August's gemstone is peridot, so there's no better time than the present to celebrate Peridot Resto Lounge, conveniently located steps from the corner of Yonge and Bloor.
Formerly, there hasn't been much in the way of fine dining in the area, but Peridot's changed that with their chic décor, fresh and local cuisine and expansive space suitable for everything from private events to public celebrations.
It doesn't look that big from the outside, but there is 7,000 square feet complete
with 3 bars, 2 levels and a patio on a 3rd level here.
That means it accommodates dinners of 2, 6, 10 or even 40. You can have your pharmaceutical lunch, dinner and presentations here, or after dinner drinks and tapas with friends at the lengthy bar at the back.
You can also host your event here. While I have dinner, the upstairs in being converted into a casino setting for an MS charity function. Charity events are a common occurrence for the restaurant and one that Owner Ted Ntoulis is particularly proud of.
That, and the interior design of the place, which is loft-like in its expanse and lounge-like in its colour scheme of mocha and muskrat. The VIP section has an ultrasuede wall at the front and there is a DJ area at the back on the lower level.
Ted calls the look, "chic, trendy and sophisticated," but stresses that suit and tie are not required. You can come in a nice pair of jeans, bring your friends, have a drink or dinner. There's no stuffiness here.
But Peridot is not just an evening destination. They are open for lunch, which means you can sit in this lush atmosphere, while choosing from a number of healthy and exciting options. No more food court for you!
And the menu has been recently revamped, dishes "kicked up a notch," as Ted describes it. The chicken is now "slow roasted," the lamb is now rack of lamb from Australia, the steak has risen to Certified Angus status and they are "looking to introduce pork tenderloin."
"We are trying to veer away from chicken souvlaki," Ted says. Being a Mediterranean/Italian restaurant, he wants to stay true to his Greek heritage while "seeing what people from downtown want, and giving it to them."
So rest assured, you can still get Saganaki, but here at Peridot, it's submerged in Pernod, then battered and flambéed at the table.
Indeed the food is upscale, but not fussy.
The Baby Mesclun Salad ($11) to start is wonderful. Mixed greens with strips of roasted red peppers, large candied walnuts, creamy goat cheese, dressed in balsamic vinaigrette is a great start to the meal. It is also a hearty portion.
Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Jumbo Tiger Shrimp ($15) is a great choice for an appetizer as the prosciutto locks in the shrimp's juices and flavour. It is accompanied by a Champagne melon vinaigrette that is both colourful and summery in its lightness.
I go for some heartier choices for my entrees.
Risotto (priced $19 -$21) changes on the menu. Today its wild mushrooms & grilled asparagus drizzled with truffle oil & slivered padano. It is creamy, but not soggy and topped with 3 grilled asparagus spears. Wide slices of mushroom offer lots of surface area and offer a comforting earthiness to the dish.
The Oven Roasted Australian Rack of Lamb (priced between $32 -$36) is moist and robust with a
Niagara Ice wine & blueberry reduction that has fresh, whole blueberries that pop and explode in your mouth. It is not as blueberry as most I've had of late, which is nice. It's subtler than that. It comes with a sweet yam and Yukon gold potato gratin.
For dessert, I have warm Molten Chocolate Cake (priced $7 - $9), which is decadent, but not overly sweet. It is served with a sweet strawberry compote & organic French vanilla ice cream.
Seasonal and fresh ingredients prepared in a simple, yet modern fashion, all served in one of the nicest settings you can imagine. All right at Yonge and Bloor.
Sure. It can be our little secret, but with all that Peridot has to offer, it won't remain a secret for long.