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BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

Bobo Feed will be sharing things that inspire us or please us-
from the worlds of architecture & design, fashion & styling, food and drink, travel, urban living, whatever...

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Update and Re-Post: Canoe Restaurant

Well, they must have read Bobo Feed and heeded our advice! Apparently Canoe closed on January 1, 2011 for a month- long freshen up. The quote below is from a piece by Davida Aronovitch at Toronto Life.com on the subject (Full article here):

"Having just renewed their 15-year lease on the flagship Oliver and Bonacini spot, the partners felt it was time for a facelift or, as Bonacini puts it, “to come out with a left hook at Canoe.” O&B is working with Ana Cleto Design on a new look: a paint job, hardwood floors, banquettes, a soapstone bar, walnut tabletops and chandeliers are all planned. Flatware, staff uniforms and service areas will also get a make-over. The two private dining rooms will be soundproofed for optimal canoodling and for “serious lawyers who are not in the mood to party,” says Bonacini."

29 days to spend a million bucks! Sounds like a lot of fun!

Here's a re-post of our take on the venerable resto from back in June of 2010:


As Canadians, we're raised to expect of ourselves that we can do anything, and we mean ANYTHING, in a canoe. Well, the two of us must be pretty abject failures as Canadians, because about all we can do in a canoe is eat & drink, and only if that Canoe is 55 floors in the sky!
Last Friday we celebrated a recent anniversary at Canoe Restaurant, a place that is a Toronto institution (especially amongst members of the business community), and yet a place we had never visited despite its many years of continuous critical acclaim. Its Executive Chef, Anthony Walsh, began there as a day saucier back in 1995 and is now creative head for all the kitchens in the Oliver & Bonacini family. (Read this ode to him here at blog Gremolata) The Chef de Cuisine at Canoe is John Horne. Under the direction of these two, Canoe's kitchen turns out delectable offerings inspired by Canadian artisanal ingredients.
We started our evening in the bar, enjoying a cocktail & the view. Their mixologist, Jeff Sansone, is apparently quite renowned for his creativity, but we didn't sample any of his inventions. For us it was all about basics. Much as the true test of a restaurant's kitchen is often found in how well it prepares a simple roast chicken, we opted to put Jeff's staff to the test with a classic Bombay Sapphire martini and a Tanqueray  and tonic. The test was passed quite handily, not only because the martini had just the correct hint of almost-formed ice crystals shimmering on top, but by simple virtue of the fact that they didn't cheap out on the booze! Finally a cocktail lounge libation that felt worth the price!

The sun was starting to recede in the west and it cast a golden hue on the buildings and the lake.
Truth be told, the space itself is feeling a little dated. The work of Toronto' s star Interiors outfit Yabu Pushelberg, it would most certainly have been uber-trendy when it opened more than 15 years ago. It still has great bones- we like the two tiered floor layout focusing on the views, the simplicity of the polished concrete floors and the open ceilings. Fortunately it wouldn't take a lot of effort to give it a well deserved freshen up.

There's nothing dated about the menu, though. It pushes all the correct buttons (local sourcing, which in turn means seasonal cooking, sticking with Canadiana when they have to go beyond Ontario to source, and all the while proffering up fare that won't scare the Bay Streeters who are at the core of this place's clientèle). It successfully walks the fine line between getting too caught up in trends or remaining too traditional.

We each started with a half dozen oysters- 3 from PEI, which we believe were Colville Bays. (although from the Malpeque Bay area, the region's mollusks are apparently now being referred-to in a more specific manner- these babies were not just 'yer plain old Malpeques!)

The other trio hailed from the Pacific coast in British Columbia. Unfortunately we were unable to remember their specific names either, but we're pretty sure they were Fanny Bay's, which are known for their distinctive fluted shells. (Note to selves- next time use that memo taker on the i-phone!)

A large helping of freshly grated horseradish shared the plate with our little beauties, and a pair of condiments was served on the side (a fiery hot sauce & a shallot vinaigrette). We LOVED these oysters. The Fanny Bays had a deep mineral aftertaste that reminded one of the BC fiords- cold deep iron-infused water. The Colville Bays were extremely plump with a delicious naturally sweet brine.

Following the oysters came an amuse of Ontario spring vegetables (not pictured)

Then the "intermezzo", a super intense lemon foam.

Jay went kind of surf and turf. He selected Qualicum Beach scallops from BC, with horseradish scented fingerling potatoes, white radish purée, and smoked pork belly, adorned with asparagus spears and fiddleheads. Long ago we were turned-on to the concept of marrying scallops with bacon (can't recall from where) and this dish took it to the extreme. The scallops were flash seared crispy on the outside with melt in your mouth interiors. The pork belly was so tender it practically dissolved on the tongue.

Bee selected an entrée that was so light it could have been served in any spa. It was not his intention to be virtuous; that was just a bonus that helped pay down some karma debts. A very generous portion of poached organic wild Pacific halibut was plated with spring squash, baby carrots, beets and Brussels sprouts along with Great Northern and Fava beans in a carrot broth. (We MUST learn the trick of getting a vegetable broth to be so powerfully intense)

A squeaky clean pouilly-fuissé which opened up to show great finesse accompanied us on our gustatory journey.

For desert Jay opted for that Canadian classic, the Butter Tart. In this case, a Fireweed honey Butter Tart with lingonberries, Mill Street Porter (a local brewery) and walnut ice cream. Not exactly like Mom makes! (not better, just different, Mom)

Bee selected the Trio of Ices: strawberry rhubarb, vanilla, and fig. The strawberry rhubarb was like a slice of pie in every spoonful! Oh, and somehow the staff found out it was a special occasion!

Two and a half hours after arriving we were back on the street in the warm evening air.
The night was so perfect that we walked the couple of miles back home....
...all the while contemplating the city around us...

...and eventually coming to the realization that enjoying a nice canoe doesn't necessarily mean we have to get out of town!

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