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
53 Scollard St., 416-962-2822, buca.ca/yorkville
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.
1240 Bay St., 416-804-6066, @brothers_toronto
Occupying a former greasy spoon that’s cheek-to-cheek with Bay Station, one of the city’s best new restaurants is no bigger than a railroad car. Brothers isn’t caught up in what’s trending; instead, chef Jonathan Nicolaou’s no-frills menu changes daily but has included beef carpaccio layered with charred radicchio and buttery pine nuts; a roasted half Cornish hen on a bed of creamed savoy cabbage and chestnuts; seared hunks of veal sweetbreads under a ticklish wig of frisée; and slow-roasted Niagara lamb, with tangy fennel and briny capers. Here, diners are transported to Burgundy, to California, to Macedonia and to London. Then the Bloor line rumbles underfoot, and they’re brought back home.
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000, cafeboulud.com/toronto
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.
90 Yorkville Ave., 416-428-6641, chabrolrestaurant.com
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.
90 Avenue Rd., 416-367-4141, estiatoronto.com
This sleek Mediterranean number has replaced the (also sleek) Yorkville steakhouse, NAO. Chef Ben Heaton’s menu tours around Italy, Spain and Greece, with the majority of the dishes (house-made halloumi, broccolini with romesco, wine-and-citrus-brined octopus, whole red snapper) are cooked in the kitchen’s wood-fired oven or charcoal grill. Sommelier Lauren Hall has curated an international wine list thicker than a novella. There are still a few bold reds in the cellar left over from NAO’s days, but Estia’s whites are the new top-sellers. They range from easy-sipping to complex, like a wild-fermented Santorini varietal for $110 a bottle.
202 Davenport Rd., 416-925-1903, josos.com
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.
115 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-7000, kasamoto.ca
Among the scores of swanky establishments in Yorkville, few are as ambitious as Kasa Moto. Owned and operated by the Chase Hospitality Group, it’s no surprise that the sprawling space outfitted with marble and koi pond murals is a looker. The menu got a recent revamp from Montreal’s Antonio Park (Park, Lavanderia) and his leadership has, for the most part, helped refine the offerings. So while maki rolls, though ornate and well executed, are barely better than the ones you’d find at an Annex sushi joint, ocean-fresh sasshimi and nigiri are so good it’s easy to forgive the elevator music being played on repeat. Excellent cocktails, like the Origami in Flight, made with bourbon, kumqual cordial, green Chartreuse and lemon, keep the party going long after the last California roll has been served.
27 Yorkville Ave., 416-477-2427, mideastroyorkville.com
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.
121 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-1300, theoxley.com
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.
100 Cumberland St., 416-964-2222, sassafraz.ca
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. The cumin-scented squash soup has an odd graininess from red lentil purée, but is pleasant nonetheless. Chanterelle-stuffed agnolotti is decadent, served in a plush truffle cream sauce. The vodka-heavy cocktail list lacks imagination, but the wine selection, like the floor-to-ceiling cellar that houses it, is imposing and steep.