If I had to name Toronto‘s newest “it” restaurant, it would be Blueblood Steakhouse in the majestic Casa Loma located at 1 Austin Terrace. Everyone seems to be scurrying to snag a reservation at this new hot spot. After all, it’s not often you get to dine in a castle, among heirloom antiques, with a sophisticated and refined ambience, among the Warhol’s, Dali’s and Mr. Brainwash’s.
Under the umbrella of the Liberty Entertainment Group, owners Nick and Pat Di Donato may have taken food to a higher level of luxury compared to their past adventures, where the decor far outshined the quality of their food.
After a three million dollar renovation, but still incorporating the beautiful wood paneling and crown moldings, they have indeed transformed the west part of the castle to a few rooms that are fit for royalty indeed. I like the clever name, Blueblood, which is a play on words, in reference to the steak and to royalty. The main dining room actually has two paintings by Mr. Brsinwash, one of Queen Elizabeth holding a can of spray paint, looking across at a member of rockstar royalty, the artist, Prince. Interestingly, Prince was a vegetarian.
There are actually three rooms that are being used, as they have taken over the former oak room, smoking room and billiards room, which now comprise the dining room, lounge and bar. You can eat in anyone of these rooms, that hold about 120 people. This summer will see the use of another 50-70 seats outside, with tables being surrounded by greenery to give you the upmost in privacy. I like the main dining room with the wood heavy decor and big bay windows. I also like the modern chandeliers with antlers. Too bad they can’t improve on the condition of the stairs, on the way to the musty basement. This is where the original wine cellar of the castle is located, and was discovered during renovations, along with the renovated bathrooms.
After a contest to see which chef cooked the best, it was a woman, Megan Andrews, that became the chef de cuisine. They hired a grilleur specifically for the meat, and he is Eddie Chung formerly of the Keg and Bent.
Is this Toronto’s best Steakhouse? I don’t think so, I think that honour may go to Harbour 60 or Jacob & Co., but it certainly is Toronto’s most beautiful Steakhouse. Don’t get me wrong, they do make a glorious steak. They have various cuts of beef from around the world. American, Canadian, Wagyu from Australia and Japan. There are filets, bone-in ribeye, striploin, porterhouse, tomahawk, filet mignonette, and even a wagyu filet tasting of three types at $250. This meal will definitely set you back, so be prepared, come for a special occasion, or on an expense account. The steaks start at $65 and go up to $200.
However, you can come here and not even have a steak. They have fresh seafood platters and towers, salads, fish, cooked seafood, veal chops, Cornish hen and even a burger at $38. There are some lovely appetizers, like a short rib ravioli with ricotta cheese, in a porcini mushroom jus, and a diver scallop ceviche with avocado, jalapeño and mango gel. There is also oysters, bigeye tuna tartare, steak tartare and various other tasty options. One of the rooms displays a large raw bar and they offer a lot of items. I would love to see some razor clams, but for some reason you rarely see them in Toronto.
The sides and starches are a little weak, but in fairness, I only tried the sweet potato ribbon fries, the sautéed broccolini with cheddar espuma, and the hand foraged woodland mushrooms. One thing I noticed was the heavy hand with salt. I must have had five glasses of water and was still so thirsty. They bring a tray of designer salts to the table … really!! Who wants to add more salt to anything!?
The wine list had a nice international selection. We tried a wonderful Pinot from Caymus. The wines had a huge mark up. There is also a comprehensive cocktail list as well.
The desserts were a blast from the past, crepes Suzette, baked
Alaska, profiteroles, and cheesecake. We had the baked Alaska and it was weak. The ice cream was icy, not creamy, the meringue was thin and there was too much alcohol poured over it.
We had good service and were well looked after by Assistant GM Adi Latific, formerly of Piano Piano. They are lucky to have him.
I do enjoy a restaurant that harkens back to a day when glamour, swank, and high-end fine dining was a mainstay. Blueblood is a classic steakhouse with a few modern twists. It is a grown-up restaurant trying to impress. You are not going to get a culinary experience but they still go to great lengths to give you a special evening with some food that is a cut above.
Valet parking is available at $15, or self park for $10. Open for dinner 7 days a week from 5pm.