The homophonic name and Iberian-Asian concept are stuck in the ’90s, but everything else about Richard Andino’s new restaurant feels fresh. The chef-owner has created a comfortable, welcoming setting in Maléna’s former digs, ditching the Greek taverna kitsch decor for whitewashed walls and bold art. It’s a laid-back slice of Yorkville where the patrons are as likely to be in couture as in jeans. The excellent food also avoids pretention. Sharing plates touch on the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, Japan and China. Crunchy sesame-marinated jellyfish noodles reveal complex flavours of cucumber, orange and daikon. A fiery pasta dish offers a spectacular textural contrast: al dente pappardelle in a silky fennel-veal broth accented by chicken, baby bok choy and a trio of hot peppers. An umami-dense calamansi sauce jolts tender grilled calamari. Ample, wedges of brisket are slightly tough and served with perfunctory lotus root slices and a one-note anise broth. It proves to be the only lapse of the night. Desserts are terrifically rich affairs: medallions of brioche dappled with honey and a dense, doughnutty ensaïmada pastry, both sided with house-made ice cream. The reasonably priced wine selection sticks closely to the LCBO general list. Servers are chatty and helpful with unfamiliar ingredients.
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