330 King Street West
I was really excited to try out LUMA since I generally love the family of restaurants under Oliver and Bonacini. So when Winterlicious rolled around, I jumped on getting a dinner reservation. Located on the second floor of the TIFF light box, the location and venue is perfect for a date. Fancy dinner and an indie movie anyone?
After climbing a flight of stairs, we see a huge LUMA sign to reconfirm that we have gone to the right place. It was a little confusing trying to find the place! We were greeted by a hostess that takes our jackets for coat check, and then to our tables. The venue is cozy and inviting. Lots of tables, sofas, high ceilings, and windows spanning the entire wall.
LUMA dining room
If you're here for just a couple drinks, you can opt to in the Blackberry lounge connected to LUMA. It's brighter and a bit more casual than the LUMA dining room.
Did you know that Executive chef Jason Bangerter (@ChefBangerter) used to head Auberge du Pommier? My favourite Oliver and Bonacini restaurant! :)
The Winterlicious Menu
Wine pairings for our meal : A Pepper Jack Shiraz and a Gewurztraminer
"Roasted Beetroot Soup" -blue cheese, walnut and apple
As a starter I ordered this Roasted Beetroot Soup. I almost never order soup (i'm more of a salad person) but decided to switch things up a bit. Wasn't the best soup I've had, but I don't regret ordering it. It's very simple in flavours, and the beets are pureed to a very viscous but smooth consistency. Could almost pass for a pasta sauce!
"Chicken Liver + Foie Gras Pate"-confit duck heart and braised lentils
When this appetizer came, I don't think we knew where to start eating this. It didn't look like a million dollars, but it turned out to be a delicious messy pile. There's a lot going on here in this one dish, but once it goes into your mouth it all converges into a creamy thick paste of fois gras. To balance it off there are some crunchy nuts and croutons. It goes great with the bread, so good thing the waitress came by with another basket. For such a rich, heavy, and flavourful dish, I thought the portions are extremely excessive. Even with two people we had lots left over.
"Scallop Sashimi" ($13) - with celery leaves, herbs radish and ginger vinagrette
We ordered the Scallop Sashimi off the regular menu (not the Winterlicious one), and to be honest it was a bit disappointing. This was a very minimalist dish. No sauce pairings, no fancy garnishes, just scallops with a bit of lime, lettuce and ginger. While it does allow you to taste the scallop freshness, the dish lacked inspiration. An unnecessarily gigantic plate carrying only a morsel of scallop sashimi makes me wish they could have done something more with all that white plate space.
"Seared Albacore Tuna" -braised sunchoke and heirloom bean salad, red wine rosemary vinaigrette
For my main I ordered the Seared Albacore Tuna and was pretty apathetic about it. I thought the tuna was dry and not nearly as raw in the middle as it should be. The bean salad was decent on its own, but with the tuna, I felt it was all the same texture: dry and starchy. The salad definitely could have used something along the lines of diced tomatoes or apples to contrast the heartiness of the fish and beans.
"Grilled Flatiron Steak" -butter whipped potato, oyster mushrooms and truffle creme fraiche
While my tuna was a bit underwhelming, Rob's order of the Grilled Flatiron Steak was much more impressive. In fact, he couldn't stop complimenting how well it was cooked, and on the quality of the meat. I think his exact words were "I've never had a striploin this good before." It was so very tender and lightly seasoned with simple salt. I guess when you have such a good piece of meat you don't need much to make it taste good! I really enjoyed the oyster mushrooms and mashed potatoes too, which soaked up all steak juice goodness.
At the beginning of the meal Rob wondered why he wasn't given a steak knife. He quickly understood why after starting to eat. The steak was perfectly cooked, and so easy to cut through --even with just the butter knife!
"Apple + Buttermilk Panna Cotta" - maple granola and apple compote
I love the taste of plain yoghurt so I really enjoyed this cold Buttermilk Panna Cotta served with warm apples. It was light and refreshing, and not overly sweet.
"Chocolate Bread + Butter Pudding" -butterscotch and shaved white chocolate
I am a big big chocolate fan so scanning the Winterlicious dessert selection I knew right away I was getting this Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding. It did not disappoint. The bread pudding had a flakey light top layer and a moist decadent center filled with semi-melted dark chocolate ribbons. The white chocolate shavings were nice and creamy and topped off this dessert perfectly. I'm not sure if you're supposed to eat the flowers, but I did anyways.
With the except of desserts, I am sad to say I did not like LUMA as much as I had hoped. There were definitely some excellently executed dishes, but still it lacked that extra dazzle and charm. Perhaps Winterlicious experiences never does a restaurant justice. I would be open to trying LUMA again for their regular menu, but probably only if I was already at TIFF for a movie or something.