Vv Magazine’s Libby Roach fills us in on Toronto’s best new restaurants, those set to open in May 2015 and the buzziest in-the-works hot spots, so you can enjoy your food just as much as the sun.
If April’s array of amazing restaurants (R&D, Kanpai Snack Bar, Via Vai to name a few) wasn’t enough to get you out of the house, then either you’re a hermit or you’re waiting for the climbing temps and pristine patios to gently lure you into the summer season. Either way, set your forecast to fun – this month’s roundup of May restaurants is guaranteed to get you outta the house – just remember the SPF if you’re patio hopping!
April saw a flurry (and sadly a few actual flurries) of new restaurants in Toronto, with the opening of the covetable Concession Road, a new French restaurant from the owners of Pukka, conveniently located just down the street from their sister restaurant on St. Clair Ave. Asian snacks are on trend this season, with Soi Thai Street Food opening on College St. and, after a brief false start on Spadina, the return of Lucky Red (from Banh Mi Boys) with a slight revamp ditching the fast food takeaway concept and converting it into a sit-down style eatery focusing on baos and boozy cocktails. If Japanese is more your flavour, then Yutaka on Dundas St. W. has just opened with their upscale sushi spot.
Local Public Eatery opened their doors in sunny Leaside, a beer hall style eatery serving up pub grub brought to you by the people from Joey. Smaller spots like Annette Food Market should see swift business as the cherry blossoms bloom just down the street in High Park, with their seasonal cocktails and wood burning pizza oven. But if it’s pizzas you crave, then Via Vai has the Lamborghini of them all, with a $200K oven investment for Chef Joe Friday (Ganzi, Underground Chef Cartel) and his pizza chef, Darcy Sweet (ex Terroni). For unconventional types, Za Pizzeria is now open on Bloor (at Brunswick Avenue) topping their BBQ’d pizzas with imaginative combinations like maple syrup and mozzarella or duck confit and grapes.
With a not-so-subtle nod to their popular Argentinian-inspired sibling restaurant, Branca, Bronco is set to come out swinging with a sports bar-style bar taking over from where Politica failed to thrive at Adelaide and Strachan. The menu is snack heavy, so don’t expect whole pigs and other flame worthy choices on this menu – instead bar friendly food like sliders, fries and finger foods curated by Weslodge Chef Kanida Chey will be mainstays, as will the streams of people lining up for their corner patio.
Cocina Economica (Opening April 30)
Taco top dog Dave Sidhu is branching out to the east side, taking over a quaint casa on Berkeley for his latest iteration of Mexican food; this time, the Playa Cabana playboy has his eyes set on something other than street food, with a focus on braising – a key element in Mexican cocinas. Don’t let the small exterior fool you; the postage stamp-size has a main dining room and front patio but hides a second level and patio to be opened later in the summer, making this tiny playa a top choice for homey Mexican comfort food. Just don’t expect many tacos.
If Queen and Spadina is where burger bars do battle, then perhaps Liberty Village is the where the beer halls brawl? Set to open during the first week of May, the massive space on Atlantic, which is home to Craft, will house a staggering 120 taps of local, import and premium beers (sorry, Molson) giving Local Public Eatery, Brazen Head, Williams Landing and a few more set to open soon a run for their money. The carefully curated beer menu will be paired up with some beer-infused foods as well, with some taps rotating for seasonal selections.
La Saucisserie Bar & Lounge
Taking over Yours Truly (weep) on Ossington, La Saucisserie Bar & Lounge is set to open this week with a meat-heavy menu to pair with their craft beers on tap.
Little is known about this Italian restaurant opening later this month, taking over BQM’s lease at Queen and Spadina. Is the neighbourhood ready for anything besides burgers? Either way, anything but burgers is a good bet on this corner.
The latest in opulent dining from the Chase Hospitality Group (The Chase, Colette, Little Fin), Kasa Moto said sayonara to the relic that was Remy’s (and briefly Montage) – instead, giving it a facelift fitting for its posh Yorkville address. Opening the third week of May, the two-storey hotspot will feature a lounge, rooftop patio and all the glitz and glamour you’ve come to expect from the careful curators of the Chase group. Chefs Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Yasu Sushi Bar) and Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya) are tapped to helm the kitchen with a menu of contemporary Japanese food.
While Jamie Oliver is battling childhood obesity and all things righteous across North America, his Yorkdale restaurant is putting on the finishing touches and attaching head Chef Frank Venditti (Bar Buca, Jump, Canoe) seems like a good start. Stay tuned for more bits and bobs on Jamie’s Italian next month.
Gamers should refrain from having a Meltdown; the Electronic Games Lounge, is set to open a spot soon at College and Spadina. This franchise is hugely popular in Europe – we’ll see if the digital version of Snakes and Lattes can hold traction in the 6ix.
The signage has made a debut on College for A3 Napoli, the latest offering from Italian stallions Rocco Agostino (Libretto, Enoteca Sociale) and Nick auf der Mauer (Porchetta & Co) which hopefully means that the Little Italy corridor will soon be soaked in their tasty takes on Neapolitan street food.
With many months of renovations and hungry neighbour Google just upstairs, you would think the latest Queen Margherita Pizza (on Richmond) would be set to open finally, but with its windows still covered, it’s hard to say exactly when we will feast our eyes on their latest locale.
The same holds true for Maple Leaf Tavern; owners have been slaving over renovations (and permits, no doubt) for months on the storied 955 Gerrard Street East address.
Peckish travellers are buzzing as news broke that the Union Station renovations will include a St. Lawrence-style market, including new restaurants such as Union Chicken (from Carbon Bar) and more locations from Burger’s Priest, Balzac’s and Mill Street Brewery.
This End Up, made famous by massive sandwiches and biggie-sized burgers, has shuttered its doors much to the chagrin of loyal locals. But at least the building can take solace in knowing its been left in good hands. Deron Engbers (of the venerable French Laundry) and Michael Dorbyk (Monarch Tavern) have signed on to open This and That in its place. Expect nifty noshings from the pair with an opening in the next month or so, tops.
Shockingly, a second Rose & Sons is now in the works, this time far from its Dupont Street home base. Queen Street West can expect a similar look from Anthony Rose’s latest place, meaning he’ll likely leave signage and other things in tact after Swan vacated last month.
Know any other hot May openings? Share your thoughts on “New Toronto Restaurants: May Edition” in the comments below or tweet us at @ViewTheVibe.