Nota Bene • Summerlicious12:00 PM
It's nota true 'licious experience until you dine at Nota Bene! My second stop on my Summerlicious trail this summer just so happened to be one of my fave spots in Toronto, and I'll tell you why.
Nota Bene (@notabenetoronto) is run by Chef David Lee and has been around since 2008 (happy 8 years!!); however, the restaurant re-launched in February 2016 with a completely new interior, concept, and menu with a greater emphasis on seafood and vegan dishes. I actually got to attend the re-launch party for #TheNewNB earlier this year, and am happy to come back to try their summerlicious menu!
What I love about summerlicious is that although many say that this restaurant is too expensive, summerlicious is such a great opportunity to try these expensive restaurants and what they have to offer at a fraction of the price that you'd normally pay for a three-course meal. You can check out Nota Bene's summerlicious menu here, but keep reading if you want to know what my faves were.
We were started off with some artisinal bread and their featured summerlicious cocktail, Rhubarbarella. If you love sweet cocktails, this is for you. With rum, creme de framboise, rhubarb and black tea, it was a refreshing start to our meal to come. Shortly after enjoying our cocktails, we got our first course. We ordered the Nova Scotia Lobster Bisque and the BLT Salad. M and I were both blown away by how amazing the lobster bisque was. With a coconut milk base, they also added in some chili for an extra kick. You'll also find floating around in the bisque huge chunks of lobster and crab (sooo good) and a sweet corn fritter that basically melted in your mouth if you leave it in the soup long enough. Safe to say we both cleaned our bowls. As for the BLT salad, this was one of my favourites. I've never thought of having suckling pig in a salad, but it worked - crisp pork cheeks sprinkled generously over a bed of arugula, tomatoes, and sourdough croutons. It was also topped off with garlic aioli for added flavour. And again, M and I both cleaned our plates. This was such a delicious warm salad!
Now onto our mains - we decided to give the Goossens Farm Smoked Rainbow Trout and Grilled Ontario Pork Rib Chop a try. The rainbow trout was seared and sitting on a bed of Nova Scotia lobster gumbo with okra coriander. I have never tried okra before, and M forced me to try it because I'm a "foodie" haha. Verdict? It's so SLIMY - ew, but I washed it down with a glass of wine hehe. The gumbo was good though. The server saw us struggle getting the sauce onto our plates and even brought us a spoon to scoop it up. As for the pork rib chop, it was paired with charred tomatillo & poblano sauce. The flavours were delish but unfortunately, the pork was too dry for my liking. I'm personally not a huge fan of pork so I wasn't too surprised about this, but I found that if I put the gumbo sauce on the pork, it wasn't dry and was actually pretty good! (Side note, we started getting full around this point.) With our mains, we tried a glass of the two featured wines during summerlicious. The red is a chianti, while the white is a pinot grigio. As you can guess, the chianti can be paired with the pork rib chop, and the pinot grigio was crisp and perfect with the rainbow trout.
As we were 'full', we couldn't decide what we wanted to have for dessert, so we got all three. (Ha, I know, it doesn't make sense, does it?) We were presented with a cheese board with honey and bread. It came with there different cheeses to try. M couldn't really understand why cheese was a dessert, and I'm sure a lot of other people think the same as well. But if you put honey on the cheese, it's the best dessert if you love salty and sweet things - yum! The second dessert was a mango sorbet with tapioca and coconut milk. To be honest, we were both skeptical about this dessert but it surprised us! It was so refreshing, and the mango worked really well with the coconut and tapioca. It was the lime zests that threw us off. It actually reminded me a little of an asian dessert that I'd order haha. BUT, I have to say, the Ontario Strawberry Shortcake topped with vanilla ice cream and salted pumpkin and sunflower seeds was my favourite. I just have a thing for strawberries and ice cream - what a perfect way to end off our amazing meal!
We had such a great time here tasting the summerlicious menu, and I really hope you get a chance to visit them as well. Something Nota Bene is very proud of, (and it is also what I love about Nota Bene's menu), is that they use local ingredients in almost all their dishes! The service was great, and the food is a definite win. As a lot of restaurants are already booked up, be sure to check out the "Today's Reservations" list to see what is available. To those last minute diners, I'm looking at you!!
In addition to their summerlicious menu, you should also know that they still have their 4-7 Bar Snacks! From 4 to 7pm, they offer a special bar snack menu with items for only $4. It is honestly such a steal, as the food is delicious and it's just $4. From 7pm onwards, the snacks become $7. So regardless if you're looking for a full meal or just a couple bites, Nota Bene is there for you! You can make reservations at Nota Bene through OpenTable for summerlicious here, and as usual, be sure to check out the hashtag #LiciousTO for other restaurants to visit during July 8 to 24, 2016!
*This meal was complimentary, however, please note that all my opinions made are my own.*