Introducing: Actinolite, one couple’s labour of love on a quiet stretch of Ossington
Nearly six years in the making, the long-awaited Actinolite opened last week on a quiet strip of Ossington at Hallam, just south of Dupont. Behind the restaurant are husband-and-wife team Justin Cournoyer, a cook with over 15 years of experience (including a four-year stint at Susur) and Claudia Bianchi, a culinary producer for Food Network Canada (Top Chef Canada, Cook Like a Chef) and food stylist. Out of a building that was once home to Our Place Café, the couple has created an approachable yet sophisticated neighbourhood restaurant.
Named after Cournoyer’s hometown of Actinolite (just north of Belleville), the restaurant is homey, exuding country hospitality with a contemporary feel. On the walls are old family photos (including one of their mill in Actinolite) and an original survey map of the town. Found antique accents abound: the façade of the bar is made of drawers fused together, the bookshelf behind the bar is from G.H. Johnson’s Trading Company (just down the street), and an old sign saying “This office closes at 5 p.m.” was found in the building when the couple purchased it.
The menu stays true to the neighbourhood and Cournoyer’s background, with the old-world flavours of Portuguese, Italian and Spanish cuisine touched up with French techniques and seasonal produce. First courses include Kolapore Springs trout ($14) and spring vegetable soup ($9). For mains, there’s grilled Ontario lamb ($28) with lamb sofrito, eggplant, polenta and pine nut jus; steamed Georgian Bay white fish ($24); or grilled grass-fed veal T-bone ($26). To finish, there’s dessert like a grapefruit pavlova ($9). Behind the bar is front-of-house manager Daniel Brooks, who’s creating a buzz for his wine list showcasing unusual varietals like Albarino from Spain and Falanghina and Barbera from Italy.
Actinolite, 971 Ossington Ave., 416-962-8943, actinoliterestaurant.com