First Look: Michael’s on Simcoe, a new Italian steakhouse in the financial district
By Meri Perra
Colorado lamb chops ($49) with cucumber raita and braised red cabbage
It took a year for Michael’s on Simcoe, a new Italian steakhouse at the corner of Adelaide and Simcoe, to be up and ready for business. But now that it’s open, owner Michael Dabic, the former general manager at Harbour Sixty Steakhouse, says his restaurant is mostly getting its business from word of mouth.
“We have a focus on food,” he says, “and everything, including the pastas, is made from scratch.”
Dabic did much of his own contracting, completely gutting the interior, which was previously home to Monsoon Restaurant. And after renovations began, he had to start over again after changing the décor’s theme.
Notable features include a glittering, 600-piece Murano glass curtain, which divides the dining room, along with ’20s-style booths and custom-made Baccarat crystal decanters.
There’s also a massive, custom-made meat aging unit located at the kitchen’s entrance.
“It took probably six months to get this in,” Dabic says. “We offer conventional wet-aged and dry-aged beef. The porterhouse in there now — we’re approaching 40 days.”
Dabic explains that dry-aging allows the water in the meat to evaporate, which concentrates the flavour, while natural enzymes break down ligaments in the meat. The result is more flavourful, tender steak.
“It’s also tastes a little different because the concentrated flavour brings out more of the nutty, buttery, livery notes,” Dabic says.
The restaurant uses corn-fed USDA prime beef along with organic beef from Paradise Farms (steaks range from $28-$64). Other local suppliers include Cookstown Greens.
“We’ll portion out the best cuts for our steaks and we’ll dry age them in-house. The other portions that we don’t use for cuts, we create pastas, burgers.”
Sous-chef Steve Morsi, who recently at spent time cooking at Sorento, handles the Italian side of the menu, while the other sous-chef, Adam Hijazi (George, Buca), takes care of cold dishes and food presentation. Head chef Boris Babic, the former opening chef at A1 Autostrada, handles the grilling.
Seared yellowfin tuna with organic salad, marinated honey mushrooms and a soft-boiled quail egg ($23)
A popular dish, Morsi says, is the lobster ravioli ($29): five pieces of ravioli in a lobster broth, served with saffron sauce and garnished with a butter-poached lobster tail.
The venison ($39) is a fusion of European cuisines. The meat is wrapped in caul fat, like a crépinette, and seared to order. It comes with German spätzle and an apple chutney that’s infused with grain mustard and wine.
Despite the glamour at Michael’s, there’s also a cozy, down-home quality in the fine touches Dabic has put in. He’s quick to point out the artwork made by his event and marketing coordinator, Misha Masek, that’s hanging on the walls. And his wife, Kym Boyle, arranges fresh-cut orchids for the restaurant each week.
“It’s very organic,” Dabic says. “We do things from within.”
Michael’s On Simcoe, 100 Simcoe St., 416 260-5100