|Location||1133 Yonge Street|
|Tasting menu with a bottle of wine||$325|
Midtown’s newest restaurant, Sash, exudes sophistication that you could only expect from its namesake chef and co-owner, Sash Simpson (North 44). As Simpson’s first foray into restaurant ownership, I was curious to see how his vision for an upscale restaurant translated.
On a Saturday night, my guest and I ventured to Summerhill to experience Sash’s summer menu. Due to the affluent neighbourhood we were in, we weren’t surprised to see swanky cars pulling up to the valet.
From street-level, the building’s glossy black façade, floor-to-ceiling windows and flowing-script sign made a distinct impression. Sash occupies the second level, and after we ascended the stairs (there’s also an elevator), we were greeted by the hostess — but not in the warm way we’d anticipated. Hastily, she grabbed some menus and led us to a table.
Turning the corner revealed Simpson’s masterpiece. He’d completely gutted the former space to construct what guests witness aujourd’hui: a moderately-sized dining room with crisply pressed white linens and plenty of natural light that ricocheted off the space’s gold accents. In the hallway leading to the washrooms, there was also 10-seat bar, which I found oddly disjointed from the dining room. It was devoid of any clients, unlike the bustling dining room.
New spaces can sometimes feel sterile, but despite being just over a month old, the dining area felt as comfortable as my pair of Jimmy Choos. The upholstered chair had the perfect amount of cushion, preparing me for the culinary journey I was about to embark on. And, I was fortunate enough to have a prime view of Simpson en action.
Our server, Alain, was professional and polished — a pleasant interaction in comparison to that we had with our hostess. He delivered some house made bread and truffle butter — the latter of which was définitivement the standout. Truffle can often dominate, but the combination of freshly churned butter and faint truffle was a perfect harmony.
We sipped on a bottle of full-bodied Submission from Napa throughout nôtre diner, and enjoyed its multidimensional flavour unfold throughout each course.
Simpson’s menu focused on contemporary North American dishes ranging from milk-fed veal tenderloin ($45) to butter-braised Nova Scotia lobster ($46), to bison tenderloin ($52). To appeal to its highfalutin clientele, there was also a caviar menu ($140 to $500 per 10 to 30 ounces). I liked how his dishes were punctuated with Indian flavours and ingredients – a nod to his past.
Simpson’s use of fresh, seasonal ingredients — the ethos of many skilled chefs — was undeniable. Freshly imported burrata ($22), one of the evening’s specials, was just one example. Its taste was overwhelmingly fresh, and I wouldn’t have guessed that it had traveled all the way from Italy to arrive on my plate. The luscious pillow of soft cheese was elevated by sliced beefsteak tomatoes, pitted olives and knobs of roasted garlic. Edible flowers and herbs added some greenery and balanced the cheese’s creaminess. There was nothing to nitpick about.
Three ‘ways’ ahi tuna ($24) also stood out with its freshness and presentation. Prepared in three formats — tartare, sashimi and steak — it was tied together with fresh herbs and accents of Hass avocado, jalapeno mayo, soy and coriander. This appetizer was the definition of summer — light and refreshing, which was a nice contrast to the burrata’s heaviness.
After an appropriate pause between courses, our sea bass ($48) and strip loin ($48) arrived. The perfectly cooked portion of Chilean sea bass sat in a rich Madras curry broth, lending a spicy hit to the meaty fish. Vibrant green pops of okra and asparagus made for a colourful dish that was equally full of flavour. Ma seule critique would be to serve a slightly larger portion of fish for the price point.
The striploin, on the other hand, was most exquisitely executed and cooked beyond perfection. There was no jus on the plate, which told me that le bifteck had rested for the appropriate amount of time. Following an effortless cut, its juices spilled onto the plate. The right amount of caramelization from the exterior’s char contributed to its overall mouth-watering flavour. Accompanying truffle fries, served in a separate dish, were spiked with the perfect amount of truffle. Aucune chance you’d return this to the kitchen.
Throughout our meal, Alain knew, almost instinctually, when to check in on us. He was engaging and attentive. Par exemple, he anticipated our needs by letting us know in advance if we’d like to order a chocolate soufflé for dessert, as it took 20 minutes to prepare. How could we say “non” to that?
For a new restaurant, the chocolate soufflé ($15) seemed like a big production as it emerged from la cuisine. Plated in a ramekin, it puffed over the edge and deflated with a puncture of ma fourchette. A delicate kiss of Cointreau in the soufflé paired well with the accompanying milk chocolate and toffee sauces. This dessert was light, but also satisfying for my post-meal sweet tooth.
Sash might be my new favourite restaurant in midtown. Oftentimes, a restaurant this refined can be off-putting with its snooty wait staff and better-than-you attitude, but don’t judge Sash by its polished cover. My guest and I enjoyed everything and had minor criticisms. For a new restaurant, I was blown away by la cuisine‘s skill. Visit Sash for a fine dining experience where you’ll feel doted on from start to finish.
Mme M. xoxo
La rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.