There has been much hype about the opening this fall of the new, slick Bisha Hotel and residential condominium at 80 Blue Jays Way in downtown Toronto. Charles Kabouth is one of the principles and he is known in Toronto as a restaurant entrepreneur. He has many establishments under his belt, some are hits and some are misses. Byblos and Estia are two of his better concepts.
I was very excited to try the rooftop restaurant, Kost, and tried calling, emailing and using their reservation app. I left messages but to no avail, no one returned a call or emailed me back. I have to say that doesn’t leave a first good impression. After a couple of weeks of trying someone finally answered.
We passed on the $28 valet parking fee and found our own parking ($10). I loved the two Jun Kaneko sculptures on either side of the front doors. You can see they spent some money on decor, the lobby has a Jeff Koons and the inlaid marble floor is quite exquisite.
There is a cool lounge off the lobby. We took the elevator up to the 44th floor and the doors opened up to an attractive, bright room, and an open kitchen. There are floor to ceiling windows, overlooking an infinity pool and a panoramic, jaw-dropping view of the city and lake. It was impossibly windy and too cold for any outside dining, which can be an issue when you are so high up, but luckily we were seated close to the window. The tables were light wood, the chairs are wicker with light beige sofas – which are already showing some wear and tear.
Our server, although friendly, was not very familiar with the drink or dinner menu. To start with I ordered a sangria, which ended up being awful, and I sent it back. The menu was rather small, it offered some appetizers and a page of various types of skewers. We started with a peach and burrata salad. The dish was served ice cold, and looked like it was obviously pre-made and sitting in the fridge for some time. The burrata was nothing but the rubbery leftover rind, with no cheese, the peaches were hard and not sweet, and were browned from being cut much earlier. The juices had leached out and made the dish even more horrid. The Baja fish tacos were decent, made with a fried sea bream, Baja slaw, chili mayo, cilantro and lime. We ordered a cheese dish, but it never materialized. For our main, we had a shrimp and a chicken skewer. You can order these in half or full portions. Half an order is more than enough for two people. The chicken had a nice flavour, with salsa roja, and charred pineapple relish but the meat was undercooked. The shrimps were large and cooked properly but the only thing I could taste was salt, and not the mojo verde or charred lemon. The Santa Fe bean and charred corn salad was ordered as a side, with poblano, chickpea, romano, lettuce, radish and lime, and again it came ice cold, tasteless and the beans weren’t thoroughly cooked. The best dish of the evening was the charred green beans. They were cooked on the grill and were topped ajo blanco, chimichurri and marcona toasted almonds.
For dessert, we ordered a coconut panna cotta, with fresh passion fruit, mango, kiwi, pineapple and a coconut tuille, and coconut lime sorbet. It had a lovely presentation and was quite appealing.
The restrooms are located one floor down. You either have to walk by the kitchen and then down some back stairs or take the elevator.
Such a nice venue, but the food was so underwhelming. The restaurant should really strive to set it apart from others. People in Toronto have discriminating taste and if things don’t improve rapidly the excitement may soon wear off. Atmosphere isn’t everything.