A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    Mark McEwan’s North 44

    Filed under :Canada, Mark McEwan, North 44, Toronto
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    Chris surprised me with dinner at North 44.  Yup, major points for him!  The pros are obvious, but the only con is that I didn’t have a camera with me, so no pictures!  We’ll just have to make do with the mouth-watering descriptions.

    Already fairly famous around here with several restaurants (Bymark, ONE), TV shows (The Heat with Mark McEwan), and a luxury grocery store (McEwan), Mark McEwan is about to get even bigger as the head judge of the upcoming Top Chef Canada!

    We started with drinks- Chris got his requisite scotch, and I made friends with a Toblerone martini.  I don’t like drinks that taste too strongly of alcohol, so when the waiter described this as “tastes like dessert,” I was sold.  It was delicious.  I wanted to order another right away and started thinking “liquid dinner,” but at 2.5 ounces of alcohol in there, I decided it was still a nice night to be able to walk straight.  The martini comes with a caramel drizzle so good I scooped up the remnants with a spoon, and a mini piece of toblerone as a garnish.

    We shared the lovely Ricotta di Bufala starter with runner beans, figs, walnuts and maple-infused balsamic ($16.95).  What a great, light start.  The ricotta melted in your mouth, and the crunchiness of the beans paired so beautifully with the silkiness of the cheese I wanted to applaud (or perhaps that was the alcohol speaking?)

    Chris had the grilled rib-eye of five-spice dusted bison with tempura-battered morel mushrooms ($49.95).  The bison was trimmed and cooked perfectly, with gorgeous pink juices spilling out.  The tempura morels were way too salty for my taste, but Chris liked them together with the meat.

    I enjoyed a generous portion of grilled PEI lobster with its bisque, morel ravioli and chervil ($42.95).  There was only one square of ravioli, so almost a garnish as opposed to another element, but the lobster was larger than I expected and I was quite satisfied.

    Despite being stuffed, we felt compelled to enjoy the Butterscotch Pudding Profiteroles with pecan praline ice cream, caramelized bananas and chocolate chiboust ($12.95).  There was a lot going on on that plate, and every bite was sheer delight.  The plate decorations included drops of a delectable caramel sauce I spooned up with whatever I could find, the ice cream tasted of burnt sugar, and the tiny chocolate brownie squares- another garnish, if you will- brought the dish to new heights.

    Overall, nice menu choices and great service.  I worry in fine dining restaurants that the portions won’t always suffice (Chris once left hungry despite having eaten a full meal), but North 44 met that challenge and then some.  I do recommend splitting an appetizer, as the mains are sized to accommodate that, and anyways, with food this good, why wouldn’t you?  Lots of seafood and fish on the menu, so make sure you check it out on-line first.

    Urbanspoon North 44