Where To DINE Now: Turf Lounge

turfhorse TRIPLE CROWN: TOM BRODI, BEAUTY AND THE BET

We have passed by the Turf Lounge thousands of times, unaware that inside is the Atrium Bar, one of the city’s most architecturally beautiful places to meet for drinks. A spectacular facet was the re-purposing of the facade of the Savarin Tavern, the iconic Bay St. watering hole of the 1940s and 1950s. There is much to admire: 45-foot high cathedral ceilings, historic stone walls, and, anchoring the room, a 20-foot long natural wood bar.

TurfChef Within this suite of rooms is the kitchen with Chef Tom Brodi at the helm. A multi-credentialed thoroughbred, he has shown us his creative skill right out of the starting gate.

In Post Position, pulling from his Hungarian heritage, exotic radishes thinly sliced, form a necklace around a ramekin of herb butter, and there are Hungarian goat cheese and butter biscuits. Search for the meaning of comfort food, and this is it.

Turfradish In a tasting menu that is proving to be full of surprises, we are swept away with crunchy avocado sections and luscious lobster fritters. Mill St. Brewery beer batter is the secret ingredient here.

Is Brodi showing off, or just flattering our gastronomic taste buds like crazy? Cool hamachi yellow fin tuna with taro root parfait opens the door to the hot appetizer. Hidden at the bottom of a mound of vanilla and crème fraiche-napped black beluga lentils is a surprise of velvety seared fois gras. Clever Tom Brodi.

Turfhamachi A palate cleanser is in order, and his Pimms sorbet is a brilliant choice.

Which is the favored entrée? Perfectly done Roasted Halibut or 60-day aged beef steaks. In our opinion, it’s a Dead Heat. Both are partnered with an awesome sauté of exotic mushrooms including shiitake and the fluffy maitake mushrooms known in Japan as the “Dancing” mushroom and in the U.S. as “Hen of the Woods” because of its ruffled feathers appearance.

des Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice cream makes us want to run into the kitchen and give Tom Brodi a big hug. “Are you loving your dessert?” I ask the men at the table, knowing full well that what they would really like to do after the last spoon full has been devoured is lick the bowl.

Turf Lounge is a unique concept by Woodbine Entertainment Group. Throughout the lounge, in the vast dining room and adjoining rooms, TV monitors simulcast horse-racing from Canada’s premier race tracks, Woodbine and Mohawk, as well as tracks all over the world, from Happy Valley in Hong Kong to the Dorset in Delaware. At every moment there is a horse race happening somewhere in the TurfMain world – and we are there. We place our bets electronically and watch the races, seated in chairs designed for comfort. Win some – lose some.

Across the Board, an evening at the Turf Lounge is the most fun you can have on Bay Street.

Turf Lounge, 330 Bay Street, 416-367-2111

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