Love Me Tender Steakhouse Toronto Review by Melissa Petters
I got the call at the perfect time.. I had been craving steak all day. We were set to review “Love Me Tender”, the hot new steakhouse in The Beach. They are known for quality steak, but that’s not all. I was looking forward to sampling far more than ribeye when it came to this welcome new addition. And sample I did, with the help of my trusty sidekick and publisher, Paul Murton
We entered the newly renovated prime Beaches location to pleasant background music at just the right volume, shining hardwood floors, exposed brick and tasteful decorative touches in the form of an antique stove and eclectic artwork. It was cozy and intimate while being open and airy, with big windows overlooking the passers-by on Queen St. East. A sparkling open kitchen bustled with action as staff in white coats and hats carefully prepared one artistic and appetizing dish after another.
We started with the brie (14). It was beautifully and colourfully presented, with deep purple poached pear cranberry chutney, and dusted cashews- these, by the way were amazing, despite my biased toward the candied version. We also shared the escargot (12), piping hot and perfectly cooked with a generous serving of cheese. So far, the only thing I would change is something many restaurants do..uneven appetizer portions. As diners often share appetizers, the ideal serving would include four/six/eight juicy snails, or, likewise, an even amount of tasty, lightly toasted bits of bread on which to spread the brie. It’s not easy to split a snail, or a tiny toast, so someone always has to sacrifice the extra portion.. And when the food is this good, having to give up a portion can lead to resentment at the very least!
Deciding on a main course was pretty simple at first, at least on my part- steak of course. But that’s where it got difficult. The selection of cuts alone is impressive, and then you have to decide what size steak you want. It doesn’t just come with the standard choice of potato and some random seasonal veggies, but with a plethora of other choices and possible additions. It must have taken me close to 20 minutes to finalize my decision. Paul had been there before, and in the spirit of trying as many dishes as possible, he ordered the Maple Dijon Roasted Salmon Steak (28) (Center cut salmon filet glazed with Ontario Maple Syrup & Dijon Mustard). That was simple enough compared to my order, so it’s a good place to start. I’m not a big fan of most fish- tend to err on the side of caution and go with basic white fish that lacks a strong taste. Salmon is but an occasional exception, because I find it often tastes fishy as it’s not cooked properly, or not especially fresh or top quality. The salmon at LMT is certainly an exception, and, even if the salmon itself WAS chewy and fishy (NOTE:it’s QUITE the opposite!), the Maple Dijon glaze is so good that it might actually make up for it.
Our meals came with the same skewer of veggies, on charred wood, which was, esthetically speaking, a very nice touch. Onions, peppers, mushrooms… we didn’t really NEED additional veggies, but I just had to sample some. My cut of meat was the 12oz. Ribeye; beautifully seared, and perfectly exemplified what I,and what most (In my humble opinion) consider medium rare. One can make pretty much any cut LOOK good though, so the flavour and tenderness were the real test. LMT passed with flying colours and then some. As a steakhouse, it was nice to see they were living up to the highlight and focus of the menu. It got even better with the additions though… the veggies alone were wonderful. The mushrooms we actually unbelievable. Apparently they, and their secret ingredient are courtesy of the manager, Denise. Apparently the chef was apprehensive, but she insisted, and we should all be very grateful that she did. The carrots were lovely too, al dente, with a hint of cracked pepper and that mysterious sweetness I recognized from the mushrooms. For my potato, I went with the Twice Baked.. It was quite large in itself and then simply bursting with filling, big chunks of bacon, and loaded with cheese- practically a meal on it’s own. The first of the specialty additions included the option of having your steak “Smothered” (Butter-caramelized medley of green & red peppers, mushrooms, onions for 2.75). If, WHEN you go to LMT for dinner, DO THIS. It’s amazing. It even has roasted garlic- whole cloves. I couldn’t believe it when I bit into one. I’m a big garlic fan myself, but if it’s not roasted properly it can be quite bitter and turn anyone off who isn’t really into garlic. Even those who claim NOT to like garlic would just be confused about this ingredient, wondering where the cool and unique texture and wonderful taste was coming from. Finally, our server recommended the Chimichurri Charred Prawns (16). Good call. Very good call. Plump and juicy, and seasoned just enough to compliment the natural flavour without overpowering the main event.
Maple Dijon Roasted Salmon Steak
Dessert changes all the time, but from what I’ve heard, it’s always delicious. We took a gander at the dessert tray, which, by that time of night, gave us four options, all of which were torte-based.. Fruit, a crumble, a lemon torte and chocolate hazelnut torte. Paul didn’t even have to look before he picked chocolate; despite frightening his delicate sensibilities with the addition of hazelnuts, it was still as amazing as he anticipated, and I had to agree. I went with the lemon torte, which certainly didn’t disappoint… nice and tart, with not too much sweetness, and both had firm, yet flaky pastry encasing the decadence within.
Both the server (Penny) and manager (Denise) were professional, friendly and attentive. They were both more than happy to answer any questions we had, and made a point of checking on us and our fellow diners regularly, but not to the point of overdoing it, as have been the case in some restaurants. I actually noticed they didn’t leave the floor the whole time we were there… no sitting in the back playing Pokemon GO or checking Facebook, just ensuring that each table had the best possible experience. Such a refreshing change in this digital age!
Now, for the basic information that will make it easier for you to visit Love Me Tender Steak House, because you’re missing out if you don’t…
Call for reservations- 416-699-1968 Address- 1968 Queen St. East, Toronto (Note the address and phone number match for simplicity!)
Hours- Open for Brunch Friday at 11am, Saturday and Sunday from 10am, and from 4pm Tuesday to Thursday. Closing hours vary.. Seasonal, as it is a seasonal neighbourhood. And they accept Visa, MC, Amex and Debit. They also offer a children’s menu so don’t be afraid to bring the little ones. The brunch is fantastic from what I hear… I’m hoping I’ll be invited to review that as well (hint, hint). It was an incredible experience, and I’m not the only one who is happy to welcome this restaurant to my quaint little neighbourhood with open arms.