Michael Caballo

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Trend We Hate: hay

Trend We Hate: hay

Despite its wholesome pastoral associations, hay, with its eau de barnyard flavour and unpleasant chew, is probably better suited to horses than humans. Here’s where we ate it this year.

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Restaurants

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Flavour of the Year: Five tips for preparing vegetables from the city’s top chefs

A miracle has occurred in this meat-obsessed city: vegetables have shown up on menus. Here, five top chefs offer easy tips for home prep.

Flavour Craze: Garden Party

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Restaurants

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The Dish Power Rankings: April fools edition

The-Dish-Power-Rankings

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

A long running powerhouse prepares for a three-week break and David Chang spills the beans on where he eats in Toronto.

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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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Trend Watch

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Trend We Love: adorable restaurant power couples

Toronto Restaurant Couples

Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo of Edulis

A surprising number of buzzy new restaurants have opened in recent years that are owned or operated by married couples—and in honour of Valentine’s Day, we’re using their amped-up awe factor to give the staid, wholesome mom-and-pop image a mushy makeover (we just can’t help ourselves!). Here, a look at nine of Toronto’s cutest restaurant power couples.

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Restaurants

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The Dish Power Rankings: feasting menus and Maple Leafs edition

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

The biggest movement this week was lower down on the list, where over-the-top feasting meals at Catch and Dyne managed to knock off a few restaurants that weren’t quite buzzy enough (see last week’s rankings). Café Boulud took the biggest hit, slipping three places after Jared Bland took the New York superchef’s bistro to task for its lack of ambition in our February issue. Real Sports Bar and Grill makes its entry in the list thanks to the long-awaited return of the Leafs this Saturday.

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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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Features

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The Way We Eat Now: how foraging infiltrated fine dining and became a foodie phenomenon

The Way We Eat Now: Where the Wild Things Are

(Image: Left: Caballo’s sautéed wild Saskatchewan chanterelles; right: Forager-chef Michael Caballo at Edulis)

On a late-summer evening, I descended into the Don Valley with 50 well-to-do Torontonians—mostly middle-aged couples in chinos, linen suits and sandals. We paid $50 each to identify edible plants. Like churning your own butter or whittling your own driftwood spoons, foraging—finding and harvesting food from wild resources—is one of those rugged pioneer traditions that has reached the peculiar status of urban artisanal fetish. Days before the tour, I imagined the calamities I might encounter: stinging nettles, disturbed wasps’ nests, rodents of unknown rabidity status.

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Flavour of the Month: Eight locavore chefs on what to do with their favourite farmers’ market finds

Flavour of the Month: Bounty Hunters

For a few short weeks every year, farmers’ markets are flush with obscure fruits and vegetables you’ll rarely see in grocery stores. We asked the city’s most fanatical locavore chefs for their favourite finds and dead-simple prep tips.

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Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for September 24 to 30

Chantecler hosts its regular lettuce wrap night on Sunday (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Monday September 24

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Chefs from the Gabardine, Luma, Seed to Sausage and more face off in the pâté battle of the year. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Monday’s Dinner Chef Series at Chantecler: This week, chefs Jason Carter (ex-Centro) and Jonathan Poon (Chantecler) will be cooking a five-course tasting menu. Chantecler, 1320 Queen St. W., 416-628-3586. Find out more »
  • Local Food Movement Dinner: Jamie Kennedy presents his latest Local Food Movement Dinner, a harvest season menu inspired and accompanied by the wines of Nyarai Cellars and 2027 Cellars. 4 Gilead Pl., 647-288-0680. 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 »
  • Sustainable Living and Ethical Eating—Cooking With a Conscience: Learn simple tips for a greener, guilt-free kitchen. The menu includes leek and golden beet barley risotto with spicy kale chips, whole roasted organic chicken infused with apple, sage and garlic and more. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »
  • Fit and Fabulous: Marni Wasserman teaches the positive impact of a whole-foods, plant-based diet on health and fitness. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »

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Restaurants

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Best of the City 2012: four extravagant whole-beast feasts

Best of the City: feasts

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Restaurants

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New Reviews: Hoof Raw Bar, Lamesa Filipino Kitchen and Edulis

A raw seafood bar, a serious locavore bistro and Filipino fusion downtown

Hoof Raw Bar star ½
926 Dundas St. W., 647-346-9356

New Reviews: Hoof Raw BarJen Agg, the owner of the legendary hearts-and-tongues hot spot The Black Hoof, has opened up a seafood restaurant next door on Dundas West. She brings to her new place the same meticulousness that made her original restaurant such a success. The small room is gracefully ramshackle, like a polished-up Cape Breton seafood joint, which perfectly matches chef Jonathan Pong’s short all-seafood menu. The substantial cured fish board, arranged from delicate to powerhouse, includes standouts like buttery, fragrant albacore gravlax and chorizo spice scallops. Skip the overpriced raw oysters ($34 per dozen) in favour of the baked versions, which maintain their delectable brininess despite the toasty crunch of panko flakes and layer of rich, smooth foie gras. A wildly exuberant dessert closes the meal: deconstructed sponge cake set off by stewed rhubarb, freeze-dried caramel, salt flakes and rosewater jelly. The drinks are aimed squarely at fish lovers: spicy tomato cocktails and a dozen or so wines by the glass that come with more origin stories than Batman. Sharing plates $8–$22.

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The Month That Was

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The Month That Was: the Toronto restaurants and bars that opened and closed in April

Looking down from the mezzanine at Bellwoods Brewery (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Openings:

• The Saint—after three long years of waiting, during which time most of Ossington rapidly gentrified, this neighbourhood tavern from the people behind Buca finally opened its doors. Read our Introducing post »

• Bellwoods Brewery—A highly anticipated new brewpub on Ossington from a pair of Amsterdam Beer alums, with food by Guy Rawlings. Read our Introducing post »

• Lilly’s Lunches—A new downtown-centric bike brown bag bike delivery service from a cubicle escapee. Read our Introducing post »

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Openings

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Introducing: Edulis, Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’s reinvention of Niagara Street Café

(Images: Signe Langford)

After more than a decade in the neighbourhood, the well-loved Niagara Street Café has been reborn as Edulis. The restaurant’s Twitter bio says, “Crafted with love,” and while the whole love-as-actual-ingredient thing is surely overdone, it rings true in this case. Everything about the place, from husband-and-wife owners Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth, is an ode to some version of love or another: love of family, love of Europe and of course, love of mushrooms—the place takes its name from the Latin for porcini.

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Restaurants

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Niagara Street Café’s new owners Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo to relaunch it as Edulis

Edulis owners Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth, spied this weekend at Hooked (Image: Signe Langford)

We already reported that Anton Potvin, until recently owner of the Niagara Street Café, had found buyers for his much-loved locale. Now we can tell you who they are: husband-and-wife chefs Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo, who flew into Toronto last week to sign the paperwork and flew out again the next day. “We have to go to Vancouver to pick up our stuff, but we’ll be back in a week and we’re really excited to be back in Toronto,” Nemeth told us. “We tried Vancouver, but we didn’t love it. I think Toronto has the most exciting dining scene in Canada and this is where we want to be for the rest of our lives.”

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