Crème is one of those hidden restaurants that you can't see from the main streets of Yorkville - it's hidden in one of the side streets between Cumberland St. and Yorkville Ave. However, when you find it, it's really picturesque outside and nice and cosy inside.
Inside the Crème Brasserie
When we entered the restaurant, the owner/manager was in front offering to seat us and take our coats. He was very polite and accommodating and we were really pleased until we saw the other group in the restaurant - which was a huge party of about 20+ people seated. So we had a bit of a wait for our appetizer course (since they had to be served first), but we still got good service (i.e. refilled on bread 3 times) and the other courses came out in good time after the appetizer course.
From the Winterlicious menu, I ordered the Grilled Calamari with asparagus spears, tomatoes and olives with balsamic reduction. The calamari was ok - slightly on the gummy side because I think it was too overcooked. The sauce and balsamic reduction combination was done really well - the sauce balanced out the slight bitterness of the balsamic and together with the calamari was great! The asparagus spears were were charred.
Instead of frites, I asked for a substitution of vegetables and I got crisp and crunchy green beans & a few carrots, a spinach mix - which was cold but quite good, and the steak was on top of a bed of cabbage mix which was like sauerkraut but not sour or bitter.
I liked the portion size of my steak and it was nicely done at medium. The steak was full-flavoured and juicy and each bite was good and not too chewy for me. Unfortunately, my friend's steak was burnt on top and she had to try to skim the top to avoid the burnt flavour and she found her steak chewy despite it being cooked medium rare - not very consistent quality.
Lastly, for dessert, I had the chocolate crepes with strawberries, banana, caramel and cointreau. There was a disproportionate amount of strawberries and bananas in my crepe: 1 full slice of banana on top and 3 tiny chunks of banana inside the crepe and the rest were strawberries. The actual crepe was nice, but I didn't quite get the chocolate flavour I was expecting and I was glad that there was chocolate sauce to help enhance it. I think a better choice would have been the crème brule with the wine poached plum on top.
Conclusion: It was a good meal, but I'm not sure I'd come back and pay $35 (excluding tax & tip) for the three-course meal. It just seemed too pricey and we weren't blown away by the food.