Alo is on the second level – a short elevator ride up. You enter into the lively bar area and then are seated in either a main dining room, a bar area or a half dozen counter seats facing the kitchen. The restaurant offers only a surprise tasting menu but it is an extended tasting at the chef’s counter. We were lucky to get a reservation for the chef’s counter, which is only available with a phone call, not on the reservation system. They offer wine pairings for the tasting at $75 (Canadian). The nice staff is friendly and helpful but even at the counter there is no real interaction with the kitchen staff. Portion sizes are well done, giving you enough to taste but not leaving you stuffed toward the last courses.
While looking over the wine list we were served a plate of amuse bouche which were all delicious and left a great aftertaste. They included a baked crab profiterole filled with shredded crab and a hint of spiciness; a gougere filled with a creamy fontina cheese; and a foie gras torchon topped with caramelized onions.
The tasting began with Venetian Sturgeon caviar alongside a dollop of cream and drops of Meyer lemon sauce. A very nice blending of flavors, good to the last drop.
A terrine followed made with layers of foie gras and black trumpet mushroom accompanied by fermented black trumpet mushroom puree. This was terrific, especially the mushroom puree.
The Yellow Fin Tuna was fermented and served with several other ingredients providing different tastes and textures. Each one alone was just okay but mixing together produced the best result.
The Horse Mackerel was served with a garlic puree and sprinkled with basil oil provencal sauce. This was amazing! The preparation took away the oiliness and pungent taste often associated with this fish and instead left a wonderful herbiness with strong tastes of basil. Very nice.
The Pain au Lait/Peau de Lait translates to Milk Bread/Skin Milk. The Milk Skin was served with brown butter and maple with some crispy bits of maple flavor. This was yummy, comfort food at its best. The Milk Bread was topped with some grains of salt and served hot with housemade cultured butter. It was doughy and nice and the touch of salt really accented its flavor. It was great with the tasty butter but also fine just by itself.
The Hokkaido Sea Scallop was grilled, mixed with lime and sea asparagus and then all covered with an uni sauce and topped with crispy seaweed. It was very tasty.
The Koshihikari Rice is a sushi rice that had been mixed with browned butter, truffles and hazelnuts. Now if that’s not a winning combination, I don’t know what is. It was Yum x3! It is served as the bowl of rice and fresh truffle is grated on allowing the aroma to awaken your tastebuds. Then is is doused with a brown butter and hazelnut sauce An amazing bit of heaven in a bowl with wonderful texture contrasts. Nothing left in this bowl.
The Squab was served with sour cherries, cocoberry and a foie gras sauce and accompanied by a sunchoke. It was tender, properly cooked and delicious.
The last savory was the Lamb Saddle, served with black truffle juice and a reduced meat glaze. It was a thick piece that was nicely flavored.
The palate cleanser was a sheep’s milk yogurt with blood orange sorbet. It was light and refreshing.
The first dessert was White Chocolate served with rye crumbles. There were a lot of things in this plate, too many for me. It was good but just too many components to yield a solid sweet fix.
The Pineapple, on the other hand, was delicious. It was roasted and served with a cream that worked together nicely.
Last treats were Canelé and Cinnamon Donuts. The canelé was bourbon and vanilla flavored and excellent – with a crisp exterior, chewy center and bursting with flavor. The donuts reminded me more of beignets than donuts. They were coated with cinnamon sugar with a bit of salt. Another winner here.