What’s on the menu at Estia, a Mediterranean restaurant from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji

What’s on the menu at Estia, a Mediterranean restaurant from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji

Name: Estia
Contact: 90 Avenue Rd., 416-367-4141, estiatoronto.com, @estiatoronto
Neighbourhood: Yorkville
Previously: NAO
Owners: Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
Chefs: Executive chef Ben Heaton (The Grove, La Société, Figo) and chef de cuisine Brent Maxwell (Canoe)

The food

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The menu tours around the Mediterranean with stops in Italy, Spain and Greece, with many of the plates designed for sharing. “About 95 per cent of the menu touches the smoke of the oven at some point,” says Heaton. (A wood-fired oven and charcoal grill are new additions to the space.) The kitchen’s focus is on traditional cooking techniques: the house-cured salami is hand cut; a mortar and pestle does a blender’s job; bread is baked in house; and they’re even making their own cheese and yogurt. Almost all of the products are brought in from small Ontario producers, except for the fish, which is flown in from Greece and New Zealand.

A selection of wood oven-baked breads served with warm olives, house-made feta and za’atar-topped smoked eggplant. $12.

 
The antipasti platter is all cured in-house. $18.

 
Heaton uses Jersey cows’ milk to make this halloumi—he says it makes the cheese creamier than the traditional mix of goat and sheep’s milk. The seared halloumi is topped with truffle honey, roasted grapes and toasted walnuts. $16.

 
Grilled broccolini topped with romesco and almonds. $14.

 
Cauliflower braised in a tomato-and-chili sauce. $14.

 
A whole serving of this salad—a mix of baby gem lettuce, feta, oven-crisped pita, olives, fresh basil and roast garlic vinaigrette—is enough for four. $19.

 
This beef tartare was inspired by a fattoush salad. The chopped tenderloin is topped with cucumber, olives, caper berries, sumac and house feta. $19.

 
House-made linguine is loaded with clams, mussels, cold-water shrimp and squid cooked in a wood-fired cherry tomato sauce. $29.

 
The octopus is brined in a red wine-orange mixture for days before it’s lightly simmered, then hung over charcoal. It’s served over romesco and n’duja. $19.

 
This five-pound red snapper (line-caught off the coast of New Zealand) is enough to feed a table of six. The fish is cooked in the wood oven then topped with pickled caper leaves. $32 per pound.

 
Chef Ben Heaton.

The drinks

Sommelier Lauren Hall has curated an international wine list thicker than a novella. There are still a few bold reds in the cellar left over from NAO’s days, but Estia’s whites are the new top-sellers. They range from easy-sipping to complex, like a wild-fermented Santorini varietal for $110 a bottle. Cocktails are of the classic kind with a few on-theme tweaks: the mojito, for instance, swaps out rum for Greek brandy.

Aperol Spritz: Aperol, Can Xa brut cava, soda, orange zest. $15.

 
Mojito: Metaxa Five Star brandy, lime juice, mint. $15.

The space

NAO’s man-cave vibe has been kicked to the curb—the only design elements saved were the multi-tiered glass chandelier and marble bar. The split-level, 177-seat space has been brightened with a lilac Persian rug here, teal pillows there; and decorative amphorae highlight the kitchen’s Greco-Roman influence (the name Estia is a reference to the Greek deity Hestia, goddess of the hearth). The front patio is so green, it could almost be mistaken for a nursery.