Address: 299 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1P7
Phone: (416) 599 – 0299
In the heart of Downtown Toronto’s Entertainment District and Financial District, Montecito Restaurant does not lack clientele, is easy to access, and is quite recognized in the public because this dining joint is a collaboration between Hollywood director Ivan Reitman and Innov8 Hospitality, who also manages Wayne Gretzky’s memorabilia in a dining experience. This is quite an intelligent partnership because this natural form of publicity and advertisement comes from the collaborator’s individualized fame, which act as a “free” marketing tactic. With all the bells and whistles, we all know this is quite an upscale, classy, high end restaurant.
Interior decor is a holy shrine to the works Ivan has directed and produced. Cast photos, movie scenes and behind the scene photos are everywhere as a sign of accomplishment, a recognition and respect. There was no doubt that I looked thoroughly at all pictures surrounding me in the dining room and as I was walking towards the washroom. To those who lived in that era, it was a memory. But those who were born in the 90’s and the millennials, it was all new and curiosity overcome emotions. Truthfully, the movies Ivan produced were iconic, thus, I cannot imagine anyone acting like a blank sheet.
High ceilings made the space very open and airy. The tables and chairs were arranged neatly, very organized, signifying a systematic management. However, I find the room quite dark and I wish they could make use of those large ceiling height windows for some natural light because that would make the outlook more welcoming, especially for Sunday brunch. Brightening could enlighten up the mood and is more cheerful overall.
Montecito offers brunch buffet at $39 per person every Sunday from 11am to 3pm. I made reservations for 11am and arrived a few minutes later. To my surprise, the restaurant was quite empty, that reservations was not really required. Over the course of two hours, which was the maximum time slot for everyone, only a few more tables were occupied. Overall, the brunch buffet was not as popular and lively as I hoped.
*Disclaimer* The food options change every week to keep it special. What I was served this week may vary from others who tried it another day.
The food tables were misplaced or quite random. The purpose was to avoid huge crowds or line ups, however, I felt confused, dislocated and misguided. The center of it all, the most obvious buffet table, with the cooked food, salad, antipasto, was situated at the kitchen at the middle of the whole dining hall. The seafood platter propped on a bar table, which I thought was not served and did not try, was camouflaged independently next to the curtains. It comes back to the argument of the restaurant is dimly lit but could also be my carelessness; but how did I completely miss the seafood?!?! The dessert and pastry table was next to the entrance. Till this day, I am still trying to decipher the logic behind the position of the food, like, why did they put the food there, why those locations. It just seem so inconvenient.
The food was of fusion style, mainly influenced by Californian, Mexican, Italian, and Caribbean cuisines.
At the salad bar, there was the typical spring salad mix, kale salad, lentil salad, grilled fennel with beets and peppers marinated with olive oil. To summarize, you can mix and make your own salad with the provided selection of ingredients. I was disappointed to not see a pasta salad. Yogurt and parfait was also served. On the side, there is a selection of aged and cured ham with several cheese options next to it. The ham was thinly sliced that it was hard to pick up with the tongs, hence, be prepared to pick up more than 1 or 2 slices. However, the ham tasted amazing, especially on top of a salad. The smokey savory protein enriched the flavours of the salad and dressing. I also paired the ham with baguette, biscuits, anything bland.
Hot foods were stored in the heavy duty Staub cast iron casserole to maintain the warmth and freshness. They served fried chicken, curry with white rice on the side, pizza, sausage, potato wedges, bacon, eggs. The fried chicken was so crispy and coated lightly with jerk spices. Everything else was safe, tasted nothing special. I thought the eggs were overdone and left sitting on the counter too long, which became dry. Everything that was served that day seemed to be spicy and the choices were limited.
There are things that are freshly made. Waffles and pancakes are made to order. You can get the original buttermilk pancake or a chocolate chip pancake. Guacamole is made to the order too just to ensure the avocados do not turn brown. Once again, I am surprised omelet was not on the list.
The dessert and pastry selection offered was assorted donuts, tiramisu, danishes, bread pudding, chocolate brownie, cupcakes, carrot cake, scones and croissants. Mixed into the selection was a variety of fresh fruits like honeydew, watermelon, apple and oranges. The organization was a bit random. In fact, I find the dessert variation quite disappointing that day for me just because the selection was not captivating. In fact, the cakes and puddings have room for improvement. They tasted a bit flavourless and texture was rough. However, the croissant was flakey, if only there was more butter flavours.
Servicing and attitude was done quite onto the spot though. Everyone was so nice, handsome or pretty, well groomed, mannered, and professional. They were tentative, always there when you need their attention. However, the young man who makes fresh guacamole was so bored that he was desperately waiting for someone to order the popular Mexican dip. I also noticed they did not replenish the food based on the age of the food that has been on the counter for, but as when the volume becomes more depleted. There are things that can be improved on. Overall, the selection of food was typical, had no specialness or wowness to the flavour. The restaurant does not scream out to me nor does it yern for more of my business. I find it quite disappointing for such a high end dining experience. I hope the collaboration all the best and keep on improving for the years to come.