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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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