Victor Restaurant at Le Germain Hotel on Mercer Street has introduced a new culinary experience that allows for creativity, while also being educational. They’re offering a twist on the fun paint night, with a Plate Night! Torontonicity was invited to experience a group plate event and learn some plating tricks for our next dinner party. Plate Night can be requested as part of a private dining room package or group event.
If you didn’t hear about the recently repurposed café space at Victor, you can read about my last visit to Victor Restaurant here, where I was introduced to their new private dining area and the fun nostalgic menu created by Executive Chef Lanny MacLeod. Plate Night is intended as a more interactive experience, where guests get to learn directly from the Executive Chef how to create three different style of plates – sharing (most commonly used in a brunch setting), contemporary fine dining, and the more relaxed and welcoming style used at Victor.
Chef MacLeod demonstrated the various plating styles and spoke about small tips and tricks used in kitchens regularly – when a small amount of any ingredient accidentally falls on the plate, he recommends you embrace it. Kitchens are fast-moving and the team doesn’t have the luxury of going back all the time, so dollops of sauce that fall on a plate just mean an additional splash of colour!
Another recommendation was to not fight against the ingredients – make sure you’re allowing items to fall in place naturally. Some ingredients don’t move in certain ways whether it be from the way they’ve been prepared or their natural composition. Forcing a garnish or key ingredient into a specific shape may cause more issues when other items are introduced, so best to work with all your items and let them fall into place. What fantastic advice!
During the demonstration, guests were invited to try some light snacks: Victor’s signature crispy fries with sea salt, olives and delicious crispy smelt.
Once the demonstration was over, it was our turn to try! We were given a variety of garnishes, sauces, tools and toppings. We could even pick what plate we wanted to use from the wide variety of gorgeous dishes available at the restaurant. Once we decided upon our canvas, we were to use smoked salmon as the central focus – an item that is available on Victor Restaurant’s events menu.
I immediately gravitated towards the lovely flower garnishes available and decided to create a colour-focused presentation to play against the soft mint of the plate I chose. I also attempted to create that paint style smear that’s so popular in plating, but I think I laid the items out incorrectly, so the composition wasn’t very even – there was a massive blank space in the middle of my dish!
After we all completed our dish, Chef MacLeod came around and briefly spoke to each individual plate – how nerve-wracking! In all actuality, he is an incredibly funny and kind person, so he focused on the positives and made everyone feel great about their creations. What a sweetheart!
The critique was over, and everyone enjoyed a cocktail: The Watery Grave. This cocktail is currently available at Victor Restaurant and is a fantastic summer cocktail for tequila lovers as it’s made with Altos tequila, Kopke ruby port, watermelon coriander cordial (wow), lime and cucumber for garnish. It’s served with a salt rim, which I’m not a huge fan of, but the salt amps up the summery vibe of this cocktail. It’s light and refreshing, but has the perfect kick for starting off your weekend after a long day at work!
For our Plate Night event, guests were treated to dinner, featuring a couple of the main courses from the current menu: Panko Crusted Eggplant and the Magret Duck Breast. The duck breast is served with cauliflower and blackberry Armagnac jus. Each piece is tender, moist and cooked to perfection! My personal favourite was the eggplant that comes with heirloom tomato ragu, olives and fresh mozzarella. The panko crust adds the most fantastic crunch, and all the ingredients play off one another so fantastically. This is a great dish for any pasta lover!
If you’re looking for a fun evening activity with friends who are up for learning a few tricks and enjoying some delicious cocktails in the process, you should absolutely arrange for your own private Plate Night event at Victor Restaurant. I would also recommend this for anyone who feels intimidated by a painting activity because of their lack of experience with art materials. We all love food, and know what we like, so why not make it an educational experience and learn some plating secrets! Make sure to contact the Victor Restaurant team to inquire about full details. Enjoy!