By Lori Bosworth
I was recently invited to a media dinner at the newly-opened America Restaurant at the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto. Having already been to America Restaurant during their fall 2014 opening, I knew to expect a first-class experience. From the moment you step foot in the hotel, you are greeted by the courteous staff in the lobby, graciously guided to the elevator to the 31st floor where America Restaurant is situated and catered to by the most impeccably-polite servers.
As we entered the bold, Art Deco inspired room, we were seated at a round table at the opposite end of the bar, which was conducive for talking to our dining mates. We were offered cocktails; however, I opted for an Alice Mystery Mocktail ($10), a non-alcoholic beverage with raspberries, cranberry juice, lemon juice and vanilla. It was deliciously thirst-quenching.
Our first appetizer was the Ahi Tuna Poke Cocktail ($24). A skewer featuring a winning blend of flavours from tuna, pineapple, macadamia nuts, coffee and coconut, this appetizer really cleanses the palate and readies the taste buds for future offerings.
My dining mates were offered a Baker & Brain Pinot Noir from America’s U.S. dominated wine list.
Did someone say oysters? John Bil’s Best Oysters (Market Price) are perfection, slurpingly good. I’ve sampled America’s oysters on two occasions and in both instances, they have sourced some of the freshest oysters in North America. John Bil’s Best Oysters came from Boston this evening.
I’m not a huge fan of steak tartare since I find it’s often chewy and I don’t love the taste of raw meat. The AAA Steak Tartare is served with smoky carrot slaw, napa cabbage and BBQ potato chips. Now those chips were good!
Being allergic to lobster, I still decided to try the Cream of Chicken and Lobster Chowder ($20). It really was sinfully creamy and delicious and I made sure to have only a small amount of lobster.
In between courses, we observed the clientele dining and drinking at America Restaurant. On this Thursday evening, the guests ranged from a group of 20-something women enjoying cocktails to a group of men and women having a business dinner to a group of men in their late 40s enjoying drinks and appetizers. The bar at the other end of the restaurant was bustling with couples and singles enjoying the comfortable seating configurations.
Squid Ink Chitarra ($26) is right up my alley. The Chitarra pasta was blackened by the black garlic and parsely and served with monterrey squid and rock shrimp resulting in a light, yet highly flavourful dish. My dining mates were offered a 2010 Chardonnary Reserve from the Organized Crime Winery in Beamsville. The Chardonnay had a green apple and pear aroma and a fresh, crisp taste.
I love scallops so I was eager to try the Roasted Scallop Jambalaya ($42), which is prepared with foie gras, octopus, brown rice and andouille sausage. I generally enjoyed this dish, although it could have used a bit more kick.
When I saw that the next dish to be served was Lobster Rockefeller ($58), I realized that I had probably had my limit of lobster for the evening and mentioned to the waiter that I was allergic. What he did was have the chef substitute pickerel for the lobster and this dish did not suffer one bit for the substitution. The sweet and mild fish was served with steakhouse spinach, idaho puffs and philly cheese dip for a pleasing presentation of contrasting flavours.
The Beef Shin BBQ ($175 serves 4-6) is the must-order dish at America Restaurant. The tender beef is braised in Billy Bob’s birch BBQ sauce and served with trumped macaroni and cheese. The combination is dynamite.
After tasting so many courses, not many of us had room for dessert; however, we were all tempted by the All-American Dessert Bonanza, which includes fine chocolates, clusters, barks and sweets. Perfect for nibbling on an after-dinner sweet without committing to a full dessert.