The 10 best restaurants in Yorkville right now
Our highest-rated restaurants in the high-end 'hood
Salumi di Mare, house cured fish unique to #BucaYorkville. Our selections include: Salsicce di crostacei (scallop & lobster sausage) pesce spada (dry-cured swordfish) soppressata di polipo (octopus salami) tonno affumicato (dry-cured & smoked albacore tuna) capesanta affumicata (saffron-brined and hot smoked east coast scallop) #BucaYorkville #Yorkville #curedfish
At Rob Gentile’s Yorkville restaurant, the focus is on top-notch fish and seafood. The “salami,” made with octopus, scallop, swordfish or tuna blood combined with pork fat, are like fine headcheese, though nowhere near as popular as deep-fried exotica like Atlantic cod tongue or puffed dumplings dyed a deep black with squid ink. The day’s catch, cooked in a carapace of salt, is cracked tableside and presented like a devotional offering. Everything is perfect, including the zeppole—an Italian doughnut—dusted with confectioner’s sugar and stuffed with a rich pistachio-mascarpone cream.
Chef Benny Cohen’s Yorkville restaurant is every bit the polished supper lounge, from the dimly lit dining room to the menu, which offers sophisticated Mediterranean fusion dishes. A rich blue crab bisque sauce blankets lovely butternut squash–lobster agnolotti, though the coins of botargo overtop are too fishy for the plate. For dessert, fig kataiv brings a sensational bird’s nest of fried pastry drowned in a fig and almond syrup, and filled with sweet fruit and mascarpone.
Marble walls, plush black leather banquettes and a monumental wedding cake of a chandelier reinforce the impression of a Deco-era nightclub at Nao, the latest in a series of ambitious projects from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji. Executive chef Ben Heaton is responsible for a big-spender menu, which is all about the beef: the locker for aging holds a king’s ransom of prime Canadian and American cattle, Wagyu and, the most outrageous of all, Japanese Kobe, which starts at $105 for a mere five ounces and climbs precipitously to $460 for a 24-ounce rib-eye. The more modest Australian Wagyu rump steak is charred handsomely, rare within and so heavily marbled it’s more fat than meat—it slices like butter.
When Daniel Boulud opened an outpost at the new Toronto Four Seasons in 2012, he goofed by adapting his formula to trendy Canadiana. So last summer he bumped the chef de cuisine, replaced the tacky decor and reverted to what he does best: rustic yet meticulously executed bistro standards. The menu is resolutely Lyonnaise, from the sticky caramelized apples and onions with truffled boudin blanc, to the crispy skin of duck confit and thyme-flecked frites that are among the tastiest around. Whole poultry and fish are prepared on a newly installed rotisserie, as well as the pineapple that appears on the dessert list and has been rotated over the heat for hours, brushed liberally with rum. It’s the sort of labour-intensive, guiltily pleasurable end to the night that shows Boulud at his best.
There’s much toasting and petits bisous under the crystal chandeliers at Chabrol, Doug Penfold’s tiny new Yorkville bistro. It’s accessed via an alley and barely visible from the street: even an innocent lunch date acquires a whiff of discreet rendezvous. Penfold works at a couple of burners behind the bar, thriving under the constraints. He composes note-perfect pork liver mousse; chestnut soup fragrant with sorrel; a ballotine of chicken wrapped around roasted apples, with a jolt of herbaceousness from a watercress purée; and steaming side plates of celeriac and escarole gratin. He saves the best for last: made-to-order apple tart, with warm calvados sabayon slowly poured overtop.
The regulars at this Yorkville institution—Drake and his posse included—must love all the arty-pervy photos of naked women caught in fishermen’s nets. The menu, which hasn’t changed much in decades, lists pastas that are gummy, over-sauced and far too garlicky. The real draw is the daily selection from the sea, which the servers present in raw form on a platter, explaining provenance and flavour profile (but omitting the price, which can hit a couple hundred per fish). Your pick is then simply grilled and served with lemon wedges.
The latest from Chase Hospitality Group, Yorkville’s Kasa Moto is currently the city’s fanciest izakaya. No one yells “Irasshaimase!” when you enter—instead, you’re greeted by modelesque hostesses in slinky black dresses and heels. Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga, the sushi chef, makes ikebana-like displays out of mackerel, hamachi, sea bream, fatty Scottish salmon and precious tuna belly sashimi. Skewers of cubed pork belly, cooked on a robata grill and given a final brush of tart pickled Japanese plum, are equal parts moisture and smoke. Strip loin is delivered to the table on a personal grill containing a couple of smouldering chunks of bincho. Each slice is more peppery and flavourful than the last. The Japanese cheesecake for dessert is better than Uncle Tetsu’s.
The moneyed young and the suspiciously young-looking still treat celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s eight-year-old Yorkville hotel-restaurant as their clubhouse—though the menu, unlike the patrons, is showing a little wear. Seafood linguine doesn’t have enough chili kick—nor blue crab, nor tiger shrimp—to seduce to the bottom of the bowl. Thankfully, the perfectly pink smoked lamb loin slices with soft, pan-browned gnocchi are excellent. The drinks list is recreational reading for some (there’s an entire page of champagnes), but on-tap wines from Vineland and house bottlings of Niagara white and red are gracious touches.
Everything about Yorkville’s British gastropub is cozy, toasty and quietly aristocratic. And, like any good British kitchen, the place turns out a wealth of sauce-soaked meats and deep-fried savoury bites. Pudgy croquettes, stuffed with salty mushrooms and stinky stilton, are surprisingly subtle and compulsively snackable. Gamey lamb shoulder is slow-roasted for four hours, then cubed and tossed in a smoky navarin with parsnips, carrot, potatoes and beans. The cocktail list features twists on Pimm’s cups and manhattans, but the best boozy bets are the cask-conditioned ales.
Located in a sunshine-yellow house at the city’s swishest corner, Sassafraz is the centre around which the rest of Yorkville orbits. Suits gather at the marble-slab bar lounge, while Burberry-clad couples hold hands over candlelight in a dining room tricked out with vaulted glass ceilings and a towering waterfall. The menu is safe but well done. Chanterelle-stuffed agnolotti is served in a plush truffle cream sauce. The cumin-scented squash soup has an odd graininess from red lentil purée, but is pleasant nonetheless. A waterlogged slice of halibut is one stark misstep. The vodka-heavy cocktail list lacks imagination, but the wine selection, like the floor-to-ceiling cellar that houses it, is imposing and steep.