A chocolate bomb at STOCK restaurant in Toronto disintegrated in front of the eyes of the beholders. One minute there it was, a complete tennis ball-sized beauty. The next, with hot chocolate sauce being poured over, it, well, melted. But then there was so much going on in this absolutely-packed restaurant on the 31st floor of the luxury hotel right at the hub of Toronto’s business district, Trump International Hotel & Tower, at the south-east corner of Adelaide and Bay Streets. The gal was making her first visit, and she knew the restaurant has it own Chocolate Lab, run by patissier David Chow. She also knew that the restaurant is popular not only with business tycoons making deals over breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also with other groups. Last Saturday, March 23rd, 2013, for instance, wedding planner Jane Dayus-Hinch hosted a Bon Vivant brunch here as part of the hotel’s Wedding Showcase.
It is safe to bet that those blushing beauties would have succumbed to Mr Chow’s chocolate trolley, which is wheeled up to present a cornucopia of bonbons and other goodies – as if there had not already been enough food, and all of it truly excellent. There is a worrying trend throughout North America right now that chefs are forgetting they are preparing food. These practitioners think they should be disguising basic food as art works. Fortunately Todd Clarmo and his team here at STOCK offer chef-designed dishes but the menu also has basics, say outstanding Pennsylvania Amish steaks with your choice of sauce, sides and add-ons, perhaps caviar or truffle. One outstanding meal started with a chef’s amuse, a bite of foie gras, went on to salmon tartare topped by avocado purée, and finished with a ribeye. Simply – marvellous.
STOCK is the brainchild of three marvellous ladies. Inna Levitan is co-owner of the 65-floor building (which includes the stunning 261-room Trump hotel), Ivanka Trump of course put a word in here and there, and they asked the top food consultant in North America, if not in the world, Elizabeth Blau to help with the concept. The designers, local guys Dan Menchions and Keith Rushbrooke, of course were instrumental too, but I guess it was the ladies who had the upper hand from the beginning. It is a two-floor-high space, with most of the area rising the full height. There are 80 seats here, lovely near-black leather chairs, looking so good on a fumed-oak wood floor. Big picture windows give a sky-high view over Toronto’s central business district (for which read ‘money’).
Just under half the whole area has a half-way up upper level. Underneath, that end of the restaurant is a cosy bar. The thing to do is to dine, and when you have finally finished chocolating to heaven, or wherever, move along to this end, for a nightcap. You could always order something up from the Scotch collection in the bar on the main floor, far below. The top-priced label currently is 40-year old Bowmore. If you need to ask the price it is not for you. The acoustics are brilliant. Sit here and you can hear a buzz of others’ conversations but you cannot make out any individual words.
What happens when doting mums bring little Agatha and her friends for a noisy meal? No problem.
Go up 20 stone steps, above the cosy area, and you find yourself in the upper gallery, which has 40 seats and stunning views. Mostly you look down into the main room – lots of fun, you can see who is going bald since his last sighting. But when they have Agatha’s party, or groups of high financiers or movie backers who do not want their words of wisdom to be overheard, you merely pull across soundproof glass walls. Brilliant, yet again. No wonder this is such a popular place. Even at breakfast, you could sense deals were being done over Greek yoghurt and Poilâne-type toast, and singles have, unusually for Canada, a supply of newspapers that includes foreign names, including the Financial Times and New York Times.
and spa remain the Now that this luxury hotel is truly up and running and jolly successful, food overall responsibility of the gorgeous Inna Levitan. How did it all come about, I ask? Well, she says with her typical big warm smile, I wanted something just like my own home. The leather-look acidized counter tops in the bathrooms are, she says, exactly what she has, at Chez Levitan – but they are in her kitchen. I want to know more.