Ursa

The Dish

Closings

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Ursa on Queen West is closing (or rather, hibernating)

(Image: Liam Mogan)

Ursa’s elk tartare. (Image: Liam Mogan)

Jacob Sharkey Pearce, co-owner and chef of Ursa, announced on Facebook today that his high-concept Canadian kitchen will be shutting its doors at 924 Queen West. Despite some excellent dishes, Ursa always seemed a bit somber next to the strip’s other dining options (Fonda Lola’s family-style Mexican feasts, The County General’s Korean bar snacks), so the news doesn’t come as a total shock—not everyone wants to pay $30 for a wee little entrée, no matter how exquisitely garnished with foraged juniper berries and ox-eye daisy buds. There’s reason to believe that the closure may not be a permanent shutdown; in his very earnest goodbye note, Pearce characterizes the situation as follows:  “It’s now time to hibernate and gather strength for the spring…When we surface from our slumber we will continue the task of discovery—finding better ways to eat and to live.”

The Dish

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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The Dish

Restaurants

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Flavour of the Year: Five twisted takes on steak tartare

The steak house app has gotten freaky lately, with everything from raw beef heart to pine bark and elderberry mustard. Here, the top five.

Flavour Craze: Twisted Tartares

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The Dish

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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Restaurants

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Toronto’s first Peruvian food truck hits the streets in April

With temperatures tentatively crawling back above freezing, another food truck season is poised to begin. The first new mobile restaurant of the year is Nazca, which will serve what chef and co-owner Elias Salazar calls “Peruvian fusion” (think wontons stuffed with crispy langostino and aji de gallina, the Peruvian chicken stew). Salazar tells us that once the truck is up and running, he plans to operate anywhere the city will let him, including outside Ursa on Queen West as an unofficial lunch service (he previously worked catering gigs with the Sharkey Pearce brothers, who own the restaurant). Look for the truck to launch within the next two weeks. [Nazca]

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Restaurants

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Friday Night Bites: tables for two at Buca, Ursa 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: Buca, Ursa and Canoe.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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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

Restaurants

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Friday Night Bites: tables for two at Rose and Sons, John and Sons Oyster House and Ursa

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: Rose and Sons, John and Sons Oyster House and Ursa.

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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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Restaurants

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Friday Night Bites: tables for two at Ursa, Campagnolo and Buca

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: Ursa, Campagnolo and Buca.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Gallery: Susur Lee, Michael Stadtländer and other notable Toronto chefs prepare soups of all kinds at Soupstock 2012

Soupstock 2012

(Image: Renée Suen)

An estimated 40,000 soup-seeking revellers and 200 chefs traveled to Woodbine Park last weekend to attend Soupstock 2012, the one-day culinary protest festival designed to raise awareness for the fight against the proposed mega-quarry in the Township of Melancthon. Building on the momentum generated from last year’s Foodstock, the Canadian Chef’s Congress and the David Suzuki Foundation convened the weekend’s festivities. Regardless of political affiliation, the sheer magnitude of the event was impressive: it’s a rare occasion that offers that many big-name city chefs (and, for that matter, that much soup).

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The Dish

Food Events

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The Stop Night Market recap: the alley behind Honest Ed’s becomes a sweaty, delicious mess

Last Wednesday, the Stop decided to throw a summer solstice party in the alley behind Honest Ed’s—the by-day parking lot was transformed into a nighttime carnival with lights, lanterns and balloons spangled overhead. The 27 food vendors were paired with 27 design teams, adding an extra injection of whimsy to the event, as the vendors dished up their wares from custom-built food stalls. While every stall had its own unique details, there were a few standouts, including the Brockton General’s cardboard Pegasus and Cowbell’s ice-block stall (the envy of every sweaty attendee).

The sold-out fundraiser, which raised over $57,000 for The Stop’s anti-hunger programs, was a huge success: 1,000 lucky Torontonians celebrated the summer in true bacchanalian style, indulging in a bounty of treats from some of Toronto’s most celebrated restaurants (including Woodlot, Yours Truly and Ursa) and breweries (including Lake of Bays, Steamwhistle and Muskoka).

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Food Events

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The Stop Night Market fundraiser to take over Honest Ed’s Alley

Even if scores of buzzing foodies crowding into the narrow alleyway at Honest Ed’s is not your idea of a fun night out, you should still check out the all-flashing, day-glo, carny-tastic website that The Stop has set up for the Night Market, a $50-a-pop fundraiser featuring food and drink served out of custom-made stalls. The stacked list of vendors includes both Generals (Brockton and County), Cowbell, Delica, GwaiLo, Paulette’s Chicken and Donuts, SupiCucu, The Grove, Ursa, Yours Truly, Grace, Woodlot and many more, and beverages will be provided by Great Lakes Brewery, Lake of Bays Brewing, Muskoka Brewery, Steam Whistle, Still Waters Distillery and Tromba Tequila. The event takes place June 20, from 7–11 p.m. Utterly unsurprisingly, there are now less than 50 tickets left. [The Stop’s Night Market]

The Dish

Food Events

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Enter the Banana Mafia: new posse of chefs to throw Asian Street Market party

While Nick Liu’s fans wait for the opening of his new Asian brasserie GwaiLo, the former Niagara Street Café chef has been showing up at various pop-ups and one-offs. Next up: an Asian Street Market at the Amsterdam Brewery featuring a crew of young Asian chefs calling themselves the Banana Mafia (the name likely does not refer to the fruit). The team is made up of Liu, Robbie Hojilla (Ursa), Jeff Claudio (Yours Truly), Jonathan Poon (Chantecler) and Leemo Han (Swish by Han and Oddseoul, which is presumably the name of the Han brothers’ new Ossington place). The event, which is almost sold out, takes place this coming Monday, May 14, with tickets going for $60 each. Check out the party’s event page for more info.

The Dish

The Month That Was

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

The bar at Stock, the Trump Tower’s glitzy new restaurant (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Even in the winter, it can be hard to keep pace with all the restaurants and bars that open and close in Toronto—which is why, starting this month, we’re rounding them all up.

Openings:

• Catch—A St. Clair seafood joint from the same owner of The Rushton, serving up small plates inspired by Greek, Moroccan and Spanish food. Read our Introducing post »

• Bazaar Global Food Bar—The latest eatery in the Amaya empire is a family-friendly restaurant on Mount Pleasant that draws from a range of world cuisines. Read our Introducing post »

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