For my birthday last year, we woke up on the south Turkey coast at an ungodly hour to watch sea turtles hatch and make their way to the sea. It was a special way to ring in another year and truly a memory that I will never forget. And because of that, Ewan put a self-imposed and unreasonable amount of pressure on himself to deliver a special birthday for me this year. I believe that I am one who is easy to please and generally avoids setting lofty expectations, but after this week’s fretting on Ewan’s part, maybe I need to re-evaluate.
Nevertheless, Ewan outdid himself and selected a fabulous restaurant for us to enjoy my birthday meal. The Chase is located downtown in Toronto’s Financial District. As can be expected with high-end joints in this area, the food comes at a cost, but given it was a special occasion (it’s all about me people!) we legitimized the expense.
The Chase is sort of a two-part restaurant. When you enter, the main floor is the Fish and Oyster Bar – a more relaxed ambience which was filled with folks enjoying a post-work beverage. Our reservation, however, was set for the roof-top restaurant up on the 5th floor. We took the painfully slow elevator up in awkward silence with a handful of others and then were greeted by what seemed to be a receiving line.
A hostess showed us to our table right by one of the large windows affording a unique perspective of the surrounding buildings. Our table was indoors and across from the kitchen where we could check out the cooks madly spitting out dish after yummy-looking dish. A few groups were trying their best to enjoy the roof-top patio despite the abnormal chill in the air, but the shivering made me happy we were inside.
Our friendly server welcomed us and gave us suggestions based on dish popularity. We made our choices and sat back to chat and enjoy our drinks. Before our appetizer came out we were treated to complimentary biscuits topped with raw tuna as well as a loaf of fresh baked bread topped with a truffle glaze. Definitely a huge step up from cold dinner rolls!
Our appetizer then arrived; we chose salmon crudo garnished with citrus fruit and smoked coconut. Raw salmon is one of our favourite treats, but what made this dish a winner was the coconut. The smoke flavour was amazing – not too strong – but that hint of a taste that you just want to linger on your tongue. The only thing stopping us from inhaling the dish like savages was the fact that we felt like country bumpkins in the chic establishment and didn’t want to further give ourselves away to the staff and fellow diners.
And then our main dishes came. I went for the butter lobster pasta. The dish was large and had the meat from an entire lobster, but the kitchen took away the hassle of cracking it open. Each bite was a buttery piece of heaven. Ewan had veal which came with a king crab leg, gnocchi and veggies. He claims he won the prize for best dinner choice, and while his was good, I think the lobster was the clear winner.
After our dishes, which had us stuffed to the point that we couldn’t finish the tasty truffle bread (for shame!), Ewan twisted my arm saying that we should consider dessert for my birthday. I lamented, but apparently had no choice in the matter as our server came over and surprised me with strawberry rhubarb parfait. The icing on the cake was a personalized marzipan medallion sending me birthday wishes. The best part? This delicious treat was on the house!
While our meal was more than what we spend when we go out, it was worth the splurge. The Chase won us over with its ambience, friendly and efficient staff and tasty and generously sized dishes. While there are so many places we have yet to try out, I know it will be hard not to consider The Chase for our next special night out.