Review: Richmond Station, Carl Heinrich’s new downtown farm-to-table restaurant
1 Richmond St. W., 647-748-1444
At his new farm-to-table restaurant, Carl Heinrich, the 27-year-old chef who won Top Chef Canada, shakes hands with celeb-struck diners, looking surprisingly schmoozeless for a reality TV star. He invested his $100,000 prize money in the 80-seat Financial District room, which hums with end-of-week energy on a Thursday night, as suits loosen their ties and drain pints. The walls are covered in old-fashioned photos—scenes of farmers threshing wheat, for example—and there’s a chef’s table along the kitchen so true gastro geeks can observe Heinrich’s team of young, freakishly calm and methodical cooks. The short menu—a familiar collection of oysters, beef tartare, beet salad and a gourmet burger—is made with high-quality ingredients that, as a matter of chefly philosophy, are left to shine on their own. The intentional lack of flash makes for a perfectly fine, if perfectly unremarkable meal. A whole luscious lobster claw tops a crumb-crusted whitefish filet that’s fried to a tawny crisp, but both sit in a monotone cauliflower chowder that coats the seafood in meh. The burger, cut in-house from a heritage Ontario cow, is dressed with only cheddar and sweet beet chutney. It needs a hit of salt and sour to compel you past the second bite, which isn’t actually a problem because it’s roughly the size of a slider—and $20. The chef deserves props for adventurously topping a date bar with toasted hay ice cream. Unfortunately, strands of the barnyard-y stuff require chewing long after the vanilla ice cream has melted away. Sometimes the farm-to-table ethos can be taken too literally.
8 thoughts on “Review: Richmond Station, Carl Heinrich’s new downtown farm-to-table restaurant”
I agree on the burger point. I think it lost something (compared to the one at Marben) when he chose not to include the Branston pickle! Overal, a good meal, but as Marben is closer to where I live, I think I’ll be back there much more often.
After seeing the initial photography from TL on Carl Heinrich’s new abode,I found myself wondering if the long awaited eatery was going to meet the high standards expected by a hungry following of former Marben goers and food celeb junkies. Whether it was bad photography or me being pessimistic, but my arrival at Richmond Station turned my attitude right around. We were lead through a beautifully designed dining room and greeted at the Chef’s table by friendly and knowledgeable staff. Chef Heinrich and his crew are meticulous, detailed and relaxed through a service of a full dining room, twice over. The food is what one should expect from Heinrich; simple, fresh, local, unique, well balanced and full of flavour. I personally salute him for claiming the Marben burger as his own, and with the small addition of beets into the Branston, the burger is just as good as my first experience at Marben. I felt like a heroin junkie finding the sensations of his first high, since my last meal at Marben was without Heinrich or White at the helm of the kitchen, and for me lacked ALMOST every detail I had formerly enjoyed at the Wellington West joint. Richmond Station is a huge relief, not only from the contagious “rustic” Italian hipster spots that are opening shop on every corner, but also to have one of Toronto’s top talents back at the wheel of what seems to be an unstoppable beast (at least for the foreseeable future. I look forward to my next meal at Richmond, and hope that this article doesn’t deter anyone from trying it out.
Claims the marben burger as his own? More like claims Daniel Boulud’s burger as his own.
Boulud Burger? Where is the foie gras center? the black truffle? the parmesan bun!? I’m sure Boulud is not the first nor only chef to put braised meat in his patty. Seriously.
Brendan, your review is ridiculous. You sound like an obvious plant. Who are you? Ryan Donovan? Carl Heinrich’s girlfriend? It is Daniel Boulud’s burger that Carl makes. Carl also trained under Boulud…but then I’m sure you already know that.
I was hoping that with his new place that Carl would challenge himself more and try some new things but sadly he’s simply making the exact same dishes he made at Marben. Nothing new, no surprises. He’s making the same burger with one or two tiny moderations AND he’s charging 3 dollars more than it’s Marben counterpart.
Also, his over reliance on the “farm to table” aspect of his cooking and the “farm to table” philosophy and blah blah blah has become such a gimmick at this point. All the chefs get their vegatables and meat from those same farms, yet they don’t go on about it over and over and over. What about your flavours Chef?! Where is the passion beyond the name of the farmer who raised the cow?!!
And as someone who has sat at his Chef’s table during a busy service he is anything but relaxed. He loves berating everyone around him as he sweats. It made for an uncomfortable evening watching him scream and insult his cooks and waiters.
Simple, rustic, bland. Carl Heinrich.
And as for Marben, that place is still packed. It seems busier than ever. Switching him out didn’t seem to have any impact. I think it’s due to the fact that Carl still doesn’t have a strong identity and style with his food, I mean beyond it being from a “local farm”
I have no acquaintance or relation to Heinrich, other than shaking his hand last week, as he lead his kitchen quietly, calmly and respectfully through a packed dinner service. I am not going to sit here, examine your personality and label you a plant, or even an employee of Marben, that would be absurd wouldn’t it? And no I was not aware of his training under Boulud, funny how you did though.
Carl’s cuisine that he focused on at Marben is what the restaurant built its reputation on and from my perspective (which i gathered from my last dining experiences) is struggling to uphold, sadly. Nothing against Marben, as I have had many fabulous meals there and I hope to see its cuisine back at its once spectacular level, and not to suck up to Heinrich, simply an opinion.
Yes, you are correct, many chefs do use the same farmers as Heinrich. That being said, not all chefs have the relationship with them that Carl has. A good relationship and repertoire with your farmers allows you to control the quality of your produce. This puts Heinrich at a good advantage, as we know quality speaks loudly on a plate.
To say that Heinrich has no style and that his food is bland? That is an incoherent and belligerent comment. If he had no style would he really be where he is? If his cuisine isn’t your style, and too “rustic” for you, maybe you should stick to ‘Canoe’ or ‘One’ for a more refined meal. Simple is bad? I guess you should stay away from Italian food as well. Continue to limit your idea of good cuisine, and trash talk talented chefs, maybe you will get a job as a Michelin Guide!!
Taste is an opinion, so don’t attempt to tarnish a chef’s hard earned reputation by sharing yours. Toronto’s dining scene is going to be walking on thin ice if this trend of social media slander continues.
I am looking forward to checking out Carl’s restaurant. He is a nice gentleman, a graduate of Stratford Chefs School, well traveled and apprenticed in many worldy kitchens. In short, Carl’s got a great foundation to build a restaurant business on. I don’t care what the commentators say above, nor, what restaurant reviewers pen either, because I know whatever Carl does will be well above the culinary average in Toronto. Get out and support young chefs like Carl.
I agree with Richard and Brendan. Go check out his restaurant. Sit at the chef’s pass and let them cook for you.
“Seriously”, “Sasha” – whatever her name is – needs to get her understanding of good food in order. To call his food flavourless is both inaccurate and ignorant.
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