Après ski without the slopes: Where to fill up on hot cheese in Toronto

Après ski without the slopes: Where to fill up on hot cheese in Toronto

Val d’Isère, St. Moritz, Aspen, Whistler… Earl Bales? Toronto’s only ski hill doesn’t exactly measure up to the bar set by the world’s best slopes, but the GTA’s lack of triple black diamonds hasn’t stopped local restaurants from serving up après-ski fare. Across the Alps, cheesy plates of fondue, raclette and tartiflette are earned after hours of carving up the slopes. In Toronto, however, no skis are required to enjoy some cheesy, potato-y, après-ski grub—just head to one of these eight restaurants.


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The Four Seasons lobby lounge has been transformed into a cozy chalet complete with sheepskin throws, snow-dusted evergreens, a central fireplace and a full-size log cabin. The alpine transformation is part of Après Ski, a pop-up that brings a special menu of cheesy post-ski favourites—French onion soup, raclette tartine, tartiflette, fondue—to dBar until the end of March. 60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6010, dbartoronto.com


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This romantic Rosedale bistro serves two types of savoury fondue. One is a straight-up gruyère emulsion blended with brandy and white wine. The other is a melty mix of brie and blue cheese. We recommend popping by on Wednesdays when there are $5 glasses of wine and half-price bottles up for grabs. 1118 Yonge St., 647-352-8111, carensrosedale.com


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Le Baratin

What Dundas West’s Le Baratin lacks in size (it’s a squeeze to fit two dozen people in here), it makes up for in full-fat Franco fare packed with butter and cheese. The kitchen serves up two takes on tartiflette, a traditional Alpine dish made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions. For dinner, they skip the pork and amp up the cheese, topping a potato tart with emmental, brie, raclette and caramelized onions. And for brunch, they top a spud base with emmental, brie, asiago, cream, caramelized onions and eggs. 1600 Dundas St. W., 416-534-8800, lebaratin.ca


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Le Swan

At Jen Agg’s darling French diner, fondue isn’t to be consumed in the daylight—it’s strictly a late-night snack, and it’s only available after 11 p.m. (the kitchen closes at midnight, but this cheesy goodness is on offer until last call). Chef James Santon keeps his fondue classic with a blend of emmental and gruyère, some white pepper, nutmeg, garlic, a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. 892 Queen St W., 416-536-4440, leswan.ca


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While the sausages might be the focus at this beer hall, the Wvrst team knows that the fixings make the meal. Whether you’ve opted for a classic bratwurst or something a bit wilder like a porcini-and-thyme spiced elk dog, everything is better with cheese. Melted raclette or gooey gouda can be added to just about anything on the menu. (Expect the salad—that’s ill advised.) And for the sausage-averse set, Wvrst also offers a freshly baked pretzel with a raclette-gouda dipping sauce. 609 King St. (and a second location in Union Station), 416-703-7775, wvrst.com


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Maison Selby

While a bowl of straight-up melted cheese is sure to provide comfort on a cold day, nothing warms the bones quite like French onion soup. Maison Selby’s comforting concoction takes two full days to make. The onions alone take six hours to caramelize before they’re left to simmer in a demi-glaze-enriched chicken stock. The molten topper is a mix of gruyère, emmental and a French-Canadian twist: cheese curds. 592 Sherbourne St. 647-943-1676, maisonselby.com


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Good Cheese

Between East Chinatown’s fishmongers and greengrocers, there’s a wee cheese shop that does double duty as a wine bar. The people here will happily build an interesting board for you, but if you’re after something a bit more comforting, ask for the fondue. Good Cheese’s fondue is a 50-50 blend of emmental and Five Brothers, a cheese from Woodstock that tastes like gruyère and melts like gouda. The bubbling bowl is served with La Bastille sourdough, cornichons and apples. 614 Gerrard St. E., 416-285-8482, goodcheese.ca


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Otto’s Bierhalle

Austrian and German mountains don’t get the same sort of international adoration as the Swiss and French peaks, but there’s some pretty excellent skiing in that part of the world, and it comes with Teutonic nosh. Otto’s Bierhalle has it all: braised beef cheek spätzle, cheese fondue and a plethora of schnitzel permutations. 1087 Queen St. W., 416-901-5472, ottosbierhalle.com