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Introducing: La Créole brings refined island cuisine to a romantic room on St. Clair West

Introducing: La Creole

Name: La Créole
Contact Info: 810 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-651-8228, lacreole.ca
Neighbourhood: Humewood
Owners: Ben Cherette and Paterson Louis-Jean of Manje Kreyol Catering
Chef: Manje Kreyol chef Magda

The food: Six months after Jen Agg opened Rhum Corner, her laid-back Haitian hangout on Dundas West, the city has a second refined island kitchen. La Créole serves a mix of French Caribbean, Créole and Haitian dishes in a fabric-swathed room on St. Clair West. Appetizer platters come heaped with cod fritters, fried plantains and chunks of marinated beef served with plenty of picklese, a pickled condiment made with shredded cabbage. Main dishes include stewed snapper with black-bean sauce and a roasted quail glazed with guava.

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Introducing: The Workshop by Latitude, a new Roncesvalles restaurant for anyone who loves cheese

Introducing: The Workshop by Latitude

Name: The Workshop by Latitude
Contact Info: 331 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-785-2123, workshopbylatitude.ca, @workshop331
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles
Owners: Latitude Group
Chef: Former Fat Cat Wine Bar executive chef, Mathew Sutherland

The Food: The menu revolves entirely around cheese. Diners can build their own cheese boards from 25 different wedges—including a couple slabs produced exclusively for the Workshop—or choose from the list of snacks and comfort dishes, like a comte-stuffed croque monsieur and a lamb burger topped with goat-milk raita and halloumi. The “workman’s lunch” brings a selection of cheeses and cured meats, plus hard-boiled duck eggs, poached veggies, preserves, nuts and sliced baguette.

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Introducing: Speakeasy 21, a new Bay Street cocktail bar with a soon-to-come 3,500-square-foot patio

Introducing: Speakeasy 21

Name: Speakeasy 21
Contact Info: 21 Adelaide St. W. (main floor of Scotia Plaza, North entrance), 416-601-0210, speakeasy21.com, @speakeasy21
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Chef: Andrew Wilson, former chef de cuisine at Colborne Lane and Origin North
Bartender: Dave Moore, who’s worked the bar at Brant House, Easy and The Fifth

The Food: Sandwiches, tacos and small plates, including beef tartare with prawn chips and a Niçoise-inspired tuna crudo with black olives and anchovies. Lighter snacks, like buttermilk potato chips and cauliflower hummus, are designed for nibbling with a drink.

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Introducing: Cleo, a new spot for Middle Eastern cuisine near Yonge and Lawrence

Introducing: Cleo

Name: Cleo
Contact Info: 3471 Yonge St., 416-440-0700, cleorestaurant.ca
Neighbourhood: Hoggs Hollow
Owner and chef: Sam Girgis, the former executive chef of Oro on Elm Street

The Food: Cleo is uptown’s answer to the Middle Eastern trend that’s been inundating Toronto diners with za’atar-dusted flatbreads and oil-drizzled dips. Girgis’s background is Egyptian, and his mission is to showcase the kind of food he grew up eating. His menu lists contemporary takes on traditional Mediterranean dishes—things like stuffed grape leaves, warm barrel-aged feta and grilled chicken and beef kebabs flavoured with sumac and harissa.

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Introducing: Tavern by Trevor, a new spot for brunch and bar snacks (deep-fried foie gras!)

Introducing: Tavern by Trevor
Name: Tavern by Trevor
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Contact Info: 147 Spadina Ave., 416-546-3447, tavernbytrevor.com, @tavernbytrevor
Owners: Mike “Yuker” Yaworski (owner of Wide Open) and Trevor Wilkinson, the man behind Trevor Kitchen and Bar on Wellington
Chef: Trevor Wilkinson

The Food: Wilkinson calls his food “new Canadian cuisine.” Menu-wise, that translates into over-the-top comfort dishes drawn from a bunch of different global cuisines: Japanese-inspired shrimp tempura, for instance, and Cajun po’boys, plus a handful of rejigged Canadian classics, like bison-and-pork tourtière and pork-belly poutine. In an extremely haute take on the jalapeño popper, hunks of foie gras are deep-fried and served with ice-wine grape jelly.

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Introducing: S. Lefkowitz, Toronto’s first all-hummus restaurant from the owner of Ezra’s Pound

Introducing: S. Lefkowitz

Name: S. Lefkowitz
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods
Contact Info: 913 Dundas St W., 647-346-8448
Owner: Ezra Braves, who closed the Dundas West location of his coffee shop Ezra’s Pound to open the hummuseria

The Food: At Toronto’s first hummuseria, the chickpea dip isn’t just an accoutrementit’s the star of the meal. Owner Ezra Braves blends re-hydrated organic chickpeas into a protein-packed dip, which he serves warm with pita bread. Plates of hummus come drizzled with olive oil and topped with things like braised beef, warm olives, boiled eggs or tahini, plus a dusting of harissa powder.

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Introducing: Byblos, a new Mediterranean restaurant from Toronto nightlife king Charles Khabouth

Introducing: Byblos

Name: Byblos
Contact Info: 11 Duncan St., 647-660-0909, byblostoronto.com, @ByblosToronto
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Owner: Charles Khabouth and Harif Harji, who together own a good chunk of Toronto’s dining and boozing scene, including nearby Patria and Weslodge
Executive Chef: Patria chef Stuart Cameron
Chef de Cuisine: Patria sous-chef Jennifer Nickle

The Food: Byblos is the latest (and most upscale) in a string of Mediterranean eateries to open in Toronto. Chefs Cameron and Nickle focus on dishes from Greece, Morocco, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Shareable plates include house-made labneh, hand-rolled couscous and whole char-grilled fish. Baked basmati rice dishes are flavoured with things like saffron and preserved lemon and served in big earthenware pots.

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Introducing: Yakitori Kintori, a skewer-focused snack bar from the owners of Guu and Kinton

Introducing: Yakitori Kintori

Name: Yakitori Kintori
Contact Info: 668 Bloor. St. W., 2nd Fl., 416-551-7588, yakitorikintori.com, @YakitoriKintori
Neighbourhood: Christie Pitts
Owner: James Kim, co-owner of Guu Izakaya, Guu Sakabar, Kinton Ramen and JaBistro
Chef: Wataru Yasui, who learned the art of yakitori at Izakaya Ju in Markham

The Food: A dozen different chicken skewers (including thigh and wing, but also gizzard, liver and heart), which are grilled over traditional binchotan charcoal imported from Japan. (A few beef, pork and veggie skewers are also available.) House-made hot sauces and salts let customers adjust their own seasoning. Other options include sake-infused cheese fondue and a Japanese poutine with soy and ginger.

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Introducing: East Thirty-Six, a 1920s-themed cocktail bar with sophisticated small plates

Introducing: East Thirty-Six

Name: East Thirty-Six
Contact Info: 36 Wellington St. E., 647-350-3636, eastthirtysix.com, @EastThirtySix
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence
Owner: Stanley Bernard, Sebastian Moya and Boutique Bar owners Julien and Devon Salomone
Chef: Brent Maxwell, former chef de cuisine at Luma

The Food: Chef Brent Maxwell did a culinary stage at Maison Pic, a tri-Michelin-starred bistro in southeastern France, before moving on to the kitchens at Auberge du Pommier, Canoe and Luma, so it’s no surprise that his menu veers toward classical French cuisine. Shared plates include cailettes (sausage pâté bites) and foie gras-topped boudin blanc, as well as less traditional dishes, like a tequila-scallop crudo and sous-vide cauliflower with hazelnuts and brown butter.

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Introducing: The Citizen, an unusually sophisticated sports bar in Brant House’s former digs

Introducing: The Citizen

Name: The Citizen
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 522 King St. W., 416-703-2800, thecitizento.com, @thecitizen_to
Owners: An anonymous cabal of investors
Chef: Amanda Walti, previously chef de cuisine at Origin on King Street

The Food: The menu breaks down into gussied-up bar snacksjalapeño croquettes with tarragon-ranch sauce, for instanceand fancified pub dishes, like a compressed cube of smoked mac ‘n’ cheese topped with quarter-inch-thick slabs of seared pork belly.

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Introducing: Starving Artist, the gourmet waffle house’s new St. Clair West location

Introducing: Starving Artist, the gourmet waffle house’s new St. Clair West location

Name: Starving Artist
Neighbourhood: Corso Italia
Contact Info: 1078 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-901-7079, starvingartistbar.com
Owner and chef: Bryan Jackson, owner of the original Starving Artist on Lansdowne Avenue. He also owns Kitch, the casual lounge at Dupont and Dufferin

The Food: “Everything is made of waffles, on waffles, between waffles or made in a waffle iron,” warns the restaurant’s menu in extra-large type. A handful of dishes are unique to the new location, including “waffle bacon”—i.e. strips of bacon baked into golden waffle fingers—and a fried-egg brunchwich sandwiched between two mini waffles. For dessert, the Split-This brings a waffle-encased banana topped with ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries.

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Introducing: The County Cocktail, the Queen West diner’s new Riverdale café and snack bar

Introducing: County Cocktail

Name: The County Cocktail and Snack Bar
Contact Info: 798 Queen St. E., 416-781-4743, thecountygeneral.ca/cocktail, @countycocktail
Neighbourhood: South Riverdale
Owner: County General owner and former Splendido partner Carlo Catallo
Chef: The County General’s Danai Hongwanishkul, formerly the sous-chef at Canoe

The Place: The County General’s new east-end spin-off is a café, snack shop and cocktail bar in one. (It opens its doors at 7 a.m. on weekdays, in time for morning commuters to get their caffeine fix, and stays open until 11 p.m.—or later on weekends.) The space is bigger and sleeker than the original, but it conveys the same country-style spirit with bright red bar stools and discrete touches of gingham.

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Introducing: D.W. Alexander, an updated library bar lodged in a 19th-century heritage building

Introducing: D.W. Alexander

Name: D.W. Alexander
Contact Info: 19 Church St., 416-364-8368, DWAlexander.com, @DWAlexanderTO
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Owners: Former Foundation Room owner Jamil Kamal
Chef: Sean Simons, also the chef at Goods and Provisions in Leslieville

The Food: Canadian comfort dishes that don’t require a fork, like bison sliders and potato pancakes served with house-made apple crème fraiche. (Executive chef Sean Simons eventually plans to supplement the menu with his own house terrines and charcuterie.) Desserts include the “D.W. Mess,” a purposefully slapdash dish of meringue, poached apples and caramel.

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Introducing: Come and Get It, the Queen West pop-up’s new permanent digs

Introducing: Come and Get It

Name: Come And Get It
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 676 Queen St. W., 647-344-3416, comeandgetit.ca, @ComeAndGetIt416
Owners: Jon Polubiec (Mistura, Windsor Arms and Prego)
Chef: Adam Brown, who trained under Libretto chef Rocco Agostino at the Silver Spoon on Roncey

The Food: Fans of the pop-up will be happy to know their favourite full-size meals are still available for lunch. Like before, customers choose a flavour profile (e.g. mango jerk chicken, chipotle short rib) and then order it as a sandwich, a poutine, a salad or a naan wrap. At night, the restaurant transforms into a cocktail bar, and the same flavours are translated into snack-size skewers, sliders and mini-poutines.

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Introducing: District Oven, a new “Middleterranean” restaurant from the owner of 93 Harbord

Introducing: District Oven

Name: District Oven
Contact Info: 842 College St., 416-901-7717, @DistrictOvenTO
Neighbourhood: Dufferin Grove
Chef and Owner: Isam Kaisi, who also owns 93 Harbord

The Food: District Oven is one of several Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants to open in Toronto this year, including nearby Rose City Kitchen and Anthony Rose’s soon-to-open eatery, Fat Pasha. (Chef Isam Kaisi describes his restaurant’s cuisine as “Middleterranean.”) Traditional dishes get contemporary updates, like tabouleh made with quinoa instead of barley, and shawarma re-imagined as a spring roll. All meats are Halal, 12 plates are fully vegetarian, and pitas and flatbreads are baked in the restaurant’s authentic stone oven.

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