- The Entrée
- The Sides/Drinks:
- The Atmosphere:
If you’ve walked along Queen St West past University Ave., you will have likely walked past Nota Bene. I know I’ve walked by this restaurant too many times to even count. I’ve been meaning to come here when it first opened in 2008 but being a student on a budget, the menu easily intimidated me to continue walking on. Lo and behold, four years later, I am still a student but with the promotion from Dining Date Night, it was the perfect opportunity to finally try out Nota Bene.
180 Queen St W
I was joined by Denice and fellow food blogger, CARMENHUNGRY for an evening of delectable eats. Being named Canada’s Best New Restaurant by Toronto Life (2009) and Air Canada’s Enroute Magazine (2008) we had high expectations for the evening.
Upon entering, there stood a beautiful bar that looked like it stretched on forever. There was limited seating by the window area but the hostess quickly revealed to us that there was a full dining area steps away. Large paintings filled the tall dining room walls and patrons in business attire filled the tables.
It wasn’t easy choosing what to eat between the three of us. Everything sounded delicious but we decided on two appetizers to start: Crisp Duck Salad, Nota Bene’s signature dish and the Artisanal Black Pig Salumi, their version of a charcuterie board.
The salad has a distinct Southeast Asian flare, a marked example of Asian-fusion. The coriander and the sauce reminded me of the many Vietnamese dishes I grew up eating. The salad is topped with pieces of duck. The meat is moist but the skin is crispy, the perfect combination of texture and flavours to start. The dish is served complete with chopsticks, which didn’t make the only table with 3 Asian girls anymore Asian than we already are.
The selection of meats for the charcuterie board is amazing! Each selection of meat is finely sliced and teased our taste buds enough leaving us wanting more. It was our first time trying the Lardo. Despite it being a piece of fat, it didn’t taste fatty at all and melted in our mouths near instantly!
We followed up with the Wild Digby Sea Scallops (Denice), two of Nota Bene’s signature favourites: Rabbit Soffrito, Pappardelle Pasta (mine) and Jennifer’s Stilton Beef Brisket Burger (Carmen).
The scallops are cooked perfectly and are plated with a beautifully bright presentation with another Asian-fusion salad. This was my favourite entrée of the three.
The Rabbit Soffrito is made with fresh pasta and would be the perfect savoury comfort food to warm your tummy. I can’t say I was a fan of it that night. It was definitely delicious but it was a little too heavy for me.
Carmen ordered the burger done medium rare. I didn’t try it but according to Carmen, “At first, the burger does seem medium rare. I’m loving the caramelized onions, the stilton, and the Thuet bun! The fries are crispy too, but something is off…Turns out the doneness on the burger was not as rare as I would’ve liked because it got drier and drier as went along. D: I’ve heard such great things about this burger! So this was a bit disappointing.“
I normally like to finish the evening with a decadent treat but our bellies were so full to the point of belt-bursting, the three of us shared the Lemon Sorbet accompanied by a sugar cookie to end everything off on a sweet note.
Overall, the service was attentive and the food was close to being perfect. We may have set our expectations a little too high since the burger was a disappointment and I was only a 70% fan of the Rabbit Soffrito. I will definitely come back for a second try complete with high expectations and hope it will be exceeded the second time around!
The Damage: $120 after tax and tip (with 30% off entire bill from Dining Date Night promo) for 3 people