A little background: Alo’s intention is to get back to the roots of hospitality. They want each and every guest to feel welcome in their home, and that home is Alo. A destination for classically prepared, meticulously thought out French food and service. Their no-nonsense approach to fine dining with their combined experience working behind-the-scenes at some of the world’s best restaurants has led them to this point.
My visit: While searching for the best restaurants in Toronto, Alo kept coming up on top. It is rated number one on Joanne Kates Top 50 Restaurants in Toronto and even Gordon Ramsay himself had to pay a visit during his short trip to the six. Upon research, I learned that the executive chef is Chef Patrick Kriss whom cooked my last meal for me at the now shuttered Acadia before my big move to Hong Kong. For the above reasons , I knew I had to visit Alo and luckily I was able to score a table for dinner.
We started off with a tower of amuse bouche. The grugeres filled with fontina cheese were like fluffy savory clouds. I especially enjoyed the touch of heat from the fermented jalapenos.
At the bottom was a foie gras torchon sandwich. The mild flavored foie gras was very smooth and had a melting texture. It was accompanied by a passion fruit meringue which had a very sharp aftertaste that I found a bit overpowering.
Our first course was a combination of peas including pea boivarois, fava beans, wild pea flowers and pea pods. The choice of ingredients were very refreshing and harmonic. The buttermilk granite elevated the dish with a cold element and tang and brought all the flavors together. I also liked the crunchy chicken skin chip on the side topped with pea puree.
Next was the Hamachi prepared three ways with zucchini, preserved lemon and pinenuts. The hamachi tartare and sashimi could use a tad more seasoning as the cured hamachi belly with dehydrated black olives had a very distinct tone. The olive oil emulsion and pinenut puree also added earthiness to the dish. Overall, the ingredients were very fresh and creatively used. A personal like would have the fish a little more chilled.
The morel mushrooms was a very intensive and bold mix with the chicken jus and the Isigny creme friache. The shallots and onions added a balance of sweetness and acidity to the rich dish.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the perfectly cooked dungeness crab with chanterelle mushrooms, garlic scapes and Carolina gold rice. The dish had a delightful contrast of textures and the butter emulsion and garlic puree added a level of creaminess and richness. A little minus to the dish as there were small pieces of crab shells.
The milk bread was very light and fluffy. The house churned butter immediately melted when smeared over the bread.
Next we were served the striped bass with baby artichokes, bluefoot chanterelles and hazelnuts. The fish’s skin was seared to crispy perfection. The mushrooms were very crisp and refreshing against the strong flavor of the sauce and arugula puree.
The scallop had a nice caramelized crust on the outside and was soft and sweet inside. Paired with avocado and radish several ways, it added the visual appeal and consistency of the earthy theme. The use of curry spices in this dish did take me by surprise.
Our first meat course was the moulard duck with fennel and treviso. The duck was cooked nicely and maintained a high moisture. The pistachio relish was the highlight in bringing the flavors and textures all together.
The lightly pink pork loin was tender and moist. Amazingly well composition of bing cherry puree which complimented the meat and helped lighten the whole dish.
Our pre-dessert was a chilled palette cleanser with goat milk granite, green tomato and rye crackers. It was a nice blend of textures and a playful of rye crackers dancing in the mouth.
The carrot, lemon whipped cream and chamomile sorbet was phenomenal and had a great balance of flavor and textures.
Following was a fluffy almond cake with white chocolate ganache embedded within, giving a mild sweet tone along side the rhubarb. The black pepper meringue and celery crest also added a nice little kick.
Our night ended with a chocolate ganache with chocolate chips and mint sorbet. Another fine creation but compared to the other two desserts, this definitely lost its spotlight. Unfortunately my phone ran out of battery so I could not take a snap of this dish, quite sad for the completion!
Verdict: Overall, the tasting menu was spot on considering the quality and freshness of ingredients used. It is not something you can commonly come across in Toronto and with a very welcoming budget. Experience and services were top notch, making you feel indulged in a real french dining environment. If Michelin had a country guide covering Canada, Alo would definitely deserve a star or two.
I highly suggest to those who want to visit Alo to book 2 months in advance as they are fully packed!
Happy eating 🙂