I like my meals out to meet some basic criteria: worth the trouble, worth the money, and worth the calories.
Not everywhere is «trouble», but some places are out of the way and can make you wait even if you have a reservation. The money aspect isn’t because I’m horribly cheap, but instead because I know that I could be eating a satisfactory meal in the quiet calm of home I want my dining to be worth the markup. And the calories! I come from a very healthy family. It took until I was 12 for me to realise that you could put salt on corn on the cob. My parents have been married for almost 30 years and are still their wedding weight. Being somewhat trim in a requirement for me to keep my last name.
Getting to Café Boulud wasn’t much trouble. Except for my complete brain fart that the Four Seasons in Toronto has moved! So although I was initially early, I had to walk almost 10 more minutes than planned. As I’d never been I wasn’t quite sure where the entrance was – even if their address is listed as Yorkville, the main entrance is on Bay Street.
The design of the Four Seasons Toronto is different from most Four Seasons that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing (on my parent’s dime!). This one is more sleek and modern, with a seemingly Asian style influence. While it’s not cold like modern interiors can be, it isn’t as warm or as welcoming as I’ve come to expect a Four Seasons to be. The lack of signage was also confusing – or maybe I was so cold I didn’t see the sign for the restaurant?
There was no wait, as the restaurant wasn’t full and my friends had smartly made a reservation. But while we stayed for almost 2 hours, the place never really filled up.
Worth the money?
I want to preface my opinion on the cost with saying that the service was excellent. The staff was very attentive and were quiet in the way they moved about, almost like graceful gazelles. The tables were spaced out enough that we didn’t have to hear anyone else’s conversation. If that is important to your brunching experience, then the 38$ two course meal will be well worth it to you. But I am still at an age where I don’t mind a bit of commotion and enjoy overhearing people’s Sunday hangover stories, and I don’t care if they hear mine. About this: I think we were the only people there under 35.
As for the food, their brunch menu was interesting but not so different that I felt it was unique. I went for the Crispy Duck Egg and the French Toast. If you go once, get the crispy duck egg! Oozing with flavour and texture it kicked my taste buds awake. The french toast was above average and I really enjoyed it but it wasn’t something that I will dream about.
The most disappointing part of the meal was that there was no tea selection. After seeing the price, I was happy it was included but when I asked for a black tea all they could offer me was English Breakfast. It’s the Four Seasons!!!!! Have they not heard of Tea Mariage Frères? Or even Harney & Sons? Most brunch places, I would not care, but I do at the Four Seasons.
Worth the calories?
It was brunch with friends that I don’t get to see as much as I would like too, followed by a quick but rigorous workout. So this wasn’t an issue.
Go once. If just to enjoy the space and the crispy duck egg!