Where to eat lunch this week: Hemispheres

Where to eat lunch this week: Hemispheres

The restaurant at this downtown hotel goes all out for its weekly $27 prix fixe

Steak, poutine and slaw at Hemispheres

The place: The Metropolitan Hotel’s lobby-level restaurant offers classic hotel glitz and glamour. Surrounded by beech wall panels and large murals, diners may peer into the open kitchen for some culinary theatre or meditate on the white orchids that decorate every table.

The crowd: The kitchen acts quickly to cater to the strict schedules of busy lawyers, judges and city hall officials, including one ex–mayoral candidate. We’re told that plates generally take no longer than 15 minutes to arrive at tables, “unless it’s chicken.”

The deal: The solid menu is composed of gussied-up standards and a confident wine list, but our fancy is caught by a weekly changing three-course lunch prix fixe ($27).

The meal: The meal begins with a bread sampler, including moist focaccia, warmed baguette, raisin-walnut and olive loaf. Grilled asparagus spears are tender in their prosciutto blanket, served with a dainty halved quail egg and raspberry gastrique. The thick hanger steak arrives medium, with a deliciously charred crust—a foil to the lightly dressed apple, cabbage and cranberry slaw. The fries in the foie gras poutine remain crispy despite a rich jus dressing and blistered mozzarella. A reinvented banana split caps our meal: warm banana bread, rich vanilla ice cream, strawberry compote, fresh berries and a brûléed banana half.

The time: 47 minutes.

The cost: $41, including tax, tip and a cup of tea ($3.75).

Hemispheres Restaurant and Bistro, Metropolitan Hotel, 110 Chestnut St. (at Dundas St. W.), 416-599-8000, metropolitan.com/hemis.

• Read the Toronto Life review of dinner at Hemispheres »
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(Images: Renée Suen)