Damon Clements

The Dish

Restaurants

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Best New Restaurants 2012

Best New Restaurants 2012

Ten spots that surprised us, delighted us and made us grateful to live in this restaurant-obsessed city.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Top Toronto chefs recognized in 2011’s Nine of Dine at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo

This weekend, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will host the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo, four days celebrating everything imbibable. Over 38,000 guests are expected to sample more than 1,500 fine wines, spirits and beers and participate in tutored tastings. The show also recognizes some of Toronto’s hottest chefs as part of the sixth annual Nine of Dine award, sponsored in part by Now and the expo itself.

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The Dish

Drinks

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The vodka backlash backlash is here, apparently

Today’s Globe and Mail has a piece about the anti-vodka movement, championed by people like the Black Hoof’s Jen Agg, and the growing backlash to it. (Agg penned a memorable rant against the “stupid” spirit last February and Ortolan’s Damon Clements also gets in on the action in the Globe article.) One backlash backlasher, Vancouver’s  Lauren Mote, reminds bartenders that they’re in the service industry and that they should act accordingly. Still, she prefers to use small-batch and infused vodkas for her cocktails instead of the mass market stuff. As ever, bar patrons vote with their wallets: vodka sales apparently jumped from 18 to 23 per cent of all spirits over the last 10 years in Canada. Stupid or not, the stuff sells. Read the whole story [Globe and Mail] »

The Dish

Restaurants

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New Reviews: Ortolan, Pizza e Pazzi and Obikà

ORTOLAN star ½
1211 Bloor St. W., 647-348-4500
OrtolanBy now the formula is familiar: young chefs set up small, idiosyncratic restaurant in down-at-heels neighbourhood on shoestring budget and compensate for limited chalkboard menu and no-reservations policy with good food and reasonable prices. Damon Clements and Daniel Usher, the chef-owners at Bloordale Village’s new local-focused bistro, just a few doors down from the House of Lancaster strip club, happen to do a better job with the formula than many of their peers. The cooking is outstanding much of the time: superb potato gnocchi with chopped mint, early-season asparagus, creamy, melted mascarpone and grana padano cheese, for instance, or hangar steak that’s gently charred at its edges and busting with beefy flavour on top of a caper brown-butter pan sauce. Desserts are great, none better than the tiny jam pot of chocolate mousse that tastes of expensive cocoa beans. Service is spot-on. Among the quirks here: there is no vodka or gin (the owners loathe generic white spirits). Closed Sunday and Monday. Mains $14–$20.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Ortolan, a tiny new restaurant in Bloordale

(Image: Catherine Gerson)

With a name nodding to a notorious old-world culinary delicacy, Ortolan quietly opened its doors two weeks ago in the space formerly occupied by Kathy’s Kitchen in Bloordale Village. Taking a little bit of Ossington with them, chef-owners Damon Clements (Delux) and Daniel Usher (Pizzeria Libretto) have pooled their respective experiences in French and Italian cuisines to branch out on their own on the quickly changing strip between Dufferin and Lansdowne.

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