Everything about quetzal, Grant van Gameren’s biggest, most elaborate space yet, is extraordinary—it has shifted the restaurant world’s centre of gravity.
A year’s worth of construction has produced a dramatic room, with a plaster ceiling that torques and curves. Flames from the eight-metre firepit, dancing up the walls, are visible from almost every seat in the house. Chef-couple Kate Chomyshyn and Julio Guajardo cook brightly modern Mexican, and the spotlight is on hero cuts of rib-eye, lamb barbacoa and, our favourite, pescado Zarandeado, line-caught fish (red snapper on one occasion) that’s butterflied and rubbed with red chorizo seasoning on one half, green chorizo seasoning on the other, and grilled. It’s smoky, perfectly timed and deeply satisfying, wrapped in handmade tortillas and dressed with a sweet cherry tomato salsa.
Smaller dishes are equally impressive: a tartly refreshing scallop and halibut ceviche, arranged as a circle of petals with sections of Ontario-grown gherkins (which resemble Lilliputian watermelons); a bowl of grilled mixed mushrooms and a leek broth, with a meaty depth of flavour; all the masa, especially the version embellished with zucchini blossoms and precisely plated with a circle of crema and black-bean sauce; and an incredible plate of coal-roasted, honey-coated beets. If you emailed for a reservation in the restaurant’s early days last summer, you received an auto-reply politely suggesting you should try again later— much, much later. You must try, though.
419 College St., 647-347-3663, quetzaltoronto.com