For many of us, the thought of hotel food might elicit memories of an underwhelming Cobb salad in an outdated lounge or overpriced room service. And while I have been fortunate to enjoy some truly great dining experiences at a “home away from home”, it is often my practice to search out the local grocery store to pick up some basics to enjoy – either at the hotel itself or on a picnic somewhere in the city I am visiting with my husband.
That’s why I’m doubly happy to report that not only are there delicious hotel eats to be found in Toronto, but that you don’t have to be from out-of-town to appreciate the experience being offered by Bosk Restaurant at the Shangri-La hotel Toronto!
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a tasting dinner with a small group of individuals curated by Daniel Desforges of the Do The Daniel.com. I knew that when a handwritten note arrived, accompanied by several macarons and an origami work, this would be prove to be a unique evening. And when I entered the lobby and was greeted by Angie Tran and Kerry Connelly, the Marketing Manager and Director of Communications for the Shangri-La respectively, my suspicions were confirmed.
Before indulging our taste buds with food and drink, our visual senses were stimulated during a visit to the new Garden Suite, which includes a private terrace and garden (as the name would suggest) and the special welcome amenity of a tea service to calm weary travelers.
It would have been easy to linger in the suite, with a collection of petits fours and sandwiches prepared by the Shangri-La London’s Pastry Chef, Nicholas Patterson, not to mention the very inviting four-poster bed, but that would have been a disservice to the food and beverage staff who had worked so hard to prepare a special menu for us.
Leaving the suite and heading to the Lobby Lounge, it was my ears that were delighted by the treat of live music – a regular occurrence in the space, including performances on the Fazioli piano specifically created for the hotel upon which is engraved lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s ‘My Old Man’. Other artistic creations are also showcased, including an extension of the ‘Rising’ sculpture by Zhang Huan featured prominently outside the entrance. I have to admit this work caught my attention before construction of the hotel was completed.
The tour had built up my thirst and I was greeted in the Bosk bar, with its signature bocce ball lights, by two patriotic pours – the first being the ‘Hat-Trick’ Breakfast Cocktail, a take on the classic Caesar available with vodka, gin or tequila, topped with local lager and garnished with olives, cucumber, bacon and lemon. The second “Power Play” cocktail was the ‘Zamboni’, a mix of Southern Comfort, Bacardi White rum, orange juice and Sprite. And even if the name is a hockey reference, many of the other guests commented on the summer vibe they were feeling.
We were then invited to take our seats, indicated with nameplates reflecting the same origami style of the piece we had received at our homes. As fate would have it, I was across from Jessica Denomme, a good friend of a new colleague, who also shares a family connection to the K-W area. As I’ve often said before, the people you dine with are an important ingredient in the experience, and this seemed to lay the table for a fantastic night of fellowship. In fact while several faces were familiar to me, I can honestly say that I felt a great connection was forged between everyone in attendance.
As we made our way through the six courses, we were provided details on the choice of flavours and techniques used by Executive Chef Damon Campbell. Through the wonders of social media, I had also connected with Director of Wine/Sommelier Mark Moffatt over Top Chef Canada the previous night, and so as he poured each glass and described the process behind the pairing, it felt like a friend sharing a rare treasure. Indeed, one of the bottles he selected is only available at the Shangri-La and a few other establishments in Canada. But more than the Master Sommelier title, I have no doubt that it is his personality that allows him to form important relationships with winemakers around the world.
I’ve listed the complete menu below, but a standout dish for me was the caviar donut – which Chef Campbell explained included egg and chives, the traditional accompaniments for caviar, in a beautiful presentation. The Cumbrae’s Farms spring lamb also made me miss the days of living around the corner from this fine meat purveyor (the store, not the farm). And of course, having Chef Campbell himself grate truffles directly onto my Nova Scotia lobster was a decadent treat. Overall, there was a definite artistry on display, which I have a great appreciation for.
Though temperatures had yet to rise outside, our dessert gave us a taste of spring, in the form of a cherry blossom cotton candy tree. And of course, with the name of the event being #iheartbosk, a nod to love had to be included – in this case, as chocolate lipstick and lips.
The icing on the proverbial cake was that over the course of the dinner, we had the opportunity to not just share pictures and thoughts through our various social media platforms, but to help one lucky person win a high tea experience at the Shangri-La as part of a Twitter contest.
So whether you’re planning an upcoming visit to Toronto or want to treat yourself to a staycation, I recommend putting the Shangri-La on your map. And as I said to Kerry, my idea of the perfect follow-up to feeding your body is to pamper your body, by heading to the Miraj Caudalie Spa on the fifth floor of the hotel. Wouldn’t you agree?
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