Riverside's newest dining destination is courtesy of a food famous TV duo. Chef Lynn Crawford and designer Cherie Stinson, Restaurant Makeover alumni, crafted their own makeover of The Citizen. Along with Stinson's partner-husband, Joey Skeir, they eradicated the utilitarian stainless steel look out front in exchange for more dining space. The open room retains the essential long bar and the bright, open kitchen gives you a chance to see Crawford cooking up close and personal with her team.
The menu changes daily and it's a four course $49 prix fixe deal. The courses are served family style in the middle of the table in cherry red Le Creuset pots and platters. Our dinner starts off with fresh churned butter and scrumptious chive biscuits. Yes... they make the butter in house. Our first course is a beautifully composed beet and arugula salad with herb goat cheese and toasted pistachios. Light, refreshing and positively frilly, the peppery baby arugula tiptoes with sweet beets and creamy cheese.
Our cheese course is a primer in sourcing great local products. The creamy Firecracker Cheddar really needs nothing except the toasts, but the celery heart salad and tomato chutney are picnic-y touches. My guest, Victor, a globetrotting hospitality specialist, agrees that we must have some whisky with the excellent cheddar. Our server doesn't hesitate to offer us single malts, but in retrospect, I think that an award winning whisky from John Hall (Forty Creek) would be a perfect match to support the local agenda.
With spring in the air, cupcakes seem de rigueur. La Crawford's are Devil's Food with insanely yummy silky cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut. We're about to pack up and leave and she reads my mind, asking, "Would you like some to go"... I should've asked our local star to autograph the box?
Atmosphere: Laid back sophistication
Surprise,Surprise: Lots of media types and Rosedale escapees
Wheelchair Access: Yes
Hint: Zoltan Szabo's local wine list is thoughtfully sourced
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
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