May 13: 360 CN Tower (★)
I have a firm belief that any tourist is necessarily bad. Nowhere was this more apparently than New York City. The further off-broadway you went, the better things got. Spring awakening was miles ahead of Wicked. One particularly fond dining experience I had was at a Spotted Pig, hidden away in the West Village but overflowing with customers. Wall Street Bankers might find it difficult to leave their perch to gallivant with the Proles but will find it appetizing. Two ridiculously fresh beers I had (Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner (Brooklyn, NY) $8 & Brooklyner Weise (Brooklyn, NY) $8) had yeast still at the bottom in the tradition of Cask Beer. I then got the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort & Shoestrings, which was really a house special. I could have used some vegetables but it was made for a true meatlover. Contrast that experience to the torrent of posh restaurants on 5th or Madison (I’m thinking Smith & Wollensky for some reason) that serve the same generic meal for super-inflated prices.
Toronto on the other hand is not very touristy. As a result most of the restaurants are really quite good. The one clear exception to the rule is 360 at the CN Tower. As you may know, when relatives from distant parts of the world arrive on your doorstep, you become rather nationalistic and market your country like no tomorrow. Thankfully, Canada is easy to sell. Fresh off the plane, a (Chinese) mainlander might remark at how clear the skies are or how temperate the climate is. If not to make them jealous, we need to keep our financiers happy.
And as with any tourist, the CN Tower is a must-see. Unfortunately, it gets enough traffic that it can sell $100 steaks that have absolutely nothing on homecooked ones (I went home last weekend to celebrate National Cow Day, the day Whole Foods puts natural ribeyes on sale). The steaks at CN tasted like they were pre-frozen. The meat had no flavor other than the oily, fatty kind; the texture was that of mashed potato. Tastelessness was true across the board – salmon, halibut, lamb… it tasted like a buffet. At least the wine was good.
The bill came to $550 (for eight people) and the marketing campaign came to an end. The tourists were happy to see such a large piece of meat. I was happy to return home to make some summerlicious reservations.
SEA SALT CRUSTED ATLANTIC SALMON WITH FRIED CAPERS
Sweet butter potatoes, grilled asparagus, preserved lemon vinaigrette $36