It seems a bit mind-boggling to me that the most obssessively-read post on this humble lil' blog is the one about Park restaurant. Enraged comments! Friends that read it, go try the restaurant and then complain to me! Drama!
I think it's about time that I address the issue.
First of all, I am unable, at this point, to write a fair and objective review of Park. Full-disclosure: chef-owner Antonio Park is a personal friend.
Having said that, I still do have a few opinions, of course. And I do sympathize with all those that write here and tell me personally that they hated the service.
The polished maître d' I wrote about in my original post is long gone. The staff is friendly but.... yeah, it could take close to half an hour to get a drink. I feel it.... It's happened to me.
And the person serving it might not know a heck of a lot about what's in the glass (though I've heard that they're getting, soon, a top-notch sommelier).
No matter: I still say this is by far the best place in town to get decent sushi.
|Salmon belly niguiri, slightly torched|
Which isn't too hard of an accomplishment, as there's really nowhere else serving sushi at this level. Buri - my favourite fish! - in two versions (from different-aged fish), for example, is dreamy.
|Niguiri of oba iwashi (sardine family) with ginger and |
a sauce made of Korean peppers, sake and yogurt
Uni so fresh you can't smell it, still whole, not briny or slimy in the least? An wrapped in crisp nori that is handed to you within 3 seconds, before it has a chance to absorb moisture and turn chewy? Mackerel niguiri so good you turn your eyes to the heavens, sighing? Buttery torched salmon belly?
And what's with that rice? Usually, only the Japanese can make that oh-so-tricky sushi rice, almost lukewarm but not quite, almost sweet but not quite, where the soft pillow of grains holds together just barely but falls apart immediately in the mouth.
The food, overall, is very good, from the bibimbap rice to the fall soup they've got on the menu now.
|Buri, uni, shisso flowers|
Desserts are reminiscent of something you'd have at Les 400 Coups: a panoply of overlapping textures, always highlighting fresh, bright flavours.
In short, solid cooking, first-rate ingredients. Here's chef Antonio Park showing off some of his kitchen's bounty:
Yes, granted, Park is expensive - but if that is an issue, go for lunch, when prices are lower.
Anyways... for those hungry for more dish descriptions, there's always Lesley Chesterman's glowing review in the Gazette. I've tried lots of stuff that I could talk about, but it's the niguiri that really blows me away: that oh-so-rare combination of the perfect rice and the best fish.
|Niguri of Albacore tuna from B.C. with mujol caviar, |
and niguiri of mackerel
In short, I love Park.
Yeah, granted, the service needs work. But you know what? I'm happy to see that Westmount - a previous gastronomic Sahara - actually has a top-notch restaurant for once (so nice that I can walk to it...). And if you care about good service and the details of what's on the plate, do as I do: sit at the counter right in front of the chef.
Park:tel. (514) 750-7534
378 avenue Victoria