Lately it seemed like I had been revisiting a lot of my favourite food spots and it had been a while since I'd been out to try someplace new. With the holidays taking me out of the city soon, it was time to try one last new restaurant before the end of 2015. Although Bent has been open at Dundas and Bathurst for three years now, last night was the first time I've sampled the cuisine by celebrity chef Susur Lee.
Dundas West is starting to look a lot like West Queen West and Bent is no exception. Everything is a mix of retro chic and upscale eclectic.
The cocktails here were a couple of winners: bigger than most others you find at similar restaurants and beautifully garnished. The Georgetown Storm was a spiced twist on a Dark and Stormy with rum, homemade ginger beer, nutmeg, lime, and orange. My favourite, the And Also, seemed to include every ingredient at the bar: gin, tequila, aperol, lillet blanc, watermelon juice, cucumber, grapefruit bitters, and fresh sours. The result is a perfectly balanced and refreshing drink with just the right amount of fruit flavour.
We started with a must-have: tuna and watermelon ceviche. This unexpected combination is absolutely perfect with just a hint of chillies, citrus sauce, and garnished with Chinese fritters. This is a dish I would want to order again and again.
Next came short rib sliders with Monterey Jack cheese, veggie slaw and Budda sauce. The meat was tender but I found that the sauce overwhelmed the other flavours and I didn't really taste the meat or the vegetables. My dinner date had no complaints though so maybe it's just me!
For an adventurous palette cleanser we tried the Oyster Sake Shot. It's exactly what it sounds like: a shot of sake spiced with shallots, ginger, and lemongrass with a raw oyster floating in the bottom. The fermented sake and salty oyster work together to create a unique flavour that's honestly hard to describe. Whenever we go out, we like to try one dish that's a little bit different and maybe a little strange (remember when I had beef tendon?), so this was our adventure for the evening. Great for anyone like me who likes to try something unique and who enjoys bold flavours, but not so good if you don't like very strong notes of ocean, fermentation, and onion.
For the main dish we shared the Caramelized Black Cod on a root vegetable purée with pomegranate seeds, snow peas, and asperagus. The Cod was delicious in a miso sauce and simply melts in your mouth. Funnily enough it was very similar to the Miso Black Cod at Kinka (formerly named Guu). It's such a delicate and flavourful fish that I'm tempted to order it whenever I see it on a menu, and this one did not disappoint.
If you peak at the upper right corner of that photo you can see our side of potatoes. This simple dish was actually one of my favourite of the whole evening and if I ever go back to Bent I will be sure to order it again. Cooked in duck fat and generously coated with fresh rosemary and Parmesan, they might have been the best potatoes I've ever had in a restaurant. I'm going to try to recreate a similar version at home. Anyone know where I can find a tub of duck fat?
We indulged even more than usual and ordered desert. It is Christmas after all! Here we have the ultimate twist on banana bread: warm banana and chocolate cake with bourbon caramel served with a side of vanilla marshmallow and caramelized jackfruit. It's a grown up version of some favourite childhood flavours, and it looks simply gorgeous!
All in all I was very happy with the food & drink as well as the atmosphere. I would go back again, but for anyone thinking of checking it out you should know that it's a little expensive for the portion sizes, and the timing between courses was pretty long. It didn't bother me because I was in the mood for a long relaxing dinner and I suppose one must expect celebrity pricing from a celebrity chef!
Now that I've got my adventurous dining hat back on, what new places should I try to kick off 2016?