Joni – Global and local food given the spotlight Park Hyatt Toronto’s lobby restaurant
|Location||4 Avenue Road|
|Dinner for four with wine||$500|
When the new Park Hyatt Toronto was unveiled after a massive four-year renovation, I couldn’t wait to see what the anticipation was all about – especially its new lobby restaurant, Joni. With any iconic hotel, one often has nostalgia of times past. For me, it was balmy summer nights on the rooftop, sipping on a martini while admiring the city’s breathtaking views. Would the new hotel measure up or miss the mark?
Walking into the new Park Hyatt Toronto was an entirely different experience – fully modern and finished to a great degree to luxury consistent with the overall brand. The expansive dining room, which essentially blended into the open lobby, was flanked by a show-stopping black staircase on the south end and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace on the other. A rich palette of dark wood, natural stone, and pops of orange leather contributed to its sleek vibe. However, the lighting could have been dimmed substantially to achieve a more intimate ambiance, especially during dinner service.
Executive chef Antonio Soriano eloquently combined global and local on the menu, drawing inspiration from his esteemed culinary career at several of the world’s finest Michelin Star establishments. His menu featured recognizable fare, such as angus ribeye, with an elevated twist. Par exemple, the tender bone in meat sat in a shallow pool of black truffle jus with a silky smooth pomme puree. As for beverages, there were a handful of reinterpreted classic cocktails and a thoughtfully curated selection of wine to complement the menu. Our table ordered a delightful 2015 vintage Bordeaux blend from Chateau Morrilon.
My guests and I commenced with three appetizers pour partager. Both the poached lobster ($32) as well as the grilled maitake mushroom ($17) came highly recommended by our hospitable server. Poached in beeswax, the pink-fleshed lobster glistened on the plate. Accented with carrot, marigold and goldenberry, it was an artistic masterpiece and perfectly executed. I had high hopes for the maitake mushroom with Vidalia onion and fermented spruce honey. I wanted this dish to celebrate the maitake’s umami flavour, earthy aroma and meaty texture, however, other components of the dish outshined the supposed star of the plate.
The foie gras parfait ($26), served with buttery slices of toasted brioche, was the most conducive to sharing, but I didn’t want to share a nibble because it was that delicious. Accents of maple and compressed apple complemented the silky foie gras exquisitely.
For the entrees, the dry aged duck breast ($39) was the showstopper and was cooked to a lovely medium-rare. Plated with pickled cherry, confit turnip and licorice crumble, every bite was complex and unique – it was everything I had expected and more. For a comforting dish, the chestnut capelletti ($37) hit the mark. With a small mountain of black truffle shavings, it was rich and satisfying without losing its uniqueness with each bite, as pastas sometimes do. Soriano paid homage to Ontario roots with the Ontario trout ($35) from Kolapore Springs near Collingwood. Cooked to medium, the trout was served with grilled lettuce, new potatoes and roe sauce. To say the portion was generous was an understatement, although after a few bites, my palate craved more complexity.
I had high expectations dining at Joni, especially with the Park Hyatt name behind it. While the menu did an excellent job of highlighting local ingredients with an intricate balance of familiarity and sophistication, I was expecting more complexity and creativity from a restaurant of this caliber.
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.