What’s on the menu at Avelo, a new place for fancy plant-based tasting menus
Contact: 51 St. Nicholas St., 647-643-3132, avelorestaurant.com, @avelo.restaurant
Neighbourhood: Church-Wellesley Village
Owner: Roger Yang (Awai, Away Kitchen)
Accessibility: Stairs at entrance, washroom on second floor
The team behind the plant-based restaurant Awai has decamped from Bloor West and set up shop in a Victorian row house just south of Yonge and Bloor. With the move comes an ambitious tasting menu and a name change: “avelo” is Esperanto for hazelnut, and the official name of the heritage house is Hazel Cottage. The main-floor dining room serves only tasting menus, while the upstairs bar—which should open before the holidays—will be a more casual affair, with plant-based cheese plates, à la carte options and cocktails.
The tasting menus are a seasonally driven affair created by the kitchen’s chef collective—there’s no hierarchy here. They’ve been playing with fermentation recently, making vegan cheeses (including some nut-free ones), baking their own breads and even making their own vinegars and kombuchas. There are three menus currently on offer: a $45 three-course meal (Tuesday through Thursday only), a $65 five-course one and a $95 eight-course one. Here’s a look at what’s on Avelo’s current eight-course tasting menu.
The wine list focuses on vegan-friendly wines. Many winemakers use egg whites, isinglass (fish bladder protein) or casein (a milk protein) to expedite the clarifying process. Ontario bottles include Cave Spring’s Adam’s Steps, a friendly riesling; and Southbrook’s organic cab-franc rosé. Beers and ciders are all Ontario-made, including selections from Woodhouse, Collective Arts, Great Lakes, Blood Brothers and Thornbury.
The 1883-built Queen Anne–style cottage was a mess inside when Roger Yang and his girlfriend, Christina Vick-Kell, took over the lease. They fixed everything from the wiring to the window sills. Vick-Kell then designed the 22-seat room, mixing Victorian swagger (bold florals, elegant wainscoting, exposed original brick) with midcentury modern elements, like velvet chairs and minimalist brass pendant lights, which she designed and Yang then made. When the second floor is complete, the 25-seat space will have a funky attic-loft feel, thanks to the curved ceiling and rich velvet elements.