R & D, the long-awaited joint venture from everyone’s favourite celebrity duo opens their doors today after an overhaul to the address that previously occupied Strada 241 on Spadina. For those not into reality television, this sweeping saga dates back to Masterchef Canada Season One, when a young home chef — Eric Chong — stole the show and the trophy and, more notably, the eyes of his newest business partner, Chef Alvin Leung. The pair traveled extensively throughout China honing in on their individual and unique talents, one a contemptuous chef with a knack for garnering Michelin stars at his edgy London and Hong Kong based restaurants and the other, a young talent in training, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and the gracious good nature that makes him so sought after. The restaurant name could very well be Alvin & Eric, but it certainly wouldn’t have the same ring to it.
Commute Design (the minds behind Byblos, Patria) oversaw the build out, which has been ongoing since January. The look meshes well with the intention — there’s a playful nod to both the Rebel and Demon personas, with massive golden drum like lights illuminating the trendy street art murals in the dining room, and lux fabrics coating the cushy lounge area by the bar. The man behind the bar is none other than Robin James Wynne (ex-Rock Lobster) who takes his Caesar-making skills seriously, with ingredients coming in from both the kitchen (Eric’s chilli sauce) as well as sourcing them locally in Chinatown. His 510 Caesar is an effort not to be missed; the flavours are layer after layer of umami, salty and a little sweet, with shiitake, black truffle, and black garlic soaked vodka making a striking base for the cocktail. The crowning achievement is meat stick straw, yes; you NEED to try this drink. Other cocktails like the Shanghai Sour ($12.00) or the addictive Red Star Punch ($12.00, or $45.00 for a pot) were further proof that the bar menu holds as much attention to detail as the dinner menu.
Chef de cuisine Nelson Tsai (Auberge du Pommier) will oversee service with Eric Chong as sous-chef, cranking out their exceptional take on Canadian/Chinese creations, including a featured brunch special on weekends. The mainstays of their dinner menu include the tender Salmon Belly ($18.00), marinated in Malaysian sweet soy with bok choy, presented on 5-grain rice or their alluring 76 hour Peking Duck ($68.00). Little Dragon Buns ($7.00), are stuffed with minced chicken (a lamb option is also available), and three to a portion. With a custom steam wall oven, you know these boys take their buns seriously, and it shows. The dumplings are filled with a tom yum style soup, with coconut and kefir lime creating a flavour profile unlike any other steamed bun in the city. Roasted Beets ($9.00) are a tasteful nod to Buddha’s Delight, the concept of clean eating (meat free) for the first five days after Chinese New Year. Draped in Pat Chun vinaigrette, the beets are a showstopper of a dish, with lotus root, spiced walnuts, and gingerbread all collaborating to create a memorable dish — and echoing the overall statement these chefs have painstakingly worked to construct.
R&D is open for lunch Thursday to Sunday, and dinner service is seven nights a week, with late night service extending into weekends.
What are your thoughts on this new Masterchef Canada restaurant, Rebel and Demon? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.