Staying at the InterContinental Hotel in Toronto a few weeks ago was a treat – it is a beautifully laid out, luxury hotel with gorgeous touches throughout. The hotel also has a great restaurant, The Azure Restaurant & Bar. As with the rest of the hotel, the restaurant is beautifully designed, situated within an incredible atrium space; it is absolutely stunning… there is so much light. It makes you feel as if you are sitting outside with all the greenery around, and we were there on a very cloudy and rainy day!
We were seated right away; we had come in after an event so the lunch hour rush was gone, very fortunate for us. The staff was very attentive, after explaining to them that we were both gluten-free and it was important that there were no cross contamination issues, they had both the manager and the chef come out to speak to us.
Chef Grace assured us that many items could easily be made gluten-free as they make everything fresh, so it would only take minimal substitution to make sure it was a completely Gluten free dining experience and safe for us.
The chef pointed out which items on the menu could be easily made gluten free and then left us to consider our options. There were certainly quite a few delicious things to try!
I chose the Bradford Bay Chicken BLT with Havarti and my daughter chose the handcrafted hamburger made of a mixture of wagyu, sirloin and chuck topped with smoked mozzarella and boursin mayo.
When the meals arrived, both my daughter and I were surprised by amount of food, her order had 2 good sized patties of beef in between slices of gluten free bread and mine had 2 sandwiches – with the chicken breast and toppings in between slices of gluten free bread.
The Chef described everything on the dishes and what the ingredients were, and what was substituted -which I really appreciated [even though you order something and you think it’s going to be a certain way, you don’t always know what is on the plate]. My daughter also had fries with hers [ which were gluten free and seemed more of a roasted potato], I opted for the garden greens with a lovely vinaigrette dressing.
I don’t generally have bread with my meals, but I wanted to give this sandwich a try. It was delicious… the blend of the herb mayonnaise, Havarti and bacon along with the perfectly cooked breast was truly a delight to my tastebuds; the seeded gluten free bread was very good, and stood up well to eating as a sandwich [ which is not always an easy feat with gluten free breads]. I opted to eat the second chicken breast with just the toppings and without the bread. The combination of flavours was more intense and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think next time I would order it without the bread. Even my daughter, who loves her carbs, opted to eat the second burger patty without the bread – she said the burger patty was so good, [ and it was, I had a bite – so juicy] she wanted to finish it but felt she wouldn’t be able to it if she left the bread on. In both cases, although the sandwich was good… it was much better without the bread – we could savour the wonderfully prepared meats with just their toppings alone.
Throughout the meal, our server Senen was incredibly attentive – filling our water continuously and making sure that everything was fine- one of the pluses of going after the rush….you get a chance to talk to some of the staff,which is always nice. We did talk a lot about gluten-free dining, and the necessary precautions. I could tell that she was quite aware of the restrictions and was aware of cross-contamination issues. This is really comforting to know because a lot of servers aren’t that aware, and they don’t take the time to actually want to know how to make it easier on you when dining out.
Both my daughter and I were quite literally stuffed after our meal. The chef came out and asked if we would like some dessert, I said that I could probably have something very small- the chef said she would prepare something especially for us. She came back with this beautiful presented and prepared gluten-free dessert tray with flourless chocolate cake and mango gelee , one for each of us. Even though I didn’t have any room… I finished it all!! As did my daughter … they were delicious and it was all gluten free!
It was incredibly enjoyable experience from start to finish… the staff, the chef, the food and the setting—everything was absolutely wonderful.
There was a great, varied choice on the menu; many things could easily be substituted by the chef as they do things to order -I am looking forward to trying out some of the other items in the future!
Thank you again to Chef Grace, Senen and the rest of the staff and the InterContinental Toronto Centre for a great gluten free dining experience!
If you are in Toronto and looking for a place to dine that has gluten free options, think about stopping into The Azure, you won’t be disappointed.
*Disclosure – although we were offered a complimentary dining experience, all opinions, as always are my own!