Introducing: Yours Truly, a new Ossington restaurant and bar with a chef whose resumé includes Per Se, Alinea and Noma (no, really)

Introducing: Yours Truly, a new Ossington restaurant and bar with a chef whose resumé includes Per Se, Alinea and Noma (no, really)

A cook does some prep work at the bar before opening (Image: Renée Suen) 

Yours Truly, a new restaurant and bar on the still-hot Ossington strip, opened with no great fanfare in mid-December, but now it’s causing quite a stir. Behind the place are ex-Vancouverites Matt Cherkas, Dan Hawkins and Aleem Jamal-Kabani, who found that Toronto put up a less fierce barrier to entry than their hometown did. Initially, they’d planned on opening a little watering hole to call their own with a few bar snacks, but everything changed after they found their new chef, Jeff Claudio. At only 28, Claudio has an impressive pedigree: he’s worked at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York, Rockpool in Sydney and the Toronto branch of Scarpetta, where he was chef de cuisine. He also staged at Noma (a.k.a. the best restaurant in the world) and two of Chicago’s best restaurants, Alinea and Charlie Trotter’s. Hence the buzz.

Claudio, also a B.C. native, tells us his modernist-tinged food is the result of close collaboration with his kitchen crew. The daily four-course prix fixe menu ($45 for meat, $35 for vegetarian) is inspired by ingredient availability—not to mention the kitchen’s lack of storage space—and available until 10 p.m. On a given night, selections might include a roulade of Chanteclair Rouge chicken from Sheridan Specialties dusted with a toasted shallot and chicken skin crumble; pan-seared Kolapore Springs trout on a pool of whipped potatoes with lovage, crisp torn croutons and potato chips; or a meaty roasted heirloom carrot on yogurt, topped with a rainbow of thinly sliced persimmons, nasturtiums, purslane and toasted wheatberries. The main event is preceded by a parade of amuse-bouches, like whimsical “truffle” falafel balls, lobster bisque topped with lobster powder or compressed spinach with cider vinegar gel, whipped buttermilk and rye crumbs. There’s also a menu of Asian-inspired bar snacks, which include celery aïoli–dressed lobster tucked inside masa bread ($14 for two), pork ssam ($7) made from pan-seared and honey-glazed pork belly that’s cooked in duck fat, and sweet inari tofu pockets stuffed with a mixture of Portuguese salted cod, sesame, toasted seaweed and sushi rice ($6 a pair).

Set to seat 52 by February (currently there’s room for 38), the former Galaxy Donuts space is full of all kinds of repurposed chic. Jason Stroud (Stroudfoot)—who designed Kultura, Colborne Lane and Origin—was responsible for outfitting the open room, from filling in the 100-year-old polished terrazzo flooring to procuring the warm copper pendant light shades and the custom-made lacquered concrete tables below. Perched high on a shelf near the centre of the room is the restaurant’s mascot, a walking figure with a top hat, created by B.C. sculptor Logan Sturrock; across the room is the bar, complete with a bar top made from reclaimed Distillery District wood and beer taps fashioned out of old steam pipes. Bar manager Shane Roberts’s drink list includes select wine and beer, as well as classic cocktails like French 75s and Sazeracs, and house specialties like the clementine-infused Alibi and bourbon- and Fernet-dominated Rare Earth ($9–$12).

Yours Truly, 229 Ossington Ave., 416-533-2243,