Saturday, March 22, 2008


c5 (little c, big 5) is the new(ish) swish restaurant on the top floor of the extension to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Or just 'The Crystal' as it's called by most. c5 stands for 'Crystal Five,' as the restaurant is located at the top, on the fifth floor. Visit their website here. I think it gives a pretty good idea of their philosophy and look. Ben and I were intrigued by the space (and of course, the possibility of cuisine) on a previous visit, and so I resolved to take him there for his birthday. What a good sister I am!

Everything about the decor and feel of the restaurant said cutting edge and arty, which I suppose is appropriate for the newly redesigned ROM. Cooking at c5 is Ted Corrado, a youngish guy whom I'd heard a little of, mainly in connection with Rain, a restaurant on King Street that I used to walk past all the time (though sadly, never dined at) and that featured on the Food Network show Made to Order.

The Crystal really is impressive. Daniel Libeskind, the 'starchitect' who designed it, was apparently inspired to create its shape when viewing the mineral and gem collection of the ROM whilst there for a family wedding.

Liebskind scribbled his ideas for the extension on a napkin which the museum displayed while the project was still in the bidding phase – the public got to vote for their favourite. Having looked at his other work, however, I find the buildings (the Jewish Museum in Berlin, for example, or the Imperial War Museum in Manchester) remarkably similar to each other, which feels a little disappointing in terms of site-specific and institution-specific requirements. Ah well. It is a lovely space to eat in. Here's Ben and his first course, grilled octopus with garbanzo bean (chickpea) and black olive relish. It was delicious, not chewy at all, and extremely flavourful.

My first course was a charcuterie plate, featuring (from top left, clockwise) a foie 'bon-bon,' Berkshire pork pate, Niagara sopresata (sausage), cured trout, and a selection of olives, marinated tomatoes, brioche and melon. The plate was massive, and impressive, and the little savoury bites of the charcuterie were delightful.

My main was a duo (confit of leg and breast) of poussin (a very young chicken). That's a cilantro emulsion daubed in the middle of the two. Some of you may know that cilantro's my favourite herb ever, so that was an added bonus. The leg is resting gently on some shaved heirloom beets. And is that a little cilantro I see peeking out from between the two? Fantastic. Look at the sheer expanse and polished whiteness of that plate.

This is Ben's tower of strip loin, which was as tasty as it looks. Love that mash! He very nicely let me try some of his fig, too, which was sweet (of Ben, not the fig), as there wasn't that much to go around, as you can see. The beef was local, and came from the Cumbrae Farms group, whose website and gallery I found really interesting. I wonder whether it was the wagyu cattle or the red angus? It's great that the menu specified the origin of the beef (and of many other things – portions of my charcuterie, for example), a practice much more common these days.

For dessert, I chose a selection of violet-themed sweets (see photo in my previous entry) including a tiny cheesecake and a canelle of violet ice cream. Ben had a chocolate cake with blueberries and a tiny roll of ice cream you can just see on the top right of his dish.

c5 was a fantastic experience, all elements considered. The food was superb, and beautifully presented. The space was intriguing. Service was amazing, as one would expect, both unobtrusive and attentive. There was a line of servers by the pass, carefully watching to see whether their particular diners needed anything. Ben spotted various celebs (well, Canadian celebs, anyway) and one man sporting an Order of Canada pinned to his chest. I suppose if I had an Order of Canada, I'd wear it out to c5 too!

Here we are, post-dinner. Don't we look like we had a great time? Thanks for accompanying me, Ben – and Happy Birthday again!


moyrad said...

Maybe they will have a premiere restaurant when the VAG moves to it's new building or renoed space. A chi-chi restaurant is definitely missing in the art gallery, though the cafeteria shouldn't disappear. I will have to go and see the building next time I visit Toronto.

Meg said...

I'm definitely going to check out the building when I'm in Toronto this summer. But should we venture in to eat? Laura, how does c5 compare with all the other chi-chi restaurants in Toronto? The charcuterie looks delicious, and I love the sauces smeared on like paint. But is it the best in the city? How about how it compares with Vancouver's greats? Do we need our very own rating system? hee hee...

Michelle, you're so right - that's what our gallery needs!