College Street is probably one of my favourite streets in Toronto and the one where I have the most memories. It’s no surprise that I’ve seen restaurants come and go and even witnessed the dreaded “cursed corner” where no restaurant survives longer than a year. College is also home to some of the best and trendiest restaurants in the city including Bar Raval, Dailo, Pray Tell, Doma and Bar Isabel.
The most recent addition to the street is Chez’s which took over the spot previously own by the famed Frank’s Kitchen. The name eludes to “coming home, or a familiar place” as chef and owner Mike Bradshaw describes. He’s taken inspiration from cooking in high end hotels across Europe and infused it with classic comfort foods to offer a menu that is concise but full of options.
The inside of the restaurant makes you feel like you are instantly somewhere familiar with dim, ambient lighting, dark wood finishes and booths to cozy up to. We were invited to taste some of the more popular sharing plates on the menu and a secret item that you’ll only get to have if it’s on special for the night.
First up was the Pan Seared Scallops which come on a bed of pearl couscous, tabbouleh and is drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Simplicity is a key factor with this dish with none of the flavours or textures overpowering each other.
Next up were two of the larger sized dishes, the Roasted Bone Marrow with Bacon Espresso Marmalade, Chimichurri and Grilled Sourdough alongside the Smoked Beef Cheek Poutine with smoked cheese curds, bacon bits and gravy.
Fun fact, there is a secret ingredient in the marmalade and if you can guess it, you might get a round of drinks on the house.
The Poutine seems to be a crowd favourite. The beef is marinated in a house marinade for 48 hours and then smoked for 3 hours before being delicately placed on a bed of hand cut fries and topped with cheese, gravy and bacon bits.
If we were not full enough after all of that, chef Mike Bradshaw treated us to an “off menu” item, his house marinated Jerk Chicken Wings. Only available when he decided they should be the special of the day/night.
You can tell the pride that chef Mike Bradshaw of Chez’s Restaurant has not only for his food but by the stories he tells and how he treats you the minute you walk through his doors. He is truly living up to creating a feeling of familiarity, openness and home.