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Restaurants

Bent

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Reviewed on September 3, 2012 / review policy

bent torontoBent is the newest member in Susur Lee's family of restaurants and recently moved into a cozy spot at the corner of Dundas and Markham. The highly anticipated new eatery sees Lee in charge of the kitchen (helmed by chef de cuisine Bryan Gunness, formerly of Lee), while sons Levi and Kai Bent-Lee step into the spotlight and oversee the dining experience.

bent torontoThe space is designed by Lee's wife Brenda Bent, and partner Karen Gable, and is a stark contrast to Lee. The decor here is light and fresh - described to me as "vintage industrial." The predominantly white room is enriched by patterned tiles and warm pieces of vintage furniture, like the striped table tops and long, wooden church benches. Fun touches like vintage Pachinko games (a Japanese arcade staple) and the terrarium hostess stations add character and a dash of whimsy.

bent torontoThe menu features Asian flavours prepared with European techniques and vice versa; international flavours prepped with Asian techniques. Plates are small and meant for sharing, and the menu includes offerings from both the hot kitchen and raw bar.

bent torontoThe Peruvian Style Ceviche ($15) is a brightly coloured plate of citrus dressed fish, generously topped with squid, clams and vibrant garnishes.

The Nigiri Tasting ($14) showcases four selections from the raw bar served traditionally, but each enriched with a touch of something special. For instance, the hamachi is sprinkled with nori seasoning and scallion, and the magoro is brightened with red shiso and a white soy glaze.

bent torontoThe Cantonese-style Braised Spiced Short Ribs ($22) are Susur's take on comfort food. Though incredibly elegant in its presentation, all the flavours here evoke home cooking. Tender beef is dolloped with chive sour cream and sweet black garlic cloves, and it arrives served with duck fat confited potatoes, parsnip purée, and the deliciously rich braising liquid.

bent torontoThere is no dessert menu, but a trio of sweets arrives unsolicited and without any objections. Like the custom of serving an orange after the meal, the philosophy is to finish with a complimentary favour from the kitchen so, as Susur puts it, "you'll leave happy and with grace."

These are certainly generous offerings; the milk foam topped panna cotta, the lemon curd with wild blueberry juice and Ontario blackberries, and the improbably light Chinese rice doughnut coated in toasted sesame, and unexpectedly filled with peanut butter and chocolate.

bent torontoSake is the beverage of choice here and the extensive selection even includes a locally-produced house blend. Also on offer are unique cocktails like the Asian Caesar ($16), spiced with a mottled blend of chili oil, corriander, sriracha, hoisin, soya and ginger.

bent torontoBent aspires to be a casual destination and is sure to attract a mixed crowd of long-time Susur fans and local food enthusiasts alike. It's been open less than a week and is already a hotbed of activity.

Photos by Morris Lum

Discussion

31 Comments

Carolyn Van / August 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm
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I've been waiting for this for a while and am so excited that we are about a week away until Bent opens it's doors to the public! I'm curious to experience how well Kai and Levi do.
Gloria / August 31, 2012 at 01:01 pm
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Good? Bad? Or just an ad?
PDG / September 3, 2012 at 10:37 am
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Comfort food with a 16$ Caesar on offer??
Ken / September 3, 2012 at 01:51 pm
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Great photos, especially the Nigiri Tasting, the first interior shot, and the pachinko machine.
As sharing plates, the prices seem a bit steep.
mike / September 3, 2012 at 04:52 pm
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isn't charging $16 for a bowl of caesar salad basically considered as stealing?
Bobby replying to a comment from neilson / September 3, 2012 at 05:09 pm
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Hahahaha take is easy, I guess you're not happy with your life and you have to insult some
kids who happen to be more fortunate than you.
J replying to a comment from mike / September 3, 2012 at 05:44 pm
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If I am not mistaken, the $16 "Caesar" mentioned in this article is actually a cocktail.
Laura / September 3, 2012 at 07:59 pm
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Obviously the caesar is a cocktail. Even if it were a dish though, you guys are complaining about the price? $16 seems totally reasonable for any salad made by Susur Lee.

I didn't see anywhere in the article mentioning reservations, do they take them?
Chris / September 4, 2012 at 12:18 am
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If the salad is anything as good as the Singaporean slaw that Susur makes, he could charge 100 dollars for it. If no one else can make something that good, then any price is reasonable.

Hopefully, though, the salad really lives up to its 16 dollar price tag.
Tea replying to a comment from Chris / September 4, 2012 at 08:53 am
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Omg...you're now the 3rd person who has failed to read carefully: how do you get salad from "...unique cocktails like the Asian Caesar ($16)"?
Collin / September 4, 2012 at 09:51 am
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woah. there are some serious haters on here as expected.

$16 for a cocktail is steep, but you're not exactly at a crappy corporate chain restaurant in the burbs. for an establishment of this calibre, that's a fair price to pay for a drink.

went there on Friday night, and we did order a $16 salad from there. it was the duck salad, it does NOT compare to the $20 Singapore slaw that we all grew to know and love. and the portion size is significantly smaller.

the rest of our meal was great, i much prefer the food that came from the raw bar than the hot kitchen, tho the braised short ribs was the clear winner for me that night.

Chef Lee was in the house schmoozing that night, and I can only imagine he would for the next little while as the restaurant finds it's way.

Levi & Kai were obviously in the house, while they were doing some FOH stuff, i think they're mostly just eye candy for the ladies.
Mmmmm / September 4, 2012 at 11:45 am
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Went there this weekend. We only tried two dishes [TARTARE 2 WAYS & RARE BEEF] because we weren't that hungry, but they were both delicious. The service was wonderful and the atmosphere was great. I will definitely be returning a few more times to try everything on the menu!
wikitoronto / September 5, 2012 at 12:28 am
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completely different look than Lee
http://www.wikito.org/Lee
Pugsly / September 5, 2012 at 05:46 pm
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Why are there no other customers in your photographs? Obviously, this was set up.
Maryanna / October 1, 2012 at 03:32 pm
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The food is of exceptional quality, but the prices are a bit steep for the portioning. I best enjoyed the charred scallop, vegetarian sushi and the coconut and shrimp soup. The service was wonderful (we had a waiter with dreadlocks and a friendly Australian girl, both were knowledgeable and efficient) and the Georgetown storm was my favorite cocktail by far.

It is a shame that the place is so packed with seats that it is hard to move, but it is the same at Lee's also. Love the decor. Did not see Susur Lee or his sons when we dined.
Does not accept reservations and there is little else nearby to choose if they are too full.

Overall, a good venue with great service but not value for money.
Maryanna replying to a comment from Pugsly / October 1, 2012 at 03:34 pm
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Also these pics seem taken in the day time, and they only open at 5:30. I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Jim / October 10, 2012 at 12:41 am
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A response to

"Overall, a good venue with great service but not value for money."

How can one say that a 7$ delicious coconut shrimp soup is not a good value, COOKED BY how JOANNE KATES SAID one of the top 3 chefs in CANADA

I quote

"Here, we have one of the three best chefs in Canada selling coconut shrimp soup for seven bucks! "

-joanne kates.

mariana replying to a comment from Jim / October 17, 2012 at 06:40 pm
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Brian is the chef, not Susur. And the $7 portion is minimalistic.
james / October 25, 2012 at 06:26 pm
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went last night, wont be going back any time soon. For the most part the above comments regarding price-portion ratio are spot on. However, although some of the items we ordered, as recommended by the server (duck salad,tuna water-melon ceviche and the salmon gravlax to name a few) were good, by no means did the quality justify the price point. Good yes. Great, no. Service was alright based on the amount of people dining.

@Jim, it's not the first time Joanne Kates has misfired or the last, go in for yourself and judge the $7 soup you SOB.


David / October 25, 2012 at 08:52 pm
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Yes it's over priced, besides that waiting over 40min for our dishes is rediculious, seeing the girls sitting next to me who arrived after us getting served first was very annoying, will I return I highly doubt it...
Dave / February 8, 2013 at 03:50 pm
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Worst restaurant experience I have had in Toronto in a very long time! I recently went here with 11 friends to participate in Susurlicious and absolutely everything was atrocious. When we first arrived, nobody was around to seat us, so we took the initiative and seated ourselves at the only table in the restaurant large enough to seat our group. Our waiter started by asking if we wanted "still" or "sparkling" water... we opted for the former as we were not keen on paying for water - by the time we received our bill, we were charged $70 for 8 bottles of "still" water, and told by the waiter at this time that he offered us "still" or "tap" water - a blatant lie caught by those that heard him (and who even makes the assumption that we are comfortable with them opening 8 bottles?). We arrived at the restaurant at 7:30pm - the entrees did not arrive until 10pm. The food was not anything to rave about - far too rich and way too many taste experiences to confuse the pallet. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone and I truly hope that they do themselves a favour and shut their doors to Toronto.
Peter / February 16, 2013 at 04:56 pm
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Worst service I've had, maybe ever. Had a reservation for 9:00 and not seated until 9:35. It took another 50 minutes for food.

The food was OK.

Lobster tacos were boring, just take it off the menu. The braised beef ribs were the second best I've had in TO (RIP Briscola).

After waiting sinking I was hoping the food would change my first impression. It didn't.

Will not be back. In fact, I wish I hadn't went in the first place.
Sam / March 8, 2013 at 08:39 am
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Food quality is very high, one the best in town!!
Peter / April 29, 2013 at 09:20 am
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WORST SERVICE I HAVE EVER HAD. DO NOT GO HERE!!

We had a reservation for 9:15 and when we arrived our table wasn't ready. The hostess said it would be an additional 15-20 min max, so we figured we would have a drink at the bar but that was impossible because the poorly designed space didn't allow for people to wait at the bar - they opted to cram it with additional 2nd tier seating instead - SO we went for a drink at a local bar down the road and gave the hostess our cel # to call us when it was ready....... 10:15 rolled around and we still hadn't heard from the hostess so we walked back - the table was still not ready AND she informed us that it would most likely be another 15-20 min!!!!

My party was so upset and so was I - especially considering I was out with clients. We left and went to another place deserving of our patronage. We weren't even offered and consideration...sad. I WILL NEVER GO BACK! from 9:15 to 10:35.... really>? Horrible Management.

After talking to a few friends that have been before they pretty much ALL had to wait an excess of 30min +.

Do not waste your time or money.
Marie / May 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm
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Go somewhere else. Anywhere.

Disclaimer: before you read, please note that we are young professionals who have lived in the downtown core for many years and enjoy trying new food and new restaurants. This is my first time ever writing a review, but I felt compelled to do it. We are not looking to be treated in any special way - we are just looking for good food, in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere.

Bent was just the opposite of that.

I went to Bent with my partner for our anniversary. I had read about it in various blogs and was excited. Our overall experience was extremely disappointing and we left the restaurant angry.

To begin with, we made a reservation but the host could not find it. It took a few minutes but we were seated promptly.

The initial encounter with the waitress seemed ok, but right away we felt a sense of urgency or pressure. We wondered if they had taken a reservation right after us and needed us to leave early.

We quickly ordered the special mojitos, a bento box appetizer and the ribs for an entree to share (as recommended).

Soon after the bento box arrived, the waitress pressured my partner to order another drink, before he had finished even, asking him no less than three times if he was done and if she could remove his glass. She came back regularly asking if we wanted more drinks, even though we hadn't had a chance yet to look at the wine menu, which she had literally brought us minutes before asking what we wanted.

The bento box, which included various seafood items, came in and although the food was good, a different waiter brought our main dish, warm ribs with parsnip puree, barely a few minutes after we had started our appetizer. We found ourselves trying to eat everything at the same time, enjoying none of these two very different dishes, while the waitress came coming back asking if we had made our choice for further drinks.

The worst is that when she realized that we weren't happy with the service that we were receiving, instead of offering genuine apologies, she used a condescending and arrogant tone to explain to us that we should have sent back the food that had arrived too early. Unbelievable.

By that time, considering that the waitress was constantly aggravating us and making this evening worse, we expected that the two managers who were hovering around would come and try to resolve the issue in some way (we still had hopes that the evening would turn out ok at that point). Instead, nobody came by and the waitress continued to show us attitude, mumbling under her breath that the ribs were on them. As if that mattered. Our evening was ruined and we left quickly, after paying a hefty bill for an appetizer and two drinks.

This place embodies for me the attitude and arrogance that has, sadly, taken over many of the new Toronto restaurant scene. It might be fashionable, and the food may be good at times, but it's not worth the arrogance, the pretentiousness, and the complete hypocrisy.

Grace / September 28, 2013 at 03:37 am
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Bent has evolved.

My husband and I are both doctors who work in the area.

We loved bent so much we have been twice in the last three weeks (which is hard to do with two pre-schoolers)

The first time we went I had a yuzu basil mojito, perfect balance of sweet and sour, probably the best and most unique mojito i have ever had!

My husband tried their house blend of sake which paired brilliantly with the food.

On our second visit i was hoping to get the same mojito however the knowledgeable server let us know that there "monthly inspiration" cocktail menu was no longer 4 different mojitos but for the month of Sept. they were featuring 4 Caipirinhas ( a Brazilian drink i wasn't too familiar with)

I ended up with "the traditional"

Once again flawlessly excited.

Now for the food, the first time we ordered 4 dishes as the server recommended.

-Tacos
-Tuna Ceviche w Watermelon
-Scallop
-Short Ribs

Great pace, and flavours were exquisite as well as unique.

Our second time around, we did a chefs order, it was recommended to us by the server.

Bents chef prepared a 4 course meal for us. inspired by what he picked up at the market that morning.

The menu was eclectic, and original with a beautiful harmony of flavours.

BENT IS A 10/10 dining experience from the food, to the service

It is our new favourite restaurant. HIGHLY RECOMMEND (and I'm hard to please)

-G
Kathy / November 28, 2013 at 11:55 am
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I have dined here on a date and the food is not large in portion as mentioned is meant to be shared just like Lee restaurant on Kind West. So the food is really great I ordered the The Cantonese-style Braised Spiced Short Ribs (see pic) and the The Peruvian Style Ceviche which is served cold. I didn't get any of that ($16) cocktail nonsense. Wine did just fine.
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Bernice / June 24, 2014 at 03:49 pm
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Bent needs to improve their service and food. I originally came here because I'd heard good things about this place, and took out of town guests here specifically to give them an experience. It doesn't look like they have service standards, compared to other restaurants around the city.

When you're asking for that price point, I expect great service, not the same service you could get at a chain restaurant. We ordered an array of items to share, including the Bento Box (which I have to say, didn't feel like complete array of food that went well together). We also ordered the lamb- which we ended up cancelling because we had to wait over 25 minutes after everything was cleared and our plates were reset. After asking why it was taking so long, we kindly told our server we would cancel since it was taking so long. The kitchen should have timed this properly, and waiting that long for one dish just wasn't worth it. It's something the server should have looked out for, and should have managed expectations to the table. We proceeded to order dessert, and the waiter tells us in a condescending way, "it'll be 8 minutes, are you okay with that?" After waiting so long for the lamb we finally cancelled, it's uncalled for and disrespectful when you're serving a table, and the bill was over $1000. It's not the type of attitude that any server should have, especially not at a place like Bent. I was not impressed.

This comment and the okay food was what compelled me to write this, as I typically do not write reviews. This place is over rated and needs. What is the experience this place is trying to offer if the food and service just isn't up to par?

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