Best restaurants in North York Toronto in 2017
THE HARBORD ROOM
89 Harbord St., 416-962-8989
The most yummy bistro in town is a gorgeous deep coral room with lazy ceiling fans and schoolroom lights, it’s only trouble being that it is known by everybody else also, so it’s consistently crowded and the waiters are diverted. However, the food is scrumptious. There continue to be burgers and amazing soups, their supernal brick chicken as well as excellent octopus remains — fabulously tender succulent chicken pressed to intensify its flavour. Chef Cory Vitiello has recently veered towards the Middle East, deliciously. Borani fried house-made pita chips. Moroccan beef cheek is stewed till fork-tender with sweet spices along with a side of cauliflower roasted with golden raisins. For dessert I favour the ethereal ricotta doughnuts to dunk in puckery lemon curd that is creamy.
364 Adelaide St. W., 416 597 8839
Chef Alida Solomon is at the very top of her game. Her Tuscan cooking is of the same quality as it gets in the hills around Siena and Florence, her ingredients impeccable, her taste buds dazzling. Porchetta is everywhere, but rarely as entertaining as Alida’s variation shaved on grilled bread with tiny crisp-fried shallot rings, arugula plus a slather of tuna emulsified smooth in mayo (a play on the trad vitello tonnato). Smooth waitstaff pour deep rich pheasant consomm onto pheasant and chestnut tortelli with crispy little bits of farro and dried apple fragments. Perfect lamb is sold with grilled fennel, preserved fab and lemon pickled cabbage. One of the top five Italian restaurants in Toronto.
971 Ossington Ave., 416 962 8943
No other chef but Justin Cournoyer places the likes of lichens and pine needles on a plate… and makes them taste great. That is edible Canadiana using a touch of molecular gastronomy. You are able to do seven courses for $90 or four for $55, both with ingenious wine pairings (for $60 and $40). Chef does absolutely cooked wild brown trout from Collingwood in gold broth made from rutabaga cooked with moss and pine needles! He says his food is straightforward but he lies. It tastes of strong messages that are simple but has been built painstakingly, layer upon layer, like Venetian underpainting. Like one warmed but not cooked Colville bay oyster sitting on buttermilk scented with lemon verbena powder and topped with cute small yeast crisps and a nest of shredded fermented apple. Who could ever have imagined the food of our country could possibly be so much fun?
11 Duncan St., 647 660 0909
Associates Charles Khabouth (king of clubs) and Hanif Harji bring us dazzling Mediterranean cuisine. Eastern Mediterranean. No hummus ‘n’ pita here. Instead we discover remarkable octopus with fingerling potatoes, chili vinaigrette and preserved lemon, uber-crispy bread salad with hardly marinated veg, lamb ribs that sell out most nights (and for good reason), a healthy salad of beets with yogurt that's no right to taste this great. Two desserts stand out: Flourless yogurt cake, a combination between panna cotta and cheesecake but lighter and more tasty than both. And deep fried pastry cream with strawberry fragments on top. To entice us further — for the Khabouth/Harji mandate is enchantment you can find — everyone makes an entrance down the light cream stairs into the light buzzy room that discusses metaphorically but not literally of a beach on a Greek island.
SCARAMOUCHE PASTA BAR
1 Benvenuto Pl., 416-961-8011
Are we tired of the Pasta Bar? Could it be old hat? Could it be boring? Despite the owners’ new outpost in the nation, their superb professionalism and joyous dedication to service and Scaramouche’s food never falter. Everybody does nobody pasta as well as the pasta Bar. Their ravioli of parsnip is smooth and so complicated it brings foodies that are strong to their knees. The silken filling, the carefully composed strewing of al dente miniature brussels sprouts and their leaves, chanterelles and miniature fragments of smoky bacon all knit together with brown butter sauce spiked with orange picada, a Catalonian finishing touch of toasted hazelnuts with orange, garlic and saffron. Partner this with raw tuna that was impeccable spiked with shiso leaf and lime, ginger, coriander, pickled red onions in soy chile sauce that was sweet, and there’s no old hat here. Their meat and fish dishes are equally exceptional. Desserts that are advanced come from the mother-ship bakeshop. Coconut cream pie never gets old
601 King St. W., 416-504-7867
What was once scintillating is only good. Why? Because star chef Susur Lee just isn't in the house cooking, and maybe not even supervising as intently as he used to. The vaunted Singapore slaw, with its 19 ingredients, is still amusing but its complex dazzle has been lost by the dressing. Its sweet/ hot XO sauce is maintained by lobster ravioli but the lobster is overcooked. Present greatest dish is huge fat scallops with grapefruit, crispy bacon and squash. All these are Susur’s hallmark Asian fusion flavours and also the room is really pretty.
SOLO SUSHI YA
291 Davis Dr., 905 898 6868
One of the top Japanese restaurants in Toronto is in Newmarket. Place yourself in the hands of sushi artist Jyo Gao, from Yokohama. His omakase is almost overwhelmingly pleasurable. There are often several types of raw shrimp, from differing depths of water and thus with different tastes. His sushi rice is ridiculously fine, the rice grains damp and warm. Deep fried tofu becomes poetic topped having a flurry of smoked shaved bonito. Inhale.
THE BLACK HOOF
928 Dundas St. W., 416-551-8854
The Hoof still does grand charcuterie and a few pig products that are luscious — We love the greasy crispy smoked pork jowl with roasted figs, the fat set off by pickled pears -pear sauce. Their entry into taco-property is also very good — high-flavoured cochinita pibil tacos. And they’ve diversified to the vegetable kingdom. Absolutely charred rapini makes sweet love with charred figs, caramelized onion mayonnaise and crispy walnuts with mustard seed vinaigrette. Arctic char was treated a la gravlax and goes down great with small dabs of cod roe panna cotta, grapefruit and walnut crumb. Cavatelli do well with veg. Still no res and still only debit card or cash, but at least now it is possible to quaff cocktails while you wait on the other side of the road at Rhum Corner next door either Hoof offshoot or Cocktail.
860 The Queensway., 416-252-2166
Mitsuhiro Kaji practices his art but once inside Sushi Kaji, it’s a magic carpet ride to old Japan. Kaji apprenticed to sushi masters. They instructed him to view the cutting of corners as gastronomic hara-kiri, and his skills fit that dedication to excellence. There's no à la carte menu. Thirty lucky diners reserve in advance, for one of two set dinners ($100 or $130 per person). Raw squid masquerading as egg white with sea urchin “yolk.” Things that are cooked are the likes of tiny clams in buttery sake broth. An infant eggplant fanned out and deep fried, with crispy fresh lotus root sandwiched between two barely grilled scallops. Eating Kaji’s food leaves no doubt in regards to the place of food in the world of artwork.