Location: 709 Edmonton Tr NE
From the first time I saw a review of this place in a food magazine, it was on my list of place to go. Last night I had the chance to try it out. I’d like to call this “date night” officially, as this felt more like the traditional, stereotypical categorization of what a date looks like.
Since getting my opentable account, I’ve been wanting to go to more restaurants to earn points that could in turn be redeemed at select restaurants as a credit, so to speak. I had made my reservations at Carino about a week earlier. I had made the reservation for about 5:30 giving us plenty of time to get lost and/or account for any unforeseen delays. After a rather uneventful day at work, we arrived early to the restaurant to find the door still locked. The building is very easy to miss, we drove by twice and nearly walked past it. You have to really be looking for it to find it. Not only were we early for our 5:30 reservation, we were so early the place hadn’t even opened yet! We returned to the car to wait and as usual conversations and time spent with Braeden often flies by far too fast. Before we knew it, it was time to head on in.
When we arrived, only one family was seated near the window, all the other tables displayed a “reserved” sign. We were promptly seated and handed menus. Though I had looked at the menu before hand, I still had no idea what I wanted. In the review I had read, it had suggested the Duck! Duck!! Duck!!!, but that also happened to be the most expensive menu item and I wasn’t sure how much foie gras I could handle. I’ll save this dish for next time I visit with my sister because I know if I can’t finish it, she will. The waitress came by three or four times, but I still couldn’t decide on what it was I wanted. I finally decided to go with an appetizer to share (which really turned into me eating most of it) and “combine” two appetizer for my main entree. Braeden decided on the Teriyaki Wagyu Beef Burger with some modifications: regular mayo instead of wasabi mayo, no mushrooms, opting to go with a brioche instead of rice bun and adding bacon. Unfortunately, they missed adding the bacon with all the other requests they had to account for (and luckily it was not added to the bill).
The appetizer I had chosen was the Ahi Tuna Poke served with tortilla chips. In my opinon, they weren’t exactly tortilla chips, more like wonton crisps, but that increased it’s deliciousness (following more of an Asian theme, tortilla would have thrown the entire dish off in a completely different direction and as this is an Italian-Japanese-French fusion restaurant, Mexican doesn’t really fit into the picture very well). It was well seasoned, although a bit salty, it worked for the poke. The addition of arugula, the Italian twist, really worked for me; it provided a different flavour profile to the dish, giving it a much needed fresh lift. With the meal beginning on such a high note, I had high expectations for the subsequent dishes. There wasn’t too long of a wait time between the appetizer and the mains, which I was to be expected as we were currently the only other table in the restaurant. As I said earlier, Brae made so many modifications that when his burger came out it kinda looked boring (I would have really like to have tried it with the mushrooms on there because I love pretty much all kinds of mushrooms with the exception of canned mushrooms and straw mushrooms). The wagyu beef blew me away. The seasoning was spot on, the burger was succulent and chockful of onions, giving it a sweet, aromatic, depth (but as Brae doesn’t like onions, that wasn’t great for him lol). The first thing I noticed was that the ketchup tasted different from most other places, in a good way; it was sweeter and was enhanced by the hint of herbs. I ordered the goma (sometimes spelled gomae) caesar salad adding in the calamari. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I’m in love with calamari and intend to try them at all the restaurants I go to. Although the portion size looks small, it was very filling. I enjoyed the inclusion of slices of Fuji apple. The calamari provided the oil component to the dish, the apple the sweet, the kale the bitter, the dressing and bacon the salty, the jalapeno the acid, and the aioli for the calamari the spicy. My biggest problem with it though was that the salad was way too overdressed. At first I could manage by scrapping the vast majority of the dressing off, but eventually that became unbearable and I was unable to finish the salad.
Despite those minor hiccups, I’d say it was a pretty good meal. The waitress was ever attentive to us, making sure that our glasses were almost always full. Yes, it was a bit pricy, but that’s the cost of getting good quality food and service. I will most certainly return and next time I will try one of the mains I had been eyeing. Based on my experience this time round, I’d give it a rating of 3.75/5