It’s been a good and interesting month. It began with my friend Nathan, notorious dog gobbler and sous chef at Lumiere, inviting my wife and I to dine at the Relais Gourmand restaurant. Not since a lunch with the CCC folks at West a couple of months ago had I done a fine dining, multi-course affair with paired wines and petit fours or felt compelled to don a jacket while in a restaurant, so this was something of a special occasion. For certain, I’d been on a tear reviewing inexpensive restaurants for the newspaper, and felt like I’d paid enough dues in poutine, ramen, and burgers to warrant a little foray back into the world of refined excess. I don’t mean to say that I had deserved or earned it, but rather that I supped and drank heartily and naturally in good conscience.
This was my very first meal at Lumiere since it reopened in early December of 2008. I’d taken a peek at their opening party, dined a few times at DB Bistro next door, interviewed the new principal – international celebrity chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud, and tasted a few doses from executive chef Dale Mackay at the amazing Senza Frontiere dinner and this past year’s Gold Medal Plates cooking competition, but I’d never actually sat in the room proper and had him and his crew unleash several courses upon me; service, wine, and all. I was pretty excited, as was Michelle. So excited, in fact, that neither of us ate any lunch in anticipation of the happy onslaught.
It’s a beautiful little restaurant, the kitchen still pristine and high tech. The dining room isn’t as gunmetal hard, sexy, and austere as Lumiere used to be when it was the playground of Iron Chef Rob Feenie, but I still love the new look. It feels more established, a lick more confident. The gently lit interior palette of butters and chocolates soothe, giving the atmosphere a softer and slightly more intimate feel. The chairs melt into the backside. The settings and service are immaculate. The music barely resonates.
It was packed, which is always nice to see no matter where you dine. The little four seat bar, however, was completely bereft of bums. It made me think of the old Lumiere Tasting Bar, which was one of my favourite spaces in the city (now the right flank of DB Bistro next door). I was a little sore knowing it wasn’t coming back, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying one of the best meals I’ve yet had this year.
Check for the photos of what we ate that night mixed in with the more interesting things we did, ate, and saw in the first month of the year…
Best Of January