Review: photogenic feats and flavour flops at Bero in Leslieville
889 Queen St. E., 416-477-3393
Chef Matt Kantor has graduated from pop-up dining series to a permanent home: a 30-seat corner spot decorated on a budget, with overstuffed chairs and vases of droopy mums. Bookish couples from the area don’t seem to care—they’re relieved that they have another option for a Friday date without the kids. Kantor is a devotee of modern Spanish cooking, in particular the technical wizardry of Ferran Adrià, so a salad includes mushy marshmallows flavoured with tomato, a tough tube of squid is dyed with beet juice to resemble a chili pepper, and every dish is a fussy composition of rectangles, cylinders and smears. He produces a few showstoppers, like a tender cut of blushing lamb dusted with the chocolatey powder of Australian wattleseed, and luscious duck confit wrapped in braised leek and accompanied by an intensely sweet corn purée studded with dehydrated niblets. But for every photogenic feat there’s a flavour flop: a humdrum whitefish ceviche could stand more poblano and fewer lumps of an astringent grapefruit ice, and a coat of cumin overpowers delicate wild-caught Nordic shrimp. The drinks card lists citrusy sangrias and the usual bourbon-based cocktails. Prix fixe $52.