Finally got to Globe Bistro on the Danforth, where Café Brussels used to be. I had called half a dozen times since it opened in November but they ran into delays getting their liquor licence. Anyway, I wanted to give the place a few weeks to get up and running. Others felt differently and the room has been busy since day one. A fine room it is. The original floor from the long-ago days when the premises were part of a bowling alley is still in place. And Café Brussels’ balcony tables, outdoor patio and private room have been retained, though the balcony railing is now frosted glass. Instead of the old art nouveau look, the soaring space has been given a clean, unfussied modern décor in neutral tones that allows for a play of light and shade. Heavy white cloths cover the tables. Lots of veteran waiters buzz about—you’ll recognize them from half a dozen places—and manager Adrian Amara watches over the action. The owner, Ed Ho, is also out on the floor, quietly bussing tables, which is a good and conscientious thing to see. I’d say they have found the sweet spot in terms of mood, that small area of the spectrum of conviviality that is chic enough to work as a place for a romantic date but comfortable enough to attract quartets of grown-up locals in sweaters and sports jackets every day of the week.
The kitchen has been opened up and completely refurbished for chef Mark Cutrara and his team. I haven’t run across Cutrara before but his CV mentions Stratford Chefs School, Chiado, Messis, JKROM, Nouveau Parigo (where I think he was chef) and Silver Spoon on Roncesvalles (where he was sous). I was really impressed by his work the other night. For a start, he’s sourcing the best available product—mostly from Cumbrae Farms and La Ferme. His flavours are deep and pure, textures well-judged, and there’s a precision to his flavour combinations that I found very pleasing. An example. Butter-poached lobster which was actually delightfully unbuttery and had serious lobster flavour in its tender, juicy flesh. The creature shared the bowl with some sizeable half-moon agnolotti filled with minted ricotta. The mint was a brilliant little note to strike. There were wilted translucent ribbons of fennel and, playing in the same part of the orchestra as fennel and mint, a big tarragon presence which the waiter introduced to the dish by pouring an intensely flavourful but lightweight lobster-tarragon broth over the solids in the bowl. Peeled orange segments were a final refresher. It was a lovely dish and showed how well lobster can stand up for itself when it’s not slutted up with butterfat.
We had eleven dishes in all and there wasn’t a dud among them. The wine list is reasonably priced and surprisingly broad—quite a number of Champagnes and white Burgundies and also 28 wines by the glass. I’m quite sure Globe is going to become a Toronto hot spot and Riverdale favourite.
In other news: I haven’t had time to confirm the rumour but it seems that Teddy Corrado is to be the chef of the ROM’s new restaurant once the exploding crystal is finished. Corrado was a sous chef at Rain, then chef at Luce under executive chef Guy Rubino and is now sous chef at George. Good history. I’ll see what I can find out.
N.B. Cava is now open for lunch.
UPDATE: Bushwhacked again. Oh well. Waddayagonnado. There was I babbling on about Mark Cutrara’s brilliant cooking at Globe and it turns out he left the nascent resto during the Christmas holidays. According to owner Ed Ho, Cutrara is now taking some time off to ponder his next move. Ben Heaton (formerly executive sous chef at Far Niente and part of Globe’s team under Cutrara) is now Globe’s head chef. He cooked my lovely dinner on Saturday, though the menu presumably was Cutrara’s. What will Heaton do now that he’s in charge? We can all find out next week when Globe’s new winter menu (100 percent Heaton) kicks in.