On Monday evening I was invited to Milestones Empress Walk in Toronto for “an exclusive evening of culinary creations prepared by Milestones’ Executive Chef Jason Rosso.” According to the email I received, Milestones would be serving a six-course tasting menu inspired by their upcoming Summer Chef Menu, and each course was going to be accompanied by a selection of Constellation Brands’ finest wines.
I’m sure you can guess what I said to that invitation. Food + wine? Yes and yes, count me in. I roped my beautiful friend Dawn into joining me for the evening (she didn’t need a lot of convincing).
I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a Milestones. It’s been years for sure. And I didn’t even know what was on their menu, to be honest, so I was excited for some exclusive tasting action.
I was immediately impressed with how professional this event was. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the Chief Operating Officer of Milestones, Montana’s, and Kelsey’s, Mark Findlay, and also Dave Grant, Strategic Account Manager at Constellation Brands (producers of wine. Wiiiine). Usually when I am invited to events like this it is run by a PR company, so I mainly interact with them. There may be a representative from the actual company in attendance, but the COO? Well now, that is just impressive. Everyone was very nice, and they seemed to enjoy talking with us and asked us lots of questions.
All was going well until one of them asked me what my favourite restaurant was.
I just didn’t know what to say. As I love food so much (I don’t want to call myself a “foodie”), I wanted to seem worldly and cultured and say a trendy place that was well-known without being too popular, you know? But all I could think was chain restaurants, and I didn’t want to name one.
And this was interesting, because one of the reasons for this evening of food was to change our opinion of chain restaurants. There is definitely a bit of a stigma surrounding them, that they may not be as good as independent restaurants. I have been noticing this a lot more lately. When I lived in the suburbs I used to eat at chains all the time, and all my friends did also. But now that I am in the city I am starting to become a little bit of a restaurant snob, and I am not sure why this is happening. Maybe because there are many independent restaurants located close to me? I don’t know.
Anyway, upon our arrival we were immediately set up with two of Milestones’ new cocktails.
I can’t remember either of their names, but that raspberry one on the left was amazing. Definitely my favourite. The cucumber martini on the right was good also, but Dawnald and I agreed that it was just a little too sweet.
There were also some pretty great appetizers floating around.
There are few things in life I enjoy more than a good cheese ball, and those did not disappoint. Dawn and I both ate four of them.
And then we were all ushered upstairs for dinner.
I originally expected to be sitting with only Dawn and enjoying a romantic dinner for two, but this was not the case. There were about 20 people in attendance, and we all sat together at one long table. Just an intimate dinner with people who are way more important than me. No big deal. I am really not sure how I got invited to this event (wait, yes I am, ahem Stephanie Fusco, you cheeky minx), because I certainly am not that important.
Dawn and I were sitting with a handful of chefs. Real chefs, who actually cook for a living. I am in serious awe of them. Like Rossy Earle, who coincidentally is the chef at Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, which I visited in January. We talked about how hilarious Prince Charmin is. And Joshna Maharaj, who is probably the biggest celebrity chef I’ve ever met.
Someone asked me if I was a chef.
No no friends. I just like to eat. I could never be a chef, because you’re never home for dinner! That is very important to me.
So let’s talk about the Milestones Summer Chef’s Menu samples.
Extensive, and amazing sounding. But the funniest thing about this photo is my place card, Lindsey Evanhoff. That is not my name. It’s just Evanoff. No H. But this was exceptionally funny to me because at my previous job one of my coworkers thought my last name was spelled “Evanhoff” for four months. When she called me that in emails I thought she was joking, until she wrote “Evanhoff” on my birthday card and I realized she really thought that was my last name.
Just Evanoff. But I do understand how it could be confused, so no worries.
Anyway, moving along. Check out this food. It was AMAZING.
Six courses in total. I really need to say that everything was fantastic. Everything. Honestly. Best meal I have had in a long time. I cleaned every single plate and it was so good I probably could have eaten more, even though I was dying of fullness. I truly would order any one of those dishes, and they were all even better than I was expecting. Chef Rosso and friends do not mess around.
My favourites were probably the stir fry, because it tasted like curry, and the tuna Tutaki. Sweet baby cheeses and all things holy and delicious, that tuna… Dawn was studying the menu before everything came out and she mentioned to me she probably wasn’t going to be a fan of the tuna, and then it ended up being her favourite. It was so good.
Also surprisingly good was the avocado and lime tart. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that but I loved it. It tasted like a lime meringue pie to me.
Dawn and I were so impressed with everything that obviously we had to pay our compliments to the chef.
Excellent job Chef Rosso. If you would like to move in with me and be my personal chef I would be very okay with that. I think I could eat that stir fry every day of my life. But I’ll allow you to cook me new things also. I’m not picky.
Oh, and the wine! I can’t forget to mention the wine. There was so much of it!
I can’t remember all the selections, but each dish was perfectly paired with a glass of wine ranging from pinot grigio, to pinot noir, to sparkling wine, to ice wine. I am not a huge wine connoisseur, but I do love it. They all tasted great to me, though red is always my favourite.
I eventually arrived home after our night of gourmet eating and face-planted onto my bed, unbelievably full and a little bit drunk. Milestones, I don’t know what I thought of you before, but I’ll tell you what I think of you now. You are delicious. I like you, and I like you a lot. I am coming back and I am eating all the things and I am telling all my friends. Thank you so much for having me! You have definitely changed my opinion of chains in general.
In other news, though kind of related, the subway stop where this Milestones is located is THE subway stop where Dawn and I had our unfortunate accident 15 years ago. Perhaps you will recognize these doors. They are the ones we got stuck in.
I drew them, though my memory was off slightly.
Ah, memories. If you don’t know that story you can read it here.