Jay Carter spent a decade cooking under Susur and two years as exec chef at Centro before striking out on his own. His dad helped renovate a former bar into a cramped but elegantly understated room of polished concrete, softly lit marble tables, and exposed heritage brick that shows the ghostly traces of long-gone beams and staircases. His first menu is only nine items long and betrays a Scandinavian influence, like a salad of smoked trout, oniony cream, dill, microgreens and salty pops of roe, or cubes of confit chicken under a crunchy blanket of toasted rye. Not all of his experiments succeed: a daily special of white fish is perfectly poached but overpowered by a zealous dusting of smoked paprika. Orange zest and a puddle of crème fraiche elevates a humble walnut tea cake into the sublime.
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1 At Fika, his Scandinavian-style café in Kensington Market, Splendido chef Victor Barry makes the city’s sweetest scones, with cranberries studded throughout and Swedish Dansukker sugar across the golden top. $3. 28 Kensington Ave., fika.ca.
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1 Margaret Peters of Glengarry Fine Cheese makes Lankaaster, a firm, buttery gouda-style cow’s milk cheese that took top prize at the Global Cheese Awards in Somerset, England, in 2013. $6.50 for 100 grams. Cheese Boutique, 45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292.
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1 At Bar Buca, pictured above, chef Rob Gentile mixes fresh pig’s blood into the batter for his crêpes, then slathers them with dark chocolate, cream and a spiced liquor. It’s wacky and ridiculously indulgent. 75 Portland St., 416-599-2822.
These nightspots nail the trendy Boardwalk Empire vibe
1 At the Parkdale gin mill Geraldine, pictured above, the retro cocktails are a safe choice, but the absinthe fountain is more fun: the emerald elixir is available straight or in a slushie with fig syrup, crushed ice, bitters and fresh mint. 1564 Queen St. W., 647-352-8815.
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1 Two restaurants in a handsome 19th-century building are reviving surf and turf. The Chase’s fifth floor dining room, pictured above, is conspicuously glam, with chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows and lovely, view-heavy terrace. 10 Temperance St., 647-348-7000.
Boutique meat shops that sell impeccably sourced cuts
1 Sanagan’s Meat Locker, Kensington Market’s cult-followed butcher shop, pictured above, sells the usual staples (Berkshire and Tamworth pork, dry-aged Angus beef), as well as some more daring proteins, like rabbit, quail and wild boar. 176 Baldwin St., 416-593-9747.
Tower of Power: who lives where at One Bedford, the new downtown address of choice for uptown potentates
In the three years since it was completed, One Bedford, the 32-storey monolith above, has become de facto HQ for tastemakers in business, media, arts and politics. Chalk it up to its location at the nexus of three high-rent neighbourhoods, which allows residents to self-identify as posh Yorkvillers, U of T brainiacs or quinoa-munching Annexers as needed. One of the latest big-name tenants to join the party is the mayor. Here’s who he calls neighbour.
Paid: $19 million ($37,000 an hour)
Bang for Buck: He’s reliable and not injury-prone, but he’s in the twilight of his career and no R. A. Dickey.
Before opening this peculiar but ultimately rewarding Japanese bistro, the chef Tetsuya Shimizu spent 12 years studying kaiseki in Tokyo and two years in the kitchen at Yours Truly, the recently shuttered molecular gastronomy restaurant on Ossington. Both inform his set-course dinners of seven or nine dishes, which are by turns traditional (a pot of dashi tea poured tableside over a slice of yellowtail sashimi, the heat of the liquid slowly poaching the luscious fish) and experimental (a Gehry-esque scattering of fall veg—roasted beets, blanched beans, pickled squash—comes dressed with a bacon-infused snow and a tofu–Grana Padano smear). Awkward, inarticulate servers have a tough time explaining each complicated plate’s constituent elements. One night’s highlight: a fantastically tender roast duck breast with rounds of confit leek, their crispy, chip-like exterior hiding a dense and deeply oniony core. Desserts, like a silky panna cotta layered with wafers of crunchy feuilletine, are comparatively simple. The room, formerly J.P. Challet’s Ici Bistro, has been stripped of its francophilia, the only décor an orchid in the window, while the plink-plonk-plink of Herbie Hancock makes an apt accompaniment to the meandering meal.