Nota Bene belongs to the category of restaurants that I’ve walked by too many times before, but was never enticed to dine in. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’ve heard negative reviews of the place or anything. As a matter of fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Nota Bene was named Canada’s best new restaurant by local magazines, and executive chef David Lee, also made an appearance on the first season of Top Chef Canada. Due to its location at Queen St West & University, I just presumed Nota Bene attracted more tourists than locals, which is why it took me so long to visit.
Surprisingly Vickie had not been either, so together with Ben, we made reservations via Dining Date Night for the 30% discount (heh) and was looking forward to dinner at Nota Bene. Because we were early, we decided to dine in the lounge instead which was comfortable and classy.
We each ordered an app and main course, but we decided to share everything in the end anyway. After all, sharing is caring and we love variety ;)
I started my meal with the Nova Scotia Lobster Salad consisting of Avocado, Maple Bacon, Blue Cheese & Buttermilk ($24). The portion was larger than I expected and I found the amount of fresh lobster to be reasonable. I really enjoyed the warm, crispy croutons and the maple bacon was tasty as expected; it’s a given! As a huge fan of both avocado and blue cheese, I was happy that they could play a role in this enticing lobster salad as well ;) I would’ve preferred a different type of lettuce, perhaps Boston lettuce, as I find romaine to be rather weak in taste.
Vickie ordered the Crisp Duck Salad ($15) that I had my eyes on as well; so I’m glad she ordered it! To be honest, I didn’t care much for the Sumac-Dusted Green Papaya Slaw nor the Cashew because it’s all about the crispy duck, baby! Yes, it was indeed crispy, warm, moist, and delicious. I may have had one too many, but it was really tasty.
Ben went with the Hamachi Ceviche ($16) with Coriander, Lime, Avocado and Jalapeno. It wasn’t our favourite appetizer of the night, but I still liked it. It was slightly too citrusy, but I enjoyed the addition of Jalapeno and the ice, which kind of counteracts each other to create a bit of a balance.
Next up was the Kampachi Sashimi ($14) which was on the house; thanks Chef! It contained radish, avocado, capers, chives & olive oil. The kampachi tasted more fishy than I would’ve liked, but the overall combination of the ingredients on the plate did work for me.
For my main, I decided on the Cavatelli Pasta ($16) with a Truffle-Scented Mushroom Bolognese. Okay first thing’s first, I have to admit it doesn’t look the most attractive because, well, the cavatelli looked like worms. It totally reminded me of the worms sold on the streets of South Korea during the winter time, and the brown colour didn’t help either. But anyway, this was quite delicious and we all agreed so. It’s very difficult not to like the truffle aroma as it’s strong, but so intoxicating! This was probably my favourite dish of the evening.
Vickie ordered the Beef Brisket Burger ($22) which is one of the popular dishes at Nota Bene. Medium-rare, juicy, flavourful, and unique – I won’t deny that. Although it was great, I wouldn’t be able to finish the entire burger only because its uniqueness is better consumed in a small portion, rather than a burger that size. I’m not sure if you know what I meant by that, but you can interpret it any way you’d like :)
The Braised Beef Short Rib ($29) chosen by Ben had Corn Truffle, Pickled Red Onions, Queso Anejo & Coriander. When I had a bite of it, I was pleasantly surprised because it was really good! Moist, fall-off-the-bone, tender, and full of flavour. The fat in the ribs gave it so much flavour without taking away the fun experience of eating everybody’s favourite ribs (too much fat is a no-no). I was a little jealous that I wasn’t the one who ordered it, heh.
Another complimentary side we received was Shosito Peppers with Chiptole dust ($8). Okay, I tend to avoid peppers because I’ve never found a spot for them, but these were incredibly exquisite, lol! If I say so, then it must be true (to some extent of course). Try them yourself and you’ll know what I mean. They’re sweet.
Okay last but not least, we had to satisfy our cravings for something sweet. Mine was a Dulce de Leche & Coconut fool ($12) with Coconut Praline & Passionfruit Coulis. Because passionfruit can be so tangy on its own, the coconut although extremely rich, did help to take the intensity down a notch. The coconut shavings on top were thin and crispy, which were a great complement to the smooth, refreshing fool underneath.
The second dessert we devoured was Sticky Toffee Pudding ($12) that came with Pecan Praline & Spotted Dick Ice Cream. Yes I know, you can’t help but to chuckle at the name of the ice cream, right? A dessert that consists of both a cold and warm component is always attractive, especially with ice cream and a sauce over it. My only complaint is that it was overly sweet (even for me!).
So we had our dessert, the food is sitting in a happy place, photos are taken, and now it’s time to pay the bill (aww!). With Dining Date Night, we saved a total of $45.90 (woohoo!).
On your next visit to Nota Bene, I highly recommend you order the Braised Beef Short Ribs and Dulce de Leche & Coconut fool! Don’t forget to take advantage of Dining Date Night for the extra savings too!
180 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3X3