Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: Aloette

Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: Aloette

Aloette

Three floors up, Patrick Kriss’s Alo is the toughest reservation in town; your best hope is to get on a wait-list and cross your fingers for a cancellation. So, there was a ripple of excitement at the news that he’d be opening a second location, a no-reservations diner in a narrow space on the ground floor. It’s only slightly easier to get in—I’ve stopped by mid-week, minutes after the door unlocks, to find a full house and a two-hour wait. But it’s worth it.

Aloette chef de cuisine Matthew Betsch.

Aloette is a mini-Alo only insofar as the menu will never leave you bored. The kitchen is led by the former Alo sous-chef Matthew Betsch, who brings an uncommon intensity—of flavour, of thinking, of fun—to every dish. Otherwise, it’s a very different place, the unfussy bistro cousin to Alo’s white-linens-and-wine-pairings refinement.

Unfussy but terrifically delicious: I’ve had lusciously meaty Burgundy snails in a bowl of Puy lentils, greens and a squirt of lemon; scallop sashimi served on mini-tostadas with crema, diced apple and jalapeño; pulled lamb shoulder, at once crispy, fatty and tender, tossed in a salad of Israeli couscous, slices of orange, chili, ras el hanout, yogurt dressing, and big leaves of mint and basil. Just like upstairs, there’s a bread course worth gushing about: toasted slices of cheese bread made with aged cheddar and potato dough, with a spread of brown butter mixed with toasted yeast—toast upon toast upon toast.

The talk of the town, however, is Betsch’s burger. Naturally, it’s no ordinary chuck patty, given added oomph from aged beef fat, and topped with fried cheese and pickled vidalia onions, the bun house-made, the side of fries double-crisped. After having to wait so long for a table, you’ll savour every bite.

163 Spadina Ave., 416-260-3444, aloetterestaurant.com

The Aloette Burger, topped with fried beaufort cheese and pickled vidalia onions on a house-made bun, with a side of double-crisped fries.
A sturdy wedge of lemon meringue pie.
If you arrive to find this many empty seats, consider yourself lucky.