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Friday, September 17, 2010

Luma :: TIFF and O&B Win

After a great TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) movie, I Saw the Devil, we headed to the newest member of the O&B family: Luma. Located above Canteen in the new Bell Lightbox, they officially opened this Sunday and I have been looking forward to trying it out! While many avoid newly-launched restaurants, Luma was certainly not suffering from the opening blues.

Verdict:  A great addition to the O&B family. Fantastic service & dessert!
Meal: Dinner
Price: $40 + tax & tip

Dining Area, Blackberry lounge, Bar

As they just launched, they were offering an abbreviated menu. The service was wonderful - our server was very friendly and talkative. When I asked for extra spoons so everyone could try the soup he offered to talk to the kitchen about dividing portions so everyone could get a taste! How thoughtful :)

So please note, the appetizers will look small, as they are 1/4th of the normal portion size.

Chilled Gazpacho
Heirloom tomato, watermelon, minted yogurt, ricotta salata and extra virgin olive oil (1/4 serving)
Cool & Refreshing

Mmm...every time gazpacho is on a menu, it has to get ordered! This was nice & light and I thoroughly enjoyed the bits of ricotta and watermelon at the bottom. Unlike Globe Bistro's gazpacho, this was strained and had no texture.

This probably normally comes in a bowl, but I actually liked the little cup - I was able to sip every last drop like tea (maybe not the most gracious move, it was so good!). This made me think that a series of different gazpachos/soups in 4 little cups would be a really fun appetizer at a restaurant.

Fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette
(1/4 serving)
Balanced & Flavourful

This was fantastic - the vegetables were flavourful & soft and surrounded a tasty serving of seasoned mozzarella. It was lightly seasoned with a tasty pine nut vinaigrette, which I liked because it certainly did not overpower the vegetables. Everything was nicely balanced and every bite was thoroughly enjoyed!

I'm not a huge cheese fan but I did find it quite tasty and my cheese-loving friend really enjoyed it! While I preferred this over the gazpacho, both were excellent starters.

Ricotta Gnocchi
Light tomato fondue, basil, artichoke, and roasted garlic
Great for cheese-lovers
Not your typical gnocchi - the dumplings were entirely cheese! The tomato sauce was delicious and the plate was happily cleaned up with some bread from the basket. If you like cheese you will probably love this dish, and  I also really enjoyed the artichoke in the sauce. While very tasty, this was my least favourite - but again, I am not so fond of cheese! I would love the tomato fondu over a plate of vegetables.

Seared Tuna
Bibb lettuce, green beans, tomato, chickpeas and tonnato

Perfectly seared!
The tuna was delicious. There were 5 slices of perfectly seared fish which mingled very well with the mint and chickpeas. I really liked this combination - something that I wouldn't have thought up of on my own and it worked very well! I especially enjoyed the chickpeas, I think that I will add them to future recipes.

Peeled & cooked cherry tomatoes, fresh Bibb lettuce, and green beans were a nice addition. The green bean's use in the presentation was a little messy compared to other O&B dishes, which surprised me a bit. This was my second favourite entrée of the night.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin
Braised beef cheeks, crispy potato, celery, watercress and truffle jus
Perfectly medium rare, the jus was delicious and great with the tender beef. While good, I think that I would've preferred a little potato or two instead of the house made chips. Nonetheless, it was flavourful and especially enjoyable with mushrooms, some greens, and braised beef cheek. I really liked the beef cheek - it was tender and delicious with the sauce.
I forgot to ask, but there was a spinach-like sauteed vegetable among the bed of mushrooms. While I enjoyed the earthy flavour on it's own, I felt that it overpowered the rest of the dish and would have preferred another type of green, or perhaps some of the vegetables similar to the Burrata.

Porcini Mushroom Ravioli
Mushroom ravioli with a pureed porcini sauce, hazelnuts, and Parmesan foam
This was my favourite dish of the night. While many consider ordering house specials risky (as I learned from the Black Hoof disaster), the description made my mouth water. I am so glad that the switch from the chicken to the ravioli was made! I loved the porcini sauce - it had a dense mushroom flavour that it worked very well with the Parmesan foam. I really liked the foam as it gave the dish a light cheesy flavour without over-powering the slices of mushroom and ravioli.

I'll shamelessly admit that I took the leftover bread to clean up the plate - I really really liked the mushroom sauce! "Why don't you just lick the bowl?" my friend teased. Please, I have class. Plus, I was already done at that point.

Lemon Tart
Sour cream ice cream and blueberries
Best lemon tart I've had in Toronto!
This lemon tart was a winner! While I never documented it, in 2008 I went around the city searching for the best lemon tart and the winner was actually another O&B restaurant, Canoe. Move over Canoe, this was fantastic! It was creamy, zesty, and nicely brûléed. I loved everything about it - from the sweet top, wonderfully soft middle, to the sweet but not too thick crust on bottom. It was not too custard-like in the middle, which I experienced all too often during my lemon-tart hunt.

The sour cream ice cream was a great surprise. I was quite skeptical but it was refreshing and tasty between bites of the lemon tart. Yum!

Opera Cake
Popcorn ice cream
Almond sponge cake with layers of mocha, buttercream, and chocolate ganache
Caramel Popcorn
Perfect post-movie dessert
How fitting for TIFF! The popcorn ice cream sat on a bed of chocolate pop rocks which was a really fun touch. While not a fan of the ice cream on its own, I did enjoy the popping in my mouth. The ice cream tasted very buttery - if that's the way you like your popcorn (I like mine dry and salty) then you'll probably love this.

I also really enjoyed the opera cake! The mocha really stood out with the chocolate and it was topped with little flecks of edible gold.

Last but not least was a little bowl of caramel popcorn. Yum! I wish I had a bucket of this for the movie (although I would've spilled it everywhere - I Saw the Devil is not for the faint of heart).

I loved both desserts, but the lemon tart and sour cream ice cream was by far my favourite.

Overall, I had a great experience and I left with a smile. All of the wait staff were wonderful and friendly, every dish was well explained, and the food was great - especially the dessert! This is a great late night dessert spot for the area.

A series of comfortable chairs line the bar and the windows, and I can imagine this being a great place for after-work drinks and business dinners. Not surprisingly, the waiter mentioned that he has served celebrities since Luma's launch.

Perfect for the post-theatre crowd, I hope to return once they launch their full menu. I was very impressed with my experience especially since they just opened on Sunday. I can only see things getting better as the kitchen gets ready to launch their full menu and the craziness of TIFF passes. I had a wonderful night, and this was the perfect way to end it.

Verdict:  A great addition to the O&B family. Fantastic service & dessert!
Meal: Dinner
Price: $40 + tax & tip

Luma on Urbanspoon


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