T.O.’s top spot to see and be seen, but food is meh

Lob­ster crudo, black truf­fle ag­nolotti and yet the flavours are bland

Richmond Hill Post - - Food - JOANNE KATES Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cor­don Bleu de Cui­sine in Paris. She has writ­ten ar­ti­cles for nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chate­laine.

One can barely keep up with Charles Khabouth, who at last count has 21 clubs and restau­rants, all suc­cess­ful, all snazzy, all cool. From Ca­bana pool bar (very Ve­gas) to By­b­los (very good Mid­dle Eastern), this is the guy with the Mi­das touch. His new place, Sofia, has 238 seats and has 110 seats on two pa­tios. Big. But no doubt Mr. Khabouth can fill 348 seats in Yorkville. Ev­ery night.

The place is jump­ing al­ready. Stand for three min­utes at the podium and watch the non-stop pa­rade of blondes with long legs in short skirts and guys in ex­pen­sive suits. Where does all the money come from? And why does it flock here?

Our din­ner for two, with two glasses of wine, came in at more than $250. Was it worth it? De­pends on what you mean by worth it.

The food was meh (more on that later), but the scene is … quite the scene. All those blondes and guys who look like money, the Yorkville ad­dress and the en­ter­tain­ing decor.

The floor is par­tic­u­larly ar­rest­ing, her­ring­bone strips of re­mark­able stone. Tables are white lac­quer, chairs and ban­quettes are plush cran­berry vel­vet, and ev­ery­where light re­flects from the many milk glass chan­de­liers. Mir­rored col­umns and walls. There’s even a crooner at a white baby grand on a plat­form.

Both male and fe­male servers are, of course, pretty. Man­agers ( older men in suits) rove con­stantly, check­ing the room for ser­vice. This makes us feel very im­por­tant. The noise level, thanks to all those hard sur­faces, is ear-split­ting. All part of the scene.

Then there’s the food. Mostly south­ern Ital­ian with the oc­ca­sional ex­cur­sion to the land of fu­sion. Like the lob­ster crudo, sweet, sexy raw lob­ster dressed with lemon, green onion and too-sweet mayo that tastes sus­pi­ciously like the Ja­panese kew­pie mayo that some­times dresses sushi. We veer back to Italy with ag­nolotti stuffed with ri­cotta and gar­nished with hazel­nuts, black truf­fle and chanterelles. As I said, meh. Flavours nei­ther ro­bust nor in­ter­est­ing.

For mains we have two large wild shrimp for $12 each. Nice but not note­wor­thy. And not that big ei­ther for $12. And orata (sea bream) for $48, served with lemon but­ter. Also nice but not spe­cial. For sides we have rather plain broc­co­letti (the promised white bal­samic and gar­lic ap­par­ently MIA) and Ro­man ar­ti­chokes, the su­per-tra­di­tional Ro­man deep-fried ar­ti­chokes. Prob­lem here is that the kitchen has trimmed the ar­ti­chokes in­com­pletely, and where we ex­pect crunchy out­side and soft in­side, there are some fi­brous leaves that don’t chew so good. And where oh where is the promised basil pesto?

Bot­tom line: So many pretty peo­ple, so pop­u­lar al­ready, not about the food.

Clock­wise from left: Sofia’s luxe din­ing room, aro­gosta crudo, zep­pole di san Giuseppe

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