What’s on the menu at Est, Sean MacDonald’s fancy new tasting menu restaurant in Riverside

What’s on the menu at Est, Sean MacDonald’s fancy new tasting menu restaurant in Riverside

Name: ēst
Contact: 729 Queen St. E., 416-792-1000, estrestaurant.ca, @est.restaurant
Neighbourhood: Riverside
Previously: Sugar Loaf Bakery
Owner: Sean MacDonald (Oakville’s Hexagon, Calgary’s Market Restaurant)
Chefs: Executive chef Sean MacDonald and chef de cuisine Reece MacIsaac (Australia’s Attica and Ester)
Sommelier: Tiffany Jamison-Horne (The Gladstone, Skin and Bones, Crush Wine Bar)
Accessibility: Fully accessible

The food

MacDonald and MacIsaac create a series of painstakingly plated courses—six in total, not counting snacks—using as many Canadian-grown ingredients as possible. The tasting menus are available in traditional and vegan formats for $90. Those seated at the bar can choose to dine on small plates from an a la carte menu, which could include mini prawn hot dogs or fried fish head lettuce wraps.

Prawn “hot dogs” are served in mini brioche buns and topped with garlic aïoli and chive mustard.


Skewered cubes of grilled pork cheek are brushed with a caramelized maple sauce.


Corn custard topped with malted and candied buckwheat, black truffle and basil.


Fermented red pepper chips topped with red pepper relish and cashew sour cream.


Fried, pickled pearl onions are topped with with chive mustard and dried fennel.


This snack uses all parts of the sunflower: fried sunchoke skin, whipped sunchoke with pickled mulberries, a seed condiment made from sunflower seeds and sunflower seed oil.


The first course on the tasting menu features charred cabbage topped with B.C. squid and vegan XO sauce. (The vegan menu option omits the squid.)


The second course on the vegan menu features fresh tomatoes that have been marinated in a garlic scape oil and roasted tomato vinegar, topped with bean-curd powder and spelt tofu.


The third course on the traditional menu has become the restaurant’s most popular dish: potato dumplings in a sauce made from cultured butter that’s been emulsified in dried potato skins, parmesan rinds and bay leaf, and dusted with chives.


The fourth course on the vegan menu features grilled and roasted mushrooms (lobster, chanterelle, maitake), charred onions, coconut-onion soubise and mushroom dashi.


Dry-aged duck breast is one of two fourth-course options on the traditional menu. It’s garnished with a sweet potato hoisin sauce, fermented coffee and duck jus, garlic chives and pickled turnips.


The dessert on the traditional tasting menu features caramelized banana and whey curd topped with hazelnut praline, caramelized white chocolate-hazelnut crumb, sesame cake crumb, and vanilla and mint ice cream.


The vegan dessert is a whimsical one. Ube-poppyseed rice pudding, maple pecan purée and coconut water sorbet are scattered in a bowl that you’re supposed to scrape to eat…with a mini spatula.


Here’s the whole team, with MacDonald seated in front.


The drinks

Jamison-Horne’s selection of unique Old and New World wines lists a number of by-the-glass options, including some vegan-friendly ones. Those who order the tasting menu can choose from a standard or premium wine pairings for an extra cost. In addition to beer and cider, bartender Jason McNeilly has created a lineup of original cocktails, some of which are low-proof.

A sample of the current wine list.


A twist on the daiquiri, the Kikunae is made with aged rum, Strega, lime juice and house-made miso syrup. $18.


The Three Forks cocktail is made with rye, Lillet Rouge, Cointreau, Benedictine and bitters. $18.


The space

Open six nights a week for dinner and late-night cocktail service, the Creative Union–designed space divides guests between tables with banquette seating, a couple more-private booths in the back and seven seats reserved for walk-ins at the custom Caesarstone bar.