July 14: North 44 ★★
Today is the halfway mark of Summerlicious; in celebration the flagship restaurants of Toronto’s two most prolific culinary artists did battle and a winner was declared. The meal at North 44 was almost twice as expensive and almost half as good. Despite North 44’s attempts to seem Torontonian (Toronto is 44 degrees latitude) it misses all the charm of Canoe. The exterior is grey and the interior is dark and depressing. A large bust of an unknown Roman adds to the confusion. The food was poorly presented. The beef tartare appeared as a ball not unlike an uncooked beef burger, the tenderloin had asparagus jutting out and the meringue was off centered (my friend’s was not). The photos make this quite clear, I think. Taste was generally better. The Dijon mustard cut through the tartare and made a splendid spread on the toast. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and the sweetness of the jus, potatoes and onions (and my wine) paired quite well. Unfortunately, the asparagus were bitter and a little hard for my liking. The fairly generous cut of tenderloin was appreciated but at this level, an expensive slab of meat will not cut it. The dessert was simply a disaster. It was too sweet and too sour at the same time with no discernible texture. No one who ordered the meringue finished it. I would like to think this restaurant has seen better days (it has 4 stars for Toronto Life); perhaps it is not taking Summerlicious seriously.
Beef tartare with fried capers, grainy mustard and fresh country toast
Grilled beef tenderloin with roasted new potatoes, caramelized onions, Ontario asparagus and natural jus
Meringue with lemon curd and macerated fruit