100 Simcoe St.
Toronto, ON M5H3G2
Phone: (416) 979-7172
No matter how many times I beat the Licious (Winter or Summer) horse I never leave satisfied. My Winterlicious experience at Monsoon was no exception. Arriving precisely at our reservation time of 8 p.m. sharp we were directed to the bar to wait for our table to be prepared. We were initially told that this would be “just a couple of minutes”. One martini at $10 a pop and thirty minutes later we were eventually seated in the restaurant. We noticed a few other customers were experiencing the same delays, some reacting with more venom than necessary towards the poor, overwhelmed hostess.
Monsoon has a pleasant atmosphere. Not too loud, nor too bright, and the tables are spaced well enough apart so you don’t feel intruded upon but can also casually check out what buddy to the right is chowing on. Our orders were taken promptly though anytime we needed our waiter after that became a game of who can you flag down first.
Prior to our appetizers we were served a basket of what I believe were baked vegetable chips. These were similar to regular fried chips but with a stronger and less flaky quality. They were a welcome precursor to the uneven meal that followed. My appetizer consisted of a bowl of mussels in a jalapeno and coconut broth. The broth was rich with a good amount of spice which complimented the mussels nicely. The girls ordered the butternut squash soup which to both my taste and theirs was completely bland. Our mains arrived shortly after we finished our appetizers, but before we finally received the waters our mouths were hankering for. I ordered the “asian braised” osso bucco on garlic chive mash, edamame and kohlrabi. The asian braise was sweet almost overly at times though something I overall enjoyed. The addition of the edammame was welcome as I’m a big fan of this vegetable soybean and thought it was an interesting addition to this traditionally non asian dish. Desert was termed “chocolate heaven” consisting of a warm chocolate cake on a fresh berry compote and chocolate sauce. Though this dish is overdone and not very interesting, I can’t deny for a second I didn’t enjoy the tart taste of the berry sauce intermingled with the hot, dark and soft chocolate cake.
I am sure the horrid (though pleasant) service we received at Monsoon is not indicative of the restaurant on a normal day; however Winterlicious is supposed to be a celebration of the city. My experience at Monsoon became more an exercise in patience than any celebratory event.