Alo, Toronto, 2/3/17

entrance
entrance

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.

Main dining room
main dining room
kitchen
kitchen
other side of kitchen
other side of kitchen

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.

amuse bouche
amuse bouche
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crab profiterole and gougere
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foie gras torchon

 

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.

Frankie studied the caviar spoons
Frankie studied the caviar spoons
Venetian Caviar
Venetian Caviar

 

closer
closer

 

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.

Terrine
Terrine
closer
closer
wine
sparkler to go with first set of courses
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Sweet Amanda Bradley, co-owner, and Frankie

 

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.

Yellow Fin Tuna
Yellow Fin Tuna
closer
closer
Frankie watched the kitchen action
Frankie watched the kitchen action

 

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.

Horse Mackerel
Horse Mackerel
closer
closer

 

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.

Pain au Lait/ Peau de Lait
Pain au Lait
closer
closer
Frankie tried to get the lid off the butter
Frankie tried to get the lid off the butter
She got it!
She got it!
Pain au Lait
Pain au Lait

 

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.

Hokkaido Sea Scallop
Hokkaido Sea Scallop
closer
closer
Frankie helped clean the bowl
Frankie helped clean the bowl
wine front
wine front
wine back
wine back

 

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.

Koshihikari Rice
Koshihikari Rice
closer
closer
additions
additions
add truffles
add truffles
add nuts
add nuts
close up of the final
close up of the final
Frankie approved
Frankie approved

 

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.

Squab
Squab
closer
closer
kitchen action
kitchen action
Frankie liked the flower
Frankie found a flower

 

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.

Lamb Saddle
Lamb Saddle
closer
closer
thick
thick
Frankie found the towels in the bathroom
Frankie found a shelf her size with some soft towels in the bathroom

 

The palate cleanser was a sheep’s milk yogurt with blood orange sorbet.  It was light and refreshing.

Blood Orange
Blood Orange

 

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.

White Chocolate
White Chocolate
img_5306
Frankie thought we should see it from the top

 

The Pineapple, on the other hand, was delicious. It was roasted and served with a cream that worked together nicely.

img_5319
Pineapple
img_5326
closer
img_5372
Toni Weber, who helped us with wine, and Frankie

 

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.

img_5351
Canelé
img_5341
Cinnamon Donut
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Frankie loves donuts
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Frankie admired the seals on the menus
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Frankie shared the menu and wine pairings
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Chef Patrick Kriss and sommelier Christopher Sealy with Frankie

 

 

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