Thursday, March 24, 2011

Keith Froggett's Scaramouche

Scaramouche Restaurant is now in its 30th year, an eternity in restaurant life, during which time it has maintained its unfaltering reputation as one of Canada's top restaurants. The restaurant’s longevity is a testimonial to the pursuit of quality and the gracious service guests receive when they dine at Scaramouche. Presided over by acclaimed Chef and co-owner, Keith Froggett, few other restaurants in the country have been showered with so many honours. Gourmet Magazine, while it was still around, declared Scaramouche the 'Top Restaurant in Canada'.

Scaramouche Chef and Co-Owner Keith Froggett

Chef Froggett landed the spot of executive chef, taking over from Jamie Kennedy, just eight years after beginning his apprenticeship at London’s Claridge’s Hotel. Today, Keith Froggett is unquestionably a Canadian culinary superstar, yet he does so quietly and without fanfare, avoiding the spotlight and preferring to let the quality of his food take centre stage. Using only the finest seasonally available ingredients, the menu overflows with Canadian ingredients, reflecting Froggett's belief that "less is more", and that "the finest ingredients classically combined result in a purity that transcends fads and fusion." His approach to building a menu is simple. “We buy quality ingredients and try to treat them with integrity.” 

Scaramouche's sleek grey dining room

Scaramouche's more casual Pasta Bar & Grill

Scaramouche is a sleek grey dining room with raised banquettes, and commands a powerful view of downtown Toronto. The more casual Scaramouche Pasta Bar & Grill, while it shares an entrance, wine list and dessert menu with the mother Scaramouche, is more casual and slightly less expensive. Plus, if you're lucky enough to get a table in the east corner of the room, as we did, you’ll be treated to the legendary Scaramouche view and outstanding contemporary french-inspired cuisine. We started with an Asian-inspired Yellowfin Tuna Tartare topped with a creamy quenelle of avocado salsa and crispy daikon shoestrings, dressed with a tangy lime, ginger, coriander and shiso leaf vinaigrette and garnished with a caramelized sweet soy chili sauce drizzle. The second starter was a dramatic Beet Carpaccio with Monforte Goat Cheese topped with arugula and a wonderful pickled celery root, and finished with a tarragon vinaigrette.

Beet Carpaccio with Monforte Goat Cheese

For the entrées, we decided on Fresh Ravioli with pulled chicken, parma ham and ricotta cheese topped with wilted bitter greens and a chicken jus, and also the Peppercorn Fettucine, a sensational spin on beef stroganoff, served as a bowl of black peppercorn fettuccine with juicy morsels of beef tenderloin, oyster mushrooms and pine nuts in a divine madeira cream sauce, with a gratinée roof of gruyère and bread crumbs. Divine.

Peppercorn Fettucine

Fresh Ravioli with Chicken, Parma Ham, Ricotta and Wilted Greens

The meal was absolutely wonderful, so when the Dessert Menu arrived, we had to defer Scaramouche's sweet temptations to another evening. Although the menu is constantly evolving, Froggett freely admits that by popular demand, one thing will always remain: “Our coconut cream pie,” he says. “We tried taking it off the menu, but it’s stuck, stuck, stuck.” So apparently will I. It had been quite a while since I was last at Scaramouche, but with food this good, and such excellent dinner companions, I hope to return very soon. The waiter wasn't so bad either...

One Benvenuto Place, Toronto (416) 961-8011

Scaramouche Famous Hummus
Courtesy of Scaramouche

Keith Froggett says that his humble but delicious hummus is one of the most requested recipes at Scaramouche. 

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Place ingredients in a food processor and blend until either chunky or silky smooth, depending on your preference. If you wish to use less oil but still want a smooth texture, replace some of the oil with the cooking liquid from the peas. Hummus should be refrigerated if made ahead of time. Return to room temperature prior to serving.