Monday, October 6, 2014

George: Innovative Canadian Cuisine on Queen East

Tucked away in a renovated 1850s chocolate factory, with century-old brick and beam detailing and decorative wrought iron filigreed windows, is one of the city's most romantic and stylish downtown restaurants George, Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s bastion of innovative "Toronto Cuisine" on Queen Street East. Considered to be one of Canada’s premier chefs, Chef Loseto honed his skills in some of Canada’s finest kitchens before joining George in 2004, by first  apprenticing at Three Small Rooms in the original Windsor Arms’ Hotel, arguably one of the best kitchens of its time, and as sous chef in Susur Lee’s legendary Lotus. Under the culinary leadership of Chef Loseto, George has since established itself as one of Toronto's top restaurants, having garnered Zagat's "World's Top Restaurants" rating two years in a row, and winning the country's top culinary title as the gold medal winner at the Canadian Culinary Championships in BC earlier this year.

George's elegant and stylish interior with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, crisp linens and rich aubergine-hues

Executive Chef Loseto’s innovative cuisine is devoted to local, seasonal, natural and sustainable food from the city’s markets, “this means that the food is inspired not only by the seasons, but also by the variety of products available in Toronto from many different cultures around the world.” Using minimal butter and cream, he creates à la carte and prix fixe tasting menus of small gastronomic wonders, that allow guests to explore Chef Loseto's complex and layered sensory mosaic of bold interlocking flavours and textures. During the summer months, George's coveted outdoor fountained courtyard with twinkling lights and elegant aubergine coloured umbrellas, offers diners a quiet culinary escape in the heart of the city. With a stellar wine list, superior service and exquisite flavourful cuisine all under one roof, George offers one of the best restaurant experiences the city has to offer — and one I hope to revisit many more times.

Strikingly beautiful, the interior of George provides an elegant backdrop to Chef Lesoto's
 innovative and creative cuisine

Stunning flower arrangements accent the dining room courtesy of Sweetgrass Flowers at Verity

George's à la carte and $50 three or $65 four-course prix fixe lunch menu

Executive chef Lorenzo Loseto creates everything from scratch in his open-concept kitchen, including all breads, pastries and this fabulously fresh foccaccia

The 2013 Agriverde Natum Pecorino from Abruzzo is just one of 12 wines available by the glass

This classic straw-yellow full-flavoured Pecorino had an elegant floral bouquet and crisp finish

Chef Loseto's award-winning Ahi Tuna with Carrot & Pear: Sashimi-style ahi tuna wrapped in crisp potato strands briefly deep-fried, garnished with fennel and pear relish, roasted shaved carrots, peppercorn mayo and jasmine carrot juice, finished with a flourish of fennel pollen and pistachio powder 

Lobster Salad with Curry Yogurt and Zucchini Flower Tempura

Wild Salmon with Curry Spätzle and English Peas

Sea Scallops on Sweet Potato Pavé with Snap Peas and Cauliflower Florets

Warm and inviting Dark Chocolate Beignets with Cinnamon Sugar

The open kitchen at George

Chef Lorenzo Lesoto   photo©panorama italia

Halibut with Lobster Cavatelli & Apricot Salad
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy Chef Lorenzo Loseto, George Restaurant

4 4 oz pieces fresh halibut

Cilantro Gremolata:
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup mint
1 clove garlic
1 lemon peel only
1 medium shallot
chili to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Lobster and Pea Soffritto with Bacon:
1/2 cup onion small dice
1/8 cup garlic small dice
1/4 cup red bell pepper small dice
1/4 cup tomato small dice
1/2 cup cooked lobster meat diced
1/8 cup bacon small dice
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups bleached peas
1 cup cavatelli pasta, uncooked
salt & pepper

Apricot Salad:
2 fresh apricots sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 handful pea sprouts

Combine all of the ingredients for the cilantro gremolata in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour the mixture over the halibut and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Sauté the onion and garlic with butter and olive oil on low heat, until it's lightly browned. Add the bacon and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the diced bell pepper and tomato and continue to cook until the peppers are tender. Once done, remove the soffritto from heat.

Bring a pot of water to boil and add salt just before the cavatelli pasta goes in.
While the pasta is cooking, season the halibut with salt and pepper, and grill for 5-10 minutes depending on your desired level of doneness. 

While the halibut is cooking, warm up the soffritto and add the peas and diced lobster. To serve, spread a portion of soffritto, peas and diced lobster onto each plate, and place a grilled piece of halibut on top. Pour a bit more cilantro gremolata over the halibut, top with spoonful of apricot salad, toasted walnuts and garnish with pea sprouts.