What’s on the menu at Alma, Anna Chen’s Bloordale Village home for French, Italian and Hakka Chinese flavours

What’s on the menu at Alma, Anna Chen’s Bloordale Village home for French, Italian and Hakka Chinese flavours

Name: Alma
Contact: 1194 Bloor St W., 647-346-1881, almatoronto.com, @alma.toronto
Neighbourhood: Bloordale Village
Formerly: Karelia Kitchen
Chef-owner: Anna Chen (Figo, Buca Yorkville, Scaramouche)

The food

An amalgamation of Chen’s Hakka Chinese upbringing in India and her experience cooking in French and Italian kitchens. Expect simple food with depth, punchy spices and fermented ingredients on a menu of share-friendly snacks and entrees that change depending on what Chen likes from her daily run to the farmers’ market and Ontario Food Terminal. The weekend brunch menu offers spins on classics like sunny-side-up eggs served with a spiced coriander sausage, flatbread and roasted fermented potatoes. “I want it to be a place where people can come in and have a good time,” Chen says. “You can come in here and just have snacks and a drink, or a dessert. You can come in a group and share a bunch of things, or have your own main course.”

The tomato salad features Campari tomatoes that are blanched, peeled and slightly dehydrated to intensify their flavour, tossed with homemade focaccia croutons, basil and olive oil. $12.

 

Inspired by the Chinese black-vinegar-dressed version, Chen’s cucumber salad features the gourd four ways: pickled; lightly salted fresh cucumbers; charred; and as dill-infused cucumber water. The dish is finished with sesame oil and more dill. $8.

 

The grilled sourdough flatbread is a cross between pita and naan. $2.50. Spreads include house-made stracciatella cheese ($5) and rapini-sunflower seed dip with chili oil ($4).

 

This house-made salami features northern Italian spices (cinnamon, cloves, black pepper) paired with a fermented, cured version of Chinese sausage and served with persimmon mostarda and garlic scapes. $8.

 

Share-friendly snacks and small plates.

 

Pan-fried Parisienne gnocchi comes on a bed of ricotta with charred corn, cherry tomato and basil. $19.

 

This home-style steamed rice dish—served in a lotus leaf with shiitake, chicken and homemade soy sauce—is Chen’s mother’s recipe. $18.

 

Grilled branzino with green goddess dressing and turnips. $24.

 

Cherries, yogurt sorbet and almond praline. $10.

 

Strawberry sorbet with ricotta and shiso ice. $10.

 

Hi, Anna.

 

The drinks

A conservative list of wines, local beers (including those from the neighbouring Burdock brewery) and a short selection of cocktails.

The thyme-garnished Raffinato is made with Luxardo, Lillet Blanc, gin, grapefruit juice and topped with sparkling wine. $12.

 

The space

Latin for “nourishing” or “kind,” Alma has seating for 32 guests. The long, wood-filled room is modestly furnished with plants and a minimalist aesthetic.

 

Behind the scenes.