We identified this as one of the Zagat high spots in town for food and so made what turned out to be an unnecessary reservation for lunch. The three people standing behind the podium at entry looked unhappy and preoccupied and were not making eye contact. A young black woman took us to a table just outside the kitchen although the place was about 30% full and walked away without a word. A waiter appeared a few moments later, we asked to be moved and he carefully seated us at a much nicer table.
But things were all uphill from there. At least four people looked after us, three black males and one cheerful 30ish white girl. All were exemplary: helpful, unaffected, making benign jokes, formally dressed in tuxedo-like uniforms. The room is quite lovely. A huge space divided up into several smaller areas, all dark wood and brass with dark green upholstery and classy subdued lighting. This serious clubby atmosphere is enriched by quiet efficient staff and rich inviting food smells. It ended up being maybe 60% full on a Wednesday at lunchtime and (unique surprise), the glass partitions seemed to block any loud noise. It was quite serene.
Robin had two starters: coconut deep fried shrimp and a duck spring roll. I opted for pasta jambalaya. Server told me my choice was his favourite, but I never fall for that old trick. I don’t like coconut, but these deep fried shrimp dipped in a sweet slightly Asian sauce were crunchy, succulent, and delicious. I found the duck spring roll lovely but the sauce seemed to me to overwhelm and erase any duck flavour.
My jambalaya was terrific. Big oblique slices of the spicy pork dried sausage floated in a tomato- and shellfish-based peppery broth alongside not-badly-cooked small pieces of chicken, white fish and duck. This all surrounded a nicely-al dente green linguine. The heat in the broth was just right for me, and I prevented myself from sopping up the last of the juice with what remained of a big warm demi-baguette presented with adequate butter. We finished up with a bread pudding with a nice sweet cinnamon sauce. One of the servers commented as he went by, “I tol’ you it’s the sauce, right?”. The bill was at expectation: about C$120 pre-tip.
High-class eating smack in the middle of a garish tourist-trap neighbourhood. I suspect local hotel brass and even locals from another neighbourhood might take the trouble to turn up here for great food and a classy scene. We’ve only sampled two restaurants so far in this town but at the moment I’d give this one pretty close to full marks.
Food 8.6, service 9.4, ambience 9.3, value 8.0, peace and quiet 8.0.