Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tasty Tuesday/Food Fail: Cafe Maxim's Patisserie

Dearest readers,

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!  This is the first Mother's Day where I have a steady income and can actually afford to hold something of a celebration with Superwoman, so I asked her early on where she'd like to eat.

"Oh! I haven't actually thought about Mother's Day!" She said with an innocent flutter of her eyelashes before producing three Mother's Day special restaurant ads and asking me which one sounded good to me. :P  So we picked Cafe Maxim, because we were craving good desserts and they're known for their cakes.

When we told some family friends about our reservation, they groaned and berated us because, they said, for $38 a head before tax, there were much better choices in the city.  But we were really intrigued by the seafood pasta option, the all-you-can-eat desserts and the lobster bisque, so we went ahead with it anyway...

Before we knew it, it was Sunday, and we hurried to our reservation.  We opted to go to the Finch location because we remembered that the service at the Bayview location was deplorable - the manager was really rude, always trying to upsell us when we already ordered two full meals.

We walked in and I must say, the venue was kind of cramped.  Not only is it not as comfortable for customers, but because there was a dessert buffet, getting around was a bit awkward.  Regardless, we sat down and took a cursory look at the menu, even though we already knew what we wanted.

To our surprise, the menu was different from that of the ad - the seafood pasta option was gone!  The fish and shrimp item also changed to sea bass and lobster.  We were rather disappointed, but we went along with it and both ordered the bass and lobster.

The first thing that came out was the lobster bisque, which was also surprising, because don't salads usually come first?  Still, this was decent - the lobster flavour was pretty strong, although it could've used more salt.  Of course, we knew we couldn't compare it to Lobster Royale's lobster bisque, which is fantastic - so this was okay.  The garlic bread that came with it was also alright - would have been much better if it were more burnt.

The next thing to arrive was the appetizer platter.  This was quite a big disappointment, because the menu made it sound SO good - crab cake, marinated scallops, shrimp spring roll with baby spinach salad... But the scallops were bland, flavourless and tiny (they're the little dots in the middle of the plate) - I wasn't expecting Chinese banquet-sized ones, but one medium-sized scallop would've been nice - the shrimp spring roll was wrapped in a really thick layer of phyllo that was mushy in the middle, and the crab cake tasted like the cheap fish cakes you can get at Asian supermarkets!

To top it all off, the dijon sauce, an important element of the dish, and the red onions were missing from my mom's dish so clearly the kitchen didn't have their act together.

The main course smelled great, but quality-wise, it didn't deliver.  The veggies and potatoes were alright, nothing to rant or rave about.  The lobster was topped with this really fragrant garlic butter but it was WAY undercooked!  The meat was still stuck hard to the shell and kind of translucent.  Not only that, but there was only one crack in the claw and nowhere else and shell-crackers weren't provided, so it was impossible to eat the thing without looking like a total savage.  Now, the sea bass could've been good - the actual piece of fish wasn't bad, although mine for some reason was twice the size of my mom's serving, but it was also underdone.  I hoped it'd be seared but it must have been baked or something, and not very long, because there was this thick, oily layer of something underneath the fish that had the texture of cold margarine, or chilled lard, which was gross.


Finally it was dessert time, which was what we came for!  The cakes were alright, the fruit was alright, nothing special, but the meringue was as good as we remembered, so that was the meal's saving grace.  We were bummed that they didn't have mango meringue, which they had a few years ago, but the strawberry meringue and the blueberry meringue were both nice.  However, to my disappointment, after a while and the table cleared out, they didn't seem like they were going to put out any more desserts, so when the meringue ran out, I couldn't have  more and I was sad.

All this plus a drink came to $38 a head before tax, and 15% gratuity was automatically added on - some of the servers were nice but some were really brusque, so I wouldn't have left 15% if I had a choice.  So the meal really wasn't great, but Superwoman was a good sport about it, and now we know that we won't go back except perhaps to buy a meringue, least we learned that much!

The location we went to was:
648 Finch Avenue East Toronto, ON

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