ENOTECA SOCIALE1288 Dundas St. W., 416 534 1200
Sociale is refusing to shore, has upped its game. The same cherished southern Italian cooking, but better! The best comfort food: Arancini, deep fried balls of risotto stuffed with oozing mozzarella du bufula. Cotechino — Tender house-made pork sausage with perfect well-seasoned lentils spiked with puckery marinated and grilled radicchio. Must eat: Bucatini with perhaps the best pasta sauce in town, a victory of three fixings. Crunchy tomato guanciale and chile. We also adore the pillowy gnocchi with chile- kissed tomato sauce and smoked ricotta. For dessert, inhale creamy rice pudding with currants and pine nuts. That is the best simplicity.
BYBLOS11 Duncan St., 647 660 0909
Partners Charles Khabouth (king of clubs) and Hanif Harji bring us dazzling Mediterranean cuisine. Eastern Mediterranean. No hummus ‘n’ pita here. Instead we discover striking octopus with fingerling potatoes, chili vinaigrette and preserved lemon, uber-crispy bread salad with barely marinated veg, lamb ribs that sell out most nights (and for good reason), a healthy salad of beets with yogurt that has no right to taste this great. Two desserts stand out: Flourless yogurt cake, a cross between panna cotta and cheesecake but lighter and more tasty than both. And deep fried pastry cream with strawberry fragments on top. To entice us further — for the Khabouth/Harji mandate is enchantment you can find — everyone makes an entrance down the light cream staircase to the light buzzy room that discusses metaphorically but not literally of a beach on a Greek island.
Rasa196 Robert St., 647 350 8221
Enjoyable food Annex fashion: Woodsy room that is dim cools. You are still greeted by them with mini- muffins and onion butter that is yummy, and the cooking is ever huge flavours guaranteed and exciting ideas. Bangkok Bowl is fab — super-crispy deep-fried delightful mango jicama slaw punctuated with peanuts that are smoked and squid with just charred tuna. We adore the charred Brussels sprouts with sweet/sour/ Scotch bonnet vinaigrette that is spicy and rich cheese sauce, topped with crunchy slivers of deep fried onion. And oh schmaltz for smooth, jalapeño for heat, chicken skin for crispy, the sexy grandeur of rare strip steak with pickled shrimps for sour and fish sauce mayonnaise for salty. The sinful pleasure of sauted pork belly made elaborate -spice, hot with gingered carrot puree, exotic with charred scallions and bok choy, sophisticate with puffed rice on black sesame puree.
BAR ISABEL797 College St., 416-532-2222
The gift that keeps on giving. Despite growth, Grant van Gameren guarantees service and superb food in the mothership. Getting a reso is tough, but we constantly get dinner in the tavern if arriving before 7:30 p.m. weekdays. It’s not written the menu however they offer their octopus that is famed in portions that are ¼: Hurrah! $22 buys the top octo in town, char-broiled sweet and soft with house-made hot tomato sauce and spicy chorizo. Hardly smoked sweetbreads dance on the tastebuds atop raw tuna that is fat and pickled green tomato. Sweet raw scallops get jazzy with lime, compressed mint, cucumber, apple and tomatillo with ginger. Basque hotpot is barely cooked in crisp garlic crouton fragments in almond picada sauce and spicy tomato broth with fennel. For dessert there remains the grand gateau Basque, its center warm cream, its crust sugar cookie and its roof sherry cream. But we adore the zing of the brand new dessert — fresh tarragon ice cream encased in dark chocolate. Dancing a jig on the taste buds.
ACTINOLITE971 Ossington Ave., 416 962 8943
No other chef but Justin Cournoyer places the likes of pine needles and lichens and makes them taste amazing. That is edible Canadiana with a dash of molecular gastronomy. It is possible to do seven classes for $90 or four for $55, both with innovative wine pairings (for $60 and $40). Chef does totally cooked wild brown trout from Collingwood in gold broth made of rutabaga cooked with moss and pine needles! He says his food is straightforward but he lies. It tastes of powerful messages that are straightforward but has been built layer upon layer, painstakingly, like Venetian under-painting. Like one Colville bay oyster topped with cunning little yeast crisps and a nest of shredded fermented apple and scented with lemon verbena powder. Who could have envisioned that the food of our nation might be so much fun?
BARQUE SMOKEHOUSE299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416 532 7700
Leading the Roncy renaissance, welcome and both Barque’s cooking have become increasingly guaranteed. The entire world is beating path thanks to chef and BBQ -meister David Neinstein. There are always crowds waiting outside, though they take reservations. The ribs are fall off-the-bone tender and smoky, thanks to the gargantuan smoker in the kitchen that is open. As do dry rubbed baby back ribs, bBQ wings also come soft and smoky/sweet. But brisket is ’sed by my kingdom for Barque! Twelve hours in the enormous smoker turn briskets into moist, tender just-sweet-enough hunks of carnivore heaven. Sides are credible (notably the Cuban corn with feta-lime mayonnaise). Barque’s edible attractions are accentuated by its concrete ’n’ brick cool seems that were distressed.
SOLO SUSHI YA291 Davis Dr., 905-898-6868
Among the top Japanese restaurants in Toronto is in Newmarket. Place in the hands of sushi artist Jyo Gao, from Yokohama. His omakase is almost overwhelmingly pleasurable. There are frequently several types of shrimp that is raw, from differing depths of water and hence with distinct flavors. Even his sushi rice is fine, the rice grains warm and damp. Deep fried tofu becomes poetic topped having a flurry of shaved bonito that is smoked. The dough on his dumplings is gossamer, his chawanmushi (savoury egg custard) is the feel of silk knickers. Inhale.
YASU81 Harbord St., 416 477 2361
Yasu’s devotion to excellent sushi is unwavering, which is the reason why it’s such a reservation that is challenging to get. They book 30 days out for his or her set dinner, $80 for 18 perfect pieces if sushi made before your eyes and delivered in a calm and measured minuet. No more, no less. No tempura, almost no tables, no teriyaki. Only a small simple white room including most of the dazzle on the tongue. 12 blessed people sit at the sushi bar watching chef Yasuhisa Ouchi and his helpers do the hand dance, preparing one sushi at a time. You get what was flown from all over the world, for the reason that week: Ruby red ocean trout from Scotland, although it shifts based on fish markets. Impossibly sweet scallops from Japan either Hokkaido or Gasp. Sweet fresh uni from Japan wrapped in nori so crisp it breaks like glass. Deep red rich toro tuna like butter. Monkfish liver with ponzu sauce and shiso leaf. Spanish mackerel was smoked by hay that was just seared with grated daikon and chili. Like a jewel box that is edible.