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The Top Food Trends and Who Does Them Best: Shared Meals

Foie gras–stuffed chicken, porterhouse steak and whole suckling pig are the new extravagant norm

The Top Food Trends and Who Does Them Best: Shared Meals

Perfectly seared côte de boeuf at ­Bestellen

There were six of us up against one pork butt—and the pig won. It was a beauty, grown massively plump at a small farm just outside St. Jacobs. Rubbed with brown sugar, it spent a slow afternoon in the oven until the meat pulled apart effortlessly, clouds of steam breaking from the sweet crust. We dug in, mixing the shreds with fresh oysters and kimchee, then wrapping it all in lettuce leaves and savoury crêpes. After a couple of blissful hours, we’d barely made a dent.

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Five food fads we love

Five food fads we love: Cloakroom
The Return of the Cloakroom

After recessionary years of hanging our puffy coats on the backs of chairs (and inevitably seeing them trampled by wait staff), new places like The Chase, Café Boulud and Drake One Fifty graciously check them at the door.

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Restaurants

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One more reason to eat at Momofuku: a brand-new patio

Momofuku Daisho Patio

Daishō’s fried chicken will taste even better sans roof (Image: Renée Suen)

Torontonians have never been more spoiled for places to eat, drink and schmooze al fresco. In the last month alone, at least half a dozen new venues have opened, including El Catrin, a chandelier-lit Mexican terrace in the Distillery District, The Beverley, a swishy rooftop lounge on Queen West, and Food and Liquor, a cute backyard hideaway in Parkdale (not to mention soon-to-open patios at The Chase in the Financial District and Agave y Aguacate in Baldwin Village). That’s in addition to the list of dreamy open-air spots that opened earlier this summer. It only makes sense, then, that the city’s most dazzling culinary complex would join the patio party. Momofuku Daishō’s new terrace will be unveiled at next week’s midsummer soirée where guests will feast on steamed buns, bo ssäm and booze slushies in true summer style.

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Bo ssäm and grown-up slushies at Momofuku’s midsummer bash

Momofuku Summer Party

(Image: Momofuku)

The August Long Weekend is bittersweet: it’s at once a day off and the official midsummer hump. The Momofuku Summer Party is a chance to revel in some of the joys of summer—like food and booze—and stave off premature September blues. The August 7 soirée, which takes place at third-floor Daishō, will have food and drinks from Momofuku, including pork bo ssäm and booze-spiked slushies, and music from DJs Soul Proprietor and Phantom Signal. Tickets go for $75 with proceeds benefiting the City Life Film Project, a film program for at-risk youth.

Momofuku Summer Party, August 7, 8–11 p.m., Momofuku Toronto, 190 University Ave., momofukusummer13.eventbrite.ca

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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?

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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.

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Must-Try

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Must-Try: a heaping plate of crispy fried chicken served family style at Daisho

Must-Try: Daisho Fried Chicken

At Daishō, the largest of the three ­Momofuku restaurants, the chicken is lightly fried in a savoury batter and served family style. You’re meant to wrap the pieces in scallion pancakes, but the meat is so succulent it can be enjoyed on its own. $125 for four people. 190 University Ave., momofuku.com.

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Food Porn

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Slideshow: Claudio Aprile hosts a farewell dinner for Colborne Lane with six of his top alumni

Colborne Lane Reunion dinner

Claudio Aprile closed Colborne Lane in February with little notice in order to focus on his growing stable of Origin restaurants. Last night, at Origin Liberty Village, Aprile enlisted six of the top chefs who’ve passed through Colborne’s kitchen—Matt Blondin (Momofuku Daishō), Steve Gonzalez (Top Chef Canada), David Haman (Woodlot), Ben Heaton (The Grove), Jonathan Poon (Chantecler) and Andrew Wilson (Colborne Lane’s final chef de Cuisine)to join him for a tribute to the pioneering modernist restaurant. Each chef created one hors d’oeuvre and one course, revealing the ways they’ve diverged since their time at Colborne but also betraying debts to Aprile’s style—right down to his idiosyncratic way of describing dishes on the menu.

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Restaurants

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Best New Toronto Restaurants 2013

Best New Restaurants 2013

One thousand three hundred and eight. That’s how many restaurants opened in 2012—more than triple the year before, and the year before that. Toronto is in the middle of a restaurant boom that’s changing the way we eat, drink, date, schmooze, celebrate and generally revel in the city. The shimmering Momofuku triplex has dignified business execs devouring pork ssäm with their hands, and couples happily—gratefully—shelling out $400 for 10-course tasting menus. Downtowners are piling into rowdy izakayas for after-work sake and Sapporo, while Brit pubs are, to the amazement of every Firkin-going anglophile, becoming destinations for refined dining. Canadiana is no longer just a term for moose-print sweaters and maple leaf mittens, but a bona fide big-city cuisine borne of chefs obsessed with heritage meat and wild plants, preferably foraged in the Don Valley. Yes, Toronto is so flush with new places to eat that keeping up with them has become a full-time job. This year, Toronto Life’s critics were busier than ever, stuffing our faces, snapping photos on the sly and analyzing every last aspect of the dining experience. After much debate, we winnowed down 1,308 establishments to the top 10. Here, our annual ranking of the most innovative, interesting and delicious new Toronto restaurants.

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The Dish Power Rankings: The Valentine’s madness edition

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

Edulis’s charming (and tiny) dining room propels the restaurant to the top this week on the strength of its Valentine’s bookings. Lower down, a couple new sold-out tasting menus debut, as does College Street’s next hot brunch destination.

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The Dish Power Rankings: buzzing diners and taco insurgents

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

The Hoof Raw Bar steals the top spot this week, now that Jen Agg has revived the mega-popular Hoof Café brunch (see last week’s rankings). Over in Parkdale, a new southern Italian restaurant is gaining ground and in The Junction, there’s a new contender for Toronto’s top taco.

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The Dish Power Rankings: brunches and bans

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

Momofuku Shōtō loses the top spot this week to the perennially buzzy Grove (see last week’s rankings). The Black Hoof drops off the list, but is replaced by the Hoof Raw Bar, which is hosting the return of Toronto’s favourite brunch service circa 2010. Also noteworthy: a new restaurant opens in Parkdale, likely the last until the ban is lifted, and a new tasting menu from one of the city’s top Italian restaurants.

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Restaurants

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The Dish Toronto Restaurant Power Rankings: game on

Toronto is in the middle of a great restaurant boom. Over 150 restaurants opened in the last year alone, most of them hyped on Twitter, deconstructed on blogs (like ours) and ranked in countless year-end roundups. Tracking the ups and downs—the praise and the pans—has never been more entertaining. That’s why we’ve decided to launch our first-ever Power Rankings, a list of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and toughest tables to snag. Below, the 20 restaurants that are dominating the foodie conversation in Toronto right now.

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Trend Watch

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Trend We Love: Huitlacoche (a.k.a. corn smut), spotted on Mexican and non-Mexican menus alike

Tacquitos de huitlacoche at Pachuco. The huitlacoche is on the right (Image: Signe Langford)

Huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-KOH-chay), a corn fungus that’s popular in Mexican food, has two commonly used English names: the gross-sounding “corn smut” and “Mexican truffle,” which over-promises a little on its earthy if not quite transcendent taste. It’s been showing up with increasing frequency on Mexican menus for the last few years; more recently, we’ve noted an uptick in the use of huitlacoche at other types of restaurants too. Here’s where we’ve spotted it:

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New Reviews

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Review: Momofuku Daishō, the new place for family-style fried chicken and bo ssäm

Fried chicken dinner at Daishō (Image: Renée Suen)

SEE ALL FIRST REVIEWS

One of three new David Chang restaurants, Daishō has a split personality. The glass-walled room, with its dazzling bird’s-eye view of the opera house, attracts date-night couples who order from an à la carte menu of modern Asian dishes like deliciously caramelized deep-fried Brussels sprouts tossed with puffed rice and mint, succulent ruby slices of secreto (a shoulder cut steak) doused in XO sauce, and a sweet-sour-salty salad of apple, kimchee and bacon. The main draw, however, is a separate menu for groups of four to 10, who gather at picnic-style tables for large-format meals, including a heaping plate of two chickens, jointed and fried Southern style, in an intensely savoury buttermilk breading.

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