tender and had a very dense quality reminiscent of steak, making it difficult to chew. Not sure if it was intentionally prepared this way, but it wasn’t pleasant to eat. We saw another table near us send theirs back to the kitchen.

Lobster burger - This was my main, paid $21 for the burger (no side) and was let down. The lobster wasn’t chewy but the delicate flavour got lost in the togarashi mayo, cucumber, and bun. I appreciated the texture of the crispy shallots, and I think it tasted good as a unit, but I needed to be wowed by either the lobster flavour or some great use of spice/acidity. Just wasn’t there. 

We tried the endive salad and shrimp salad as well. Both were neither hit nor miss. Wish I’d ordered the burrata; heard it was delicious.

Service and Ambience

High marks for both. Restaurant is beautiful and located in a convenient location as I’ve come to expect from O&B. The elevated patio, while loud from mid-day traffic, is a cool spot on a nice day and is great for people watching. Food presentation was also impressive for lunch dishes.

Service was friendly, attentive, and didn’t rush us through our long lunch. Our server recommended my friend’s snapper (good call) and was around frequently to check up on us. I’m definitely a fan of the style of service at O&B restaurants.

The Reco?

I’d like to tell people to come here, but my bottom line is food and both of the dishes I ordered didn’t pan out. It’s a great-looking spot, and you could very well pick a satisfying dish - the fact is that I didn’t. For that reason I can’t give Luma more than two stars.

I’ll admit a second visit for dinner might enlighten me, but I think I’m going to lay off the O&B for a while and give the little guys around the city a try.

Other reviews:
National Post    |     Globe and Mail    | Toronto Life

Posted by: Jacob, Visited Oct 7, 2011

Luma on Urbanspoon

TREVOR: Promising menu falls a bit short



416-941-9410   |   $25-35 entrees

Passed by a few times on Wellington, menu looked intriguing so took a shot with Eli (see his review of l’Ouvrier here).

Food

Nice diversity on the menu while still being succinct. Definitely some revisit value. There’s an entire section dedicated to foie gras, so if you’re feeling a little sinful, you’ll appreciate it. More meat than fish on the mains, but generally something for everyone.

I started with the beet salad. A great mix of red/gold beets, fried halloumi cheese, cashew butter, cashews, crispy shallots, some microgreens and herb oil (neither green seemed to have any flavour). I very much enjoyed the mix of textures and the balance of sweet beets, salty halloumi, and rich cashew butter.

Eli had the sea scallops over pea puree and duck. Enjoyed it despite the duck resembling cubed ham which was a little odd.

My main was the beef cheek on sunchoke risotto and shaved foie gras. I’m not a fan of foie, but figured shaved would be ok. The shavings were a little chunkier than I would have liked and were chilled. I didn’t find the different temperatures enjoyable. On the very bright side, the cheek was super moist and melted in my mouth. Sunchoke risotto was buttery and satisfying. I found the richness of the whole dish a bit overwhelming though and would have appreciated something fresh or bitter to cut it.

The other dish Eli tried was the seared foie on buttermilk pancakes, pork belly and spiced apple. We had delusions of a larger portion size (pancakes were size of your average cookie), and his description verbatim: ‘what it offered in delicacy, it lacked in flavour’. Too bad, it sounded promising.

Very extensive wine list, but limited beer selection (not really a big deal for a place like this though).

Service and Ambience

Friendly, laid-back service. Bread was brought after our appetizers which was weird, but other than that things were uneventful. We asked for a recommendation on which foie gras to order, but got the brief ‘depends on what you want’ answer. Not a big deal, but its nice to get an opinion or detailed answer when consulting your server. In contrast, we appreciated having the bills ready quickly which was great for a friend who had to duck out.

The whole restaurant is actually in a basement space with very low ceilings (7 foot kinda thing), so it feels very intimate. Exposed brick and use of wood gives the dimly lit room some character, and we both agreed it was a well-designed space.

The Reco?

A good fine-dining choice in the financial district that isn’t overly expensive (hard to find). Menu is interesting, especially if you like foie gras, but can’t say we were satisfied with all dishes. That said, we’d be open to giving it another try.

Other reviews:
Globe and Mail    |    Toronto Life

Posted by: Jacob & Eli, Visited Sept 29, 2011

Trevor Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

MILAGRO: Decent Mexican food, great selection



416-850-2855    |    $17-25 entrees

Food

It’s OK. Great selection of apps, tacos, enchiladas, margaritas, sangria, ceviches, and cocktails. Definitely a large menu.

The best thing we ate was Vuelve La Vida, a shrimp, octopus, and crab ceviche. All fish cooked well, bright flavours, probably a touch too spicy though.

My main, short rib enchiladas with a habanero salsa, refried beans and rice didn’t wow me. The habanero salsa had the right spice level, but lacked depth and tasted a little sour. When I had the short rib, I liked it, but it was hard to find in the enchiladas. Rice and refried beans were dry and needed seasoning or something.

My friend had the Barbacoa, shredded(ish) lamb in a banana leaf. It was well cooked, but there was no flavour outside of the lamb and generally the plate looked kinda sad.

I also tasted the Margarita de Pepino, a refreshing cucumber margarita. Couldn’t really taste the tequila, but I did like it.

Service

As we were seated, our host told us we’d love the food. ‘Some of the best mexican food in the city’ he said. We both felt he over-promised (don’t blame him though). The bartender waited on us, which actually turned out to be great. He was a little busy on Friday night, but helped us through the large menu, was very knowledgeable about the food, and was an all-around good guy.

The Reco?

Not awful by any stretch, but I can’t think of a good reason to revisit unless I’m really craving Mexican food in the entertainment district. The selection gives me hope that there are some gems on the menu, but I don’t think I’ll spend the $20 each to find them.

Other reviews:
Toronto Life     |     Globe & Mail     |     49 St. (video review)

Posted by: Jacob, Visited Sept 16, 2011

Milagro Restaurante Mexicano Y Cantina on Urbanspoon