Birthday Dinner: Harbour Sixty

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
My friends Ronsee, Chelsea, and Corrado took me out for an early birthday dinner on Sunday night at Harbour Sixty (a restaurant I'd been wanting to try for ages). I don't write about a lot of my food adventures here anymore (they are mostly captured on my Instagram nowadays), but as long-time followers will know, birthday dinner posts are tradition here. Harbour Sixty is definitely a classic steakhouse, and even though the dress code is business casual, it has a very old-world upscale feel with a marbled lobby, brocade detailing, gilded mirrors, velvet banquettes, and dim lighting.

Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

The table is presented with a variety of warm, toasty breads in a basket, a dish of whipped herbed butter, and a little platter of nibbles that includes cubes of feta, pickled peppers, and black and green olives. We decided to start off by sharing the buffalo mozzarella salad, which features torn mozzarella, field tomatoes, arugula, olive oil, basil, and capers. I personally prefer thick cuts of mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes (like the one at Wolfgang's) over the more deconstructed version at Harbour Sixty, but the cheese and tomatoes are fresh and flavourful and those who like caprese salad will be able to appreciate it.

Porterhouse Steak

It's hard to beat the quality of the top steakhouses in NYC, but Harbour Sixty definitely has the best steak I've had in Toronto so far (however, I haven't been to Jacob & Co. Steakhouse yet, which is more contemporary and more expensive, but more widely lauded and has higher ratings). The porterhouse I had was gigantic, more than enough for two people to share, and so makes the $70 price tag a little easier to stomach. It was a truly gorgeous, perfectly cooked medium rare steak: thick, ultra-tender, plush red centre, beautiful flavour, and spectacularly juicy. (And maintains this integrity even after re-heating, which I did at home for dinner the next day.) While Harbour Sixty has an excellent variety of seafood as well, it would be a waste to come here without eating the steak.

White Truffle Mac & Cheese

Buttermilk Fried Cauliflower

Since Harbour Sixty is a classic steakhouse and steaks are served as standalone items, we ordered a couple of sides as well, the first of which was the white truffle mac and cheese. It is definitely tasty, but not the best (that honour goes to the version at Prohibition Gastropub) — I think using a sharper cheese and a smaller pasta (maybe using actual macaroni instead of large shell pasta) would add flavour that I think it's lacking — though it does have that satisfying crunchy outer layer that is essential in any good mac and cheese dish, and has a good amount of truffle. The second side, and a must-have from here, is the buttermilk fried cauliflower, a dish I have have not found on any menu before. Crisp cauliflower is delicately coated and deep-fried, leaving a beautiful golden finish and satisfying crunch, and served with hot sauce and blue cheese buttermilk dressing to add an amazing harmony of tangy and spicy flavours. It is the perfect side to any of the steaks here.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

Nutella Banana Cheesecake

Finally, dessert! We decided on the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée and the Nutella Banana Cheesecake. The custard in the crème brûlée was soft and plush and pleasantly eggy with a perfect crunchy caramelized shell, and served with fresh berries to add some tartness and texture. It's a great option who want a dessert option that's not too heavy. But the Nutella Banana Cheesecake is the star on the dessert menu, a perfect marriage of flavours from the caramelized bananas, to the chocolate-hazelnut crémeux, to the Oreo cookie crust. The cheesecake is smooth and creamy and not overly dense, but it is still substantial, so I recommend this to share (if you even make it to dessert, 'cause we were almost-about-to-explode full after our steaks).

Service was impeccable; our server was knowledgeable, friendly, and accommodating, but not too stiff or uptight. He was attentive but it never felt like he was interrupting, and he never missed a beat. When a glass of wine or a plate of food was finished, he removed the it from the table like a ninja (e.g. without us even noticing him). He made sure to make me feel special by wishing me a happy birthday and adding a candle to my dessert and really making sure everything was to my liking. I would definitely visit Harbour Sixty again; it's perfect for all special occasions, from a birthday to a date to even a business dinner. 

Harbour Sixty
60 Harbour Street
Toronto, ON M5J 1B7
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