Thursday, July 4, 2013

We didn't mean it to be like this... really!

We'd had a really long day.  We'd driven back from Niagara on the Lake already and had agonised with the one way system and the road works around Union Station looking for where we had to return the rental car.  But finally we found the right spot and said goodbye to the Jeep which had been a fun car and together decided that we rather fancied a cocktail as it was certainly 5 o'clock somewhere ... it was actually 5 o'clock in Toronto.

The question was where?  Now we've been to TO many times before and knew quite a lot of restaurants and bars but thought we'd like somewhere new so headed towards the financial district which at 5 pm was bound to be thronging with workers quenching thirsts prior to the commute home.  Bars would likely feature highly.  But walking up Yonge Street we only found places we'd already been to and wanted somewhere new.

By the time we reached Wellington, we were getting desperate so turned left off Yonge as I thought I remembered a couple of bars that looked like fun and saw this terrace thronging with people busily slurping booze of some sort and shouting at the top of their lungs (or so it seemed as the noise was pretty impressive).

Multiply the crowd by 10

"This was the place", we thought.  "Go where the crowds are.  It must be decent".  However it was a bit chilly so we didn't fancy sitting outside so checked in with the hostess who said that in addition to the multitude, there was a private party so we needed to go to the basement (aka dungeon) if we wanted a drink.

We didn't get in here
Not an impressive start we both thought and were within an ace of moving on when we found the door to the basement and entered into the palatial interior.

The basement
We were shown to a corner table and a waitress took our drinks order -- both vodka martinis with olives -- and settled in.

The room was pretty empty at this time with only another table occupied by a couple of people having what looked like an after work drink (beer and wine, no cocktails).  The martinis were nice though, good olives too.  This is important in a decent martini I think.  You can always tell good places by the quality of the olives.  The best we'd ever had was in the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong.  They and the martinis were sensational.

The waitress came over with a menu just in case we changed our minds.  And amazingly after the first martini, we had.  The question though was what nibble should we have with our second martini?

They served oysters which are like catnip for me.  Viv on the other hand doesn't like their sliminess but had persevered in the onslaught that was my prediliction for the humble mollusc and had bent in Newport, RI a couple of years back and downed a couple, and had done so again on several other occasions since.  I ordered a dozen of 3 different varietals (I forget which) whilst Viv ordered the seafood platter -- pretty much every type of raw and cooked seafood you could think of on a big tray.  As it was food we also ordered a bottle of nice Niagara rose wine to wash it down.

They were scrumptious.  Viv chowed down on plenty of my oysters but returned the compliment with the platter and together with the wine, this was something.

A second bottle of rose followed as we munched and slurped away.  This was a great meal.  However we realised as we finished the platters that all we'd actually eaten was a bunch of molluscs and crustaceans -- we were actually still a little peckish.  It wasn't a big steak kind of peckish, rather a sort of "I'd really like a non-fish savoury to finish" kind of peckish so we negotiated a veggie pasta to finish.

Oh yes and with the pasta we just had to have a bottle of nice Niagara red as accompaniment.  It was a pinot noir (I cannot remember which winery though).

The pasta was lovely too -- the sauce was a Mediterranean sauce with plenty of veggies cooked just right.  Viv and I shared an appetizer sized portion which was still pretty substantial.

This was a great meal but the bill was eye watering too.  "What was the name of this restaurant again?" I asked the waitress.  "Bymark" she said.

I'd heard this was a nice fine dining restaurant and can now confirm that it really was!

Chef Brooke McDougall
66 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON
M5K 1M6
(416) 777-1144

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