Address: 299 Adelaide Street West
Type of Meal: Dinner
Amongst all the construction and scaffolding along Adelaide, Montecito’s window filled building is an oasis of calm. With its two stories and a covered patio there’s plenty to observe. Even the faux “windows” on the back wall kept us entertained. Each showcases a video display with footage of views from co-owner Ivan Reitman’s home in Montecito, California. Every movement is subtle and you don’t fully realize it’s a video until a bird flies by or it switches to the traffic scene.
The Californian theme continues on their menu, which has plenty of meat, vegetables and Italian creations. And Italian seems to be what they do well as the meatballs ($19) were fantastic! The dish was so nicely balanced – the meatballs fairly dense but still tender and the polenta, tomato sauce and parmesan complementing each other. Serving them with creamy and buttery polenta was such a great idea; I loved slathering it and the smooth tomato sauce onto the meatball.
The prosciutto, peaches and mozzarella salad ($14) is a nice lighter dish for the summer time. It’s simple but allows the eater to focus on quality ingredients – paper thin cured prosciutto, sweet peaches and soft fresh mozzarella. Don’t be afraid to get a bit of everything in each bite. It’s when all the tastes and textures work together; especially if you like the sweet and salty elements.
I rarely order roasted chicken ($24) at a restaurant. But, when its owner Chef Jonathan Waxman’s signature dish it’s hard to resist. What makes it so special? Well, for one it’s unbelievably juicy! My knife glided through it as easily as cutting through scallop (of course it helps that the chicken was deboned). But, the tenderness comes at a price – the middle of the chicken breast was ever so slightly pink. By no means was it raw, but being a little squeamish about under-cooked poultry, I decided not to chance it. Luckily, the portion was huge – you receive half a chicken – so leaving a bit behind didn’t matter.
The chicken’s skin was crispy and the salsa verde flavourful but not overpowering. Served with a frisee salad it’s good for mixing into the salsa verde oils and chicken juices that leak onto the plate. If you haven’t had the jw chicken before, it’s well worth a try.
My friend allowed me to try an ample piece of his Muscovy duck confit ($28), which would have been what I’d normally order. Also very tender, flavourful and having an extremely crispy skin, it was a good duck confit. I would have preferred less duck fat left under the skin as it was a little glutenous for my taste.
To end, we did not order the baked Alaska, which is served with a big Stay Puft marshmallow figurine (a homage to Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbuster films). Instead, we opted for a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich ($10) which arrived quickly without the fanfare (although our friendly waiter did offer to bring us the doll anyways if we wanted).
The cookies were chewy and soft. Sandwiched in between was pistachio ice cream which became overpowered by the chocolate syrup so ended up tasting more like almond. But, it was still delicious and I liked that Montecito makes the sandwich ahead of time and refreezes it so it doesn’t melt too quickly.
All in all, Montecito is a welcomed addition to Adelaide. Prices are reasonable, the dishes delicious and portions a good size. They have plenty of different sized tables and areas to accommodate larger groups. It already proved itself to be a popular destination during TIFF. I sense that as the holidays start arriving, it will be popular with the corporate crowd as well.
Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!