In this time of a-new-restaurant-every-32-seconds, we tend to suffer from dining-out fatigue. No, no… it’s not that we’re bored about going every other night to try a new spot. It’s that we’re just tired of the “nothing new” complex that plagues many an olfactory outpost. Luckily, there are a few restaurants that are flying ahead of the curve, giving us something unique coupled with the par-for-the-course hospitality we’ve come to expect from Toronto’s dining destinations. Here are a few we love and why they tickle us with their sense of forethought…
Flexitarianism is the new fad diet descriptor for 2014. Essentially it means you become a fairweather vegetarian, opting for produce over meat most, not all, but most of the time. (That’s an exceedingly basic definition, but you get the gist.) Bickford Flexitarian has done a superb job in creating a menu that’ll please any vegetarian, carnivore, or any of the aforementioned please-pigeon-hole-my-new-way-of-eating peeps.
The Dock Ellis
Okay, so the sports bar concept isn’t anything new. But a sports bar that feels, well, not super sports-bar-ish and that serves up food we’d march into any restaurant for gets some good graces in our books. Trish Gill’s undeniably delicious bar food will dazzle any tastebuds, and the nine flat screens for viewing are kind of like a no-calorie dessert.
Nota Bene’s been around awhile, sure. But we still get goosebumps every time we pop by. Recently, they launched a really cool new Gin menu that gives this transparent spirit some time in the spotlight. The service is stunning, with a vessel of gin arriving alongside sliced cucumbers, dried juniper berries, and flower petals. It’s a clever touch that confounds mediocrity, which is why we love it.
This Regent Park resto gets some brownie points for being a really cool social enterprise. Paintbox has embedded itself within its surrounding community and offers training programs and a foreseeable career path to up-and-coming hospitality workers living in the Regent Park area, who otherwise might not get a foot in the door elsewhere. This is what you would call “feel good food.”
A 100 percent Ocean Wise certified sushi restaurant, Just Sushi is a world’s first for the designation, and you’ll find it in the most unlikely of spots: Etobicoke. (Okay, well it borders that far west land, so we’ll consider it there for our purposes.) Every single piece of fish or seafood here comes from a safe and sustainable supplier, which is more than you can say for your fave cheap sushi spot that serves the same ol’ spicy salmon roll you always order.