Sunday, January 30, 2005

Winterlicious 2005 @ Roswater Supper Club

The Rosewater Supper Club
19 Toronto StToronto, ON M5C2R1
(416) 214-5888
(416) 214-2412

Last night, I had dinner with some of my best friends at the Rosewater Supper Club, one of the participating restaurants of the annual Winterlicious event. While riding over there in the car, D. remarked that he didn't dress up for this event, that he only wore jeans. Oops!

When we got inside, an attendant took our coats (at no extra charge). I felt a bit akward taking off my coat right in front of the entrance to the restaurant, especially since there were two more parties that had arrived behind us.

After the matter of the coats was settled, we were led through the lounge and into the main dining hall. Our table was in the corner, with a dramatic black "bay-window" seat. Shortly after we had ordered our drinks, the manager of the restaurnant came and introduced himself. Unfortunately, I have a very bad memory and I forgot his name right after he said it.

As we were waiting for our drinks to arrive, I observed the decor of the dining hall. I don't know for sure period style in which was the building designed, but it does look stunning. The lighting was not too dark, and I could see the mouldings that framed the windows and that decorated the edges of the ceiling. It was bright enough that I could see some of the paintings on the walls, which gave me a very homey, yet elegant feeling. It did not feel like I was eating in a restuarant. Our secluded "bay-window" seat gave me a sense of privacy, even though the surrounding tables were all filled with guests.

Our drinks finally arrived, and after we ordered dinner, we sat there nibbling on the bread. I was very happy to see a slice of dark rye bread (one of my favourites), but when I bit into it, I realized that it was chocolate bread (huh?). Knight, who is a chocoholic, loved it. Princess complained that the bread was too hard. I thought the crust was a bit tough, but whole grain breads of this kind are like that. They were very soft at the centre and I quite liked it.

For appetizers, I had the parsnip soup and Princess had the salad. The soup was quite flavourful, but nothing that made it memorable. I didn't get to taste the salad, but Princess, who loves vegetables, actually couldn't finish hers.

For the entree, I had the lamb shank in bow-tie pasta with mushrooms and cheese. Princess had the steak with mashed yams; D. and Knight had the seared salmon with bok-choy. Presentation-wise, the dishes were not memorable in any way. Taste-wise, Princess' steak was the best. She called it "perfect!" She also announced to us that she loved the texture and flavour of the yams. D. and Knight both felt their fish was negligible. Upon trying a bite, Princess actually complained that the salmon tasted fishy, like it was not very fresh. BOO!! My pasta with lamb shanks was too salty, and the cheese was laid on a bit too heavily. I was not able to taste any of the lamb flavours, and the mushrooms were very disappointing. The only part of the dish I did like was the wilted spinach, and I wish they had given me more of it.

Before dessert was served, Princess and I made a trip to the ladies' room. On the way there, we saw the staircase section of the restaurant, which was made of glass, and on one side was a waterfall over a brick-stone wall. It was quite stunning and it felt heavenly to walk down those steps. Imagine what it would feel like to walk UP those steps to the 2nd floor!

The dessert consisted of a lemon tart for me, and apple creme caramel for D. His was essentially an egg custard, which was so smooth and so soft; it was positively exquisite. The highlight of my lemon tart was the orange tomato (?) that garnished the dessert. The tart itself was nice, but the blueberry sauce was a bit too sour.

At this point, I must emphasize that this is the Winterlicious event menu, not their regular menu that contains all of their best items. Having said that, I would have expected the food to be more impressive. The point of having Winterlicious is for these restaurants to showcase their goods and attract more clients. If the decor and the ambience are the only truly exemplary assets of The Rosewater Supper Club, then I can't say that I have any reason to go back there in the future.

That concluded our dinner. As we approached the coat check area, we saw that the restuarant was really starting to fill up now. The were guests waiting in the lounge, and people were arriving at the front desk. While we waited to retreive our coats, the manager led some guests past us to their table. A couple of ladies had to walk past us to get to the stairs that led to the ladies' room. While we were putting on our coats, the new arrivals were being led past us again to their table. Behind them was a throng of several more guests, waiting by the entrance. This is an aspect of this restaurant that I do feel is a bit inadequate. Perhaps they are not accustomed to receiving this many number of guests in an evening, but the dining room size would contradict that hypothesis. Why is it that they would place the coat check right at the front entrance, and not off to the side? There was so much traffic going back and forth, it was quite an uncomfortable scene to endure.

All in all, the service was very good (excepting the arrival reception). The food was negligible and the highlight was definitely the decor.

If I were to return to this restaurant in the future, it will certainly not be for the food.

I give it 3/3 for ambience; 2/3 for service, and 1/3 for the food.

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