Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nota Bene - Yes, There IS A Place In Toronto Worth Eating At! (Toronto, ONT)

Nota BeneCocktail Menu

Nota Bene

After a few subpar meals in Toronto, I was beginning to second guess my reservation at Nota Bene, the lone restaurant I booked ahead of time prior to my trip. After reading about Nota Bene on Chowhound, I decided to book a dinner there for our last night in Toronto, and I'm glad I went with my gut.

Bread ServiceBread Service w/olive oil

Bread Service

Upon seating, we were handed our menus and also served with two types of bread along with a bowl of olive oil.


Streetcar - Orange Infused Dark Rum, Lemon Juice, Bitters

Ice Wine Martini

Ice Wine Martini - Vanilla Vodka, Ice Wine, Agave Nectar, Citrus Twist

Toronto Mule

Toronto Mule - Vanilla Vokda, Ginger Float, Ginger Lime Juice, Bitters

As we started to look over the menu, we ordered up a round of cocktails. My friends went with the Streetcar and the Ice Wine Martini. The Streetcar was definitely the strongest of the three drinks, but I enjoyed the orange infused rum liqueur basis in the drink. Despite the stiffness of the drink, it was quite enjoyable. The Ice Wine Martini probably needed a bit more ice wine flavor, as the vanilla vodka dominated the drink. Finally, the Toronto Mule. Look, I enjoy all types of "mule" drinks. Russian Mule, Gin Gin Mule, and in this case, the Toronto Mule. For me, what can go wrong with a mix of vodka, ginger, and lime? What a fantastic combination!


"NB" Farm to Fork Charcuterie

We started off our dinner with an order of Charcuterie platter, and it's one of the better ones I've had. Since I'm not too keen on cheese *gasp*, yes, you can all gasp away, I thoroughly enjoyed this meat platter, though I stayed away from the bowl of olives. Very nice way to begin out dinner.

Pomme Frites

Pomme Frites

Of course, I gotta order the Pomme Frites when I saw it on the menu. Crispy, "Potatoe-y," with a sprinkle of cheese on top, what's not to like here?


Nova Scotia Lobster Salad - Avocado, Maple Bacon, Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing

My buddy Benny decided to start off with a lobster salad with maple bacon, avocado, and a blue cheese dressing. I didn't try it, but my friend seemed to enjoy his starter quite well. Though what could go wrong with lobster and bacon?

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Since I love soup, I, along with my buddy Morgan went with the lobster bisque. Unlike the usual lobster bisque, the one served at Nota Bene had an Asian influence (say Lemongrass?), yet the flavors of the lobster was quite evident. Fantastic! What a start before our main course!


Queen Street Pick Me Up - Coffee Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys, Frangelico, Espresso, Served Up

Nota Bene

Nota Bene - Limoncello, Lemon, Citrus Vodka, Elderflower Presse Water

Air Canada

Air Canada - Gin, Lemon Juice, Bitters, Egg White, Cherry Liquor

As we wait for our main course, we went with a second round of cocktails. My friends went with the Queen Street Pick Me Up, which was a coffee based cocktail drink. Very nice, especially those that enjoy the taste of coffee. However, I preferred the Nota Bene, as I typically enjoy more of a citrus based cocktail drinks. Finally, in honor of Canada, I decided on Air Canada, which was a martini drink with a gin and cherry liquor base. It's definitely a stiffer drink compared to the Toronto Mule I had earlier, but equally enjoyable.

Cornish Game Hens w/smashed potatoes

Cornish Game Hen with Smashed Potatoes

Since I didn't have this entree, I wasn't sure how it tasted, though my buddy seemed to enjoy it quite well. Meat (cornish game hen) and potatoes, it's hard to wrong with that combination!


Pulled Suckling Pig & Boudin Noir Tart - Maple-Smoked Bacon, Mushrooms, Truffle Vinaigrette

OK, I'll make this description simple. BEST thing I ate during my trip to Canada, and this includes Montreal. I mean, how the hell can this dish NOT be good? Crispy pork skin, tender pulled pork, boudin noir (blood sausage), bacon, and mushroom. First of all, I love crispy pork skin, and boudin noir despite its "bloody" nature, I just love! Layered on top of a crispy tart, my friend and I just gobbled up our entree. For whatever it's worth, I'd almost return to Toronto just to eat this dish at Nota Bene!


Sticky Toffee Pudding - Pecan Praline, Spotted Dick Ice Cream

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart


Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake - Chocolate Sauce, Chocolate Ice Cream

Ah, onto my favorite part of any meal, dessert. Even though I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, somehow our dessert selection was pretty heavily entrenched with chocolate. I will have to say my favorite of the trio was the Sticky Toffee Pudding, as I enjoyed the flavor contrast and temperature contrast a bit more. The other 2 desserts were good, but nothing really worth mentioning, though the chocolate fudge cake was not as heavy as it looked. A good, but not a great way to close out our meal.

Dining RoomDining Room

Dining Room

Looking back, did my meal at Nota Bene save my trip, at least my culinary trip in Toronto? Probably not, as I didn't care for much of what I had eaten prior to Nota Bene. Though I'm glad I ended things here at Nota Bene, as we're moving onto Niagara Falls and Montreal. Frankly, Nota Bene does not compare with the best restaurants in New York City, Montreal, or even Los Angeles, however it's damn good nevertheless. If you're in Toronto for whatever reasons (maybe a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame?), give Nota Bene a try. This bustling downtown Toronto restaurant is definitely worth checking out!

Final Rating 8.5 out of 10

Nota Bene
180 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3X3, Canada
(416) 977-6400
Official Website


Ravenous Couple said...

nota bad at all eh?...clunk. ok, bad joke.

Diana said...

I can tell from the signs for the restaurant that this place is legit! It has that sort of fancy schmancy lettering and color palate. Glad you got in at least one good meal up north! (Amidst all the hockey museums)

Didn't know you weren't a fan of olives either! Sounds like Cathy and Anna are going to be eating a lot of those suckers tonight!

Jenn said...

Wow. I love that the lobster salad has full bacon strips in it rather than the crumbled pieces. All the food look fantastic. I want to try making lobster bisque one of these days.

catty said...

Firstly, great photos. Secondly, GREAT PHOTOS!!! Thirdly, OMG POMME FRITES. They look amazing. And lastly, everything else actually looks pretty darn good too :)

burumun said...

I miss nova scotia lobster, haven't had it since Marea!
That pick-me-up cocktail looks good too ..
I may never make it to Toronto, but good to know there's at least one good place in case I do.

Lady Ducayne said...

Yeah, I guess your photos are just okay. I mean...they DID come from a Canon so...OH LOOK! Charcuterie!

weezermonkey said...

Diana beat me to it. I judge restaurants by their fonts.

Kung Food Panda said...

Hong: Man, lately you've been pulling some jokes out of your hat. Unexpected! LOL

Diana: Yup, I knew this would be semi upscale, but the prices were OK. Entrees were around 25 CAD or so....

And ya, I hate olives, I avoid it all times if possible...

Jenn: Yup, the lobster dishes were fantastic. I really enjoyed the bisque with a touch of Asian ingredients

Catty: THANKS! :D Actually these shots I was really happy with, and too bad it wasn't my lens. :(

GP: You're making ME miss those lobster now too.....

LD: Canon is better than Nikon. I think I'll have to convert you soon :P

WM: LOL! You gals crack me up!

Aaron said...

I'm guessing Nota Bene is an Italian restaurant. If that's the case, isn't charcuterie French, rather than the Italian salumi?

What are "smashed" potatoes? Are they any different than "mashed" potatoes?

I love the art in the two pictures of the dining room. Looks like it had great ambiance.

Anna A. said...

You don't like olive, CHEESE (??) and now chocolate (??) and tell me to drink a banana shake?! psh please! Maybe we don't agree on some things (pass on the blood sausage) but I like your drink selection. Esp the the Canadian Mule =))

Gastronomer said...

An ice wine martini would also pair well with boat noodles!

Marie said...

Ooh boudin noir. It's amazing I was able to catch that detail after going into a lobster trance after your first couple dishes.

Kung Food Panda said...

Aaron: Even though the name is Italian, the food was not quite Italian. I think it's more California/American than anything else!

Smashed potatoes is pretty much a chunkier version of a mashed potatoes. Not too much different, IMO.

The space is great and the dining room/bar was crowded. Definitely one of the more popular restaurant in the area.

Anna: Give me any "mule" drinks and I'll be happy! :) I just don't like olives. I just can't overdose on chocolate and cheese!

BTW, that banana shake is great, and I'm not even a fan of bananas.

Cathy: I don't know, it's better with seafood I think :P

Marie: Thanks! Those lobster dishes were good.

Pandalicious said...

lobster salad and ice wine martini for moi. thx.

Betty said...

yum the fries look extra crispy :O)

Kung Food Panda said...

Amy: Good choice! :)

Betty: I actually think the pic lookws better than how the fries tasted, but it was still good :)

Bonnibella said...

Pommes fries looks kind of like a shaggy guys hairdo that's meant to look messy a la Edward Cullens. Both of the above - gorgeous.

Kung Food Panda said...

Bonni: Thanks!~ :)

Drew K said...

Can you list all the places in Toronto you visited? I see Aqua, duff's and beer bistro reviews....not places I would recommend to any foodie visiting Toronto.

Kung Food Panda said...

Drew K: I'll be honestly, I didn't really research Toronto food other than Nota Bene and probably Rodney's. I went to Toronto for the NHL Hall of Fame more than anything else, and to check out St. Lawrence Mkt. What would you recommend?