Set on a derelict stretch of Bloor—discount furniture store across the street, gentlemen's club a few doors down—Ortolan is serious about hospitality. The room is cozy, the lighting soft and the service unhurried. The chalkboard menu is short and unpretentious, but the kitchen manages to make each comfort staple sophisticated and layered. Crostini, topped with a chilled slice of pickerel, black olives and green onions, are simultaneously bright and rich. A standout appetizer of buckwheat crepes filled with sliced apples, a Brie de Meaux sauce and radicchio-hazelnut slaw balances sweetness and acidity, crunch and creaminess. Light gnocchi are lashed with creamy mascarpone sauce, but a hair over-salted; flat iron steak is beautifully seared but also suffers from too much seasoning. The panna cotta, served with fresh figs and honey, is superbly creamy, and chocolate almond torte is closer to fudge than cake.
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