July 22, 2010

HLFD in TO: Origin Restaurant

Food bloggers/photographers not welcomed.  That was the feeling I got when dining at Origin Restaurant in Toronto.  I had made the reservation a month prior (the dinner was for my birthday with a couple girlfriends).  I got there early (the restaurant was fairly empty at that point) and asked the hostess if I could take pictures.  And then the evening took a strange turn.  It's unfortunate since I was looking forward to dining at this trendy restaurant opened by the same people as high-end Colborne Lane.

Here was the weird exchange:
Me: Do you mind if I take a few photos of the restaurant for my website? 
Hostess:  Did you get permission from the management?  The owner/executive chef have to give permission.
Me:  No, I'm sorry.  But it's ok if I take photos of my meal, right? I don't use flash nor will I intrude on anyone here.  (There were no signs online or in the restaurant indicating that the restaurant had a no-camera policy)
Hostess:  Let me see if the General Manager can speak with you.  (I gave her my business card and she immediately returned it back to me).
Hostess (upon returning):  Ok. The GM contacted the owner and said you can take pictures but to let you know that we like advanced notice so that we can prepare special dishes for you. (Huh?! - Note to restaurants:  I do not need nor expect special treatment. I just like taking photos of your beautiful dishes and I've done so way before I had a website!)
I thanked her, took a few photos, and then returned to my table.  But the weird exchanges didn't end there.
The kitchen is open-concept located in the middle of the restaurant.  I noticed that the sous chef and kitchen staff kept looking over at our table.  I also noted that despite walking around the restaurant a few times near our table, the General Manager never once came by to speak to me.  However, the strangest incidence happened in the middle of our dinner:
A staff member approached our table (not our server nor the GM) and told me: I'll have to take away your camera. Photographs are not allowed here.
My response:  Well, the owner said that I could take photos.
He then walked away as the entire kitchen staff was watching this exchange.  They started laughing hysterically and slapped each other on the back.  Now I know kitchen staff pull pranks on each other, but I do not believe it should involve diners. (Especially when the bill would exceed a few hundred dollars)

I'm glad that we ordered drinks because we would need it!  I ordered the Ginger Mojito ($12): The mix of Meyer lemon, fresh ginger, mint, and rum was summery with a subtle ginger flavor. 
Raspberry Collins ($14):  Fresh raspberries, vodka, Chambord, lemon, and sugar made up this fruity cocktail.  It was sweeter than the mojito but tasted good too.
One of my friends and I were really excited about the cheese bruschettas.  She had visited me in NYC and we had the best burrata salad at Supper and haven't been able to replicate that experience. 
The Burrata ($15) with pesto and romesca wasn't as good as our creamy burrata at Supper.  This burrata was good, but drier and less flavorful than our euphoric experience at Supper.
The Fior di Matte ($15) with mushrooms and truffle oil was a bigger hit amongst my friends.  If you like rustic and earthy tastes, you will enjoy this plate.  The rich truffle oil permeates the dish and your mouth is full of umami.

I thought it was fun that this trendy restaurant would also serve Jarritos soda pops (my friend got fruit punch).  My hubby and I usually enjoy this drinks at our favorite taquerias in the city.
Deviled eggs ($3 each):  With gremolata (mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley) and large pieces of smoked bacon, this was a tasty and elegant take on deviled eggs.
Japanese Style Tuna Salad ($16):  Raw tuna with Asian pear, avocado, and spicy ponzu dressing was fairly refreshing.
The Wokked and Fried Calamari ($16) was one of the least favorite dishes amongst our foursome.  The calamari got soggy quickly with the caramelized peanut sauce and pineapple.  Despite the splashes of hot sauce (Sriracha I believe), the dish was not spicy.
Chorizo ($17) with manchego rice, poached egg, salsa verde, and dried black olive was interesting.  With the olives, chorizo, and manchego rice, it was a pretty savory dish.
One of our favorite dishes was the Miso-glazed black cod ($19) with soba noodle salad, ginger vinaigrette, and miso broth.  The fish was meaty and tender - it just melted in our mouths.
The Dulce de leche ($9) was interesting.  It had a lemon sponge cake with caramel crunch, sea salt, and raspberry ice (frozen with liquid nitrogen).  I actually liked this sweeter dessert because of the mix of textures and the cool raspberry ice that would melt in your mouth with a burst of fruity flavor.
We were disappointed with the Manchego Cheesecake ($9) with saffron sorbet and marinated blueberries.  It tasted fine, but it could have been a regular cheesecake.  We could not taste any manchego in it and really wanted to taste some nuttiness.
Overall, the food was fine but I guess I should have read about his anti-blogger sentiments first.  Despite the odd interactions, I thought the restaurant was beautiful in aesthetic and (solely thanks to my girlfriends) managed to enjoy the evening.
Origin is located at 107-109 King St E in Toronto, ON, Canada.

Origin Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Glad you were able to enjoy your evening despite all that. I am not sure I would have wanted to write a review had I been treated in such a manner. I missed that on Toronto Life as well but I have been out with you and you are certainly not intrusive or flashy, you're as discreet as they come! I guess it's unfortunate that others before us might have been who have ruined it for the rest of us.


We love reading your comments! Don't worry if you don't have a Google account or website - just select Name/URL.