The year 2012 was the year for new restaurants opening in Toronto. I remember thinking last April, OMG! Eight restaurants opened this week alone! Lucky Torontonians, we are. So thinking back about all the openings and closings, we narrowed down our Top 10 list of new restaurants that we think are here for the long haul…
The first on our list, URSA, I was lucky enough to try early in the summer when the menu featured some beautiful local and organic produce that co-owner, Chef Jacob Sharkey-Pearce, prepares in a contemporary and well-balanced fashion. While the use of local ingredients is a major trend in Toronto, URSA creates very unique and delicious dishes using techniques that are beautiful to the eye, healthy for the waistline, and extremely tasty. The brother-duo owners had been working with food through their personal chef company, where they were able to learn how to create delicious and healthy dishes… This sensibility has transformed into URSA, which we predict will stick around for a while.
Next up is a new View the Vibe client, Michael’s on Simcoe, where I had the pleasure to dine at with my entire family. The thing that caught my attention was the detail in everything at this beautiful restaurant. Décor wise, it is elegantly stunning, having been designed and visualized by owner Michael Dabic, who spent the last 20 years as the General Manager of Harbor Sixty. The food is also exquisite visually, and when I indulged in my filet mignon cooked blue, I knew this Italian steakhouse was going to make waves in Toronto. The meat was outstanding and after speaking with Dabic, who explained he hand picks all prime meat, I knew why. While a little pricier, it’s worth every dime.
Edulis, the new restaurant that took over the Niagara Street Café location, also made heads turn in 2012. While I have never dined there (tisk, tisk to me) I have tried their food at many events where each time I am going back for more. Let’s just say this place is on my to-do-asap list. We were also told by the lovely Tania Daviduke and Chef Scott Savoie Edulis was one of the best restaurant experiences they’ve had in the city. How’s that for high praise? The story behind the two owners of Edulis is very endearing, as Chef/Owner Michael Caballo partners with wife Tobey Nemeth after spending years traveling, cooking and eating through Europe, Panama and Canada. The food is exceptionally prepared and I personally cannot wait to indulge in a proper meal at Edulis.
Just up the street is another European inspired eatery that opened with a big splash: Patria. I personally love this restaurant for its Spanish authenticity and ingredients that are fresh yet brought in from overseas. We tried the outstanding Spanish tapas created by Chef Cameron Stuart back in May at the 3-day pop-up they hosted. We were worried that they wouldn’t be able to maintain the quality and authenticity – but not to worry. It’s there… and seems it’s staying!
Speaking of pop-ups, Rock Lobster Food Co. is our next pick. I love lobster – I mean, love. So when I heard that this ever popular pop-up was opening a permanent location, I was first in line that first week of December. What I love most about this place is that it’s casual, cool, a little rowdy, and the food is fresh and delicious. With a raw bar that catches your attention as you walk in, it’s almost a crime not to order the seafood towers that are priced better than anywhere else in Toronto. Then I recommend the lobster roll… it’s stuffed to the max with no fillers, just pure lobster goodness.
How can we not mention Richmond Station? I love the food of Chef Carl Heinrich, having discovered him at Marben and who gave me a reason to eat burgers again. I also followed him on Top Chef Canada and hoped he would win – his innovative use of meat and food overall makes this chef one in a million that serves up food that just keeps you craving more. Now his famous burger can be found at Richmond Station, where not only is the food top notch, but so is the wine list; and best of all, it’s very well priced.
Café Boulud. Need I say more? This is officially my new favourite restaurant in Toronto. Not only because of Chef Boulud and his outstanding culinary team, but also for the ambiance and the service created by the GM Hani Roustom and his front of house team. This is a place that is yes, upscale, however makes everyone who walks through the door feel welcome and like family. Too many pretentious restaurants in this city… and while you may think this is one of them, it’s not. Here’s our review of what we think is Toronto’s best new present.
While ramen is the hottest and latest craze, I still like my sushi and sashimi… so I had to try JaBistro when I started hearing great things and seeing all the pictures showing up on Twitter and Facebook. While the small restaurant is very loud and service was not the greatest (forgivable as they had just opened), the beauty of the dishes and the freshness of the fish is unbeatable. This is one of those places that you must try if you love innovative and fresh sushi.
Voted best new restaurant in Canada 2012 by Maclean’s Magazine, The Grove has built a reputation that cannot be ignored. Designed as a British pub, Chef Ben Heaton puts a unique and elevated twist on British classics. The dishes that come out of the kitchen are like works of art and the tastes dance around on your palette in a surprising but delicious way. Yes, this is definitely a gastropub for foodies that isn’t going anywhere.
Lastly, there’s a new kid in town that just opened in Leslieville. Well, technically he isn’t that new. It’s Chef Matthew Sullivan, formerly of L’Unita and Malena, that has recently opened Skin and Bones Wine Bar on Queen East. Sadly, I have not tried it, however the foodies of Toronto have been raving and snapping pics that make my mouth water. And with praise from one of our favourite chefs in the city, Roberto Marotta of Maialino, and his lovely fiancee Jacqueline Nicosia, I can’t imagine it’s not deserving of its buzz. Therefore, View the Vibe fans, you can expect a vlog review soon!