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Having been around for quite some time, Splendido (@Splendido_TO) is quite the iconic restaurant for fine dining in Toronto. After changing hands a couple times and being known as the most expensive restaurant in Toronto at one point in time, the restaurant is now only offering a choice of two tasting menus.

But before I get into that, let’s get into a bit of a history lesson. Splendido was acquired by Chef David Lee (Nota Bene and The Carbon Bar) back in 2001. The restaurant had an incredible run with one of the priciest menus in the city. But after the recession, in 2009, Splendido changed hands when it was sold to Chef Victor Barry (who was Chef de Cuisine at the time) and Carlo Catallo. The pair also launched the casual Queen West hot spot, the County General a couple years ago.


After purchasing Splendido in 2009, the menus dropped in price to a slightly more accessible price point.  Then in the fall of 2013, Barry and Catallo split (amicably). Barry took over the reigns at Splendido and Catallo took over the County General.

Potato/Rosemary Bread and White Country Loaf

Now serving only tasting menus, the restaurant has gone back to a more upscale, fine-dining feel. Located on Harbord (just west of Spadina), the space is very cozy and intimate. I especially appreciated the fact that the tables were spread well apart. It’s such a rarity these days!

Splendido is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday starting at 5pm. There are only two menu options – a five-course menu for $80 or the seasonal tasting menu for $130. Wine pairings are also available for $50 or $79 respectively. There are also several supplements available for the five-course menu for an extra cost (think caviar, foie gras, etc). We decided to go with the five-course.

Our meal started out with a Jerusalem Artichoke Soup & Goat Cheese Gougere as an amuse bouche. I loved the intense flavour of the soup which left me wanting more.

Amuse Bouche

Our first course was the Smoked Oyster – with potato & chive. I had something similar to this at a pop-up dinner that Chef Victor Barry was a part of. It was a really delicious dish so I wasn’t surprised to see it on his Splendido menu.

Smoked Oyster

The dish arrived covered and once the server took off the cover, you could really smell the smoky aroma billowing out of the bowl. The oyster had a wonderful smokiness and the crunch from the crispy potato contrasted nicely with the creamy sauce and delicate oyster. 

Our second course was the Irish Organic Salmon Sashimi – with crisp rice, avocado & nori which was essentially a deconstructed nigiri. I really enjoyed the smooth, delicate slices of salmon and the ridiculously tasty crispy rice cubes that accompanied it. I could eat an entire bowl of those addictive rice cubes!

Irish Organic Salmon Sashimi

For our third course, we had a choice between a few options. My mom and I both chose the Smoked Sweetbreads – with snails, whey soubise & garlic. The sweetbreads had a nice smokiness to them and the pairing of them with the snails made it a very hearty dish. I was shocked at how many snails the dish came with – there was an entire bed of them sitting underneath all the foam and sweetbreads. While I’m not a big fan of foam, I felt the dish worked quite well.

Smoked Sweetbreads

Mike’s choice for the third course was the Hidden Bench Hen’s Egg – “English Breakfast”. I loved how fun this dish was – it felt very rustic and isn’t something you’d expect from a fine dining restaurant. They bring out a board which includes a piping hot cast iron pan with a piece of pork belly in it. The board includes a spoonful of butter which you’re instructed to place in the pan. After waiting for it to sizzle, you crack the egg yourself into the pan. As the egg begins to quickly cook, the server will place some green onions and sautéed mushrooms into the pan, creating a delicious little omelet. As if that wasn’t rich enough, the dish also comes with crackling!

Hidden Bench Hen’s Egg

Needless to say, it was a very rich and heavy course which could easily fill me up, so I’d recommend ordering this only if you have a large appetite.

Hidden Bench Hen’s Egg: the final product

For my main, I chose the Roasted Halibut – mussel & clam vongole & piquillo pepper puree. The halibut was perfectly cooked and paired wonderfully with the pepper puree. Similar to my sweetbread dish, the portion of my entrée was quite generous – there were plenty of mussels and clams. While I really enjoyed the dish, I was disappointed by the fact that the mussels and clams weren’t cleaned very well. Many of my bites had sand in them, unfortunately.

Roasted Halibut

My mom and Mike both decided on the 65 Day Aged Cumbrae Farms Striploin – fermented cipollini, porcini puree & veal jus for their entrees. It was an excellent piece of meat and cooked exactly to each person’s preference. The meat was paired with an incredible porcini puree which gave the dish a wonderful earthiness.

65 Day Aged Cumbrae Farms Striploin

My choice for dessert was the Milk Chocolate – caraway, plum & hazelnut ice cream. It consisted of a light chocolate mousse (which had just the right amount of sweetness) which was encased by a hard chocolate shell – it provided a nice textural contrast. I loved the coolness of the ice cream, which again, wasn’t overly sweet. It sounded like it could’ve been a very heavy dessert but I was really surprised by how light it turned out.

Milk Chocolate

Mike went with the Rhubarb – ginger shortbread, maple & pink peppercorn and goat yogurt. It’s a unique combination of flavours, particularly the maple & pink peppercorn ice cream, but everything worked perfectly to create a light and refreshing dessert. The tangy goat yogurt was quite mellow which allowed the rhubarb to shine.


My mom chose the Orange Curd – citrus & tarragon salad, poppy seeds & raisin which is the perfect dessert for someone who isn’t looking for something too sweet. All in all, I was incredibly impressed by all of Splendido’s dessert offerings.

Orange Curd

After polishing off our desserts, we were presented with a surprise – a selection of petit fours consisting of Macarons, Marshmallows, Truffles & Gelées. My personal favourites were the truffles and gelées.

Petit Fours

On our way out of the restaurant, we were presented with a little box filled with shortbread which made for a delicious little treat for the next day. I loved the little additions to the meal like the petit fours and shortbread which was reminiscent of some fantastic Michelin-restaurant meals we’ve had in NYC.

Overall, we had an excellent experience at Splendido. I found the $80 five-course tasting menu to be very reasonably priced – the food was nothing short of delicious and the portions were quite generous (you’ll definitely leave stuffed!). The service was top-notch and all the other little touches made for an all-around wonderful evening.

At a glance:
• Serving up contemporary Canadian fare
• Fine dining; perfect for special occasions
• Chef/Owner Victor Barry
• Open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm; Also serves Sunday brunch
• Only tasting menus offered for dinner: five-course for $80 or the seasonal tasting menu for $130
• Top-notch service, delicious food

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4.5 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars

Splendido on Urbanspoon

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