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Best New Restaurants 2012: No. 5 Ortolan

Best New Restaurants 2012: No. 5 Ortolan

Down the street from Bloor West’s notorious House of Lancaster nudie bar, in a scruffy 26-seat hole in the wall filled with high-priced hipsters (cashmere toques, silkscreen Ts), two young chefs are reviving local, seasonal cooking for a city of diners who now yawn when they hear the phrase. Damon Clements and Daniel Usher, trained in French and Italian food, respectively, combine their cuisines on a micro-menu they change every few days with complete disregard for trends or culinary tricks. Every season brings simple food done remarkably well: whisper-light gnocchi smothered in mascarpone and crowned with asparagus and mint; panna cotta dotted with tart wild blueberries; vine-fresh heirloom tomatoes in olive oil that smells like fresh-cut lawn; beef cheeks braised in red wine until they’re unbelievably rich and velvety; seared whitefish that tastes like it was hauled out of Lake Huron that day. It’s all carefully considered and lovingly prepared, as if for friends instead of strangers off the street. 1211 Bloor St., 647-348-4500. See our listing for more information »

(Images: Raina and Wilson)

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