Restaurant Review: Enigma – The Purest Form of Dining Pleasure
|23 St. Thomas Street
|Dinner for four with wine pairings
Hidden within the sophisticated streets of Yorkville, Enigma stands out as a Michelin-starred culinary retreat. Once inside, the buzz of urban life dissipates into an ambiance of serene reprieve, while the heartfelt welcome from the staff envelops diners in a cocoon of hospitality, promising an experience filled with personal touches and grandeur.
At the helm of Enigma is Chef Quinton Bennett, a culinary storyteller whose dishes are as rich in narrative as they are in flavour. His vision for Enigma is a feast that goes beyond the plate, transforming the act of dining into an engaging tale where each course is a chapter, and every ingredient adds depth and character. Bennett’s craft is a dance of contrasts: simplicity with a touch of finesse, and the charm of the known with the thrill of the new, all tied together with a genuine love for the seasonal and local offerings that serve as his muse.
As we settle into the evening, the meal begins with a comforting nod to the wild Canadian landscape: a maple tea that conjures up images of tranquil forests. This is followed by starters that are far from mere appetizers—they’re the opening lines to the night’s story. The duck rillettes blend the warmth of mustard with the rich, earthy tones of beetroot, while the halibut ceviche, with a zesty kick of jalapeño, sets the stage for the culinary drama to unfold.
The first course is a delight to the senses. Juicy cherry tomatoes and the creamy caress of fresh cheese are elevated by the delicate notes of elderflower and the bright cheer of marigold petals, crafting a scene as pretty as a pastoral painting. The Marguet Ambonnay Grand Cru Champagne (2016), effervescent and alive, dances with these flavours in perfect harmony. And then, there’s the sommelier—untrained in the conventional sense but gifted with a natural insight into the world of wines, offering pairings that surprise and captivate, reminding us that sometimes passion is the best teacher.
The meal continues to enchant with the second course: Amberjack that’s as fresh as the morning tide, seasoned with yuzu and dill for that extra zest. The chosen Riesling (August Kesseler, Seligmacher GG, Rheingau, 2019) both calm and eloquent, embraces the fish’s luxurious texture in a perfect marriage of tastes.
Hokkaido Madai, adorned with pear kimchi and the indulgent Madai Toro, is the third course, and the Weingut F.X. Pichler Gruner Veltliner (2020), with a playful hint of spice, brings out the subtle complexities of the dish, encouraging us to savour every layer of its story.
Then comes the halibut, a meditative pause in our culinary concert, nestled amongst an ensemble of mushrooms and caressed by a velvety dashi crème. The accompanying Roche aux Moines Chenin Blanc (2018), familiar yet enchanting, completes this dish’s journey with grace.
The flavor crescendo arrives with the Pekin duck—a dish rich in heritage and taste, with each bite revealing a piece of its storied past. The Humbert Freres, Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru (2019), dignified and layered, pairs with the duck in a duet that solidifies Enigma’s sterling reputation.
The presentation of the Wagyu is the grand finale, a showcase of Enigma’s culinary artistry. The Bordelaise and bone marrow are the ovation, and the Chateau Angludet Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) is the deep, satisfying encore that lingers long after the curtain falls. Before the Wagyu course is presented, marking the pinnacle of our dining experience, we’re also graced with a selection of fine Japanese knives. Each is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, offered to us to enhance our personal engagement with the dish. This thoughtful gesture not only pays homage to the Japanese origins of the Wagyu but also allows us to partake in the ritual of slicing such exquisite meat with precision and reverence. This detail by Enigma adds a layer of intimacy to the meal, bridging the gap between culinary art and cultural tradition right at our table.
Desserts follow as a whispered epilogue, a sweet serenade of beeswax, honey, and apple that brings a touch of the wild into the dining room. The 1998 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes Premier Cru Classe, more than just wine, is a draught of history, and the final bow—a blend of pear and chestnut, blackcurrant and the luxurious Valrhona chocolate and carrot cake morsels daintily perched in a copper tree—is the culmination of the night’s performance, with a refreshing sip of Sake Naminoto Suzo to clear the palate.
Throughout the evening, the service is a gentle guide, always there but never intrusive, ensuring that the story of the night unfolds seamlessly. In these moments of undisturbed indulgence, Enigma bestows upon its guests the purest form of dining pleasure—a collective journey for those who honour the inventiveness on the plate and the wisdom in the glass.
Enigma warrants not just praise but a standing ovation. This dining experience is a pursuit of perfection, a tapestry of efforts and creativity, woven so deftly that one can’t help but feel it deserves another star. It’s not just a meal—it’s a testament to the chef’s and the team’s relentless pursuit of excellence. Bravo.
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.