Well, Hello Glamour! We welcome back your high heel shoes, your pretty dresses, your tailored pants, colourful shawls and good jewellery. You haven’t been around lately, but we understand. We know your absence was due to health reasons.
There are no sneakers and sweats walking the red carpet at the re-opening of the re-imagined Park Hyatt Toronto. Glamour is underscored by the presence of photographer-to-the-stars, George Pimentel who clicks away as guests remove masks and pose for beauty shots. We pause to admire Rendezvous, the enormous, welcoming sculpture by local artist An Te Liu, and enter to come face-to-face with Artist Shannon Bool’s Dead Ringers, a majestic black/white/grey tapestry.
To the right is the registration area, with the counter graced by a most exquisite arrangement of orchids. And to the left, Joni, the spacious and inviting lobby restaurant. Think back to the Yorkville of the70s and you might clue into the restaurant’s name. It’s already humming with many women dressed in the trendy fashion of the day, shorts and high heels, channeling Betty Grable, the 1940s “pin-up.” Others wear lovely, printed silk, ankle length tailored fashions. Men stubbornly wear their uniform: jeans, but with summer pastel sports coats, they look sweet, like pages from the Ralph Lauren summer catalogue. Champagne flows like, well, Champagne and stations of exquisite tasting plates invite us to try samples from the menu orchestrated by Executive Chef Antonio Soriano. Hawaiian Kampachi Crudo; Fois Gras Terrine; grilled Maitake Mushrooms; Beet Tartare; and Dry-Aged Duck Breast are each more delectable than the one before. One stroll around the stations makes an exotic dinner.
Trained to the tips of their shoes, staff is here to respond to the subtle raise of an eyebrow. With sentimental thoughts of years gone by, I was eager to see the re-imagined Roof-Top Bar, or as it is now known, The Writers Room. Whisked to the 17th floor, we are met by young men in black, offering colorful fruity cocktails. Across one wall are artist Andy Donato’s caricatures of the “literary set” of the era: Margaret Atwood, Jack McLelland and more. The moonlit-terrace looks inviting, and I recall my last visit to this spot, under more romantic circumstances. Ah, me… But the view of the city is still captivating. Cocktails, frivolous hors d’oeuvres, each with a quirky originality, are continuously on offer. The Park Hyatt Toronto is primed and ready to embrace us, and we are happy to participate in this relationship.
Book-ending the Yorkville rialto, the one-and-only, world renowned Chef and Restaurateur Daniel Boulud hosts a lunch at Café Boulud to share his Breaking News at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Guests have dressed for the occasion with coordinated outfits perfect for end of summer. Men wear blazers and sports shirts and look quite dapper. Not a t-shirt and yoga pants in sight. In fact, it is a pleasure to sit at a dining table once again with a group of people who respect the sense of occasion. Oh, Glamour, how we have missed you!
Now, sipping Parsnip Vichyssoise from a demi-tasse cup, I realize how much I appreciate the elegance of a Café Boulud lunch. Gaspesie Lobster, paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, shares the plate with sparkling Seaweed salad and potato, artichokes, and a dash of bisque gelee in the Parisienne style. We’re introduced to Ruinart Rose to enjoy with Kataifi crusted Dover Sole and Rotisserie Brome Lake Duck. I’ve always believed that Champagne pairs well with everything, but the Ruinart Rose gift wraps the fish and fowl. Dessert astounds on every level. Imagine a dome of Araguani chocolate through which peek Cognac Profiteroles, Hennesy XO ice cream and candied orange, and you will understand my superlatives.
We applaud Chef Boulud and his newly appointed Chef de Cuisine Colin Henderson as they walk out of the kitchen. Boulud seems like a happy man today, and with smiles he says, “I am very excited for our guests to experience Chef Colin’s expertise and his deep passion for seasonal dishes and fresh ingredients as he continues to lead our dynamic team.”
Chef Boulud shares with us the opening of his extravagant, new “culinary oasis”, Le Pavillon at One Vanderbilt Avenue, N.Y. The original Le Pavillon (1941 – 1971) was known as the finest French Restaurant in North America. Chef Boulud plans a return to classic French cuisine with dishes like Chicken in Champagne Sauce, etc. He has created a unique culinary oasis in the heart of midtown manhattan that is both comfortable and inviting with a refined elegance. Nature, locality, and a close focus on the richness of Northeast fishermen and farmers are the guiding principles of his personal approach to Le Pavillon’s culinary identity.
Can this be a portent of the future? Will fine dining and white tablecloth restaurants make a come-back? Even as many restaurants are scrambling to survive in this tenuous environment, there will always be the demand for luxury. And Glamour.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.