Toronto Life - The Dish

The latest buzz on restaurants, chefs, bars, food shops and food events. Sign up for the Dish newsletter for weekly updates. Send tips to thedish@torontolife.com

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

Ossington’s most ambitious restaurant says farewell with a 20-course feast

(Image: Yours Truly/Facebook)

(Image: Yours Truly/Facebook)

Yours Truly, the Ossington restaurant known for its gorgeous tasting meals, will be saying farewell to the strip in characteristically sumptuous style. On Tuesday, September 30, the restaurant will host “Last Seating,” a 20-course tasting feast showcasing chef Lachlan Culjak’s uniquely whimsical approach to fine dining, with emphasis on cuisine from his native Nova Scotia. The dinner will be co-hosted by Peter J. Gamble, the head wine consultant at Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge winery, and the $200 price tag includes wine and cocktail pairings (but not for all 20 courses, because that would be ridiculous). If you’re interested, don’t dither—seats are sure to fill up fast.

Sept. 30. $200. Yours Truly, 229 Ossington Ave., 416-533-2243

The Dish

Food News

Comments

A U of T professor is fêted (well, sort of) at Harvard for his study about seeing Jesus in toast

whos-noticing-us-nowProfessor Kang Lee was part of the Chinese-Canadian research coalition behind “Seeing Jesus in toast,” one of several studies honoured at Thursday’s Ig Nobel Prize awards, an annual Nobel Prize parody hosted by Harvard University and produced by “science humour” magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Lee’s study examined the physiological basis for people’s propensity to spot the messiah’s mug on their breakfast burrito, or Kate Middleton’s face on a jellybean. (Lee’s study concludes that humans are basically wired to interpret faces wherever there’s even the tiniest hint of face-iness.) According to the Globe, Lee’s fellow honourees included scientists exploring the slipperiness of banana peels, the effectiveness of shoving pork up one’s nostrils to mitigate nosebleeds and the reactions of reindeer to humans dressed up in polar bear suits.

The Dish

New Reviews

Comments

Review: Los Colibris brings sophisticated Mexican cuisine to a touristy strip of King West

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Los Colibris 3 star
220 King St. W., 416-979-7717
Los Colibris 3 star
220 King St. W., 416-979-7717

If your relationship to Mexican food extends no further than taco joints run by gringo hipsters, then it’s time to experience the joys of Mexican cuisine as interpreted by chef Elia Herrera. She presents the dishes of her native Veracruz with technique and polish in a dining room that’s just as sophisticated (the highlight is the bar with its elaborate tile mosaic depicting hummingbirds drinking nectar from flowers).

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

4 Comments

The Banh Mi Boys spin-off on Spadina is closed
(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

 

Lucky Red lasted barely two months, which has to be some kind of record in the restaurant-folding department. There seemed to be a few issues off the bat, the most fatal of which may have been that the snack shop looked, felt and tasted pretty similar to its sister (or, brother?) restaurant, Banh Mi Boys, which happens to have a location just around the corner, on Queen West. Earlier this month, the fraternal trio behind the restaurant—David, Phil and Peter Chau—announced that Lucky Red would be “closed until further notice,” but would eventually reopen “as a full-service restaurant and bar” after a period of construction. Based on the cacophonous din emanating nightly from Peoples Eatery just down the street, the trendy-snack-bar route certainly seems like the way to go.

The Dish

Coffee and Tea

Comments

A cute Scandinavian-style coffee shop joins the Junction’s café ranks

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

With seven cafes, a juice bar, a CrossFit gym and Diane Keaton visits, it’s safe to say the Junction is at gentrification capacity. Regardless, cafés and specialty shops keep popping up like mushrooms. Last week, Kim Samuelsen opened a one-room, Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop—named Kaffebar—after ditching her corporate financial consulting gig. A shiny La Marzocco espresso machine looms over the six-stool room, formerly a Harley-Davidson service centre. Pilot coffee and Tealish teas conform to the established indie café code; luckily, ubiquitous Circles and Squares baked goods are nowhere in sight—muffins, biscotti, cookies and cardamom-spiced cinnamon buns are all baked by Samuelsen in the little back kitchen.

Kaffebar, 2830 Dundas St. W., 647-388-0188

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

More details on Chantecler chef Jonathan Poon’s new Queen West restaurant

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

Last week, we broke the news that Chantecler chef and co-owner Jonathan Poon was the man behind the mysterious golden storefront pictured above, near the corner of Queen and Shaw. Now we’ve got some more details about Bar Fancy—which, it turns out, is something of a misnomer.

“Despite the name Fancy, we are not going to be fancy at all,” says Poon, whose meticulous tasting meals at Chantecler are some of the best and most coveted in the city. Fancy is going to be different, at least initially—more neighbourhood watering hole than trendy restaurant, with pints and simple mixed drinks instead of $15 cocktails. The food will consist mainly of bar snacks (both traditional and nontraditional) and, in keeping with the dive bar theme, the kitchen will stay open until 2 a.m.

That’s just the beginning though. Once a planned extension to the building is complete, the space will also function as a full-on restaurant. When asked if the vibe will be casual or fine-dining, Poon is noncommittal. “The answer is probably both,” he says. He and business partner Jesse Fader have lots of plans for the space, including events and collaborations with restaurants and breweries from Ontario, Quebec, New York and even Europe. The low-key bar portion of the business should be up and running by the end of 2014.

Bar Fancy, 1070 Queen St. W., @BarFancyTO

The Dish

Restaurants

4 Comments

French Immersion: Cluny is a belle époque fantasia of marble, mirrors and giant portions

Cluny, an ambitious new bistro in the Distillery District, elevates the neighbourhood’s ho-hum restaurant scene

The Critic: French Immersion

Top: Cluny’s dramatic coffered ceiling, intricate tiled floor and crusty house-baked loaves laid out on a central bread station add up to a supersized Parisian bistro; Bottom (left): A rich veal meatball, pierced tomahawk-style with a rib-eye bone, is offset by a bright tomato sauce; Bottom (right): The menu offers six options for steak frites

Cluny Bistro 1 star½
35 Tank House Ln., 416-203-2632
How our star system works »

Fifteen years ago, arts degree in hand and no prospects in sight, I took a job as a background extra in the first X-Men movie. It sounded exciting, especially the $250 a day, which was a suspiciously high compensation for someone with no acting experience. I arrived at a set in the defunct Gooderham and Worts distillery on ­Parliament, and followed my fellow extras into a warehouse where we were given scratchy woolen prison outfits and had our heads shaved. It turned out we were playing inmates in a concentration camp for a flashback scene with the villain ­Magneto. This left me uneasy, and I considered grabbing my stuff and fleeing—until I remembered the money. I spent the next three days in ankle-deep mud, drenched by rain machines, wondering what the whiskey barons would have made of all of it. The movie’s final cut includes a split-second shot of what I believe to be my forearm.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

New Reviews

Comments

Review: strong cocktails and excellent fusion food at Rasa in Harbord Village

Introducing: Rasa

(Image: Megan Leahy)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Rasa 2 star
196 Robert St., 647-350-8221
Rasa 2 star
196 Robert St., 647-350-8221

The owners of Toronto’s Food Dudes catering, known for trendy comfort-fusion food, have overhauled the Harbord Street space formerly occupied by U of T haunt Momo’s. The subterranean room now resembles a civil war–era cabin, with its exposed pipes, stonework and bulbs, plus ruddy wood cladding. The 50-seat wraparound patio is reason enough to visit, looking out onto the restaurant strip’s sidewalk filled with posh couples stepping out of cabs, cyclists locking up and professorial types walking their doodle mixes. The menu is all over the culinary map: the 20 sharing plates range from delicate and fresh, like Asian-inspired yuzu albacore cubes on squid-ink brioche, to stick-to-your-ribs hearty, like a Korean-Ukranian kalbi steak cabbage roll. That diversity, along with touches of exuberance, make ordering fun, even if it’s difficult to put together a harmonious meal.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

2 Comments

Remys rooftop reopens as “Montage,” just in time for fall

(Rendering: Thunder Alley Group)

(Rendering: Thunder Alley Group)

Anyone who’s been grieving the loss of Yorkville’s longstanding rooftop bar can breathe a sigh of relief: the patio formerly known as Remys Yorkville is finally reopening, albeit in modified form. Now called Montage, the building at 115 Yorkville Avenue has been turned into a fancy restaurant and lounge with designated members-only areas, access to which can apparently be purchased for a hefty annual fee. The restaurant won’t be open until later this year, but the revamped rooftop area—complete with private cabanas and bottle service—officially “premiered” last weekend, just in time for the end of TIFF and the beginning of autumn. As for the overall vibe, the Montage website offers this: “Fly to the moon and play among the stars up on this vast rooftop space limited only by our Yorkville neighbours and your imagination. Sit, stir or be stirred; the choice is yours.” So, there you have it. Judging by some other aspects of the website, guests can also expect lots of quasi-Roman symbology and sexy ladies smoking cigars.
 
Montage, 115 Yorkville Ave., 416-968-9429, montageyorkville.com

The Dish

The Ridiculist

3 Comments

Seven totally bonkers burgers from a new patty shop in Woodbine Heights

Seven totally bonkers burgers from East York's newest patty shop

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Hole-E Burger Bar, a new restaurant on Coxwell Avenue just north of East York, gets its name from the trio of holes stamped into every patty cooked on the kitchen’s flattop. Owners Justin Lebofsky and Sam Gan claim that the perforations help ensure an even cook. Also, the tri-pronged contraption used to make the holes doubles as a flavour injector, allowing sauces to be piped directly into the meat. The ingenuity doesn’t stop there—these teetering stacks come topped with things like crushed nachos, mounds of mashed potatoes and, in a few cases, something called a “cheese skirt.” Here, seven of Hole-E’s most creative burgers, ranked from “slightly out-there” to totally bonkers.

Hole-E Burger Bar, 1050 Coxwell Ave., 647-349-9200, holeeburger.com

The Dish

New Reviews

2 Comments

Review: Portland Variety is a low-key surprise on clubby King West

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Portland Variety 2 star½
587 King St. W., 416-368-5151

This serene new tapas bar is a delightfully low-key surprise in the middle of the King West fracas. (Imagine the also-good Patria just up the street but without the ostentation and slavish devotion to Iberian purity.) Though you wouldn’t know it on first glance. The pristine white-on-gray room is decked out in neighbourhood-appropriate tufted leather banquettes and marble, and the servers sport hokey gingham shirts bound in old-timey suspenders, but beneath the trendy veneer is a refreshingly simple and down-to-earth Spanish(ish) menu.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

Bloor Street restaurant shakes up the miniature meat pie game, with science

(Image: saetastic/Instagram)

(Image: saetastic/Instagram)

Pie Squared is a new fast-food restaurant located just west of Cabbagetown, on a somewhat lonely stretch of Bloor Street East. It’s the latest Toronto business to specialize exclusively in savoury pies, and it’s bringing two new things to the meat-and-pastry game: a whole new shape (square!) and a dorky gimmick. The shop’s tagline is “The science of the perfect pie,” and it’s the unwavering commitment to that theme that impresses: the servers wear white lab coats, the menu is laid out like the periodic table, and each crusty pocket has a fictional elemental symbol branded onto its surface (“Tc” for tandoori chicken and vegetable, “Sc” for steak and cheese). Combo “reactions” are priced between $7 to $8.50, which is pretty cheap for a filling lunch, but possibly not worth the embarrassment of ordering an “Eπ²” out loud.

Pie Squared, 366 Bloor St. E., facebook.com

The Dish

Food Events

Comments

Toronto Underground Market calls it quits (for now)

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

Like the unfortunate female crab spider, the food festival appears to have been snuffed out by its own prodigious offspring. Last Friday, TUM’s organizers announced over social media that the fest’s three-year anniversary party on Saturday, September 27 will be “the last #TUM event as we know it.”
 
When it started back in 2011, the Toronto Underground helped revitalize the city’s culinary-events scene by luring food lovers to the Evergreen Brick Works to sample dishes prepped by aspiring chefs—several of whom went on to make big names for themselves. Naturally, the formula’s success gave rise to copycats, and, three years later, here we are—in a post pop-up city where it’s impossible to walk a block without tripping over an Asian street-food festival, and where TUM’s quarterly pig-outs no longer attract the hungry throngs they used to.
 
TUM’s final event at 99 Sudbury will reunite a bunch of the festival’s power-alumni, including La Carnita, Rock Lobster and Fidel Gastro. It’s not clear what will happen after that, but TUM fans may draw hope from this slightly cryptic note on the festival’s Facebook page: “Don’t worry, TUM is not going away after this celebration, just changing.”

The Dish

Openings

1 Comment

Introducing: Nodo, a stylish new Italian restaurant in the Junction

Introducing: Nodo, a stylish new Italian restaurant in the Junction

Name: Nodo
Contact Info: 2885 Dundas St W., 416-901-1559, nodorestaurant.ca
Neighbourhood: The Junction
Owners: High school friends Vito Tomasicchio, Gianmarco DeZorzi and Charlie Giordano
Chef: Roberto Marotta, the former executive chef at Parkdale’s Maialino Enoteca

The Food: Sicilian-born chef Roberto Marotta cooks Italian comfort food with some contemporary flourishes—the Terra e Bosco (“earth to forest”) platter, for instance, is artfully strewn with jewel-toned veggies and pools of creamy ricotta dressing. Gnocchi comes two ways: “new school” (with wild mushrooms and corn in a truffle-garlic cream sauce) or “old school” (tossed with Brussels sprout leaves in a wild boar ragu). The pistachio-topped cannoli is made from a secret recipe passed down by Marotta’s grandmother.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Closings

Comments

So Long, Red Tea Box
(Image: Merriam H./Yelp)

(Image: Merriam H./Yelp)

 

Queen West residents will soon have one less window to gawk at. Red Tea Box opened 14 years ago near the corner of Queen and Manning, back when the West Queen West strip was still a dodgy place to loiter after sunset. The bakery-café was known for its dainty bento box lunches, exotic loose-leaf teas and fanciful window displays of multi-tiered cakes. Now, it seems the shop is closing due to the departure of a key staff member. Management left a detailed note about the closure in the shop’s window, offering up a few words of advice: “Remember to live more, and blog less. Take the time to notice the small, the shiny and the flavourful. Farewell and keep well. Perhaps we will see you in another incarnation.” [Via BlogTO]

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement