Summerlicious at Bent
777 Dundas St. West, Toronto, ON
Tucked away in a cozy corner on the fringes of Chinatown in Toronto is Susur Lee’s latest restaurant, Bent. Named after his wife, Brenda Bent, and run by Susur’s and Brenda’s two sons, Levi and Kai, the restaurant has recently opened their schoolyard chic patio just in time for Summerlicious. The patio was furnished with nostalgic plastic elementary school desk chairs and wooden tables and was comfy and shady. We sat outside on one of the few cool and breezy nights in Toronto so we longed for some heat lamps to keep warm.
For starters on the Summerlicious menu, we ordered the Cajun shrimp and vegetable fritter and the fried jerk chicken. Both dishes smelled delicious when they were brought to the table. The chicken was crispy and flavourful, thankfully, it wasn’t as spicy as I had feared and even a spice wimp like me enjoyed it thoroughly. The chicken was moist and juicy. I think we may have accidentally ate the items on the dish in reverse as the Ontario tomato and refreshing slaw would have served as a wonderful cooling element to the mild heat of the jerk chicken. The tomato and slaw looked so delicious that we quickly ate it before digging into the chicken.
I loved the batter on the Cajun shrimp and vegetable fritter, it was so light and crispy, I couldn’t get enough of it. The shrimp meat was tender and flavourful and also not very spicy. The spice was just enough to give the dish an appetizing kick. The fritters were wonderful starters, not too filling but just enough to hold us over until mains arrived.
The Asian marinated striploin steak was delicious but slightly overcooked and shockingly tiny in portion size. Keep in mind that this is the Summerlicious menu though. Propping up the steak was an agnolotti, a fat dumpling stuffed with the most tender and juicy braised beef.
The Caribbean pan roasted salmon was unfortunately also overcooked but the sauce was delectable, buttery and tasting of fresh summer citrus. We loved the crispy fried noodle adorning the salmon, it added a great texture to the dish and offset some of the mild heat.
The dessert was beautifully plated. Dessert consisted of a trio of sweets so it was as if we each got to eat three desserts! My favourite of the three treats was the banana and jackfruit spring roll, smothered in a hot and sweet caramel rum sauce. The spring roll was crispy on the outside and gooey, sticky and sweet on the inside. The creamy banana was scrumptious and tasty, the sweet, nutty caramel in the sauce offset the bitterness from the rum.
My second favourite dessert was the mango panna cotta with passionfruit juice. We loved that it was served in a cute little mason jar like it was almost portable for a picnic. The panna cotta wasn’t too sweet and the tanginess from the passionfruit helped cut through the creaminess.
The coconut chocolate mousse was the most rich of the dessert trio. The mousse was sitting on top of what we thought was a cookie but turned out to be a light licorice meringue, a smart and creative dessert, marrying a traditional item with an innovative item.
The inside of the restaurant was bustling on Friday night and the kitchen seemed extremely busy. We only caught a quick glimpse of Susur Lee hurriedly rushing out to the bar to quickly touch base with his staff before he ducked back into the kitchen.
The Summerlicious festival goes on in Toronto until July 20, 2014. Make sure you visit the Summerlicious website for reservations!