I wasn’t going to review La Societé again as we have been there before and the food and service is always consistently good, but we had such an amazing experience on New Years Eve, I just had to blog about it.
We made our reservations for 9 so that we’d have half a chance of ringing in the new year at the restaurant; we didn’t make it, the food was so delicious we had a really hard time eating s l o w l y (and anyone who knows JT will attest that it is no easy feat!). We both got dolled up to celebrate the new year of 2012. We did the responsible thing by subwaying downtown so that we could imbibe. The subways were running well which really surprised me*.
The restaurant was not as crowded as I had thought it would be. This was their first year and to our surprise they did not take a deposit for our reservation (La Select took one last year and the year before; apparently Torontonians are famous for not showing up for a reservation!). We were seated quickly at a centre table for two — I hated it immediately and asked to be moved, the hostess said she didn’t have another table. Grumble, grumble, grumble. As we were settling in, and our waitress was pouring the water and I happened to say “wow, is it ever noisy” and it was. She immediately picked up on it and asked if we’d like a lovely little table tucked into the corner by the window. We jumped on it. She moved us and we settled in. Coincidentally, the following patrons at that same table requested a change of scenery as well! Note to restaurant: that little table in the middle is in the way, no one likes it, not even the wait staff — they keep bumping into the diners sitting there. It’s best to remove the offending table than risk your patron having only a so-so time.
The meal began with a little amuse bouche of toasted brioche with lemon scented goats cheese and tomato confit, it was lovely. Our lovely waitress paced us well, we just couldn’t pace ourselves! I ordered Spicy Tuna Tartar which was diced tuna, apple, ginger, pine nuts and fresh coriander — so delicious. The little bites of crunchy apple and pine nuts really complimented the smooth texture of the tuna, and the ginger was quite refreshing and added a bit of heat to the dish. I couldn’t stop eating, the portion was huge 150-200 grams of the tuna — they really could have cut it in half. JT had the Braised Bison Short Rib with smoked bone marrow and cauliflower purée. The short rib was braised to perfection, simply melting off the bone. The flavour was rich and satisfying. I didn’t try the cauliflower purée but it looked wonderful. Now I’m absolutely full, and I still have my steak to contend with.
Next we ordered our mains; I had the Grilled AAA 10 oz Striploin Steak, rare (they didn’t have my steak tartar on the menu so I had to go with this instead. Plus I NEVER order cooked steak so it was a lovely change. They served the steak with Delmonico potatoes with woodland mushrooms (an incredibly decadent dish of potatoes, a cheesy white sauce and buttered mushrooms) and a brandy peppercorn sauce. Let me start by saying the portions were incredible. I barely got through 1/4 of the 300-400 gram steak and barely touched the potatoes. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It was wonderful. The steak was cooked rare, melted in your mouth and the peppercorn sauce added that little bite. The potatoes were incredibly creamy and the mushrooms sooo delicious, I picked through and ate them before I gave JT a chance to try it. Fortunately I was able to bring my leftovers home! JT had the Pan-seared Pheasant Breast with roast chestnuts, apple foie gras butter and a celery root purée and brussels sprout leaves. The pheasant breast was cooked perfectly and paired well with the sides. It was a more manageable portion.
I didn’t have much room for dessert so I didn’t order one, but instead had a spoon of JTs Hazelnut Chocolate Bar with salted praline and caramel ice cream. WOW! Although I was glad I didn’t order one, I would have truly regretted finishing it off!
The restaurant noise level was a bit louder than usual, people reveling and enjoying their dinners, and around 10pm they brought in a DJ who slowly raised the volume of the 1980′s music higher and higher. By 11pm we were no longer able to converse, so we decided to head home and bring in the new year by the fireplace and a glass of wine. I was a little disappointed in the music as I would have expected more Jazz instead of 1980s pop from a French restaurant.
The subway ride home was entertaining thanks to the inebriated passengers and fortunately, on time without issues. Had we stayed until mid-night, the TTC would have been free.
I have to say something about the service: exceptional. Our waitress was attentive but subtle and always around when we needed something. Our wine glasses were never empty, nor were our water glasses. My regret is that I wish I had gotten her name so I can pass along my great experience to the restaurant.
Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 1/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). This restaurant is never quiet.
Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.
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*On Friday night we also took the subway down, and just as we were coming home around 10:30, they announced that there was an issue which caused the subway to be shut down. The terminal was crowding quickly as passengers were accumulating, so we decided to surface and take a cab before they became extinct. Traffic was also brutal; as it turns out, there was a fire at St. George station which caused backups along Bloor Street – our route home! The 10 minute cab ride ended up setting us back $30, including tip! Yikes! To recap, we spend $4 for the car park at the subway station (ya, we live close enough to walk but it was raining!), $10 for the subway ($2.50 each way per person) and then $30 for the ride home! That’s $44 and we haven’t even had a bite!