From the left: Nota Bene interior, Executive Chef and
Proprietor, David Lee.
I'm going to start by offering the following: Executive
Chef David Lee (Splendido), General Manager
Yannick Bigourdan (Splendido), Franco Prevedello (a restaurant
magnate known for starting over 15 of Toronto's most successful
restaurants, of which Pronto, Centro and Splendido are only three)
and a $3 million investment… Is the place going to be so-so? I
don't think so.
For those whom Splendido's fame did not reach, it
held (the resto is still around but is under new management) its
place among the finest dining establishments Toronto and Canada had
to offer. For decades - Splendido was where you would go to
Well times have changed, and the whole concept of 'dine to impress'
is bombing - as many other cities like New York have lamented - so
the power troika repackaged finery in a more accessible,
Nota Bene - while still quite up there in price -
has a more downtown vibe (and not because of its
Queen and University Ave location), sleek décor, a busy bar and
lounge great for people watching (the same menu is available
throughout). The whole experience is much less '50th anniversary
dinner' and more 'put your heels/sartorial jacket on, call a
babysitter and encourage your wife or husband to do the same at
another restaurant while you hang with your friends' - which is
what I did.
few things about Nota Bene betray the proprietors' old-school
values however, and those of course be the
seasonal/local/market cuisine of stoic/meticulous
(and really good looking) Chef David Lee and the impeccable
service. So outmodishly impressed we were by these virtues,
Dinner for Two at Nota Bene was one of our employee
appreciation prizes this year.
Left: Melissa and hubby, not at Nota Bene
I asked one lucky recipient of the certificate, Melissa J.G., to
tell me about her dinner, and here's what she and
her hubby thought:
did you two have?
• Steak tartare w/ potato chips
• Crispy duck salad w/ sumac-dusted green papaya slaw,
Left: Crispy Duck Salad (via
- Seared "rare" big eye tuna w/ bell peppers, olive paste,
capers, arugula salad
- Pulled suckling pig and boudin noir tart w/ maple-smoked bacon,
mushrooms, truffle vinaigrette
- Flourless chocolate fudge cake w/ chocolate chip cookie dough
- Sticky toffee pudding w/ pecan praline, spotted dick ice
"I had a bite of my husband's pig and it melted - although I loved
the tuna I would try that again (without an appetizer because it's
so filling) if I went again.
The second would be my chocolate fudge cake dessert…It was
How did you feel about the location? Did it feel like an
"Loved the locale! We took the TTC and found it no problem. We
decided to gussy up for the dinner (I had an inkling there'd be
dinner jackets) so I pulled out my wrap dress. We were actually a
bit early and they were extremely accommodating and were able to
seat us a bit earlier. The staff was well informed and extremely
Anecdotes about room/food/service?
"My only slightly negative comment is that my preference is to eat
in a space that's not as open. There were no walls or barriers and
the banquettes were quite low. I did the loft living so I love
living in open spaces, but I prefer to be cocooned a bit
"The service was fantastic though and all the staff was quite
knowledgeable on the food and wine. I love when they use those
little "crumb catches" at the end of the meal - I want one for
What were the people like?
"Everyone was pretty dressed up in business attire or cocktail
Any other comments?
"The olive oil with the dipping bread was fantastic. It's only when
you try olive oil that good that you realize the difference from a
regular one. Drinkable almost (but I didn't). We definitely plan on
There you have it. Have you been?
View Larger Map
Nota Bene Restaurant
180 Queen St. W,
M5V 3X3, Canada?
Posted: Fri, Sep 18 2009
by Elana Safronsky