Newly opened and nestled in the heart of the ultra-trendy Queen West neighbourhood, Entice Culinary Lounge is a restaurant that you need to visit. Courtesy of its establishment I was treated to a six-course meal comprised of the Executive Chef Ryan Wilson-Lall’s selections. Each was as noteworthy as the last and each is worth a trip on its own.
Having met Chef Wilson-Lall and having tried his food I can tell you that every detail is deliberate and that every taste is designed. Wilson-Lall is a culinary artist who knows exactly what he’s doing and who is a culinary name to watch in the city. And Entice is a place to be seen, as the elegance and trendy interior tells you right away that this is a restaurant that is classy and upscale. And with TVs embedded in the bar playing old black and white movies, you know that it’s influenced by the neighbourhood around it.
My first dish was an appetizer, the K-beef Ribs. Garnished with thin strips of Granny Smith apple with spicey kimchi, this is a thinly cut and slow-cooked beef tip. I’ve never tasted ribs that were so juicy and succulent, which is impressive considering how thin the ribs were. And the seasoning was perfect as it was spicy but not a challenge, perfect for someone like me who appreciates spice but whom also can’t really handle it. And the apple provided the perfect counterbalance to the give the dish a refreshing detail.
Next was the carbonara raviolo, the signature dish of the restaurant. The artistry of Wilson-Lall was apparent as the ravioli is deconstructed with the ingredients elegantly laid out on the plate. Starting from the centre and working your way out (the chefs recommended method of consumption), it begins with freshly made ravioli stuffed with a roasted garlic mascarpone. The ravioli is topped with parsley and pecorino cheese and flanked by two pieces of thick-cut bacon, whipped parcini egg white and crispy basil. The artistry of this dish is the only thing better than the taste. Though not as potent as the K-beef Ribs, this dish is delicious with many different tastes and is one that you will remember for a while.
The next course and first main dish was the sea bream. Served scale-side up— a strong show of confidence— the fish was thick yet flaky, a substantial and succulent accomplishment. Garnished with broccolini and radish and served on a bed of spaghetti zucchini with beurre blanc sauce, it is again a dish with many different tastes, though zest is perhaps the defining characteristic. I would have been happy with the ball of the spaghetti zucchini because it was so good, never mind the sea bream, but what truly makes this this remarkable and worth having is a combination of lemon with all of the above. The lemon causes the dish to leap off a plate. So when you come to Entice, this is one of two ways to go.
The other way was my next dish, the striploin steak. This was, simply put, the best steak that I’ve ever had. Served with jus, which takes two days to prepare and which was activated by pouring it over a custom-carved heated rock so that the jus begins to boil, and served rare-medium rare, this stake was perfect. The jus again served as wonderful addition to the purple patatas bravas (potatoes with Spanish spice) and asado mushruooms. And again, the chef proves that every dish is deep with thought as the collard greens were a perfect balance to a heavier items.
The fifth course and last of the main dishes was a sour cherry duck breast, served with vinegar-pressed pear, carrot purée, roasted parsnips, baby turnips and beet chips. This dish had many different tastes but the best is with the pear, cherry and duck. The duck itself was almost buttery with a creamy aftertaste. This, combined with the pear and cherry created something succulent.
For desert I was served the tres leche waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. At first I was still surprised at the selection as, based of the interior of the restaurant, I was expecting some fancy chocolate cake (which, as it turns out, is still on the menu). Instead I got a surprisingly fun and playful desert. The dish melted in your mouth and, to quote someone who also was having the waffle, ‘this is what a good waffle tastes like.’
All in all, I was impressed not just with the excellent food but also with the obvious design and vision with which the food was created. Entice Culinary Lounge is, simply put, the fine dining experience that Queen West deserves.
Be sure to check out their weekly specials including their Saturday Chef cut steak night (do not miss the steaks!) and upcoming complimentary appetizers occurring between 5 and 7 PM on weeknights.
Entice Culinary Lounge is open now at 1036 Queen Street West.