Whilst in Toronto, it was Simon’s birthday and a birthday needs a decadent lunch! I booked a table for 2 at TOCA in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto. A luxurious hotel from the moment you enter, a sweeping staircase brings you to TOCA on the mezzanine floor. The menu is based on Italian cuisine, it’s seasonal and local and we really loved it.
I had let them know in advance we were celebrating, so on arrival, 2 glasses of a local Ontario sparkling wine, was well received to start our lunch. The menu is short but lovely…to start there’s soups and salads along with a couple of other dishes such as tuna carpaccio and grilled octopus, there’s a handful of pasta dishes as well as burger and sandwich options on the main courses.
The restaurant is very elegant feeling, with lots of woods, copper, gold, greys and softer dark colours, there’s wine displayed and a room with cheeses (a whole room!)…and little pops of red here and there throughout the large and open space (It’s also quite dark inside hence the somewhat gloomy photos).
You will see some really amazing plates around the place, on the wall and at your table setting. Jacqueline Poirer is the resident artist at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto and she creates beautiful hand-painted plates. You can find some of her work on her instagram page (she’s ‘thecrazyplatelady’) … well worth checking her out. I commissioned a customised plate from Jacqueline for Simon’s birthday… a memento of Toronto and something nice for our home. The plate shows a traditional Toronto streetcar and balloon. It’s perfect, we love it, now just need to find a good spot for it on our wall.
Focaccia bread and olive oil to nibble on while we waited for our starters; for me, Carpaccio Di Tonno ($21) – Tuna carpaccio, anchovy, lettuce, tomato, quail egg while he chose from the soups, Funghi ($14) – Northern woods mushroom soup bone marrow, sourdough toast.
My tuna carpaccio was excellent but I will confess to some food envy at the soup, I tasted it and it was superb, just a beautiful brothy mushroomy light soup. The tuna and quail eggs is a match made in heaven and I loved my starter too.
I just had to try one of their pasta dishes so chose Torchietti ($28) – Torchietti pasta, wild boar meatball parmigiano-reggiano. While he can’t resist a good burger, so the Il Toca Burger it was ($23) – Prime rib burger, pickled eggplant, mint, 1608 cheese.
The pasta… wow. It was just the most delicious pasta, not too much sauce and those meatballs, heavenly! The burger was equally good, with a choice of sides to accompany it he chose sweet potato fries which were as amazing as all the rest of the food. He did successfully avoid most of the eggplant too (not his favourite vegetable!)
Throughout, our server was great, very knowledgeable about the menu and wines. We enjoyed 2 glasses of an Italian red wine which was an ideal accompaniment to pasta and beef.
To finish being his birthday and all, the Ritz Carlton Chocolate Cake ($8) was required! And we had a bonus dessert too of a salted caramel chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet as there was a tasting earlier and some leftovers (gratefully received!). Both desserts enjoyed with an espresso coffee.
We loved our lunch at TOCA, as is clear from the words above – it’s a great setting, delicious food and wine and the loveliest of staff. It’s certainly more expensive than your normal lunch but worth it in my eyes. If in Toronto, make sure TOCA is on your list to visit. As before a note on prices, 13% tax is added to your bill and service / gratuity is expected to be around 18%.
TOCA | The Ritz Carlton, 181 Wellington St. W., Toronto, ON M5V 3G7 | +1 416 572 8008 | firstname.lastname@example.org