Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill
2901 Bayview Ave.
After the great experience I had at Jump during Winterlicious, I definitely wanted to knock some of the other O&B restaurants off the list. We made reservations for Auberge du Pommier (you will see the review on my next post), but eating here was kind of spontaneous. I decided to come for lunch as a cheaper option because Toronto’s ‘licious promotion seriously hurts my wallet.
The restaurant is attached to Bayview Village shopping mall, but O&B Cafe Grill does not look like your typical mall restaurant. The buzzing, fast-paced environment full of busy bodies really gives the restaurant that up-beat cafe grill-feel. The beautiful wooden furniture really helps accentuate the concept of the restaurant as light, fresh, fast and easy. The open shutters lets a lot of sunlight in, giving the restaurant a nice warm feeling to all of its patrons.
Despite how busy the place was, the service was top notch. Our waters were topped off frequently, the waiters were very attentive and although the food came out a little slow, it was worth it.
For $15, O&B Cafe Grill gives you a delicious casual lunch that leaves you fully satisfied. The food was good and I think that they are going with a very unique concept. I noticed that things were not heavily seasoned and dishes were not drowned in sauces. I think what they are trying accomplish is letting the freshness and flavour of the ingredients speak for themselves.
Crispy Chicken & Ginger Dumplings. This was my appetizer, which came with a maple scallion soya sauce. The dumplings were good, but not as hot as I would have liked them to be. The mix of maple and soya sauce was unique and paired well with these crispy little dumplings.
O&B Cobb Salad. Definitely an interesting take on the traditional Cobb salad. Presented in a new way that I didn’t expect, the salad was light and fresh, very suitable for lunch. There wasn’t a lot of ranch dressing on top of the iceberg lettuce and so remained that hearty fresh crunch. A perfect amount of Roquefort cheese was scattered over the salad so the distinct blue cheese smell didn’t overpower the dish. The bacon was crispy and with avocado as the finishing touch, this salad helps O&B earn a very solid food score.
Panko & Citrus Togarashi Crusted Baked Atlantic Cod. I had this for my main course and loved it. The cod was breaded nicely making the outside layer crispy and flavourful. It came on top a bed of minted sweet peas and coleslaw, with a side of red skin potato, all of which paired excellently with the fish. The slight citrus zing gave it that extra kick.The Atlantic cod was fresh, very flaky and once again the true flavours of the fish were heightened, not masked by the sides or sauces.
Braised Beef Short Rib Rigatoni. Pasta doesn’t need to be drenched in thick sauces in order to be tasty and the rigatoni was a perfect example of this concept. Even without the a lot of the Marsala wine sauce, the chefs were able to bring out the heavy and distinct flavours of the braised beef to compliment the pasta. Although not as good as the cod, it was still pretty tasty with freshly ground Parmesan cheese.
Oliver’s Famous Carrot Cake. One of the best desserts I’ve had all Summerlicious. The strong scent from the carrot in the form of a cake was well balanced with cinnamon icing ontop. Delicious.
Mini Lemon Meringue Pie. Definitely not comparable to the carrot cake. It was a little too sweet. The gooey center and the cream ontop was sugar overload.
Aside from the last dessert, everything about Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill lives up to the hype and recognition of the O&B chain. It may not be the fine dining you would expect at Canoe or Auberge du Pommier, but the unique flavour and freshness offered by the cafe grill will definitely catch me as a repeat customer in the near future for a light and hearty lunch/brunch. I recommend this restaurant to anyone who is seeking quality food uniquely presented, well thought out and wonderfully put together.