My new favourite spot for a prix fixe menu for $20.95 is at Osgoode Hall. Yes, Osgoode Hall.
I’ll admit, I felt a bit intimidated prior to checking out this restaurant knowing that there would be robed lawyers dining. But I was wrong – indeed it was refined dining but the mood felt amiable.
After walking through a metal detector at the entrance of the building. It took me a minute or two to find the restaurant on the second floor. When I did I was greeted by the maître d who took me to a table at the back of the room where I could absorb the grand space. It was grand. Wooden walls, wooden beams, glorious flags, coats of arms, large study tables and swept clean shining floors.
The Osgoode Hall Restaurant is open to the public from September through June from 12 noon- 2:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and features the cuisine of Executive Chef Adam Foley.
Foley, who has directed the kitchens of some of the top restaurants in Toronto, including the Rosewater Supper Club, Brassaii, Empire and Brant House, has a reputation for simple, clean flavours and classical flare with a modern take. While his cooking style reflects his classical training, his dishes are lighter than traditional European cuisine. “French and Italian food can be too heavy,” says Foley, whose updated classic dishes have won rave reviews.
You can order à la carte or enjoy a three-course menu of seasonal fare from the prix fixe menu, surrounded by leather-bound law books, stained glass and robed lawyers on their way to court.
I ordered the prix fixe menu for the day which included Cornish Hen Galantine with Goat Cheese Mousse and Chutney, Duck Confit with Butternut Squash Gratin and Sautéed Spinach and for dessert I had the Paris Brest with Ontario Apricot and Raspberry Coulis. I was excited as the menu changes every day.
Carlos was my waiter and he was sure to gently inform me that if you do not make a reservation in the restaurant it’s hard to get a spot after 1 p.m.. He also advised me that some of the wine on the wine list you cannot find in the LCBO – they are exclusive to Osgoode Hall.
When the Cornish Hen Galantine with Goat Cheese Mousse and Chutney arrived at my table within minutes of ordering it – I found it to be beautifully plated. The Cornish Hen was flavourful and quite a substantial portion for an appetizer. In that moment I wondered why I even bother going to Summerlicious & Winterlicious in Toronto. This meal was already proving to be more value for the money. The Goats Cheese Mousse provided a creamy layer to the hen. I loved the chutney. It was fresh and made the hen and mousse dance in my mouth. A mixture of flavors and textures painted a beautiful picture visually and as I digested. Taking in the room as I ate added to the ambience.
The Duck Confit with Butternut Squash Gratin followed. If I thought the Hen was substantial, the Duck Confit was plentiful. The Duck (I was advised from Carlos) took 3-4 hours to bake in the oven at 350 degrees at a slow heat to ensure it was tender, moist and decadence once it hit one’s palate. Agreed. I didn’t want the rich, warm and velvety essence of the duck to end. The Butternut Squash was a perfect Fall compliment. Adding simplicity alongside the duck but ensuring the colourful spinach added an extra depth to my meal.
Lastly, the desert was the Paris Brest with Ontario Apricot and Raspberry Coulis. The Paris Brest could be described as biscotti in the shape of a circle with a delicious almond and pralines cream mousse spread inside. I loved how the soaked Ontario Apricot in the Raspberry Coulis opened up the flavours of the Paris Brest. The Ontario Apricots on this plate were the real heroes.
This maybe the best kept secret on Queen Street West. If you are looking to do something slightly different with your mates during the lunch hour – check out the Osgoode Hall Restaurant within the Law Society of Upper Canada’s premises at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St. West, South Entrance.
Reservations are recommended. Reserve a table by calling (416) 947-3361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.