The sprawling dining scene in Toronto is more diverse and promising than ever. This year, a handful of 20-something chefs who trained at the city’s old-guard establishments broke out on their own with original, low-rent restaurants in Roncesvalles, Bloorcourt Village and Cabbagetown. New Italian places—some quaint and friendly, others opulent and expensive—outpaced bistros by an angel hair. Canada’s heritage was thoroughly and pervasively plumbed for culinary inspiration. (Is there anything that can’t be glazed in maple syrup?) The barbecue craze progressed into a New Age southern food fetish that involves a lot of top-shelf bourbon, house-made pickles and artisanal sauces. Chefs evoked the Mediterranean on seafood-loaded menus downtown, where, after years of casual comforts, fine dining returned, albeit revamped for diners who couldn’t care less about gourmet bravado and epicurean elitism, so long as their trout is perfectly seared (and comes from Lake Huron). Toronto Life’s critics indulged in it all. We ate, drank, debated and finally ranked the 10 spots that surprised us, delighted us and made us grateful to live in this restaurant-obsessed city.
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