By Lori Bosworth
Torontonicity was invited to attend the launch party of America Restaurant at the Trump International Hotel Toronto on October 2, 2014. America is the can’t-miss-collaboration of famed toronto restaurateur Charles Khabouth of INK Entertainment and Oliver and Bonacini. The media were ushered into the über elegant Calvin Bar on the main floor of the hotel an hour before the opening to enjoy cocktails before heading up to the 31st floor where the restaurant is located. With leather couches, marble floors and chandeliers, the Calvin is an appropriate drink spot for any Bay Street negotiation.
I ordered a Virgin fruit cocktail and received a delicious peach and mango drink, topped with a gorgeous fresh flower. My guest that evening, Grace Pak of On My Way, also received a fresh flower on her Soho Cosmo, $18.
We were led up to the 31st floor by a hostess and marvelled at the amazing view from America’s partially-open roof patio. Unfortunately, there was a lot of fog that evening so it was not ideal for taking photos. On a sunny day, you should be able to see parts of Lake Ontario, as well as the surrounding architecture of downtown Toronto’s Financial District.
I love the little lanterns adoring the slabstone patio. You can sit on the patio and look through the glass partition to see a view of the city.
We returned inside and were served a cornbread appetizer. These little morsels combined sweet and spicy ingredients for an unusual result. I think I would have enjoyed them more without the addition of sugar.
The next appetizer was a goat cheese tostada. Mixed with fresh herbs, the goat cheese was silky and satisfying. This tasty hors d’oeuvre hit all the marks.
The Ahi Tuna Poke Ceviche, $21, combined pineapple and raw Ahi tuna with macadamia nuts, coffee and coconut. Served on a skewer, the kebab’s fresh pineapple provided the necessary sweetness to the richer taste of the tuna.
The Fried Chicken in a Bucket is marinated in a Coca Cola Honey or Rogue Creamy Smoky Blue (cheese) sauce, $19. Grace and I both opted for the Coca Cola version and were really impressed. The batter was crispy while the chicken inside was succulent. Yes, America does fried chicken well!
The decor at America Restaurant is reminiscent of Art Nouveau, with the focal point being the ultra modern light installation looming over one end of the room. With large graphics on the walls and rose-tinted lighting, the room oozes opulence and grandeur.
Next on the sampling menu were oysters on the half shell. We were advised they were “Couchie” oysters from California. I’ve never tasted oysters that were so meaty before. I was lucky enough to try a second oyster when the server returned with the plate again.
The Beef Shin BBQ is one of America’s signature dishes. It’s available for $175 [gasp!], but serves 4-6 people [phew!] Braised in what tasted like a hoisin sweet sauce combo, the tender beef is accompanied by trumped macaroni and cheese in an Alfredo sauce, heirloom carrots, bone marrow and Billy-Bob’s birch bbq sauce. The dish is definitely a winner!
Aside from exemplary food, one of the most remarkable features of America Restaurant is its outstanding customer service. Servers are extremely accommodating and every attention to detail is made, which definitely reflects Charles Khabouth’s hands-on philosophy. I held on to a crumpled serviette for a mere 45 seconds before a server whisked over to deposit it in his garbage tray.
Guests clustered at one end of the room near the bar. There were reportedly over 1,000 guests that turned out for the restaurant launch.
Many Toronto celebrities turned out for the America launch party including Jennifer Valentyne of Breakfast Television and Steve Anthony of CP24 Breakfast.
Lainey Lui and Traci Melchor, the ladies from CTV’s The Social also put in an appearance.
The judges from MasterChef Canada, Claudio Aprile, Alvin Leung and Michael Bonacini, were also on hand to check out the new restaurant.
Well, I have to say, that was a swanky party thrown by Charles Khabouth and Oliver and Bonacini! Would I return? In a heartbeat!
America Restaurant is located at Trump International Hotel Toronto at 325 Bay Street (at Adelaide Street East), 416-637-5550