By: Kylie Meyermann

In celebration of its 20th anniversary in Toronto, the  Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville has  launched a new wine pairing menu at Signatures Restaurant. As of Monday, March 28, guests are invited to bring their favourite bottle of wine, and enjoy no corkage fee from Monday to Thursday. In the past, I have had some less than desirable experiences when taking advantage of the many B.Y.O.B. status restaurants in Toronto. I have done the research, read the reviews and gathered all of my friends expecting to enjoy a wonderful wine pairing menu, only to sadly discover that my Rosewood Estates 2008 Merlot will be paired with a disenchanted baked fish with side slaw.

When I learned that Signatures’ chef de cuisine Joseph Rabb was the master mind behind the restaurants innovative wine pairing menu, I decided to attend the Intercontinental’s Food and Wine Pairing Evening and check it out as their guest.

On April 7, I checked myself into one of the newly renovated Intercontinental Suites and rushed downstairs to Proof Vodka Bar to enjoy some before dinner drinks.

A classic pairing of foie gras with Sauternes.

The first course, served at the bar, was a classic pairing; a glass of Chateau de Myrat, 2007 Sauternes and savoury foie gras. At first, the pairing made me doubt the intended originality of the evenings pairing menu. However, all of my reservations disappeared after my first sip of wine… The wine had a beautiful nose that literally jumped out of the glass and the foie gras was sweet and creamy, a wonderful pairing.

Before dinner, guests enjoyed a glass of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial Rosé Champagne.

The second course was a refreshing glass of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial Rosé Champagne. The Champagne was paired with fresh smoked salmon that was served with a thin slice of green apple and stacked atop a basil puff. Once again, not exactly avant-garde, but exceptionally well done. It was clear that the salmon was of the utmost freshness and the apple added a nice acidity with the oily fish.

After some pleasant chit chat and a couple more glasses of wine, the guests left Proof and moved the party into the Signatures dining room. The first course, (or third, depending on how you look at it), was Sea Bass Thai Yellow Curry with
Scented Jasmine Rice and a Green Mango Salad with Ginger. The presentation was ravishing. I especially liked the added touch of decorative foam.

The sea bass was paired with a glass of Kim Crawfood, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. I found the wine to be too round and buttery for the asian inspired dish. A dinner party guest brought a bottle of  Cave Springs Riesling, which I thought paired much better with the sea bass than the Chardonnay.

Sea bass Thai yellow curry paired with a glass of Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Vintage.

Following the sea bass was the Roasted Chicken Supreme with Sautéed Creamy Mushrooms, Vichy Heirloom Carrots and Fingerling Potato. The chicken was paired with a white non-appelation Burgundy: Roux Pere et Fils “Les Murelles”.

Roast Chicken served with an array of root vegetables.

For the fourth course, a Vanilla Poached Lobster with Baby Spinach and Truffle Risotto. Once again, I must hand out 5 stars for the presentation. Waiters simultaneously placed the plates on the dining table and poured boiling water into the larger bowl. The dining room was immediately awakened by the smell of vanilla and truffle. The lobster was paired with a glass more Burgundy white: Carre De Cesar, Chablis.

A dinner favourite: Vanilla Poached Lobster with baby spinach and truffle risotto.

The fifth dish, was an Olive Oil Marinate Grilled Lamb Chops served with a Salad of Quinoa, Chickpea, Seeds. The lamb was paired with a glass of Sonoma-Cutrer, Pinot Noir 2007.

The tender Olive Oil Marinated Lamb Chops were paired with a a crunchy Salad of Quinoa, Chickpea, Seeds.

For the  sixth course a Pepper Corn Braised Bison Short Rib with Pumpkin, Snow Peas and Horseradish Gremolata was served with a glass of Jacob’s Creek Shiraz.

A Pepper Corn Braised Bison Short Rib beautifully plated with Salty Cashew and Pumpkin Mash.

A beautifully plated Beef Tenderloin was served as our final main.  A tender beet, creamy mashed potatoes, and a medium done tenderloin. The grape were grilled with a drizzle of olive oil and paired perfectly with the glass of Kenwood, Artist Series, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Beef Tenderloin paired with Chateau Vieux Pourret 2005

For dessert, two slices of cheese, (one local), were served with cool figs and honey. The cheese on the bottom left corner of the plate is Testun Di Barolo, while the slice on top is a locally produced cheese from Niagara, Niagara Gold Honeycomb.

For dessert, Testun Di Barolo and Niagara Gold Honeycomb cheese.

It as fun to really test whether each glass truly paired with each dish. Our host, Andrew Gajary, General Manager of the Intercontinental Toronto Yorkville, was gracious and charismatic, as well as knowledgeable on each wine. The Hotel hopes to attract serious wine drinkers as well as casual imbibers with the menu. And of course, it was really nice to end the meal by slipping up to my room. I could get used to that.

Kylie Meyermann is a contributor of Good Food Revolution.