Our family has been eager to dine at Richmond Station for quite a while. The well known downtown Toronto restaurant is one of many we have added to our mental list of places where we can bring our parents for a potentially memorable meal. Coming from the small city of Sydney, Nova Scotia, my Mom and Dad rarely have the opportunity to dine somewhere new. Knowing that they would be in town for Birthday Armageddon, during which our two kids, my mom, and my sister all celebrate birthdays within a 12 day span, we called a week ahead of their visit to make a reservation, giving us a chance to enjoy a family meal at a place widely consider to be amongst Toronto’s top 10 restaurants.
The day of our visit, we had to make our way to the restaurant in 5 separate parties. Yashy and I got there on time with the kids and were the first ones to arrive. Richmond Station looks small upon entering, but we were taken through to the second level and into a side room where a number of meats were aging in a locker along the back wall. My mouth began to water immediately. My brother-in-law arrived next followed by my aunt and my uncle, who incidentally, was also celebrating a birthday. We considered this to be quorum and ordered a round of drinks. I started with the house brown ale, a fine beverage made in collaboration with the Niagara College Teaching Brewery, while others ordered cocktails that I am told were delicious. My sister arrived with her kids shortly after we placed our drink order, while Mom and Dad eventually arrived about 45 minutes late, having gotten lost driving into downtown Toronto.
Now that we had finally gotten this party started, we eagerly shouted out the names of the appetizer dishes that we had long since resolved to order, including the Charcuterie, the Duck Liver Pate, the Beef Tartare, and the Pork Meatballs Marinara. We ordered two of everything and when they arrived, I was amazed at how politely everyone left the final few pieces of each dish sitting in the middle of the table. The beef tartare, prepared with pommes kennedy, classic garnish, chervil, was just about the most perfect preparation of that dish I had ever encountered. I think each of us was worried that we would be resented if we dared grab the final piece from one of these delicious starters. Little Monkey and Baby Boy both loved the meatballs and the colouring sheets and toys that our server had presented them with.
After settling who would get to finish what, we decided on the mains. The majority narrowed in on either the Grilled Cornish Hen or that night’s Two Meat special. Yashy broke the mold and ordered the Roasted Rainbow Trout, which included caramelized beets and crispy brussel sprouts. The menu included just 6 main options plus the special, which anyone who frequents restaurants will tell you is a good sign. A restaurant that offers 20 to 30 options isn’t going to perfect any of those dishes. One that spends time developing 6 to 10 options is going to ensure that those dishes reach their full potential, and based on the meals we tried, that is just what happens at Richmond Station.
As for the kids, they were dealing with the excitement of having grandparents in town, which meant that they had all received new toys. My sister has two kids that are roughly the same age and so we had bravely ventured to Richmond Station with 4 kids under the age of 6. Taking the little ones to a restaurant is not something my sister is usually comfortable doing and so the toys helped, but the biggest relief came from the kids meal the restaurant had prepared, which consisted of pasta with a homemade butter sauce. This simple concoction seemed like something we would quickly whip up at home on a day when our kids refuse to eat what the grown-ups were having. The Richmond Station difference was that this dish had so much flavour that it could have been listed on the appetizer menu. All the adults at the table took a turn sampling the dish, inevitably nodding approval. I think my sister secretly hoped that one or more of the kids wouldn’t like the meal, giving her the chance to dive in.
My aunt had brought a cake, having prearranged its surprise delivery to the table once we completed our mains, and we were all grateful that the restaurant had accommodated the request. The fine meal we enjoyed (plus the drinks) had long since dissipated the tensions my parents had worked up driving in circles downtown. After we all enjoyed a piece of cake, we all merrily packed up and left. Having finally discovered that Richmond Station lives up to the hype, I am happy to know that such a great establishment lies little more than a 10 minute walk away from our condo and the Eaton Centre.