The best restaurants in Yorkville
Our highest-rated restaurants in the high-end 'hood
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57A-162 Cumberland St., 416-961-1222, alobaryorkville.com
As at the original Alo, and Kriss’s upscale diner Aloette, everything at Alobar Yorkville is meticulously polished to perfection: the staff (neat in blue jackets and crisp white shirts), the decor (plush scoop chairs, dark mirrors multiplying the room, signature brass inlays cutting across the wood floor) and a music mix that’s jazzy without being obtrusive.
It’s more like Aloette (à la carte and best shared) but dressed in a coat of only-in-Yorkville, over-the-top luxury. The kitchen wraps hamachi in sheets of translucent Iberico ham, brushes hefty chunks of lobster with XO sauce, and floats sea scallops, as thick as hockey pucks, in a vibrant pool of puréed summer corn and jalapeño. Sometimes they go too far, overwhelming tuna belly tartare with a funky mountain of black truffle shavings or coating blistered San Marzano tomatoes, tender and sweet, with a granola-crunch blanket of pine nuts and breadcrumbs. Then they take us back to the sublime: a cocktail glass of foie gras parfait, creamy and studded with preserved cherries, plus frozen shavings of yet more foie gras. Desserts like mille feuille, a stack of alternating puff pastry and Chantilly cream, are equally wonderful.
53 Scollard St., 416-962-2822, buca.ca/yorkville
The centrepiece of chef Rob Gentile’s downtown Italian triptych is his temple of seafood at the base of Yorkville’s Four Seasons. Four years in, it’s still one of the city’s most dependable splurges and a regular draw for suit-wearing power diners and celebrating couples. Whole branzino is fleetingly presented to the table, then carved tableside; it returns as a twinkling translucent blanket of melt-away fish streaked with olive oil, lemon and prosecco, every bite an exceptional double-dose of richness and bracing salinity. Equally oceanic are fresh sea urchins the size of tennis balls; spread on toasted focaccia, each of their buttery, deep-orange tongues tastes like a dive into the north Atlantic. Fresh pasta is always a Gentile hallmark, and few dishes better capture his kitchen’s strengths than a tangle of angel-hair and Nova Scotia lobster tossed in a seafood broth and thickened with nutty whey butter. One exception to the seafood bonanza: what might be the city’s priciest pizza, a $55 slab of lightly charred crust and funky taleggio, with black truffles scattered across its surface like confetti. Finished with streaks of egg yolk, it’s worth every dollar.
1240 Bay St., 416-804-6066, @brothers_toronto
It’s tiny—just over two-dozen seats, cooks jostling in a pocket-sized kitchen—but it makes a big impression. The wine list is a treat, featuring gorgeous old-world finds, and nothing currently falls over $160 (which is unheard of in this neighbourhood). Chef Jonathan Nicolaou’s menu, alert to the season and designed for easy pairings, is full of surprises, like a rockfish crudo enlivened by slippery cubes of cucumber-flavoured jelly and a hash of preserved green tomato, or the pleasing crunch of oven-crackled edges of rotolo—wheels of pasta stuffed with spinach and the freshest-imaginable ricotta. It’s tempting to stuff yourself with Prairie Boy sourdough, smeared with full-fat, sea-salt-flecked butter, but save room for a pavlova of sugary peak-season Ontario strawberries, sour pops of red currants and a drift of chantilly cream. The close quarters means you’ll get to know your neighbours, who’ll want to know what’s in your glass and compare real estate horror stories. As the night falls and the stereo rises, it can feel like you’re at the best dinner party in Yorkville.
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000, cafeboulud.com/toronto
In the last six years, Daniel Boulud’s restaurant at the Four Seasons has changed chefs and undergone a renovation—as well as a menu overhaul—and the place is better than ever. Cured meat, terrines and pâtés are a specialty here, and the formidable charcuterie board is a great way to start a meal; an imported rotisserie oven perfectly slow-roasts everything from whole chickens to pineapples. The standout dish is the quenelle de brochet, a Lyon-style dish of emulsified northern pike blended with eggs, cooked into a flawless omelette, and plated in a bowl of rich cognac-lobster sauce. Like Café Boulud itself, the dish is seamless.
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
Founder Joso Spralja’s unique vision for his eponymous Yorkville institution persists, for good and bad. The seafood selection remains impeccable, and the day’s catch is still ceremoniously presented to each table by a server who can explain the pros and cons of every clear-eyed, glistening fish on it. The next time you gaze upon your whole goraz, a rich Azorean seabream, for example, it will be perfectly charred with nuggets of oily, juicy flesh that tremble under the pressure of your fork. A mixed platter smelt, tender-fleshed prawns and heavily grilled and charred octopus, dressed with red wine and olive oil and smothered in capers delights. This is seafood perfection, and it is timeless. Everything else is dated, especially the décor, a mix of art that features countless depictions of naked women last seen painted on the sides of vans in the 70s. The wine list is expansive, agreeably priced, and accompanies the food splendidly. Vintage desserts include a delectable, textbook tiramisu.
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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.
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Sitting atop sweet, creamy butternut squash purée, pesto-dressed orzo and apple mostarda, this melt-in-your-mouth, fork-tender bison short rib was easily my favourite dish of the night ??? || Braised Bison Short Rib || Hemp Seed Pesto | Orzo | Butternut Squash | Apple Mostarda | Cherry Tomatoes | #bison #shortrib #thursday #toronto • • • • #braised #meat #rib #ribs #meatlover #beef #winter #comfortfood #dinner #tastetoronto #dinner #torontoeats #photooftheday #eatfamous #food #eeeeeats #foodbeast #foodie #foodpics #thechewreview #tasty #416 #eats #fita
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.