Location: 200 8 Ave SE
I have wanted to try this restaurant out since the first time I got into food. This restaurant is owned by the Teatro Group which is responsible for amazing restaurants, eateries, cafes and so on such as Vendome, EAT, Cucina, and Al Forno, just to name a few (I’ve been to all of these places). I’ve had pretty good experiences at all of these places, with the exception of a couple things at Al Forno that I found to be too greasy. We had gone there when it first opened so they may have still been ironing out a few kinks, so I wouldn’t be opposed to going back. Besides, Al Forno is known for its fantastic, house made bread which I’ve had before (or at least I think I’ve had), so if they make focaccia that amazing, they can’t be all bad right?
We came here for Teatro’s happy hour, which is essentially just the appetizer and salad sections of their menu, at 50% off. Walking in here can be intimidating and it’s so hard for me not to adopt airs walking into a place like this, but given the way I was dressed…well, we’ll just leave it at that. I mean, it wasn’t terrible because I had just come from work so I was dressed moderately appropriately, but I felt that my shoulder bag was out of place for somewhere like Teatro.
Walking in, this has got to be the most grand restaurant I’ve ever walked into, apart from Bank and Baron. However, the atmosphere is completely different from Bank and Baron. Teatro is high class; there is no doubt about that. I’m drawn to historical building such as these and it was hard not to stare at everything in awe. This is the level of luxury I hope to achieve one day in my life.
Carmen had already been seated when I walked in and there was no time for me to even take in the place when I was greeted. Immediately, the waiter offered to take my jacket and showed me to my table where Carmen was waiting. We took some time to peruse the menu and while their food menu is reasonably small, their wine menu is not. It’s not surprising in a place like this to have a 40 page wine menu, but at the same time, I’ve never been to a restaurant with a 40 page wine menu.
After some time, we decided to each get our own appetizers. Both of us chose the calamari. I decided to have a Caprese Salad and Carmen went with the Caesar. Probably because I had good company and we had so much to talk about and catch up on, it didn’t feel like the wait was all that long. The presentation of the dishes were beautiful. I loved the contrast of the colours of the tomatoes in the Caprese salad, and was incredibly impressed by the fact it was fresh buffalo mozzarella on the plate rather than boccoccini or just fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk. The addition of the fleur de sel on the mozzarella gave the dish the slight hit of sodium it needed and the surprisingly, fresh ground pepper elevated the dish to another level. The squid ink crisp provided an interesting focal point on the calamari dish for an otherwise monotonous plate. It seemed like the breading on the calamari was lighter than most places I had been to, but the lemon aioli was a little lost in everything. Especially when comparing it to the lemon-caper aioli from Escobar, this one didn’t quite measure up. The Caesar was interesting to me because they had actually left the romaine lettuce leaves whole, but you could tell they were the best ones, at the centre of the heart of the romaine. What is interesting about this Caesar is that they chose to use guanciale rather than bacon or pancetta and that there were whole anchovies on the plate. I know that there are anchovies in Caesar dressing, but I’ve never had the whole fish feature in my Caesar. The other interesting thing was the soft boiled egg. Typically, I don’t think of Caesars as having an egg, but the creaminess of the egg yolk functioned like additional dressing, enhancing the dish. The bright yellow-orange of the yolk provided the Caesar with that much needed colour pop. However, from my vantage point the egg appeared to be more medium than soft.
Due to a slight mix up, we were seated at a table that had been reserved for a larger party, so as a result, we had to move to the bar. For the inconvenience, the restaurant decided not to charge us for dessert. For dessert I chose to go with the traditional route, tiramisu, while Carmen had difficulty choosing between the tiramisu, bomboloni, cannoli, and the s’more. I totally don’t blame her because all of them were so unique that I will have to go back simply to try all the desserts. Eventually she settled on the Ricotta Bomboloni. While bomboloni are traditional Italian doughnuts that are vaguely reminiscent of timbits, Teatro took the classic and put a twist on it by serving it with a cheddar gelato, roasted apple, and a caramel tuile.
While there were times that the servers intimidated me, it was not simply because of the type of place we were in, but because I wasn’t used to that level of promptness in service. I was completely impressed by how they all went above and beyond what I had felt to be standard service (by the end of the meal, we had gone through at least 3 servers, but there was continuity between all of them). As Carmen has allergies and many sensitivities, they like Escobar were very cognizant and asked all the necessary questions to ensure we would have a great experience there and we did. I would 100% return here and go for a full experience (appetizer, salad, soup, main, dessert). Of course the bill would come out to be quite hefty, but I think it was definitely worth it.
This place has got to be one of the best restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating at. Based on my experience, I would give this restaurant a 4.75/5.