Wednesday, November 26, 2014Cloudy 1°C
Restaurants

Michael's on Simcoe

Posted by Christina Cheung / Profiled on November 10, 2014 / review policy

michaels on simcoeMichael's on Simcoe is an ideal place to dine if you enjoy the finer things in life - namely, a top-quality steak or an expertly made Italian dish (it also helps if you have deep pockets and/or a corporate expense account to play with).

The restaurant recently celebrated its second anniversary, and two years in, it remains a celebrity hot spot during TIFF, with the likes of Keira Knightley, Julianne Moore, Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman making appearances here this past September. There have also been a few additions and tweaks since this subterranean space first opened, some of which include a new sidewalk patio and an update to the menu when Derek von Raesfeld (formerly of Mistura) took over as executive chef late last year.

michaels on simcoe torontoOwner Michael Dabic, who was a longtime general manager at Harbour Sixty Steakhouse prior to opening his own place, wants to offer patrons a modernized version of a steakhouse that also serves contemporary Italian cuisine. He and von Raesfeld, who learned his trade at Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy, handpick the top 2% of USDA prime beef in North America and butcher it in-house, and some of that meat goes into a custom-made dry-aging chamber from Italy that can be seen from the dining room.

michaels on simcoeWhen dining, try to avoid gorging too much on the addictive bread baked in-house, as well as the olives and dips served along with them - save room for the rest to come.

michaels on simcoe torontoTo start, there's fiori di zucca ($18), crispy ricotta-and-mozzarella-di-bufala-filled fried zucchini blossoms with puttanesca salsa, celery and basil cress. Von Raesfeld likes to use local produce when possible, but since the blossoms currently aren't in season here, they've been delivered fresh from Israel.

michaels on simcoe torontoFrom the crudo section of the menu, there is carpaccio di manzo ($22), thin slices of raw USDA dry-aged prime striploin beef rolled with some arugula and topped with shaved parmesan and lemon truffle dressing.

michaels on simcoe torontoIf that isn't decadent enough, aragosta gnocchi ($28), chewy, fluffy pillows of pasta with fresh pieces of lobster, spiced tomato, garlic, lobster stock and fresh basil should up the ante a bit.

On to the steak: various cuts and types of beef are available, ranging from an 8-oz Wellington Country Premium Canadian Beef striploin ($36) to a 12-oz dry-aged U.S. Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef striploin ($145). We try a 26-oz dry-aged USDA Prime Black Aberdeen Angus porterhouse ($79), and it's a perfect medium-rare (the way a steak should be served). The meat from the tenderloin side melts in my mouth and my dining companion claims it's the best steak he's had in his life. It's cut tableside and served with whatever sides you decide to order.

michaels on simcoe torontoA tower of Krombacher onion rings ($10) are Flintstone-like in size, while chopped rapini with anchovy and chilli ($12) and sauteed mixed mushrooms ($16) are arguably healthier choices to accompany your hunk of meat. Or you can promise yourself you'll work it off at the gym later and go all-out surf and turf by adding a half lobster tail and claw ($24) as a side.

michaels on simcoe torontoAs for drinks, there's an extensive wine list that's split into old world and new world, and a champagne list where bottles range from $50 to $1,700 (for a Cristal Rosé). A short menu of 3-oz martinis ($20.95) and 2.5-oz cocktails ($18.95) are made in the sleek bar and lounge area next to the dining room.

michaels on simcoe torontoIt may be gauche to conclude with talk of toilets, but ladies, it's worth a trip to the washroom facilities here if you've never experienced the joys of Japanese bathroom technology. Heated seats, bidet functions and automatic sensors are just a few of the wondrous features you'll discover. Clearly, Dabic means it when he says he wants to challenge the overly masculine ambience of the traditional steakhouse - and I have to say, I approve.

michaels on simcoe torontoPhotos by Jesse Milns.

Discussion

10 Comments

Jeff / November 10, 2014 at 08:03 am
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Wow. Can't believe that plate of food was over $100.

The sides are what really get me:
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A tower of Krombacher onion rings ($10) are Flintstone-like in size, while chopped rapini with anchovy and chilli ($12) and sauteed mixed mushrooms ($16)"

$38 for the sides on that plate?? Even if someone was treating me don't know how I could justify that for the sides!
Seamusddog / November 10, 2014 at 08:45 am
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It's not $100. That portion of steak, mushrooms, and rapini has been served onto that plate from a larger dish. I knew someone was going to make that comment when I saw the picture and the text together. Totally misleading.
LK / November 10, 2014 at 08:51 am
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This place was highly disappointing. The food wasn't bad at all, but for the same price it doesn't match the quality of Harbor 60, Jacob's or even Morton's. As for the decor, super tacky - I felt like I was on a cheesy cruise ship in there. This place needs to become a little more refined if it wants to become a long-term staple in T.O.
cathie replying to a comment from Jeff / November 10, 2014 at 10:35 am
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Yeah, I agree. $10 and up for a lousy baked potato or a handful of fries seem to be the norm at steakhouses. Considering the price for the mains, the sides should be included. I know they have to pay staff, etc., but that's just gouging. We just get our steaks from a good butcher, and bbq them at home, can't justify the crazy money these places want.
mr hood / November 10, 2014 at 04:36 pm
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honestly, to refine, or change the aspect of dining at a steakhouse into a modern steakhouse is pure wanker material. I cant say i've ever been to Michael's, but i would say that the best part of a modern steakhouse is the attention to a comfortable atmosphere, charming yet professional hospitality, warm lighting and modern textiles.

This has the look of a nightclub meets chain steakhouse meets "upmarket" food expectations. None of which resonate to me with classic modern steakhouse.

Jacob's and Barberian's set the standard in refined and comfortable modern steakhouses in this city. Both focus on different styles of a good steakhouse, but ultimately set the bar, for quality, service, and expectations. The prices may be high, but the quality stands out at both..
T.O. / November 11, 2014 at 02:07 pm
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This is an expense account venue.
Let's be honest. Those are the ONLY assholes that would visit this place.
Luis / November 11, 2014 at 04:33 pm
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To even bash the prices here at Michael's on Simcoe is to show ones ignorance of the best steak houses in any city let alone at Michael's. Been to all the competitors stated and I have to say the best is served here. As for Harbor 60...was going there for years until I started sending my steaks back on every other order due to poor preparation. Re menus, I like the fact Michael's switches it up with the seasons. Change is a must as the others are just the same old. The fresh premium ingredients dictate the menu...not the boring same old menus dictated be profit margins. As for service the fact that many of the staff are ex competitors staff lets you in on the fact that Michael the owner has the credibility in the industry. The ambience in the restaurant and especially the bar area is what makes it the newest go to place in the entertainment district. Passion and obsession to the highest quality makes Michael's on Simcoe the best steak and dinning establishment. And if price in this league of dinning establishment is your beef than you might as well say the same for all.
LB / November 11, 2014 at 05:47 pm
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Some completely ignorant comments here. Don't knock it until you try it. What Michael's has done is made itself stand out from every other steakhouse in the city, especially with the decor and sides. Hands down, the best sides I have ever had, far from a lousy baked potato, and worth the money for the unique dining experience, high quality food and attention to detail in everything. The owners and chef really know what they are doing.
nicole / November 11, 2014 at 08:01 pm
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I visited Michaels for my christmas party two years ago and the service was amazing, the food was awesome and it was worth the bill at the end. Memorable experience i must say. As well Michael was very hospitable to our team as we celebrated a successful year.
Malcolm / November 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm
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Looks like the staff at Michael's decided to do some damage control. Pro tip: Take some effort to not read like a radio advertisment, mmmkay?

As for me: I'll check the food out sometime this winter, but the ambience/interior design seems too open-concept and sterile. The best places in the city for my "finer things in life" buck are Jacobs and The Fifth :)

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