This was actually my third visit to Nota Bene (@NotaBeneToronto). The first time I came to Nota Bene was two years ago and the food blew me away. Having had such a great experience, I brought my mom here while she was in Toronto visiting last year. Unfortunately, the experience was a complete letdown. However, after hearing such great things about Nota Bene’s burger and seeing that it was on Dining Date Night (for 30% off the bill), I decided to give it another shot.
For those of you who have never heard of Dining Date Night, it allows members to make a reservation at a selection of great restaurants in Toronto at a cost of $10 which gets you 30% off your total bill (uncapped). It’s free to sign up!
Nota Bene is conveniently located on Queen, just west of Osgoode station. The space features a large bar and lounge area at the entrance and a large dining room behind it. Based on my experiences here, it’s quite popular with the pre-theatre crowd earlier in the evening. On this visit, it was really busy – filled with the business crowd.
To start off the meal, our server brought over a basket of complimentary sourdough which tasted really fresh and delicious.
For my starter, I was debating between the duck salad (something I enjoyed on previous experiences) and the Nova Scotia Lobster Salad – avocado, maple bacon, blue cheese and buttermilk ($24). Mike encouraged me to try something new so I went with the latter. The chunks of lobster were cooked well and I enjoyed the combination of all the ingredients. Even though I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese, I’m glad its flavour wasn’t too overpowering.
We also started another starter, the Artisinal Black Pig Salumi – coppa, chorizo, jerk salami, goat’s cheese and pickled vegetables ($18). My favourite component was the jerk salami (far left) which was certainly something a little different which had a nice kick to it.
The chorizo (centre) was tasty but nothing noteworthy. My least favourite of the three was easily the coppa (right) which simply tasted of fat…there really wasn’t enough flavour. As for the goat cheese, I thought it tasted particularly nice when paired with the dried cherries. Overall, I don’t think I’d order this platter again. But if they offered jerk salami by the plate, I’d order it anyday.
Now…onto what we came here for: Jennifer’s Stilton Beef Brisket Burger – with pomme frites ($22). Don’t let the size of the plate fool you – it was a really thick burger! They ask you how you want your burger cooked. Since they recommended getting it medium rare, we went with that option and it came out perfectly cooked. The patty was incredibly juicy which resulted in the juices running down my arm (classy, eh?).
As I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese but I decided to get it how it was meant to be served. Similar to the lobster salad, I didn’t find the blue cheese overpowering at all. But for those of you who really can’t stand blue cheese, you have the option of substituting it with brie instead.
The burger came with a side of fries which were crisp and nicely seasoned. Even though I was full, I couldn’t stop eating them. We added a side of Shaved Onion Rings ($4) which were just as addictive. They were light and not at all greasy. I added some of them to the burger which gave it a little extra oomph.
For our second main, we went with the Wild Digby Sea Scallops – avocado puree, thai curry paste, mango, papaya & peanut salad ($28). Sadly, this dish sounded a lot better than it tasted. I found our scallops a little burnt and the avocado puree had a really strange flavour to it which I didn’t enjoy. There was also a random glob of Thai curry paste sitting on my plate which I wasn’t quite sure what to do with. The only redeeming part of the dish was the papaya and peanut salad which was light and refreshing.
I usually like to finish off my meal with something sweet but I was way too full for dessert. However, we noticed that they had something on their dessert menu called a Salted Caramel Bon Bon ($2 each). These little salted caramel bites were perfect for satisfying my craving.
So, there were some hits and misses during the evening. Perhaps it was because the restaurant was quite busy this evening but our server wasn’t particularly attentive and always seemed to be in a rush. The restaurant also gets incredibly loud when it’s busy. I had difficulty hearing Mike who was sitting right in front of me. As this was my third time at Nota Bene and the previous experience was less than stellar, I don’t think I’ll be coming back anytime soon.
At a glance:
• Some hits with a few misses
• Use Dining Date Night for 30% off
• Located conveniently on Queen, near Osgoode Station
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 2 stars