Where to Eat Now: everything you need to know about dining in Toronto in 2014

Where to Eat Now: everything you need to know about dining in Toronto in 2014

Where to Eat Now: everything you need to know about dining in Toronto in 2014

Where to Eat Now 2014

I’d gladly spend every night in a bar seat facing the open kitchen at Chantecler. Two scruffy young chefs squeeze past one another in a tiny space, cooking with a tabletop deep fryer and an electric stove. Despite the constraints, they produce an exquisitely intricate, ethnically hyphenated tasting menu that seems particularly Torontonian and of the moment. On my last visit, I gorged on tartare with house-made shrimp chips, a Chinese-style double-smoked duck with crisp baked kale, Colville Bay oysters with fresh tagliatelle, a sweet custard topped with sea urchin, and a dessert of buckwheat-flavoured ice cream and Niagara black walnuts. I left thoroughly winded.

That a special place like Chantecler can thrive on one of the grimier blocks in Parkdale only shows how the dining scene is keeping pace with our insatiable hunger to be wowed. Restaurants are experimenting with menus themed around unsung ingredients, flying in like-minded star chefs for one-night collaborations, and building empires down alleys and in former gastronomical deserts like Dupont and Dundas West. The two big name ­out-of-towners—David Chang and Daniel Boulud—overcame the provincial skepticism of foodie bloggers by demonstrating a deep commitment to the homegrown (their menus read like a directory of southern Ontario heritage farmers). Every block seems to have a new spot specializing in a signature ramen. And for each walk-in-closet restaurant like Chantecler, there’s a new showstopper palace like The Chase to cater to Bay Street’s big spenders.

I’ve eaten my way across this city many times over, sipping more than my share of barrel-aged bourbon, waiting in lines at no-reservation hot spots and discreetly taking notes on my smartphone. The following pages contain my take on the city’s biggest dining trends (including a few I could live without), the 10 most memorable dishes I tried in the past year and a ranking of the top 10 new restaurants.


BEST NEW RESTAURANTS 2014
Best New Restaurants: The Chase
THE CHASE
Best New Restaurants: Bar Isabel
BAR ISABEL
Best New Restaurants: THR Co.
THR CO.
Best New Restaurants: Drake One Fifty
DRAKE ONE FIFTY
Best New Restaurants: Electric Mud BBQ
ELECTRIC MUD BBQ
Best New Restaurants: Geraldine
GERALDINE
Best New Restaurants: Big Crow
BIG CROW
Best New Restaurants: Rhum Corner
RHUM CORNER
Best New Restaurants: Woods
WOODS
Best New Restaurants: Agave Y Aguacate
AGAVE Y AGUACATE


10 BEST DISHES OF THE YEAR
Best of Dishes of the Year: Canoe's Corn
CORN
Best of Dishes of the Year: Shoto's Short Rib
SHORT RIB
Best of Dishes of the Year: Cafe Boulud's Grapefruit Givre
GRAPEFRUIT GIVRÉ
Best of Dishes of the Year: Buca's Ravioli
RAVIOLI
Best of Dishes of the Year: Cava's Squid
SQUID
Best of Dishes of the Year: Edulis' Bread and Butter
BREAD AND BUTTER
Best of Dishes of the Year: Actinolite's Carrots
CARROTS
Best of Dishes of the Year: Chantecler's Tofu
“TOFU”
Best of Dishes of the Year: Hopgood's Blood Sausage
BLOOD SAUSAGE
Best of Dishes of the Year: Carmen's Paella
PAELLA

FADS WE LOVE AND HATE