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Best New Restaurants 2012: No. 1 Yours Truly

Best New Restaurants 2012: 1 Yours Truly

Chef Jeff ClaudioWhen a chef comes to this city by way of some of the world’s most celebrated kitchens—New York’s Per Se, Copenhagen’s Noma, Chicago’s Alinea and Blackbird—Torontonians have astronomical expectations. Such was the case with Jeff Claudio, whose first solo restaurant opened on Ossington just in time to top this year’s list. Instead of pandering to diners with flashy, crowd-pleasing food, Claudio confidently demands trust, offering two set dinner menus (one carnivorous, one vegetarian) and a handful of superb bar snacks. For the amuse, he sends out a pickling jar containing two wrinkly black orbs that look exactly like black truffles. Breaking them open reveals they’re actually fluffy falafel—an indication of the playful high-low dishes to come. The meat menu brings such impeccably executed dishes as juicy seared trout topped with punchy migas and lovage, and a medallion of chicken wrapped in its own crisped skin and set off by puréed greens, crunchy oats and popcorn (anyone who can coax that much flavour from chicken is a miracle worker). The veggie menu will rapidly and deservedly turn Yours Truly into vegetarians’ fine dining destination of choice. There’s a little jar of subtly sweet butternut squash soup topped with Guinness foam that arrives without a spoon—a clever play on sipping a pint. It’s followed by 10 pillowy gnocchi in a four-seaweed broth flecked with horseradish. When the tables d’hôte end at 10 p.m. and the ironic electro-’80s hits are cranked up, it’s worth braving the tipsy Ossington crowds for Claudio’s bar snacks. Inari (Japanese tofu pouches), stuffed with salt cod, nori and rice and sided by tangy Kewpie mayonnaise, taste like they’ve been flown in from Japan’s best izakaya—they’re flawless sops for the expertly mixed old-fashioneds. The only predictable element is the room itself, which used to be a Galaxy Donuts and now looks like a hipsterized version of one: terrazzo floor, distressed wood–panelled walls and exposed filament bulbs. It’s all been done elsewhere, but that’s a minor quibble. Claudio achieves the rare thing every new chef hopes for: diners arrive with high expectations and leave with them exceeded. 229 Ossington Ave., 416-533-2243. See our listing for more information »

Chicken Medallion with Popcorn

(Images: Raina and Wilson)

BEST NEW RESTAURANTS 2012No. 1No. 2No. 3No. 4No. 5No. 6No. 7No. 8No. 9No. 102012
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  • Cats

    I think your writer may be related to the owners of this restaurant.Not 1 person I know who has been there enjoyed it at all. I don’t get it.

  • SWS

    So someone works at Per Se, NOMA, etc.. and throws together a goddamn chicken medallion with popcorn strewn around the plate and this is supposed to be exciting?! Good job with your pedestrian taste buds.

  • carey

    congratulations to all the restaurants that made this list.i’m sure your are all well deserving . and i’m so glad to know that there will be no other great restaurants of this quality opening anytime this year.(don’t ya think you’re a little premature as it is only March?) will check in again in “13.

  • MPW

    I love how cooks throw around names like NOMA or Alinea…how long did you work there? A weekend? Get real.

  • impeachford

    funny that on chefdb he is only listed at your truly…per se seems to have anyone who has ever been there listed except him..

  • happy

    Hey cats, check out jack astors. my pick for restaurant of the year for people with bad taste and shitty friends

  • puntangstabber

    vomit taste better than this dudes food…i know for a fact that any high end restaurant in the world does not let looser stagiers cook…u can watch and maybe prep an item in the menu but not cook any dish in full….this dude is a fraud and seems toronto life is going down the same road..

  • Elizabeth

    This is by far my favourite restaurant right now. The food is so delicious and decently priced. The staff is always so relaxed and friendly. I can’t wait to go back!!

  • Jessie

    Why are there SO many nasty people out there? Shame on you all. Get off your mouthy behinds and see about doing it yourself. Craft a good critique rather than childish, brutish insults. (Most) of you are absolutely dis-grace-ful.

    There is no Noma or Alinea in Toronto! We are all so ‘jaded’ (aka pre-tensious and self conscious and MEAN) that the forum simply isn’t here for that sort of restaurant to flourish. We are not a collaborative culture (sadly, as there is creative talent here, but talent needs time, space and support to refine), we are a nit picky bunch on the whole and wouldn’t know beauty or soulful creativity if it was dancing in front of us (or rather – what to DO with it). We have a tendency to chip away at the subtle things – that if nourished – would blossom into things of greatness. The snottiness is exhausting and only feeds our culture of mediocrity (as it all comes from a place of fear and judgement). GDM TO – relax and play a little.

  • Hi Guys

    This guy is definitely a fraud. A fraudster I tells ya. He tried to sell me a frying pan on craigslist. I went over to his 9 million dollar mansion in oakville and contrary to his ad, it was NOT induction friendly. I asked him to reimburse me with gas money and he closed the door on my face.

  • AT

    well said, Jessie. Everyone needs to get off their high horse and critique the food, not the chef’s professional history.

  • Leather Daddy

    I feel like this thread is somewhat populated by chefs and restauranteurs. I also feel like putting peanut butter on my chest.

  • YOLO

    I heard this is Drake’s favourite restaurant.

  • impeachford

    i like peanut butter but hate drake

  • scott

    I tried to make reservations for this place early on and my email (which they instructed me to contact) was not returned. Several phones messages since then have not been returned. Great way to impress!

  • Phish Phan

    I’ve never had a problem making a reservation or getting a voicemail responded to with a call from this place. This thread of comments is PHISHY.

  • mskatsam

    I read a favourable review a few months ago. Restaurant has been on my TDL. My nephew in his 20s just mentioned he ate at the restaurant on Saturday night and loved it. I am looking forward to enjoying a meal at some point. I like the idea of the chefs coming out of the kitchen to discuss the meal with me. That being said – it’s a meal> i am not entirely sure why so many above have gotten so bent out of shape. Sigh …





  • PAUL



  • Leather Daddy




  • Rebecca

    Earlier this evening, I ate at Yours Truly based on this Toronto Life post. Five minutes ago, I vomited. I still feel sick to my stomach as I write this comment and am contemplating vomiting again.

    Aside from the unpleasant aftermath of eating at Yours Truly, the dining experience itself was the worst that I have had in a long time.

    1. The wait time between tasting menu courses was inordinately and unjustifiably long. After finishing each course, I and the members of my party waited for at least 20 minutes before the next course came out. Considering that there were only 2 meal options on the menu, we were baffled by the long wait times. The meal took roughly 2.5 hours.

    2. The cauliflower soup and salad starters were so salty that I couldn’t even get through them.

    3. The aforementioned cauliflower soup reappeared later in the meal (in a poorly disguised version) as a sauce for vegetarian gnocchi. Similarly, same seasoned rice in the inari small dish reappeared later in the bream course. Eating the same things in reshaped forms throughout a meal left us feeling cheated and dissatisfied.

    I could go on, but here is the bottom line: I highly discourage anyone who doesn’t enjoy vomiting after a disappointing meal from eating at Yours Truly.

  • Grace Vitare

    What is TL thinking?? Your Truly as the #1 restaurant??
    Am I to understand that if you have a visitor from another city/country arrive to Toronto and they want to experience the BEST that Toronto has to offer in restaurants and we give them Yours Truly???? What has happened to this city??
    I’ve been twice to YT. The first time was just after 3 weeks of it’s opening (horrrible experience) and then I went again to see if they fixed their errors. They did not. The server was under-experienced, the food was mediochre and the courses took 20-30 minutes between each delivery. This was unacceptable. The cocktails read better than they taste and when we asked the server to describe a bottle of wine (from a tiny list of less than 6 in total), they simply said ‘well, it’s good’ and smirked. This IS NOT the #1 restaurant in teh city and shold NEVER be placed in alignment with other truly astonishing establishments in Toronto. What an embarassment. Toronto Life…please do something about the reviewers you have staffed. They are most likely too young and too inexperienced to truly do the job effectively.
    Keep this up and Toronto will start to lash back.
    From what I can read from the recent review comments around, the people and the industry have had enough.

  • Frank Lloyd

    Once again plate visuals and shocking combinations have usurped common sense. Toronto Life rewards this lewd sensibility and qualifies it by dropping famous restaurants names. Very sad indeed.

  • Chris

    Last night, a friend and I went to Yours Truly because of your stellar recommendation. We will not be going back for three reasons: a) we left hungry because the portion sizes are so small (and I am not a big eater); b) the wine list isn’t great and the mark-ups are ridiculous; c) it’s incredibly noisy: a small room with hard surfaces where sound bounces all over the place, plus excessively loud music. We requested it be turned down, and it was still too loud. My dining partner and I were shouting to each other over a small table in order to be heard, and it was difficult to hear the descriptions of the foods as they were being served to us. There is no menu, really. It’s a four-course prix fixe price of $45 (no more $35 menu), and you choose from a list of words on a small piece of paper, like: terroir, egg, salt cod, cote de bouef, spruce. My dining partner requested descriptions of the dishes, which the server recited to her. I said I’m an omnivore and would like the chef to choose for me, whatever he thinks is his best. The food was tasty but not memorable, and we did not think we got good value for what we were paying. The cote de bouef, for example, was a 2.5 oz piece of meat with a small dab of berry-based sauce on the side. Simply not enough food. The service was attentive, however when asked whether we were happy, we gave polite feedback about the noise level and the inadequate quantity of food, and the server simply shrugged. In short, overpriced, undervalued and uncomfortable. P.S. My friend requested bread because she was so hungry. They don’t have bread.

  • meh

    No idea how torontolife ranked this as #1. The food is at best a “meh”. The dishes are not refined. They can’t even cook a bokchoy properly, how does this guy even have those credentials.

  • Skipton Ash

    Jeff Claudio seems like something of a Hipster doofus

  • TD

    Horrific service. Seated at 7:30, asked to leave at 9:30 for another seating when there were tables available. BY THE MANAGER, just after we had ordered our after dinner tea. And we were given no warning when we sat down. I will never return and wouldn’t recommend this failed attempt at a restaurant to anyone.

  • Foodiewineguy

    I have been to Yours Truly three times for dinner, and if I were some young chap without the financial resposibilities of a child and a mortgage I would go more often. The food has consistently been fantastic, the servers actually know the menu, which is quite the oddity for a restaurant in this city, and there has always been someone friendly and knowledgeable about the wines they carry to help us pair with our meals. I don’t understand the haters here! Yes, occasionally the food takes a bit, but its worth waiting for… On my second visit I bought a round of drinks for the crew to enjoy after work and the chef himself came out to thank me. He was not like any other chef I’ve met at successful restaurants… HUMBLE, genuine and down to earth.. Zero ego. He actually showed me his kitchen, and I couldn’t believe that all those plates if food come from a kitchen the size of my kitchen in my condo.

    I wish the people that can’t stand the success of a restaurant or any business woluld shut the hell up and stop trying to harm a business that came out of nowhere and has obviously done things correctly.

    To the crew at YT, keep it up! I hope to be able to wine and dine again there soon.

  • Skipton Ash

    Hey Foodiewineguy… a nickel’s worth of free advice.
    People do know what they’re talking about. They just didn’t see what you see.
    So in the words AL Rashid… Shut your yap!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with a lot of the posts above. The food is great… can’t complain. The wait staff were pleasant. But the maitre d’ was a snob!

    We noticed if you were well dressed and look like you have money, you are greeted differently. We are not hurting for money, but unfortunately for us, we were dressed casually on the wknd. We noticed the disparity. Note a good way to greet your customers!

  • Tit Remedy

    Skipton Ash.. y u mad bro?

  • anonymous

    OMG! we just realized that there are two menus at Yours Truly. One for Toronto Life reviewers, which we had the first time we were there. And another for the rest of us, which we just experienced. Total night and day! Waste of time and money!!

  • CN

    This place delivered the best meal I have had in Toronto this year. The bartenders and server went miles out of their way to make up for the fact that we couldn’t be seated right away and had to spend about 45 minutes at the bar. The food was spectacular – I took some friends from Chicago who have eaten at Alinea and they were similarly impressed by this place. And let’s not forget that, in the scheme of things, YT is very reasonably priced. The experience was great. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  • Sweetbread

    Highly overrated. Don’t care whether chef is humble or his kitchen is tiny…we want good tasty food not just pretty to look at. Yes, service was good. Only thing I can remember is the piece of duck with lap cheong rice which is exactly the same sticky rice lotus wrap served in most dim sum restaurants. The difference …$2.50 compared to yt 55$.

  • Sweetbread

    The best way to describe the portion is …sample size portion u get at costco tasting demonstration. Am sure this type of place is more for corporate expenses.

  • Sweetbread

    Your experience were 7 mths ago, we celebrated our anniversary 5 days ago at YT. Seems like the food standard has not improved.
    Felt so ripped off n stupid. Service was good, not over the top, but decent. Food has no wow effect. My son said my king prawn pasta is way better then yt lobster pasta with kale. Bland n where is the lobster? Oh lobster bits, finished in 5 bites – $35 for this sample dish. TL where have u eaten in NYC?

  • Sweetbread

    I feel ur pain n dissappointment. A least we did not vomit but felt cheated as perfectly described by u. Black hoof is not too shabby.

  • Sweetbread

    No soto soto is his fav…he has a special table with his name on the wall.

  • Sweetbread

    Then lower the price …if he is still experimenting. Who is comparing yt with Norma n Alinea? Please, it is not even close, stop the name dropping. Yt is not even close to buca.

  • Sweetbread


  • MingVase

    Where in Toronto should be eat then? Is mentioning Buca not name dropping?

  • MingVase

    Terribly reasoning. You should be wondering why dim sum places can change so little. Do you go to Rol San and say to yourself its too expensive because you could make it at home for 47 cents?