Acadia

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Acadia, one of Toronto’s most innovative kitchens, is becoming a casual trattoria

(Image: Emma McIntyre)

(Image: Emma McIntyre)

Little Italy’s Acadia is the culinary equivalent of a troubled genius: despite stellar reviews across the board, the refined Lowcountry kitchen has never quite felt comfortable in its own skin, cycling through three chefs in as many years (the most recent being Top Chef Canada alum Dustin Gallagher). Now, owners Scott and Lindsey Selland are vetoing the entire concept and starting from scratch.

Post City reports that Acadia will reopen in late January as Red Sauce, a kid-friendly Italian-American restaurant serving chicken wings, veal parmigiana heroes and a signature house beer. While the turn to snackable comfort food is certainly on-trend, the reaction from the culinary community has so far been less-than-enthused. Chowhounders have expressed skepticism and critic Joanne Kates called the change “the end of an era.” Acadia will serve its final Southern-inspired meal on December 31.

The Dish

Drinks

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Bourbon, bluegrass and barrel-aged beers at Toronto’s inaugural Bourbon Week

Toronto Bourbon WeekIn the last year or two, bourbon has stealthily inundated the city’s most fashionable cocktail lists, replacing cosmos and martinis with Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and inventive one-offs like The County General’s Firm Handshake (Wild Turkey, honey syrup and root beer rum bitters) and Electric Mud’s Clydesdale (Jim Beam, grapefruit and agave). Now there’s an entire week devoted to the barrel-aged liquor. Toronto Bourbon Week runs from September 27 to October 3 and comprises seven events, including a bourbon brunch at Little Italy restaurant Acadia, an evening of bourbon and bluegrass at 3030 Dundas in the Junction and a celebration of bourbon barrel–aged beers at Bar Volo, as well as events at Ursa, Indie Alehouse, Monarch Tavern and Amsterdam Brewery. Tickets for individual events range from $20 to $45.

Toronto Bourbon Week, Sept. 27–Oct. 3, Various Locations, torontobourbonweek.com

The Dish

Restaurants

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Friday Night Bites: Tables for two at Acadia, Glas Wine Bar and Canoe

FRIDAY NIGHT BITESIt’s 4 p.m. on Friday, and you don’t have a dinner reservation. Still, there’s no need to fret (or waste your night waiting for a table). We just called some of the city’s hottest restaurants and found three that can squeeze in two for dinner tonight. Now it’s up to you to get dialing and snag a table before they’re all gone. Today: Acadia, Glas Wine Bar and Canoe.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Matt Blondin is no longer at Momofuku Daishō

From left to right: Daishō’s Eran Bick (sous chef), Jed Smith (sous chef), Sam Gelman (Momofuku Toronto executive chef) and Matt Blondin (executive sous chef) (Image: Renée Suen)

Matt Blondin, the ambitious Toronto chef that came up through Colborne Lane’s modernist kitchen before opening Acadia in 2011, is leaving his most recent post as Daishōs executive sous-chef. Blondin has bounced from one acclaimed restaurant to the next in recent years, leaving Acadia after a little more than a year and Daishō after an even shorter stint. Interestingly, his departure follows Patrick Kriss’s sudden exit from Acadia last week. Perhaps he’s eyeing his old gig?

The Dish

Restaurants

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Chef Patrick Kriss leaves Acadia

Patrick Kriss

(Image: Renée Suen)

Only a year after Momofuku Daisho wooed Matt Blondin away from Acadia, Patrick Kriss, the former Splendido chef de cuisine who replaced Blondin in the kitchen, is leaving the inventive College Street restaurant. Under Blondin, Acadia landed the number two spot on our list of best new restaurants in 2011 for its ambitious take on Lowcountry cooking. With Kriss in the kitchen, the restaurant received even more glowing praise. The owners Scott and Lindsey Selland are bringing in former Top Chef contestant Dustin Gallagher to take over until they find a new full-time chef. He started on Friday with his own menu, which is a marked departure from Blondin and Kriss’s elevated cuisine.

The Goods

Weddings

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Four wedding reception entrées designed by top Toronto chefs

A toothsome feast is a critical part of every wedding—which is why we asked the chefs at Toca, Acadia, Canoe and GwaiLo to design reception-ready dishes that’ll please the most discerning crowd


SHRIMP AND VANILLA RISOTTO
SHRIMP AND VANILLA RISOTTO
Gihen Zitouni, chef at Toca

Zitouni, who runs the Ritz-Carlton’s fine dining restaurant, makes a risotto as pretty as the bride. She cooks the rice with vanilla-infused butter, then tops it with slivered almonds, two seared shrimp and a cloud of pecorino air.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Friday Night Bites: tables for two at Canoe, Chantecler and Acadia

FRIDAY NIGHT BITESIt’s 4 p.m. on Friday, and you don’t have a dinner reservation. Still, there’s no need to fret (or waste your night waiting for a table). We just called some of the city’s hottest restaurants and found three that can squeeze in two for dinner tonight. Now it’s up to you to get dialing and snag a table before they’re all gone. Today: Canoe, Chantecler and Acadia.

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The Dish

Trend Watch

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Trend We Love: Quail eggs, pickled, smoked, fried, boiled and raw

The pickled quail eggs at Skin and Bones (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Quail eggs have two principal virtues that distinguish them from chicken eggs: they’re tiny and they’re cute. They don’t taste all that different (though the yolk-to-white ratio is a little higher), but they make adorable snacks and appetizers, and come in handy when a whole chicken egg would overpower a dish. And while they’re by no means new, they’ve been popping up all over Toronto menus recently—fried, hard-boiled, pickled, smoked and raw. Here’s where we’ve spotted them of late:

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Edulis tops En Route’s Toronto-laden list of Canada’s best new restaurants

In her introduction to En Route’s latest ranking of the country’s 10 best new restaurants, Sarah Musgrave declares 2012 “the year of Toronto”—and given the frenetic pace of openings in this city, we’re inclined to agree. Musgrave backs up her bold claim by naming six Toronto restaurants to the list, up from just two last year, reserving the top spot for Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’Edulis, which moved into the former Niagara Street Café space this year. Musgrave fell in love with the restaurant’s quaint, comfortable atmosphere and, like our reviewer, felt that Caballo’s rustic yet adventurous cuisine skirted some of the pieties of the farm-to-table trend.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Iron Chefs: how the fine dining institution Splendido creates culinary superstars

Iron Chefs: Splendido

What the dots mean: We’ve colour-coded Splendido’s kitchen hierarchy and charted the chefs’ rise through its ranks

Victor Barry, the owner and executive chef of Splendido, has a reputation for running the toughest and most traditional French kitchen hierarchy in the city. No matter how pedigreed, every new hire—chef, server or sommelier—must work his way up from the bottom. Which may explain why so much of the talent behind Toronto’s best new restaurants did time on Harbord Street. Here, we chart the current crop of stars.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for July 16 to 22

The crowd at the Hot and Spicy Food Festival, which takes place this weekend (Image: Tsar Kasim)

Monday, July 16

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Join scotch makers Bowmore and Oyster Boy and the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association for the Oyster of Good Cheer, with top bartenders showcasing their Bowmore cocktails alongside freshly shucked oysters. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Thirsty and Miserable: A Beer Class: Join certified Cicerone Mirella Amato for a guided tasting of six delicious beers. Learn about the various flavours in beer and where they come from. Good Egg, 197 Baldwin St., 416-593-4663. Find out more »
  • Grillin’ and Chillin’ Barbecue Cooking Class and Pig Roast: Learn to barbecue like a pro with pitmaster Jason Rees of the renowned Pork Ninjas Barbecue Team and the Culinary Adventure Company. Fuel House, 53 Clinton St., 416-565-1730. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
  • An Introduction to Wine Appreciation: An LCBO-led tasting and lecture that will demystify the wine world. This degustation will focus on the four principal wine categories: white, red, sparkling and fortified. Kingsway LCBO, 2946 Bloor St. W., 416-239-3065. Find out more »
  • Locavore Food Camp: A five-day program that offers city kids a variety of hands-on opportunities designed to increase their physical fitness and help them understand the importance of making healthy food choices. July 16 to 20. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave. Find out more »

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Splendido announces its new chef de cuisine: Tom McHugh

Back in May, we told you about Patrick Kriss’s decision to leave his chef de cuisine gig at Splendido (where, in addition to running the busy kitchen, he oversaw our writer’s 12-hour stage) to take over the kitchen at Acadia following Matt Blondin’s departure to work at David Chang’s upcoming Momofuku restaurants. Now, over at Toronto.com, Corey Mintz is reporting that Splendido has officially named Kriss’s replacement: Tom McHugh, most recently the sous-chef at the Trump Tower’s Stock, and previously sous-chef at Nota Bene, which, of course, was launched in 2009 by three former co-owners of Splendido. Round, round, round they go. [Eat]

The Dish

Food Events

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Toronto vs. Chicago: Acadias, airport food and pizza edition

After hearing that Chicago is crazy jealous of Toronto’s annual Luminato festival—and the international tourists it attracts—we got to wondering how Hogtown really stacks up against its similarly sized cousin. We looked at everything from restaurants named Acadia to notable rich guys to talk show hosts extraordinaire (and a whole bunch of other admittedly arbitrary categories). Here’s how the two cities compare in matters gustatory.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: are restaurants allowed to refuse us a doggy bag?

Dear Urban Diplomat

(Image: Nico Paix)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I recently ate at Acadia, a new restaurant on Clinton Street. The meal was great, but when we asked to have our leftover salmon wrapped up, the server said no, because a) the restaurant didn’t want to be responsible if the food went bad and we got sick, and b) the chef didn’t want our last memory of his food to be of reheated fish. We’d never heard of such a ridiculous rule. We left mad, and without our $23 filet. Are they allowed to do that?
—Leftover Anger, Little Italy

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Splendido chef de cuisine Patrick Kriss to take over the kitchen at Acadia

Patrick Kriss at Splendido’s pass (Image: Renée Suen)

If you haven’t heard a lot about Patrick Kriss yet, you will soon. Owners Scott and Lindsay Selland have revealed to Torontolife.com that Kriss will be stepping into the role of chef de cuisine at Acadia when Matt Blondin departs for Momofuku Daisho at the end of the month.

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