Over Thanksgiving weekend my parents came to stay with Adam and I. On Sunday we were lucky enough to enjoy an amazing turkey dinner that was cooked by yours truly and my mom…who am I kidding? I have to give pretty much all the credit to my mom, Cathy, because she did all food, other than my sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans, which, I might add, got rave revues (the recipe will be posted soon). Though I was thrilled with how the first Thanksgiving in my own place went down, I have to discuss the awesome dinner that we had just a few days before. That Friday, October 5th, was also my mom’s birthday, so we went out to The Bicycle Thief for dinner on that warm Fall evening to celebrate. As emphatic as my rant about French food in the last post was, I just have to say how much I love Italian as well: not just true Tuscan tortellini, but Mulberry Street’s Fettuccine Alfredo in NYC (did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo is not true Italian food, and derives from Little Italy, NYC? Click here for an interesting history), and even the crappy Spaghetti Bolognese from Vanelli’s in your local mall food court. I just love pasta! So when we entered the bustling restaurant on Friday night I was very excited to eat a fabulous bowl of carbohydrates.
At 8:30 on a Friday evening, the restaurant was packed! I am talking full sections, busy waiters, and hungry people seated at the bar. We were taken to our table immediately and were presented with numerous cocktail, wine and food meues, that were big in both content and size (they were huge!). The decor of the restaurant is cozy, vintage, and elegant all at the same time. The walls are covered in framed phtography and paintings, and all the antiques and nic nacs give it a comfortable, familiar feeling.The wooden chairs and tables are accented by big brown leather banquettes and elegant barstools, and the lighting was perfect for a celebratory Friday night meal, or a romantic dinner for two. The Bicycle Thief was busy and had a hip and trendy feel that reminded me of this amazing Italian restaurant that my friend Dana and I went to in NYC called Maialino.
Though The Bicycle Thief brands themselves as “North American Food. Italian Soul.” I was impressed with the selection of Italian dishes on the menu. The dinner menu is very large and is divided into three sections, or courses, which are cleverly labeled 1st, 2nd, and High Gears. A traditional Italian meal consists of five parts with Antipasti, Primo, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolce courses, but most restaurants present the menus in three courses, like The Bicycle Thief. I started our wonderful meal with the Tourchon Foie Gras, something we all know that I cannot resist. Served with Stone fruit chutney and crostini, the foie gras was creamy and delicious and everything I wanted it to be. Adam thoroughly enjoyed his Sweet pepper studded pan seared Crab & Fish Cake with homemade Tartar sauce, and though Cathy thought there was a little too much tomato flavour in the sauce, really liked her mussels. My father, Dan, ordered the Sardines and was very impressed at their size. He loved them and the rest of the table loved that fresh Sardines did not come with the pungent odour that canned ones do. The three red wine drinkers at the table enjoyed a bottle of Côtes du Rhône from France, while I accompanied my appetizer with a glass of Tattinger, which I was very impressed about having on the menu by the glass. I love when real Champagne is on the menu by the glass!
The service was attentive and swift, with several different severs bringing our mains. Though you could tell that our server was very busy, with a packed section, he was still very personable and efficient. You could tell he knew how to do his job well. The wait between our mains was perfectly appropriate and I was so excited to see the presentation of my meal in front of me when it arrived. I ordered the Peppercorn crusted Beef Tenderloin Tagliata that was served with sea salted hand cut Frites, and was presented on a wooden cutting board! Both the presentation and the taste of the meal was awesome. The meat was cooked to the medium rare that I ordered, and though the Peppercorn crust was slightly overwhelming for my taste, was very enjoyable. Adam ordered the Veal Scaloppine Parmigiana, which to us seemed like the most recognizable Italian dish of the night. It was topped with prosciutto di San Daniele, smoked Provolone, and San Marzano tomato sauce and was delicious! Cathy ordered the Double smoked bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin and loved it! She was astounded by the price of the tenderloin and raved about the Marsala wine reduction. Dan revelled in his Rabbit, and enjoyed the accompaniment of polenta with fresh herbs.
Even though the 2nd Gear section, or Secondi, looked amazing there was no way that any of us would have been able to eat all three courses! The portions were a great size and the ingredients were fresh and flavourful. The funny thing was that none of us ordered pasta because they were for the most part in the 2nd Gear section. However, despite the common assumption that Italian food is based around pasta, the main dishes presented authentic and innovative Italian options. We all decided that we were two full of food and wine for dessert and were completely satisfied with the meal; Mom even got a delicious birthday shot courtesy of our friendly server.
Overall I would recommend The Bicycle Thief to anyone who enjoys Italian food and a good time. It was a great place to celebrate my parents coming to visit and my mom’s birthday. The experience was awesome, and I am anxious to try it a second time, making sure to starve myself the whole day so that I can have five courses in the true Italian fashion and Explore. Eat. Repeat.
Things worth mentioning…
Cost: Around 450$ for four people, including tax, tip, THREE bottles of wine, and more than a few glasses of champagne.
Things I liked: The atmosphere and decor, authentic bubbles by the glass, AMAZING fries, and the washrooms…beautiful.
Things I didn’t: Very little…a little loud for those who appreciate intense dinner conversations, wine by the glass was slightly expensive.
Best place to sit: Anywhere! At the bar, on a banquette or by the window, all have their own ambience. Next time I want to sit outside; the view of the harbour is great, and they provide elegant red pashminas to keep you warm!
What to order next time: PASTA! In particular the BLT Fettuccine, with Pancetta, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, Arugula, and Pecorino cheese.