In restaurant years, making it to the five year mark is a laudable accomplishment. Indian Rice Factory, one of the city’s first destinations for authentic subcontinental cuisine, lasted almost half a century. The culinary landmark, known for its slow-simmered curries and Indian street snacks, is closing after 43 years at the corner of Dupont and Howland. The news comes three years after the death of owner and chef Amar Patel, who has been credited by notable foodies like James Chatto and Joanne Kates with kick-starting Toronto’s ethic dining scene. The closure, which also includes the restaurant’s year-old Chai Bar, was relayed yesterday over Twitter: “To our dearest guests & friends: We have closed our retail operations. Thank you for over 43 years of wonderful memories. Namaste.” [BlogTO]
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The Cookbook Store, the 30-year-old shop at Yonge and Yorkville, is moving out of its digs to make way for—you guessed it—condos. Since opening in 1983, the foodie institution has done more than just sell cookbooks. It’s served as an unofficial hub for Toronto food enthusiasts, both amateur and professional, who come for its packed schedule of classes and events, including molecular gastronomy workshops, food-focused symposia and celebrity book signings (including four epic visits from culinary matriarch Julia Child). Construction on the 58-storey building is expected to begin before the end of 2014, and the developer says he’s open to the possibility of having the store return as a tenant. In the meantime, owner Alison Fryer is wistful but pragmatic: “Sure, there’s a real nostalgia to it,” she told reporters. “But, you know, we can recreate that.” [Toronto Star]
After two years and a few conceptual hiccups, it was three feet of sewage backup that dealt the fatal blow to Keriwa, one of the city’s few Native Canadian restaurants (and number four on Toronto Life’s Best New Restaurants list in 2012). The Parkdale eatery suffered extensive damage in July’s flood and, despite keeping diners’ hopes buoyed through the summer with the occasional “reopening soon” tweet, opted recently to remain closed for good. Luckily, owner and chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe has another project keeping him occupied. He’s working with a handful of silent partners to launch Wine Academy, a private wine cellar and members-only social club opening at Bay and Richmond next spring. Catering exclusively to Toronto oenophiles, the 7,000-square-foot space will include temperature-controlled wine cellars where members can store their bottles, as well as cushy boardrooms and lounges designed for tastings, seminars and low-key swilling sessions. Robe, of course, is overseeing the food, but fans of Keriwa’s bannock burgers and bison pemmican won’t find them here
—the menu will likely stick to cheese and charcuterie.
A-OK Foods, the Asian snack bar on Queen West, is closing at the end of October. A-OK helped fill the culinary void last fall when sister restaurant Yours Truly switched to a tasting-menu-only format: diners looking for a low-key meal headed to the new spin-off for chef Chris Jang’s homemade ramen and Asian-fusion snacks, like crunchy Korean chicken wings and addictively sloppy Korean-Mexican sandwiches stuffed with bulgogi and guac. A-OK’s owners are staying mum about what, if anything, will be moving into the space. Based on the teasing sign-off in their desperado-style departure video, we’re optimistic that something cool may be in the works. [The Grid]
Didier, the Yonge Street bistro from Master Chef Didier Leroy, is closing. The midtown restaurant, which opened in
2000 2004, catered to an Old Toronto set with all the trappings of a traditional Parisian dining room: oak-panelled walls, Edith Piaf and a menu of impeccable soufflés, terrines and tartares. Unrelated to the closure, Didier made headlines last month when a Toronto Justice of the Peace was suspended for improperly influencing the restaurant’s city health inspection. The bistro will serve its last meal on August 31.
Le Matin, the French bakery from Ici Bistro chef and culinary jack-of-all-trades J.P. Challet, is closed. The little pastry shop at Queen and Jones was the east-end’s answer to Clafouti on Queen West: a neighbourhood destination for baguettes, quiche and buttery Sunday morning croissants. Challet hopes to reopen the bakery at a new location sometime in the next six months. Until then, regulars will have to get their sweet fix at nearby Bobette and Belle or Brick Street.
The restaurant from the former chef of Fishbar on Ossington opened last summer to positive reviews for its dainty fish charcuterie and other West coast seafood dishes, as well as its commitment to sustainability. But like a handful of restaurants before it at 890 College, including popular neighbourhood brunch spot Mitzi’s, Red Fish shut its doors earlier this summer. [Red Fish]
Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken, the snack bar–bakery hybrid on Queen East, is closing this week to make way for a second outpost of midtown café Delica Kitchen, which is run by the same owner. Paulette’s earned raves when it opened last summer, both for its retro aesthetic and hedonistic menu of crispy fried fowl, chicken skin–topped mac ’n cheese and pastel doughnuts in flavours like Blueberry Balsamic and Rootbeer Float. Paulette’s doughnuts will continue to be sold online and at both Delica locations. Fans of the shop’s savoury lineup, however, are out of luck. [The Grid]
If there’s one thing Toronto restaurateur and power-tweeter Jen Agg knows, it’s how to keep things interesting. Since the launch of her game-changing snout-to-tail restaurant The Black Hoof in 2008, Agg has rapidly expanded her brand along the once-dingy stretch of Dundas just east of Trinity Bellwoods, producing a brunch destination with lineups that would make today’s most in-demand breakfast spots envious; a cocktail bar that sparked the $18 Manhattan trend; and, most recently, Hoof Raw Bar, the pescatarian ying to The Black Hoof’s carnivorous yang. Now, despite rave reviews, Hoof Raw Bar and its weekend brunch pop-up Hoof Café have closed, to be reinvented come September as a restaurant called Rhum Corner. The new spot was inspired by Agg’s Haitian husband Roland Jean and will serve Haitian staples like fish, pork belly and rice and beans, and quality rum by the quarter, half and full bottle. [The Grid]
For over a month, Leslieville meat shop Sausage Partners has been suspiciously “closed for renovations.” Now Rosedale butcher Olliffe has announced that they’ve acquired the Queen East storefront, where they’ll run a retail store and a wholesale meat plant to supply restaurants and other food shops (Kyle and Lorraine Deming, the husband-and-wife owners of Sausage Partners, are not involved). The Queen East location, which is opening Tuesday, will be the chain’s third—in 2011, they took over Sausage King in St. Lawrence Market.
Restaurateurs Gregory Furstoss and Tory Yang took to Twitter over the weekend to announce that they’re shuttering Toronto’s only Alsatian restaurant. The couple launched Elle M’a Dit in 2011, kicking off a small restaurant renaissance along Baldwin Street, but have decided to close due to a private family issue. Yang says they hope to launch another restaurant in a year or so, and that a new Mexican place will move into the Elle M’a Dit space following a final, tasting-menu-only dinner on April 27.
On the same day that the ROM revealed that it’s closing C5, The Gardiner Museum, across the street, announced its own changing of the guard. On April 29, Jamie Kennedy is handing over control of the casual Gardiner Café to long-running Toronto caterer À la Carte Kitchen, though Kennedy will stay on as preferred caterer for weddings and other private events. The museum was previously the site of Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner, the chef’s flagship fine dining restaurant, which he closed in 2009 during a previous contraction of his culinary empire.
After six years, two head chefs and a dramatic culinary shift, the restaurant on the top floor of the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal will serve its last dinner on April 30. When C5 launched in 2007, chef Ted Corrado created an ambitious, decidedly high-end menu full of molecular flourishes (one characteristic appetizer: cured, compressed and shaved butternut squash with a citrus tea syrup and crumbled caramelized cream) that landed the restaurant on our list of the city’s best in 2009. But despite early critical praise, the pricey plates couldn’t fill the dining room, and in late 2011, The Compass Group (the foodservice giant operating the restaurant) reversed course and brought in celeb chef Corbin Tomaszeski, who jettisoned Corrado’s fussy preparations for cheaper, more approachable dishes (think flatbreads and BLTs). The Compass Group recently terminated its contract with the ROM, which is now in the process of finding a new provider to take over the space by the end of the year.
Riverside’s The Avro is shutting down after three years on the strip, following a request from its landlord for double the rent. In a farewell note on the bar’s website (complete with a ticking countdown clock), the owners reminisce about the comedy shows, indie film shoots and video game tournaments they hosted, and, naturally, draw comparisons to the demise of the place’s famous namesake. The Avro’s last service will be on April 26, and as promised, there are no plans to reopen at a new location. [The Avro]