Last night G and I visited the restaurant/lounge “Rain” on Mercer Street. We had been to Rain previously – actually on New Year’s Eve two years ago – but this was our first venture to restaurant versus lounge.
Rain, under the hands of Guy Rubino (chef) and brother Michael (front-of-house gadfly) was ranked the number 8 restaurant in Toronto Life magazine this year.
We opted to order Guy’s “Mystery Menu” ($95 each) paired with a flight of wines for each of the six courses ($50 each). The mystery menu concept (Perigee also wanders down this road) simply means chef, with a nod toward any culinary restrictions you may voice, prepares whatever strikes him that night. G was quick to mention to our waiter that his doctor has him on a strict diet of lobster, foie gras, and caviar.
First off my thoughts – overall – on Rain.
- fusion cuisine, while nice, is not really my cup of tea (I’m a classic French fan);
- everything was beautifully plated;
- many of the flavours across the 5 (non-dessert) courses were quite similar: chinese 5 spice, cilantro, lemongrass and coconut kept reappearing. In this vein, I was reminded of Thai cuisine;
- each course was ‘complex’, there was much going on across each plate. This, while looking pretty and sounding high-brow (if you will), didn’t translate into a real WOW factor … for me at least. Because it was complex, each course having so many layers, the dish often lost its focus and suffered from a lack of cohesion. G and I had a discussion about this afterwards and I think part of what was at work was the fact I’m dating an asian and we eat a lot of asian food at home, in Chinatown, up north, etc;
- each wine paired very well with each course, the flight was 3 whites, 2 reds and an Italian ice wine;
- Rain has gorgeous plates;
- Rain’s clientele dressed far more ‘casual’ than I was expecting … I can remember when Rain opened, there were lines to get in; and they rather infamously turned away Nelly Furtado (there was actually a guy wearing faded blue jeans, brown shoes and WHITE socks! … OMG! fashion faux pas);
- I think it would be very interesting to now visit Susur, who also does fusion/pan-asian cuisine to see if what he is doing is any different than what is being offered up at Rain. Guy Rubino is a white guy cooking under asian influence; Susur is asian. That could be quite interesting I believe; and,
- Rain is not cheap; our dinner for two including wine, tax and tip came to $390.00.
1) First course: hot pot; 2) me in Rain’s individual bathrooms
Oh … and as to me in Rain’s very funky individual bathroom …. granted, it’s strange I’m taking a picture of myself in the bathroom but bathrooms can tell you a lot about an establishment. Think lighting, accoutrements, how clean they are, how well they are stocked, etc.. I would give Rain’s bathrooms a solid 9 out of 10.
Saturday morning G and I finally visited the Cheese Boutique out in the wilds of the west end. I don’t know about you other Torontonians but I find anything north of Lawrence, east of Bayview and west of Avenue Road as a never-neverland. How people live out there is beyond me.
The Boutique is neat, though certainly not worth the drive to South Kingsway when we have our own Cheese Emporium quite literally across the road from us. Still, they do have a rather funky cheese vault, which I snapped a picture of … then was admonished by an employee for doing so.
1) Cheese Boutique; 2) the cheese vault
At the Boutique we did pick-up some hot guys, oops, I mean cheese and stuff.
- an aged Ontario Cheddar from the Ottawa Valley that started aging in January 1997 (delicious);
- a million dollar loaf of 5-grain bread ($6.99!) that we – oops – bought by accident (yummy, and almost molasses-like);
- Italian proscuitto, aged for 300 days; and,
- of course, real, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – the Pride of Italy.
The Cruiser Tables
We also I visited here …
Caban on Queen Str W
… where we picked up our new Emilia cruiser tables. G actually martyred himself from his Lent obligations so others could enjoy a good party … meaning: G gave up all personal shopping for Lent (and if you know G, that’s a near impossibility). However, since he won the Oscar Dinner Party ballot voting, he was granted a reprieve from his obligations. Hence the purchase of not one, but two Emilia cruisers tables. And a bloody bargain indeed. Regularly $400 each we got two for under $400. Damn! Don’t you just love a deal?!
Now, what we’re going to do with two cruiser tables – aside from cruising for guys of course – in our closet with a view is beyond me. Actually, we did purchase these specifically for parties we host.
And voila, on our return home, an impromptu party for two ensued, complete with drinks, a cheese and charcuterie board, martinis and cruising! … well, cruising each other at least!
I even ‘got lucky’.
1) Brent (aka Vannah White) models one of the new tables; 2) “Cupid’s Cosmicpolitan; 3) the cruiser’s first drinks! Woohoo!
Our cheese and charcuterie board with stuff from the Boutique
The Cupid’s Cosmicpolitan is highly recommended and consists of:
Granted, it’s not as original a G’s “Maotini“.
- 2 oz. Cranberry Juice
- 1 oz vodka
- 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- a splash or so of fresh squeezed lemon juice
G and I were thinking Xangsters from Toronto should get together for drinks somewhere someday. Anyone else interested in seeing the faces behind these blogs live and in person?