Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — It’s the calm before the dinner rush and executive chef Lorenzo Loseto of George Restaurant has found a few moments to talk about his cutting-edge restaurant and delightful approach to cuisine.
Loseto, like his restaurant in downtown Toronto, is a study in contrasts. I’m greeted at the front door and led past a modern, bright bustling kitchen toward a lightly lit, relaxing and tranquil dining environment. Loseto was a gold medal winner at the 2014 Canadian Culinary Championships who should probably be thumping his chest, but the man I meet is as quiet, easy-going and reserved as his dining room.
“I think the approach is first and foremost to make it interesting but not out of reach, so for me it’s important that I have to be true to myself and my personality. So I find that it has to be something I truly believe in and I’m not just trying to experiment,” said Loseto. “Obviously there are some minor boundaries we push, we all like different combinations, we are keeping it seasonal and that dictates a lot of what is on the menu, so it’s about creating something nobody has ever seen before, more of a sort of balanced approach.”
I stopped by the week before our interview to give George Restaurant a try and learn more about the man behind the vision. The restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary last September.
My advice if you’re visiting George is to order the Taster’s Menu (five-course tasting menu, $110; seven-course tasting menu, $130; 10-course tasting menu, $150). You can’t go wrong ordering anything here, but the seven-course Taster’s Menu is what I and my two guests — my wife and mother — requested and that’s my suggestion for you. We also had the benefit of a knowledgeable sommelier during our meal.
Tasting Menu a Beautiful Thing at George
Loseto agrees that the tasting menus are what he is most proud of, as they allow him to showcase a wide array of dishes.
“First and foremost, I would recommend any tasting because we do it so well, and it’s a surprise. There are dishes that I’m very proud of,” says Loseto. “But if I were to pick one dish, I would say the potato-wrapped tuna because I won the national championship with it, so it sort of takes me back.”
The dish Loseto is talking about is his Ahi Tuna with Carrot and Pear. His innovative “Toronto Cuisine” approach is certainly not for the lazy chef — everything in the Taster’s Menu is made from scratch using only the freshest ingredients, fused together in unique and wonderful ways designed to surprise, inspire and delight the customer.
One of the things that floors me is that the team at George has prepared three different courses for each of us. When I ask him during our dinner if he does this for everyone he answers yes, up to four dinner guests can expect four different dishes.
George Is Best Enjoyed with Friends
The three dishes in our first course is a Sesame Crusted Bass, with grapefruit and panna cotta; the prize-winning Ahi Tuna — not difficult to see why this dish was a winner for Loseto; and a smoked trout with black quinoa and anise sticks. I enjoyed the trout, cooked perfectly the way I love it with just the right amount of crisp. The quinoa adds a lovely touch to the dish. There’s no duplication with any of these plates. Every dish — including the sides — are perfectly done.
Round four features the grilled foie — Rabbit Confit, with quail egg and passion fruit; Short Rib, three cheese mezzaluna and english peas; and Duck Confit with Thai curry and yuca cups. Round six and the cheese plate, featuring Allegretto, Glengarry Lancaster and Comté cheese. Our final course is desserts, featuring Chocolate Mascarpone with orange broth and candied citrus; Lemon Tart, with Italian meringue and mango; and Chocolate Chili Tart, Flourless Cake and Chocolate Mousse.
“There’s a lot of little tastes, and some of the stuff is different. They might be plated a little different, but it’s also a balanced plate. It’s almost very feminine in a sense because it’s not your stereotypical meat and potato,” says Loseto. “You know, when guys go out they want that big steak and then the vegetables are sort of overlooked, if there are any vegetables at all. But we create a very balanced plate, so when our vegetarians come in it’s very easy for us to adapt because the vegetables and fruit play such a prominent role in the dishes.”
If you’re a timid diner, you probably won’t enjoy everything on the menu, and that’s okay. A good tasting menu will challenge your boundaries with unique and exciting creations and this one certainly does. Whether you’re timid or not, it’s a good idea to try this menu with a friend or two so that you can dabble, taste and share.
MORE ABOUT GEORGE RESTAURANT
Address: 111C Queen Street East, Toronto
Lunch (Mon-Fri) 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Dinner (Tue-Sat) 5:30 PM – Close
Bar (Tue-Sat) 5:00 PM – Close
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 647-496-8275 to make a reservation.