Located in the heart of the financial district, the Rosewater, open only six-and-a-half years, has been touted as Toronto's quitessential dining experience. The building at 19 Toronto Street is a designated historical building, that was built in the mid-1800s as a commercial bank. Most of the original architectural elements still remain--the 22-foot ceilings in the main dining room are adorned with extensive moldings that give a decadent feel to the room. Cleverly, contemporary elements, such as a three-story mosaic waterfall, iron curtains, rotating glass doors inset with stainless steel, and horn vases holding fresh-cut roses have been added to the space to give the history a modern twist.
The wine list is extensive, bottles ranging from C$36-$500, and is complemented by a full selection of ice wines and ports to follow the meal. The menu is self-described as "continental French" and although the menu is not large, there is quite a diverse variety of dishes, from Poached Skate Wing to Duck Confit to Salt Marsh Lamb. At our table (visit for a milestone birthday), we experienced an amusée-bouche of cured mahimahi with basil essence. Appetizers included Portobello Tart with eggplant caviar, Nova Scotia Lobster Salad, Winter Salad with roast squash, quince confit, and beluga lentils. The main dishes included: mahimahi graced with fennel, Dry Aged Tenderloin of Alberta Beef, and Lobster Thermidor, all of which were both beautifully presented, and a thoroughly enjoyable taste experience. The desserts we had (Chocolate Souffle, Pecan Tart) were excellent as well, and the crème brûlée is probably the best I've ever had.
The Rosewater has other amenities that we did not partake of: a cigar and martini bar, an event supper club, private dining rooms with Versace settings, a wine tasting room, and a piano bar, which are all open to public as well as private affairs. The night before our visit, the cigar lounge and supper club were in use for a political fundraiser in benefit of the most talked about contender for the federal Liberal Leadership race--the political party that currently holds power in the country. The restauraunt is also one of the favorite venues for Toronto International Film Festival atendees.
While definately not for the faint of pocketbook, the Rosewater is an excellent choice for a special occasion splurge, or a good venue for someone you're looking to impress.
Website (including menus): http://libertygroup.com/rosewater/rosewater.html
Winner of the 2003 DiRoNA Award of Excellence (i.e., one of only 58 Distinguished Restaurants of North America awards)