Earlier this summer we previewed Acadia, a new venture by first-time restaurateur Scott Selland (Splendido, Colborne Lane, Susur) aimed at introducing the flavours of the Lowcountry and the South to the city. The restaurant opened without much fanfare in late July, but has already seen a lot of buzz in the industry. We ventured back to the corner of College and Clinton to check out how Acadia is doing on its promise to shake up Little Italy’s complacent dining scene.
Selland has transformed the crowded mahogany interior of the space’s predecessor, Langolino, into an airy and minimalist southern country home. The wood-panelled split-level room is bright, with bronze wall sconces and exposed bricks. Selland’s wife, Lindsay, picked out the dark, refinished hostess stand, side stations and antique soda siphons. At the heart of the long dining room is a custom-designed stainless steel–covered bar that draws the eyes towards Acadia’s open kitchen, where patrons can see chef de cuisine Matt Blondin (Colborne Lane, Senses, Rain) and his crew at work.
Blondin’s cuisine takes familiar southern flavours and reinterprets them in a meticulously plated contemporary style. The food highlights the high-quality ingredients that Blondin brings in, such as the Anson Mills grits from Carolina and the Ocean Wise–certified shrimp used in Acadia’s shrimp and grits ($12). Acadia’s menu also relies heavily on east-coast seafood supplied by purveyors such as Taro Fish and Hooked and featured in mains like the Kolapore Springs speckled trout ($19), which is served with oyster mayonnaise, sunchoke relish, charred scallion and sea asparagus.
Acadia’s drink menu, meanwhile, is a carefully curated list of spirits, craft beers from small producers and southern cuisine–inspired cocktails. That means a heavy emphasis on bourbon, of course. State Lines ($14) mixes the distinctively southern spirit with Aperol, sweet vermouth and a maraschino cherry. Rarer varieties like the Eagle Rare Single Barrel ($13) or a 12-year-old Elijah Craig ($12) are probably better consumed neat.
Both Blondin and Selland tell us that their small, focused menu will evolve organically, with dishes shifting gradually as the season changes. “We push each other quite a bit; to always be excelling and improving in what we do,” Selland told us. “We have many exciting ideas bouncing around, but the ones that will come to fruition, only time will tell. At the end of the day it’s our call—we don’t put any limitations on ourselves. We both have the mindset that we’ll do anything once.”
Acadia Restaurant, 50C Clinton St., 416-792-6002, acadiarestaurant.com.