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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Alobar’s new Financial District location

Including a bonkers twice-baked potato

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Joshua Best
The twice-baked potato at Alobar Downtown, Patrick Kriss’s new restaurant in the Financial District

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Name: Alobar Downtown Contact: 150 York St., 647-368-6981, @alobarrestaurants
Neighbourhood: Financial District Previously: Drake 150
Chef-owner: Executive chef Patrick Kriss, corporate chef Matthew Betsch, chef de cuisine Rebekah Bruce Accessibility: Accessible washrooms

For a number of years, Alobar’s managing partner, Zane Pearl, and its Michelin-starred chef and owner, Patrick Kriss, had their sights set on the Financial District to duplicate Alobar Yorkville, their fine-dining restaurant that does double duty as a cocktail lounge. But it wasn’t until last July, when the space that was formerly Drake 150 became available, that they felt there was a fit. Nine months after the team said yes to the address, Alobar Downtown opened its doors, sitting confidently on the corner of Adelaide and York as if it had always been there.

Executive chef Patrick Kriss, bar manager Luis Martinez and chef de cuisine Rebekah Bruce at Alobar Downtown
From left to right: executive chef Patrick Kriss, bar manager Luis Martinez and chef de cuisine Rebekah Bruce

While the design highlights of its previous tenant remain—including a wall of massive windows overlooking York Street and a hand-laid Moroccan mosaic tiled floor that was rumoured to have delayed Drake 150’s opening—Kriss’s new stomping grounds are light-filled, fresh and just fancy enough. In other words, the perfect backdrop for his uniquely beautiful style of cooking.

Chefs inside the kitchen at Alobar Downtown
The food

While many of the offerings—like the now-iconic wedge salad—are transplants from Alobar Yorkville, the downtown menu is channelling a new concept: what Kriss refers to as a “steak-ish-house.” Picture intimidatingly large twice-baked potatoes, colossal shrimp cocktails and Flintstones-sized bone-in steaks. Still, though the food is often of steakhouse proportions, the delicate hand that all Alo restaurants display is still very much present. There are plenty of pickled surprises and thinly sliced whatnots to add that something special. The food is big, intentional and—especially in the case of that humongous potato—a little bit campy. In short, this “steak-ish-house” knows what it’s doing.

Alo's signature Parker House rolls, sprinkled with flaked salt and served with whipped butter
Alo’s signature Parker House rolls, sprinkled with flaked salt and served with whipped butter.

 

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East Coast oysters at Alobar Downtown in the financial district
East Coast oysters served with citrus, Tabasco and fresh horseradish. $28 for six

 

The zucchini salad at Alobar Downtown
The zucchini salad is a recreation of a something Kriss made at home years ago. For it, he covers a layer of thinly shaved zucchini with pesto, preserved lemon, yogurt, mint and a pine nut gremolata. $22
The chopped salad at Alobar Downtown
This elevated take on the chopped salad is found only on the lunch menu. A mix of kale, red oak lettuce, radicchio and cucumbers are tossed in a basil-forward green goddess dressing and topped with aged gouda, avocado, roasted red peppers, confit tomatoes, pickled onions and watermelon radish. Crunchy chickpeas and pepitas seasoned with smoked paprika and chili are added for a little heat and texture. $26

 

The wedge salad at Alobar Downtown
Alobar’s wedge salad ($26) is a steakhouse take on the Aloette original. It’s dressed with blue cheese, chunky bacon bits, confit cherry tomatoes and pickled onions. $26

 

Hamachi ceviche at Alobar Downtown
Delicately cured hamachi ceviche is served on a bed of whipped ricotta and sprinkled with basil and mint. Bites of heat, crunch and acid come courtesy of compressed pear, cucumber, valentine radish and horseradish. $34

 

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The giant prawn cocktail at Alobar Downtown
The giant prawn cocktail is served on ice and topped with horseradish, olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper and chives. On the side: house cocktail sauce and lemon. $36

 

The twice-baked potato at Alobar Downtown
Destined for icon status, the twice-baked potato is stuffed with a mixture of aged cheddar, sour cream, butter and Tabasco, which is then topped with a layer of duchess potato (pounded potatoes, seasonings, egg yolk) and baked until crusty on the outside and creamy within. It’s finished off with heaps of bacon, sour cream and chives. $26

 

The Black Angus bone-in rib-eye at Alobar Downtown
A seasoned and broiled Black Angus bone-in rib-eye, dotted with mushrooms confited in butter, thyme and garlic. $170

 

Mille feuille at Alboar Downtown
The restaurant’s signature mille feuille is built with layers of flaky filo dough set between vanilla Chantilly, beeswax pastry cream, raspberry Chantilly, frozen raspberry custard and raspberry coulis. The impressive construction is finished with a dusting of raspberry powder. $20

 

The banana cream pie at Alobar Downtown
The banana cream pie went through many iterations before chef de cuisine Rebekah Bruce nailed it. For it, she piles a Biscoff cookie shell with vanilla pastry cream, sliced bananas, spiced rum caramel, banana foam and dark chocolate shavings. $20

 

The drinks

Bar manager Luis Martinez—who, at the age of eight, was chipping ice from huge blocks at his dad’s Mexico City bar—is no stranger to classic cocktails. And, while the accomplished barkeep appreciates the the OG recipes, his goal at Alobar is to create classic drinks that are idealized versions of themselves. Case in point: La Malinche, his complex take on a margarita that gets its incredible chartreuse colour from fresh poblano syrup, a tinge of heat from habanero syrup and smoke from just enough mezcal. Guests can expect all the standouts from the Yorkville location plus some new ones. For instance, the Square Peg, an even stiffer old fashioned stirred with Drambuie and Bénédictine, panders to the Bay Street crowd.

La Malinche at Alobar Downtown
The aforementioned La Malinche, Martinez’s take on a classic margarita. $18

 

The Square Peg at Alobar Downtown
The Square Peg, a summery (but stiff) take on the old fashioned, blends a bit of Drambuie and Bénédictine with whiskey and ice, stirred with fresh cucumber. $20

 

The White Room at Alobar Downtown
Named for the song by Cream, White Room is a take on the gin sour and features lemon juice, orgeat, strawberry soju and gin. It tastes like strawberry cream. $18

 

The espresso martini at Alobar Downtown
Fresh espresso, a bit of sugar, Armagnac and Kahlua make a layered, espresso-forward version of the classic coffee-based martini that leans away from sweet. $20
The space

The sprawling, quietly elegant space is at once playful and polished. With its breezy palette of pale greys, bleached woods and whites, the room is reflective of a summer suit sans tie. Mid-century modern chairs and Mad Men–style banquettes nod to a classic time, but the space still manages a contemporary sense of humour. Tweed upholstery represents the working stiff, and light fixtures peer down from above like giant eyeglasses, making sure one finishes that file (or, in this case, cocktail) on time. In short, it’s not all about business here—which, of course, is a good thing.

Alobar Downtown in the financial district
The interior of Alobar Downtown in the financial district
The bar at Alobar Downtown in Toronto's Financial District
Alobar Downtown, a new Financial District location of Patrick Kriss's restaurant
The seating at Alobar Downtown
Interior design at Alobar Downtown
Alobar Downtown

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