Down the street from Bloor West’s notorious House of Lancaster nudie bar, in a scruffy 26-seat hole-in-the-wall filled with high-priced hipsters (cashmere toques, silkscreen Ts), chefs Damon Clements and Daniel Usher are reviving local, seasonal cooking for a city of diners who now yawn when they hear the phrase. Every season brings simple food done remarkably well: whisper-light gnocchi smothered in mascarpone and crowned with asparagus and mint; vine-fresh tomatoes in olive oil; beef cheeks braised in red wine until they’re unbelievably tender; seared whitefish that tastes like it was hauled out of Lake Huron that day. It’s all carefully considered and lovingly prepared, as if for friends instead of strangers.
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