Toronto’s Best New Restaurants: Leña


When you’re not in the mood for a 14-hour flight to Buenos Aires, you’d do well at this handsome series of art deco rooms on the southeast corner of the Saks-Bay complex. Anthony Walsh, O&B’s top chef, got his inspiration, and his empanada recipe, from his Argentinian mother-in-law, Elena Arevalo. South American cuisine is an experiment for a man synonymous with expense-account tasting menus, though there’s no mistaking the O&B polish: plush banquettes, deep wine list, servers always at your command without hovering.

Executive chef Julie Marteleira and O&B’s Anthony Walsh.

The cooking, however, is bright and relaxed. Must-haves are a dish of salt cod, pickled red onion, deep-fried cumin-dusted chickpeas, fresh fava beans and cilantro scooped up on toasts (they call it a salad, which undersells the awesome textures), and the roasted rabbit on an extra­ordinarily flavourful bed of rice cooked with tomatoes and snails. Those empa­nadas, with sweet pastry encasing peppery ground beef, slices of egg and plump black olives, live up to all the hype.

176 Yonge St., 416-507-3378,

Savoury empanadas stuffed with beef, egg and olives, with chimichurri.
Roasted rabbit on a bed of rice cooked with tomatoes and snails.