East Coast Road Trip | lobster & corn chowder, butter poached lobster & crab, Ontario peas, leeks, shallots, smoked paprika oil, pea shoots

On Tuesday, August 11th, we visited 250 University Ave to be wined and dined with the nostalgia of summer by the elle cuisine team. As we descended down the stairs and walked through the dimly-lit corridors to The Vault where dinner would take place, we had no idea what awaited us.

Entering the room, we were struck by the long and beautifully decorated table. The attention to detail was immediately obvious. There were personalized place cards using wine corks as stands. The menus themselves were personalized, which was a very nice, unexpected touch. The centrepieces were bouquets of green and purple leaves with candles scattered among them, echoing the lushness of the summer season. The tableware was golden and matched perfectly with the woven placemat.

Over at the bar, there were also charming touches like blackboards where the featured cocktails were detailed. Tonight, they were the Lady Grey Sour and Pink Lemonade. Both were tart, bright, and fruity, staying with the summer theme. To go with the cocktails were some hors d’oeuvres like oysters and croquettes, which the friendly staff offered with a smile.

After some time socializing, we then sat down for the four course dinner. The first was called East Coast Road Trip, which was a chowder that naturally had to include lobster, if it’s to represent the east coast. The lobster was butter poached and cooked to the right firmness. The broth was silky smooth, with the corn providing a nice sweetness complementing the smoke and hints of heat from the paprika oil. The second course was called Italian Summer, and what can be more Italian than pasta, tomatoes, and olives? I’ve never seen so many varieties of tomatoes, done in different ways, in a single dish – they were confit’ed, fried, and roasted. There was even tomato dust and tomato butter. The dish was quite flavourful and delicious.

What’s summer without steak? That’s exactly what the third course was, called Aged & Smoked. It was a 65-day dry aged rib eye basted in smoked butter, cooked to a medium rare temperature. The béarnaise was flavoured with lemon, which cut through the typically rich sauce. Summer asparagus and a potato crisp served as accompaniments. Finally, there was the dessert course, called Burnt Marshmallow. It is essentially a deconstructed s’more, re-imagined with chocolate ganache, homemade graham cracker, and sponge toffee dust. Blueberry ice cream provided a sour contrast.

All of the courses tonight were paired with different drinks, whether they be cocktails or wines, which too followed the summer theme. Each course had a summer memory in mind, cohesive with the theme in its ingredients and flavours. The dishes were beautifully plated, and delicious. As someone whose favourite season is summer, I enjoyed this dinner quite a lot. elle cuisine isn’t just a catering company – it aims to deliver a culinary experience, and tonight’s dinner was just that. Owner and executive chef Lauren Mozer and team provided thoughtful, flavourful dishes, along with impeccable service. While elle cuisine specializes in private events, it also offers special events catering, corporate catering and cooking classes to Greater Toronto Area.

For more information:
http://ellecuisine.ca/
Twitter: @ElleCuisineTO #ellesummer #eatloveliveenjoy
Instagram: @ellecuisine #ellesummer #eatloveliveenjoy
Facebook: ElleCuisine

Photos by John Tan and Nick Lee

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John Tan

John is an avid traveller, but equally loves being a tourist in his own city. With camera in hand, he enjoys discovering the sights, sounds, tastes, and everything else that Toronto has to offer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@iam_johntan) to see what he's been up to lately.